|Name||Fitness Wristwatch with GPS: Garmin ForeRunner 210|
|At a glance:||GPS lock can take minutes to achieve when moving from indoors to outdoors,Heart rate monitor and GPS capture fantastically detailed data,Battery life is so-so|
|Summary:||A singe-purpose fitness tracker that does an excellent job of the basics. If not for battery hiccups, this would be perfect.|
In the melange of multifaceted fitness gadgets, the Garmin ForeRunner 210 is a simple and straightforward gadget that aims to do one thing, and do it well. It tracks your activities.
As a watch, the ForeRunner 210 is a little on the bulky side: it’s almost 1cm thick. It has a bog-standard monochrome display with almost-retro digital watch feel. It’s not cool or hip-looking enough to offer any street cred, though: it’s pure business.
Around the edge of the watch face are four buttons, corresponding to start/stop, menu, lap/reset and a backlight. The watchface has three different displays – one shows the time and date, the other two show heart rate or stopwatch, with pace and distance at the top and bottom of the display within the latter two.
To use the ForeRunner210, you simply press the page/menu button to trigger the GPS lock. It takes around a minute for the ForeRunner 210 to pick up a satellite signal for GPS, and I found that I had to hold my wrist up deliberately in order to reliably get a signal. Often, it took three or four minutes to achieve.
Once GPS is locked on, however, the ForeRunner handles everything smoothly. Press start to begin a workout, stop to finish it, and lap/reset to save it for tracking. Pressing page/menu at any time during a workout flips the display between time, stopwatch and heart rate displays.
The GPS is very accurate, and distance is measured reliably. It also measures time and pace accurately, which makes it invaluable for anyone wanting interval or distance training.
One advantage it has is that it works overseas without drama, locking onto a satellite and tracking a run in Sydney and a run in China without any roaming charges. You can’t do that with a phone app.
The model we reviewed also came with a heart rate monitor as part of the package, and this is tracked in concert with the pace, time and distance to provide detailed biometrics for any exercise. When the heart rate monitor is on, and the pads that attach to your chest are moistened, the watch shows a heart symbol. It has occasional inconsistencies at the start and end of runs, but apart from those minor glitches seemed highly accurate.
The Garmin ForeRunner 210 integrates with the Garmin Connect website – simply plug the USB charger into your computer, clip the watch in, and it will offer to upload any new activities. Once uploaded, Garmin Connect displays the data in an engaging, easy to understand format. You can view your GPS map, charts and measures simultaneously, and compare data across multiple activities. Garmin Connect also lets you program workouts into your ForeRunner (or other Garmin device) and export activities as files that can be uploaded to sites such as RunKeeper.
The disadvantage of the ForeRunner, however, is its battery. Once it’s below full, it appears to run down surprisingly fast. It lasts around two days on a single charge, or eight hours for constant use. We found on three different occasions that the battery ran flat without any noticeable reason for doing so – in one case, while plugged into a system for no more than half an hour, it went from full battery to no battery. Additionally, the charger is finicky – you have to wiggle it around a bit to ensure that the contacts connect for charging, and they can be easily knocked out of alignment, since there’s no stand for the watch to keep it in place while charging.
Despite the drawbacks, however, this was my favourite gadget to use while tracking, simply because of its simplicity and flexibility. It’s perfect for a walker, runner, or someone interested in keeping a log of their overall activity in the course of their normal day. Just beware of the occasional unexpected downtime.