General Discussion Triathlon Talk » First GPS watch Rss Feed  
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2015-12-27 8:21 AM


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Subject: First GPS watch
So, hubby wanted to get me a watch for Christmas, but had no clue which one to buy so told me to pick. I've been training for 2 years (on and off, had a baby in the middle), but plan to really get back into it after the new year. I've never used anything more high tech than Map My Ride/Run off of my phone. I've done some reading and it seems like Garmin gets by far the best reviews for multi sport. I'm mostly wondering if the 920 is worth the big price jump over the 910, for someone who never uses a real computer and who has never tracked data. It is a "gift", but my husband is a full time student so it all comes out of my paycheck. If I was going to put $500 into triathlon this year, should I spend it all on one watch?

Opinions? Which should I go for?


2015-12-27 8:50 AM
in reply to: MMW37


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Subject: RE: First GPS watch
I used a Garmin 310 for a long time, and it pretty much does anything you need at a very reasonable price, since it's super cheap now. The 910 is a little more expensive, and adds a few features, but in my opinion, it never did enough "more" to justify the extra cost.

I'm using a 920 now, and it's a considerable improvement over the others...easier to read, more data, and with a lot of room for improvement through updates from Garmin as it ages.

It sounds like budget is a consideration, which it is for most of us. I'd check out the reviews by DCRainmaker and decide for yourself what you need.
2015-12-27 10:45 AM
in reply to: dpd3672

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Subject: RE: First GPS watch
I just sold a 310XT and bought a 920XT. Heck, I don't find the 920XT any easier to read, at all.

The 310XT is a fine tool.
2015-12-27 12:05 PM
in reply to: MMW37

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Subject: RE: First GPS watch
Which features do you want? Need?

310 - super cheap, great multisport watch
910 - adds indoor swimming metrics, less orange, little more $
920 - adds BT uploads, smartphone integration (he can track you during workouts if you set that up), a lot more $, running dynamics (w/ special strap), swim HR (w/ a different special strap)

(I have the 910 and have no urge to upgrade. I don't wear a chest strap, so those features don't interest me. I have an ANT+ chip in my phone, so I can already do mobile uploading. I don't run with my phone, so that won't help then, and I have a 520 for the bike.)

Or, just spend 30 minutes and read all three reviews on DCR. Then you will be a expert on all watches.
2015-12-27 5:49 PM
in reply to: MMW37

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Subject: RE: First GPS watch
Depends on what you want/need to get out of it. I just bought the Garmin Vivoactive with the heart rate strap on sale for $199 and so far I love it. Great running watch with swim and bike modes as well. Smaller, lighter and arguably more fashionable than either the 910 or 920. It has the Bluetooth connectivity, smartphone alerts, and downloadable apps through Garmin Connect, all of which are features generally only available on the more expensive Garmin models. It also does all the activity tracking like steps, sleep, etc. if that stuff is important to you.

The biggest downside is that it doesn't have a true multisport mode so it's not great for tracking races or brick workouts, but that might eventually be solved with an aftermarket app. Apparently it's also not great for open water swims but I never track any swim metrics so that wasn't really a consideration for me.

My wife originally bought me the Garmin Fenix3 which I loved, but the GPS was inaccurate from the day I got it and Garmin has never really fixed the issue, so I returned it. The Vivoactive provides many of the same features as the Fenix3 and 920 for less than half the price, and more technology than the 910 for around the same money. Admittedly it's not a true "triathlon" watch but it gives me everything I need.

I believe it's still on sale on Amazon.
2015-12-27 10:11 PM
in reply to: #5157990


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Subject: RE: First GPS watch
depends on what you need it for. cyclemeter - a very cheap app, gives you almost all the info you get off the 910 - except swimming laps. when running and biking, i put away the garmin and carry the phone in a ziploc to keep it dry. i do love the 910 for counting laps and pace, but probably could have found a cheaper one.


2015-12-28 12:22 AM
in reply to: Dutchcrush

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Subject: RE: First GPS watch
310xt is great. cheap, has a quick release option, and multisport mode for racing, and easy to read 4 displays.

With the 310xt you can tuck it in your cap, hit start, track the swim for open water swims to have accurate splits and overall time etc. if you like, I did the same trick for a local open water swim loop and it worked great.

910xt adds swim metrics and a few other goodies. Once I used one I wished I'd bought the 910 over the 310, and eventually bought a used garmin swim, but it only has pool metrics, no open water metrics.

These both use the ant+ usb wireless dongle to upload, can be a pain.

I just upgraded to a fenix 2, with my open water and pool metrics on the same watch, and it can sync via bluetooth, which is SO much better for me, looks better as an everyday watch as well. Internal accelerometers can be used to get cadence while running and estimate paces on a treadmill too if you do that, which neither of the above 2 have, but the footpod which can be used for all 3 is more accurate as it attaches to the foot, rather than estimating pace from arm swing.

Training effect and other little goodies are neat, but don't really change my training.

With any of these I'd have a heart rate strap too, and you can get a footpod, speed/cadence sensor etc. but those are less important.

The newer stuff like the 920xt or the fenix 3 are super nice, but I can't justify the price since the others are such great tools as it is, especially if you catch a sale.
2015-12-28 12:24 AM
in reply to: dfquigley

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Subject: RE: First GPS watch
Oh and to be honest, my first gps watch was a 305, and it still works fine, I just needed the extra battery life that the 310xt offered when I upgraded there for double centuries, ironman etc.
2015-12-28 3:30 AM
in reply to: dfquigley

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Subject: RE: First GPS watch
The 920XT doesn't use the Ant Stick to sync. That's a neat feature.

The 920XT is also less fugly than its predecessors.
2015-12-28 8:00 AM
in reply to: MMW37

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Subject: RE: First GPS watch
Below is a link that you may want to check out. My advice is to figure out what features you must have and those you'd like, then compare your list against what the market offers. For me, I want GPS, Heart Rate, ability to auto-lap and long battery life........all the other wiz-bang stuff is stuff I don't use.....so, I can get everything on my list from a whole bunch of products in the $100-$200 range.


http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2015/11/winter-sports-gadget-recommendat...
2015-12-28 8:12 AM
in reply to: dfquigley

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Subject: RE: First GPS watch

Originally posted by dfquigley Oh and to be honest, my first gps watch was a 305, and it still works fine, I just needed the extra battery life that the 310xt offered when I upgraded there for double centuries, ironman etc.

Like Dustin, I used the Forerunner 305 for a few years until it died, then I bought the Fenix 2.  It went through a few quirky software updates but it works great now.  I find it a little hard to see, but I need reading glasses. 



2015-12-28 9:52 AM
in reply to: g_shotts

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Subject: RE: First GPS watch

Originally posted by g_shotts Below is a link that you may want to check out. My advice is to figure out what features you must have and those you'd like, then compare your list against what the market offers. For me, I want GPS, Heart Rate, ability to auto-lap and long battery life........all the other wiz-bang stuff is stuff I don't use.....so, I can get everything on my list from a whole bunch of products in the $100-$200 range. http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2015/11/winter-sports-gadget-recommendat...

^this^

Get an entry level Garmin/Soleus/Polar etc. and you're set.  Use the savings on decent wetsuit, wheels, gear, etc.  Good Luck!

2015-12-30 11:21 AM
in reply to: jeffnboise

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Subject: RE: First GPS watch

If price really isn't a huge issue and you are doing tri's i say go with the 920.

I say this because although the 910 is a good deal and it has most of the same features it is working on tech that Garmin seems to be moving away from. The 920 can do data transfer over bluetooth   Which can make it nice and convenient if you're not near your computer. Having the more current tech will mean it's supported for longer and it should do basically everything you need. 

Maybe you won't use half the features but it's a great place to start and see what you need and still have options to use more. Lots of things I had thought i wouldn't use at some point but have started - you know, HR training, custom interval workouts, the automultisport to use in races. It has live tracking which my husband LOVES - when he goes out for a bike I can see where he is. So all to say, it may seem to be overkill right now but if you want something that may grow with your training this is it. 

There are other bells and whistles that may or may not matter to you - the step counting and sleep tracking but are really nice in one device. Although not the most feminine looking you can wear it as a daily use watch. 

As a triathlete i think this one is the best option. 

I got the Vivoactive in May and while I like it i knew about it's limitations for training and racing. It fits my life right now but i still supplement with other devices (which I already had). I use my Garmin Swim for my coached sessions - it's way more reliable for measuring distance and has a drill mode (all included in the 910/920). I also use still use my old 310 if i am doing a custom interval workout or race.  But i do love the look of it and that it does SBR and does what my fitbit did. 

Best of luck!

2015-12-30 12:56 PM
in reply to: MMW37

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Subject: RE: First GPS watch
I just got the 920 and it's a great watch and it does lots of things. Read dcrainmakers review, he'll cover most of its features/capabilities etc. But right now it will cost you your entire $500 you want to spend on triathlon this year.

What I like about the 920 is with the bluetooth I get my data loaded up as soon as I walk in the door from a run through the wifi in the house. If I'm outside or at the gym, it's loaded up via my iphone with the bluetooth as well. So I don't need to plug the watch into anything to get the data.

If I run laps on the indoor track at the gym, it looks at my steps, cadence etc. same of course for outdoors. It's pretty accurate on swim distance but does not pick up kick sets but I don't need it for swimming anyhow a deck/pace clodk is all I need but it will be useful in the summer for open water swims. I finally have a watch that I can wear for the entire race where I can look at my total performance.

I put this watch into the "nice to have" category, not the "have to have".

For the two years prior I simply used an inexpensive Timex ironman watch and an iphone app called Strava. I would take my iphone with me on rides and runs and the GPS worked just fine. I have an arm band for the watch during running and I would just put the phone in my back pocket of my tri or bike jersey during the ride. I also have a phone mount so I can see my bike speed/distance etc. during rides.

As others have stated, other lower cost GPS watches are available plus you can get heart rate with some of those if that's what you're looking for.
2016-01-01 2:14 PM
in reply to: jeffnboise

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Subject: RE: First GPS watch
Originally posted by jeffnboise

Originally posted by g_shotts Below is a link that you may want to check out. My advice is to figure out what features you must have and those you'd like, then compare your list against what the market offers. For me, I want GPS, Heart Rate, ability to auto-lap and long battery life........all the other wiz-bang stuff is stuff I don't use.....so, I can get everything on my list from a whole bunch of products in the $100-$200 range. http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2015/11/winter-sports-gadget-recommendat...

^this^

Get an entry level Garmin/Soleus/Polar etc. and you're set.  Use the savings on decent wetsuit, wheels, gear, etc.  Good Luck!




Ditto. I'm a Polar watch person, on my 3rd version and currently using the M400.
2016-01-03 5:32 PM
in reply to: #5158027

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Subject: RE: First GPS watch
I have experience with the Garmin 310, 910, and 920. Last year I used a 920 all year, and it's a pretty nice watch. I ended up selling it and going back to the 910 because I thought it did 95% of what I wanted. I miss the training mode in pool swims and Bluetooth uploads. The first gen running dynamics did nothing for me, and I already had a foot of for indoor running. There are a few things I like about the 910 better. You can hit the lap button while swimming for manual laps, and I thought it was more accurate for running and cycling. Just one person's opinion.


2016-01-04 2:53 PM
in reply to: #5158894

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Subject: RE: First GPS watch
I had the big fancy one and never used it. It was huge on me. I never had it or had it charged when I wanted to work out. When my husband's 305 died I gave it to him and he bought me the really basic 15.

I love it! I wear it as a regular wrist watch (the small one) so I always have it when I want to run or bike. I have gotten so much more use out of it.

I agree with those who say think about how you plan to use it.
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