As an avid runner, having metrics available while I train is very important. I am currently doing research on GPS watches that make various metrics readily available for monitoring during my run and for analyzing after my run. The challenge is there are quite a few watches out in the market, which makes it hard to come to a decision. If those watches are cheaper, the search won’t be as bad. However, they cost over $200, up to almost $400; therefore, I want to know all the pros and cons before the purchase and become a happy user of the watch I am going to treasure for years to come.
When I first started to train, I had a Timex T5G391 that did a great job taking lap and split times. Then came RunKeeper iPhone app, which introduced me to GPS tracking of distance and pace. Thanks to the app, I have been logging my training very closely and contributed to success of marathon training. One can do without GPS, but it makes it much easier to keep track of your training with GPS. The only complaint with the RunKeeper is I have to carry the iPhone with me while I run (I could log distance and time manually after a run, but that kind of defeats the purpose of having a GPS device). If it is a few miles, that might not be as bad, but I rather run without it if I can, especially a long run or when it is raining. This drove me to investigate into GPS watches, and after reading some reviews, I bought Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS. Boy, that was a mistake!
Since my purchase, I have been having a problem with its GPS unit. I just do not get the satellite signal locked on when I need it. The reviews I read before my purchase had indicated the watch had the satellite signal acquisition issue. One reviewer in the UK even advised his readers not to buy the product, because the GPS is so crappy. I should have listened to him. Anyway, I am now doing my research for the next GPS watch and below is what I have found so far…
Garmin Forerunner 610
This is the most recent Garmin model that uses touch screen technology. It has so many advanced functionalities that I would never use. And touch screen? Call me old-fashioned, but I am totally happy with using buttons to navigate functionalities. The suggested retail price is whopping $349.99 without Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) and $399.99 with HRM. There are some users who are not happy with battery charging (reverse charging that leads to total depletion of battery), inaccurate GPS measurement (less accuracy early in a run), and faulty strap.
Garmin Forerunner 410
This model has touch bezel that lets you navigate its functionalities, though many people seem not impressed with the bezel control. Again, I am happy with button control if that works. On Amazon, as of today, this watch goes for $253 without HRM and $303 with HRM. The price is much better than 610, but there are some users not happy with its batter life (only lasts 3 to 4 hours??). That would be a major problem with me and would not consider purchasing if that is a real problem. Basically, 610 is much better watch and renders 410 outdated with problems.
Garmin Forerunner 210
This model does not have touch screen or touch bezel to navigate watch functionalities. It has HRM, real-time pace information, and interval support that I need. Not many more functionalities that are offered in 610 or 410. It is $199.99 on Amazon without HRM and $249.99 with HRM, as of writing time. Definitely in my price range. However, I’ve seen reviews that indicate issues with HRM (inaccurate reading) and battery recharging (not charging at all to the point of depletion).
Garmin is the industry leader in GPS watches, as far as I can see it. But it seems their watches have much room for improvement (both functionalities, manufacturing ,and price). I will continue with my research around these three models but may look into a different model or brand. When it costs as much as they do, I don’t want to make the same mistake I made with Timex.