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Garmin Forerunner 610 GPS Watch Review

Updated on March 2, 2013

Garmin Forerunner 610 GPS Watch Review

On this page is a detailed review of the Garmin Forerunner 610 GPS Watch.

Rather than provide you with a detailed comparison of GPS Watches (which incidentally, I have created earlier) I am going to tell you why the Garmin FR 610 is the best product on the market and one that you really should look into before deciding to purchase an alternative product.

I am a very keen middle distance runner and have used a GPS watch for many years. I started out with the Garmin FR410 which is a great product and I would recommend it to any running enthusiast; before moving on to the Forerunner 610.

I am not going to sit here and tell you that owning a GPS watch is certain to increase your fitness because at the end of the day, it is the effort that you put in that makes the difference. What I can say with total confidence is that frequent and structured use of a GPS watch whilst running is guaranteed to incite progression and improvement within your chosen activity.

Lets get straight in to the review, so just sit back and absorb whilst I try to convince you why the Garmin Forerunner 610 is the best GPS watch on the market

As a Garmin GPS watch owner, I am totally biased and do not mind admitting it. I have owned Nike running watches and Polar Heart Rate monitors in the past and I can honestly say that the all round user experience of a Garmin is second to none.

A good GPS watch is not just about the running, obviously it is a huge part of the process but regular users will tell you that the true benefits are revealed post-run as you collate and analyse your activity data. Garmin connect is a free to register website which allows you to upload all of you activity data and analyse it to the Nth degree. All of the following data points are captured on each of your activities:

  • Distance , Time , Avg Pace , Calories , Elevation Gain
  • Best Pace , Lap Splits , Weather , Best Pace
  • Heart Rate Metrics (If Attached) , Visualised Routes

The software also allows you to take creative control of your training. You are able to create courses and routes which can be downloaded to your device and utilise on your run. Garmin Connect allows you to create personal goals and get access to tried and tested training programs for specific events such as Half and Full Marathons for varying levels of ability.

Take a look at the dashboard below to see how the data is presented.

For me, the software that backs the Garmin Forerunner 610 up is as solid as the watch itself and combine to make a complete GPS running solution.

All this and we have not even explored the watch yet...Lets take a look now!

The Review

Up Close and Personal with the Garmin FR610

The Garmin Forerunner 610 GPS Sportswatch is action packed with great features so we will start at the beginning and dive straight in...

Introduction

The Garmin Forerunner 610 is a high end GPS running solution which expands on the tried and tested platform of the Garmin FR410 - An extremely solid product with only 1 real downfall, the problematic Bezel technology. The FR610 is is the first in it's kind and a pioneer for Garmin in the area of Touch Screen functionality. There are many out there, myself included that were a little wary of this introduction and believed that it would have been more sensible to take the FR410 in the direction of hard wired buttons - yes it is a step back but at least you know where you stand. Either way it is a bold move and one which I am happy to announce has paid off.

The Watch

The look of the watch has a a similar and almost familiar appearance to it while the face is a huge leap forward in terms of style and modernisation. I really like the look of this watch and would be more than happy to wear it is a day watch; the slim-line design and battery-life of this product will permit such activity as power save mode (no GPS enabled) will last 2 weeks+. Although the device is marketed as a touch screen solution, the 3 buttons are of course still present offering Start/Stop, Lap/Reset and backlight.

Navigating the menu of the FR610 is controlled by the blue Neon sections within the black outer rim (the 3 blue lines and the triangle) and more in depth selection is fully touch screen with added scroll and swipe. It seems that every gadget is turning into an IPhone these days, and why not, they are great!

The watch is primarily designed for running although it does feature cycling support and recording metrics. A series of supports and additional sensors can transform the FR610 into a fully mounted cycle computer. For all of the triathletes out there who are starting to think that this watch might be for them, this is where it ends. The device is rated as IPX7 or splash resistant ( there is a more scientific explanation which states it can be held at 1 meter depth for 30 minutes but just take it from me, do not submerge this watch)

Charging the Watch

Previous Garmin models have included a Mains compatible USB charging clip. Two metal prongs were held in place by a plastic crocodile clip. Personally, I have never been a fan of this mechanism and have broke several in the past; even fully at full capacity there is scope to knock the prongs of track. The new mechanism shipped with the FR610 seems to remedy this shortfall with great effect. A magnetic arm latches on to the metallic rear and seats the prongs with greater stability - A welcome addition to the FR range.

Using the GPS

One of the most common problem with GPS enabled devices are signal strength and lock times (how long it takes to pair with the satellite). The Garmin FR610 is equipped with SiRF SiRF Star IV technology along with InstantFix II to ensure timely connections. Garmin GPS devices use Hotfix technology (remembering your last known position) for location. Staying in the same rough area will increase connection speeds where constant moving will prolong. Average times are in the 10-30 seconds range which is pretty good in comparison with other products.

Product Features

The FR610 is loaded with state of the art features and functions. Carrying on from where the FR410 left off, the 610 is equipped with the following

Standard Features

  • Accurate Distance, Average / Current Pace , GPS position ,
  • Heart rate (HRM purchased Separately , Calorie Counter
  • Water Resistant (IPX7) , 1000 Lap Memory , Auto Lap

Advanced Features

  • Virtual Partner , Virtual Racer , Garmin Connect
  • Pace Alert , Interval Training , Auto Pause
  • Vibration Alerts , Advanced Workouts , HR Training

The only real addition to the Garmin feature set is the inclusion of Virtual Racer - a system to compete against previous, preset or friends workouts. Virtual Partner is still included and probably my favorite Garmin feature. You set a pace (7 min/mile etc.) and the little stick man is either ahead or behind - Just brilliant!

The Heart Rate Monitor is a separately sold product but integrates seamlessly with the FR610 and can be used in conjunction with the watch to formulate Heart Rate Zonal Training.

Garmin Connect

GPS training is all about creating a winning formula. There is little value in simply recording data unless you intend to apply some statistical analysis. Modern Garmin products interact wirelessly with the the USB ANT+ device to upload activity information to your personal web space within Garmin Connect. Equally, the ANT+ can be used to download workouts, training plans, courses and even firmware.

The Garmin Connect aspect of the GPS solution is as strong as the watch itself, there are alternative (paid) software options which can interact with the device if you require deeper statistics but I feel the free (Garmin Connect) option is more than adequate. I have outlined the basic features of the software above in the section entitled "You've got to go Garmin"

Pricing

In a perfect world, we would all buy the best product regardless of price; back to the real world and we find ourselves constantly making a trade off between functionality and afford-ability. I will not make any bones about this one, it is an expensive product and is likely to set you back between £200-£230 ( you may be lucky and get the HRM thrown in if there is a current promotion. Needless to say that there are cheaper alternatives which will fulfill almost all of the performance factors of the FR610. It is a decision that you will have to make yourself but if you can afford it, go with the FR610

Summary

I have tried to remain relatively impartial throughout this review but I am sure that I have made a terrible attempt at doing so. I have used Garmin for quite a few years now and have seen the products transition throughout. (Good, Not so Good and just plain annoying - The FR410 Bezel) The Garmin Forerunner 610 is the future of GPS watch solutions. Bezel aside, the FR410 was a great product which ticked almost every box; it was in need of evolution, not revolution and Garmin have not failed to deliver. They have proved that Touch Screen technology can work in a watch while still offering cutting edge functionality to its customer base.

The Many Faces of the Garmin Forerunner 610 - A Quick Look around the FR610

The Garmin Forerunner 610 is a great looking product and is equipped with everything an enthusiastic runner will ever need. Take closer look at the watch!

Touch Screen in Action - Check out the Garmin Forerunner 610 Touch Screen Action

Garmin Forerunner 610 Accessories - A Few extra Essentials

Guestbook Comments

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    • mirrie profile image

      Mirrie 4 years ago from France

      Several of my friends have Garmins - I know understand why they are so obsessed with them - they are amazing ....

    • profile image

      ZenithScribe 4 years ago

      Very nice lens filled with lots of great information! My son is a runner and would love this.

    • Paul Hill84 profile image
      Author

      Paul Hill84 4 years ago

      @Sojourn: Sometimes I spend more time viewing the analytics than what it takes me to do the actual run. Go figure???

    • profile image

      Sojourn 4 years ago

      Love the line where you explain that spending the money alone won't improve your fitness level or the benefits you receive from running - it's what you put into it and how you use the Garmin that will make the difference. As a data nerd, I love getting the feedback and using the numbers to analyze what I need to change in order to reach my goals.

    • wishgood profile image

      wishgood 4 years ago

      Great lens and loaded with useful information, Thanks.

    • badaniels profile image

      badaniels 4 years ago

      I wanted to get back into running and had looked at these around Christmas time. Definitely loaded up.

    • profile image

      tomoxby 4 years ago

      Impressed by what this GPS watch can do, I am sure it would improve performance.

    • Wedding-Music profile image

      Matt Warren 4 years ago from Cheshire, UK

      Another great quality lens, thanks