Garmin Forerunner 610 review: A GPS watch aimed at the fitness junkie
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.
Garmin Forerunner 610: Design and operation
The Garmin Forerunner 610 looks just like a regular watch — from a distance we’d struggle to tell it from a good ol’ fashioned G-Shock. It is a bit chunky at 1.42cm thick, but the curved metal rear case means it’s comfortable even when tightly strapped on during exercise. The face of the watch is just under 4.6cm wide, and the touchscreen LCD is 2.5cm in diameter; it’s easy to read the time off the Garmin Forerunner 610 at arm’s length, but reading some of the smaller text requires bringing the watch closer. There are three physical buttons on the Forerunner 610’s case — a power/backlight button, and stopwatch-style start/stop and lap buttons.
The touchscreen of the Garmin Forerunner 610 is a resistive one. You can use any implement to operate it, but we found that a soft tap or swipe occasionally didn’t register — you’ll get best results if you use a bit of force. Since the touch-sensitive area is only a little over an inch in size, using a forefinger means it’s possible to occasionally hit the wrong button; we opted to use our slightly daintier pinky fingers to move through the Forerunner 610’s menus.
Thankfully, the menus are simply laid out and easy to navigate. There are four main screens for the Forerunner 610 to display during exercise, which can be swapped between by tapping or swiping across the face of the watch — the normal date/time, a heart-rate read-out (for use with the optional heart-rate monitor), GPS info, and a page of customisable workout stats.
If you want to delve into the settings of the Garmin Forerunner 610 — maybe to change your minimum and maximum heart-rate settings, or to change your preferred distance measurement from miles to kilometres — you’ll need to tap the bottom of the screen and swipe vertically through menu options. The button for each sub-menu is only around 5mm tall so it’s possible to tap the wrong one accidentally, but this isn’t much of an inconvenience and we found we only had to visit the menu a few times throughout our testing of the Forerunner 610.
Our review unit of the Garmin Forerunner 610 was bundled with a heart-rate monitor, which is worn on a chest strap. You can also purchase a Garmin foot pod which has an accelerometer to measure your cadence, stride length and other exercise minutiae. Coupled with the inbuilt GPS, the foot pod ensures you’ll always be able to track your running or cycling speed and performance.
Garmin Forerunner 610: Performance
To test the Garmin Forerunner 610, we took it on several hour-long runs over a couple of weeks, with the bundled heart-rate monitor strapped on. Now, we’re not exactly prime athletes, but we think we took the Forerunner 610 on a suitable range of exercises to test its capabilities. In any case, we got uncomfortably sweaty. It wasn’t fun.
After we’d fully charged the Garmin Forerunner 610, we took it on a stroll through the city. It took about five minutes to find and lock on to enough GPS satellites to provide accurate location and distance data, but after that we found we could walk around the area’s skyscrapers and tall buildings without entirely losing the GPS signal. Once we were out in the suburbs in more open terrain, the Forerunner 610 never had trouble acquiring a GPS lock and did so within two minutes each time. When indoors, the GPS cuts out quickly; the watch defaults to an ‘indoor’ low-power mode.