The Garmin Forerunner 110 is a basic gps watch, with an RRP of £150 alone, or £180 with a heart rate monitor. I was fortunate enough to pick one up on Amazon at just over £100 without the HRM, but seem to be around the £125 mark now with the HRM bundle being cheaper than just the watch. Being one of the cheapest GPS watches out there, so does it cut the mustard?
On unboxing, you need to plough your way through a wasteful pile of quick startup leaflets in just about every language bar Welsh. So they’re straight in the bin.. er.. recycling.
You can view just the basics of Distance, Time elapsed, Pace, HR and time of the day. Compared to the veritable smorgasbord of choice on the older watches such as sunset times and altitude, this is pretty basic. You also lose features such as running partner and the ability to set up training runs.
If you find you need those features then you’ll either need to shell out for one of the more expensive Foretrex watches or perhaps return to the old skool 205 and 305 models and pretend you’re an extra in a low budget 70s sci fi show.
It’s where the 110 shines. If you’ve got a budget of £100-150 then you’re left with a choice between the Garmin 110 and a choice between the HR compatible 305 and the 205 that isn’t compatible. The budget conscious 110 buyer can choose to buy it without HR and purchase one later, ideal if you have a birthday coming up!
Comparing them side by side, you realise how cumbersome the older models were. You wore them running and then kept them. I think I used mine once or twice whilst walking, but decided it was too obtrusive. The 110 on the other hand is watch size. So far, I’ve used it on every walk over the last two months to log the route and it’s just sat there discreetly recording the route and distance.
The battery life is also impressive. I’d be happy to take this to log a weekend of walking, and you could risk keeping it on battery saver mode over night, and as it’s only powering the lcd watch, shouldn’t take up too much juice. On test, the longest trip was six hours and it took the battery down to just over half. Testing as a watch, logging two three hour activities on the GPS, the battery lasted well over 3 days and would easily last longer if you disable the GPS. The official website states 8 hours training and 3 weeks in power save. The former sounds about right, but I’m using the watch too much in order to test the latter. There’s a handy little power save feature that switches the GPS when not in use.
It’s certainly better built than the 305, mine failed after sweat worked it’s way in through the contacts. It has proper buttons as well, two on each side like a digital watch of old. One’s a light/power, another for menu, a start button and a reset button. The last two double as an up-down toggle for use within the menus making this very simple to operate. It could be quicker finding the satellites, but that’s a constant gripe whenever you fire up a GPS and it’s still much quicker than older models, and tends to find the signal in about a minute. I’ve got in the habit of placing my previous GPS watch in the window while getting changed for a run, so you’re ready to go. Outside I found the tracks produced were accurate with no outliers, featuring on the following routes with little or no editing required; Moel Famau, Wolds, Pen yr Ole Wen.
While not ‘waterproof’ the 110 should easily survive most conditions you put it through. The charger is an unusual toothed clip that attaches onto these charging contacts, and also acts as a data transfer. I find that this can be a little fiddly, but no great hardship and probably no more a chore than plugging any USB into a PC, with the usual three rotations before getting it the right way up.
On connecting to a PC, the watch opens like a memory stick and you can just browse the contents. The routes themselves are stored as a proprietry fitlog format which can be opened via the Garmin website and other packages such as Sports Tracks, but not easily in your usual mapping software. It’s unfortunate that there’s no gpx option, but that’s probably just me as the majority of users will be loading their activities directly into the software and won’t even be aware of the file format.
If you’ve got a limited budget, or rather like me you can’t bring yourself to spend much more than £100 for a plastic watch, then you can’t go far wrong if you’re after a GPS watch that tells you the basics. As a long time user of gps watches, I’ll put the cards on the table and admit that this does everything i need it to do. Being able to set it up to do intervals and so on is nice, but I can look at the watch and work out my intervals like that. I don’t tend to do intervals that often either! I’d have liked the ability to view the sunset time and altitude which I did use, and the ability to pull a grid reference out would have been a real bonus, but that’s a feature that’s been overlooked on even the top of the range models.
The battery life is more than enough for a week’s average running, the logging is accurate and it looks good. It also works with the HRM strap from the older models, so if you’re upgrading from a broken model then you save even more money. For the price, you can’t go far wrong. If you want more features that you probably don’t need, then you’ll have to spend more cash that you don’t need.
One point that might need to be made though, is that the more fully featured Garmin 405 watch is currently cheaper than this one, but without a HRM, making that a no brainer at the time of writing if you just want the watch.