Garmin Forerunner 405CX Review

Garmin Forerunner 405CX gps watch
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Our Verdict: There has been a lot of change in the GPS watch market recently with the introduction of the Timex Global Trainer, the Garmin Forerunner 210 and 410 and the entry into the market of the Nike + SportWatch GPS. Despite these new arrivals, the Garmin Forerunner 405CX is in our view still the best GPS watch on the market today, with newer models offering very little improvements despite significant price increases.

And because it is no longer Garmin's lead model, the Forerunner 405CX can now be picked up for considerably less than the RRP, current prices can be checked on our price comparison page here, which is updated daily.

What’s Included

The Forerunner 405CX comes with:

  • the device itself
  • a charging clip
  • a heart rate monitor
  • a power adapter
  • a USB ANT+ stick, for uploading data to a PC or Mac
  • a quick reference guide
  • two extra wrist straps
  • an on-disk owner’s manual

There are also optional accessories for the Forerunner 405CX; they can be bought separately or as a part of a package:

  • a speed and cadence sensor that can be used while bicycling
  • a foot pod that makes the 405CX usable indoors, where its GPS features may not work

Getting Started with the Forerunner 405CX

The first thing that you should do upon receiving your Forerunner 405CX is to look it over carefully; you should familiarize yourself with its design and layout. You will quickly notice that, in lieu of a large array of different buttons, there is a simple touch bezel and two buttons: a start/stop button and a lap/reset button. When you buy the Garmin Forerunner 405CX, you aren’t getting a touchscreen-enabled device; rather, you are getting one that uses a touch bezel. This is an important distinction; we will delve into it more deeply later.

As eager as you will be to take the 405CX out for a test run, you should set up and install the software that is needed to run it on your PC or Mac. It is compatible with PCs that run Windows XP or higher; it is also compatible with Intel-based Macs that run OS 10.4 or higher, with Safari. Installing the Garmin ANTI Agent software is extremely easy. It pays to have it ready to go before your run, since the ANT+ USB will wirelessly pull the data from the device over to your computer when you are finished.

When you are ready to head out for your run, press the “start/stop” button, which is at the upper-right side of the Forerunner 405CX. After that, press down on the “training” bezel; this will prompt the HotFix satellite technology to acquire satellites in preparation of your run. Luckily, HotFix works quite well; you should be notified of a successful connection within a few short seconds. At that point, the device just waits on you to press the start/stop button; once you do, you can head out for your run – the device will be initiated.

Important Changes to the 405CX

Compared with other Garmin Forerunner devices, the 405CX offers a few new features. For one thing, its design is remarkably streamlined and lightweight. It has a sleek, stylish appearance that you are sure to love. When you have it on, you will hardly even know it. Two extra armbands have been included with the Forerunner 405CX; one is for exceptionally large wrists, and one is for exceptionally large ones. This is a nice touch that allows people to get the fit that they need, which increases the comfort of the device. The wireless ANT+ device is also new; it allows you to send data from your runs to your computer in a wireless way.

The most significant change involved with the Forerunner 405CX is the touch bezel. Without a doubt, it has also been the most controversial change. Although some people claim to have no trouble with it whatsoever, most people have reported serious issues. In theory, you are supposed to use the touch bezel in a way that’s quite similar to the controls on an iPod. You tap it to control various functions, and you stroke it to scroll from one option to the next. The start/stop button works like an “enter” button, while the “lap/reset” button allows you to go back. Garmin has included a setup wizard that is supposed to help you learn the ins and outs of using the touch bezel; unfortunately, it isn’t especially helpful.

The biggest difference between the Forerunner 405 and the 405CX is that the latter calculates calories burned based on heart rate; the former uses speed and distance computations. Unlike the Forerunner 305, the 405CX uploads its data wirelessly, uses heart rate information to calculate calories burned and boasts a higher number of available data screens.

How the 405CX Stacks Up to Other Models

When compared with similar models, the Garmin Forerunner 405CX holds its own. It has the advantage of being a true all-in-one model, whereas other models require a separate GPS unit or a foot pod. That being said, you may find its analytical software to be somewhat lacking, especially if you are familiar with the Suunto T6C. Models by Polar often also have better training features. For the most part, though, these points are purely a matter of taste.

Top Features of the Garmin Forerunner 405CX

The best way to tell whether or not the 405CX is right for you is by comparing its various features; the most important ones are outlined below.

Heart Rate Monitor

Thanks to its lightweight, flexible design, the heart rate monitor that comes with the 405CX is never a problem to wear. It is wireless, too, which makes it incredibly convenient. It tracks your heart rate on a continuous basis, allowing you to get in-depth information in a flash. The data that it collects is then used to compute how many calories you are burning. You can use the data that is collected by the heart rate monitor to stay within a certain heart rate zone for improved performance or to compare one run to the next.

Virtual Partner

Like many Garmin offerings, the 405CX comes with Virtual Partner. This feature can be extremely motivational, especially if you get into the habit of using it on a regular basis. You just tell the device what pace you’d like the virtual partner to stick to; as you run, you are kept apprised of how you compare to your partner. If you begin lagging behind, for instance, it will prompt you to pick up the pace.

HotFix Satellite Acquisition

This feature is simple enough to understand: It is technology that remembers the satellites that you use the most. Each time you use the 405CX, it works to pull up the same satellites, which makes the process much faster.

Customizable Screens

Different types of data are important to different runners. Fortunately, Garmin recognizes this and applies this logic to the design of the Forerunner 405CX. As a result, you can change the layout and design of the screens that appear as you navigate around with the touch bezel. The information that you need the most will be more easily accessible when you need it.

Auto Pause

If you do a lot of running in the city, you already know how aggravating it can be to stop and start repeatedly – while your running watch keeps recording your progress. When your pace dips below a predefined rate, though, the 405CX can be set up to pause automatically. This will save you a lot of time, since you won’t have to go back and figure out where you stopped for traffic or for other reasons. Instead, the device will only log your progress when you are running above a certain pace.

Battery Life

Battery life on the Forerunner 405CX is respectable. If you were to use it nonstop, it would run for about eight hours. Most people use theirs for an hour or two each day, though, so it can go without being charged for a few days at a time. If you do use it regularly, you might want to get into the habit of charging it every night; that way, you will never be without it.

Water Resistance

Theoretically, the Forerunner 405CX is water resistant to IPX7, which means that it can be kept about one meter below the surface of the water for about 30 minutes at a time. In execution, though, this device doesn’t perform very well in the water. Rain is okay, but submerging it just isn’t a very smart move.

Auto Lap

You can set automatic laps in one of two ways with the 405CX: Either set a landmark or input a specific length of time. Some people use this feature regularly, while others never use it; try it out to see which camp you fall into.

The Bottom Line on the Garmin Forerunner 405CX

The biggest hurdle that any runner has to get over while using the Forerunner 405CX is its touch bezel which some people do not like. While its successor, the Forerunner 410, made improvements to the bezel, it costs almost £100 more which we consider too big a price hike for the improvements made. For that reason we continue to recommend the 405CX to all competitive runners looking for a GPS watch.

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