LG Watch Sport Tracks Inaccurate GPS and Heart Rate Data on Runs: Test, Review, and Conclusion

Testing the LG Watch Sport against my benchmark running watch, the Garmin Forerunner 235 the first time, revealed disappointing results.  To eliminate possible confounding factors, I tested the two watches several more times.  Here are the results.

The second time I ran with the watches, I adjusted them both to an appropriate tension on my wrists, so that the heart rate monitor would function correctly.  On the LG Watch Sport, I used the built-in Google Fit app.  A drawback of that app is that I cannot export the GPS and heart rate data. Below are the results.

The Google Fit run tracking results are abysmal.
The Google Fit run tracking results on the LG Watch Sport are abysmal.

As you can see, the LG Watch Sport lost GPS a minute or so after I started the run, and that was after I waited in an open area for several minutes for the watch to acquire a GPS signal.  Also, again, the pace data varies wildly from 5:30-minute miles (I wish I ran that fast) to 30-minute miles (I definitely run faster than that).  Average heart rate is in the right ballpark at 167 BPM (the Forerunner reported an average of 172 BPM), but doesn’t show a graph.  Here’s the benchmark (Garmin Forerunner 235) result:

Garmin Forerunner 235 Tracking Results
The Garmin Forerunner 235 didn’t lose GPS signal and tracked pace much better than the LG Watch Sport.

The Garmin Forerunner 235 tracked GPS, pace, and heart rate more accurately.  The Forerunner also tracks cadence, which is an important running metric.

The next day, I attached the watches to both wrists as before and tried tracking on the LG Watch Sport using the Strava app.  Again:  failure.

LG Watch Sport Run Tracking with Strava App Results
Each lap shows inconsistent, wobbly GPS data on the LG Watch Sport.

Again, the GPS is all over the place and the heart rate is just wrong.  There is no cadence data.  Here is the same run tracked on the Garmin Forerunner 235:

Garmin Forerunner 235 Track on Strava Results
This is how the GPS track should look.

Again, the LG Watch Sport loses hands down.  The laps on this run are particularly revealing.  On the LG Watch Sport, the laps are disuniform and the track strays off course, over houses and fences.  The Garmin Forerunner 235, the champ, plots consistent, uniform tracks each lap.  That’s accurate.  The heart rate data on the Forerunner, while imperfect, is head and shoulders better than the data from the LG.


Disappointing, to be sure.  Though the Garmin Forerunner 235 lacks smartwatch features, it is an excellent running watch that I have relied on over hundreds of runs.  It’s like an old friend.  I was hoping that the LG Watch Sport could deliver the same accuracy as my Forerunner 235, and the terrific Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch features.  While the LG Watch Sport offers promising Android Wear features, it falls on its face with run tracking.

I think it must be the hardware.  I used several different run tracking apps and each failed in the same way.  My guess is that to include all of the hardware necessary for smartwatch processing power, it uses a compromised GPS and heart rate sensor.

Whatever the reason, I think it’s still too early to justify buying this watch.  The smartwatch features, like turning on lights through the watch, though convenient, are still a little buggy (granted, the software was just released).  And for athletes, the sports tracking feature simply isn’t accurate enough to offer useful data.

I’m anticipating the day comes when a smartwatch can offer both Android Wear 2.0 features and accurate activity tracking.  Until then, I’ll stick with the reigning champ, my Garmin Forerunner 235.

I hope you found this information useful.  Join me on Strava!

How Accurate is the LG Watch Sport Compared to Established Fitness Watches? (Test and Review)

The LG Watch Sport is the device that LG “designed with [their] friends at Google” to highlight the features of Android Wear 2.0.  When I heard about a Google fitness watch, I was thrilled.  The LG Watch Sport went on sale February 10 and I just received my LG Watch Sport yesterday.  Today I took it for a run.  On my other wrist, I wore my trusty Garmin Forerunner 235, which is an excellent fitness tracking watch that I’ve worn on hundreds of runs over the past 18 months.  It is very accurate, reliable, and has long battery life (about a week).  How does the LG Watch Sport compare?  (Note: I have done a followup post after testing the LG Watch Sport several more times.)

Comparison Between Garmin Forerunner 235 and LG Watch Sport
Comparison Between Garmin Forerunner 235 and LG Watch Sport

I think the results speak for themselves.  If you click on the image, you can see that the yellow benchmark line (Garmin Forerunner 235) is consistently accurate, whereas the blue line (LG Watch Sport) is all over the board.  You may also notice that I am not a very fast runner and that this is only a two-mile short run.  Below are more detailed graphs.

Heart Rate Monitor Comparison
The heart rate monitor on the Garmin Forerunner 235 wasn’t even close.

Especially disappointing is the heart rate monitor.  The LG Watch Sport wasn’t even close.  I do not believe this was due to any error on my part – the watch was tight against my skin.  However, I believe the Garmin Forerunner 235 uses a type of smoothing algorithm on the data in nullify outliers, so that might account for some of the difference.  Additionally, instead of using the built-in Google Fit activity tracker, I used Ghostracer.  It is possible that the Google Fit activity tracker will track the sensor data more accurately, but with such large aberrations, I doubt that the software is the problem.

LG Watch Sport elevation comparison
The elevation data was inaccurate.

While running along the shoreline, which is notoriously difficult for smartwatches to plot accurate elevation data, the LG Watch Sport was inaccurate.   Perhaps it thought I was a whale because it plotted me going below sea level by fifty feet and then resurfacing several times.  My trusty Garmin Forerunner 235 does not have a barometric altimeter, but obtains elevation data based on GPS. It appears much more accurate for a shoreline run with a couple small hills.

LG Watch Sport speed comparison
Even elementary measures like speed lack accuracy.

In my test run, I tried to run at a consistent cadence and pace.  The hills threw me off a bit, but overall, the Forerunner 235 shows my true slow pace, whereas the LG Watch Sport was again all over the board.  To be fair, I believe the the accuracy of the GPS data could be improved significantly with a smoothing moving average-type of the data.  The data from the Google fitness app might be more accurate, so I will update this post tomorrow once I can determine if that’s the case.  Below is a comparison of the GPS data accuracy on a map:

LG Watch Sport GPS comparison
GPS accuracy is subpar

The LG Watch Sport (blue line), like the Garmin Forerunner 235 (yellow line), both have GPS with GLONASS, which improves GPS accuracy by recruiting more satellites.  However, the Forerunner’s accuracy is dead-accurate, whereas the LG Watch Sport has me running in Lowman Cover.  (Perhaps that’s why the watch thought I was a whale.)  As I mentioned, the data could be cleaned with a good algorithm, so I will track my run with the built-in Google Fit app on the LG Watch Sport tomorrow.

LG Watch Sport cadence comparison
The LG Watch Sport performed equally well with cadence accuracy

Despite a few blips here and there, which could again be the result of no smoothing applied to the data, the LG Watch Sport performed about the same as the Garmin Forerunner 235 for cadence.


Needless to say, I’m extremely disappointed with the run tracking accuracy of the LG Watch Sport.  For a watch build with “sport” in it’s name, it does not perform nearly as well as established fitness watch competitors.  While my garmin only has rudimentary smartwatch capabilities, it is head and shoulders above the LG Watch Sport with regard to tracking runs.  The primary purpose of the LG Watch Sport for me is to track runs.  The utility of this watch is low if I cannot track fitness activities well, especially considering the cheaper Garmin Forerunner 235 has a week-long battery life and offers some unique features like all-day heart-rate tracking, and sleep tracking.  (Yes – I wore that watch 24/7.)  To reduce this comparison to a soundbite, I’d say that the LG Watch Sport’s most important feature – tracking sport – doesn’t compare to my beloved Garmin Forerunner 235’s run-tracking prowess.

I am hoping that this inaccurate run is an aberration.  I will perform a few more tests wearing the two watches, trying to press the LG Watch Sport closer to my skin to get more accurate heart rate data, and using the built-in Google Fit app. (I have now performed additional tests and posted the results.)

If there is no improvement after future tests, I am strongly considering returning the watch.  It lacks any utility to me if it cannot accurately track my runs.  The neat smartwatch features do not outweigh the daily annoyance of charging the watch or the frustration of inaccurate tracking.

I hope you found this information useful.  Join me on Strava!

Aurora Photos from Fairbanks, Alaska

I shot this using a little point-and-shoot (Canon SX200IS).  It is not the best low light performer, but the CHDK firmware allowed me to open the shutter indefinitely and shoot in raw (http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK).  The preloaded firmware does not allow this.  Also, to ensure my finger did not jostle the camera when I pushed the shutter, I set the shutter timer for three seconds.  The camera was sitting on a tiny tripod (http://joby.com/gorillapod/micro250).  Shooting in raw made all the difference – the jpgs look really underexposed but the raw images retained all of the low light data.  I was able to get some decent images by simply increasing the exposure value in post-processing.

Not the best images of the aurora – it was really windy too – but I think it’s cool that an old point-and-shoot could make decent images.


February 28, 2015 Aurora on a cold and windy night
February 28, 2015 Aurora on a cold and windy night

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Avant Fax login and new user problem on Freepbx / PBX in a Flash

I set up avantfax on our pbx as a frontend to hylafax (this is automated in PBX in a flash). (Ward Mundy is the man!) Could not log in to the web interface with the default username and password (making it impossible to send a fax with the GUI). I received the following error: “Login failed for maint. Ask your admin to verify that the account exists in AvantFAX.” This site was helpful in diagnosing the problem: http://sourceforge.net/p/avantfax/discussion/540878/thread/9cfb6bc9
My apache server was requiring the maint user login and not permitting any other user. I think the problem with apache stems from moving my server from one network to another (the IP / subnet settings for apache didn’t change automatically with the server IP).
To fix the problem, I logged in to the linux webmin (http://serverip then toggle the user switch to admin, then “linux webmin”). Next, click on servers > Apache Webserver > Default server > Per-Directory Options > /var/www/html/avantfax > Access Control. Then change the “Restrict access by login” from “Only these users: wwwadmin maint” to something else. If you cannot login even with the admin user, and you only plan on using an admin user, then you can add an identical admin user in apache. Click on “Edit users” and add an admin user. I also added a plaintext password which apache encryped. I think this pw must be at least 8 characters.
However, this was an inelegant solution because I could not create new users. I believe the problem here stems from apache attempting to handle authentication when avantfax should. Additionally, users cannot logout from avant fax when authentication is handled by apache. What solved the issue for me was to set the “restrict access by login” to default. Seemingly, avant fax handles authentication after that and I’ve had no issues with new users or logging out.