Garmin Forerunner 610 GPS watch

Garmin Forerunner 610 review: A GPS watch aimed at the fitness junkie

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Garmin Forerunner 610
  • Garmin Forerunner 610
  • Garmin Forerunner 610
  • Garmin Forerunner 610
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Looks like a normal watch, albeit a bulky one
  • Huge range of workout features integrated
  • GPS works accurately and stores plenty of data

Cons

  • Battery life is limited to eight hours of exercise
  • Not waterproof (so no swimming)
  • Touchscreen isn't great

Bottom Line

Garmin's Forerunner 610 is pricy but if you're a serious athlete we can definitely see its value. It's able to track and store a huge range of workout metrics in combination with the bundled heart-rate monitor, and includes software to monitor your long-term progress via PC. The touchscreen may be a bit fiddly but our biggest concern is the short-ish battery life.

Would you buy this?

Once you’ve taken care of the watch’s initial setup, all you need to do is hit the start button when you begin exercising, the lap button when you finish an interval, and the stop button when you can’t be bothered to move any more. The Forerunner 610 takes care of all the data entry and can store 180 hours of data — even if you don’t download the watch’s saved data to a PC, this is a year’s worth of data if you’re running for an hour every two days before it’s full.

Using the Garmin Forerunner 610 with the bundled heart-rate monitor brought out the statistics geek in us. We found ourselves checking the results every few minutes throughout the day, cataloguing our heart rate during walking and running and sitting and lying down and eating and coughing and talking — it got a little excessive. In any case the heart-rate monitor worked as we expected and we got a wealth of data to plug into Garmin’s Training Centre application.

The Garmin Forerunner 610 syncs wirelessly and uploads data to your PC through the bundled Garmin ANT+ wireless USB dongle — Windows XP onwards and all recent flavours of Mac OS X are supported. We didn’t have any problems with only plugging in the dongle when we wanted to upload data — no crashes or loss of data.

The Garmin Training Centre application lets you view your activity against a map, create custom work-outs to carry out, and look through a huge number of graphs and figures and statistics. It even works with Google Earth, so you can share or show-off your routes and data with others. We found the application had more data than we knew what to do with — we think anyone up to professional athlete level would be catered for.

Similarly, you can use the Garmin Forerunner 610 and ANT+ dongle to upload data to the Garmin Connect+ Web site. It’s got a small range of social features — you can compare your fitness routine with other Connect+ users if you want, or export some of your data to Facebook, Digg or del.icio.us — but the value lies in its wide range of logs, listings, goal settings and analysis that the service offers. If you think keeping track of your exercises would be valuable to your fitness, the Forerunner 610 and Garmin Connect+ offers more data than you could reasonably need. The data logging and feedback features of the Garmin Forerunner 610 are excellent.

Garmin Forerunner 610: Battery life

Garmin Forerunner 610 GPS watch

We tested the Garmin Forerunner 610 over two weeks, over eight runs of 30 to 45 minutes in length. As we’re writing this review it’s only just run out of battery life; Garmin’s claim of eight hours battery life during active use are credible. If you’re not using the GPS every day or two we think it’d be possible to stretch the battery out to a monthly recharge. The Forerunner 610 comes with an AC adapter that clips into two electrical contacts on the back of the watch, with magnets to hold the charging plate secure. If you keep the charger plugged in it’s easy to regularly keep the Forerunner 610’s battery topped up.

Garmin Forerunner 610: Conclusion

The Garmin Forerunner 610 is a watch that’s filled with useful features and statistics tracking gizmos. If you’re the kind of person that wants to find out every last detail about their exercise routine — why it is you slow down on that hill, or where you could push yourself a little harder to make up lost time, or to mark where that annoying dog lives — it’s got everything you need.

The bundled software and Internet features are more than capable enough, and we couldn’t think of anything extra we’d want to add in. Unless you have a particularly pressing need for an especially niche feature, the Garmin Forerunner 610 should be able to take care of your fitness logging needs. Plus, it does a surprisingly good job of telling the time.

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