Great Quality Investment for Triathletes
So I held off on purchasing one of these for my first few triathlons. Then I had the opportunity to rent one from the Garmin Store in Chicago for the week I was visiting for work. WOW! I was hooked.
Many other reviews online cover the specific features of the watch (DCRainmaker's review is the most comprehensive, as usual). I'll cover how I personally use the watch and maybe that will help you make the decision on whether to purchase.
Previously, I was just writing down my pool swim workouts and speeds. I was using a Garmin Edge 500 for my bike workouts and a Forerunner 610 for my running. The 910xt changed my training life.
Swimming: First of all, great for outdoor swimming! It's actually waterproof (unlike the 610) and maps/measures distance outdoors in water. This is great because otherwise it's pretty tough to log outdoor lake-type workouts. For the pool though, this goes above and beyond. Set it to the pool length you're in and you are good to go. What really is great about this is the data from the swim. Upload it online and it shows EVERYTHING. Max speed, strokes per length, averages, total distance, lengths, stroke type. EVERYTHING. Before I was a lot less consistent on timing. Now I have every piece of swim data at my fingertips. Helped me improve tremendously and stay consistent in my workouts (and better track online my totals).
One of my favorite parts is that you can set it up to beep/vibrate at certain distances. It's nice because I can set for 600yds for my initial warm-up and then just zone out and swim until it vibrates. MUCH easier than counting laps and losing count. When I do longer distance swims, I set it to beep every 500 yards, so I know I swim until it has beeped 4-5 times and I can reassess my pace at each 500yd interval. I have improved significantly since I got the watch because it inspires me to put the numbers up and because I can focus more on my stroke and less on counting how many laps left or whatever.
Truly outstanding going from a regular watch/nothing to this. It's like comparing kid's tee ball to the NY Yankees.
Biking: Great for biking! I tried the quick release kit and was not a fan though. I like lots of data and this really didn't do it for me. Four fields per screen and I have to scroll to get more? Nah. My Edge 500 will remain a fixture on my bike because it has 8 data fields, which I use for the basics + heart rate and power. And the quick release really makes this watch more bulky in my opinion.
Where this watch really shines during biking I think it that I can hit start at the same time as on my Edge (wearing the 910 on my wrist) and it will simultaneously track my workout with the Edge. Why is this beneficial? Because the Edge will last for a couple weeks between recharges so it can stay on the bike and I don't have to think about it. The 910 ANT+ syncs with my computer as soon as I walk into the house. Basically making it MUCH more convenient to sync with my computer and Garmin Connect. No more finding the Edge's cable, connecting it, opening the software, importing, exporting, etc. Now I just walk into my house post-ride and it's usually synced with the computer and Garmin Connect before I even sit down. Can't beat that! Plus it doesn't hurt to have two copies of the data (on 910 and on Edge) in case something is lost.
Running: Functions as a normal running watch! Great, large display. Accurate (since the update) GPS. I like that I can double-tap the screen to get the backlight to come on.
Racing: It's king in racing. Multi-sport mode lets you log everything without hassle. Just press start multisport before the race and press lap as you run into and out of the transitions! Really easy to use.
Other: Used it to track my climb up Mt. Rainier. Worked flawlessly even in the cold. I was impressed that the battery lasted.
Gripes: One thing I liked about my Forerunner 610 is that it was a watch until you put it into sport mode. Told time and didn't use GPS or anything other than marginal battery life in day-to-day use. The 910xt is a sports watch first. There didn't seem to be any provisions for just using it as a watch. There is a workaround where you make "Time of Day" take up a full screen and just use it like that. However if you do this in any mode but "Pool Swim" mode, GPS stays on until you go into the settings and change it to be off.
This is annoying because when I'm headed out to bike or run, I would like it to just function as a watch until I press a button (like on the 610) to get everything into sport mode and turn GPS on.
A good solution, in my opinion, would be to allow GPS to stay off in the "Other" sport mode. Because I use this so rarely, I could just switch to that mode and have a clock. That, or have a "Clock" mode where the face displayed the traditional clock and calendar date with GPS and sensors off.
Other than the Clock thing, it's been a great watch. Very durable and I use it for all my triathlon training as well as hiking and mountain climbing (though the Suunto Ambit would be better for the latter two if you're a serious climber and need a good gps watch).
The Holy Grail
What a shock when I got home and realized my new wrist computer was not a watch! More on that later.
This gem has 4 sport modes and the ability to set up 4 screens in each mode, each screen can measure up to 4 different parameters. Are yo starting to get a feel of how much data one can monitor on oneself while working out. The list of measurable parameters is incredible. Too long to list here but go to the garmin website and you will be totally impressed.
Being a 52 year old all weather athlete with failing eyes this is the only wrist computer that I can read in the dark and the rain. It was pouring this morning and through a water covered screen in the dark with the world's largest back light and numbers I could easily see all the parameters on the screen. Same thing trying to read the screen through my foggy swim goggles in the pool. I just cann't see numbers getting any larger or brighter. Way to go Garmin.
The battery truly last 21 hours if not more. Now I don't have to carry a battery charger with me if I am going to do a morning and evening workout.
As for not being a watch. No, there is no watch mode per say. It appears to always be in a sport mode. One can however set the time of day as one of the parameters to measure in any or all sports modes and just leave the device on that screen during the day. Awesome.
The expandable wrist attachment has got to be the cat's meow for putting the device on the outside of one's sleeve during winter sports. No more having to pull off your glove and roll up the sleeve in order to see the screen. Brilliant.
Garmin, you have surpassed all expectations this time. Thank yhou
Watch is great - synchronizing painful!
I bought this to replace my 410 for triathlon use. From what I've found so far, I like the watch itself. Pairs with the HR monitor and footpod quickly and easily. Garmin seems to have gotten more organized with their menus - these are easy and intuitive. The buttons aren't quite, but they include some tips right on screen for the first time user, which can be disabled later. Nice. However, it doesn't seem that GPS can be completely disabled for winter - a little annoying. You do have to make sure to push the wall hard for swim laps on the pool. Have not used it in open water yet. However, as seemingly with all Garmin units that synch to your computer/internet, this is the big drawback. Setup took quite a while. First, Garmin seems to always say something will be automatic, and then it's not. So you get stuck in the troubleshooting guides for a good amount of time. Then the firmware was out of date, so I had to update that, which involved internet security settings, downloads, etc and a 20 minute download once all of that was set. After this, the Garmin Connect site wouldn't work until I changed the internet settings back to standard. All said, it took me almost three hours to get this 'fast and easy' setup done. Given those drawbacks, and if you don't care about swim data, I'd be tempted to try the new Timex watches. I use Training Peaks vs Connect for my tracking and planning anyway since it's better. If I weren't already on the Garmin trail with my 410 and 500, that's what I'd do.
Better than the 310Xt,but...
The major advantage of the 910XT over the 310XT is the swimming features. Since I have trouble counting strokes, laps and elapsed time whilst pool swimming I decided to upgrade. The 910XT is a decent swim watch. I am still in the process of learning the swimming features.
Overall I love this watch! Garmin usability is great, especially compared to Sports Watches from Finland. I love the customized displays.
It has some nice usability improvements over the 310XT, namely only 3 vs 11 button presses if you want to turn off the GPS for treadmill running. Switching displays is more predictable since it always takes 1 press to switch. These features could be added to the 310XT in a future software update though.
Unfortunately there are a couple of minuses. I am using the older HRM fabric strap and I have noticed that the HRM is erratic with the 910XT. Sometimes the HRM goes to greater than 100% of my max HRM. I have to temporarily remove the strap to reset. Then it is OK. I never noticed this on the 310XT.
Also whilst running I noticed that the GPS is a little slower than the 310XT. Measured distances are slightly longer over the same course. I think that the 910XT uses different smoothing algorithms. GPS measured speed is never perfect I just think that the 310XT was a little better. These are things that Garmin will most likely fix in future software updates.
Overall I would recommend this watch to Multisport Atheletes as there is no other swim watch that also has GPS.
Garmin Forerunner 910XT
I compete in triathlons and running races. If this worked all the time, I would give it 5 stars! There is no other GPS that does what this one does. That being said, there are definite drawbacks. It is finicky and breaks easily. The heart rate monitor designed for Garmin is junk. It stops working by either not reading your heart rate, reading it too high, and/or reading it too low. It has done all three within the period of 5 minutes. It is bad enough that it stops working during training, but it can be devastating during a race. I have run 2 half marathons where it stopped working, and three triathlons. Mine has never kept track of swimming yardage on an outdoor swim. It is difficult to set up the programming, and where certain settings are is not intuitive. I love it when it works, and hate it when it does not. Usually, it will not read my heart rate accurately for anywhere from the first five minutes of a run up to the first 4 miles. This one was areplacement as I ordered one in September 2012 that stopped working properly and developed water under the screen despite the claim that it is waterproof. If Garmin would develop a new heart rate monitor strap that worked as well as a Polar, I would be much happier. In fact, I specifically bought my Garmin from REI because REI has such a super return policy and I knew from personal experience and internet research, how reliability is a huge problem for the Garmin 910XT.
This watch does everything it says
I bought this hoping it would help me log my training, particularly swimming. The swim log is amazing. It records your laps and sets and is able to distinguish between different stroke types. I doubted that it would be accurate for indoor lap swimming, but it is. It's nice to come home and comparing different workouts or the same workout to see how I'm progressing from set to set. When doing long sets I sometime space out and forget how many laps I've done. The watch easy easy to read even under water on a flip turn to see how far you've gone.
I added the bike speed cadence sensor and really only use it to log my workouts. I still rely on my bike computer during training rides. Both the Garmin and my bike computer are very close with their data, so it is nice to come home and know my log is up to date.
On running I upgraded from my Garmin 305. I've added the foot pod for treadmill workouts and it to is very accurate. The only negative I've found is that the pace appears a bit off while running, but ends up being correct when it shows my mile splits.
The watch is smaller than the 305 and has a good battery life. I'm very happy with it mainly that I know spend less time trying to keep a log.
For a Triathlete- It does what you need
I have ran several traithlons including Kona and Ironman AZ- but with the Garmin 310 because the 910 wasnt available- The 310 is a good device- however the 910 includes open water and lap swimming metrics and timing... On the 310, my 2.4 mile swim in Kona registered as a 3.15 mile swim- it was all over the map. I have yet to do a great deal of Open Water swim events- but the few times I have used it- it worked great! The Lap features I love- as it keeps count on the lap as I swim through without touching the device... it senses the direction change. (and I dont flip turn).
The start up is much faster than previous Garmin Watches I have owned (305, 310, and this one). Seems to have a better receiver- I can pull a signal faster than I ever could.. and sometimes indoors!
Overall, I would really recommend this product over previous versions... only cons I would give it is that the screens are kinda dated- (nearly the same as it was on the 305)... Its still a bulky watch even tho its much smaller than the otherdevices.
Good experience so far
I bought this to replace my 310xt, which was stolen in a car break-in (bummer). It is essentially the same watch, but with a slimmer form factor and barometric altimeter, both of which are important to me. I was a little hesitant to buy this one as reviews out on the net identify a number of performance and reliability problems. Plus I could have gotten the 310xt for fairly cheap at this point. However, I took comfort in REIs 100% guarantee. I am glad I did. I haven't had any performance problems and the new features are worth it. In particular, it is less of a brick on the wrist. One of the default fields on Screen 1 for running workouts is current pace, which is not accurate (and is likely the source of many poor reviews out there). I changed it to lap pace, as it was on the 310xt by default. This is a much more useful and accurate field in my opinion. All other data are accurate, current pace is just kind of an impossibility in a GPS based system.
Great upgrade from the 405. Even though the face is a little bit larger,it has a flatter,less bulky screen. Adding the water resistance and all the swim training features is a huge +. Tons of options of info while training. So much stuff, still trying to figure out how i can utilize all of it. My HR monitor tends to pick up better and more accurately with this model. Only downside so far as been the pace time during running. Its a little bit jumpy, but i only have had it a couple weeks. I am hoping the satellites will pick it up better more times i am out.
Overall, best piece of tri training gear i have purchased. Downloading all your data on to Garmin Connect is a great bonus to track your workouts.
Long live IRONMAN!
All in One watch with GPS
After a couple of years using a Garmin FR60 as my goto triathlon training watch the band finally broke. I've been looking at the FR910xt and the FR310 but i really couldn't stand the color and the bulkyness of the watch. Given it is much sleaker in design than the FR305 with better waterproofing the Orange color just was a big turn off. The FR910xt has much more functionality when used as a swim/bike/run watch and I also use it during my weight/cross training. That is something a true running or swimming watch couldn't do. This one does it all, Since I'm used to programming Garmin pages I set everything up just like I want and have the data during training or racing I need to perform the best I can. #thumbsup