Monday, October 8, 2012

I Just Love Garmin Customer Service....

Well, Garmin finally has my Garmin 305 with the horrible battery life. Unfortunately, this is what it states with regards to my RMA status. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

RMA Status

Status: Your product has been backordered. Please contact Product Support for an expected shipment date.
RMA creation date: September 27, 2012    

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Curse of the Garmin

Oh well. I guess I am now cursed by owning a Garmin. I returned the crappy 610 last July because I was frustrated it took Garmin months to resolved some of the basic issues that the watch had (namely GPS accuracy). I'm lucky that I didn't also run into some of the other problems 610 users have seen, namely:

  • Reverse charging issues
  • Rusting of back of watch 
  • Turning skin green due to reaction with back of watch
  • Pins falling out of wrist-strap causing the watch to fly away while running
Nevertheless, I replace a 3+ year old Garmin 305 with a new Garmin 305 before they stop making them and the price went through the roof. Everything was going fine until....

The battery life of my 14-month old Garmin 305 went down the tubes. I first noticed it, when the Batteries Low warning would come on about 1:30-1:45 into a run. Now it comes on about 30-35 minutes into a run. My last couple of runs have only really gotten me about 70-75 minutes of time before the watch shuts off. I now have to run with a regular stopwatch to time the remainder of the run and use online map tools to measure the distance.

Quality product again. I will contact Garmin and see what they say. A part of me wishes I bought this watch from REI instead of Amazon, since I would simply return this crappy 305 back to them and get something different (like a 210). Alas, I did not. I expect that Garmin will like to steal my watch from me for multiple weeks, charge me multiple $$$$ to fix the battery in my watch.

A tiny, little part of me wants to just go back to a Timex Ironman....


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hello There. And Garmin must have One Person working at their Warehouse

OK, its been a long while since I've posted. What has happened.

1. I got very frustrated with the $399.99 Garmin 610 using firmware v2.20 and its crappy GPS etc. etc. So I requested if I could get a refund. This was mid-June.
2. On the day  I was scheduled to send the watch back, they came out with firmware v2.30 which supposedly fixed the GPS problems.
3. I decided to give the watch a couple more runs. The wacky GPS start problem was fixed, but the distance of my runs on the same exact courses were varying wildly day-to-day. Ok, not wildly but about 1% which never happened with my 305.
4. So I send my GPS back to Garmin on June 30th.
5. It arrived at Garmin on July 6th.
6. My RMA status still states that they are awaiting the return of my shipment.
7. The warehouse department of Garmin really, really sucks.
8. I haven't heard anything from Garmin since June 29th. I am getting a little frustrated.

Also, it appears the my 305 has died. It quit on me after about 6.3 sweaty miles during a 9.7 mile run. I'll try to revive it when I get home, but I think its dead. It is tempting to get a 610 back, but seeing all the OTHER problems people are having with the 610 that I never had (skin turning green, pins falling out causing the watch to fly off, inability to charge, problems with GPS), I think I'll just get another 305.

Garmin, I hope you are reading this. I want my TWO DOLLARS! (+ 397)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Garmin 610: Some Things I've Noticed After 11 or so runs

So I've been running consistently with my 2nd Garmin 610 watch. I think I've done 11-12 runs with the watch. I still am slow and fat, but that isn't the Garmin's fault.

I've been tapping away at the screen everytime a screen pops-up (Timer Started/Lap), it seems to help, but the watch still likes to measure everything short. As documented on my previous post, DCRainmaker even performed a test that the watch was consistently 2% on distance. I haven't found that in my running, but I would say that around 1% short is what you should expect from the Garmin 610.

Yes, this is within GPS errors, but this 1% short has even cropped up in a recent USATF certified 5 mile race I ran this past Monday. When I passed the first mile marker, watch was on 0.98 miles. 2nd mile marker, watch was on 1.99 miles. The watch actually measured exactly 5.00 miles when I crossed the finish line. Either I ran the exact tangents for a 5 mile race (which is basically not going to happen) or the Garmin 610 measured my running around 1% short (so I should have run 5.04-5.05 miles). I've done this race multiple times, a bunch of times with my Garmin 305 and it usually came in around 5.04, 5.05. (Note: The course is measured by the person who is measuring the 2012 London Olympic marathon so I would think the course is accurate).

Here are some bullet notes for the Garmin 610:
  • The first mile is usually off by 0.02 miles. This is even after clearing the Timer Started window. Seems to me that there is just some sort of delay when starting this watch. I also found this when I had to stop and pick a piece of glass out of my shoe during the middle of a run. My pace dropped and I lost distance right after starting the watch.
  • When I go around turns I consistently lose 5-10 sec/mile without changing my pace. Looking at plots on maps, it always seems that my 610 ALWAYS short changes the turns where I am always running on the inside of the curve, thus making the distance shorter, pace slower, etc.
  • I have noticed that when running on dense tree/leaf cover pace might start to vary more than normal.
  • Watch those little pins on either side of the watch that attach the wrist-band to the watch. Some people have had them come all the way out. I have noticed on mine that mine are slightly protuding.
  • During Auto Uploading, my watch rebooted itself twice. I find it is best that once you come into range of the ANT+ stick, don't go back out of range. Just leave your watch by your ANT+ stick for a couple of minutes and everything should upload fine.
  • If you want to get differing opinions of the Garmin 610, visit the Garmin 610 forums at: Garmin 610 Forum. There are some other bugs I haven't encountered, such as scratched glass and the screen of the watch being totally messed up. People are also getting frustrated at the lack of feedback from Garmin with regards to the bugs.
  • I finally got the new HR strap. For me at least, I notice that it definitely wears away the skin where the monitor snaps into the strap. I need to use BodyGlide in this location to prevent this.
 I do like the vibration alert and form factor of the watch. I do HATE that I still have to tap the watch face when anything pops up to hope I don't get GPS accuracy issues. I have resigned myself that my courses will all be measured about 1% short from now on, so that when comparing to previous runs with the 305 I need to take that into account.

Also, it would be great if Garmin could release a patch so we didn't have to tap the watch every time!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Garmin 610 GPS Accuracy Problems: I Was A Month Ahead of The Curve

I have been complaining about the Garmin 610 GPS Accuracy issues since early May with an initial post about it on the Garmin Forums

I was lambasted on those forums, places where I reviewed the watch and on other blogs. I warned people about the GPS accuracy issues, but people where just blinded by all the whizz-bang of the watch and failed to see that the watch failed to do the basic thing it was supposed to do. Measure distance using GPS.

Now, another blogster, DCRainmaker, who is well known for his gadgetry reviews performed a GPS accuracy test for 9 different devices and the Garmin 610 failed miserably.

You can see, the Garmin 610 in all its GPS non-accuracy glory:

The Garmin 610 performs miserably in the tests. Why? Because I'm sure DCRainmaker didn't do that stupid task that Garmin says fixes most of the problems by clicking/tapping the watch to clear the Timer Started/Lap screens, because who in their right mind would think that that would fix a GPS accuracy issue. I still have no freaking clue why it does, and I have no idea how the engineers at Garmin found it out.

And I still have no idea why Garmin hasn't released a firmware fix for it year. It's been about a month since I raised the issue with them.

As for today's run. I still suck at running, and its way too hot. I am running solely with the Garmin 610 tapping my watch like a crazy person whenever a screen pops-up. I think today's run was about 0.03-0.05 miles short over a 9+ miles run. Nothing to concerning. I still have found that going around corners, it seems the 610 always finds the inside route versus my 305. I'll show some examples below.

But these plots are with tapping the watch screen, so the GPS data isn't that far off.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Where Did I Go?

I admit it. The number of blog posts have been few and far between the past couple of days. So what has been the delay(s)?
  • I've been running
  • I've been working
  • Toss in some sleeping, yard work, etc.
I've run with just my 610 the past two runs. Runs of 90 minutes and 75 minutes. I have noticed that the 610 still continues to measure routes shorter than my 305. Still within a 0.4-0.8% range. The start bug seems to be gone (for now) if you clear the screen, but I still notice up to a 7-8 second difference between Time and Moving Time on that first mile in some of my runs. Still think there is some sort of delay when starting the watch.

Also, looking at some of the GPX tracks, it appears that the 610 seems to cut the corners short, thus maybe causing the slightly shorter distances.

Compound this over a 75 minute run, you get a different of 0.06-0.07 miles over a nearly 9 mile run. Examining the GPX data, I haven't seen the apparent "jaggies" that I saw when using my 1st Garmin 610 watch. I am running using my new watch with Every Second recording.

Also, I am still running with my old 305 HR strap, I am supposed to be getting the new strap that comes with the 610 today.

After 5 days with the new watch, here a my pluses and minuses for the watch:

  • Vibration Alert and actually being able to hear the watch
  • Size of watch. Nice and small.
  • Variable on watch are just as easy to read as on 305.
  • I like the magnetic charger. I've woken up too many morning where my 305 slipped off the dock and was dead.
  • Auto Scroll: Time-of-day window cannot be shut-off
  • Automatic Upload to Garmin Connect, etc. is kind of quirky. Takes a long time, the ANT+ agent seems to get stuck at 44% for minutes on end.
  • Clearing the Timer Started/Lap windows manually in the hopes that the GPS accuracy doesn't pop-up.
  • Apparent delay when starting the watch. Seems to lose 0-8 seconds on that first lap.
  • Rapid decrease in pace when taking corners (especially sharp turns).
If my 305 could vibrate for alerts, I would prefer the 305 over the 610. I know the 310xt vibrates.

Editing: A commenter alerted me to a GPS review of multiple GPS watches by DCRainmaker. See:

Look at the results for the "Rambling Loop" test. Notice how the 610 comes up way shorter than the other devices. I wonder where I've heard that before...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Two More Runs with the Garmin 610

Busy weekend, no time really to do my full review of the new 610. I will try to get that out sometime this weekend.

Yesterday's run was cutback from 2 hours to 90 minutes. Just didn't feel like running that long, the summer running doldrums of in-between marathon training. For this run I cleared the Timer Started window only.

This morning's run was 1 hour. For this run I cleared both the Timer Started and Lap windows.

Quick and dirty details:
  • Sunday's run: 305: 11.19 miles 610: 11.16 miles. I still think there is some delay at the start with the 610, since the Timer Started window still pops up and you have to clear it. Would be nice if they just got rid of the window popping up at all. Nevertheless, pretty good agreement between the two watches. I didn't see the GPS accuracy field blow up on the 610.
  • I had some weird ANT+ uploading issues I think that were caused by coming into and out of range of the ANT+ stick which caused not everything to upload. I had to turn on/off the watch once to actually get it to upload. The ANT+ agent on my laptop seems to get stuck at 44% uploaded and others have noticed this as well.
  • Monday's run: 305: 7.28 miles, 610: 7.28 miles. What I noticed from this run is that there is some sort of lag at the start for the 610. The 610 was consistently 0.015-0.025 miles behind the 305 until the end. Then the distances were equal. My pace over the last 0.28 was about 10 sec/mile faster on the 610, so that is probably where the catch up was.

I don't think I'll be wearing the 305 anymore (with the 610) as its no fun wearing two watches. I will probably update my review on Amazon to 3 stars. (I would do 3.5 stars but they don't have it). For the 610 to get to 5 stars here are the main items they need to improve on:
  • Fix the Timer Started/Lap screen pop-up with a firmware update. The users shouldn't have to always do something to get a product to work.
  • On Auto Scroll, the option to not have the time-of-day/Clock screen included.
  • Hammer out the problems with auto-uploading through ANT+
However, it is good to see that there is some resolution to the problems I first reported.