Garmin: Which watch fits fitness fans?


Every give-a-Garmin season, I hear a chorus of questions from friends and family seeking insider shopping tips. This week, I heard from Kathy, who heads up our local Girls on the Run council. She wanted to know what to get hubby Mark, who keeps his fitness in check with daily walks and wants to log every mile and minute. I had two picks: the sleek and stylish Forerunner 210, which tracks distance, time, pace and calories and comes with or without heart rate. For upcoming “snow days” when he can’t get outside, he canpair the 210 with the optional foot pod to track distance indoors.

My second pick is another wrist-worn wonder: the Approach S1 golf watch. I know Mark loves his time on the greens, and since Approach S1 is GPS-enabled, it could double as his distance tracker on and off the course. For golfing, it measures distance to the front, back and middle of greens for more than 17,000 preloaded courses.

I’m also recommending the newest Forerunner 210 with teal accents for a friend and for my sister. They’ve both been very good girls this year and get to check off “half marathon” from their 2011 resolution list. I like the Forerunner 210 for them because it’s super easy to use, gives accurate distance and pace data and it looks good/feels good. And for runners who want a little more, it offers customized interval sessions to guide their speedwork.

The Distance Matrix

I often found myself on long car journeys with nothing to occupy me but a dog-eared UK road atlas. On the back page, there was a chart that showed the driving distance and journey time between pairs of major cities, and I would amuse myself figuring out which pair was furthest apart, and how long it takes to drive the length and breadth of the country.Thanks to the new Distance Matrix service, which we are launching today, I can now relive these moments from my youth. The Distance Matrix service is a simple and efficient way to obtain the travel distance and time between many locations when you do not need the full route details for any individual pair. The below applications generates a distance matrix for walking from major London railway stations to several London landmarks. Roll your mouse over the matrix cells, or tap a cell, to see the relevant route.

The Distance Matrix service is also useful for sorting or filtering search results. For example, let’s say your Maps API application enables users  to find nearby grocery stores and you want to present the results sorted by drive time. The locations are stored in a spatial database such as Google Fusion Tables, which can return all stores within a given straight line distance. Using the Distance Matrix service you only need one more query to obtain the drive time from the user’s location to each of those stores in order to sort them accordingly.

The Distance Matrix service is available for use directly in the JavaScript Maps API as well as a web service returning JSON or XML. To get started, take a look at the Maps API services documentation, and the Distance Matrix API web service documentation.