Top positive review
27 people found this helpful
Everything I had hoped for, and more!
on September 23, 2013
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.