Thursday, April 5, 2012

Garmin Forerunner 910XT Review

My previous experience with Garmin doesn’t have a good ending. I had 2 units of GF405CX death in 10 months time. As I had no access to the service report, I can’t confirm the reason of the fatality, but I think it will mostly due to water or moisture immerse into the unit. But the true is I don’t bath or swim with the unit, the only practice I think may ruin the unit is I rinse the unit under the water tape after each run. Which I think is a must as I sweat a lot in every runs. In the end, I really not impressed by Garmin “IPX7” protection (rated submersion up to 1meter and 30minutes in water) in most of their Forerunner products range.

I planned to switch back to Polar (my HRM is Polar FT4, and it’s still functioning well). But I would say after the survey, the technology gaps between Polar and Garmin is huge! We all agreed that Polar is more specialized in HRM and Garmin is more specialized in GPS. I need the unit mainly for pace feedback and measure the running distances. I will need a GPS unit or at least a footpod. Polar GPS and footpod are really bulky and costly (RM900~RM1500 for the entry model FT60 or RS300X to high end model RCX5, with GPS or footpod). This price tag brings GF910XT (which is designed for triathletes) into picture. The list price for GF910XT is about RM1500, but it’s a compact unit with GPS built-in. I am not able to decide which one to go. The final kick came when I heard that TheMarathonShop is doing a promotion with Brooks Half Marathon and selling at RM1341. I decided I will give Garmin another try as this unit is rated water proof 50m.
Items in the box (image from web):
1. Forerunner 910XT
2. Heart rate strap
3. ANT USB data port
4. USB Charger (with AC adaptor)
5. Expander strap
6. Quick start guide and… some leaflets
The infrastructure of the GF910XT is same with the GF405CX, the HR strap, ANT USB port and USB charger are all exchangeable. So, the ANT port and charger still wrapped nicely inside the box until today.
Old and New version of Heart Rate Straps, both compatible
New HR Strap, with removable transmission unit
First thing you need to do, register your product with Garmin Connect. The unit will properly need some update on its firmware. GF910XT use a WebUpdater to update the firmware, but don’t know why the WebUpdater couldn’t detect my unit. I used the normal way, download the firmware into the ANT port, and push it over to the unit (the same way I done with GF405CX). It worked! HERE is the link to perform this update. It’s synchronize the workouts records to the same Garmin Training Center, you only need to pair it with ANT port, then change the default unit to GF910XT. And you can push your workout plans and other saved interval workout into the unit.
To add new device
To set new device as default unit, also a list of my previous GF405CX :P
Compared to GF405CX, the unit has a bigger display and more flexible wrist strap. The user interface is straight forwards. The main difference is the type of sports, Running, Cycling and Swimming. The unit is designed for multisports and triathletes, so the fields list will be a bit too long, especially for a casual runner like me (I like the recommendation from DCRainmaker, “like bringing a gun to a knife fight”). But after few trials on the Running setup, you will properly know all the fields and setup.
Compare with GF405CX
My first run with GF910XT is Brooks Half Marathon. As I am not really familiar with the fields, I put up some non-sense and some fields repeated. Monitor the run solely based on the Visual Partner’s target pace. Learned the lesson, and I am now happy with the fields display on Running. When I first put on the unit, it seems to be lots bigger than GF405CX, but as the wrist strap is more flexible, it give a better fit. No issue to adapt to a new unit. The response speed on GPS signal is excellent, and the battery life is great! I am not worry now if the battery runs flat before I completing a marathon.

Like what expected, there are still a tones of other functions in the unit I had not used or explored. Only tried to swim in the hotel swimming pool with the unit once (but my intention is to test out the waterproof only, I can’t really swim). I will properly stick to running for some time, no intention to move on to triathlon in near future (at least need to learn how to swim first :P).

Overall, from my 4 weeks experience, this unit is really good and suits my needs.
- User interface is easy and straightforward.
- Water proof 50m, this is the main reason I brought this unit.
- Long battery life, up to 20 hours. I don’t need to worry if the battery runs out before my race. I can even explore into Ultra marathon :)
- It does vibrate! Come with vibration alert that enabling lots of other alerting function like pace, heart rate, calories and run-walking strategy.
- Price, it’s on the expensive end if you use it only for running like me. But I think it really worth if used for triathlon.
- Inaccurate current pace, not sure if this is my own problem or the unit firmware, but no big issue, the average pace still working perfectly.
- No display of battery level in percentage during normal use. The normal view only showing the proximate power bars, and these bars are not proportion! The last bar properly still have 50% power remained. You can see the number only when you charging it.


  1. I'm quite satisfied with my Forerunner 610. It has everything I need for a run, somewhat like the 910Xt but minus the swimming part, not that I can swim anyway ... LOL!

    But it's a gorgeous piece of technology :D

    1. I am happy with the function in my previous Forerunner405CX too, but the IPX7 really can't take my abuse :P

  2. Beautiful watch. I was so close to getting it but then i don't swim either!

  3. You should check out the Magellan Switch Up. This is gonna knock the socks out of the 910 :)

  4. Hi - I have recently moved to Malaysia and am considering getting the 910xt..could you recommend somewhere to purchase that is competitively priced?


    1. You can visit any of the Garmin authorized dealer location (AECO, google search). Or you can search TheMarathonShop on FB, they are dealer too and often organize some discount on they products during races they organized.