The Garmin Forerunner 310XT Garmin Watch vs. The 305/205

How the Garmin Forerunner 310XT Garmin Watch Differs From the Forerunner 305/205

Garmin has made the GPS heart rate monitor fitness sports watch market their own with their Garmin Forerunner GPS watch line. The early Garmin Watch models, 101, 201 and 301 were ahead of their time, but the next generation of GPS watches released a few years ago (the 205, 305 and 405) had much improved GPS chipsets enabling them to lock onto a signal much quicker than their predecessors and perhaps more importantly, stay locked on.

If you are looking to take their training to a new level, you should consider what a GPS watch has to offer.

A GPS watch can measure your speed and distance traveled as well as record an accurate route of your runs which can be viewed on computer. It is a fitness trainer, coach, and essential analytical tool all in one that allows you to set speed or pace alerts to notify you if you are running too fast or too slow, plus a lot more.

In 2009, Garmin released an upgrade to the Forerunner 205/305 watches, the 310XT, which is a result of Garmin's exhaustive analysis of feedback from athletes. It has resulted in some pleasant changes.

The first way the 310CX differs from the Forerunner 305 is it's looks. Like the Forerunner 305, the Garmin 310XT watch is large and chunky and does not pass as an every day watch, but with extra size comes much greater functionality. The 310XT has the same large-sized screen, but a stylish silver face opposed to the red of 305 and blue of the 205.

Forerunner 310XT

The 205 and 305 Garmin watches are identical except the 205 does not support a heart rate monitor device, the new 310XT does not have two distinctive models in terms of functionality. You can just choose to buy it with or without a heart rate transmitter and strap. If you already have a 405 you can use the transmitter and strap from that.

The new watch features the same button layout, the only difference is the two buttons on the front of the watch are smaller in size then it's predecessor. It's unclear if this is and advantage or disadvantage in practice, but I'd guess it's not a lot different.

Perhaps the most noted advantage of this watch is the fact that the Forerunner 310CX is water resistant to 50 meters. The Forerunner 305 is water resistant to IPX7 standards, which means it can be submersed in water to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes without harm. While triathletes will be rejoicing at this feature, it should be noted that heart rate monitoring and GPS features do not work while you are swimming.

Never-the-less, this watch can be used to time your swims without fear of harm which will please many.

The other big advantage of the Forerunner 310XT is its 20 hour battery life. GPS watches consume a lot of power when in full GPS mode. The Forerunner 305 has a typical battery life of around 8-10 hours. While this is enough for most activities, some ultra endurance events can extend well beyond this limit. With an 100%+ increase in battery life to around 20 hours, the new Forerunner watch will clearly please ultra athletes for who the old limitation was a problem. The Garmin Watch comes with a rechargeable battery. While jacking it into the recharger overnight is not a major deal, not having to do so every night will surely be a welcome change for most users.

Other improvements include a better GPS receiver with the addition of HotFix, heart rate based calorie computation and wireless computer connectivity via an ANT stick. The wireless setup is the same as the Forerunner 405's, but unlike the 405 the 310XT does not support unit-to-unit transfer.

While the new upgrades are exciting, the 310XT does feature some notable downgrades that Garmin have been quiet about. There is no support for routes, whereas the Forerunner 205 and 305 could store 50 routes in memory and no simple workouts, a quick-start mode where you enter time, distance or calorie goals and off you go.

So in summary, the Forerunner 310XT differs from the 205 and 305 Forerunner watches in these ways:

  • New stylish look and feel

  • 50 metre water resistance

  • Heart based calorie calculation

  • Extended 20 hour battery life

  • Improved GPS reception

  • Wireless connectivity to PC or Mac

  • No support for routes

  • No simple workouts

Overall, the new watch from Garmin is not revolutionary, but it is certainly very cool! It features almost all the capabilities of the 205 and 305 watches, minus the noted exclusions.

Swimmers and triathletes will welcome the new waterproof abilities of the new Garmin Watch, but given that GPS and heart rate monitoring don't work in the water, it will probably fall short of delivering everything these athletes wish for. Ultra endurance competitors will love the extended battery life and it is a worthy purchase based on this advantage alone.

Click here to buy a 310XT Now!

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The Garmin Forerunner 310XT Garmin Watch vs. The 305/205