BEST GPS Watches 2011

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As GPS technology has advanced GPS manufacturers have found innovative ways to put it good use. One of the more popular functions is in fitness training in the form of the GPS watch. They do a lot more than simply pinpoint your position; they determine your immediate speed, altitude, heart rate and even have functions that help you set, track and monitor goals. They're used by runners, hikers, cyclists, swimmers, sailors and even golfers.

Not surprisingly, Garmin is leading the race to create the most comprehensive, lightweight GPS watch for all types of activities. Its original GPS watch, the Forerunner 101, is still favoured by people just starting out as runners. If all you intend to do is run a couple of kilometres a day to stay fit then you don't need to look any further than the 101, but if you're going to take your running more seriously you might want to try Garmin's Forerunner 201, which allows users to programme different routes. It also a heart rate monitor, calculates speed and distance, keeps a running history and has a virtual running partner to keep you going when you don't want to. Garmin also makes a model specifically for those who like sailing or paragliding.

Another sailing GPS watch comes courtesy of Suunto. It tracks speed and bearing and provides trending meteorological information. Suunto is also the brains behind the GPS watch for golfers. It provides information regarding the distance of each shot, tee-off distance and uses the average length of your shots to recommend the appropriate golf club. Then there is Suunto's GPS watch for military personnel but which also makes a great gift for those who like to have the best of everything. It does all you would expect a GPS unit to do and is also a compass, altimeter, thermometer and barometer.

New kid on the block

Nike has just announced its intention to release a GPS watch in early April. It will incorporate TomTom's GPS system into its Nike+ SportWatch, which is already a firm favourite among runners the world over. The watch, which won two Innovation Awards at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, is ultra-lightweight and has an easy to use tap-and-go screen. It retains all of the original Nike+ SportWatch features, such as the shoe sensor and ability to upload recorded data to a personalised online Nike account. One new feature, which may or may not please runners, is the "run reminder" which lets you know when you've been on the lazy side and need to get back on the road.

Whether you're just embarking on a fitness regime or are training for your 10th ultra-marathon, GPS watches are handy tools to keep you on track, in more ways than one.

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