on September 6, 2009
I felt compelled to write a review, because I am disturbed with what some other reviewers are publishing. This is the best watch of it's kind I have owned, and as long as a purchaser understands what it does, and it's limitations, I think they will be more than satisfied. It may be that this watch will not meet their needs, but it should not be a cause to deliver a poor rating.
I have owned the Forerunner 305, the 201, the Timex GPS and a Polar, so I have years of experience. Since I do triathlons, I was most looking forward to the waterproof controls, and 20 hour battery. The charger is a bit funky design, but for me it seems to work just fine. My battery has been lasting at least 16 hours--I haven't tested it further before recharging. One issue that I had with the 305 also, though: the watch should be TURNED OFF while you are charging. If not, as soon as you disconnect the charger, since the watch is ON, it will start "discharging" (as it does normally while it is on. I have been caught several times with a depleted battery on my 305 because of this quirk--I think the watches should be programmed to automatically turn themselves off when the charger is connected).
I have used the new watch swimming, biking and running and hiking, and I am pleased with the performance for each sport. One reviewer pointed out that there should be a "swim" mode--I agree, but I think Garmin may have avoided that mode because the GPS does not work well in the water. Several reviewers complained about that, however Garmin does write on their website AND in their manual that the GPS does not work well in the water (I don't know that I would blame that on Garmin--probably the technology is just not there yet--besides, GPS signals do not penetrate water.) In fact, I did NOT get an accurate GPS distance reading for open water swimming, but it did map my COURSE correctly, albeit with a lot of zig-zags (I know I can't swim in a straight line, but I am not THAT bad).
The biking portion works great. The Garmin matches pretty closely with the distance measured on my bike computer (I don't have the Garmin bike sensor--I want that and the quick-release mount for my next birthday). Of course it also tracks speed, altitude, heart rate, etc. (I used the heart monitor strap from my 305).
Running works well also, basically same as biking although I do set up the display screens differently.
Other, useful new features I have noticed:
1. The watch locks onto satellites more quickly than my 305
2. The watch vibrates, although I wonder how this affects battery life. For instance it vibrates every lap (if I set it) so I know I have completed an autolap without having to look at the watch.
3. The software is more refined (lots of small fixes. For instance the settings function lets me know what sport mode I am in--although I think this could still be made easier and less confusing. And the time zone can be put on automatic--I always wondered why they couldn't do this before--the watch knows where it is for gosh sakes. And there are extra custom screens if you want them--statistic hounds take note.)
4. Wireless data upload. Very nice! Their new "Garmin Connect" site is also pretty useful, and the data can be uploaded directly to the Internet.
5. The 310XT is not much smaller or lighter than the 305 (according to the specs), but it FEELS MUCH smaller and lighter.
6. There is a progress bar for the battery charging. I would like to be able to see how much time is LEFT in my battery--I wish Garmin would add this.
In summary, I think this is far and away the best GPS watch Garmin has made, and is especially appropriate for triathletes (despite the swimming issue). You DO need to become accustomed to using the watch. Although I do not think it is hard to use, you SHOULD read the manual. At least you do not have to keep RE-reading the manual like I do for some other gadgets. I do think this watch is way overpriced, but I am a gadget freak, and I'm sure the price will come down over time, like it did for the 305 (which is a great deal, now, btw, if you don't need a 20 hour battery-life and a waterproof stopwatch :)
on August 28, 2009
*UPDATED* [5/12/2014] This review was originally from when this watch first came out and before any other Garmin triathlon focused watches came out. I've made some updates to the review over time in hopes that the review will stay relevant and help others to make a good decision on a triathlon focused GPS watch.
This device has been represented as a triathlete's watch and the first swim proof GPS watch. If you watch the video from Garmin or see any of the advertisements, Garmin leads you to believe that this watch will collect reliable data for all 3 multisport events. It is reasonable for someone to assume this watch can be worn in a race and collect GPS data in the water, since, of course, swimming is the first event in a triathlon.
If you are considering buying this watch, hopefully the following information will help you:
-This device does not collect usable data in the water (other than time, which any $20 waterproof watch can collect in a much smaller form factor). No heart rate data and totally unusable and inaccurate GPS data will be collected while in the water.
-There are preset modes for "run," "bike," and "other," in which "other" shows a person on skis (obviously a mode for skiing and not swimming). They intentionally omit a category for swimming, despite advertising that this watch is for triathletes and show people coming out of the water in transition (see the photo I added under product photos).
-You will need to purchase a separate quick release kit if you want to use this watch on a bike. For some reason, it does not get accurate data on a bike if you are wearing in on your wrist. It auto pauses, then un-pauses for most of the time I am riding if I wear it on my wrist -- even if I have it set to only auto pause when completely stopped. The quick release kit is not the more common one for the 205 and 305, so do not buy that one. [UPDATE: They made a new quick release kit specifically for this watch, then they updated it again. The current [updated] quick release kit that you want to buy is GARMIN 010-10615-00 Quick-Release Mounting Kit]
-If you want foot cadence or the ability to track distance indoors, you will want to buy a foot pod. Older, less expensive Garmin models included them in their kits, but it looks like they no longer do that. Either the current Garmin Foot Pod [Retail Packaging] or the older Garmin Foot Pod for Forerunner 305, 405, and 50 will work, but the newer one is cheaper (as of 5/12/2014), so there is no reason to buy it over the old one. I had the older version and it stopped working after about a year of use (I never ran in the rain or got it wet).
-The watch is large and sits high on top of the wrist (they packed 20 hours of battery life into this watch), so to wear it under your wetsuit will let water in the wetsuit, or you will have to wear it on top of (or crammed in front of) the wetsuit, which will not allow you to remove your wetsuit without first removing the watch (adding time and/or complication to your transition, and sort of negating that whole "triathlete" angle). You can see a photo of this watch on my wrist under the photos section of the product to hopefully give you a better idea of what it will look like on you (I'm a 6' 195 lb male with a good sized wrist). If you purchase the quick release kit, you can simply twist off the watch portion from the band before removing your wetsuit, making the wetsuit come off much easier around your wrist (highly recommend buy the quick release kit, by the way).
-There is no way to turn off GPS tracking for only one of the 3 events in multisport mode. This means you will always either have incorrect GPS data recording for the swimming mode (or, actually "other", since there is no "swim" mode, as previously mentioned). I have called customer support and they confirm this. Their solution was to turn off GPS while I am swimming, then reset and manually start a new timer and mode during transition 1 for my bike event. I'll let you be the judge of how to take that advice. [UPDATE: I've been told by people in the comments that updates to the Garmin software help correct this information, but I have not been able to verify those changes myself. Feel free to comment if you have details on this.]
So, in conclusion, if you want to setup this watch for a bike and run, and want the ability to wear the watch in the water before hand (and not start it unless you want some incorrect distance data included), you will need to buy:
(pricing as of 5/12/2014)
~$188 - the Garmin 310XT with HR
~$16 - Quick release kit (for wrist and bike)
GARMIN 010-10615-00 Quick-Release Mounting Kit
~$49 - Foot pod (if you want cadence while running)
Garmin Foot Pod [Retail Packaging]
~$38 - speed/cadence sensor (if you want cadence for the bike)
Garmin GSC 10 Speed/Cadence Bike Sensor
You'll be into it for $291 (as of 5/12/2014)
[Conclusion Update 05/12/2014] When I originally purchased all of those parts above in 2009, it was $575. Current pricing is much more reasonable. At the current price of $187 for this watch/heart rate monitor combo, it's not a bad deal at all, even if the watch is somewhat dated. I feel that Garmin did the consumer wrong on this model with the false advertising (in 2009) and high cost of itemized accessories, but with the current total being about half of the original cost, it's now a viable option.
[EDIT: I have edited the title of this review to what it currently reads from "Misleading: Not a Triathlete's Watch," because it seems that Garmin has softened their advertising and marketing surrounding this watch. I purchased this watch when it first came out in 2009, and at the time the marketing videos and advertising in triathlon magazines mentioned nothing about the fact that it doesn't track GPS data in the water, and in fact seemed to lead the consumer into believing that it does. That advertising has since softened and is now replaced by a newer model Garmin Forerunner 910XT GPS-Enabled Sport Watch. I would look at that newer model and compare it to this one to decide which model you would prefer. As of 5/12/2014, it is $399 by itself, $449 with heart rate monitor, or $499 with the triathlon kit.
on August 21, 2009
The 310xt was my first Garmin purchase. After years of having family use the Edge and the Forerunner for biking/running I decided I'd take the plunge when they came out with "the triathlete's indispensable training tool" in the 310xt.
My first thought was this was pricey. But, looking at the ForeRunner 305 & 405, I realized it wasn't that much more expensive for the additional supposed features and the "newness". Then I looked at the price here on Amazon and almost passed out. $550? Without the HRM strap? Ouch. If you're really into this watch, don't buy at that price. Search for the ones priced at $399. Most sites sell at that price.
Ok, onto the feature set. Large, clear buttons. Large screen. Ability to track multiple sports. Quick upload of data. Lots of customizable options and screens.
Easy to set up and use. Pairing with the ANT USB stick is simple and can quickly get you started without the manual.
Online tools are pretty good (much better than previous iterations). Also, works with the MapMy list of sites (fitness, run, walk, hike, bike, swim, tri).
Customizable display allows for up to 4 tracking items per screen. So, you can track pace, HR, time and distance covered on one screen then scroll to another and get a map of your HR, your calories burned and a bunch of other potential options, all determined by you.
You can create routes on your watch and when you run it, it will record whenever you are on that route path. Great for comparing against previous training routes and for quickly setting the route and having it track you properly. Once you are on the route, it tracks you.
Auto-multisport option allows you to set that and when you click lap, it will dump you to the next "sport" whether it be a transition or another sport such as biking/running.
Tracks you the individual after you enter your height, weight, level of fitness. Provides caloric burn and other related info based on your input.
Virtual training partner. You can actually have it show how you're doing on a saved route versus your virtual training partner. This partner is a previous version of you doing the same route and tells your pace and how far you're up/behind. Pretty cool.
Multitude of things you can configure and display/adjust/fine tune.
Swim? As I quoted from the Garmin site above, this watch bills itself as the triathlete's indispensable training tool. Umm.. triathlete means 3 sports, typically involving SWIMMING, biking and running. Swim is not an option. In fact, when I clicked other one time, it had what appeared to be an icon of a downhill skier. I'm not sure how that showed up since that option isn't there. HUGE mistake in my book for a watch billed to be for triathletes.
Elevation Accuracy? This one is WAAAAAY off. On a 3.3 mile run, it had me ascending 853 feet. Unless I'm climbing the Washington Monument, I'm not getting that type of elevation in 3.3 miles. I'd have to say it is off by, 600 feet or so. On a 60 mile bike ride, it had me at 1500 feet and that one at least took me up some legitimate hills.
Switching events: There is no way to switch events mid-stream on the watch if you didn't set it properly to begin. Let's say you ran one day and then biked the following day. If you left it on run then switched when you realized the mistake, it clears the data and you start with a new workout. The original workout is kept but you can't append the "new" workout on either on the watch or with any of their software (both installed SW and online site). So, when workouts are categorized, it shows a multisport recording on the installable software and whatever you mistakenly set in the online site. You then have 2 workouts you can't consolidate or run reports against without manual intervention.
Swim accuracy leaves a bit to be desired. While I haven't put it through its paces and will hopefully edit this review in the future, for a 1/2 mile swim, this thing was way off. Beach, opposite direction, gaps. All were part of that swim result.
While there are a lot of pros (which do warrant a 4 star), the cons are extremely negative. Since I don't have a watch to keep track of everything, this one will have to do. At such a price point, I'm highly disappointed in the overall performance considering it is billed as the triathlete's dream. It really does track mileage well and with enough fudging (using the elevation in MapMyRide instead of from the watch) and by manually adjusting routes in my various tracking sites, I can get close what I want. The HRM is good and the coupled effect of it all makes it as worthwhile as having a set of watches out there. But, I will not be ultimately promoting this to other athletes. While I've managed to make it work to a 4-star rating with my own fiddling, I wouldn't recommend it to a hardcore triathlete. Being my first training watch for my first Ironman, I wish I could say there were other watches which had the functionality I needed. Unfortunately, I'd have to wear two or more plus a bike computer. Even more unfortunate, in order to get what this watch said it can do all in one I might still need another to keep this one honest.
on October 31, 2014
I'm giving it only one star because I used it to swim today and it flooded! Yeah, that is what you read "flooded"as you can see in the pics below. I'm not angry but very sad with it. Frustrated also, because I live in Brazil and was waiting for it for a while and then when I get it, first time in the water, and I have water inside my watch. Very disappointing. All my friends use Garmin and I only heard good things about it so I changed from Timex to the 310XT. So sad. Let's see what I can do with it.
on April 8, 2010
I've had it over a year. Easy to use. Battery life is good; I cannot attest to 20 hours, longest I've used it is 5 hours straight with gps and had over half left. Smaller than previous models though won't be mistaken for a regular watch. I've had the 305 and 405 also; much easier to use than the 405 and battery much better than both plus waterproof.
Cons: 1. heart rate monitoring is spotty depending on how much you sweat- I've used it indoors lifting weights and it underreads. I've heard others comment on garmin heart rate monitoring that it may be inferior to polar or others.
2. ** The screen cracked after a drop from waist height. It landed on the face. I've read on the garmin forums of this happening to others. Someone noticed the design flaw in that the glass screen isn't recessed like the 405 and lesser extent the 305. It will cost me either $49 or $99 to get this repaired. Once I get it back it will have to rig it with a piece of rubber or something to create a recess.
I go to great lengths researching anything fitness related before buying it, be it a small item like a $7 pair of compression arm sleeves or a $6k full-on triathlon bike. The Garmin 310XT was one product I particularly researched thoroughly partly because of the list of features I wanted it to have, and partly because there were just so many choices, it was hard to decide on one watch. I debated between this and the 910XT and finally chose the 310XT mainly because this was $200 cheaper.
I wanted a watch that could of course chart maps, distance, speed, pace, approx calories, but also have small features like notification of laps during a run, strong GPS, user friendly software, and allow copious statistics of my workouts so that I can compare my workouts over time (I am an avid runner and biker, and swim about once a week). I found the most packed features in this watch.
COMFORT - the watch seems to be huge initially. I was prepared for this thanks to the fellow reviewer who has posted images of himself wearing the watch. The watch was exactly what I expected after seeing those pictures. That being said, it is comfortable to wear and does not look or feel awkward at all. It has two pins on the rubber strap that lock into the strap, keeping the watch securely in place. Given the heaviness of the watch, there is no need to tie it tight on the wrist. I keep it a notch loose and it stays perfectly in place, doesn't rub against the skin yet is not so tight that it would leave its imprint on my wrist either.
SCREEN - The benefit of the bigger screen is that it can display more information. You can customize up to 4 items to be visible on each screen. This feature was one of the main reasons I bought this watch. I want to see distance, speed, current pace, and average pace. It is very useful now that I have this information available so readily on one screen.
GPS STRENGTH - I switched to this model after having used the Garmin ForeRunner 110 for a year, primarily because I wanted more features which the 310XT had. Compared to the 110, the 310XT's speed of acquiring satellites is remarkably fast. It has probably never taken more than 10-15 seconds, even if I am indoors. The 110 on the other hand almost never picked up signal indoors and took much longer when outdoors. This is very helpful particularly in the winter months when I won't have to stand outside my house in the cold waiting for the watch to acquire satellites.
GPS ACCURACY - Compared to the ForeRunner 110 and my iPhone (with MapMyRun software), this watch is very close in terms of distance, speed, and other such parameters. I know a lot of people want this data to be accurate to a tee, but I've realized that most devices tend to fall within a narrow range and that tiny difference in distance can be due to a number of factors. For example, I typically run a 6.1m route - sometimes I'll see that as 6.08 and sometimes as 6.13. This small a difference in distance can be due to just the side of the road I was running on. Honestly, too small a difference to be of significance.
DURING A WORKOUT - During a bike ride or a run, the watch can be set to give notifications at the end of each lap, you can choose what you want that lap to be, be it 1 mile or 5 miles. The type of notification can also be modified between beeps, vibration, or both. If you have to stop say at a traffic light, the watch automatically pauses recording and resumes within about 2-3 seconds once you resume the activity. You can view Average Pace and Current Pace as one of the many metrics viewable on the watch, in my experience the current pace in reality is your average pace for approximately the last 5-7 seconds so don't let current pace throw you off if it seems too fast or too slow at any point of time.
CADENCE - The watch does not come with a cadence sensor of its own. I had really hoped that this would come with its own metronome and cadence feature, but unfirtunately it doesn't. The 910XT comes with all these fancy accessories, but the cost adds up to around an extra $300! As for the 310XT, it needs to be connected to a bike sensor separately. Yes, this was a significant lacking feature for me, but I have no choice but to wait till one becomes available at a more reasonable price (hope the Garmin folks are reading this!).
ANT - The watch comes a bluetooth dongle (ANT). This can be inserted into the USB hub of your Mac/PC and it will automatically fire up the Garmin ANT Agent software and transfer all data from the 310XT. You can choose which workouts you want to transfer. It also lets you delete data on the watch once you've transferred. You can do this if you want to free up memory space, but after 2 months of heavy use, I still haven't had the need to delete any data. The bluetooth dongle is one of the very few things about the 310XT that I didn't quite like - it is way too tiny and needs to be stored carefully so that it doesn't get lost (black color doesn't really help either). I have kept it in my drawer in the original clear plastic packet that it came in. This packet has a large yellow color sticker on it, so it's easy to find in the drawer. I am still nervous about losing this tiny dongle.
SOFTWARE - The ANT bluetooth dongle transfers data to your Garmin account which can be accessed on the Garmin Connect website. The data is copious and broken down in pretty much every way you could want, particularly if you're a statistics junkie. I was pleasantly surprised at the level of detail this software has compared to MapMyRun (I used to think that was pretty good too, but Garmin's data is better and more detailed). Btw, you can transfer all data from your Garmin Connect account to MapMyRun or MapMyRide accounts as well (you can login to your account there and choose the "Import Workout" option, and then select Garmin from the menu).
PERFORMANCE IN WATER - This was another important feature that steered me to this watch. The watch holds up great under water, I've used this both in open water and in a pool. I agree with other reviewers that the route mapped under water is far from accurate, but I really don't care about the map as much as I do about speed and distance. And on these two parameters, the watch performs great.
BATTERY - I believe the advertised battery life is 20 hours, I haven't had the need to keep the watch on for this long just yet. The longest I have used this at a stretch is 4.5 hours and it worked just fine. One feature that I find strange is that the watch automatically turns on when charging, and stays on. So every time you remove the watch from the charging cable, remember to turn it off if you won't be using it for some time. Strange feature, but just takes getting used to.
CHARGING - The watch has the standard Garmin connectors in their chargers that connect 2-4 points to the watch. The ForeRunner 110 had 4 connecting points which made it difficult to connect. The 310XT has two connectors which are slightly easier to connect. That said, I would still have liked to see a standard Micro-USB or a different type of connector that would have been easier to connect, but I understand the need for a proprietary charging cable that ties us to Garmin's charging cables only.
All in all, the 310XT is a phenomenal watch for triathletes or runners or cyclists looking for all the features that are packed in this device.
on January 28, 2014
HORRIBLE. I bought this for my husband for Christmas, and it worked great for 3 weeks. Then it broke down, and when we contacted Garmin, they sent us a refurbished replacement...which is also not working. I feel like we are out $160 and am furious. Do not seem to be getting any help from Amazon or Garmin. I do have an email in now to Amazon.
on January 19, 2015
I am a lightweight/hobbyist triathlete who runs 30+ miles in a good week in the winter and backfills some of the distance with cycling and swimming from May through October. I owned the 305 for two years prior to the 310XT and broke it when I attempted to replace the battery myself. I replaced it with the 310XT. I wear the GPS watch on my head under the swim cap in the open water with good GPS data results (see attached image), on the quick release mount on the bike with a speed/cadence sensor, and still with the HR monitor that came with the 305 because it works and I want to "wear it out". All my activities are outdoors - I have no feedback on indoor operation of the device.
It routinely takes 15-20 minutes until I can get the data transferred through the Ant Agent. Considering how long these issues have been known and documented, it is inconceivable that Garmin decides to rather invest into new model development than at least patching up some of the existing issues. I experience so much frustration with this product that I can't but give it 1 star.
The time it takes to get a GPS lock was reduced substantially compared to the 305 where it sometimes took 10-15 minutes of walking around my front yard under a clear blue sky. But it seems that this was done at the expense of accuracy. I get a quick lock, but it will place me 500 feet away from where I really am and it takes the device about a mile of running for the recorded track to asymptotically approach my actual track. The net effect is the same - for best results I turn the watch on and put it outside about 10 minutes before I am ready to leave.
Some things have changed a bit from the 305 - not sure if for the better. It tries to be intelligent about different modes, e.g. not record cadence data when you are in running mode. With the 305 this did not matter - I just changed the sport later on Connect or Strava. With the 310 it does matter, because if I ride with the run setting, there won't be cadence data. I don't like it when little devices try to be smart like this.
When the Ant connection works it is actually quite nice. It takes about 15 seconds after I power up the computer for my data to appear in Training Center and Garmin Connect, and within a minute or two it will show up in Strava via Connect integration. The problem is, every so often something goes wrong and it refuses to sync. The Garmin has changed the date and time of all the workouts on the device to the current time on two occasions, messing up everything downstream. I then have to reset and reinitialize and reinstall everything and usually lose my data.
When I ran out of battery once, the current activity was not saved as a fragment - it was gone for good. Too bad that it happened at the end of a very strong run and I was so looking forward to seeing all my new CRs on Strava.
on July 15, 2013
I bought this about 9 months ago now. After about 6 months the heart rate monitor started to give wildly erratic readings during my workouts. I filed a customer service request with Garmin and got NO RESPONSE. A few weeks later I filed another request and got NO RESONSE.
If you read carefully through the owner's manual it says that the HR monitor may give erratic readings if user is wearing noncotton workout clothes. How many of you readers are into exercise enough to buy a GPS and HR monitor but yet wear cotton workout clothing? Almost none, right? Anyway, I tried it while wearing cotton, same problem. Yesterday I tried it without a shirt on, same problem.
This is my third Garmin GPS with HR monitor. It will be my last. I thought the 305 had better GPS. For sure the HR monitor on my earlier units didn't have this problem. I looked around on the Garmin site and saw no support information for this problem. I got no answer to my requests for support.
Time to try a competitor. This HR monitor is something called ANT or something like that. Apparently Garmin's wave of the future, so it should be around in future products. So after 8 or 9 years of Garmin I'm moving on...
on August 8, 2009
I've used the 205, 305, and 405. As a triathlete, the 205 and 305 were both great watches. The best part of the watch for me is the extended battery life. The 305 was limited to Half-Ironmans due to limited battery life. I can now wear the 310xt for an entire Ironman distance. I also like wearing the watch in the water now although sliding the wetsuit over it can be a bit tricky.
Bottom line, the watch is pretty much identical to the 305 so if you are training or competing in races 6 hours or less, I would go with the 305 and save some money. Both the 305 and 310xt have the Multisport function for triathletes which is very important.