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Coros Pace 2 -small GPS smart health watch that tackles all the big ones

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Coros continues to shake up the GPS watch market. After catching up in terms of functionality by releasing numerous updates in 2019 and 2020, the time has come to renew the first generation of Coros GPS watches. Indeed, the Pace, released in 2018, reached the limits of what its hardware could support (processor power, memory capacity, etc.).So here is the Coros Pace 2, which is placed at the entry level. Finally, when I say that, I’m only talking about the price ($199 ). Because when it comes to functionality, it may well be the best GPS watch for running and triathlon of all brands.

Yeah … Gone are the days when you noticed at first glance that Coros was inspired by Garmin. Now they are the innovators. It’s the first GPS watch that supports programming complex workouts based on cardio, pace and even power, and has a special mode to increase precision on the track.

Presentation of the Coros Pace 2

It replaces: Pace

Above in range: Apex

Visually, the Coros Pace 2 looks like a Forerunner 245. Identical case width (42mm), identical thickness to within half a millimeter (11.7mm).

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The Pace 2 is 40% lighter than the Pace 1. In fact, with a braided nylon strap, it’s even the lightest GPS watch on the market, weighing just 29g on the scale. So that’s 9g less than a Forerunner 245 (38g). I don’t know if you realize the difference … It’s almost 25% less! It’s even lighter than the Forerunner 45S, the smallest of the Garmin GPS watches.

So to achieve this feat, you shouldn’t expect anything other than plastic. The case is composite, but roughly it looks like plastic. The buttons are also plastic. Well, it gets the title of the world’s lightest GPS watch when it comes with a braided nylon strap. With a silicone strap (a normal strap, what?), It weighs 34g. It’s still 4g less than the Forerunner 245. The straps have a pull tab that allows them to be replaced without tools and in seconds. Coros now offers several colors and textures, you just have to be careful to choose a 22mm strap.

There are several color combinations of the case and the bracelet:

White case + different bracelets
Gray-blue case (slate) + various bracelets
Coros has taken over the configuration of the Apex, with 1 knob which is used to scroll through the menus (rotation) and to validate (by pressing it) and 1 other which is used to cancel / go back. At this level, we can customize 2 things:

The position of the buttons: to the left or to the right of the box (this inverts the screen)
The direction of rotation of the wheel (clockwise to move up or down the menus, this is the same problem as a joystick for an air simulator game)
The widgets of Coros GPS watches have not yet changed much and cannot be personalized. Honestly, they don’t add much and I hardly ever consult them during the day:

  • Hour
  • Daily activity: number of steps, calories, number of floors, duration of the last exercise session
  • Heart rate: 6h graph, instant HR, max, min, avg
  • Altitude: 6h graph, current altitude, max, min, avg
  • Atmospheric pressure: 6h graph, current pressure, max, min, avg
  • Temperature: 6h graph, current temperature, max, min, avg
  • Outdoor: dawn, sunrise, sunset, dusk
  • Smart notifications

A long press on the bottom button opens a shortcut menu, similar to that of Garmin. This is very practical for the user, it avoids having to dig into the classic menus accessible by pressing the dial from the time screen. Unlike widgets, Coros has added shortcuts over time and it is now well provided:

  • Using the battery
  • UltraMax mode: degrades GPS accuracy to increase battery life
  • Satellite Map: Shows the satellites currently ‘visible’ to the watch above you. It can be used to see which positioning system is more present near you (GPS, GLONASS, or Beidou?)
  • Chrono
  • Timer
  • Alarm
  • Watchface
  • Night mode: activates the backlight at low intensity permanently
  • Do not disturb
  • Compass
  • FC broadcast

This list of shortcuts is a bit messy, as it brings together features that are useful in watch mode (alarm, stopwatch, etc.) and others for sports sessions (UltraMax, HR broadcast). But remember that this shortcut menu can be accessed at any time by long pressing the bottom button.

The screen is 30mm in diameter for a resolution of 240 x 240 pixels. It’s classic. Finally, it is the most common type of screen currently on Garmin, Polar or Coros GPS watches. But that still means that the little Pace 2 has the same screen as its big sister Vertix or a Fenix ​​5.

In the personalization of sports profiles, up to 6 data fields can be set up per screen. And don’t worry, it’s still perfectly readable.

On the back, we find the cardio optical sensor and the connector for the charging cable. Note that Coros includes 3 dust / moisture protection caps for this connector. It’s the first time I’ve seen this, it’s a nice touch for the user (although it must cost them no more than 10 cents).

Afterwards, I remain divided on the use of these caps. The goal is to protect the connector from rust. So if the connector is dry and the cap properly seated, the goal will be achieved. On the other hand, if there is even a trace of moisture left on the connector, putting on a cap will prevent it from drying out and ultimately will make the problem worse. My recommendation is therefore to put a cap on when you put the Pace 2 in seawater and not to use it the rest of the time.

The GPS chip is also GLONASS, QZSS and Beidou compatible. QZSS is a geo-positioning system not available in Europe, so GPS + QZSS mode equals GPS alone in terms of accuracy. For more details, see this article. Coros has not yet moved to Galileo, that will likely come in an upcoming update.

Also inside the case is a barometric altimeter. There, it is already heavy, because it is the only GPS watch in this price bracket to offer a barometric altimeter (oh no, there is also the Sigma iD-Tri), the brands generally reserving this sensor for models more upscale. But the alti baro is a prerequisite for having the power in running on the wrist.

In fact, what is curious is that there is a barometer on smart bracelets under 100 € to count floors, but not on sports watches at 200-300 €. Coros puts an end to this aberration probably dictated by marketing. Moreover, it can be calibrated either by GPS or manually.

All these internal sensors allow the Pace 2, thanks to a special algorithm, to calculate the power at the wrist when running. Yes, it’s the same as with the Polar Vantage and Grit X. Basically, you don’t need an external power meter to take advantage of this value. This is where the Pace 2 starts to muddy the waters, because this metric is not an entry-level metric. In fact, it is likely that 90% of runners do not master it. If you are curious, I did a review article on running power.

Otherwise, if that is not enough, you can connect any type of external sensor, in ANT + or in Bluetooth, whether it is from the Coros brand or from another brand:

  • Cardio belt
  • Footpod
  • POD (performance optimization device, Coros’ running power / metrics meter)
  • Running power (Stryd for example)
  • Bike speed / cadence
  • Bike power

When you know the price of a Stryd (over 200 €) or a bike power meter (even more expensive), you might wonder who would buy a sensor more expensive than their GPS watch. I think Coros is simplifying its strategy and its developments by deploying all the new features on all the watches in its range. In the end, that’s what makes the Pace 2 so powerful, compared to its price.

But all of these sensors are useless if there aren’t the tools behind to fully exploit them.

Well there, Coros is slapping all historical players (Garmin included) by becoming the first brand to offer full integration of the Stryd power meter:

  • Compatibility with all Stryd metrics (from power to leg stifness through form power), visible in the post-training analysis in the Coros application
  • Scheduling of power-based training sessions

Here too, Coros is the first brand of GPS watch that allows you to program training sessions based not only on pace or HR zones but also on power.

In fact, you can now build a training plan in the Coros app and plan running, cycling, swimming and weight training sessions. Programming a session is done simply by adding, moving or deleting steps and defining the goal of each step. You can do whatever you want for a complex session. For programming a Strength session, Coros offers a library of 200 exercises, even exercises that are done in the context of climbing! You can also share a complete training plan with another Coros user.

In addition, you can customize a number of alerts:

  • FC
  • Pace / speed
  • Distance
  • Power
  • Cadence
  • Nutrition

And if you like, you can even activate 1 alert of each type at the same time.

From the watch, you can program interval sessions on the running and cycling profiles.

In terms of physiological metrics, Coros is getting closer to Garmin. All these algorithms have been developed in-house and Coros does not depend on Firstbeat (recently acquired by Garmin):

  • VO2max
  • Aerobic and anaerobic training effect
  • Recovery time
  • Running dynamics (with Coros POD): ground contact time, left / right balance, vertical oscillation, cadence, vertical ratio, stride length
  • Endurance
  • Lactic threshold
  • Training load

Some of this data, such as training effect and endurance, can be displayed live on a sport profile data screen. The others can be viewed in the app or on the watch at the end of the session.

Coros is also the first brand to add a specific mode for the athletics track to sport profiles, significantly improving the accuracy of distance / pace calculation.

The list of sports profiles includes:

  • Running, treadmill, athletic track
  • Bike, home trainer
  • Swimming in pools and open water
  • Triathlon
  • Bodybuilding (called Strength)
  • Cardio with and without GPS (2 multi-purpose profiles)

There are therefore some good and some less good depending on your sports practice. This list is already very comprehensive and goes well beyond running, with even an open water swimming mode and another for triathlon. But there is no trail profile or any outdoor sport. This segment is more concerned with the brand’s other GPS watches, especially Apex Pro and Vertix.

Arf, it’s still a shame to have an alti baro and no trail profile, because I think that I made a great candidate for my recommendations. Well, another element would have been missing for the trail: the route following. Pace 2 does not follow a route. No regrets therefore. That said, $ 200 for a triathlon GPS watch is already remarkable.

Daily activity tracking is basic. Some data like number of steps or floors climbed, but not much more.

Like any connected watch of now, the Pace 2 receives the notifications that go with all the alerts of your smartphone (SMS, applications, email, etc.).

Data fields

Distance: total, lap

Speed: instantaneous, avg, max, lap, last lap

Pace: instantaneous, avg, lap, last lap

Duration: total, moving, lap, last lap

Altitude: altitude, d +, d-

Heart rate: instantaneous, avg, max, lap

Cadence: instantaneous, avg, lap

Stride length: instantaneous, avg

Endurance

Training effect: aerobic, anaerobic

Calories

Tours

Drums

Hour

Power: instantaneous, av 3s, avg 10s, avg 30s

NP (normalized power)

Movements (swimming): by length

Movement frequency (swimming): lap, last lap, avg

SWOLF: round, medium, last length

Temperature

Autonomy

With maximum GPS accuracy, the battery life of the Pace 2 is 30 hours. It’s better than the Forerunner 245 (24h) and equivalent to the Vantage M. At the entry level, the Pace 2 is therefore already a good option for running an ultra.

This autonomy can increase to 60 hours in UltraMax mode, with a degradation of the GPS precision.

But where Coros surpasses all the other brands, it is in the overall autonomy, that is to say when we study the complete use of the watch, with the use of connected watch 24/24 and watch GPS for training. In the first week of this Pace 2 test, I did 3 hours of cardio + GPS recording, 1 hour of swimming and the rest of the week with Bluetooth enabled. I had simply activated the economy of the cardio sensor continuously (1 reading every 10 minutes).

With these settings, I had 66% battery life left at the end of the week. So that means that with such a sporting practice, you can only recharge the Pace 2 once every 3 weeks. Comfortable, isn’t it? And if you exercise more, you may have to recharge it every 10 or 15 days. These are numbers that one would consider classic for a Fenix ​​6, but which are remarkable for such a small watch.

But otherwise, Coros announces 20 days of battery life in smartwatch use with sleep and daily activity monitoring.

Coros has developed a battery usage widget. This is a graph that shows the percentage of battery since the last charge, with a projection that shows how much time is left if we continue like this (in days). The widget also displays the percentage of remaining battery and the estimated battery life in GPS recording (in hours).

But the thing that will interest fussy people is that we have a detail on the amount of energy consumed by each sensor. For example, as I write this test:

  • Continuous cardio sensor: 49%
  • GPS activity: 32%
  • Backlight: 13%
  • Indoor activity: 4%
  • Number of notifications received (in 9 days since the last charge): 394 (yes, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc., when you are a blogger …)
  • Coros Pace 2 black nylon strap Commander i-run button

Coros Pace 2 running

To reach 29g, you need a nylon strap. I haven’t tested any, but I have a concern. The fact that it is woven makes me fear it will soak up a sweat during a hot workout. To confirm. Otherwise, I used a silicone strap, pierced with lots of holes

You can customize the display of each profile with up to 6 data fields on 1 to 5 pages.

Scheduling a running session is super easy. I think I can get to the edge of an athletic track and do it all in 1 minute:

  • Creation of the session in the app (warm-up, series, cool-down, copy, drag, in short, super simple)
  • Choice of the destination watch (if, like me, you have 4 Coros paired with your smartphone)
  • Bluetooth synchronization

The GPS fix is ​​done in seconds. For athletic training, it is best to use the specific profile for the track, which greatly increases the accuracy of the distance measurement. But very, very widely. No other GPS watch can achieve such precision. On my last track session, for a test, I did 3 laps. Distance displayed at the finish: 1200m exactly. If you want to see the GPS track, see below in the GPS accuracy section.

Using the Pace 2 is pretty straightforward. There are 2 buttons, only one menu. During a workout, you scroll through the screens with the wheel (in one direction or the other) and the bottom button is used to mark a manual lap. Very simple I tell you. If you are comfortable, then you can complicate the matter by a long press on the bottom button to access the shortcut menu (like to switch to UltraMax mode to avoid running out of battery).

Night mode is okay, especially now that we are approaching winter. Basically, if you go for a run early in the morning or late at night, you know that the trans-reflective screens on sports watches are hard to read. Night mode activates the backlight at minimum intensity, to make the screen readable without draining too much of the battery.

The Pace 2 is perfectly capable of measuring running power on its own. But if you pair it with a Stryd, you will gain 2 points:

  • The Stryd, as a footpod, will improve the reliability of the instant pace
  • You will have more metrics derived from Stryd’s power and algorithms, such as Power Zones, Leg stiffness and Form power

Once the Stryd has been paired, the Pace 2 will ask you to enter the critical power (this value can be found in the Stryd app). This data is then used to define the power zones.

You can also choose in the settings the source that will be used to calculate the distance, between the Stryd or the GPS. It may seem counterintuitive, but Stryd is more accurate than GPS at measuring instantaneous pace, for example.

On all the rides I have done, the Pace 2 without any external power meter always gave data very close to that of the Stryd (less than 10W of difference).

Okay, that doesn’t mean much. I have already explained that no watch or sensor actually measures the power developed when running. It is not possible. But that still means that the algorithms developed by Coros produce reliable results and not just anything.

The training calendar is easy to use. We open the calendar on the app, we choose, for each day on which we want to do a sport session, either a scheduled session (running, cycling, swimming or weight lifting), or we create a simple session (like 10km running or 50km cycling). We do a sync and voila.

We then find the details of the current month, with the scheduled sessions, on the watch.

You can schedule complex sessions based on:

  • The pace
  • The distance
  • The weather
  • FC
  • The power
  • The rhythm

Yes, the Pace 2 is one of the few GPS watches with which you can schedule power-based workouts. That is, you can program phases targeting a power zone.

For training, you can also count on automatic laps, a metronome and various alerts (HR, distance, pace, speed, cadence, power, power).

At the end of a session, you can scroll through a large page displaying all of the output data, sometimes as a total, sometimes as an average and sometimes as a graph. At the bottom, you can display a table of data per lap (distance, time, pace).

And then after, the AI ​​Trainer widget shows the recovery time and remaining stamina. Endurance is a physiological datum that only Coros uses and which reflects the amount of energy you have left.

Triathlon

The Pace 2 is a real triathlon GPS watch, with transition management and all and all.

Coros’s triathlon mode is however a bit special in the way it works. In fact, we can do more than triathlon, duathlon for example, but not swimrun. I explain.

The triathlon mode can chain 2 or 3 sports of our choice (within the limit of the list of sports profiles of Pace 2). So we can do a triathlon with a start in the pool, or a duathlon (leaving the 3rd sport empty). But you can’t run & bike or swimrun, because you can’t repeat the sequence several times.

You can lock the buttons (it’s best to remember to do this before going into the washing machine). The locking can be activated independently for training and / or for watch mode. Then, you can choose between 2 options for unlocking, either a rapid rotation of the dial or a long press.

The Pace 2 is compatible with all Bluetooth bike sensors, even for power.

You can activate the heart rate broadcast, which allows you to transfer the HR measurement from the Pace 2 to a bike computer (no, Coros does not manufacture a bike computer) by ANT +.

Coros has developed in my opinion the best algorithm for counting lengths in swimming pools.

Pool swim mode has a rest screen, in addition to the data screens while swimming. By default, it displays:

  • Recovery time
  • Duration of the last lap
  • FC
  • Number of breaks
  • Other sports
  • Coros Pace 2 outdoor

The Pace 2 does not have the outdoor sports profiles of its big sisters Apex, Apex Pro and Vertix.

Today, Coros is the brand that has developed the most tools for bodybuilding. You can schedule a training session from a base of 200 exercises. We can filter this list using different criteria to find the exercise we are looking for by:

  • Part of the body stressed
  • Muscle strained
  • Equipment used (bar, dumbbell, rope, bands, kettlebell, etc.). There are even hangboard exercises (for climbing)
  • Each exercise is explained by a drawing and a written description but no animation as with Garmin.

We define for each exercise the number of repetitions, sets, the load and the rest time.

And during the session, the Pace 2 automatically counts the number of repetitions and sets.

What we only find at Coros is a heat map of the training load of the muscles, which is updated at the end of the session depending on the muscles worked. The redder it is, the higher the training load.

GPS / cardio accuracy

Now that all brands of GPS watches use the same GPS chip, there are no nasty surprises. The Pace 2’s GPS accuracy is pretty good anyway.

Finally, if there’s one place where the PAce 2 (or rather Coros in general) outperforms all the competition, it’s around an athletics track. There you have to use the “athletic track” mode instead of the “running” mode and the GPS track is… just perfect. Here I did 3 laps. The GPS tracks overlap perfectly and there is no 1m error in the measured distance.

The Pace2’s cardio optical sensor gives classic results, ie good but not great. On this output at almost constant intensity, the errors are not enormous. In this configuration, the data from the cardio optical sensor will not significantly distort the results of the physiological measurement algorithms.

Daily activity

The daily activity monitoring of Pace 2 consists of:

  • Number of steps
  • Number of floors
  • Calories
  • FC
  • Sleep (no widget on the watch, you have to go to the Coros application)

Coros may be the latest brand to only calculate calories burned from physical activity, ignoring the BMR (see this video to understand the difference).

For continuous heart rate measurement, you can choose between a continuous reading or a reading every 10 minutes. The second option will save battery power (this is the setting I used in this test.

Smart watch

No app store, no music player, no contactless payment, no Livetrack, the connected part of the Pace 2 is limited to receiving smart notifications. This is a choice of Coros, which has so far preferred to focus on sports features rather than smartwatch.

However, the watchface gallery is enriched with each update. It now has 36 options, digital or needle, stylish or fun neon, refined or with lots of info.

Conclusion of the test
Coros Pace 2 reviews
It is almost difficult to define the profile of athletes for whom the Pace 2 is aimed. It is the GPS running watch that best integrates the Stryd running power meter and in addition a special track mode. athlete who will delight runners looking for a stopwatch … with ample autonomy for the majority of ultra … and a multisport mode for triathlon.

So, GPS running watch, for ultra or triathlon? Well all this at the same time in fact. And for 200 €. Ah yes, because thanks to the SpO2 sensor and a few sport profiles, the Pace 2 has the same functionality as the Vertix.

Considering its price, the Pace 2 doesn’t really have a weak point. Rather, the Coros app is its weak point. It’s not that she’s bad or ugly, but she’s just still a little behind the brand’s developments. That’s right, the Pace 2 measures a lot of sports metrics and Coros has developed a lot of algorithms. Most of this data is presented in the history of each session, but at the moment, you can’t do a lot of mid / long term analysis.

OK, the Pace 2 is probably not the best GPS running or triathlon watch, but I’m going to try to make you measure a little better the disruptive power it could have: if I give you the choice, for the same price, between a Pace 2 + Stryd + cardio belt pack or a Forerunner 745 on its own, what do you take?

COROS PACE 2 Premium GPS Sport Watch with Nylon or Silicone Band, Heart Rate Monitor, 30h Full GPS Battery, Barometer, ANT+ & BLE Connections, Strava, Stryd & Training Peaks (Navy – Silicone Strap)

$199.99 in stock
1 new from $199.99
Free shipping
Amazon Amazon.com
Last update was on: January 18, 2021 10:14 am

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Coros Pace: a triathlon watch at a low price

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