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March 2008

March 2008 Essentials Review: High Tech


Suunto Lumi Terra
"I love its low profile," says one of the testers who evaluated this women-specific timer. "It’s half the bulk of most altimeter watches." It records altitude, barometric pressure, weather trends, and logs specific details on your hike or trail run, including duration, altitude, and elevation gain. And it records changes in altitude when you’re moving and barometric pressure when you’re stopped. The benefit? The watch won’t forecast a storm as the pressure plummets when you climb 3,000 feet (altimeter watches measure pressure to determine altitude). Warning: The features and settings are not intuitive, so don’t lose the owner’s manual. $389; 3 oz.;

Garmin Forerunner 50

The only feature not included in this sports watch is a GPS. That’s correct, this GPS giant decided to lose the satellites for this superlight, moderately-priced fitness tool. The Forerunner 50 provides the usual watch features, plus a few others when combined with its optional heart-rate monitor and pedometer: pace, distance, calories burned, and heart rate. And when you return from a run, ride, or hike, the Forerunner 50 automatically sends data wirelessly to a USB receiver plugged into your PC. In seconds, you can analyze your workout, compare it to past sessions, and share it online. Nitpick: The watch face lacks a backlight for night viewing. $107 (with heart-rate monitor), $160 (with pedometer), $213 (both);

HighGear Altis TI
This altimeter watch is stylish enough for dinner with the boss yet tough enough for climbing Rainier. In addition to the usual features, this shiny titanium model tracks elevation gain/loss and atmospheric pressure over a 24-hour period, so you can view your progress and predict incoming weather. And it features a scratch-resistant face and digital compass. Tip: Preset the elevation of your home, office, or favorite peak, and you can recalibrate the altimeter in the field with a push of a button. $300; 3.6 oz.;

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