Tech4o Trail Leader Pro
Tech4o Trail Leader Pro is an amazing fitness watch. In fact, it doesn’t seem right to call it just a watch when it has a multitude of other capabilities. The review below is designed to give you an overview of the watch features, pros, cons, and an overall recommendation. As a runner, I took this watch on long runs, speed workouts, and even did some short hikes with it. Here’s what I think…
Before delving into the pros and cons, it’s worth listing the features of this watch because it’s got some very powerful and unique capabilities:
Trail Leader Pro - Features
Highly Accurate Accelerometer-based Exercise Mode
(speed, distance, calories, steps, pace measurement)
Count Down Timer
2.4GHz Heart Rate Measurement
PC Link Capability
PROS – My Favorite Features
- Heart Rate Monitor: The heart rate chest strap is ergonomic and comfortable. I also like the watch display mode where the heart rate and percentage Max HR are shown side-by-side. It saves me from doing the math in my head while running…cool feature.
- Display / User Screens: The Trail Leader Pro is a nice size. It’s comparable to a dive watch and uses every bit of that diameter for its display. There are dozens of configurations you can use based on the watch’s many features. I personally liked displaying my speed, distance and moving time and would toggle back and forth to check my HR. The display numbers are large and clear. And the “moving time” is easy to spot with the little runner icon (more on that later). With a list of 20 user function modes that you can display (3 at a time)…it’s easy to find a custom display to fit your needs.
- Moving Time Field: One of the fields in the user mode is “Moving Time”..this is your actual running time. No need to stop and start the watch at red lights or bathroom breaks (you marathoners out there know what I mean ;-). It’s a nice feature that takes the worry away of stopping and starting to watch…this feature grew on me.
- Customization: There is a user screen where you enter your gender, birthday, height, weight and stride. After underestimating my stride length on the first few workouts, I ran a known course length a few times and re-calculated a better stride length and re-entered it. The watch now has +/- 5% accuracy on my workouts…which is rather impressive. Unlike a traditional pedometer, the accelerometer is much more accurate in sensing and recording strides. With the accurate distance measurement and user data, you can now toggle to see calories burned, walking / running pace, steps, and distance as you run.
- Wireless PC Link: This is a high-end feature that is usually found on watches that are over $300….not under $200. Using a USB stick, the Trail Leader Pro can send your workout data to a nice log book (Tech4o - Wireless Data Manager) that tracks your daily workouts, graphs altitude changes, and keeps a log of your chronograph split times. It’s a nice piece of software that’s on a mini CD in the Trail Leader Pro box. It was quick and easy to install…very user-friendly.
- The Weather Forecast: I don’t know if it’s a guy-gadget-thing, but WOW…this watch forecasts the weather! With an onboard, highly-sensitive barometer, the Trail Leader Pro uses the pressure and temperature data to give you a visual forecast icon. And in my experience this forecast was pretty darn accurate…if only I had this watch on that AT hike a few years ago…but I digress…
- Digital Compass: One thing I liked about my GPS watch was that it served as a competent navigation tool. But here’s a watch that I’ve found to have an accurate compass (to 1 degree accuracy, no less) and an accurate means of measuring distance. Pair those facts with a long-lasting watch battery and you have a reliable tool for runners, hikers, and other outdoor sports enthusiasts.
- Endurance: My GPS watch (which cost twice as much) has to be recharged every few days - 10 hours of battery life. This watch has a CR2032 lithium battery that will last a long time. And for those of you out there like me…you know, pack 5 pens for a meeting…just in case…always be prepared…well, the battery compartment is user-friendly too. This makes it a no-brainer to pack an extra battery for those long thru-hikers that want to be extra prepared.
I could have rambled on about some other cool features like the digital temperature, the altimeter, the dual-time feature, stopwatch, countdown timer, nice audible alarm or even the LED backlight…but the items above are what got my attention the most when using the Trail Leader Pro.
The CONS – nothing's perfect…
- Watch Learning Curve: Because of the many, many features of this watch, it did take me a few days to master its use. Like holding down the MODE button for 3 seconds to get to the user display, or hitting ESC twice to access the Trail Menu…little things…and all detailed in the 51-page user manual. I wrote to Tech4o and recommended that they add a few videos to their website to help us visual learners…perhaps that will help those intimidated by the technology.
- Stride Length: I have to admit that the first few iterations were my own fault…I used the 36-inch sidewalk blocks to guess my stride length. For the next 2 workouts, I ran a measured course and took the average number of steps divided by the distance. For example, there are 5,280 feet in a mile, 1,320 feet in a ¼ mile, or 330 feet in the straight-away of a track. There's a handy calculator on the Tech4o site to help with this. Count your stride lengths for a few 100 meter jogs on the track and you’ll do in minutes what took me days ;-). I tested this feature pretty vigorously...with different running forms, speeds, and watch alignments - and overall, the watch doesn’t miss a stride / step.
- Battery Life (update): It would be nice if they develop a charging station for the watch, as I've replaced several button batteries in as many months.
- No GPS: As accurate as the pedometer feature is, GPS accuracy blows this away.
Trail Leader Pro - Summary
This watch is a terrific bargain when you look at ALL the features you get for the price! As an exercise watch it has everything you could want – HR monitor, PC link, accurate distance measurement, pace (speed), calories burned, and elevation data. Add to this a compass, barometer, altimeter, thermometer, and a watch that doesn’t need periodic recharging and you have a great deal. I would recommend this to any runner or hiker out there that wants a reliable training tool. It’s well worth it. For more information on the Trail Leader Pro watch, check out the
Tech4o website .
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