Epson came into the activewear GPS watch market a few years ago with a line of watches that may not have had all the fancy bells and whistles of their industry competition, but had a battery life that was completely unmatched. What they lacked in functionality they gained in GPS accuracy, comfort, and battery life.
Last Fall Epson released the ProSense line; a series of watches with increased functionality, including two different multi-sport options. Their CardioSense wrist heartrate monitor is more accurate and an improved EasyView display and function buttons make all of their watches easier to use. While all of that is impressive, the real pre-release chatter was around a new watch that boasted a 46 hour battery life.
Epson sent us several watches to test and expectations were high. Below is our review of three of their watches.
Tested and reviewed by Craig Lloyd
I was one of the original testers for the first round of watches Epson produced. I had been using and was in love with my Suunto, but after wearing my no-frills Epson my world changed and I never put the Suunto back on. I had a watch that lasted more than 24 hours, allowing me to complete just about any 100 mile race without having to change out my watch or charge my battery.
I was excited to test the new ProSense 307. As a multi-sport watch it boasted significantly more functionality than I was used to. Running is my only sport, so even though I had access to swimming and biking, neither was something I necessarily needed. I also don’t train by wrist heart-rate monitor, making the functionality a “nice to have”. My hopes, before knowing the details, were that I would get the same fantastic battery life with a few extra pieces of functionality.
The first time I wore the watch was doing the Zion Traverse, a 48 mile run across all of Zion National Park. I thought I had fully charged the watch, however, it died after 10 hours, leaving me without any way to track the last hour+ of running. Assuming it was user error, that I hadn’t charged it enough or that I had too many pieces of functionality working at once, I attempted to change some settings. However, the improvement was only marginal. When I thought I had found a way to turn off the heart-rate monitor, what I really found was that it only turned off the display of it. The little light continues to blink and that must drain the battery. You also can’t manipulate GPS accuracy (unlike other competitor watches) or timing as a means to improve battery function. You simply get what you get.
So even though some of the additional pieces of functionality (like total trip Ascent) are great to have, overall I have been disappointed by my experience with the ProSense 307.
Tested and reviewed by Matt Williams
Coming from the Epson SF-810 – which boasts wrist heart rate monitor, massive battery life and most of the true functionality you’d expect from a high-end GPS unit in a no-frills, incredibly affordable package – testing the ProSense 57 seemed like the perfect transition to this updated round of watches from Epson.
I wore it around for a few days before using it for a run, noting the improved Bluetooth functionality, sleep tracking, step counting, and vibration alerts, which I really liked (my Ambit can only beep, not vibrate). The watch is incredibly light, which can feel a little cheap, but I had no issues with durability. Sizing was small, so users with big wrists may max out the strap. The charging attachment was a big improvement, moving to an alligator type clip rather than a desktop docking accessory that the 810 required.
When I decided to take it out for a run, I had already worn it for a few days and was surprised that the watch died shortly after starting. Doh! My 810 had lulled me into always assuming that the watch would be good to go. All of the additional features do come at a cost to the battery life – so keep an eye on the battery even if you haven’t taken it on a run in a bit. The watch boasts ‘up to’ a 10-hour battery life, but that will vary depending on what extras you have running.
In short, I was a little disappointed with the battery life which, admittedly, was based on my own prior expectations. If you’re looking for a feature-rich GPS, Heart Rate enabled watch at an incredible price point (just over $100!), and a proper expectation of battery life (read – you don’t need a lot), the ProSense 57 a sensible choice.
Tested and reviewed by Pete Stoughton
The Epson Prosense 17 is a base model GPS watch for the budget conscious runner. This introductory watch has basic features; including alarm, stopwatch, lap, etc. that you expect with any standard workout watch. Obviously, it is a GPS watch with the additional features of Bluetooth connectivity and nice music link option. The specs reflect a 13-hour battery life, though I have yet to experience that. The GPS connected quickly to satellites, and the interface of the watch is mostly intuitive. The watch also does a good job of step counting and the backlight option is great. The watch is lightweight and great for small wrists.
The highlight of the watch was the music integration. It was fun to play and pause music throughout the day and on runs. The materials of the watch felt cheap. The charging cable, although similar to that of the Suunto, was rigid. The Bluetooth notifications were unimpressive showing very little content, lacked author information, and showed up only 75% of the time.
The Pro Sense 17 is definitely an introductory watch, as its extremely low price point shows ($90). If you’re really pinching pennies, it does offer a lot for the price, but personally, I would suggest saving up your money and buying a different watch or an upgraded Epson model.
Epson still makes great, affordable, no-nonsense watches. That said, it feels that with the ProSense line Epson has taken a step back from their previous line of active GPS watches, especially as it relates to the battery life. Our advice to Epson, go back to the basics and make watches with incomparable battery life, and let that set you apart.
Our advice to you? If the watch hits all the marks you need, they’re a great buy that’s hard to pass up, especially if you’re looking for a fully loaded watch that doesn’t break the bank.