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Garmin Forerunner 310XT Review

I’m an avid bike rider and attend the good old gym on a regular basis. One thing I’ve long failed to do is keep track of my workouts – I don’t even have a little black book to record my mileage or ‘sets’ completed. Enter the Garmin Forerunner 310XT.

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The Forerunner 310XT is Garmin’s first fully fledged GPS watch to offer not only a myriad of workout and tracking options, but is waterproof up to 50m. Aesthetically it’s a bit on the large side, but that lends itself to a reasonably large screen, all things relative of course. The wrist band is finished in bright orange, so there’s no mistaking this thing for anything but a workout watch, although I’m relatively confident that runners and triathlon nuts could get away with wearing it year round, though they might be a bit hampered by its 20 hour battery life.

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And despite that sounding like a short battery life I assure you it’s not, especially if you use the Forerunner 310XT specifically for your workouts. To streamline the charging process Garmin has included a clothespin like charger that grasps the 310XT at two contact points, making charging the device a snap (pardon the pun).

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Function wise the 310XT really delivers. It’s waterproof, so Triathloners will like its ability to go from the water, to the bike (there’s an optional bike mount) to the run. If you so chose you can even set it up to transition in between these sports and keep track of your time in between each transition so you don’t cheat your stats. I primarily used the 310XT while biking and lifting weights and despite it being largely designed for running, swimming and biking it still was a great compliment to my muscle building routine.

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The Garmin Forerunner 310XT can track calories, heart rate (strap included – works wirelessly) distance, speed, cadence (optional bike attachment needed) and pace. It can set you back to a desired location or race you against a virtual opponent using stored info about your previous workouts.

And the features don’t end there. Included is a USB stick that wirelessly connects the 310XT to your computer when placed within a close proximity. You’ll need to fire up the included software and register for a Garmin Connect account, but once you’ve done that you’re work out info is automatically uploaded to the web where you can view graphs and charts; all the stuff that could potentially make you into a super human athlete.

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Much like many of today’s cell phones the 310XT is equipped with a vibrator alert that can also be paired with audible alerts. This is ideal for those of you that like to exercise with headphones on and would like to stay aware of your lap or pace alerts, or just don’t want to disturb fellow athletes.

For each sport you have the option of going with a standard screen, or if you so chose you can add more or less data fields depending on your goals and what info you want to be able to view at a glance. For weight lifting I opted for time of day, timer, heart rate and calories burned. For cycling, though, I modified the screen to display distance, speed, timer and heart rate. Again, it’s all customizable with up to 4 data fields per screen and the option for multiple screens that can be cycled through at the push of a button.

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Turning on the screen’s backlight is as simple as clicking the power button – hold it down and it turns the device on or off.  Holding the ‘mode’ and up arrow locks the keys.  These are just a few of the intuitive controls found on the 310XT, which is a good example of how easy it is to use the device. It took me a bit of time to become familiar with all its options and menus, but depending on your workouts and goals you’ll find the ones you need to use after just a few uses. I didn’t try my hand at the interval training, which allows you to set goals, such as distance and time, and although I’m sure these functions are useful for the hard core cardio trainer, I’m just not cut from that cloth.

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Downloading the data from the 310XT computer doesn’t happen at a blazing speed, but if done regularly it shouldn’t take more than a minute or two. I left my data stored in the watch for a few weeks and the initial sink took sometime. Not only can you view your data but you can explore fellow Forerunner’s workouts, such as the location and distance of their runs or bike rides. You’re able to search by location and if you so choose you can download their workouts to the 310XT for a virtual opponent. This is a brilliant piece of social engineering and really makes the $350 investment in the device all the more worth it. If that’s not enough to satisfy your insatiable thirst for data, you can also view your total workouts by week or view them in a calendar.

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Look, I could pretty much go on all day and after using the Garmin Forerunner 310XT for well over 4 weeks I don’t even begin to feel as if I’ve scratched the surface of the device’s full potential. The price tag is a bit steep ($350), but the sheer amount of use and utility you’ll get out of this GPS infused device will easily pay for itself. It’s one thing to track your workouts by writing them down in a log book, but it’s a whole new planet of physical exercise and well being when you can create, collaborate and track everything with one simple device that requires little to no manual input. My only gripe with the 310XT is that the software kept asking me to install the plug into my computer, but that was more a result of Safari’s lack of compatibility than anything else.

Do your body a favor, especially if you’re an avid biker or triathonler and pick up a Forerunner 310XT.

Pros:

  • Tracks your workouts without manual input
  • Solid build and design
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Software plugin not compatible with Safari
  • Somewhat limited battery life

You can grab one at Amazon for $320 or for $375 wth a heart rate monitor.










Christen Costa

 
Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."