Customer Review

1,126 of 1,193 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simpler, smaller... but lacks some critical things, October 16, 2012
This review is from: Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS Watch (Black/Red) (Electronics)
What I want from a running watch is pretty simple. I want a watch that shows me my time, distance, and pace, in reasonably big font that I can read while running. I want decent battery life, so I don't have to charge every single run. I want a watch that doesn't make me wait for 5 minutes while it looks for satellites. And I want a watch that looks and feels like a watch rather than a small computer strapped to my arm.

For years, I've run with the Forerunner 305. It is a product I love to hate. It works well, and in a way it's been indispensable to me as a runner, but it is also a little bit deficient in nearly every respect mentioned above.

I've considered buying a new Garmin, such as the 410, but always decided not to after reading reviews. So when I heard about the 10, I was thrilled. Finally, Garmin had figured it out.

I've had it now for a couple weeks. The watch is a big improvement, but it also remains deficient in some critical respects. In fact, sadly, I am not sure I will keep it.

It is small. It looks and feels infinitely better than the 305. The display is easy to read. Big font means I can see and read it at a quick glance. The buttons are easy to find. The interface is simple and intuitive, making it easy to scroll around and program the watch. The battery life seems very good so far. Finally, it seems to pick up the satellites much quicker than the 305 does. In short, there are many things to love.

And yet...

1. The display is not fully customizable. There are only four things that it can display (1) pace, (2) distance, (3) time, (4) calories. You can display two and only two of those at any time, in pairs.

2. While running, I generally want to know three things -- pace, distance, and time. On the 305, I can customize to view all three at once. On the 10, I can't. I understand the trade-off: if the watch displayed three things, then the font would be smaller, and so you couldn't see stuff at a glance. So I get why they made this choice. But it is nonetheless a drawback.

3. [See UPDATE below.] I could live with 1 and 2. But then there is the killer -- it will not display lap pace. Instead, it will only show current pace.

Over the years, with my 305, I've come to rely on lap pace for the simple reason that it is much, much more accurate. "Current pace" jumps around a lot, even if you are running at a completely even pace. The reason, I suppose, is the watch only communicates with the satellite every few seconds, so then it makes a sort of quick estimation about your spot pace. Lap pace, by contrast, has a bunch more data points, everything in the last mile (if you have it set to auto-lap at one mile). So it is far, far more accurate.

Let's say you're running a 7:35 pace. Your lap pace will say 7:35. Your current pace, however, will jump around -- 7:20, then 7:40, then 7:30, etc.

I'm sorry, but if you are even a remotely serious runner, this matters a great deal. If you are running a race, you probably have a goal in mind. You therefore probably have a specific pace you need to run. Like you want to run a 1:50 half marathon, so you know you need to stay with a 8:23 pace. The Garmin Forerunner 10 will not help you very much -- because you can't tell whether you are actually running an 8:23 as opposed to an 8:15 or an 8:30. Because all you get is the rough approximation of "current pace."

Now, if you have it set to auto-lap, then it will display your lap pace as a "lap banner" at the completion of each lap. So you have it set to auto-lap each mile, then at the end of each mile, it will show you your exact time. That's good, and to some extent, it helps to make up for the lack of constant lap pace display.

But in a way, that almost makes the whole thing more maddening. I know that my watch is calculating lap pace -- it is in there somewhere. But I can't see it until the end of my mile. Why? WHY???

I understand that they made a choice to cut down on features to make a simpler watch. But this watch still has a few more elaborate features like "virtual pacer" (which I will never use). If they can have that, why can't they at least give you an option of viewing lap pace?

I am running a half marathon next weekend. I would like to wear my new pretty Forerunner 10, but I will probably end up wearing my old clunky 305, just so I can know what my actual pace is. And honestly, that is hugely depressing.

UPDATE 7/22/13 -- I'm upgrading to 4 stars based on the lap pace firmware update.

This watch has been in a drawer, unused, for 6 months. I was finally getting around to selling it on ebay when I saw that Garmin had made a firmware update allowing for lap pace and average pace display. So I downloaded the update and run with it a couple times.

There is something a bit funky about the lap pace. It bounces around more than it should, and it seems to jump up randomly at the beginning of the lap. Nonetheless, this is a big improvement, and kudos to Garmin to listening to customer feedback on this.

I'm going to run with it for a few weeks, including some runs wearing multiple watches, and I'll update again if there is anything noteworthy.
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Comments

Tracked by 12 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 67 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 16, 2012 1:22:53 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 16, 2012 1:23:36 PM PDT
Did you do any research on this watch before buying it? All of the "cons" you describe are clearly available for you to see before you purchase the watch. At this price point you can't expect much better. You are comparing a full featured 305 to a chopped down version made available at a good price for beginner runners or runners who don't want all the fancy stuff. Read reviews on DCRainmaker.com before purchasing GPS, just a suggestion. No reason to rate a watch poorly for something it isn't made to have done.

Posted on Oct 16, 2012 5:27:41 PM PDT
Ted Calvert says:
Thank you Mr. Jones for writing this review. I had assumed that "Pace" was of course "Average Pace" and I was ready to buy the watch, given that it does everything else I need and is considerably smaller than my recently dead 305 that I am looking to replace. I couldn't agree with your comment about current pace any more -- I've trained for and run 17 marathons, and the four things I want to know during my run are Distance, Average Pace, Last Lap Pace, and Time. If I had to settle for just two, it would be Distance and Average Pace, hoping that I was able to look down and catch the last lap pace for the few seconds it displays at the conclusion of each mile. I don't know why a runner would want to know Current Pace. Thanks for saving me a return hassle!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 17, 2012 9:51:51 AM PDT
Tim Eckel says:
DCRainmaker.com did not disclose that the Virtual Pacer is useless (doesn't show if you're ahead or behind your virtual pacer, just shows your current pace (yet again) compared to some value you set). This is totally pointless, what's the point of the Virtual Pacer at all? How it should work is you set your virtual pace speed (say 7:45) and as you run it will show if your AVERAGE is ahead or behind this speed. All it does is just show your current pace, which it already shows. Pointless, and not mentioned on DCRainmaker.com. Also, DCRainmaker.com specifically shows the pages available, listed below:

- Time/Distance
- Time/Pace (current)
- Time/Calories
- Pace/Distance
- Pace/Calories
- Distance/Calories

As one Pace is designated as "Pace (current)" while the others are just "Pace", that indicates to me that they're somehow different. Like one shows the current pace while the others show your average page or lap pace? But, neither are the case, DCRainmaker.com leads one to believe there's different pace values to display, which is not the case, they all show only the almost useless current pace.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 17, 2012 11:08:15 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 17, 2012 12:53:56 PM PDT
Teddy Jones says:
Hi, R. Montgomery. Maybe you are right -- maybe I should have known.

But every other Garmin watch on the market allows lap pace. They all calculate "pace." But then you can choose, in the settings, to have pace display as either (a) current pace, (b) lap pace, or (c) average pace (or several at once).

This watch does not. It calculates "pace," but you can only view current pace.

I read carefully all of the specs on the Garmin website, and it does not say anything about how "lap pace" is not an option. Here are the specs:

https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?cID=142&pID=107143

Is there somewhere in there where it says "lap pace not available on this model"? No, there is not.

And I don't recall anything specific about this in the DC Rainmaker review either. In fact, as Tim said, the DC-R review sort of implies the opposite. Moreover, I also read the Runner's World review, the slashgear.com review, and a couple others. Not a single one of them said "hey, this is great, but the only pace available is current pace." Not a single one of them mentioned that lap/average pace are not available. So I am not sure how this particular lack of functionality was somehow "clearly available" for me to see.

Regardless, my point is this:

1. I would like to encourage Garmin to recognize that lap/average pace are critically important features. So they should try to include those even in chopped down versions.

2. I want to let other potential buyers know, before they buy, that this critical feature is missing.

So yes, maybe I made a mistake by buying this watch. Maybe my research was insufficient. My bad. I am just trying to help other people avoid making the same mistake.

(Also -- I don't believe that only beginner runners want a simple, stripped down watch. I am a fairly serious runner -- a 3:10 marathoner. But I still want a simple, stripped down watch. I don't need heart rate or calories, and I don't want Garmin Connect or a virtual coach or virtual workouts or a virtual pacer. I could live with only three features -- lap pace, distance, and time. In fact, the whole reason I bought this watch was because I wanted a chopped down version. My 305 is too big and has too many features I don't use. I just didn't realize that Garmin, in producing a chopped down version, had chopped the single most important feature of a GPS running watch -- an accurate pace measurement.)

Posted on Oct 20, 2012 8:59:54 PM PDT
Janet O says:
So did you end up returning it? I'm going to run my first half marathon next May and was thinking of getting this Garmin Forerunner 10. It seemed simple enough--I did not want anything too complicated or with too much information. This will be my first GPS--I just did not want to be overwhelmed with a new watch.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 22, 2012 9:43:15 AM PDT
Tim Eckel says:
It was a present for my wife, so no. I'm hoping they'll release a firmware update and fix this as everyone is complaining about it. It's not a bad watch, and probably fine if you just want something simple. But, for a competitive racer like myself, I need my average pace to keep with my pre-race plan. But, I do ultra marathons and Ironman distance triathlons, so this watch would never work for me (I need something with a battery that lasts for 8-12 hours).

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 23, 2012 5:36:05 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 23, 2012 5:36:29 AM PDT
Teddy Jones says:
I haven't returned mine because unfortunately, my wife threw away the box! I will probably try to sell it on ebay. I will call Garmin first and see if there is any chance of a firmware update.

I will say again -- if you are looking for a simple watch that will tell you how far you ran, and you aren't concerned with knowing exactly how fast you're running while you're running, this is a great watch for you. But if you want to know your pace, so you can hit time goals for training or racing, choose another brand or another model that will show you lap pace or average pace.

Posted on Oct 23, 2012 9:04:08 AM PDT
TexasMom says:
I agree there should at least be a choice of current pace or average pace. Runners definitely find average pace much more useful in general. There is now a Timex GPS watch out that is very similar to this, but it's $30 cheaper. It indicates it will do either current pace or average pace. It might be worth checking out. I don't know how good it is because there aren't any reviews on it yet. I'm considering it for my daughter (she's 11). I just replaced my 305 with the 310XT because I'm doing an Ironman and the buttons got really hard to push. I have very small wrists, so a smaller GPS device would be really nice to have, but I'm spoiled by all the features. ;) I agree that Garmin needs to make a smaller, less expensive watch with just a few more features than this one, but not as many as the 305. New runners and more minimalist runners would love it, but without average pace on this one, it is kind of worthless.

Posted on Oct 23, 2012 7:35:03 PM PDT
Bill Lawson says:
On my 305 i set my lap distance to be .25 mile then I get a good idea on what I'm currently at along with my overall pace. On this watch can you just set your lap distance to be smaller like .25 mile instead of a full mile then you will have pretty good idea of how you're doing when you check it?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 23, 2012 8:08:19 PM PDT
Janet O says:
Thanks for the input. I'm still thinking. Maybe I will call Garmin and asks them about any Firmware upgrades for this GPS or else check out the Timex one.
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