New Toy! Garmin 920
When Garmin announced the new Forerunner 920 a few days before I was to leave for Kona, I immediately put the word out that my 910 would be for sale. It’s not that I don’t like my 910, but there were quite a few features on the 920 that I really wanted.
I arrived in Kona a week before Ironman and stumbled upon the 920 in the pop-up bike shop on Alii Dr. “Are these for sale?” I asked, dubious. Thinking they were just display-tease boxes. “Yep.” the guy responded and $900 later I walked out with one white and one black 920. (The husband put his foot down on that one!)
Being the tech-geek-whore that I am, I immediately set it up and started playing with it. SO different from the 910. Menu buttons and UI are different and not intuitive at first. But, let’s just say that I haven’t taken the thing off since October 13th – and I haven’t worn a watch in 15 years!
Here are my findings these past few weeks:
It is fantastic and puts my 910 to shame, shame, shame.
Instant pace: spot on. Solid. Doesn’t jump around by :30-2:00. Not sure why my 910 was so awful, but the 920 is now solid.
Weight/Form: That’s the first thing you will notice. It’s (what feels like) much lighter than the 910. Thinner. Fits my tiny wrist very well. I wore it during a manta ray dive and it had no problem going under the wetsuit. Didn’t get caught up at all.
Display: the new color display is really nice. Best part is that when you wear polarized sunglasses, you don’t get the black-out screen like you did on the 910. Can view from any angle easily. Can set up black or white BG in watch mode as well. Color options are “cute” and a nice touch if you are into that.
GPS Signal: Acquires super fast. Going from watch mode to run or bike mode is less than 1 minute to get GPS signal.
Battery Life: Holy shit. Nice. I will do a short run or bike 2 times a day, have the device on “watch and activity tracking” mode and not have to think of charging it for 4 days. Bluetooth connected as well.
Bluetooth/Wifi: The instant uploads are….kinda freaky. It’s up on Strava before I get in the door. So nice to step away from that damn ANT stick!
Wifi issues: the wifi I was on in Kona would kick the watch off Bluetooth as soon as I got into the network. You need to know the password type for the wifi (WEP, WPA, WPA2) or it seems to have some issues.
ANT+ connections: Super quick and easy pairing with my Mio Heartrate monitor, my Garmin Footpod, and my Stages Power meter.
Treadmill: Not sure how it does it but the watch was SPOT ON EXACT during a 4 mile treadmill run. In the past I’ve used the footpod on the 910 and it was off on pace by :45 or more and the distance was a joke. The 910 would report .4 miles of running after 3 miles on the treadmill. With the 920, the watch was matching the 10:14 pace that the treadmill said exactly. Distance was nearly exact as well. The pace didn’t seem to uncouple until around the “fast walk” pacing during cool down – 15:00 min/mile on treadmill came up as a 14:00 on the watch. Could still get a spot on pace match at 12:20 or 13:00 pacing. Not a fast runner so the 10:14 was the best I could do and still keep my eye on the watch really well.
Bike: We rented a house up the mountain in Kona about 2 miles from the pier. I had my cross bike with me so I’d ride it up and down that mountain the whole week. The elevation was pretty steady each ride…off by no more than 10′ or so each way.
Swim: Haven’t done any pool or open ocean swims with it yet.
Metronome: LOVE IT. You can set the beats to every step, every 2nd step, every 4th step, etc. It can beep and vibrate or just one or the other. Really helpful for me and a very nice feature that I didn’t think I’d like as much as I do. I have it set to vibrate only and it’s subtle enough to feel and yet not piss me off. (or other runners for that matter)
Alerts: I want that Apple Watch because I am a freelancer working everywhere. It’s nice not to have to look at your phone every time you get a text, email, or call. However, the Apple watch isn’t waterproof. The alert feature of the watch when connected to my phone is really freaking great. My husband was dubious, but now he’s totally into it as well.
Activity Tracker: Meh. Don’t really care. But it’s actually kinda ok. I turned off the “move” reminder. Is it useful info? Not really as I’ll be running or biking most days anyway. Seems a little bit of a “basic consumer/fit bit/fuel band” feature that the 920 is far too advanced for. But whatever. I am tracking it now, probably won’t bother with it in about 6 months.
Sleep Tracker: Another fit-bit kind of feature. But I actually find it interesting. Especially during my current training as I’m nearing the peak phase. Seeing that I always seem to have a shit sleep time around 2:30am. Good to see the data on that. And actually being able to report this to a coach is helpful for tracking – especially for coaches that want 8-10 hours of sleep per night.
Watch Mode: Brilliant and I love it. Haven’t work a “watch” device for all day use in about 15 years. Haven’t taken this one off since Kona. That says something.
Set-up: A bit difficult to get used to at first. The select color/highlight is opposite in some areas vs others (reported it to the Garmin guys in Kona and they took a video of it to send to their devs)
Sync: Worked great with the Connect app on my phone. The UI still needs a little help, but it’s better than it used to be
Integration with Apple Health App: It does talk to Apple Health, but the Health app itself is still shit. Not Garmin’s fault. And with a little hocus-pocus magic work, Apple Health will talk to the Garmin App, and the Strava app, and the Withings app!
Notes: Something has changed from the 910 to 920 in terms of “Courses.” I can make and load a “workout” and do that workout using the watch. This mode, by the way, is 1 billion times better than the 910. I use this for track and tempo workouts. The “Slow Down” or “Speed Up” alerts are easier to see and understand. The display tells you which interval you are on, the metrics are easily seen (pace, time, distance, HR). I especially like how it handled my recovery interval to HR <120. It would give me an estimated countdown in time to when my HR would be at 120 and I would start the next interval. Very nice.
What it can’t do is a “Course.” I’m not sure if that is a bug or a feature that has changed. But I tried to load a “course” from the Connect App to the watch and it said the device didn’t support it. Hmmm….
Virtual Partner: this is displayed and handled much better now. It’s easier to understand at a glance by looking at the little animation of the dude running. Only thing is, I can’t figure out how to adjust my virtual partners pace. On the 910 you just held the up or down arrow keys until the pace changed. That doesn’t work with the 920. I’m sure it’s just a few extra steps, but it was nice to be able to adjust on the fly if I was having a really really good day, or a super shitty day.
Bug? One thing my husband and I have noticed is that on occasion (3 times in the last 2 weeks for us both) the watch will automatically restart. It will just beep and we look and it’s the Garmin start up screen. ??? Not sure what is going on there. But we are keeping our eye on it to see we can trouble shoot it on our end before we report it to Garmin.
Any specific questions, let me know. Would I suggest this if you have a 910. YES YES YES. Especially if your 910 had shit instant pace. And if you want a watch you can wear that talks to you phone and displays your messages/alerts. Honestly, the 920 is really a great watch and I’m shamefully in love with it!