Thursday, February 12, 2009

Gear Review: The Tech4o Women's Accelerator Trail Runner

Last October Tech4o wrote me and asked me to review one of their watches.  I was prepared to be skeptical. I turn away a lot of offers to advertise stuff on my blog. I don't do this to make money, and I won't want anyone making money off me, but I was intrigued by their claims.

And you know, msr Garmean is so much fun: the maps, elevation profiles, and mounds of data. But, it has its drawbacks: In hilly locations and locations with heavy tree cover, it skips some data points, causing it to vastly under report the distance traveled. For instance, at my first 50K, which is 31 miles, it reported that I had traveled about 28 miles. DISAPPOINTING!  

Other drawbacks 2) expensive, 3) the battery only holds a charge for 8 to 10 hours, meaning that if you are as appallingly slow as I, the battery will stop before you are done.  4) the garmin is HUGE.   I am a delicate flower. I cannot wear a laptop computer strapped to my wrist, and I'm always accidentally bumping those stupid on/off buttons without realizing it, and then next thing I know, it's stopped recording my motion.

Okay. the Tech4o uses a watch battery, and though I don't know how long it lasts, it lasts at least several days, since it was running when it arrived at my house 2 weeks ago, and is still running now.

So, I got this watch in the mail, and was prepared to
 be skeptical, as I said. I mean, it's a pedometer, right? Wasn't McDonalds giving those away very long ago?  Well, this has a few more functions: It has a chrono and a timer. I'm not sure how many laps yet. I haven't read the book. It is the size of a regular watch - it doesn't stand out.

Test #1: Is it easy to use?
I figured out pretty fast that if I pushed in the
 lower left MODE button for 3 seconds, it jumps into a menu. You push the right side buttons to page through the menue, and press MODE briefly to choose one. To get back to the menu, you press MODE in for 3 seconds again.

I looked briefly in the book and fiddled around some more, and used the 12" squares on a gym floor to measure my stride length while walking and running.  I plugged those into the setup, along with my weight (it calculates approximate calories burned) into the personal profile 8 of 10 menu.

In pedometer mode, it shows number of steps, with additional information above. You choose the additional information: Calories, elapsed time, current time, distance, speed (MPH). All this is based on the length of your stride and how many steps you've taken, which it registers as you walk.  I found it pretty easy to set up without the book. I glanced at the book, and it seems pretty straightfoward, so it passed that test.

Test #2: Is it accurate?
I wore this to the Rocky Racoon, my first 50-miler. I would consider anything less than 5% error to be successful. The course was reported to be 50 miles, three 16-2/3 loops. I occasionally left the course briefly to take care of the call of nature, and twice I walked over to my bag at the changing tent. Sometimes I walked normally. Sometimes, I staggered. A couple of times, I trotted.

The total distance, according to my Tech4o watch, was 51.018 miles. That is a 2% error, well within the acceptable range for mine (and most people's) needs.

I could probably improve the error if I set up the stride length by walking a known length, say 600 feet, and counted the number of steps, averaging to get a stride length but no matter, I'm satisfied with this result.

I will admit that I have not tested it yet while running, because I can't run. Supposedly, the watch has some sort of logic that allows it to understand the difference between when you are running and walking, so that it then switches to running stride length and records that.

I discovered that at midnight, in exercise mode, it starts a new set of data. This may or may not be a problem - just something to be aware of.  It keeps the previous day's data.  

  • Accurate, for most people's purposes - for me it the error rate was 2%.
  • Cheap! The model I tested retails for about $70.
  • It comes in pink! 
Suggestions for the maker: there should be an option to look at current speed in minutes per mile, rather than miles per hour. That's my only complaint.

When I can run, I'll do a second, shorter review.



  1. I have the same complaint. Otherwise it's a really well priced running/walking pedometer watch.

  2. Thank you for this. I will be interested when you are healed and can run with it to see if it is still that accurate because I have the same problems with my Garmin on the trails and it is frustrating.


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