Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Epson ProSense GPS Watch Line Launches. Initial Review- ProSense 307 GPS/Wrist HR Watch with Incredible EasyView Display

Article by Sam Winebaum

Epson just introduced its all new ProSense line of running and multi-sport watches. The 5 models range in price from $99 for the GPS only ProSense 17 to the $399 ProSense 367 with its sapphire crystal, up to 48 hour GPS and HR run time and a crisp glare free electronic paper EasyView display. All offer a very complete feature set for serious run training, impeccable engineering and very compelling price points.
In brief the line can be summarized as follows: 
ProSense 17 color choices
ProSense 57 color choices
 The 347 and 367 are available in black only at this time
ProSense 347
All watches, except the GPS only 17 add  Epson highly accurate GPS in house built wrist heart rate modules. 

Epson is a leading manufacturer of sensors and its highly power efficient GPS modules, called RouteSense GPS in the ProSense line and tuned for running, is used in many mobile phones. We saw excellent accuracy and battery life in the earlier RunSense line of Epson watches. And let us not forget sister brand Seiko is one of the largest manufacturers of watches in the world, so a powerful combination,

As Epson manufactures its own components the integration is completely controlled in house, a key factor in the very long battery life,accuracy, and price. Integrated to the GPS are position algorithms and stride sensing which allow the watches to also give live stride length and cadence stats.  It turns out Epson athlete Meb Keflezighi is a big proponent of evaluating stride length and cadence and the ProSense includes by default just such as screen as seen below, 

On the heart rate sensing side, the CardioSense wrist optical heart rate sensor includes noise cancelling sensors,tuned algorithms as well as a Transimpedence Amplifier allowing the watches to measure HR from the wrist in pools, a rarity. Apparently because algorithms are also tuned for water temperature to pull this off Cardio Sense may not be as reliable for open water swims. We have not tested in water yet but have found accuracy on the run to be excellent.

EasyView Screen
The defining feature of the 307, 347, and 367 is the unique in my experience EasyView "electronic paper" display. The electrophoretic eInk style display mimics paper and is very easy on the eyes.  The monochrome display was incredibly crisp and glare free in all light conditions during my testing. The EasyView screen is by far most visible, glare reducing, crisp and easy to read screen of any I have run with to date. Instead of emitting light like more conventional displays the display reflects light. The screen only updates areas/digits which change and is instantly awakened backlight coming on by any turn of the wrist and flawlessly so. 

Epson ProSense 307 ($249)
ProSense 307
We have been testing the mid range ProSense 307. It weighs 49 grams so similar in weight to the new Garmin Vivoactive 3 (see our YouTube video description here) or Forerunner 935 but far lower in price than the 935 and with a longer spec battery life at 20 hours than the Vivoactive which is rated at 13 hours.
The 307 has a decidedly retro "training watch look. If you want a more rugged modern look,  a mineral glass cover and the 48 hour battery life consider the 347 at $349 or the sapphire crystal 367 at $399. All other features other than battery life are the same are the same and all three the 307, 347, and 367 share that incredible EasyView screen

There is another reason beyond style and battery life to consider the 347 or 367.. We found the flat buttons on the 307 somewhat hard to find and decisively press on the run to change data screens. The 347 and 367 have more prominent "sharper" buttons (see below). Not to worry, the watches have auto scroll of screens as well as a feature that changes to the next the screen with each flick of the wrist.
The 307, 347, and 367 feature a soft, stretchy, quick release Pro Silicone band so it will be easy for me to change out the somewhat clashy blue band on the test watch. The band is very comfortable and easy to cinch to the right pressure to get accurate wrist heart rate readings.

Fit and Band

At 49 grams the 307 is light on the wrist and fits my thin 6" diameter wrist well.  After much trial and error I have found wearing it on the run looser than I would normally wear a GPS watch with wrist heart rate sensing produces better results with the Epson 307.

The Pro Silicone Band has a quick release feature. The tiny silver pins can be pushed sideways to easily release the strap. Charging and computer synching is via a fairly large clip style unit which wraps around to the front from the 4 bronze colored charging pins. 

I can't wait to swap my blue front back black band for an all black one!. The look is a bit to retro and old school for me. 
Back to serious the band is stretchy and soft and assures a comfortable snug fit to my wrist, the snug part essential to getting solid wrist based optical heart rate readings. As with all wrist heart rate watches, it is recommended to wear them on your dominant wrist,

Battery Life 
The battery life appears to be on the low end of the spec in daily use. I say appears, as the battery gauge as far as I can tell is only visual, no percentage view.T he reason for this lower battery life is that I have the heart rate sensing set to Continuous which is a sample once a second 24/7. Continuous is required for the basic but excellent  sleep tracker to function. The Automatic option measures for 2 minutes out of every 10 minute Activity period.  Activities are distinguished from Workouts such as running where heart rate is measured continuously. We have asked Epson to consider having an easier way to toggle to Continuous or have the watch automatically go to Continuous around your pre defined sleep time range. As of now it only be toggled via the app, 

While there is a cycling mode, the 307 does not support external sensors such as power sensors.

The ProSense watches do not have a barometric altimeter. It uses GPS to estimate elevation and ascent/descent stats. I have not been on sufficiently vertical terrain to evaluate its accuracy vs. a barometric altimeter watch but did note on one hilly run that my Garmin 935 with its barometric altimeter  run in parallel had my starting elevation considerably higher than reality or the 307's reading. 
There is no route following "breadcrumb" navigation but you can preset waypoints in the app and the watch will notify you of your progress towards them. We have not yet tested this feature but will do so in our full review.

Epson View
Not content to just completely update the watches, Epson also completely revamped its app and web site. 

All the watches can synch and be configured via Bluetooth from the phone app, sometimes not the case for lower cost watches such as the ProSense 17,  or directly connected to the computer. The "view" of data and configuration options is almost  exactly the same in both places so no need to learn two different views, nice touch. Pre launch we found the phone to watch occasionally delayed or failing to connect more than I would like to see but not unusually so. Many other watch to phone Bluetooth connections seem to take their sweet time. Update: connections are now far more reliable and faster. 
Update: In recent weeks Bluetooth connections have been significantly faster and more reliable.

Configuration of all data fields and settings is very easily done via the app or when directly connected to a computer.  I did find configuring intervals not as intuitive as I would like. Still working on figuring that out and will update the article when I do. I will also test the various run to target options such as pace and heart rate as well as the special race set up. There are a tons of features to explore and use here,
Stride length measurement is a special on board feature of the ProSense watches. Meb likes to compare Stride Length to Cadence and Heart Rate and special default screen is included to do this.

Workout stats are clearly presented and complete.  While easier to analyze in the web browser view, you can select any two stats in the app and run your finger along the graph to see how all stats change over the run in the data boxes.

With an intense enough effort, 50% of Heart Rate Reserve HR which is  the difference between your resting and maximum heart rate, with auto pause off and for a minimum of 10 minutes, the watch will estimate your V02max. I neglected to turn off auto pause so it did not calculate or maybe I did not run hard enough that day!

There is a solid daily view of all activity and sleep which is separate from run stats views.

The sleep module conveniently makes sure that within your pre defined sleep times that the screen does not light up in the middle of the night unexpectedly as you move. Setting pre defined sleep times is not necessary but increases accuracy. 

All the watches have adequate, if basic, "smart watch" features of activity and sleep tracking, phone notifications and music control.

Data can be shared to platforms such as Strava and Runkeeper. 

Epson has done something bold with their new ProSense line. The new line delivers:
  • truly outstanding battery life with the 367 getting as much as an astounding 48 hours of GPS and wrist HR in the ProSense 367 
  • a highly visible, low glare EasyView electronic paper displays on 3 of the models: 307, 347, and 367 is the best I have seen yet in a GPS watch and is instantly readable in any light condition,
  • high accuracy sensing for GPS and  heart rate even in water, along with stride length and cadence sensing. 
  • deep capabilities to configure the watches for serious multi sport training needs of any flavor or philosophy
  • basic smartwatch features of activity, sleep, music control and notifications on all models
  • very compelling prices from the basic GPS only ProSense 17 at $99 and ProSense 57 GPS/HR all the way up to the sapphire crystal 48 hour  battery life ProSense 367 at $399,
The mid range 307 tested with its retro looks is all business and serious training focused. At $249 it provides about as full a feature set as the serious runner and multi-sport athlete could want. It includes the now requisite smart watch features, and then to tops if off with a 20 hour battery life and an outstanding display. So we have great performance and great value, a rarity for any product.

Update: We have since tested the ProSense 57 and in all respects in performs as reliably in terms of accurate GPS distance and solid consistent heart rate readings as the 307. It is very light and comfortable on the wrist. Our only concern at this time is that it includes fewer data field options than the 307, including strangely no average pace while including lap pace and distance as well as more exotic metrics such as cadence and stride length. We have inquired of Epson as to when and if average pace will be included.

Update: While the 57 has remained consistent and accurate since early to mid November, the 307 has not provided accurate HR readings showing high readings corresponding generally to cadence. At the time of our writing of this article, HR accuracy was excellent but something has changed, either a software update is causing issues or the now colder temperatures here in NH, between 30F (-1C)  and 50F (10 C) may be affecting accuracy. We are in touch with Epson for explanations.

Update: After much trial and error I have found wearing it on the run looser than I would normally wear a GPS watch with wrist heart rate sensing produces more consistent and accurate results with the Epson 307.

Watch our YouTube video below (about 7 minutes) which demonstrates the ProSense 307 and also walks through some of the features of the EasyView app

Link to the manual for the 307, 347, and 367 here
A full review of the ProSense 347 with a focus on accuracy and battery life is on the way
Read my Cool Gear overview of the ProSense 307 at Motiv Running here

Photo Credit: RoadTrailRun and Epson

For Sam's bio see our Reviewers Bio Page here

The Epson was provided at no cost.The opinions herein are entirely the author's.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
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Steve How said...

Thanks for the review! I love my Runsense Sf-810 and glad to see that Epson has released new watches! The 347 and 367 is especially appealing with the 48hrs battery life! No other GPS watch with wrist HR comes even close! Is the GPS accuracy adjustable or is it fixed at every second sampling?

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Chong, Thanks for reading and your question. I do see a workout setting in run for "GPS Trajectory Rec." which by default is set to Detail but has an option for Auto. I will find out from Epson what this means and if it affects battery life. This said without wrist HR spec says you can get up to 50 hours. I hope your races and runs are shorter than that but understand in very long treks extending may be important.
Sam, Editor

Jeff Valliere said...

Wow, interesting line of GPS watches. I have been somewhat dismissive of Epson in the past, but these new models and your review are really catching my attention. 48 hours of battery life is mighty impressive!

Ben said...

Sam, the Guru DCRainmaker has some serious concerns with the software platform and usability. I don’t see any of those issues addressed here - did you not experience them?

Ben said...

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Ben, DC Rainmaker does great and detailed work. The story here is a great screen (he doesn't even mention this innovative and effective tech), fabulous pricing, battery life, training features on the run and GPS and HR accuracy, and not the app which always can be improved. As stated in my review I am still trying to figure out how to set up intervals. I think mainly a labeling and instructions problem. I generally export data to Strava or somewhere else, as many do, so the actual platform app etc... just needs to be functional. What I focus on is ability to configure data fields easily which is excellent here and connectivity via Bluetooth, which needs some work but my unit and software was pre release when I tested.
Sam, Editor

Ben said...

That’s the issue though for me Sam.
If it takes 1-2 min to find satellites every time, minutes to change any settings every time, no sensor support, and very spotty Strava exports - those are deal-breakers when combined together I feel personally.
It can have the best watch face and battery life in the world but if you have to wait multiple minutes every time to start up or adjust the watch I just don’t see how that is functional in today’s world.

Have you been able to export to Strava yet? Any issues?

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Ben, Sorry to see you are having issues. Use the Assisted GPS in the app. Does require a manual update from app to watch each time from what I can see but acquisition has been very fast each time I do that. Since the article posted I have started to notice some Bluetooth connection issues and also the Strava export has not been as reliable but that may also be because I was also simultaneously sending from a Garmin. The slowness in connecting the first time in a session is frustrating to "see". They would be better off have a little runner or something different than a moving bar as it does not appear to be that much slower, than others doing the same kinds of operations such as Suunto but I have not timed. While frustrating, app issues and BT can generally be solved as they iterate, not much comfort as you have the watch now. One issue is that it appears their app is not a full app but a web app of some kind, So, we'l see. For example Suunto had issues with its then new Spartan line that gradually have been resolved.
Sam, Editor

Thomas Venney said...


John said...

Hi Sam, I have one question regarding ProSense watches.
Do they have audio or vibration alert every 1km or 1 mile we run ?

Unknown said...

Hi Sam, I'am a pool swimmer looking for fitness watch that continuously displays heart rate in the water. Is there such a beast or beasts?

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Unknown,
The ProSense 307, 347, 367 are designed to measure HR in pool and this is mentioned above.
On the heart rate sensing side, the CardioSense wrist optical heart rate sensor includes noise cancelling sensors,tuned algorithms as well as a Transimpedence Amplifier allowing the watches to measure HR from the wrist in pools, a rarity. Apparently because algorithms are also tuned for water temperature to pull this off Cardio Sense may not be as reliable for open water swims. We have not tested in water yet but have found accuracy on the run to be excellent."
The other option is Polar OH1 arm band sensor. It will record in water but won't display until you upload. BT and water not playing well together most of the time Our review from a run focus
Sam. Editor
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