Tech4O Discover GPS Watch

The Discover GPS  is a multifunction GPS enabled watch specifically geared to the individual who has fitness in mind.  Tech4O was started in 2005 as “a brand whose chief focus is bettering the overall customer experience, through advanced technology and better product development.” This watch has a lot to offer and I am going to try to unpack just what all it has to offer. I want to say a huge thank you to Tech4O for allowing me to review the Discover GPS.

Size/Appearance:

The Discover GPS watch the the culmination of a fairly recent proliferation of technology.  It packs many functions in to a surprisingly small package. I have used and seen some of the other GPS watches on the market, and many of them are large and clunky, almost as if you have a large computer sitting on top of your wrist.

Tech4O Discover GPS Watch

The Discover GPS is only sold in the flat black finish as in the photos above.  The body of the watch and the wristbands are covered in a hard rubber.  I have notices some shallow abrasions on the watch, and this after only about a week with the watch.  It is nothing that will affect the performance of the watch, however, aesthetically, it is somewhat frustrating to already see signs of wear.

Data Generation & Acquisition:

There are three ways that the Discover GPS watch generates and collects data: GPStelemetry/chest strap, and the watch itself.

GPS:  The GPS feature of the watch allows you to collect data on your pace, distance, route (Google Earth, waypointss), elevation, and speed.  Here is a short synopsis by Tech4O on how the GPS system works:

“There is a 24-satellite network which travels around the earth’s lower orbit and is used by the Discover GPS watch to locate one’s position anytime, anywhere in the world.  The Discover has a GPS sensor that is a signal receiver and picks up satellite data transmissions as they are sent to earth.  It takes at least four GPS satellites to do the job.  As different satellites have different locations relative to the receiver, the watch computes the time gap between when the signal is transmitted and when it is received..  This time gap is used to locate one’s position in three dimensions.  Once a user’s position has been determined, the watch can further compute information such as the current, average and maximum travel speed, distance and compass heading.”

I really have been impressed with how these features have worked with the watch.  During the first few uses, the satellites quickly connected with the watch, however, with the past two times I have used the watch, I have had some issues with satellite connection.  The first time I had this problem, the skies were very overcast and there was a light drizzle.  I attributed the slow connection to the overcast skies.  The second time that I had an issue with connection time was a beautiful and clear day.  Each time the satellites did eventually connect, however, this extra connection time is frustrating, especially when time is a precious commodity.

 

Telemetry / Chest Strap :

This wireless heart rate monitor is one of my favorite parts of the watch.  The wireless strap is constructed of soft rubber on the side that contacts your chest.  Sensors on the inside of the strap monitor your heart rate and send the data back to the watch where you can see the data on your screen.  The front of the strap connects to an elastic band which clips into the front wireless sensor (see photo below).

Elastic band clip

 

Entire Chest Strap System.

Sensors on interior of strap.

Watch:

The watch has many of the typical features that you would find on other exercise watches as well as some extra features (see manufacturer specifications).  There are a few things that I really like about some of the features.
  • Each of the last 10 seconds in timer mode is set to a tone so you know when your time is about to end.
  • There is satellite atomic time synchronization.  That means not having to change the time  or set it backwards or forwards for daylight savings.
  • After the battery has been completely drained (8 hrs) the watch will still keep time for up to two weeks.
  • During a workout, the watch allows you to view three separate screens (fully customize-able: see video) of data.
The watch uses a USB chord to attach to your watch and computer to transfer data to and from your watch.  The chord utilizes a clamp which fits into a four connectors and a small groove to keep the chord in place for data transfer.

Back of watch. Note four small connections on the right side.

Clamp connection to the watch.

 

Computer Software:

The Discover GPS comes with GPS Master software.  My first note about the software is that it is only PC compatible. I repeat, it does not work with Macs. This is a shame and severely limits the use of the watch. In order that you get a better picture of just what the software looks like and how it works, I made a short video below.

 

I’ve gone through some of the main features and aspects of what the Discover GPS watch has to offer. As you can see, the Discover GPS watch is jam packed with many features.  Take some time to look through an exhaustive list of these features below.

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Manufacturer Specifications from Tech4O:

Exercise:

  • 5 Customizable Workout Profiles:  Running, Cycling, Hiking, Sailing, User
  • Automatic Data Log – 120 Log Memory
  • View Workout History
  • Smart Lap Function – automatic lap creation at fixed travel distance
  • 99 Lap Chronograph
  • Customizeable view – 3 data sets per view

Heart Rate Monitoring:

  • Above/In/Below Zone Time Record
  • Above/In/Below Audio Zone Alert

Navigation:

  • Create up to 10 paths, maximum 99 waypoints each
  • Preset a travel path ahead of time via the PC software, or as you go.
  • Manual or automatic waypoint marking via TrackLog.  Auto mapping occurs at set intervals of 4 seconds to 10 minutes
  • Waypoint, Forward, Backward Path Tracking
  • Current Speed, Distance Traveled, Distance to Destination, Estimated Time of ArrivalUpload data to your computer for review and analysis
  • Dynamc Electronic Compass
    • 1 Degree resolution
    • Compass Direction readout – 16 Cardinals & Bearing in degrees
    • North Indicator
    • Declination Setting

PC Software:

  • SupportsWatch settings can be configured quickly on the PC then loaded to the watch
    • Windows XP / Vista (32, 64-bit) / Windows 7 (32, 64-bit)
    • Multiple languages
    • Multi-user accounts on one PC
  • Workout profile can be created and stored in the PC then transferred to the watch
  • Unlimited activity categories
  • Charts:  HR, Pace, Speed, Distance, Elevation, Time/Distance
  • Workout summary
  • Lap Detail Report
  • Daily, Weekly, Month, and Yearly Summary Reports
  • Create routes from logged tracks or .KML files
  • Manual path edition with Google Maps GUI
  • Export workout data to NMEA, KML, GPX and CSV formats
  • Direct Google Earth track log export

Time Mode:

  • Time, Date, Day
  • Satellite atomic clock synchronization.  No time adjustment needed
  • Automactic time zone estimates based on Longitude
  • 12/24 hour format
  • Dual Time
  • 5 Daily Alarms
  • Hourly Chime
  • Countdown Timer

Other:

  • Mineral Glass Lens
  • EL Backlight
  • Full Dot Matrix LCD – with adjustable LCD levels
  • Dual Processor optimizes battery life
  • Rechargeable lithium polymer battery
  • USB Data transfer and Battery charging cable
  • Key Tone On/Off
  • Battery Life indicator
  • Power save mode (GPS off)
  • HRM Chest Strap, User replaceable battery CR2032
  • Water resistance 30M /100 f

Conclusion:

The Tech4O Discover GPS watch has a multitude of features and technology to offer. The real question is how will all of this technology transfer to the great outdoors.  Check back in about a month to see how the Discover GPS has performed.

Kaleb R.

 

Update #1: Tech4O Discover GPS Watch March 11, 2012

I have been able to use the Tech4O Discover GPS watch a considerable amount over the past month. I have used it for trail running, hiking, and a few circuit workouts in the gym.  Below are a few observations I’ve gathered  from my use of the watch that I want to share with you.

1.)  Sometimes the watch takes only a couple of minutes at most to connect to the satellites for tracking purposes. Other times it takes up to 20.  The owners manual addresses this problem by stating that with new geographical locations, it takes 3-10 minutes, while with familiar locations (locations where you have acquired satellites before) take 1-3 minutes to connect. There have been a few times where it has taken more that 10 minutes to connect and I have just started my run, only to have the satellites connect during the run.  This can be frustrating, especially if time is a precious commodity like it is for many of us. I would suggest turning the GPS function on 20 minutes prior to a workout to be on the safe side.

2.)  Always check the workout profile prior to your activity.  I made the mistake of not doing this and 5 minutes into a trail run when I tried to check my distance and pace, I realized I was on the wrong profile and was not able to view the data (pace and distance) on the profile that I had started my workout on.

3.) While on a recent adventure to find a cave that I had vague knowledge of, I decided it would be helpful to turn on the GPS once we found the cave.  That way, if it was difficult to find, I could use the GPS Master software to set up waypoints to follow the next time we headed that way.  The only issue was that the GPS took so long to connect, that I finally gave up on it.  Lucky for me, the cave was not difficult to find and I won’t need to follow any waypoints to get there. I will try to work on a better way of demonstrating this feature in my next review.

4.) The 8 hours of usable battery time between charges on the watch is more than ample for any activities that I have done so far.  Having to dock your Discover GPS to your PC to upload data makes it difficult to forget to charges so I have not had any issues yet with battery life.

5.)  Read the manual. Read it several times.  This watch is not self explanatory and requires that you have a good knowledge of how it works before you can truly utilize it.  And this is coming from one who always refers to the manual after-the-fact.

Check back in about a month to see my final update on the Tech4O Discover GPS watch.

Final Update: Tech4O Discover GPS Watch April 15, 2012

I’ve used the Tech4O GPS watch hiking, running,  and even in the gym over the past month. Since my last update, I was able to take the watch out on a quick trip on my road bike. Prior to the ride I realized that the battery had been depleted. A quick charge and the watch signaled that it had 3 hours of battery, plenty for the quick ride that my wife and I were going to do.  About an hour into the ride, the watch signaled that it had no battery life left and quit collecting GPS data.  This was somewhat frustrating considering the fact that I thought I had 3 hours of data collection left in the battery life.

I also had some issues with the chest strap not measuring my heart rate.  The watch signaled that it was connected to the strap, however, it never registered the heart rate on the watch screen. When I transferred the data to the software, no heart rates had ever been recorded. One positive of the bike ride was that the watch did record the speed of the bike within 0.1 mph of the speed that “cyclocomputer” on my bike was recording.  This type of inconsistency is really the last thing you want out of equipment that you are depending on to improve yourself.

In conclusion:

The Tech4O Discover GPS watch has a multitude of functions that can record all types of your personal workout data.  Unfortunately, all of these functions are not all integrated into the watch in a way that is simple and user friendly. After three months of use, I find myself fumbling through many screens and modes on the watch, never quickly finding the mode or settings that I need. Often, I have found myself frustrated with trying to work the watch rather than it enhancing my workouts. The GPS Master software that comes with the Discover GPS does a decent job of allowing you access to the data your watch collects.  The software, however, is somewhat archaic and could be updated and streamlined for better utilization.

I will say that my workouts and myself have benefited from the watch and accompanying software. When it works the way I want it to, it is a very good piece of equipment that I would use time and time again.  Yet, I cannot say that it has always worked like I want it to, and for me, if it detracts from the activity, it’s best to look elsewhere for gear.

-Kaleb R.

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