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Product review: Epson RUNSENSE SF-810

by Paul Shanley
Thursday 10th September 2015
Tags  Epson RUNSENSE SF-810   |   Epson   |   RUNSENSE   |   SF-810   |   GPS   |   Heart rate monitor   |   Running watch   |   running app
 
 

 

Paul Shanley tests the Epson RUNSENSE SF-810, a GPS watch with a built in wrist heart rate monitor

Being universally known for producing great printers most people have to ask twice when I tell them what brand of watch I have on my wrist. So how has a company that makes printers found themselves in the performance sports watch market?

Well Epson is now part of the Japan based Seiko Epson Corporation and I don’t need to tell you that Seiko know how to make watches. The RUNSENSE range of watches is a clear indication that Epson are looking to get into this market and since being launched in the UK the back end of 2014 are now starting to pick up some momentum.

Epson RUNSENSE SF-810

We took the Epson RUNSENSE SF-810 for a test and this is what we found:

Out of the box

The initial look of the watch is very nice - it has a large screen which is big enough to see when running, but also small enough that you could use it as an everyday watch without it drawing too much attention. The colour scheme was unusual in black and purple, but the watch is very well made and the addition of the metal ring around the face makes it look very smart and a high value item.

The watch fits comfortably and the special design of the strap allows the unit to be tight on your wrist whilst still allowing for some movement if needed. Overall the watch feels very robust and the colour scheme and design makes it attractive to both sexes.

In the box you get the watch, instructions (including a quick start guide) and the charging cradle. The charging cradle is quite large which surprised me at first but when sitting on your desk charging it does look good. The watch had some charge in but I immediately put it on to charge and while doing so the display shows a battery and the % charge update. Placing the watch in the charger and removing it takes a little bit of getting used too, but it is easy to work out which way up the watch has to be to click in and there is something nice and reassuring about the click and beep once it is in place.

Setting Up

Following the on-screen instructions set up was easy and as you would expect you have to set your details including height, weight, DOB, gender and the date. To set the time you have to be able to have a GPS signal and this is where I think I made an error. I set the time but it was an hour out and no matter how many times I tried to get the watch to do a time adjust, I couldn’t get the correct time - in the end I manually added an hour. I am sure with a bit more work I would have worked it out but as I wanted to get out running I decided to just do it manually.

GPS

With one press of a button the watch is looking for satellite signal and displays a graphic of satellites, one by one, until you have a full signal (I am not sure whether this just a way of showing the strength of the signal or whether it was actually showing the number of satellite I had connected too). While the watch is searching for a signal you have the option to say ignore or indoor and the unit was very quick to pick up a signal.

One element I didn’t like is that when wearing the watch for everyday use I would often catch the start button and it would start looking for satellites - it is easy to cancel this but I have seen other watches where you have to confirm before it takes you into the start screen, which stops this from happening.

The GPS as you would expect works well and was accurate; the readings I took on my usual run matched pretty closely with what other watches had told me and overall the function was nice and easy to use.

Heart Rate

With all wrist based heart rate measurements you need the watch to be on your wrist fairly tight, as the heart rate is read through a sensor on the back of the watch and for it to work well the closer it is to your wrist and ideally the darker (the sensor uses light to bounce of your skin) the better. The strap design on the Epson RUNSENSE SF-810 allows you to have the watch on fairly tight but still be comfortable. Having used the watch a lot, I found that I would make sure it was on tight when running and I would then loosen it slightly for everyday use.  

As well as taking your heart rate when recording your runs, you can also press a button to just get your heart rate immediately - this is a great feature and while new, I would regularly check my heart rate while doing random tasks. Monitoring heart rate on the wrist has improved so much over the years, but I am always a bit cautious of the readings, as it is easy for the watch to be disturbed. I am sure in time the monitoring will be as accurate and stable as a heart strap monitor and the slight discrepancy is more than made up for by the ease of use of the wrist monitor.

Basic Operations

The operation of the watch is smooth and logical, although if you are used to other sports watches it might take you a bit of time to work out which buttons to press and to navigate menus. I did find myself referring to the quick start guide a number of times as the layout of buttons was very different to my previous watch (The layout isn’t wrong, just different).

Getting in a position to go out running is pretty easy and stress free and the different screens you can scroll through while out on the run are easy to read and provide all the data you would need.  One of the big plus points of this watch is that the battery life is good even if you use the GPS regularly. One downside I did find is that every now and then, after a charge, the watch asks you to input your data again - it does store the data so you only have to ok everything but it still takes some time to go through. I would prefer only to re-input my data should I reset the watch and I suspect this could be a bit annoying.

Run Connect App

Setting up the Run Connect App was also time consuming and seemed more complicated than other running Apps. Once set up the level of functionality is good but again it requires time to understand how it all works and how to get the best out of it. Display wise they have gone for functionality over form and although it displays the data so you can read it, the App feels more like you are looking at business graphs rather than running.

Data

The watch allows you measure time, distance and speed and a host of useful running features that you would expect for a high end sports watch (interval training based on time, distance and heart rate; lap functions; setting goals etc.). This, with the GPS and heart rate, means there is no end of data for you to analyse, but again you have to spend a bit of time getting to know the watch to take full advantage of these settings.

Plus

  • Well made with a clear display and comfortable.
  • Plethora of running features.
  • Looks smart and works well as an everyday watch.
  • Long battery life.
  • GPS and heart rate monitoring accuracy are more than enough for most runners.

Downside

  • Requires time to learn how to use and take advantage of all its functionality.
  • Run Connect App requires time investment to get the best from it and aesthetically is not inspiring.
  • A few annoyances - e.g. I found it easy to catch the buttons and start it; after charging you had to input your details again etc...


Conclusion

If you have been using a GPS sports monitor watch before you might struggle at first to get to grips with the Epson RUNSENSE and the different way it does things. The watch is well made as you would expect from Seiko and once you have mastered the controls it does provide you with a good range of features, making it an impressive running companion.

If you are in the market for a watch with good GPS and a wrist heart rate monitor, then the Epson RUNSENSE with its good build quality and long battery life should make it one for you to consider. The watch does require some time investment to use especially if you want to take advantage of the vast array of features.

Find out more at: www.epson.co.uk/gb/en/

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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