WHAT IT IS, WHY IT MATTERS
The Epson Runsense SF-810 is a watch that, as the name may suggest, is built for runners. It includes GPS and a heart rate monitor. The built-in optical heart rate sensor is partnered with Epson’s Smart Stride measurement, and the GPS sensors, so you can accurately measure how far you have run, and how quickly (or slowly). Advanced training modes are included to help the elite athlete get more from their tired limbs.
PRICE AND VALUE
The Epson Runsense SF-810 is slated to sell for £199.99/$300 inc VAT, down from the initial £259.99/$390 inc VAT quoted by Epson as the SRP. A quick scout around online shows that around £200/$300 is about right, although we note that Argos is selling the Epson Runsense SF-810 for a mighty £299/$449 inc VAT. You are probably better off buying it off Amazon for £200/$300 .
In terms of value this is actually okay. The broadly similar TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio sport watch retails for £200/$300, although you can pick it up cheaper if you shop around. Which is okay: this is a fitness gadget, and not a smartphone extension like a smartwatch. The Microsoft Band retails for around £145/$218, for instance, and offers some smartwatch features such as email notifications. But it isn’t waterproof, and can’t be used for swimming or in the shower as can the Epson.
You will pay the same of more for the Fitbit Surge, which is the equivalent FitBit fitness device. So the Epson is well priced, but only for fitness enthusiasts who don’t want additional connected features.
BUILD QUALITY AND DESIGN
The Epson Runsense SF-810 wins points for actually looking like a watch, but then loses them for looking like the sort of watch you might win at a fair. It’s not a fashion accessory, of course, but if I am dropping two hundred notes on a wearable device, these days I expect something more than black and gray plastic and rubber.
Which is not say that the Epson Runsense SF-810 is at all ugly. Indeed, it has a certain understated charm. A circular watch fascia is surrounded by a smart silvery ring. Big chunky buttons adorn the outside, and are easy to hit even when sweating and running. And the now familiar holey strap allows for almost limitless adaptability in terms of wrist size.
Waterproof, we tried the Epson Runsense SF-810 in both shower and pool with no adverse effects. And it is sufficiently robust to stand up to over a month in our running bag, being dragged around, without picking up scratches. We did get a bit of grime on the inside of the watch face, however. Nothing that a quick shower won’t sort out.
The provided charging cable is easy to use, well put together, and versatile – in that it charges from USB.
Weighing only 50g, the Epson Runsense SF-810 is unlikely to slow you down, either. It is 44.5 mm wide and 14 mm thick at the outsides, so it is relatively slight, for a GPS watch. Overall we have no real problems with the Epson Runsense SF-810’s design, and its build quality is good.
We measured the Runsense’s display at 28.2 mm across. It is a circular LCD display, with a resolution of 128 x 128 pixels. Don’t expect to have your socks knocked off. It’s neither particularly bright, nor particularly sharp, but you can see the required information comfortably when on the move. And there is a light for night time runs.
The Epson Runsense SF-810’s display is perfectly acceptable, without being great. You can read it, and it tells you what you need to know. And that is good enough for me.
Let’s go for the good points first. We found that the Epson Runsense SF-810 offered a pretty accurate and consistent heart-rate read. And used over a period of time it showed consistent and accurate GPS tracking on runs. That easy-to-read display offers up a lot of data, and the bezel buttons are easy to use and intuitive. And, yes, we like that it can be worn in the shower. I have lost a few gadgets that way.
Those are pretty important, and so far so good. What is great is the long battery life. We used the Epson Runsense SF-810 several times for decent-length runs over the course of a fortnight, and it never needed recharging. Epson claims up to 20 hours in use with GPS on, and we wouldn’t argue with that.
And the bad? Our biggest gripe is that in our tests GPS signal acquisition was a little slow, and quite hit and miss. Anyone who has used a satnav knows that this is a standard thing, but the Epson Runsense SF-810 was more painful to use in this respect than either the TomTom Multi-Sport of the Microsoft Band.
Potentially unfair because it is what it is (but also true) this is a limited device, really only for serious runners. There is no all-day activity tracking, so don’t expect this to replace your FitBit. And there are no non-running modes. It really is about measuring heartrate and on-foot distance only. Workout data isn’t synced to your smartphone unless you tell it to, either, and the mobile app is slow and buggy.
- Smart Stride
- optical heart rate sensor
- 20 hours battery life with GPS and heart rate tracking
- Runsense View portal and free app
- 4 customisable screens with up to 3 measurements
- Bluetooth synch
- strap is 44.5 mm wide and 14 mm thick at the outsides
A full-featured watch for runners, the Epson Runsense SF-810 will be the perfect companion for those serious about shaving times of long-distance runs. It is limited only to that function, and it isn’t cheap. But battery life is great.