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. 

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 ( 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.