Awhile back I reviewed the Forerunner 301. Today we're going to look at its little brother, the Garmin Forerunner 201. Basically the same model, minus the heart rate monitor, this Forerunner shares most of the advantages and disadvantages of the 301. At a mere 2.75 ounces, it is ideal for runners, hikers or cyclists looking for a lightweight device. If your primary interest is in training and tracking your athletic performance, the 201 is a good choice. If you plan to do some serious navigation, I'd recommend something with more features than the Forerunner series. Sure, they'll navigate to a waypoint or along a route, and create a track as you go along, but just about any other GPS receiver will provide you more options in this regard.
It certainly is a popular receiver, if numbers are any guide. A whopping 211 reviewers at Amazon gave the Forerunner 201 an average 4 out of 5 stars. The Amazon review says...
"The large display--with equally large, easy-to-read characters--helps you avoid having to squint at the readout. Just a quick glance at your numbers and you'll maintain your training concentration. The six rubber buttons on the front of the chassis are easy to access (unless you're wearing bulky gloves). I easily got the promised 13 hours out of the rechargeable lithium-ion battery. At the end of the day, I'd just recharge it for around two hours and it would be ready for me the next morning....
...The Forerunner 201 has a variety of helpful tracking, monitoring, and navigational features. The History function enables you to view your workout statistics broken down by individual days, cumulative weeks, or your entire workout history (if you track different workouts during the same day, they'll be broken out as different laps). You can even view a map of your route. And much like other GPS units, you can save waypoints (called "locations" in Forerunner parlance) to mark the coordinates of a place you want to return to later."
Garmin's 201 page lists the following features:
- GPS sensor provides precise latitude, longitude, and altitude data for exact location information.
- Mark specific locations, and then look-up and navigate to these points using an electronic map.
- Retrace your steps to a starting point or reverse your normal route for routine variation.
- Amount of calories burned can be tracked and calculated over the course of a workout.
- Lap history—such as lap time, lap distance, and average pace—can be stored for up to two years.
- Performance data can be automatically archived and calculated to provide an accurate record.
- Automated stopwatch provides auto-lap and auto-pause features.
- Lap timer indicates when a certain speed is reached or when you've fallen below a pre-set level.
- Pace whistle sounds alert when you begin traveling slower or faster than your desired pace.
- Distance whistle sounds when you reach a specified duration or distance in your workout.
- Download free Garmin software to transfer data from your Forerunner 201 to your PC for storage and analysis.
Here's what others have to say about the Forerunner 201:
- CompetitiveRunner.com has an extensive review of the Garmin 201.
- At CNet, the editors gave the ForeRunner 201 a 7 out of 10 rating, while 31 of their readers rated it 7.5 out of 10.
- For a UK perspective, check out Pocket Lint's review of the Fore Runner 201, where they gave it a 9 out of 10 rating.
- Singletracks.com has posted a Garmin Forerunner 201 review, from a cyclist's perspective.
- GPS Maniac has also posted a Garmin Forerunner 201 review.
- About.com reviews the Garmin Forerunner 201.
- The Forerunner 201 appears to be one well built device!
Finally, here are a few other resources:
- Have an in-depth look by checking out the Forerunner manual (PDF).
- How to swim with a Forerunner.
- Have more questions? You're sure to find an answer at the Yahoo ForeRunner discussion group.