Thursday, October 31, 2013

Garmin 210 Review

BLACKAfter running with the Garmin 405 for a couple of years, I decided to try out a much simpler, lighter, and more compact model this time around. For those of you not completely familiar with the product, the 405 is a great watch, but it is large, has a bit too much weight to it, and has a touch screen bezel. While in perfect conditions the watch worked great, the touch screen component became difficult to deal with when water entered the picture—at times the watch would do crazy things, and these crazy things could keep you from obtaining your data during your run and race, thus rendering the watch less than useful.

Enter the Garmin 210. This watch drops the weight considerably, moving down from 60 grams with the 405 to 52 grams. While the number seems minor, three hours into a run, the watch still feels absent and has not become a mental and physical burden.
While I could pile in the box and out of the box pictures up here, what you really need to know is that the watch comes standard with a heart rate monitor, charging cable (USB style), and an outlet adapter. Since I do not train by heart rate anymore, I sold my monitor on eBay for around $30 and thus cut my overall cost down.

From first use, the Garmin 210 removes a lot of the features that tended to clog down the 405. First off, you can find the satellites, both in the USA and abroad, and you can find them quickly. In the past I have spent as many as five minutes waiting. At this juncture I think I have waited no more than a single minute in a new location, thirty seconds or less in an old one. Gone are multiple screens of data. Instead, you have three main data points: overall time, distance traveled, and lap speed (instant speed). The click of a single button can you give you lap specific data including lap distance, time, and speed. All in all, I do not need much more in the way of information. Virtual training partners can be bothersome—if I want to hit a goal I need to be the one that gets me there and thus do not need a beep to tell me where I am.

The signal strength is generally strong and consistent. Every now and then, the watch loses touch, especially in the deep woods, something I can discern from observing my instapace, watching a 7:45 mile jump to 9:00 without a pace change. Yet, these disturbances are usually relatively short lived as the watch reconnects (GPS watches ping every 3-4 seconds, phone GPS ever 7-10). When running in the city, the watch hold up fairly well around the buildings, and the pacing seemed accurate (tested in Boston and New York City).

While the watch is technically only 1m water resistant, water is not the enemy here. With the 405, raindrops or my sweat could change my screen or send the watch into a frenzy. I wouldn’t submerge the watch, but I wouldn’t submerge my smartphone either unless I wanted to buy a new one. Running in both downpours of rain and perspiration, the watch holds up, I can access my data, and plow through the workout.

The battery is reliable, needing to be charged about 1-2 times a week depending on my mileage. While I miss the overall percentage of battery life data the 405 gave, the four bars system only takes a little bit of time to decode. If I drop to a single bar and have more than an hour’s  worth of running to do, charge the watch.

After running a couple marathons, multiple 5k’s, and four months of steady wear, I would recommend this model as a dependable GPS watch solution.

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