Cateye's Q3 multisports computer is a wrist or bar-mounted watch-type computer that'll record speed, heart rate and cadence data and allow you to log your training on your PC. While the computer iteslf performs well, the software lets it down a bit and the price means that other wrist-mounted units look better value.
In the box you get the watch itself, an HRM strap, a combined speed and cadence sensor, a bar mount for the watch and the software CD. Fitting the Q3 is a ziptie job and complete in about 5 minutes, although if you want to swap the bar mount between bikes you'll need to cut the ties each time. Once it's up and running it's pretty simple to use, although spending 10 minutes reading through what all the buttons do (there are 5) is worth the time investment.
The watch has a 3-level display. In the middle there's the heart rate, writ large. Above and below that there are further lines that can display a range of information; the broad split is speed at the top, HR and cadence in the middle and time at the bottom. To be more specific, the upper display will show you current speed, average speed, maximum speed, average lap speed or maximum lap speed.
In the middle you get current heart rate along with a choice of average heart rate, maximum heart rate, average lap heart rate, maximum lap cadence, current cadence, average cadence, maximum cadence, average lap cadence, maximum lap cadence or number of laps.
At the bottom it's a choice of elapsed time, trip distance, countdown timer, interval timer, recovery time, lap timer, calorie consumption, clock, date, lap time or split time. Plenty of data options then and it's simple to switch between them, although the top and bottom lines are on the small side for reading at speed when the Q3 is mounted on the bike, so if your eyesight isn't 20/20 then it's probably not the one for you.
Overall it's a likeable computer and although it's not the most intuitive at times it's accurate and pretty straightforward to use. It's also small enough to wear as a wristwatch, so if you're looking for something to double up as a timepiece then you're in luck. The Q3 uses a 2.4Ghz signal to connect to its sensors and I never had any connectivity problems and it's weatherproof and durable too.
The Q3 will hold plenty of data, but soon enough you'll want to get that on your computer and have a look at it, after all that's the reason you buy a unit like this. That's where things starts to fall down a bit, sadly. For a start you'll need to get the USB dongle to enable downloads, and that's an extra £50 (less online) on top of the cost of the watch.
Assuming you've done that and the data is in your PC (and it's PC only, no Mac version), the comparison and number-crunching options available to you in E-Train are useful but limited, and to my eyes the interface looks a bit long in the tooth compared to some of the competition. It's not the equal of Garmin Connect or the equivalent from Bryton, and there's also Endomondo, Sports Tracker and a stack of other options these days, most of which of course are available across all operating systems. There's some nice functionality in the E-Train software for working out what percentage of time you've spent in different heart rate zones, and if you want higher-end functions like that it's worth looking at the function set to see if it'll help you. But it's not the only solution if you need those tools.
Assuming you've bought the watch and the USB dongle, you'll have forked out the best part of £200, even if you shop around online. For £139 you can have the just launched Ant+ compatible Bryton Rider 20 with cadence and HRM, basic GPS and a good looking online user interface. Shop around online and for just a bit more, you could have a Garmin Edge 500 (/content/review/17933-garmin-edge-500) and a HRM/cadence kit, which would give you at least the same functionality with the added benefit of GPS tracking, and the 500 is backed up by Garmin Connect which is currently my favourite tool for logging ride data and certainly one of the better ones or you could have the Bryton Rider 50 with all the bells and whistles. There's nothing much wrong with the Q3 computer, but as a complete offering it doesn't really match up to the market leaders here and the new generation of GPS based bike computers; the software side of the equation is what mostly lets it down.
Does what it says it'll do with little fuss, but software isn't as slick as new generation of GPS based cycle computers
road.cc test report
Make and model: Cateye Q3 Multi Sports Computer
Size tested: Black
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
CatEye's new Q3 multi-sports computer features all of the standard cycling functions along with an accurate heart rate monitor in a compact, wrist-mounted, downloadable package.
The Q3 allows you to customize your training experience with 5 programmable heart rate zones, up to 99 laps with real time lap functions, and both time and distance interval functions. There are programmable time and distance countdown functions, cadence tracking, and is waterproof up to 30m.
The Q series functions on a 2.4GHz digitally encoded wireless band and will store up to 30 training files, downloadable with the USB Dongle (available separately).
Along with your training data, it will record your total weekly, monthly, and yearly time and distance automatically.
A handlebar mount and cadence sensor are included so you'll be ready to go right out of the box.
Well made and waterproof
A game of two halves: the computer itself is pretty good, the software less so
More like a watch than a GPS-based unit, no GPS to weigh it down - the unit itself weighs 63g - the mount will obviously add a bit on top if you are attaching it to your bars
Expensive compared to some of the competition
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The computer itself was good but the software isn't the best
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good quality, robust wireless connection
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? The computer was good, the software less so
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Not with the discounts currently available on an Edge 500
About the tester
Age: 38 Height: 190cm Weight: 98kg
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with SRAM Apex
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.