Polar RCX5 GPS versus Garmin Forerunner 610 - GPS Watch Test

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Recently Heart Rate Watch Company blog tested the Polar RCX5 GPS versus the Garmin Forerunner 610 to compare some of the differences in features and uses. While the Polar RCX5 is suitable for triathlon, running and cycling the Garmin 610 is more of a run and bike watch.

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Heart Rate Watch Company blog compares the Polar RCX5 GPS with the Garmin Forerunner 610. The Garmin Forerunner 610 and the Polar RCX5 GPS are unquestionably two of the nicer GPS watch units on the market for outdoor athletes but where do they vary and how can one decide which is best given individual requirements?

"These are two superb GPS watches but there are some subtle nuances and individual preferences that will come to bear in deciding which of these is appropriate and it is very individualized," says Rusty Squire, President of the Heart Rate Watch Company. He adds, "For instance, the Polar RCX5 GPS battery lasts much longer but it is external to the watch, meaning it must be worn in an armband or belt clip."

Both watches are capable of measuring speed, distance, heart rate and calories. The Garmin 610 offers a Training Load feature as does the Polar RCX5 to help adjust training based upon prior exercise history.

"The biggest differences are the amount of time the GPS lasts for, the Garmin's touch screen versus Polar's button navigation and whether you want to wear a GPS sensor externally or want it built in," says Squire. He adds, "Both watches have pacing features to help keep you on a targeted pace."

Another subtle nuance is the Garmin 610 has a vibrating alert in addition to an audible alert, while Polar strictly uses audible alerts. "This might make a difference for somebody who likes to exercise while listening to music as this makes it difficult to hear an audible alert," says Squire.


The Polar RCX5 gets heart rate in the water while the Garmin 610 does not and is not recommended for swimming.


With the Polar RCX5 one can either use traditional magnet based speed sensors or the G5 GPS for speed and distance. With the Garmin 610 GPS gets the speed and distance. Both units have a cycling mode and require a cadence sensor to receive pedal cadence. Neither unit will do power output but they do everything else.


Both watches are great running watches and can be used with optional cadence sensors, GPS or both depending upon preferences.


For triathlon we would favor the Polar RCX5 as well as for cycling but we would give the edge to the Garmin 610 for running. The Garmin is also nice for other sports like cross-country skiing because of its route and elevation mapping, so these watches are not limited to just running, cycling and swimming - they also make great watches for other outdoor sports.

Both watches function well as a heart rate monitor at the gym but we'd give the edge in the gym to the Polar RCX5 because of its superior integration with gym equipment.

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Rusty Squire, President

Tarie Beck, CFO
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