Getting into shape is hard! A good gadget can distract you from the drudgery of exercise. Like the Forerunner 610, a shiny and impressive watch to make you forget about that aneurysm as you delve into its mighty feature set.
Why It Matters
Garmin’s newest Forerunner is a great hybrid. It’s a fitness tracker that clocks your speed and distance using GPS, as well as your heart rate, calories burned, elevation, and basically every major data point you need as a runner. But it’s also svelte and stylish and could pass as a normal wristwatch.
The watch is largely idiot-resistant, if not proof. It has three buttons on the edges, as well as a touchscreen. One button activates the start/stop, another checks off laps, the third turns it off. You can use the touchscreen to cycle through screens as you run, swapping from time, to speed, for example. You can turn the GPS off indoors to save the rechargeable battery (or it can do that automatically if it doesn’t get a signal). When you get back inside from a run or a ride, it will automatically upload data to Garmin’s Website, so you can crunch the numbers from your run.
I love the way this watch looks and wears. Like the new Nike+ GPS Sport Watch, it looks good on the track or off of it. The interface is lovely. The online software at Garmin Connect, is an absolute pleasure. It generates great maps and graphs of your runs, with elevation profiles and heart rate data. Everything is quite digestible, and it makes it easy to understand how effecively you are training.
The GPS is fast and accurate. It gets position fixes in less than a minute, even after I travelled across country with it. It did just as well in terms of accuracy and signal in the urban canyons of New York as it did on the coast in California. It has smart add-ons you can buy as well, like a foot pod that will let you use it indoors on a treadmill. It syncs up with fitness equipment and scales, and you can use it on the bike with a cadence sensor (although the screen is pretty small for cycling in my opinion).
The touchscreen on the 610 is utterly maddening. Either my fingers have swollen to the size of cucumbers, or this touchscreen is way too small. Sure, it’s fine for the major things that you’ll use on a day to day basis: swiping to unlock the screen or swapping between screens, for example. But God help you if you need to change anything. It’s extremely hard to navigate around the menu because the selections are so small. And because its designed to prevent accidental changes from bumping something while running, you really have to tap the hell out of the thing in exactly the right place, and then hold it for approximately twelve years. I’ve been to haggis restaurants whose menus were easier to get into.
Should I Buy This?
I’m giving this a marginal thumbs up. It’s a really nice watch for runners and triathletes. It gets a great GPS signal and is super easy to use, once you’ve got it set up the way you want it. But the navigating the touchscreen to get it set up is so frustrating that it tested the depths and creativity of my ability to swear at inanimate objects. It tinted an otherwise great experience.