Garmin’s gear has tended to the expensive end of the market, but the new Forerunner 10 is anything but. At £100 it is the lowest cost Garmin GPS watch ever and it lacks the sophistication of more expensive models. It is marketed as an entry level GPS watch and is aimed squarely at runners, with very little to offer people into other activities. With that in mind, how well does the Forerunner 10 perform?
The Forerunner 10 comes in three designs. There is the obligatory pink and white version, a black option and the rather nice lime green and white one I was sent. It is small and very, very light – far lighter than any other GPS watch I have used, and indeed small enough to wear as an everyday watch – even on my little wrists.
The black option is slightly larger and heavier than the other two. Presumably it is intended as the mens’ option.
Of course, unlike an ordinary watch the Forerunner 10 needs regular charging. Garmin says it is good for five hours of GPS based use. That’s less than you get from more expensive models of GPS watch, but it should see most people in its target area of newcomers to running or ‘recreational runners’, through a programme of regular training activities that includes periods of a few days away from mains power.
If you are into more than five hours running over a period of, say, three or four days, then frankly this probably isn’t the GPS watch for you because of its relatively basic set of features. That isn’t to say the features are poor though, as we’ll see.
You charge the battery via a USB unit that’s not too much of a pain to carry around, though its proprietary design means it is yet another thing you need to have handy when you need it. Annoyingly Garmin seems to change the design of its charge units from watch to watch, so if your partner happens to have a different Garmin watch you’ll need to carry two charging cables. In this case the whole back of the watch slots into a caddy making it very secure.
The build of the Forerunner 10 is reasonably solid though this is clearly less ‘expensive’ than other more costly Garmin models. The strap is quite short and thin, but it feels robust. The whole thing is light too. It’s very comfy to wear and easy to wear as a regular watch.
The screen is relatively small and it can be tricky to read when you are on the run. There is a lot of fascia and the small screen is probably the result of a need to keep production costs down. Overall it isn’t the best looking GPS watch I have seen. The premium feel just isn’t there. On the other hand, the buttons are very usable. There are four buttons, one on each ‘corner’. They are raised, domed, and easy to find by touch.
These buttons are the way into all the Forerunner 10’s functions. One turns the watch on and off then turns the backlight on. The others you use for setup, getting a GPS fix and generally managing the watch.
As I’ve already noted, the range of options available is limited in comparison to the more expensive alternatives, but Garmin has tried to offer variety for the newcomer as well as easy use and I think what is here is a perfectly adequate set of functions for newcomers to running or those into running for general fitness.
One feature that beginners might really like is the walk/run timer. You can set a period of minutes for walking and one for running, and get alerts when they are completed, with the timers looping endlessly till you decide you’ve had enough. If you are working up to being able to run for a set length of time from being a non runner this could be invaluable.
You can setup two screens of data, each one offering two bits of info. The data pair combinations are fixed and can’t be altered. This is nowhere near the flexibility you get in the Forerunner 610, but it is useful nonetheless. The combinations are: time and distance, time and current pace, time and calories, pace and distance, pace and calories, distance and calories.
You can also set up an auto lap timer and an auto pause so that the Forerunner 10 will stop counting if you stop moving – handy if you have to stop running to cross roads. And it is 50m water resistant which means you ought to be able to wear it in the shower and even while swimming. Of course the GPS is not intended for use while swimming, but you could use the basic timer feature to ensure you swim for your planned half hour (or whatever time you set).
The Forerunner 10 reports on split times and calories burned for each run, and remembers some key stats such as your fastest kilometre, mile, 5k, 10k, longest run. This, of course, is device specific, so if you’ve recorded faster elsewhere the Forerunner 10 can’t report that, but if you are buying this watch as a beginner that won’t matter at all.
There’s no heart rate monitor option with the Forerunner 10, and the watch won’t communicate with bike sensors or a foot pod as there is no ANT+ compatibility. It does, though, converse with Garmin Connect which is Garmin’s own online data store.
You can’t upload data from the watch wirelessly. Instead you get data into your account via the same connector that’s used for charging. All the usual gubbins goes over to the online account and runs can be graphed and mapped online.
If you are keen on Garmin Connect, or on recording your stats the old fashioned way in a book, then it is worth noting that the Forerunner 10 doesn’t have much of a memory. It can only store seven activities, knocking the oldest off to make way for the newest.
In use I found that the Forerunner 10 a little slow to get a GPS fix. Once when I took it 200 miles away from home and did a 5k it failed to get a fix throughout the whole run. I had a Forerunner 610 measuring for me, but it was a real surprise that the Forerunner 10 wasn’t able to get a fix at all.
Many people will find the virtual pacer feature an attractive idea. This lets you set a pace per kilometer or mile and then it will issue an audible alert if you fall above or below the pace. In practice, though I found it really irritating.
The problem is that the system is very keen to tell you when you fall above and below the pace, and if you are hovering around it you’ll be getting alerts very frequently. In the end I disabled this feature in the middle of a run because I got so fed up with its constant beeping every few minutes as I fluttered around the pace I wanted to keep.
I much prefer the virtual pacer on the Forerunner 610 which tells you how far you are behind or ahead of your pace with a visual cue. You can glance at it when you need to, free of the constant beeping.
Without to five weeks life in ordinary clock mode it is likely yo could get away with using the Forerunner 10 as your main watch, giving it a charge boost after runs just to make sure it will keep you going. It is certainly light and small enough to wear every day in a way other GPS watches are not.
Of course, the features are limited in comparison with more expensive options, but what you do get for £100 is quite enough to help anyone in their journey from couch potato to runner.
- Attractive price
- Good features
- Functions as ordinary watch
- Uploads to Garmin Connect
- Proprietary charge connector
- Irritating virtual pacer