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GPS watches : The training tools of tomorrow

Why would anyone want to own a GPS watch? With all the sophisticated handheld GPS monitors available, one might be inclined to think that a GPS watch is a superfluous investment. In reality nothing could be further from the truth.

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GPS watches were designed specifically with the serious athlete and outdoor enthusiast in mind. While handheld units may be the perfect tool to take on relaxed camping trips, they are not quite as suitable when it comes to serious hiking trips and training for sporting events like triathlons. After all, the last thing that you need when you're negotiating your way along a narrow mountain ledge is to have to hold on to an additional piece of equipment.

GPS watches trump handheld GPS units in a number of ways. Despite the obvious plus of being more compact and lightweight than handheld units, the majority of GPS watches are also able to provide more in terms of training specific data. Most can hold between 100 and 200 landmarks and are fully waterproof which makes them suitable to use in even the most adverse of conditions. In addition to tracking routes and providing information on location and distance, GPS watches are also able to give accurate speed and pace readings. Most models also have the ability to measure caloric expenditure and store lap time information which will give cyclists and runners a good indication of their training progress.

While GPS watches may initially have been designed specifically for outdoor navigation, new uses for these types of watches have recently been discovered. Many parents are now turning to GPS watches to keep track of their children. Special software enables parents to track their children on PC's and Notebooks anywhere, anytime provided that they are wearing their GPS watches. In addition, GPS watches have also found their way into medical circles where they are currently being used to track patients with memory disorders.

Initially, the greatest drawback to GPS watches was the fact that they were somewhat cumbersome and therefore rather uncomfortable to wear. Certain models were criticized due to the fact that they were heavy and too big to fit comfortably under sleeve seams. In addition, because GPS watches are able to track less satellites than handheld units, they were often slower and sometimes less accurate than handheld models. Manufacturers have now made it their priority to produce smaller, more accurate versions of original products. Models like the Suunto X 9 are testament to the fact that great improvements have been made in the recent past. The latest GPS watch models such as the Suunto X 9 costs in the region of $600. It is possible to pick up an older model for between $100 and $300.