I had (still have) the Forerunner 305. I also have bite-marks on the skin just below my sternum, from the heart-rate monitor. That was the final impetus to upgrade to the Forerunner 410.
Other things that had annoyed me about the 305, for years, were the weak beep (OK, it's my elderly ears that are weak, but the wimpy little meeyip-meeyip! alarms were usually missed if there was the slightest wind or traffic noise, regardless), and the fact that the 305 often took forever to synchronize with satellites.
So what do I like about the Forerunner 410? Plenty.
But, since all but a couple of those good things were already good features of the 305, I'll mostly talk about what annoys me. :-)
The Forerunner 410 is nicer looking and less bulky than the 305.
It has a nicer strap with a really nice "somebody was thinking" feature.
If you've had a 305, you know that you put it on your wrist, buckle it, and then wrestle the strap-end-retainer loop around your wrist until it traps the unruly free end of the strap (not an issue for you guys with wrists like tree trunks...). But then, as you move and work-out, that loop slides off and the end of the strap gets free. It does not come loose from the buckle, but it stands off from your wrist and gets caught on fabric with every swing of your arm. Annoying.
The 410 has a strap with slots instead of holes, and the tongue or tab of the buckle is a good third of an inch (almost a centimeter) wide. It slips easily into an available slot on the strap and stays secure. BUT the free-sliding loop that retains the end of the strap ALSO has a tab on its underside that slips into the free end of the watch-strap. No more slipping and sliding, and no more of the strap-end coming free and catching on everything in sight. Somebody was thinking! Good design, there.
But you want to know about more important features than that.
Go outside, stand still, switch it on (or switch the GPS mode on if the watch was already on), and it finds satellites in SECONDS. This is SO much better and more reliable than the old 305 was (is...). Both watches do a good job once they've grabbed enough satellite signals to be happy, but the 410 is ever-so-much quicker at that initial seek-and-grab of signal.
The 410 also tells you how happy it is - it tells you the current accuracy and the degree of confidence it has regarding your position, based on the number and clarity of signals it's getting. I guess the 305 did some of that, but it's more apparent in the 410.
I don't think the 305 could do this - or I never found it - the 410 detects when you've stopped moving, or slowed way down, and it automatically stops the workout counter. You no longer need to remember to pause it at every stop-light, and ESPECIALLY remember to start it again when you resume running, cycling, or whatever. That is golden! I can't tell you how many really, really short workouts I recorded with my 305, because I forgot to resume the counter after stopping for a traffic light. Of course, you can also de-select the AutoStop feature if you prefer. But I *like* it! Me, enthusiastic? You bet.
Well, it's a good idea, but it doesn't work for me nearly as well as it seems to work for some other people.
I find it both insensitive and oversensitive.
You select major categories of thing-to-do-now by touching and holding your finger on specific areas of the bezel (that ring around the outside of the glass). Top is time/date mode. Bottom brings up the main menu. Left is GPS stuff. Right is training actions.
That part works pretty well. You press and you hold and after a second or two, the desired item opens.
BUT... each one opens a menu of several selections. By default, the selected menu item is not the one you want, so you must scroll up or down. The lists are mostly short. But scrolling is accomplished by touching the bezel and immediately dragging your finger partway around the circle. Touch and drag clockwise to scroll down a displayed menu; touch and drag counter-clockwise to scroll up a menu. Fine in theory. It's really inconsistent.
What feels like the identical action to me (starting at the identical position on the bezel and dragging with a given amount of pressure) is recognized one or two times, and then ignored six or seven times in row. It's summer right now, and has been hot. I've used ONLY my naked fingertip for the purpose of bezel-swiping. Sometimes that fingertip is relatively dry. Other times it's very wet (sweaty). Makes NO difference to the Forerunner 410.
It's positively infuriating to be trying and trying to move to a menu item, and the thing just ignores the strokes. And ignores. And ignores. Maybe I touched too lightly? I try a little harder next time. No? OK... more firmly. Still no? OK, very, very firmly. No. OK, you son of a b***h, I TOUCH!! and I DRAG!!!! dammit! I'm pressing so hard my finger hurts from the friction. No go. But then, I'll wait a few seconds, cool down a bit, and try again, and it works. S**t! Why now? What changed?
Well, that's bad enough, but did I mention that the thing is also too sensitive?
The other trick it has is, while it's being caressed as described, it will suddenly start recognizing ONLY the point where the touch is lifted from the bezel. So, it won't recognize that I started up at the 11-o'clock position and dragged my finger (properly toward the outside of the bezel, with the text on it, as admonished in the booklet) all the way around to the 5-o'clock position, but as I end the stroke and lift my finger off, it decides to interpret that as a single press to open the currently-selected menu item. Recall, if you will, that the currently-selected menu item is always the one I don't want, and I'm trying to scroll away from it to the one that I *do* want.
No. So, now I'm in a sub-menu that I really didn't want, and I must back out. Thank gawd one of the two actual physical buttons on the watch does that job. OK, I'm out at the original menu, still with the wrong item highlighted. Crud. I'll try swiping-to-scroll some more.
Oh lookie... Now it's gone from "I can't feel you Mr. Sledgehammer fingers" to "The slightest swiping movement jumps two or three menu items." Stop, you son-of-a-b***h, you're going to far.... doh!
S**t! Well, I'll scroll back.... s**t again! It jumped past the desired item in the other direction.
One of the reasons that I run (ok, jog) is to keep my blood pressure down. This is NOT helping.
As you can imagine, the unpredictable sensitivity to swiping is a real annoyance, and detracts from the usability of the device. It affects most functions - you have to get to those functions, as menu items, to be able configure, start, and stop them.
So, there's one last insult, then:
The watch takes forever to shutdown. It actually shuts down very promptly as soon as you tell it do so. But first, you have to get there.
Menu > Settings > Shutdown > Yes
A firm press-and-hold on "Menu" gets you started, but then every sub-menu item must be scrolled-to before it can be opened. See above about scrolling. Yesterday, it took me two and a half minutes of increasing frenzy to finally get to Yes, so I could press "enter" (one of the two real buttons on the watch), and the scum-b*****d finally shut down. Half an hour later, my blood pressure was getting down in to "normal" range.
I have a love-hate relationship with my new (just over a week at this writing) Garmin Forerunner 410.
Heart Rate Monitor Strap
The HRM strap is a big improvement over the one that came with the 305. For one thing, it doesn't give me hickies over my diaphragm. There's no joint between hard plastic pieces to flex and pinch my skin. I think the electrodes in the new strap also make contact more readily. But I'll find out when the cold, dry weather arrives, if I have to wet the contacts when I don the strap. So far, so good, though.
The 305 connected via its charging cradle, which was a USB device.
The 410 charges via a two-contact spring clamp on a USB cable, that goes either to a computer (or USB hub) or to a dedicated power block (compact and light).
The 410 data connection, however, is exclusively by wireless ANT link. A thumb-drive-sized USB device (the ANT transceiver) plugs into your computer, and then the ANT software can recognize a nearby Forerunner 410.
Curiously, you get a progress indicator from the ANT software saying that data is being downloaded from the Forerunner 410, but that data doesn't go anywhere. If you launch the Garmin Training Center software (or even if you already had it open), you do not see a new workout session appear. Instead (at least, this is how it works for me - all software and drivers up-to-date), you have to click in Training Center to tell the program explicitly to "transfer from device". At that point, a progress window opens AGAIN, and this time the watch beeps and also says it's transferring data. At the end of that operation, the Training Center activity history list is updated with your latest workout data.
Odd, but not nearly as murderously aggravating as the bezel.
I'm not clear on what was gained by the addition of the ANT transceiver as a necessary separate device - and one that I have to carry between work and home, because I commute on foot or by bicycle and I want to save and view my numbers on both computers. I'm sure I'm going to lose that thing. It has a "lanyard" hole in one end, but it's too small for the bead-chain that I use for my keys and for my favorite 32-gig memory stick. (I prefer a flexible, floppy bead-chain rather than a key ring, because it lies flat in my pocket and doesn't create wear-points on my pants - you wanted to know that, I'm sure.)
Anyway, that's what I can think of, for now, regarding the Garmin Forerunner 410.
For me, it's a mixed bag. Perhaps I'll learn the knack of the insensitive/overly-sensitive bezel controls and thereby learn to love the thing entirely. Meanwhile... like I said... love-hate.
I gave it three stars, because I can't give it two-and-a-half.
Seriously, if that bezel worked for me the way some other people say it works for them, I would give this beast a solid 5. Until then, it gets massive demerit points for that one flaw that affects all usage of the device.
[EDIT] After some thought, I believe I might have a notion what's going on with the stupid bezel. It's the material they used, and the surface treatment. when my fingers are a bit moist... oh... say... when I'm... um... exercising? Yeah, then, the only time I use the bloody device. When my fingers are a bit moist, the skin does not pass smoothly along the 410's bezel. Instead, it's a series of microscopic grabs and releases - maybe juddering is the word - not a smooth progress, but a lot of tiny jumps, during which it is sometimes not in good electrical contact. Probably the debounce algorithm isn't up to smoothing that frequency range.
In other words, if they insist on the surface they've selected, then it should be a relatively easy firmware update to filter the kind of skipping, shuddering, non-glide that occurs when some people's skin is moist, but not sloppy-wet.
Or so I'm guessing, anyway. Too bad companies like Garmin (and plenty of others) monitor review sites like this, but don't interact and offer solutions/work-arounds. I really wish I could have a smoother experience with my Forerunner 410.