Gear Review: Garmin Forerunner 110 GPS

As a long time fan of the Garmin 405CX I reviewed here, I was fascinated to see that Garmin had launched an entry level GPS running watch in the Forerunner 110.

Coming in at around the £160 mark online, compared to £250 for the 405CX, it’s considerably more affordable than its big brother. But the question is, how many of the 405CX’s fantastic features have Garmin dispensed with in order to shave so much off the price?

And the answer, unsurprisingly, is most of them. But having lived with the 110 for a few weeks now, I’m beginning to think that that’s no bad thing. So rather than focusing on what’s been taken away, it’s probably more worthwhile discussing what the Forerunner 110 does well.

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity

Advanced runners who want to analyse every nuance of their performance might as well look away now, because this thing really isn’t for you. It’s clearly aimed at the new and only moderately serious runner, and does a very good job of providing just the information you need and nothing that you don’t.

Answering the setup questions took me all of two minutes, after which I put on the not especially comfortable chest strap that contains the heart rate monitor and waited a further minute or so for the GPS to establish my position.

Once that was done, it took just the push of a button to start everything off, and then a further push of the red page/menu button to flip between the three main screens , which are time and pace, heartbeat and actual time. Though in fairness, I don’t generally need to know the time of day when I’m running, so it’s a pity that this last screen isn’t disabled when you’re in running mode.

The most useful of the three screens (left)  displays distance, elapsed time and current pace from top to bottom, though it’s worth noting these facts from the user guide before you set out, as the red wording at the top and bottom of the bezel that tell you what the numbers indicate is totally unreadable.

The heart rate screen, however, uses all the available space to display your current heartrate, making it ideal for those of us who like to train in different zones from time to time.

Tracking your runs

Like every Garmin GPS, the Forerunner 110 uses a clever, clip-on charger which allows it to stay waterproof to IPX7 standards (shallow water for up to 30 minutes). In the case of the 110 also enables it to hook up to a Mac or PC with a USB slot, which then takes you to your own page on the Garmin website, where you can view a map and stats for your run, including heart rate, distance, average pace, pace per mile and elevation.

Crucially, this is all better laid out and more thought through than anything I’ve seen from Polar, RunKeeper, or many of the other proprietary GPS websites on the market.

The predictable summing up

Despite the fact that I love the ‘virtual partner’ feature of the Garmin 405CX, not to mention its incredibly cool ‘strokable bezel’ control, I totally get the point of the Forerunner 110.

It’s a no-frills way to track your pace, route and heartrate, and then analyse them on the Garmin site. The controls and set-up are idiot-proof and it even sets the time of day automatically using the satellite signal.

So if you’re just a casual runner, or simply don’t have £250 to blow on its big brother, the Forerunner 110 is a great training tool, and entirely worthy of its 5 Jelly Baby Rating.


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