Garmin Forerunner 610 ~ $400
Nerds, gadgeteers, Type-A's, lend me your ears! The Garmin Forerunner 610 is here!
This sleek, lightweight training tool is the latest addition to Garmin's line of GPS-enabled watches. It retains many of the features adored by those who own or have owned the Forerunner 405 or 410: dual sport capability, various training modes/workouts, ANT+ technology, heart rate-based calorie computation (in the case of the 410), Virtual Partner, and a lower profile than its predecessors. However, they have made the 610 much easier to manipulate by designing it with a touch screen as opposed to the push-button or touch bezel technology of the previous models. In addition to retaining the Virtual Partner training option, Garmin developed for the 610 an addition feature, the Virtual Racer. Virtual Racer works similarly with the Virtual Partner feature, except that it allows you to race against your personal best times or even personal records of anyone else who downloads their information to Garmin's online training pages. Other updates include a Vibration Alert, which activates along with an audible alarm when you reach a training goal (pace, heart rate, distance, calories, etc.), a navigation feature that leads you back to the beginning of your run, and an increased level of customization on the individual training pages.
Having used the Garmin 405 for almost two years now, and to great avail, it didn't take much time to acclimate to the 610. After programming the watch and inputting the required personal information to accurately determine the effectiveness of my exercise (which only took about three minutes) I was literally off and running, in this instance with the Tin Roof 2 Running Crew. There was never any discrepancy with the satellite signal, and although I noticed "cross-talk" with other heart-rate monitors while maneuvering through the crowd before we departed, it never happened during the run itself. The touch screen feature took a little bit of practice in regards to exactly how much pressure needed to be implemented to activate the next screen. This, however, also happened to be the case when I first used the 405 and its touch bezel as well, so as not to be interpreted as a criticism. I was particularly impressed with how the touch screen is impervious to the influence of water coming in contact with it which, on a touch bezel model, would have invariably changed the screen if one forgot to lock the bezel. Also appreciated was the heart rate-based calorie computation, a feature I was not afforded with the 405. Another conclusion that I reached was that I thought I had been burning more calories than I actually was during one of my favorite runs. So, much to my dismay, I was only able to order one Sam Adams Oktoberfest to pair with my usual after-run entree, the Tin Roof Salad with chicken, as to not feel TOO guilty (haha). A small price to pay for accuracy, I suppose. Anyone looking to increase their training, get a better bead on the effectiveness of their workouts, or those who simply want all the bells and whistles, this is the training tool you need. Come check it out at Fleet Feet Sports Nashville!