Garmin has launched the Forerunner 205 and Forerunner 305, the next generation of its popular GPS-enabled fitness product line.

"The new Forerunners are ideal for any outdoor activity - from a leisurely stroll to a competitive marathon", said Gary Kelley, Garmin's vice president of marketing. "No matter what your activity or fitness level, the Forerunner gives users immediate feedback on the information they're most interested in such as calories burned, distance traveled, pace, or heart rate. The Forerunner also has navigation features so you can always make it back to your starting point".

The compact, lightweight and waterproof Forerunner 205 and 305 have a completely new design that "wraps" the GPS antenna around part of the wrist so that the GPS receiver has a better view of the sky while training.

In addition, Garmin has promised a new high sensitivity GPS receiver for faster acquisition times and improves tracking in challenging conditions such as heavy foliage or "urban canyons" created by city skyscrapers, something the 201 and 301 models were prone to.

The two models will feature an AutoLap feature that automatically records lap data at a specified time, distance, or position as well as an AutoPause feature that will pause the lap timer when the user drops below the limits of their configured pace.

Individuals who prefer to exercise with a workout partner will appreciate the Virtual Partner, which allows the user to keep pace with a digital person that performs at a programmed pace, duration or distance. The MultiSport(TM) feature allows users to transition seamlessly from one sport to the next without having to reset the unit.

The Forerunner 205 and 305 also integrate a new course feature that allows users to recall a course based upon previously recorded activities, or they may download and share courses with other users through MotionBased.com

The Forerunner 305 also comes equipped with a heart rate monitor that delivers real-time heart rate data exclusively to the user's device. This data is stored for post-workout analysis in chart, table, and map views.

The Forerunner 305 also uses a softer, more comfortable heart rate monitor strap than previous Forerunner. The new heart rate monitor is also compatible with the Edge 305.

Data acquired on the Forerunner may also be analysed with MotionBased.com, a ground-breaking web-based application that translates GPS and heart rate data into performance analysis, online mapping, and route sharing.

The Forerunner 205 is expected to be available in February and has an estimated retail price of $249. It includes a USB PC interface cable, AC charger, docking station, Training Center CD, owner's manual and quick-reference guide.

The Forerunner 305 is expected to be available in February and has an estimated retail price of $349. It includes a heart rate monitor, USB PC interface cable, AC charger, docking station, Training Center CD, owner's manual and quick-reference guide.

UK prices and release dates have yet to be set.

We will keep you posted.