Thursday, February 25, 2016

Epson Runsense SF-810 Review (GPS Watch)

Back in the day, I had a printer made by a company called Epson. This machine printed out hundreds of pages of my graduate school research papers. Fast forward to today - who knew that the same company - Epson - would help me log hundreds of miles as I ran on my favorite trails, roads and paths? And, who knew this is the exact same watch Meb wears (the Runsense SF-810)?

Back in November I was asked to review this watch. I didn't realize that Epson made GPS watches or that they were specifically for runners (although can also be used when cycling). I was curious and truth be told, I am not going to turn down a free GPS in exchange for my honest review. Good enough for Meb, good enough for me.

For the past almost four months I have been running exclusively with this watch, which has been at least 400 miles. I am not going to lie - this is a watch with lots of options. I am not so good at technology and buttons and bells and whistles (that's why I'm a social worker, duh), so there was a learning curve for me with this watch (as there is with me and anything that plugs in or has a battery).

Since I started running six years ago, I've worn a Garmin. I was glad to try something new. The reason I was most interested in this particular watch was:
  • Heart rate monitoring: There is no chest strap involved (hello chafing!). The heart rate monitor is built into the inside of the watch and gets your heart rate from your wrist automatically. Now, that is slick.

  • Long battery life. 20 hours (in active GPS mode). Nice. That's twice what I was getting with my other watch.
  • Tracks elevation gain and loss. I know many watches do this, but I've not had one before that did.  I love the feeling of accomplishment I see how many feet I've climbed on a trail run. And, since I will be doing the 6 day TransRockies run (elevation gain of 20,000+ feet) I really want to track my elevation gain/loss on runs quite precisely.
Once I got the watch, I was impressed by the clear and bright face. It is a rather masculine looking watch, which doesn't bug me (I kind of like it), but it is not nice and dainty if that is what you are looking for.

Things I like about it (pros):
  1. Gets satellites lightening fast. Never takes more than 10 seconds even if I'm in the car.
  2. Tracks not just heart rate, elevation gain/loss, distance, pace, etc but also stride length (interesting - mine averages 39" -not sure what that means) and a multitude of other things (35 data points total).
  3. Vibrates and dings when I hit the mile marker. I like this because you can turn off the sound and just have it vibrate, so if you're listening to music, etc, you still know when you hit certain points.
  4. The strap (plastic) has a lot of holes so it is easy to get the proper fit on your wrist.
  5. Easy to read display, even in sunlight. Has a light that comes on for 10" when it's dark.
  6. Can be worn in the shower/pool
  7. Lightweight
Things I'm not so keen on (cons):
  1. The charging vestibule is bulky and seems kind of old school/antiquated
  2. In full disclosure, I did not use the mobile app (I'm just not an app person, sorry). However, all reviews have said it is slow and not especially user friendly.
  3. Does not automatically sync info to smartphone.
Maybe you can't see it. But, trust me I am wearing the watch under the layers.

In sum:

The pros on this one much outweigh the cons for me. Not only do I like the look of this watch, but the GPS is accurate and satellites are easily obtainable. I love the fit of the watch - I can get it snug, but it doesn't hit that weird bone on my wrist (the pisiform bone I think?). The optical heart rate sensor, which means no chest strap is a HUGE plus. Overall, a great quality watch for the long distance runner. 

What kind of watch do you wear? Are you satisfied with it? Why or why not?


Epson America sent me this watch to review. All opinions are my own.


  1. I have the Suunto Ambit2 and love it. 2 1/2 years and it's still in great condition. Works great for running and cycling. It has a similar look to your Epson. I can also configure different screens depending on what I'm doing (running, intervals, cycling, etc.) I had a Garmin, but the Suunto wins hands down.

  2. I'm curious how accurate you think the heart rate monitor is? I've always been skeptical about the ones that can get an accurate heart rate by the wrist.

    1. For me I think it has been accurate based on how it compares with my chest strap. You can read this review from CNET for more info (they think it has great accuracy):

  3. I recently got a sony smartwatch3. I usually run with my phone anyway (dad/coach) and have been very happy. It has a built in gps function, but I've been curious about its accuracy vs other gps watches. I use mostly the ghostrunner app, which is simple and offers some configuration and runtastic through my phone

  4. I'm currently wearing the Garmin 220 and LOVE it! I had a garmin before and liked it, switched to Soleus and it was okay. Hubby got me the 220 for Christmas and I'm still loving it.

  5. My husband bought me the Garmin 235 for Christmas. It also has a heart rate monitor in the wrist and will also calculate steps. It even registers my sleep. The GPS is much quicker than my old Garmin and the battery life was about a week initially but that has decreased.
    It is bluetooth compatible for uploading to your phone. It also can give you notifications which I had to turn off within the first week. Buzzed all day!!!! I like it. I have even uploaded a speed workout into it.

    1. I got the 235 at the end of last year too and had to turn off the phone notifications, as well! So obnoxious.

  6. I had no idea that Epson made anything but printers. Who knew? I have an old Garmin Forerunner 10...and an Apple Watch. Let me just say that the Apple Watch is great for so many things, but not for running. I'm sad. I wanted it to be my ONLY watch. Waaaah.

    Next thing you know, you'll be wearing Sketchers...

  7. I use the Garmin Fenix 3. So far, I love it. I also use a Scosche Rhythm+ heart rate monitor that goes around the forearm. I have been impressed with its accuracy, and there is no chaffing. The Fenix connects with the Garmin Connect App on my phone or automatically through the WiFi in my house. Very easy.....But you have to get it set up first. I'm an IT guy, so it's not too hard for me, but some might want to pull their hair out.

  8. Garmin Forerunner 220. I've had it since the end of August, and really like it; although it is the only GPS watch I've ever owned. Before that I was just using the RunKeeper app on my phone... but I couldn't just look down at my wrist anytime I wanted to know my pace, etc., so I got the watch. I've use it for all of my runs, and have used it for two races -- and the watch came out closer to official race results than my phone did.

  9. Garmin 235. Loving the wrist based HR. Was previously wearing a Garmin 220 + a Fitbit for the wrist HR and step tracking. Now I have it all in one device. It's a great device but randomly loses it's Bluetooth connection and has a bunch of bugs we are still waiting for Garmin to hash out(none of which personal effect me on running data).

  10. I'm currently running with a very old Garmin Forerunner 305. I "upgraded" to a 405 at one point, but after 500 charges the non-replaceable battery stopped holding a charge. Interesting design feature.

    When the 305 finally dies I'll be in the market for something new, but NOT one you can only charge 500 times (yes, I'm looking at YOU, Garmin!!)

  11. Thanks for this review! I'm curious about the Epson line of GPS watches - some of the other reviews that I've read have been critical of the overall quality of construction of the watch. Have you had any doubts or concerns in that respect?

    1. No, in fact I think that is a strength of this watch.

  12. I have never owned a fitness watch. I use a running app on my phone.

  13. I just got a Garmin Vivoactive (with heart rate monitor) for Christmas and I love it.I had been running with a no-frills somethingorother and this is sooooo much better! I love this watch. It's a fitness and sleep tracker, plus it tracks runs like this one you have, cycling, swimming, and golf. It syncs automatically to Map My Run and the Garmin Connect app. That app has all sorts of data that I never knew I needed like stride length, cadence, etc. It vibrates at each mile as well so I don't need to look at it. I'm a huge fan.

  14. I just started using a Garmin Forerunner 235 and love it. It's not so bulky and does not need a strap to monitor heart rate, and since it tracks steps, sleep, etc., I'm wearing it all the time. Automatically syncs to my phone and Garmin Connect, and it does everything I need it to and then some. And I scored in buying it: I won some contests at work and was able to get about $200 of gift cards to REI as a result, so between coupons and gift cards, it cost me less than $100 out of pocket. Of course my husband immediately followed suit and bought one for himself without the gift cards.

  15. I only wear a FitBit One, which is not a watch it's a clip on pedometer. It does have a timer mode, so I can see how long I've been running, how many steps in that time, and how many flights of stairs in that time (but not actual feet, lol!). I've thought about upgrading to one of their fancier ones with heartrate tracking and maybe a few more features, but I'm the type that will wait till this one dies before replacing it. I've looked at some of the GPS watches and would get a kick out of them, but I would still want to have something smaller to wear the rest of the day, as they are too bulky to have one me 24/7. Whereas my FitBit is unobtrusive enough that I also use it as a sleep tracker.

  16. I was unsure about the watch. Asked I reviews that the app and website are not up to par. But I love my SF-810. It just works. And the HR seems super accurate to me which is a concern with some other wrist based HR watches. It has so many different ways to see your data on screen. And since I can sync it with now automatically it is great. Love it. I hope Epson keeps making watches and improves their apps and website so we have more choices than just the main 2 (or 3).

  17. I bought my Garmin 235 (built-in heart rate monitor) at Thanksgiving 2015. Love it! I was thrilled to throw away my chest strap. I find I can't stop using my Nike+ app, though, because I like that it has logged my running miles these past four years, and I want to see that number continue to grow.

  18. I have a $20 Timex that tells me what time it is (imagine that) and gives me splits if I want them…after 44 years of running I really don't need anything else at this point in time..

  19. I have a Garmin 235. I'm kind of obsessed with it!

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  22. I wear my Fitbit Charge HR daily. (This has the heart rate monitor on the wrist.) When I run, I also wear my Garmin 620. I don't like the chest strap, so I just wear both the Garmin and the Fitbit at the same time.

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