Yes, they're fun to play with. But they also do the job out there
Contour 1080 P ($360)The Contour is like a little devil, urging you to go bigger with the promise of helmet-cam fame. It mounts easily onto helmets and once in place operation is simple: one push to turn it on and a slide of the record button to start and stop. Keep in mind, there's no LCD screen or playback ability so you never know what you got until you get home. Videographers agree that its high-def sensor has the best colour saturation and sharpness of any of the point-of-view video cameras.
Casio Pathfinder PAW-5000 ($530)This attractive watch has them all-altimeter, barometer, thermometer, compass, stopwatch, timer, alarm. It even tells the time, analogue style. But it doesn't stop there. The face is a solar panel, keeping the watch charged continuously. And it will never lose time-atomic timekeeping checks in daily to calibrate. With functions within functions (think: altitude, altitude differentials and alarms) and six buttons to navigate them all, we got confused sometimes. But for the most part, it's easy to use.
Ripxx Personal Measurement Device ($360)Was it a 10-foot cliff or did it just feel like it? The Ripxx has the answer. This gadget-a bit bigger than a GPS-tracks every move with three accelerometers, three gyroscopes and a GPS tracking chip. Attached to the body with a harness, it can calculate speed, acceleration, air-time, distance, roll-rates, spins, flips, vertical drop, altitude and slope. Review the data on its tiny screen or, better yet, download it onto the included software, where runs can be watched in three views (first- and third-person and helicopter).
Nike + Sportsband ($80)Using a foot pod to calculate speed and distance, the Nike + Sportsband is the perfect utility watch for runners. Displaying just the info a runner needs (time, distance, pace, calories burned) on a minimalist face, it's the lightest and smallest watch we've used. And the face doubles as a USB stick. Plug it into the computer and the free software graphs and stores all the run data for easy tracking and goal setting. Keep in mind: You need Nike foot-pod-compatible footwear or insoles.
DeLorme Earthmate PN-60W with SPOT Satellite Communication($550 for GPS, $100 per year for SPOT)
This is what you've been waiting for. Combining the map-loaded Earthmate PN-60W GPS with SPOT emergency message capability, this unit lets you send text messages or call for help from anywhere, without the upfront costs of a satellite phone. The combination requires an annual SPOT subscription, but creates a new level of interactivity on top of SPOT's usual track and contact functions, allowing text and e-mail to family and friends and instant feed to select websites such as Facebook.