The new Garmin Forerunner 910XT has recently hit the shelves — in the States that is. I was lucky enough to have a friend coming over, so one was ordered and brought over for me! Here are my first impressions — I will update this post as I get to know the unit better.
This is the update on the Forerunner 310XT — Garmin’s premium personal GPS unit for triathletes. As I have been using the Forerunner 305 up to now, I can’t comment on what the actual improvements over the 310 are, only over the 305.
The big news is the swim functions: both open water and pool: when you select the swim function, you are prompted to select pool or open water. If you select Pool, you are further prompted to enter the length of the pool. Pressing the Lap button during your swim creates Intervals.
Your lengths are then counted, and the distance calculated. The unit also keeps a record of the number of strokes you take per length, as well as what stroke you were swimming! It does this using accelerometers. I have read posts in forums where people are complaining about all sorts of problems encountered when changing strokes, pausing, changing pace, or deviating from a straight line in the pool, but it worked like a dream for me! It did count one extra length at the end of my swim, but I was easily able to adjust that on GarminConnect by editing the track. It also has some additional data around efficiency ratings and a SWOLF score.
If you select Open Water, the GPS is activated, and the unit acts as it usually would in other modes. I have been for one swim at Silvermine Reservoir, and am a little disappointed in the results. I swam 2 lengths of the reservoir, sighting off the metal enclosure near the centre of the wall and the footbridge at the opposite end, and can assure you I swam fairly straight. I certainly didn’t fly over the reservoir wall into the fynbos below at the end of my swim! The only part of the track that resembles my course is the portion of the track second from the top.
The unit is sleeker than the 305, but it is still bulky enough to cause a rip of bubbles to peal of your wrist as your hand enters the water. I had no problem wearing it under my Orca S3 wetsuit, or getting my wetsuit off over the watch in T1 after the XTERRA Grabouw 2012 swim.
Initially I noticed that there seemed to be an issue with the calculation and display of current run pace: it fluctuated wildly whilst I was running (more in my post here). To work around this problem I have learned to use one of the many alerts on the unit: I have set the unit to alert me with a buzz every 1km which then gives me stats for that kilometer: specifically time and average speed for that kilometre. This problem seems to have been fixed in subsequent software updates.
I was able to set the unit up for a triathlon with ease, detailing the swim, the bike leg (including which bike I would be using), the run, and the two transitions in-between. During the race you simply then hit the Lap button at the start, when entering and leaving transition, and obviously the finish line.
I have a Garmin Foot Pod. This little device clips into your shoelaces and then pairs wirelessly with your Garmin, enabling your run cadence to be viewed and recorded.
I also have a Garmin heart rate monitor strap.
Both devices require a 3V battery.
The battery life is reportedly 20 hours, which is a huge improvement, possibly double that of the 305. On the Merrell Eden Duo the battery lasted for 13:04:09,
The 910 certainly gets a satellite fix faster than my 305. I am not sure if this is because my 305 is faulty or not — I will now be able to send the old unit in to have it checked out. I would be interested to know if the actual GPS unit is the same, or whether it is a more powerful / sensitive upgrade.
There is no longer a cradle for data transfer and charging: data transfer with PC is now via ANT+, and charging is via a cable with a clip. I find the wireless data transfer quite slow, and the watch must be switched on for the transfer. This means you must wait for the transfer to complete so that you can switch the watch off so as not to run the battery down.