Wednesday, October 2, 2013

REVIEW: High Gear XT7 Alti-GPS

Continuing on my series of gear reviews, I thought I'd take an opportunity today to give some feedback on the new GPS/HRM which I bought back in August. The High Gear XT7 Alti-GPS tracks speed, distance and altitude via a GPS receiver and heart rate and calories via a chest strap which communicates wirelessly with the watch. The whole package is relatively inexpensive (I paid $121 USD on Amazon.com), which makes it a fantastic bargain compared to some of the competitors like Garmin and Polar. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, High Gear products are not yet available in Europe.


Having had the watch for roughly 3 months now, I can say that I am very satisfied. Both the chest strap and the watch are comfortable to wear during workouts, although I probably would not wear the watch on a regular basis as it is a bit thick (about 1 cm) and the face is quite large (about 50 mm). Performance in terms of finding satellites is good--I find that it's harder in general to get strong GPS signals in Sweden than what I've experienced at lower latitudes--but with a good battery charge the watch can acquire a location with 60 seconds or so. During a RUN one can display time, distance and pace; time, distance and speed; time, distance and calories; time, distance and clock; time, distance and altitude; time, ascent, descent and altitude. There are also mode for HRM, chronograph, barometer and altimeter.

Battery life is good (several hours with the GPS on) but the watch's own estimate of battery life is somewhat questionable--it can report a 70% charge which quickly changes to 30% once the GPS kicks in. Charging is done via a USB dongle.


Oddly enough, High Gear does not provide a charger and my computer's USB hub does not provide enough current to fully charge the battery. (I use my iPad charger instead which works fine.) The USB dongle also allows one to download the watch data and import it into High Gear's own software (also called Highgear XT7 Alti-GPS), which is Windows based. The software is basic, but it does map overlays and can provide graphs of heart rate and/or speed versus distance and time--essentially all of the features I am most interested in. It also allows one to export TCX files which can be imported into MapMyRun and other third-party software for more advanced analyses.


All things considered, I think the XT7 Alti-GPS is a fantastic bargain. Good performance, comfortable design and a killer price--what's not to like?


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