Hands-on Gear Review

New Balance GPS Trainer Review

New Balance GPS Trainer
Price:  $150 List | $69.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive with effective feature set
Cons:  No Button lock nor data upload option
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Main body size:  44mm diameter, 15mm thickness
Weight:  60g
Battery Type:  not specified
Manufacturer:   New Balance

Our Verdict

This device is almost an excellent piece of equipment. New Balance put in considerable design and thought, but neglected to follow through with one or two major features. The construction is solid, the instrumentation is reliable, and the features are simple yet thorough enough for most athletes. However, the lack of a button lock and the ability to save data externally significantly hamstrings the device. Given these shortcomings, at this price point we recommend our Best Buy winning Garmin Forerunner 230 or our Top Pick winner Nike+ Sportwatch GPS. If you are looking for a full-featured training device, you won't do better than our Editors' Choice Suunto Ambit 3 Sport.


RELATED REVIEW: Best GPS Watches of 2017 for Running & Training

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Jediah Porter

Last Updated:
Tuesday
February 7, 2017

Share:

Hands-On Review


As a product from a smaller, primarily footwear-oriented company, the New Balance GPS trainer is an impressive effort. It lacks the polish and refinement of the products from the electronics companies, and doesn't have the social and motivational features of the Nike+ Sportwatch GPS, but it fills a small niche.
The New Balance in action. Uphill rock carries tracked for distance and heart rate.
The New Balance in action. Uphill rock carries tracked for distance and heart rate.

Ease of Use


With data only viewable on the device, the overall ease of use score suffers a bit. Most of our testing team, and most athletes in the market for a fitness tracking device, will wish to collate and save their data digitally. If you are in this category, but looking for a simple affordable device, check out our Best Buy winning Garmin Forerunner 230. However, if uploading data to your pc or to the web is not at all important to you, you can save a few further dollars with the New Balance watch. As with all of the tested gps devices, data management is the primary determinant of a watch's ease of use. Otherwise, the New Balance is easy enough to use. You'll lean heavily on the written instruction manual, but you will get it down soon enough.
The selection of buttons and screen views is a bit confusing and complicated  but a regular user will figure it out.
The selection of buttons and screen views is a bit confusing and complicated, but a regular user will figure it out.

Features


The New Balance device is an interesting combination of features. The watch itself is a pretty simple time and location tracker. Very little frills characterize this product. However, New Balance's inclusion of a heart-rate band increases the scores considerably. If monitoring your exertion level during a run is crucial to you, yet you still have a tight budget, the GPS Trainer can save you almost a hundred dollars over the competition. Again, as compared to our Best Buy winner, the New Balance with heart rate monitoring is quite a bit less expensive. As tested, the Garmin Forerunner is slightly more expensive. With the after-market heart rate band, it is quite a bit more.
The New Balance GPS trainer has a feature set roughly similar to this sample of tested devices. Strava on a smartphone  the Forerunner 110 (replaced for 2015 by the 210)  and the Nike all do it slightly better. However  if you want to track heart rate on a budget  the GPS trainer fills a niche.
The New Balance GPS trainer has a feature set roughly similar to this sample of tested devices. Strava on a smartphone, the Forerunner 110 (replaced for 2015 by the 210), and the Nike all do it slightly better. However, if you want to track heart rate on a budget, the GPS trainer fills a niche.

Accuracy


Interestingly, while the New Balance feel and feature set is quite a bit more budget-oriented, the accuracy doesn't suffer at all. Across our entire test roster, individual device accuracy varied by less than three percent. While the New Balance was tied with the Nike+ Sportwatch for the poorest accuracy, the three percent margin of error in these devices is hardly a problem for most athletes.

Ease of Set-up


With an "old school" watch interface, the GPS Trainer takes considerably more time and effort to set up than the other tools in our test. All of the other companies have clearly invested a fair amount of time in making their user interfaces and setup intuitive and modern.

Durability


Across the board, in the most important ways, durability of our tested devices was excellent. We experienced no complete failures. However, some watches suffered from short-term failure. The primary short-term failure was a lack of data integrity. Basically, if the watch is vulnerable to suspension or erasure of your in-activity data stream, it's durability score suffers. Without a button lock, the GPS Trainer regularly changes data fields and stops, starts, or erases your information. This attribute, while not an actual failure of the hardware or software, is undesirable at best. On every "normal" run, not to mention during more vigorous activity, at least a few inadvertent button pushes would occur.

Portability


The GPS Trainer isn't the smallest nor is it the largest in our test. It fits it's instrumentation in a package that is comparable with the rest of the field.

Best Applications


This is an excellent device for the casual trainee looking for real-time heart rate data on a budget.
Side-by-side size comparison of the New Balance and Nike watches.
Side-by-side size comparison of the New Balance and Nike watches.

Value


If you can work around the quirks and limitations of this watch, it is an excellent value.

Conclusion


New Balance, especially for a shoe company, comes very close to creating a viable training watch. However, in the opinion of our testing team, the lack of a data-upload function and the vulnerability of the non-locking buttons makes the extra dollars spent on one of the other tested devices more than worth it.
Jediah Porter

You Might Also Like

OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: February 7, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (2.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 100%  (1)
1 star: 0%  (0)


Have you used this product?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...