Sunday, March 18, 2012

Leikr GPS Sport Watch Features OpenStreetMaps


Introducing the Danish-made Leikr GPS Sport Watch, a multi-sport GPS watch designed for running, cycling and endurance sports. The watch has features that you would expect in any normal GPS sport watch including measuring speed, distance, heart rate (with the appropriate heart monitor), calories burned and pace to name a few. What makes this watch stand out for me, however, is their integration with color maps from OpenStreetMaps and the large 2 inch screen which features several levels of zoom and shows you an actual map view of the streets around you.

The watch has the ability to connect with the MapMyFitness family, Endomondo and Strava, with more integration planned in the future. It is lightweight and has WiFi connectivity to upload stats without cords or cables. The unit has a high-performance GPS for quick locks and 8GB of storage for maps. It does not stream OpenStreetMaps, but you can save quite a few maps to the watch, and the tiles are pretty good size.

While I haven’t tried it out, the reviews and comments have two main negatives that I see over and over:

First is battery life. The unit has an expected battery life of 4 to 5 hours–which is more than enough for a short run, but wouldn’t be appropriate for a long ride or a hike without some sort of on-the-go charger. The battery cannot be changed out, and while you candisable vibrations to extend the battery a slight bit, it overall isn’t going to change the battery life much. The watch doesn’t use a traditional charger but rather has a cradle-style hookup so a special cord and charger are required. Of course, that might not be a big deal if you don’t do really long runs. The watch doesn’t have any time-telling face, so it isn’t the sort of thing you would wear as an everyday watch anyway.

The second negative–which, oddly enough, Leikr totes as a positive–is frequent firmware updates. The positive side to this is that, theoretically, the device is always improving and adding new features. However, the reality is that some of the updates seem to be a little buggy and cause some problems with the watch functions. There is a forum on their site where the makers have direct involvement, so I expect getting solutions would be easier than with, say, Garmin. But that would be purely personal preference.

The device is for sale on Amazon as well as from other stores on Leikr’s website and retails at around $350. If you aren’t a fan of the big corporations, then the kickstarter-funded Leikr might be a good way to go.

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