As one of the first users of Garmin‘s new 910xt, I’ll be posting some “real world” information on using Garmin‘s newest flagship product. A more in-depth review and more photos can by found at DC Rainmaker’s blog and he is quite thorough. So I’m not going to reinvent the wheel, here, but rather report on my experiences with this latest product. Previous reviews of the watch during training runs, swim (open water, pool), 1/2 Ironman, and bike can be found earlier in the blog at the previous links.
Recently, I had the chance to use my Garmin 910xt on a 50mile bike ride along Route 1 of the California coast:
I created a route on http://www.mapmyfitness.com, which doesn’t allow exporting the .crs files that Garmin Training Center needs to export to the watch. Fortunately, there is a website, http://www.gpsies.com/convert.do, which will convert the .gcx file so you can export to a .crs that the Garmin 910xt likes to use. The details on how to do all of the above is another whole article which really isn’t the point here… We’re talking about how “Courses” work in the wild on the Garmin 910xt.
Note: Garmin Connect now has the ability to build courses on its own site, and the mapmyfitness site is not as easy to use as it used to be. In retrospect, I should have used Garmin’s site instead.
In the “Map” mode the function works fine and I love the little compass with a pointer. The breadcrumb map is handy, also. Unfortunately, either due to the conversion, or something else, I consistently got “Off Course” indications on the watch – followed seconds later by “Course Found”. This could be due to the GPS coordinates – either too many of them, or not enough, or an inaccurate GPS receiver (which shouldn’t be the case as I was out in the open for the entire ride).
Also, I like to have my pages (or “Data Fields” as Garmin calls them) scroll quickly from one page to another. In “Course” mode, the watch displays a little map of the elevation/breadcrumbs… If it ever had enough time to display it. With a fast scroll, the map page is always “Drawing” and becomes completely useless.
The last issue during my 50mile ride was at the beginning. Since I didn’t start exactly at the start point, it had a hard time initially knowing when I was on course, and joining up with the course. After stopping and restarting the watch as a new course, once on the course, it did fine.
The course function on the Garmin 910xt is a nifty feature, but I found it more annoying than helpful when creating the route through a third party website. The constant on/off course made it fairly unusable. This could be do to my own non-understanding of the function, though. However, the “Virtual Racer” – using your own workout file as a course and racing yourself – might work considerably better. I just don’t know.
I’ll be returning to the route using my own course and racing myself in the future. Doing that, I’ll let you know how the “virtual racer” function works. Hopefully extremely well!
Recently, Garmin updated the Garmin 910xt with firmware 2.50, and supposedly fixed the following problems:
Changes made from version 2.40 to 2.50:
- Fixed several problems causing shutdowns during biking and running activities.
- Corrected several instantaneous pace calculation issues.
- Major modifications and additions to Bike Power functionality:
1. Improved support for power based workouts.
2. Added new power metrics (Training Stress Score (TSS), Intensity Factor (IF), Normalized Power (NP), kJ).
3. Automatically modify power zones when functional threshold power (FTP) changes.
4. Improvements to power sensor calibration process.
5. Added support for left right power balance.
6. Added support for 3, 10, and 30s power smoothing.
- Improved accuracy of distance calculations for pool swim.
- Rest times are no longer included in the average pace calculation for pool swim.
- Distance alerts for pool swim will now occur during the last length before completing the configured distance.
- Swim distance alert will now reset after pressing lap button.
- Corrected issues displaying history for open water swims.
- Improved calorie calculations during swim mode.
- Corrected issue with barometer calibration improving initial elevation readings.
- Corrected issue where sudden changes in the elevation could be observed on the watch.
- Fixed problem with auto-scroll that could potentially cause a device malfunction.
- Added ability for the user to enter ANT+ IDs for all sensor types.
- Added sensor details page for all ANT+ sensors.
- Prevented HR alerts from occurring when user was in the correct zone.
- Improved accuracy of battery charge information.
- Improved foreign language translations.
Most of these items seem to do what they say they do. I experienced most of the issues listed above and most of them seem to have gone away. However, there are still a few issues I’ve had since the Garmin 310xt days that I’m not sure are a problem with the watch, or the user. Either way, there are still some things to be aware might be an issue when using the Garmin 910xt, particularly when using courses.