First look: Garmin Dakota and Forerunner 310XT

Two new products for the sports GPS market

Garmin have launched another two products into the sports GPS market, the Dakota and the Forerunner 310XT.

The Dakota is a navigational aid and cycle computer that's designed for both on and off-road use, similar in many respects to the bigger and more expensive Oregon.

Weighing 190g, the Dakota works off a pair of AA batteries (standard or rechargeable) giving a run time of 20 hours. It features a colour touch screen (6.6cm), 850MB of memory and a microSD card slot.

For UK users, that means it can be loaded up with 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 Ordinance Survey Landranger and Explorer maps. Combined with the unit's vector mapping, this means you can pinpoint exactly where you are on a trail. You can also overlay points of interest, such as cafes and scenic spots.

US users will have access to vectorised versions of the Topo US 24,000 range - more or less equivalent to UK OS Landranger and Explorer maps.

We'll be sure to put the Dakota through its paces but it looks like it's rugged enough to withstand outdoor conditions. According to Garmin, it's waterproof to a depth of one metre for 30 minutes, which means you could probably go mountain bike bog snorkelling with it if you so desired.

The touch screen is easy to use, with the main menu items easy to find. Garmin say they have reduced the glossiness of the screen compared to the Oregon, making the display easier to read.

Two of the screens on the dakota: plenty of ride info: two of the screens on the dakota: plenty of ride info

Two of the ride info screens on the Dakota

The Dakota comes in two models, the basic Dakota 10 which is priced at £229 and the more advanced Dakota 20, which includes an electronic compass and a barometric altimeter and will go for £279.

The units come with a worldwide basemap as standard, but if you want the OS mapping then you're looking at another £70-80 (prices for mapping bundles are still being finalised by Garmin).

You can try out a Dakota at the Garmin MTB Days: the next one being at Glentress in Scotland on 25-26 July. 

Forerunner 310XT

The garmin forerunner 310xt: the garmin forerunner 310xt

Garmin's Forerunner GPS wristwatches are popular with multisport athletes, as they keep track of time, distance speed, pace and location via a large display but don't require a bike mount. They can, however, easily be fitted to a bike.

The new Forerunner 310XT is aimed squarely at triathletes. It's waterproof to 50 metres and has a battery life of up to 22 hours. It comes with an optional heart rate monitor strap and is compatible with the ANT+ Sport wireless sensor protocol. That means you can keep track of your heartrate, cadence and power on the bike provided you have the appropriate sensors fitted.

The 310XT includes a "virtual partner" function to make sure you stay on pace - handy for those who either go out too fast or struggle to motivate themselves. All your data is downloadable to your PC or other device via ANT+.

Garmin claim the other big development for the Forerunner is a more accurate heartrate-based calorie counter. This has always been one of the big weaknesses of Garmin training devices, as they've had a tendency to grossly overestimate calories burned. Garmin have always said this was due to a patent issue but they've overcome this by using a calculator that works off beat-to-beat variability.

Again, it remains to be seen how accurate this is but given that the Forerunner can also measure power (which will give you a good number for calories burned), it shouldn't be too difficult to determine.

The Forerunner 310XT will cost £299.99 or £329.99 with heart rate monitor.

Both the Dakota 10/20 and the Forerunner 310XT will be on sale by the end of July. Visit www.garmin.co.uk or www.garmin.com for more info.

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