Garmin Forerunner 210 GPS Running Watch In Depth Review

 

 

Garmin originally announced the Forerunner 210 in 2010, along with three other watches; the  Forerunner 110, 410, and 610. These watches all have GPS, targeting runners. The Forerunner 210 comes in the three colors shown above. A basic version with no heart rate monitor strap comes in either black or white/green and sells for $199.00. There is also a black model and a black/teal model that comes with a heart rate monitor strap, and sells for  $249.99.

Before we get started, we should tell you a little bit about us and how we perform product evaluations. We have 4 people who do all of the gear evaluations. One person is the lead on a piece of gear, but everyone gets a chance to evaluate the product. We have 2 guys and 2 ladies, so it’s a good mix. With 4 people,  we get a better review overall. Everyone has an input to the review, and if there is a major disagreement, we will note it in the review. If you want to know who these people are, check out our About page. All of us are runners, two are triathletes, and the ladies are also full time Pilates instructors.  Also, for the record, we are in no way connected with Garmin or any of the companies whose gear we review. We already own or buy the stuff that we review. If we don’t buy it, it may be loaned to us from the manufacturer. In this case, Garmin gave us the watch for a 60-day trial period, and after our review, we boxed it up and send it back.  We do not accept gear for a favorable review. We will call it as we it. Typically, if we like the product, we will buy it to have around, using it to check out software updates and answer questions.  So, enough with the babble. Let’s get to the review.

 

What’s in the box?

Here is the product box for the Forerunner 210 with Heart Rate Monitor Strap:

Here is what’s inside:

 

Here is a closeup of the Garmin strap:

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This gives you an indication of the thickness of the watch:

A side view:

The display is easily readable. The display resolution is 52 x 30 pixels:

A side view:

 

So what are the features?

Here are the major features of the watch:

  • Unit dimensions, WxHxD: 1.8″ x 2.7″ x 0.6″ (4.5 x 6.9 x 1.4 cm)
  • Display size, WxH:  1.0″ x 1.0″ (2.5 x 2.5 cm) diameter
  • Display resolution, WxH: 52 x 30 pixels
  • Weight:  1.8 oz (52 g)
  • Battery: rechargeable lithium-ion
  • Battery life:  3 weeks in power save mode; 8 hours in training mode
  • Water resistant: yes (IPX7)
  • GPS-enabled: yes
  • High-sensitivity receiver: yes
  • Basemap: no
  • History: 1000 laps
  • Waypoints/favorites/locations: 0
  • Routes: 0
  • Heart rate monitor: yes (some versions, including the version we tested)
  • Bike speed/cadence sensor: no
  • Foot pod: yes (some versions)
  • Automatic sync (automatically transfers data to your computer):no
  • Garmin Connect™ compatible (online community where you analyze, categorize and share data): yes
  • Virtual Partner® (train against a digital person): no
  • Virtual Racer™ (compete against other activities): no
  • Courses (compete against previous activities): no
  • Auto Pause® (pauses and resumes timer based on speed): no
  • Auto Lap® (automatically starts a new lap): yes
  • Auto Scroll (cycles through data pages during workout): no
  • Multi-sport (changes sport mode with a press of a button): no
  • Advanced workouts (create custom, goal-oriented workouts): no
  • Pace alert (triggers alarm if you vary from preset pace): no
  • Time/distance alert (triggers alarm when you reach goal): no
  • Vibration alert: (choose between alert tones and/or vibration alert): no
  • Interval training (set up exercise and rest intervals): yes
  • Heart rate-based calorie computation: yes
  • Swim metrics (stroke type, stroke count and pool lengths): no
  • Training Effect (measures impact of an activity on your aerobic fitness): no
  • Customizable screen(s): no
  • Barometric altimeter: no
  • Unit-to-unit transfer (shares data wirelessly with similar units): no
  • Power meter compatible (displays power data from compatible 3rd party ANT+™-enabled power meters): no
  • Temperature (displays and records temperature while you ride): no
  • Shock Resistant: yes
  • Sport watch: yes
Here is the battery life chart from the owners manual:

Data Fields

The available data fields are:

  • Lap Distance
  • Overall Distance
  • Average Lap Pace
  • Overall Pace
  • Average Lap Speed
  • Overall Speed
  • Lap Time
  • Overall Time
  • Current Heart Rate
  • Zone Heart Rate

So how does it compare to other Garmin running watches?

Garmin currently makes 6 GPS watches designed specifically for runners; the Forerunner 10, Forerunner 110, Forerunner 210, Forerunner 220, Forerunner 610, and the Forerunner 620. The Forerunner 10 is the entry model, and it will not work with heart rate monitor straps. The remaining 5 have HRM strap capability, or come with HRM straps. I have compared it to the lower price model, the Forerunner 110 at $229 with HRM strap, and the higher price model, the Forerunner 220 at $299 with HRM strap. You can see the comparison below (note that the 220 price is $299 with HRM strap. The price shown is without):
1396263829925
1396263857035

1396263880099So what is the difference between the 110 and 210? Spending $20 more to step up to the 210, you get the addition of interval training and the option of adding a foot pod (the footpod is an additional cost).

If you want a customizable, higher resolution screen, a little better battery life, with autoscroll and auto pause capability, spend $50 more and get the Forerunner 220.

If I had to summarize the Forerunner 210, I would say:

  • Basic screen, not adjustable, not touchscreen
  • 8 hour battery during exercise
  • Works with a foot pod to measure cadence(optional on some models)
  • Syncs to a computer/Garmin Connect via a cord
  • Autolap capability
  • Measures pace/speed/distance/time/calories/heart rate
  • Can set heart rate range for each of 5 zones
  • Interval capability

The interval options in the 210 are set on the watch, not in Garmin Connect.  You can set warm up, interval, rest, and cool down times or distances. They must either be all times, or all distances. You can also set the number of intervals.

The pace option can also be changed to mph in case you want to use the watch on a bike.

So, to summarize, the Forerunner 210 was designed to be an easy to use GPS watch with all of the basic features, with added interval capability. It doesn’t have the advanced training features of the higher end, higher cost watches.

 

Using the watch

The watch is very easy and intuitive to use. To go for a run, press page/menu. the watch will take a minute or so to get a GPS fix. Once you have a GPS satellite fix, press the start/stop button to start the timer. When you are done with your run, press start/stop. That’s it! If you want to save your workout, press and hold the lap/reset button. During your run, your distance, and pace or speed, along with your workout time, are shown on the display:
The display can be changed to show current, average or lap speed or pace at the bottom of the display.
If you want to use the watch indoors, it’s pretty simple. Press the page/menu button, and the watch will start searching for GPS. Press it again and it will ask if you want to use indoors.  Select yes, and you are ready to start your indoor workout:
Here is James putting in an indoor spin workout with the watch at Studio S:

Here he is wrapping up his interval spinning workout:

Some cool things to do with the Forerunner 210:

If you want to create an interval workout, you can’t create it in Garmin Connect.  It needs to be created on the watch. To do this, you press and hold the page/menu button, select Interval, then Set. Next, enter a distance or time interval, and press OK. Select Distance or Time for your rest interval, then enter the value. You can enter a warm up and cool down if you want to. To perform your interval, press the start/stop button. If you have a warm up programmed, you will need to press the lap button to start the first interval.

You can set heart rate alerts. Press and hold the page/menu button, and select HR Alerts. Enter your high heart rate alert value. You can also select a HR zone. press OK. Enter the low HR value or zone. Press OK. The alert will sound when you are above or below the set values.

Accessories and sensors

The Forerunner 210 is compatible with the following Garmin accessories:

Garmin Soft  Strap Premium HRM Strap:

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Garmin Foot Pod 

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Saving Your Workouts

So how do you review and analyze your workouts?  The Forerunner 210 is fully compatible with Garmin’s logging and analysis software, Garmin Connect. To upload your workout, connect the USB charging cable to your PC and the watch:

1396264445663

 

Next go to the Garmin site at connect.garmin.com. If you don’t have an account, you will need to create one. Once you are logged in, in the upper right hand corner of the page is the upload button. Click that and you will be taken to this screen:

I clicked “Upload All New Activities”. I can then click on the details of the workout, which displays this screen from our recent trail run:

I ran out of screen, so here is the rest of the workout:

You can see that there is a lot of really useful data here. Heart rate, distance, pace, elevation, lap split times, and a map are just a few of the items and screens that you can view. Tutorials on Garmin Connect is covered in some of our other reviews and posts, so we won’t go into a detailed review of GC. This is just intended to give you an idea about your analysis possibilities. The data can also be uploaded and viewed on other sites like TrainingPeaks.

Here is a quick video on how to use Garmin Connect:

 

Thoughts, Opinions and Summary:

Pros:

  • The watch felt good on our wrists. It is soft and comfortable, and the watch doesn’t feel too big.
  • The heart rate monitor strap felt good, and did a good job of picking up heart rate without any issues. In the past, we have some issues on hot days, when your shirt gets too wet, or under some really dry conditions with a dry fit shirt.
  • Using the watch is easy to use. The display is easily readable, and it is backlit at night with the press of a button. This makes moving through the menus and settings straightforward.
  • Easy to read backlight.
  • Battery life is good.
  • The watch works with the optional running foot pod. This is great if you are indoors or want to know running cadence.
  • Uploading is easy with Garmin Connect. I really like Garmin Connect when I want to analyze and study my workout. It is web based, so you can upload on any computer.
  • We like the interval feature, and heart rate zone readout.
  • The interval feature is a plus over the 110, but you need to program it on the watch. Higher feature watches allow you to create a workout and download it to the watch. This allows more flexibility, but programming on the watch is ok.
  • The manual  is pretty good, not great.

Cons:

  • Only supports 1 person at a time. All of the settings assume only 1 person uses the watch.
  • It can be used on a ride, but the optional cadence/speed sensor does not work with the 210.
  • Doesn’t have the advanced features or higher end/higher cost models
  • Screens are not customizable, and the data fields can’t be changed.
  • It is water resistant, but you can’t swim with it.

Closest Competitors

You might also check out

  • Garmin 110
  • Garmin 220
  • Suunto Ambit2 R

 

Conclusion:

This watch fits nicely into the Garmin lineup. it sits above the 110, and below the 220 and 610. Garmin’s watches are well made, and if you’ve used one, the others function very similarly, so you’ll feel right at home.

So, the the question we always ask each other is, “If it were our money, would we buy this watch?” The answer is, if we were looking for a GPS watch with basic features, in this price range, we would definitely buy it. Of course, we are always drawn to the high end watches with all of the features and gadgets, but for a low to mid range priced watch with basic features, ease of use, and price, we say yes. It also works well indoors with the optional foot pod, so if you are a gym rat who runs indoors and are looking for a basic, rugged GPS watch, this could be the watch for you. Also, having settable heart rate zones and alarms is really nice as it provides us some much needed assistance at keeping our heart rates in our desired training zone. All-in-all, the 210 is a good-looking, mid-budget, GPS enabled training/racing watch with accurate heart rate training features.

We will leave you with a few videos to watch. The first is Desi Davila training with the Garmin 210:

The next is a video of the Forerunner 110, but it is identical except for the differences discussed  earlier in the review:

 

This video shows how to get set for your first run:

That’s it for today.

Happy Training!

John

  42 Responses to “Garmin Forerunner 210 GPS Running Watch In Depth Review”

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  2. how do you change clock time on Garmin 210 forerunner?

  3. My Garmin 210 had been recording mile splits, but sudenly stopped. Any suggestions on how to get them back? I don’t think I had done anything to the settings, and don’t understand what went wrong. Please help!!!

  4. Thanks. I did it.

  5. John.

    One more question: Since I didn’t have the Garmin on in the autolap mode for my run yesterday, is there any way to get my mile splits?

  6. I would like to be able to see my time per kilometre as I’m running. Is this possible with the 210?

    • Connie,

      yes, this is possible. If you press and hold MENU, and select USER PROFILE, it will ask you what language you want, and after that, it will ask if you want kilometers or miles as the standard setting. Choose KM, and then finish answering the rest of the questions.

      John

  7. if i training indor how can i disable gps search and keep the hr monitor?

  8. Hi my forerunner 210 is still showing my previous distance and time of my previous workouts, ie. when I press it on it won’t come to 00.00. What is wrong? It is my first gps and I don’t want to regret it, please help.

  9. Hi guys,

    Something that I didn’t get from your review (sorry if it is right there) is this: I am able to create personalized workouts on the Garmin Connect site, but can I upload those to my Forerunner 210?

    Thanks in advance for the reply.

    Regards,
    Barry

    • Barry,

      The Forerunner 210 only supports interval workouts that are set up on the device. To do this, go to “Interval training (set up exercise and rest intervals), and set it to yes”. The Forerunner 210 does not support downloadable advanced workouts from Garmin Connect. If you want this feature, you need to get the 610.

      I hope this helps.

      John

  10. If training indoors and you don’t have a foot pod can you disable the gps and just use the device as a HR Monitor?

    TIA,
    Coreena

    • Coreena,

      Yes you can. Here is how you turn off GPS:

      In order to turn GPS off, you will need to select “Yes” when the “Use Indoor” message appears. This message will appear under two conditions:

      When the device is unable to lock onto satellites after an extended period of time
      While the unit is in low power mode*, press the page/menu button while the time and date is displaying
      The GPS will turn back on after the unit exits low power mode.

      *Low power mode is when only the time and date appear on the watch and no icons are blinking.

      I hope this helps.

      John

  11. Hi.
    I’m just wondering if there’s a difference between the women’s and men’s versions?
    Thanks Caroline

    • Caroline,

      All of the Garmin 210 GPS watches perform the same regardless of color. You have 3 color options: black, teal/black, and white/green/blue. They sell the black and the teal/black with or without a heart rate monitor strap, and a third black model with heart rate monitor and foot pod. The white/green/blue model only ships without a heart rate monitor strap. If you want the white/green/blue model, you can by the premium heart rate monitor strap for an additional $69.95 retail from Garmin (you should be able to find it cheaper on Amazon :))

      Here are the 5 models:

      black no heart rate monitor strap – retail $199.95
      black with heart rate monitor strap – retail $249.95
      white/green/blue – no heart rate monitor strap – retail $199.95
      teal/black – with heart rate monitor strap – retail $249.95
      black with heart rate monitor and foot pod – retail $299.95

      I hope this helps.

      John

  12. The garmin connect distance measurement is in miles although watch is set to kilometres. Can the download results be altered to metric.

    Adrian

  13. How can you see max and average HR during an indoors session (eg: 30 mins boxing).

  14. I got a Garmin 210 for Christmas, I charged it & it never showed the prompts! It is stuck on Some language other then English…what should I do? Thanks

  15. I need a Garmin watch that will display my mile splits on the watch after my workout.
    The Forerunner 110 won’t do this. Will I be able to do this on the 210?

  16. I have been training with the Forerunner 210 for two years now and I am very pleased as it caters to all my running needs.
    Lately, hawoever, I have encountered a problem;
    In the beginning the heart rate indication works normally, but after about half an hour into the run the Heart Rate displayed drops considerably (to the point where I would think my heart would nearly stop if it were to be correct).

    At first I believed this was to be attributed to a dying battery in the monitor itself, but after replacing the battery, the problem still occurs.

    Any help would be appreciated!

    Regards,
    Kurt

    • Kurt,

      Typically, this might mean that you are seating too much, and shorting out the electrodes. If you’re using a cotton tee, this can make things worse. Try removing your HRM strap and dry off, replace the HRM and see if this fixes the problem,

      John

  17. My forerunner went off this morning. Not sure what I touched. It is an alarm of some kind – almost like a hissing sound. It won’t stop regardless of what buttons I touch. Any ideas?

    • I have never heard of this problem. Typically, if you press and hold the light button until the unit completely powers off, and then hold again until the 210 powers back on, this usually fixes most problems.

      John

  18. Just purchased the 210 for interval options. The tone is not as loud as my friends 210. Does anyone know how to make the tones louder

  19. I have just bought the 110 having lost the 210 that I was using. I used to like being able to review my mile splits in the history on my 210 watch itself but have read that this is not possible on the 110 and that to get this data you need to upload to Garmin Connect. Do you know if this is true?

  20. My Garmin 210’s HR monitor was having the same problem as Kurt’s monitor. It would work fine when I started, but after a while the reading would be about half of what I thought it should be – and sometimes go to nothing. Now – when I put it on it sees the heart monitor, but the reading is _ _. If I tap it with my finger, it will read that, but no longer will read my heart. I figure I am either the walking dead, or there is something wrong with the device. I have moved the monitor around on my chest, have replaced the battery, cleaned the strap – not sure what else I can do to get that little bugger to register I am alive. Any suggestions!

  21. Hi I bought the forerunner 210 sprots watch about 2 years ago and it worked perfectly fine, however for about 6months thereafter I was not using it so it was off. Now I have switched it on again nut it shows a wrong date on the ddisplay screen, so how do I set the correct date?

  22. Why does it take up to four tries to turn off my Garmin? I push and hold the “light” button. It comes up with a question to turn off the phone…yes or no. I choose yes but it takes me sometimes four tries before it will shut off. Just a tad bit annoying when you’re in a hurry.

  23. How do I change the number of interval reps? I just got it and set up my intervals but now can’t figure out how to change them.

  24. I really liked the features and display on mine, but am not pleased with durability – the strap fell apart after 2 years and, while everything else still seems to be working, my attempts to fix it aren’t comfortable. If Garmin change their design to ensure the strap can be replaced, I’d consider buying another. But as it is? I’m looking at alternatives. I am not the only unhappy customer in this regard.

  25. I just did a half marathon and neglected to turn off my garmin 210 so it shows I ran 60 + miles. Anyway for me to delete lap and splits? I would like to delete anything past 13 miles. It would then give me an accurate HR av which I could then compare to other halfs that I have done.

  26. Hello! I can’t seem to change the date on mine. It seems stuck on Dec 16 &17! Can you kindly give me some advice?
    Thanks
    Helen

  27. Hi,
    I ran a race this past w-e and in the middle of it, the Lap/Reset button stopped working. It was very annoying that I couldn’t get the laps time for each kilometer of my race. All other buttons work fine. Anyone have an idea of why this particular button isn’t working any more? It the watch memory full? Anything I can do to make it work? Thanks for your help!

    / Karin

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