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Customer Review

387 of 432 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Seriously flawed device, June 12, 2012
By 
This review is from: Garmin Forerunner 910XT GPS-Enabled Sport Watch with Heart Rate Monitor (Wireless Phone Accessory)
About me:
Ultra runner. Put in lots of miles both on roads and trails. I don't use the watch for swimming or cycling so I will make no comments regarding those features. I have owned the first generation Forerunner, a 205, 305, a Globalsat G-Sport 625M, and a Timex Run Trainer GPS.

The Good:
As a runner who routinely does runs which last in excess of 8 hours, I need a GPS watch with plenty of battery life. The 910XT claims 20 hours with GPS turned on; although I never fully drained the watch, I can vouch for it having a solid battery. Also, the backlight on the device is extremely bright--brighter than any other GPS watch. The form factor is an improvement over previous generation Forerunners. Built-in altimeter.

The Acceptable:
The customizable fields remain virtually unchanged from previous Forerunner models--not a problem for me, but don't expect revolutionary new features in your data fields for running. The unit has a vibration feature--this is beneficial since the "audible" alarm feature quit working consistently within a few months of using the device (like both the 205 & 305 were prone to do). Still uses ANT+ for syncing; would have liked to see a WiFi and Bluetooth solution as well.

The Bad:
The Garmin Forerunner 910XT almost assuredly contains flawed hardware; Garmin pushed the release date back by months (missing the Christmas season) and then rolled it out only in limited quantities admitting that there was a hardware "issue" although they never would state what it was. From the moment it was released users (myself included) began to experience a consistent set of problems with the device, yet Garmin refused to engage users on their forums or provide info on the status of firmware updates. It took them approximately 3.5 months to release the latest firmware (2.50) but they failed to fix the most serious problems--and those are some of the most fundamental for the device. I highly recommend anyone considering buying this device to read the 910XT forums at the Garmin site for the most up to date information regarding user experience. Since I don't cycle or swim, I will not comment in-depth on those issues, however I will note that countless cyclists have reported that the device shuts itself off when using the bike mount. As a runner, I have personally encountered a few problems, two of which I consider very serious. First, the "instant pace" feature has never worked well on the 910XT; the latest firmware update has addressed this problem somewhat, but it is still not fixed. This is inexcusable since it has worked in every other generation of the Forerunner series. More importantly, however, is that the unit will turn itself off if you are running a "course" uploaded to the device. As mentioned previously, the unit also shuts itself off at times whilst cycling. Garmin was alerted to this problem by scores of customers from the first week the device was released; the newest firmware fails to fix it leaving me to conclude that there is a hardware/design flaw that cannot be overcome with firmware. Also, the mapping feature included as part of the course is seriously flawed (whereas it had worked perfectly well in previous generations); the redraw/refresh rate of the maps is horribly slow; the maps will often disappear from the screen whilst running as well.

Other Thoughts:
Anyone considering purchasing the 910XT is most likely a serious athlete well acquainted with Garmin's Forerunner line. Although the Forerunner line has been highly regarded, the 910XT shows signs that the hardware isn't up to par with the myriad tasks it is trying to accomplish. If tons of users are reporting that the 910XT shuts itself off in mid-workout (both cycling and running) and after 3.5 months of waiting for firmware updates the issue still isn't fixed, you have to really be dense to believe that it's a minor problem.

I highly suspect that Garmin will release an "improved" version of this watch (much like they did with the 405CX line)that fixes many of the problems (with new hardware). Until then, my advice is to purchase the 310XT as a suitable substitute or just wait. And whatever you do, check the Garmin forums for updated issues prior to committing to buy this device--the 910XT isn't a gamble worth taking with your hard earned money.
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Tracked by 5 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 21 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 9, 2012 12:09:10 PM PDT
thank you so much tobor 8th man, you told it like it is and this really helped me and saved me some hard earned money to spend on 910xt's successor, once garmin has finally got it right. I'm a marathon runner and open water swimmer, and have enjoyed garmins for a few years now (none in water yet). Your report tells me that garmin not only has a problem with this particular watch, as their software has been traditionally flawed, patched and repatched, i conclude that garmin has a quality problem in their genes. They are a great company and i will certainly stick with them, but they need to solve their root problem for once and for all. Thanks again, norberto.

Posted on Aug 5, 2012 12:48:20 PM PDT
Yun Lin says:
Starting from the 310, 405 series, Garmin went to a 4 second "smart" recording interval, vs. the 205/305 where you have the option to measure/record data at 1 sec interval. i wonder if this is related to the lack of accuracy in the instant pace. I've noticed that on the 310XT and 405CX I used, the instant pace seems to lag behind any pace change I have,

Posted on Aug 15, 2012 5:08:59 PM PDT
AmazonAddict says:
Can you comment on why so many others haven't complained of the same issues? DCRainmaker (DCRainmaker.com) who is pretty well known for extremely thorough GPS reviews gave the 910XT a very favorable review, and he himself is a triathlete and long distance runner. I agree, if the watch turns itself off in the middle of a training session, it's completely unacceptable. The pace issue I'm not as concerned about. A 4 second "smart" average for the pace just means the battery will likely last longer, than getting second by second pace information. How much will your pace really vary in 4 seconds time? Not trying to be difficult. I just bought this watch and want to know what to look out for. Tonight is my first run with it.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 15, 2012 7:38:25 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 15, 2012 7:43:56 PM PDT
tobor says:
Ray (DCRainmaker) has a good blog, but he also has a privileged relationship with Garmin where they give him free equipment. When they delayed the shipment of 910XTs in 2011, instead of communicating with customers (individuals and retailers) who had purchased directly from Garmin, and instead of issuing a press release, they gave Ray some info to release on his blog--making him the sole go-to-guy to find out what was going on last holiday shopping season. He also helps them develop/test their firmware. Although I enjoy his blog, he is not impartial or unbiased as it pertains to Garmin products.

The 910XT does have the problems (still) that I reported in my earlier review. As of 8/15/12 Garmin still hasn't released a new firmware to stop the watch from turning off while in use, hasn't fixed the altimeter, nor addressed the instant pace being wrong. If those issues do not concern you, then by all means purchase the watch. My opinion is this: it has been over 7 months since Garmin's flagship Forerunner was released and they still haven't released a fix for some very basic functions that were advertised (and worked in previous Forerunners). This is not merely my opinion; the Garmin forums are replete with other athletes having identical issues. I believe the watch must have either a design or hardware problem that cannot be "fixed" in firmware--if it did, surely after 7+ months Garmin would have done so. If you do not need the swimming functions of the 910XT, you're well advised to purchase the 310XT instead as it is fairly comparable, cheaper, and proven.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 15, 2012 7:58:28 PM PDT
AmazonAddict says:
I see your point about DCRainmaker. I mean "don't bite the hand that feeds you" right? I ran tonight for the first time with the 910XT. 8 miles. No, it didn't turn off. YES, the current pace was ALL OVER THE PLACE. You were totally right on that one for sure. It could vary as much as 2 minutes/mile in either direction, and I was keeping a pretty constant pace. I actually thought it was measuring the pace of my arm moving forward, rather than my body as a whole.
So I'm confused on what to do. I can certainly return this and pick up a 310XT, saving money in the process. But...I'm a triathlete. Not only does this thing have multiple swim capabilities above the 310XT, but the battery life does appear to be better.
I was wondering if it would be more beneficial to use AVERAGE PACE instead. Yeah, it's a little inconvenient...or even, AVERAGE LAP PACE. If you set the AUTO LAPS to 1/2 or 1/4 mile, and it's displaying your AVG LAP PACE, then you're still getting a pretty accurate reading of how fast you're currently moving.
I guess I'll give it another try, playing with AVG PACE instead of current pace. Assuming the thing doesn't turn off on me, and I can deal with the pace issues, I'll probably stick with it and upgrade when they release something better.
If the AVG PACE also jumps around like crazy, I'll probably be returning it for the 310XT.
I even changed the recording setting from 4 seconds to 1 second. Made no difference at all as far as the pace jumping around. Thanks for all the help. I guess in the end, the 310XT would allow me to wear the watch during an entire triathlon, swim to bike to run. Ultimately, that is what I really needed.

Posted on Nov 1, 2012 1:53:46 PM PDT
jeb says:
Great review. Any significant improvements since the Aug 28 2012 firmware update? (2.60) Are you still using this watch? Is the 310XT still your recommendation over this?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 8, 2013 8:10:39 PM PST
PHA says:
I have both the 310xt and the 910xt. The 910xt is far superior. In swimming it is way better than the 310xt. There are fewer bugs with the most recent update. All garmins have problems from time to time but the 910 is the best of the lot

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 20, 2013 4:32:34 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 20, 2013 4:33:01 AM PST
Neil Kiser says:
I can't speak to this particular situation with the 910XT, but I just finished reading his (DCRainmaker's) write-up on the Edge 810 and it was a scathing review of Garmin and their failures. There's just no way anyone could read that review and come away thinking he is in Garmin's back pocket. Perhaps at the time of this 910XT situation that was not true. (and I have absolutely ZERO relationship with DCRainmaker - have no clue who he is).

Posted on Mar 11, 2013 10:12:42 AM PDT
Good to know...thanks for the review. The 405CX was a horrible device. I really think Garmin should refund anyone who purchased it.

Posted on Jun 22, 2013 2:30:17 PM PDT
-Cush- says:
Now that it has been a year later, have you seen any improvements with firmware updates? I learned the Wasatch 100 course by putting the course in my Forerunner 305, but it only has a 10 hour battery. I have seriously considered getting the 910xt, but since I would be using a course file and since you mentioned that is when the watch shuts itself off, I would want to verify that the problem had been corrected before getting it. They are changing the last 25 miles of the course this year and I plan to learn it with a course file loaded into my watch.
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