The Epson Run Sense SF-810 GPS watch – first impressions

I was recently contacted by the lovely people at the PR company looking after Epson’s range of ‘GSP Sports Monitors’ and asked if I’d like to review the Run Sense SF-810. I haven’t looked at another GPS watch since I bought myself a Suunto Ambit2 a while ago, so I thought ‘why not’… Here’s what I think so far.

Out of the box

The watch and the cradle. A nice solid package.

The Run Sense SF-810 seems to be a very practical, no nonsense product. None of the crazy colours that some brands are introducing. This is a black and grey number in a solid box, with a clear set of instructions. I was into the packaging and working out how to charge up the watch in seconds.

There is a Quick Start guide which meant that I was able to get up and running really fast (pun intended) and I have to say that at every stage the instructions were really well illustrated and described – a small detail, but I love not having to decipher badly translated instructions or useless IKEA-style illustrations that make no sense at all.

In the hand

I have to say that when I heard that Epson were getting into wearable tech, I thought “why would they do that – they make printers”. But one little bit of info about Epson and it suddenly starts to make sense. Epson is the name that most people call the Epson Seiko Corporation – and of course, Seiko is a watch brand. I remember Seiko watches back in the ’70s and ’80s. James Bond (in his Roger Moore incarnation) wore one in Moonraker (it was a detonator for a little wrist-mounted bomb!) and they have long been at the forefront of digital watch technology.

On the wrist the watch is not bad looking and weighs next to nothing.

So here we have a GPS unit that is the love-child of an electrical engineering firm and a digital watch maker. No wonder there are some great details.

The watch is pleasingly light. My Suunto is great, but it is a brick. A very advanced brick, but I would never have worn it for a marathon because it is too heavy to not be noticable and I have always wanted to race in kit that is as unobtrusive as possible.

The spring in the strap holds the Epson SF-810 nice and firmly on the wrist

To add to the lack of weight, Epson have built a little ‘spring’ into the strap, which means that you can fix the buckle and the little bends in the rubber strap lengthen and hold the watch tight. Not too tight – in fact there is just the right amount of tension. I haven’t had a chance to test this theory yet but I imagine that if you were running for a long time and your wrists started to swell in the heat, this strap would simply stretch a little to accommodate it.

The buttons on the watch all have an accurate feel – there is a little click when you push them, which means you know you have engaged the function you want. I think this is particularly helpful with the lap button which is larger than the other three and at the 4 o’clock position, so perfect for the thumb to hit it at the end of a rep. Nice touch that.

The watch also has a vibrate function that I have not fully managed to get my head around, but if there is an option for the watch to vibrate at set times or distances or when you leave a heart rate zone, that will be fantastic. I’ll report back when I have a better idea of what the vibrate thing is all about.

Clicked into the cradle

The watch is connected to a Mac or PC with a cradle that I initially thought looked a little over-engineered. But because the HR monitor in this watch is in the unit itself, the data and charging points need to be on the side because there is a light on the bottom that reads the heart rate. So the cradle is a great way to charge the watch and download data. There is a very satisfying click when the watch snaps into the cradle and from my initial test the unit seems to charge really quickly.

What else?

The RunSense 810 in its No NonSense packaging

There are a few things that I have not been able to fully test yet. The heart rate monitor seems to be very accurate but I haven’t done a long run or a hard session with the watch on yet so I’ll have to text that later.

I also haven’t tested the battery life yet so I’ll have to run the watch and see what it does.

The literature also boasts that the watch will measure stride length and cadence. Now I have to say that I have never personally worried about any of that stuff. In fact I have only had a small amount of tweaking to my running style, thanks to Nick from RunningWithUs. I actually think that trainers and coaches who tell people that they need to run at a certain cadence or with a particular foot strike can do more harm than good. But each to their own. I suppose if you do want to bobble along at a certain cadence then having a watch that tells you will save the need to be constantly counting. Again, once I get into this watch and work out what it is all about, I’ll write an update to this initial post.

I also have to say that I have not created an account on Run Connect which is the proprietary platform that Epson uses to extract, store and analyse data. And I don’t know if it is Strava compatible. As soon as I do, I’ll review that too.

Overall, so far, I have to say that I am impressed. This seems like a well built watch with an intuitive set-up and user interface. Maybe on this showing Epson is about to become a big deal in wearable tech. I’ll certainly keep using the unit I have here and give more feedback in due course.

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