The 210 includes a heart rate monitor as standard, and retails for £100 less that Forerunner 410 HRM package, and still £70 less than the most basic 410 package, without the heart rate monitor accessory.
However, unlike the 410, it doesn’t sync with Garmin Connect wirelessly and requires the use of the included USB charging and synchronisation cable that grips around the bezel, reading the contacts on the back of the watch. This is slightly disappointing the watch's ability to receive data wirelessly from heart rate monitor and optional Foot Pod Support, but it’s not a major gripe. The latter, sold separately, is an accelerometer that measures footfalls so runners can track their distance based on pace when they are running on a treadmill or indoors - where they can’t receive a satellite signal. Cyclists can also use a Cadence Sensor, which measures pedalling strokes per minute to calculate the speed of an indoor trainer. These cost £51 and £35 respectively.
Battery life is excellent at three weeks in standard watch mode (ie: not using GPS tracking) compared to two weeks on the 410, and the lithium-ion cell boasts eight hours' use in training mode. Since most mortals don’t train for eight hours in one go, we tested it under more realistic conditions. We charged the watch at the weekend, ran 15 miles in 2:27, wore it all week and ran a half marathon (13.1 miles) in 1:59 the following weekend. By the end of the second run, the Forerunner 210 was displaying one out of four bars of battery left.
Unfortunately the watch doesn’t have a more accurate battery meter, so one bar remaining could mean 25 per cent left or only 6 per cent - leaving you to deal with the risk of a run partially untracked, and perhaps more importantly, having no watch. Re-setting the time after a flat battery, however, is easy. Once it is charged, it looks for a satellite signal and adjusts the time in less than a minute. Your stored runs remain saved in the watch.
One annoying thing is that the watch does not tell you when it is fully charged. An hour and a half on the mains left the device with the full four bars, but we would prefer some kind of message to pop-up when the battery is full of juice. Instead, the bars just keep racking up in a hypnotic loop, leaving you to guess what the battery indicator will display when you disconnect the cable and start using the watch.
A word of warning: the 210 is water resistant to a grade of IPX7, meaning it can “withstand accidental immersion in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes.” We have run in the rain and had a post-run soak and with our review sample, which has kept on ticking, but for the money we wouldn’t risk a swim. Triathletes beware, even accidental ones.
The Garmin Forerunner 210 has everything most runners would want from a GPS sport watch, without much of the on-screen customisation appreciated by very demanding runners with more money to spend. For those not enticed by analysis paralysis, this is an impressive device and a valuable training aid for athletes of all abilities.