Monday, April 1, 2013

Garmin 910XT Review

After a few too many flake-outs with my four-year-old Garmin 405 and a better-than-expected outcome from the tax accountant, I took the plunge and ordered the Garmin 910XT watch. Deals seem near-impossible to come by, but I was able to use my New River Valley Bicycle Club discount at the local bike shop and get the watch and heart rate monitor under $400. It pairs nicely with my $1.75 beaded flower bracelet from the Dixie Caverns gift shop and coordinates well with my black Road ID slim on the other wrist. All go well with my wardrobe of evening gowns workout clothes.

The watch was a bit too much black -- too austere -- for me so I splurged and ordered the set of extra watchbands and swapped in the green one.

My friend Scott showed me the swim data from his Garmin 910XT a few months ago and I confess to having a case of data envy ever since.

I've used the watch on one swim and two runs so far. I'm sticking with my old Garmin Edge 305 for the bike because I like the form factor and having it mounted on my basebar.

This is sort of the quickie review, but in short...I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!! It was an easy transition from the old watch and it operates in much the same way. There are some significant improvements over my old model that I'd like to mention.

The thing is super simple to use right out of the box. I spent a bit of time on the first run customizing the data fields, setting Auto Lap, playing with the "scrolling screens" and turning off the Virtual Partner who surprised me by popping up unexpectedly, like "let's race!" It paired automatically with my food pod and HR monitor.

One of my favorite things is that the watch vibrates when it laps. That seems like a really small thing, but if you run with an iPod or just tend to zone out like me, it's handy. Plus it's extra feedback when you manually lap the watch especially in the pool when it's harder to see through goggles.

Frankly I'm glad to see the touch bezel gone in favor of buttons. The watch looks pretty big, and it is, but it's very lightweight. I never noticed it on the run or swim.

Speaking of the swim....MAGIC! This is my favorite new addition. All I had to do was go to Swim Mode, select Pool Swim, enter the length of the pool, and press start. I ended up capturing the pool swim in two chunks - the warm up and the main set.

I thought it was so cool in the warmup that the it KNEW exactly what stroke I was swimming! It's great to have stroke cadence data (even if just for one arm) and splits, and to be able to see what is happening over time or in longer sets. This solves my lap counting issue too. I've spent a lot of swim time doing the math on elapsed time to double-check my distance. That's no longer necessary as I can just glance at my wrist and see distance. I'm really thrilled with the swim data.

My collection of training technology continues to grow - Vasa Ergometer power meter (dryland swimming), heart rate monitor, waterproof iPod for the pool, Garmin watch, Garmin bike computer, Garmin foot pod (transmits cadence info), Garmin Cadence Sensor for bikes (x2), Finis Tempo Trainer (for matching swim cadence), and regular iPod. Oh, and of course, my iPhone. The only piece missing is bike power but that's a BIG chunk of change and frankly this is plent-y of technology.