I saw today that Garmin has announced a new sports watch, the Garmin Forerunner 920XT. At first I was very excited to see a shiny new Garmin Forerunner product. I’ve been expecting and anticipating some big advances in display resolution, connectivity and features in Garmin products for a while now.
My reasoning behind this is that other areas of mobile device tech are rapidly evolving and to remain competitive (or at least, interesting) Garmin would have to pull its sleeves up and make something more than a box with a GPS unit inside. Technically they have – they’ve made a box that works with the Russian GLONASS system too. But I’m my opinion it’s an underwhelming product to release in late 2014.
The Garmin Forerunner 920XT is listed on garmin.co.uk as costing a whopping £389.99. To put that into context with other mobile tec that’s more than the LG G3!
Just for fun, lets look at what hardware goes into each of these devices. I know it’s a bit ‘apple and pears’ but I’d like to compare what calibre of hardware you get for your money.
Garmin Forerunner 920XT vs LG G3 (Roughly Same Price, Very Different Hardware)
|Garmin Forerunner 920XT (Q4 2014)||LG G3|
|Weight||2.1 oz (61 g)||5.3 oz (149 g)|
|Display Size, WxH||1.1″ x 0.8″ (2.9 x 2.1 cm)||5.5″ (139 mm) Diagonal|
|Display Resolution, WxH||205 x 148 pixels||2560 x 1440 IPS pixels|
|GPS / GLONAS||GPS + GLONASS||GPS + GLONASS|
|Camera||None||Rear: 13 MP, F2.4 (LED Flash) and front: 2.1 MP, F2.0.|
|CPU||Unspecified||Snapdragon 801: Quad-core 2.5 GHz|
|GPU||None (at least not in a conventional sense)||Adreno 330 (Will run graphical apps including games)|
|Storage||Unspecified: 100 waypoints or 100 hours of activity data||16 GB|
|Removable Storage||None||microSDXC up to 128 GB|
|Sensors||Altimeter||Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass|
|Data||Ant+ and Bluetooth||GPRS + EDGE + Speed + WLAN + Bluetooth + NFC + Infrared + USB|
|Sound / Mic||Some Beeping||Proper music via speakers or headphone jack and a microphone|
|Mobile Network||None||GSM (2G) / HSDPA (3G) LTE (4G)|
|OS||Good at the limited things it’s designed for||Full mobile computer experience and ecosystem|
OK, so that was a little unfair, these devices are built to different specifications, for different purposes and largely for different demographics but I have always thought Garmin products are well overpriced when you look at the component breakdown and I think this proves it.
A fairer comparison might be to look at the Garmin Forerunner 920XT compared to it’s predecessors the Garmin Forerunner 910XT and 310XT.
What amazes me is how little has changed in five and a half years. Other portable computers such as phones and tablets have gone from strength to strength, and watches like the Apple Watch have been released, with a built in heart rate monitor no less! Garmin has only managed to incrementally improve their multi-sport watches at a huge price premium.
Three generations of Garmin Forerunner compared
|Garmin Forerunner 920XT (Q4 2014) £389.99||Garmin Forerunner 910XT (Q1 2012) £319.99||Garmin Forerunner 310XT (Q2 2009) £209.99|
|Physical Dimensions||1.9” x 2.2” x 0.5” (48 x 55 x 12.7 mm)||2.1″ x 2.4″ x 0.6″ (54 x 61 x 15 mm)||2.1″ x 2.2″ x 0.8″ (54 x 56 x 19 mm)|
|Weight||2.1 oz (61 g)||2.5 oz (72 g)||2.5 oz (72 g)|
|Display Size, WxH||1.1″ x 0.8″ (2.9 x 2.1 cm)||1.3″ x 0.8″ (33 x 20 mm)||1.3″ x 0.8″ (33 x 20 mm)|
|Display Resolution, WxH||205 x 148 pixels||160 x 100 pixels||160 x 100 pixels|
|Battery Life||Up to 24 hours in normal GPS mode; up to 40 hours in UltraTrac mode||Up to 20 hours||Up to 20 hours|
|GPS / GLONASS||GPS + GLONASS||GPS||GPS|
|Water Proofing||5 ATM (50m)||5 ATM (50m)||5 ATM (50m)|
Considering that the Garmin 310XT can be bought for less than £120 new (expect that price to drop again as news of the 920XT spreads) I think the £389.99 Garmin 920XT is a very expensive repackaging of yesteryears’ tech.
I just wonder how long it will be until other tech companies make robust products that will compete more directly with Garmin devices. What would an Apple, Samsung, LG, etc, sports watch look like I wonder?
How I Feel About The Garmin Forerunner 920XT
To summarise how I feel about the Garmin Forerunner 920XT I would say it’s not innovative or interesting enough to entice most athletes away from the older models (especially at its current price) and it pales in comparison with other technologies like phones and the new smart watches.
I use my Garmin 310XT for following cycle routes I’ve created and mapped out on Garmins terrible ‘Garmin Connect‘ website (that’s another story altogether). I also always have my phone in my jersey pocket. The Garmin Forerunner 920XT and 310XT are meant for running and swimming too, but the point stands even if I were using Garmin’s Edge devices.
The point is that when the Garmin Forerunner 920XT and Edge devices cost so much that I could buy a high end phone with an extended battery and a protective mount to attach the phone to my handlebars, the Garmin Forerunner 920XT seems redundant in most cases. With my phone I have GPS and GLONASS, excellent free maps of my choice, ample battery life for a day’s ride (with extended battery) superb crisp display, mobile internet and I can edit my route as I go. I need to carry my phone anyway so there might even be a weight saving to be had by replacing the Gamin with a phone mount and extended battery. As much as I love my Garmin 310XT I’m beginning to think it might be my last Garmin device.
What do you think? Is Garmin’s proposition becoming less clear? Do their sports devices have a future fighting against smart watches and phones? Most of all, I would love to know if you think that £389.99 for the Garmin Forerunner 920XT sounds like an attractive price or not?
Please let me know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading!