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: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2011/06/2011-sport-device-gps-accuracy-in-depth.html

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. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Quick Update: First Run with new Garmin 610

I don't have time yet to write up my full review of today's run. Ran, then spent 5.5 hours doing outside yardwork. Lovely way to spend one of the two days off I get a week.

Of course, my run this morning was my worst one since Monday. HR high and just slower. Maybe the 610 curses me..

So the run???

  • The Start bug is still there. I did not clear the Timer Started window when I started the 610. GPS accuracy when from < 20ft to about 80+ft.
  • No other GPS accuracy glitches were seen on the laps.
  • 305 measured 7.33, 610 measured 7.29. I think the 610 start glitch cost me 15 seconds on that first mile. Running at ~9 min/mile pace thats bout 0.03 miles. So the difference in distances is basically the start error.
  • GPX path length for 305: 7.33 for the 610: 7.32
  • HR average on the 305: 139. HR average on the 610: 140
  • The upper HR limit goes off when you are at the set limit for the 610. On the 305, it goes off when you go over the limit. So for a setting of 145, the 610 alarms at 145, the 305 at 146.
The start bug is discouraging as I definitely knew that this was a software glitch (thus in every watch) and just in mine. What is encouraging is that the lap GPS accuracy didn't occur and it the start glitch was gone, the distances and paces would have lined up pretty good. 

I will do a full review when I have time. Tomorrow run will be 2 hours with both the 305 and 610. I will clear the Timer Started window on this one, but not the lap windows.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Saga Continues: Garmin 610 Watch Delivered

So when I got home tonight from a local high school track meet, my new Garmin 610 was waiting for me. I snapped some snazzy pictures for when I review the watch, but unfortunately Garmin screwed up my order. They sent me a watch without a HR strap and I bought the Garmin with the strap. Oy vey...

I'll just use the HR strap that came with the 305, it works with the 610. I tested that on my old 610. However, the HR strap that comes with the 610 is a lot more comfortable than the old one I have with the 305. I emailed Garmin requesting a new strap be sent to me. I really don't feel like returning the watch again, just for the strap.

So I'll do my first run with the new Garmin tomorrow morning. It came fully charged out of the box and the serial number is in the 11,900's my original Garmin was 74.

Garmin 610 Review: The Sequel

Just got an email today that my new Garmin 610 that originally wasn't going to be available until June 22nd was overnighted to my location yesterday and will be delivered today. So, I would say that was a full 180 degree turn in Garmin support.

So I would like to thank Garmin for the quick turnaround.

OK, so if I get the watch today I will start the new review on Saturday. I'll take lots of pretty pictures and/or video of the unboxing, etc. And it helps that I am already familiar with the watch and what it comes with.

Here the review plan and what I plan to (re-)review:

  1. Packaging
  2. Initial setup
  3. Look feel as a watch (not as a GPS running device. I would never strap on the Garmin 305 as a watch).
  4. Setting up the basic running parameters I normally use:
    1. Auto lapping
    2. HR alerts
    3. Training pages
    4. Auto scrolling
  5. Going out on a basic typical run. Comparison with 305.
    1. First run I will use the 610 HR strap. I will do nothing special with either watch (This means I will not clear the Timer Started/Lap screens when they pop-up. This is to see if the GPS accuracy issue pops-up again. All of these runs will be with 1sec recording.
    2. Second run. If the GPS accuracy issue pops-up again, I will first try the clear the Timer Started screen one I start the watch.
    3. If I see an auto-lap GPS accuracy issue I will do a third run clearing both the Timer Started screen and the Lap screen
    4. I will test 1-3 with Smart Recording.
    5. I will test the 610 with the 305 HR strap.
  6. Uploading to Garmin Connect and to 3rd party log site (http://www.runningahead.com) using ANT+ connection
    1. Quickness to Garmin Connect
    2. Any uploading problems, error that occur.
  7. Miscellaneous
    1. Charging
    2. Battery Life
Right now I am doing basic HADD training (lowish HR training). I really will not be doing any runs that make use of workouts, intervals, Virtual Pacer or Virtual Racer. I do have a 5 mile race on June 13th. Maybe I'll use the Virtual guy for that.

Don't know if anyone else is reading this, but if you have any other suggestions please leave a comment.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Round and Round We Go

So update #3 for the day. Got a phone call from Garmin Support stating they found a Garmin 610 for me and I should receive it in 5-7 business days. So that is definitely a plus.

Unfortunately, I wonder why do I always have to do the "angry email" thing, etc. to get anywhere? Wouldn't it just be easier to do it the proper way the first time?

Hopefully I'll get the watch sometime next week were I give it a fresh, clean slate.

OK, I've officially had it with Garmin. I'm so glad I was an early testing for their untested watch.

OK, So I emailed them regarding the fact that my Garmin 610 arrived back at their shop last Thursday, a week ago. So I guess that got the ball moving. I got this response, at first, from Garmin...

I will be happy to help you today. I have setup a Forerunner 610 to go out to you in today or tomorrow. Can you please send us the UPS tracking number. Your new order number is 31XXXXXX, the Forerunner 610 should arrive in 5-7 business days.
Please, contact us with any further questions.

Then I get this email also....

I will be happy to continue support.

The Forerunner 610 will not ship until June 22, 2011. This is due to being out of stock.

Please, contact us with any further questions.

 Are you freaking kidding me? I spend $399 on a watch that I will be without for over a month? Great customer service for an early user who found a bug with your watch....

Edit: In honor of what I'll be doing in the next month with regards to the speedy Garmin support service and my reviewing my new and improved Garmin 610, here's a video of a cricket chirping...

It actually kind of neat...

Day 10 of the Forerunner 610 Return Saga....

OK, yes it takes 7-10 business days for the turn around at Garmin for returns/exchanges. But what I am failing to grasp is how my UPS shipment can arrive last Thursday @ 10:55am and still 7 days later my RMA status still states they are awaiting receipt of my return. Rather frustrating if you ask me. So now 10 days without my $400 Garmin 610, and with the 3 business day shipping window for UPS from Kansas to New York, even if they ship today I will not get the watch until next Tuesday (15 days from me sending it out to return).

Is it that difficult to simply get a package and send out a new watch back. Shouldn't be that difficult or is it? Maybe they are trying to ignore me, or hide something? I'll give them until Monday....

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

No News (is not) Good News

Well nothings changed on the Garmin RMA front. I did find out that the expected return time of 7-10 days is actually from when Garmin receives the watch and not the total time. So if you are planning on returning anything to Garmin I hope you have a spare Garmin lying around (luckily I have my trusty 305) or....

So this is technically business day #4, and it still says that they are awaiting the receipt of my shipment, even though UPS said it arrived on Thursday morning. I guess they might have a single person going through each and every return or Garmin has way too many returns/repairs.

Maybe I'll get my new Garmin 610 before July. It sure sounded like it would be quicker when they first said they were going to give me a new watch. Said it was going to be shipped to the support person's supervisor's desk. Maybe they are on vacation???

So unless you want to here about my run with my Garmin 305 which I got in May 2008, nothing new to report here...

If you are interested in seeing some of the other problems people are running into, hit up the Garmin forums.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Am Still Awaiting Garmin Recognizing My Return - My 2nd Garmin 610 Review

OK, I always seem to send things back during holiday weekends. My Garmin 610 arrived at Garmin in Olathe, KS on Thursday, 10:55am. My RMA status has not been updated since and I haven't heard anything from Garmin. Though I suspect that like everyone else, not much work was getting done on the holiday weekend.

So this is business day #6 on trying to get my new-and-improved Garmin 610 back from Garmin. My original Garmin was the 74th Garmin produced off of production (based upon the serial number).

My Garmin 305 is still performed wonderfully, though my running has been more like a roller coaster. Mostly bad runs in newly found warmth and humidity. Struggling to get the hydration down, etc. Though this mornings run was rather speedy.

Let's see if Garmin updates my RMA status today. If they don't by later this afternoon I will bug them yet again....

Also, whenever I get the new watch (hopefully by the end of the year as it seems), I'd be open for suggestions on what to review/look for in my 2nd watch. I know what I will be looking at to see if its fixed....

One item I will document better is uploading workouts using ANT+. Seems numerous people are having problems uploading workouts over on the Garmin forums. I had problems also, but really only trying to upload my Boston Marathon data. Plus I use RunningAhead.com, which is much better than Garmin Connect.

Friday, May 27, 2011

I Am Awaiting Garmin Recognizing My Return

Well as my last post stated, Garmin received my 610 package yesterday at 10:17 am CST (May 26th, 2011). As of 11:48 AM CST, May 27th, 2011, my RMA page on the Garmin website still states that they are awaiting receipt of my package. Guess the Garmin warehouse is huge, they are getting a lot of returns/repairs sent back or they went home earlier for the Memorial Day weekend....

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Garmin Forerunner 610 Has Made It Back Home

My Garmin 610 probably was itching to get home yesterday since it showed up at the UPS warehouse only miles from Garmin at 8:55am yesterday. It had to wait until today to take the short trip to Olathe, KS to final get back home with all of its sisters.

Hopefully, one of her younger sisters will be shipped out east soon and both her and I can have a better relationship. I'll also try and give a better and fuller review of the watch.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Garmin 610 Support Update #2

Sent Garmin a question over email just asking if:

1. When I could expect the new Garmin to be shipped back
2. Any updates on the start problem with the 610.

So basically, the process seems to still be processing. Would have been nice to have seen a fix for the problem. Hopefully, its not being ignored because I've seen the problem in 610's that people have just bought.


Thank you for contacting Garmin International.

I will be happy to assist you. As soon as the watch is received and
scanned into our system, the process of sending out the replacement will
take place. We receive items by the trailer load, not as individual
packages. That is why we put a turn around time forth of about 7-10
business days or sooner. There hasn't been any other findings or
software updates related to the start issued you reported between your
Forerunner 305 & 610. If you have any further questions please contact

Today's Garmin Forerunner 610: We're In Kansas!

Well, Mr. Garmin Forerunner 610 made it to Kansas today. One more day until it is reunited with its home base. Hopefully, one of its younger brothers will be sent out my way soon...

It's so close maybe they can deliver it today...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

No More 610: It's On It's Way to Olathe, KS

Well I sent off the 610 to Olathe, KS and Garmin. It left Seacaucus, NJ about 5 minutes ago (9:57am). Supposed to arrive in Kansas on Thursday. Since the upcoming weekend is Memorial Day weekend, I probably won't see the new watch until next week sometimes. Luckily my Garmin 305 still functions well.

Since I have a wonky hamstring I can't really do any faster speed work right now, and since it appears my running fitness has fallen off a cliff I decided to revisit HADD. So today was 75 minutes at ILTHR (initial lactate threshold heart rate). I set the upper HR limit on the 305 to 155 and off I went.

I wasn't expecting much since yesterday's run was craptacular. However, today run felt like I got some of my mojo back. I ended up running 9.99 miles in 1:15:03 for 7:30/mile @ AHR 148. Since it is basically impossible to hear the beep tone on my 3 year old 305, you have to keep checking the screen. The 610 was nice that it vibrated when it activated an alert.

Today's splits were: 8:14 (135), 7:45(144), 7:38(146), 7:23(149), 7:21(151), 7:18(152), 7:22(150), 7:29(151), 7:19(153), 7:09(153)

Now yesterday's run on the 305 was 8:46/mi @ AHR 134. I would say today's run was about 34 sec/mile better than yesterday's. Yesterday's run used the 610 HR strap, today's was the 305 HR strap.

Now the question is, is my 610 cursed or bad luck. Interesting to see such a big improvement when not running with the 610. I don't think it could interfere with the 305 HR rating.

Personally, I just think it's that I got two good night sleeps in a row. We will see when the 610 comes back.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Last Run With My First Garmin 610

OK, the Garmin 610 is currently sitting in a box waiting to get shipped back to Garmin. We'll find out if the problem was my early batch watch or the software or something else.

No runs this weekend as I was off camping and finding out that the outdoors and myself do not mix. Let's just say it was a tiring, smelly, wet, dirty weekend that made me realize that I prefer hotels over tents.

So since my running has basically dropped of a proverbial cliff the past 2-3 weeks, I decided to head back to the tried and true HADD training methodology I've always used when things go to the crapper....

So, this mornings run was 60 minutes with a HR limit of 140. Wore both the 305 and 610v1 this morning with the 610v1 HR strap. I set the upper limit to 140 on both watches. General notes before I get into the bulk of the data....

1. My 305 doesn't vibrate like the 610 so the only way to know an alert is hit is either by hearing its beep (which it doesn't do anymore)
2. having the screen light up when an alert is hit (I ran when it was light out, so didn't have the light out)
3. Looking at the screen and seeing "Heart Rate Too High...."

So basically my 305 is useless is this manner...

For the 610, since it vibrates and I can still here it beep, I will say for HR alerts it works great. However, there was a HR blip at about 0.3-0.4 miles where the HR went off on the 610 and not on the 305 (though the blip is not the 305 graph). It did not go off until I was going up a hill 2+ miles later.

It also appears that the HR alerts bug has been fixed with v2.20 of the firmware. I also think the HR alert limits might be slightly different between the 305 and 610 (though I am not completely sure). The 305 alerts when your HR is over 140, but I think the 610 might alter you when your HR is 140. Nothing to complain about, but just a note..

Ran with Smart Recording again also. The start problem did not occur again, but it did come up with some laps during the middle of the run. 610 ccuracy when compared to the 305 was rather good today, though the mile where the GPS bug occured was off a bit.

OK today's run stats:

305: 6.84 miles @ 8:46/mi. AHR 134 MaxHR 143. Fastest pace: 6:21
610: 6.82 miles @ 8:47/mi. AHR 134 MaxHR 143. Fastest pace: 5:47.

The start glitch did not show up today. I had an increase in GPS accuracy after mile 3 and 4. My running still has gone down the tubes.

Below is the start of this run (Green is 610, Red is 305). There is a slight jog in the 610 data, but nothing too noticeable.

A slight jog in the data (Green/610) around 0.8 miles.

Too perfectly honest, there weren't really anything glaringly different between the 305/610 on this run. I think Smart Recording doesn't emphasize the GPS bug as much as the 1 sec recording. I do remember that after miles 3/4 seeing the GPS accuracy go up, but maybe smart recording smooths the effect out.

Measuring the GPX paths. The 305 came in at 6.85 miles (versus 6.84 Garmin distance). The 610 came in at 6.83 (versus 6.82 Garmin distance). So there were little to no errors in the GPX data.

Lap times for the 610 were: 9:27, 8:48, 8:53, 8:39, 8:50, 8:28, 6:54 (8:21)
Lap times for the 305 were: 9:21, 8:50, 8:53, 8:35, 8:41, 8:35, 7:04 (8:22)

Here is the pace graph for the 610...

Here is the pace graph for the 305...

Slight differences, but the GPS spikes seem to be bigger in the 610 graph than the 305. However, if every run with the 610 was like this I probably wouldn't have sent it back....

Friday, May 20, 2011

Garmin 610 Support Update

I just wanted to add a note about Garmin support.

The initial email response was probably not the right way to start off this support request. However, since then Garmin has been intent on fixing this problem. I will be sending my current watch back to them and getting a new one from Garmin. I will use my 305 while my 610 is away.

They are using this blog as a resource for information on the problem. I am not the only user who has seen these issues.

For both our sakes, I hope this is a simple software fix. It will be cheaper and easier on everyone if it just takes a firmware update.

Start/Stop + Auto Lap bug revisited

My running mojo is gone. Peaks and valleys. Peaks and valleys. Definitely in a valley today.

Well this mornings run with both the 305 and 610 was on a course that typically measures from 7.28-7.32 miles. I wore the HR strap that came with the 305 instead of the 610. Why, just for testing purposes.  Also, I ran with both watches on Smart Recording vs. 1 sec recording.

Results? The auto-lap GPS accuracy bug is still there. It wasn't that bad at the start. I now show GPS accuracy as one of the field on both watches. When auto-lap engaged for miles 3,4,5 and 6 the GPS accuracy for the 610 went haywire. From < 20ft to > 250ft in most cases, while the 305 maintained GPS accuracy 15-20ft.

So, basically when this problem occurs your lap pace (which is what I have always used and has been reliable on the 305) is usually off by 20-30 sec/mile after 0.25. On the 305, it usually took < 0.1 miles for the lap pace to settle down. The 610 would tell me after 0.1-0.15 miles of a lap that I was either running > 10 min/mile pace or < 6 min/mile pace when the GPS accuracy bug occured. Rather frustrating.

The distances and paces lined up pretty well for the first 3 miles actually. I was thinking that using Smart Recording would help the 610 accuracy problem I showed in the video in my previous post. However, at mile 3 it showed up slightly. Mile 4 is very obvious in the GPX track. It would probably be bigger if I used 1 sec recording. (Green is 305, Red is 610). No,  I didn't do a run around in that persons front yard while running. At least I don't think I did.
You can kind of see the pace problems when I load the TCX data into RunningAhead.com. Notice the pace blips after mile 4 and 5.
For comparison, here is the data for the 305. That big slow down before mile 3 is due to a hill I "run" up around 2.7 miles on the course. However, comparing the two aren't drastically different.

Here is the HR data from using the old 305 HRM strap. The following is for the 610. Notice there seems to be some errant HR data in that first mile, but the rest looks smooth. (Note: A rather depressing HR curve for the past that I ran. Running mojo is gone)
Here is the curve for the 305. A little smoother, but not that much difference. Something happened in that first mile for both watchs. I will try the new HRM for my next run.

Here is the splits for the 610, then the 305. One thing I noticed for the 610 on auto lap is that the splits always seems to occur on the 1/4 seconds for the middle laps. Don't know why. Paces line up pretty well, except for mile 5 which has that loop shown above at the start.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Watch The GPS Accuracy Plummet After Start/Stop and Auto-Lap

No, I wasn't driving during this, but had some free time while in a car and used my phone to videotape. I tried this multiple times. It always messed up after start. It was occasional after auto-lap. Accuracy goes to 250+ ft from < 20ft. No wonder I can't trust the distances.

When I have more time I'll write up my review of the Garmin 610 coming from my standpoint. Someone who runs 80-100+ miles per week when training for a marathon.

Just a few examples of the "accuracy" of the Garmin 610. In the pictues with green and red, the green is my Garmin 305 and the red is my Garmin 610. One of the other pictures is from another runner using a different Garmin 610.

I've never seen these "jaggies" in my Garmin 305 data.

The Garmin 610 measured 12.40 on my run. The Garmin 305 measured 12.52. When looking at the actual GPX data, the Garmin 610 GPX path is actually 12.69 while the 305 is 12.57. So, the 610's actual GPX path is 0.29 miles off from what the watch state, while the 305 is off by 0.05.

Clearly, those little jaggies (or big sometimes as shown below) are screwing with the GPS distance/pace measurement of the Garmin 310. Even the Boston Marathon has a jaggie.

Why are all my runs now 1% Shorter than the 305???

So when I started running at home again after a week layoff, I started using my new Garmin 610 with the HRM.

The watch itself was great. The newer heart rate strap felt way better than the one that came with the 305, except that it seems to eat away at my skin where the monitor clips into the strap, but thats another problem...

First two runs were on a course that my 305 always measured as 5.21-5.22 miles. 610 measured 5.19 and 5.15. Getting a little concerned. 7 mile loop comes up as 6.95, OK not bad.

Notice the HR Alerts don't work on the watch when it comes out of sleep mode. Supposedly fixed in v2.20 firmware upgrade, I haven't tested it yet.

9.67 mile course measured as 9.58. OK, so the Garmin 610 measures about 1% less than 305 has been measuring for 3 straight years, I guess I can live with that.

Next run, after running for 30 seconds it said I had moved 0.01 miles and was running like 50:00min/mile pace. Mmmmm, maybe something is wrong at the start with this watch.

Same 9.57 mile course measured as 9.58. OK, still short. Seems to be a thing with the Garmin 610. 10.96 mile course measured as 10.86. Still,most people would tell me to shut up because, hey its within the 1% error tolerance that most people expect from their Garmin's, even though my Garmin 305 has measured the same distance for this course for 3 years.

The 9.67 mile course was measured in 9.56 one run, had me going 2 minutes/mile after my 7th mile. Never knew I was Usain Bolt. Start was off again, probably 20 seconds off for first mile.

A 7.3 mile loop is measured as 7.18. OK this is getting frustrating. Maybe its time to start looking at the GPX data this watch produces. Also, I should wear the 305 on a run at the same time.

OK, yesterday did a route that I have measure with tools online to be 12.53 miles. That my 305 consistently comes up as 12.48-12.52 miles for 3 years. Results: 12.52 miles for the 305 and 12.40 miles for the 610.

So I email Garmin Support and this is what they tell me:


Thank you for contacting Garmin International.

I was concerned about possible GPS Drift. The time stamp appears to show the 305 started at .01 seconds ahead of the 610.

After collaboration with the engineers and sending your data to them the difference of .12 is within the acceptable ranges for GPS watches which is 1%. Also you may have had consistent readings with your 305 but they may have been consistently wrong and now you have a watch with correct readings the natural assumption would be that the 610 is wrong when in fact the issue may be with the 305.

I will be detailing in future posts all the errors I found in that run with the 610. I think there were at least 10 spots, probably 15 where the GPX data clearly shows a malfunction with the 610 GPS where as the 305 was nice and smooth.

And I guess I've been consistently running wrong for 3 years with my 305 on courses that it seems to exactly match. Ugh.

The Garmin 610: A Great Watch, Bad GPS and User Support

This will be my first post detailing my questionable experience with the Garmin Forerunner 610 watch.

Background: I am avid runner. I would probably say that I am addicted to running. I was a track runner in high school. Rarely venturing above 800m. I stopped running after high school, only to pick it back up 14 years later in 2004. After years of getting injured during my running restart, I eventually ran my first marathon in 2006 in 3:06 (New York). 2007 was a washout, but in 2008 I was able to train more regularly and eventually run a string of 9 marathons in 3:20, 3:15, 3:01, 2:58, 2:55, 2:52, 2:53, 2:56, 2:48.

I run 3000+ miles a year and a valuable tool I have found was the Garmin Forerunner 305 I purchases in May 2008. It has been great, never had any problems except for the occasional hard reset needed. Earlier this year, it seemed that the battery life was lagging and the watch actually shut off on me during a rainy 25k. However, it still worked, though that new Garmin Forerunner 610 looked promising and could probably be a good replacement for the 305. Oh boy was I wrong.

So, I was in Boston at the Boston Marathon expo when I stupidly remembered that I forgot my Garmin 305 at home. Yes it was not on purpose. Since it was still Friday and the expo was still open I headed over to the Garmin booth, and they still had some Garmin 610's left @ $399.99. I have a great wife and thought of this as a treat for myself as running is really my only hobby.

Everything was great, I ran the marathon in 2:48 and the Garmin 610 seemed to work well. I had noticed that it was a little slow at the start, but nonetheless it measured 26.36 miles. However, once I got back home I would find that the Garmin 610 was not all it cracked up to be.