Customer Review

1,207 of 1,278 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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Tracked by 12 customers

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Showing 11-20 of 67 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 24, 2012 10:00:14 AM PDT
Tim Eckel says:
You can't set the lap distance on this watch. A lap is always a mile if you have it set to miles (or km if set to kilometers). Also, the beep is so quiet my wife can't hear it at all while running. She can hear it in the house or when starting, but while running she can't. So, what she's been doing is looking at her watch a lot, so she doesn't miss when it's getting close to a mile. Then, she has to run for 100 meters or so looking at her watch the whole time waiting for the lap time to display so she knows what pace she was going. And she needs to remember to do this every mile or she'll miss her pace. And even then, she has no idea what her average pace is. When running a race for a goal time, average pace is a basic requirement. Essentially the entire goal of a GPS watch! You'd think the virtual partner would be the answer for this. But, it's not! It doesn't tell you if you're really ahead or behind of a virtual partner that started at the same time you did. All it tells you is if at that moment in time who is running faster! Of what use is that? The instant pace already shows you this mostly useless information. Why have a virtual partner feature that doesn't really work and just shows the same info?

I seriously think someone at Garmin was asleep at the wheel or didn't understand the goal of the device. Or a marketing person who's not a runner, obviously.

Instead of her watch effectively communicating data to her, she needs to work to get the basics she needs. Fail!

Posted on Nov 5, 2012 12:19:36 PM PST
A Brown says:
You can run 13 miles at an exact pace, to the second?

I have this watch and have been very happy with the pace feature (and the volume of the beeping). I'm not sure how it calculates it, but it seems to take an average over the last 15 or 30 seconds, so I dont think it jumps around too much. I guess I'm not a remotely serious runner. I agree the Virtual Pacer feature seems worthless, but as R. Montgomery pointed out, this is an entry level watch that would appeal largely to beginners who might find this feature helpful as they learn to pace themselves.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2012 9:44:27 AM PST
Tim Eckel says:
I can run 26.2 miles at a pace that only varies by a second or two per mile, and averages exactly to the second/mile what my plan is to run (just did this 3 days ago in my last marathon). With that said, no one here was actually saying they can run a half marathon at exactly the same speed for the entire distance. Just that only knowing your instant pace that's not overly accurate is not good enough to finish a race at a set goal time. Try running a race with this watch and try hitting an exact time. It can be done with every other GPS watch I know of, except this one.

That Virtual Pacer needs to tell you if you need to go faster or slower to keep with a virtual pacer that runs the entire race at the set speed. As it is now, it's worthless.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2012 3:44:39 PM PST
Tim Eckel says:
No, the only lap distance you have with this watch is 1 mile (or 1km if you put everything in km mode). However, the lap still doesn't give you average page. The only pace on this watch is instant pace. You don't know average pace till after you're done running! Worthless.

Posted on Nov 26, 2012 1:07:39 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 26, 2012 1:21:24 PM PST
This big hubbub about the lack of lap pace is lost on me. I once ran a marathon that turned out to be 26.7 miles according to my 305. In 2010, my 305 said the NYC Marathon was 26.4 miles.

IMO, discrepancies in race distances play a much bigger role in errors in pace estimation than the perceived information loss from seeing only current pace as opposed to lap pace. I've been using the 305 for years and always display current pace; I never look at lap pace. Seems like a case of what you get used to. The race distance variation, as I mentioned before, in combination with several other checks on pacing (total distance and total time is a more useful indicator of race pacing anyway), really make me question why people are freaking out so much about the lack of lap pace on this watch.

Also, I don't understand why you can't use the Virtual Pacer as a functional equivalent of lap pace. Granted, I don't own the watch so I can't play with it physically, but from what I've seen the Virtual Pacer displays your current pace and indicates whether you are "ahead" or "behind" a target pace. If you are behind, you know that your lap pace is below your target and you need to speed up. If you're ahead, you know that you are going faster than the target. That seems to me to serve the exact same purpose you all have named for using lap pace.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2012 9:26:03 AM PST
Tim Eckel says:
Certified marathons are always long, by design. They must be long to guarantee that they are AT LEAST 26.2 miles long. So, when calculating a goal time for a marathon, it's always best to use 26.4 miles, not 26.2, as the actual distance is really 26.4 by design. It's not that your Garmin is not accurate, it's that it really is that long.

Also, a marathon is always measured as the shortest distance. Meaning, taking the very inside corner on every corner and even curve. In a big marathon with lots of people, it's very difficult to take the very inside shortest route on every corner. With lots of turns or curves, it's very possible for your actual running distance to be 26.7 miles.

But, you're talking a few seconds here and there with this 26.2 or 26.4 talk. The problem with this watch is that you have ZERO idea of what your average pace is. A simple stop watch with lap time and an old-school pacing chart would work better. With this watch, you can't get a lap OR an average pace. The Virtual Pacer also doesn't give you this. Maybe you don't understand exactly what you're missing with this watch, as you assume you could at least get total distance and total time and get your average. But, this watch won't do that math. You don't know your average till you cross the finish line and hit stop. During the race, when you actually want to know this information, you can't get it. Maybe if you ran with your calculator you could do it. But, I don't run with a calculator and while on mile 18 doing 7:20 miles it's really difficult for me to do the math in my head.

Here's what you have to do with this watch (if you don't run with a calculator) at mile 18 of a marathon to do as you suggest. Do this in your head while trying to keep a 7:20 pace after 18 miles. Okay, just passed the 18 mile marker, watch says 2:12:22. 2 hours is 120 minutes, 120 + 12 = 132. 22 seconds is about a third of a minute, so that's 132-1/3 minutes. 132.33 divided by 18 is... Well, I know it's in the 7 minute miles, so 7 * 18 is 126? Yeah, 126, so what was that number, that's right, 132.33. So 132.33 - 126 is 6.33. So 6.33 goes into 18 about 3 times, which would be 20 seconds. Crap, I estimated a bunch of things there, so I could easily be 5 seconds fast or slow.

Try to do that in your head at each mile with this watch. That's why you buy a GPS watch! Cause doing this kind of math accurately in your head at mile 18 is near impossible. In other words, total distance and total time is not really useful. It's only useful when the two are combined into an average pace, which this watch doesn't do!

As to your Virtual Pacer question. You also don't know how this watch works. The Virtual Pacer function is broken. It doesn't do what you would expect nor how it works on the 305. All it shows you is your INSTANT pace, and if you going slower or faster than the speed you set. It doesn't tell you if you're ahead or behind a target pace. It just tells you if at this INSTANT you're going faster or slower. For example, you set the Virtual Pacer for 8 minute miles. Then, run the first mile in 10 minutes. After the first mile, you speed up to 8 minute miles. So, you're 2 minutes behind, right? And you need to speed up to reach your 8 minute mile goal. Nope! Not according to this watch! Even though you're 2 minutes behind, if you're running at an 8 minute mile, you're on target, and it will tell you that you're running on pace! Now stop for a bathroom break for 2 minutes. You're now 4 minutes behind. But, if you run at 8 minute miles, it will still say you're right on target. You see, the Virtual Pacer doesn't do what you logically think it would do (and as it works for EVERY other GPS watch). All it tells you is if your INSTANT pace is faster or slower than the pace you set, which is exactly the same as just watching your instant pace time! It's TOTALLY worthless!

It's seriously like non-running Garmin marketing department told non-runner programmers what features they needed to add. They added the features, but totally missed the point of these features and made them worthless as a result.

What this watch needs:

1) Average run pace (average pace for the entire run)
2) Virtual Pacer to be fixed so it tells you if you need to speed up or slow down based upon your set virtual running partner (nothing to do with your instant pace).
3) Lap pace
4) The lap beep made louder like how obnoxiously loud the Virtual Pacer beeps are (maybe not THAT obnoxious, but louder because the lap beeps are almost not audible while running).

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 19, 2013 7:33:15 AM PST
Jess K. says:
"Try to do that [calculate average pace] in your head at each mile with this watch. That's why you buy a GPS watch!"

Actually, that's not why I buy a GPS watch. While I'm not as accomplished as some folks in this conversation, I have run 4 half marathons, 1 full, and a variety of smaller races. I am actually not interested in reaching a certain specific pace. My goals while running are:

-run at a speed where my form feels good and my breathing is under control
-maintain running except for walking during water breaks (I can't drink and run :) )
-enjoy the scenery
-appreciate being active in fresh air
-finish smiling

These things are certainly possible without the help of a GPS, but a GPS sure helps me know how far I've gone when I'm following a training schedule and aiming for a certain distance. I like to take water breaks at the intervals offered by my upcoming race (currently training for a half that has water stops every 2 miles). Will the Garmin 10 tell me when I reach approximately 2 miles? Yup! A quiet beep is not an issue for me; I listen to music on a treadmill but not when running outside. I run mostly through farmland where I typically see more cows and goats than cars (i.e., there is essentially zero background noise).

Also, sometimes I like to explore new paths without thinking them through first, and a GPS watch that simply tells me distance will help me know how far I've gone so I know when to turn around and head back.

I just want a GPS watch that tells me how far I've gone. Plugging in to check out the route I ran is a cool bonus. It looks like this watch will do these things - plus, I have tiny wrists, and it looks like this might actually fit compared to other watches I've tried. I'm ordering one soon, and I'll post another review once I try it out for a bit.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2013 7:21:26 AM PST
Tim Eckel says:
It sounds like you don't need a GPS watch. But for those who do, this watch is worthless, even to my wife who's not a serious runner but wants to reach a pace goal (which is the primary purpose of a GPS watch).

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2013 9:53:22 AM PST
Jess K. says:
If you don't recommend a GPS watch for me, what do you think would be better for helping me know how far I've gone when exploring new routes? If I want to do an out and back that's 6 miles, for example, I need to know when I've hit 3 miles so I can turn around and come home. I thought a GPS could do that.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2013 10:48:40 AM PST
Tim Eckel says:
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