Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Highgear Alti-XT7 GPS + HRM watch review

Highgear offered me a chance to test their Alti-XT7 watch. I have been training with a GPS/heart rate monitor (HRM) for almost 2 years, but thought it would be interesting to explore another brand and see what it had to offer.


What caught my interest most about the Highgear XT7 is that it not only provides GPS and HRM data, but also offers an altimeter and barometer (something my other watch does not).  I would not have expected to find those features on a GPS running watch that retails for 200$.




Product details
The Highgear Alti-XT7 package comes with the watch, the charger (USB - also used for uploading data), and a heart rate monitor with chest strap.

The watch face is smaller than many GPS watches out there, but the numbers display large enough to read easily. The backlight is bright and makes the watch easy to read while running at night.

Some of the features
  • Navigation: Stores 100 waypoints, 25,000 track points
  • Speed/pace: monitors speed, distance, pace
  • Altimeter: Displays in feet or meters, must be set for each use -2,306 to 30,038 ft
  • Barometer: Uses readings to forecast 6 hours ahead, must be set each use 8.85 -32.45 inHg
  • Thermometer: Displays in Fahrenheit or Celsius +14f / -10C  to 122F / 50C
  • Heart Rate Monitor: Chest strap and monitor with user-replaceable battery, water resistant
  • Chronograph/Run Data
  • Time/Alarms: 12 or 24 hr, time/day/date' 5 daily alarms, dual time zone, 
  • Other: displays in metric or imperial units
Cost 
Listed as 200$ on the www.highgear.com website.

Software
Highgear provides software (available as free download) to put on your computer.

It is not complicated to use, and it provides good details for each run's speed, heart rate, and distance with graphs.

(Click to enlarge photos of software)

For navigation
Waypoints can be stored on the watch and reviewed later in the software.

Units and laps
You can either pre-set the watch to autolap in miles or kilometers, or lap it yourself for shorter or irregular distances.

If you lap your watch at 1/2 mile, or use irregular intervals, the data will be shown as a time (i.e. 3:10) and not a pace (6:20/mile). It will display your speed in miles/hour for you (great for cyclists!)

Mapping
Map also will show mile/KM markers and street names
The software also connects with Google maps and will display your run on an interactive map that can be seen in street view or as a satellite view.

Pro 
  • Easy to read display, even in the dark
  • Adjustable autolap 
  • Battery lasts up to 8 hours in GPS mode, and can be charged with portable USB charger or solar charger (bought separately) for longer events. 
  • GPS can be turned to "indoor" to extend battery life (Maybe my favorite feature, this makes it good for regular watch wearing. Battery lasts weeks this way) 
  • Water resistant, 30ft
  • Does not come off easily (secure)
  • Heart rate monitor is very comfortable and compact
  • Heart rate, weight, height can be set to personal numbers for zone training and caloric burn
  • Route will show you your route as you go, so you can follow it back home! 
  • Waypoints can be saved for future navigation
  • Displays multiple combinations while running: actual pace, calories, max HR, time running, altitude, barometer, and more
  • Charger/data uploader easy to use and fast
Con
  •  If you change modes while running, it takes some time to scroll through battery life and other indicators (15 seconds +/-) before pace is displayed.
  • Watch appeared to show actual pace while running, not average pace per lap. You can look at each run's average pace at the end of a run on the software. 
  • Software could be improved.  It would be nice to be able to upload directly to online training logs.
Final review thoughts
Features I like best about the watch are it's readability, comfort, and the accuracy of the heart rate monitor. It would be good for heart rate training, if using laps longer than 90 seconds. As a GPS watch it is very accurate, measuring within .1-.2 miles of another GPS watch during 10 mile runs. I really enjoyed using this watch for my long runs where I wanted reliable heart rate readings and good tracking.

It has a few bells and whistles I am not used to. I am not a techno-pro, but it wasn't hard to figure out how to set the altimeter or barometer, (see below), Finding the right settings/displays while out on a run is a matter of practice.

The altimeter and barometer could be lifesaving features in certain situations. (Imagine being out on a high mountain trek and reading the forecast: temp should drop 20 degrees in 6 hours and snow coming.).

Also, I love that I can wear this watch as a watch, not just for running. All I have to do it turn off the GPS mode and it lasts for days!

I would recommend this watch to those who are serious about trail running, (and not-so-serious about the track). It would be a great watch for ultra runners, endurance cyclists, hikers, snowboarders and skiers.

***
Instructional videos that Highgear users might find helpful
Setting the altimeter


Setting the barometer


Connect with Highgear on Facebook HERE, or Twitter @HighgearUSA

Feel free to post comments. If you ask questions here,  I will either answer, or try to help you get an answer.
   Thank you!
      -Raina



28 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review. I am not familiar with the brand at all. Probably not in SA (yet). I find most watch brands have fairly poor software. I always use 3rd party software for detailed stats.

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    1. I think you can order online, though? I am curious about your 3rd party software. Not sure how/if that works with the watch, but you certainly know your tech, Johann.

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  2. Sounds like a good watch for mountain runners (quite a few of those around here). The altimeter for altitude, metres climbed etc would be more accurate than Garmin data. $200 is a good price, but it's 'sold out' on the website!

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    1. Thanks for pointing that out about accuracy, Ewen. Not sure when they will restock, but I noticed the "sold out" part as well.

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  3. That watch does have a few cool bells and whistles! Great review.

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  4. What a nice, thorough review! How appropriate is the altimeter for people who live places like you do?!

    Have you noticed discrepancies when the altitude and pressure change on HR? ?

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    1. Great Q's Adrienne. It depends on how close we stay to home. Oregon has some rather high spots, so if I wanted to climb Mt. Hood or the South Sister, it would be something VERY fun and useful. Also, Crater Lake marathon is something I'd like to try one year. The elevation is over 6,000 ft. At home, I run usually between 150-800 ft.
      Next trip to Diamond lake~ 5,000 ft (next month or so?), I will wear my HRM and see what happens. There is so much snow though, that I bet that alone will cause my HR to go up even with a slower pace.

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  5. It's a plus that you can wear this watch as a watch and that it has large numbers. Great, detailed review!

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    1. Thank you Tina! I am actually thrilled to have a watch I don't have to take on an off, that i can have it with me for those spontaneous outings :)

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  6. Nice review. I don't think I need an altimeter or barometer though. It would be super fun to do some running experiments with it though...

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    1. Yes, Katie, I think you would have fun experimenting with this! LOL. I had on two watches most of the time for comparison. You could try three or 4. :)

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  7. Neat watch, but looks way too advanced for me. Been meaning to get back to you about your twitter comment about the cadence, but keep forgetting. But I do have a slight overpronation, so the cadence are a good option for me. Right now I'm switching between those and the Ravenna's. Guess that's what happens when you jack your body up at an early age, you get stuck in a stability shoe for most of your training. The Flows aren't really that much more narrow than the Cadence, they both are meant to give you a fair amount of room in that toe box. Do you have a narrow foot?

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    1. I had no idea you needed stability! I have one foot that needs a little, and the other is straight as a nail, I guess. But that causes it's own problems. My heel is very narrow, and i have high arches, so the connects fit me the best, but not a lot of support for long runs there. I could probably get away with Ravennas since they are for mild overpronation. Thanks for getting back to me!

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  8. Thanks for a great review Raina - this looks like a great watch for the price! I think the feature where you can follow your route home is great, that could be a life saver out on the trails!

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    1. Thanks Sherry! It was neat to see a small map (in the right display) of where I was going as I ran.

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  9. Great review, Raina! I'm surprised it has an altimeter and barometer, too... I'm happy with my Garmin, but it's always fun to see what else is out there.

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    1. Glad to hear from you, Laura. :)

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  10. OK, companies out there should let you review all their products (if they are good) bc you are very thorough! Great job! I have a Garmin 210 and it shows only average pace per lap (set at mile for me) and not the average pace. It used to bug me but now I am used to it. It will be interesting to see how it goes in a race where I would need to keep track of average pace though...Great threshold today by the way:)

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    1. I wonder if , for your race, you could set it it to a lap of 13.12 miles and then see your average while you race (without all the mile per mile). That's how i had my watch set for my sub40 10k trial.

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  11. Interesting review! I've often wondered if another brand of GPS/HRM would be better for avoiding the early-in-the-run HR spiking I experience with my Garmin. But I'm pretty wedded to Garmin Connect. They have me there.

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    1. This one definitely seemed MUCH better than my current HRM with the early-in-the-run data. I was very happy with the HRM readings on this one, and you could set it to zones as well.

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  12. Nothing to do with this post but I think I've see you mention in a couple of places now that you're having 'stomach' issues during longer runs? I used to get to 10 miles and it was game over. It has got better but I have found 2 imodium before races and longer runs sorts me out beautifully! Sorry if this is old news, but just on the off chance you haven't tried it. In the run up to Houston I had so many 12-15 milers during the week and I didn't want to take imodium every day and as a result I had to stop 3/4 times during every single run, VERY annoying. I keep them for a long run on a Saturday and races but you probably could use them more frequently, I'm just anti 'pill' by nature. This is probably way TMI but I never did a solid.....one for 4 weeks during my highest milage and seriously thought I had some weird bacteria living in my guts. I was going to go to the drs after Houston but low and behold a few days in to the taper and mileage drop and everything returned to normal! I blame being British on finding it easy to talk about these things but you Americans are a little more sensitive to this issue so I hope I didn't just totally gross you out :D

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    1. Vicky, I need your email! :) Whatever you did to get to that new marathon PR...I am taking notes on. Not grossed out, just love getting your comments!

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  13. Cool! I haven't heard of this one. I do like when the watch shows actual and average pace though.

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    1. It is possible that I didn't get to the right display. There are a multitude of display combinations.

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  14. ohhhh I love running gidgets! Great review by the way. I don't wear the HRM on my Garmin much these days. I find my perceived rate of exertion to be a better guide than that- apparently my HR is all over the place. I am pretty happy with my Garmin for now but it sure is nice to know what is out there for when it is finally on the blink. Sounds like great value for money!!! :=)

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    1. Glad you stopped by Jenelle! Happy training to you, my OZ friend.

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