Garmin Forerunner 920XTa Red White

Garmin Forerunner 920XT – What’s The Point?

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!

Garmin Forerunner 920XT Price
Is The Garmin Forerunner 920XT Really Worth All That Gold?

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
Touch Screen No Yes
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
Memory Unspecified 2 GB
Sensors Altimeter Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Radio  None Stereo FM
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
Vibrate Yes Yes
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
Waterproof Yes No

 

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.

Apple Watch Heart Rate Sensor
Apple Watch With Built In Heart Rate Sensor

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!

22 thoughts on “Garmin Forerunner 920XT – What’s The Point?”

  1. your post it’s perfect, i find 910xt also the best balance betwen price and functionality
    i had 310xt, it was thick and very inaccurate, moreover without pressure sensor
    920xt cost very much and give some plus smart function not so essential for running and trail running as i do.
    910xt give pace, vertical speed, vertical meter ascend, really accurate
    and that’s enough for me.
    function as email notification, running dynamic????
    i’m very doubtful about the usefulness
    http://andreadugato.blogspot.it/

  2. Actually the reason I’m on this page is because I’m looking for advice on how to connect to my heart rate monitor. 920x has dropped it and I cannot re connect it. I deleted and tried searching for new monitor but its not picking it up.

    Also I don’t see the point in slagging James’s off because he ONLY runs a 1.32 half and you run a 1.18. SO WHAT you sound like a big child to me.

    James you have made some interesting points about lack of technology inside a Garmin. And when it comes to the website. For a company as big as Garmin to have a website down and putting bits up at a time it is disgraceful.

    1. I agree, the writer made such a stupid comparison. I can buy a computer box with better specs for a cheaper price than a top of the range phone, does that mean I should buy a computer instead of a phone? No, you simply cant compare the two. The writer clearly did not apply his mind.

  3. It’s a multi sport watch for people who are into sports such as triathlon. Why you review this watch against an individual discipline defies logic. This watch can track on ocean swim , that is revolutionary along with the ability to track running cadence and running efficiciency and from other reviews a V02 max function that is very accurate. It can also tell you change strokes quite accurately while swimming. To have one device that fits to your wrist and isn’t cumbersome is an absolute game changer for any other company making devices for the multi sport market. Awesome stuff Garmin this is what I have been waiting for.

  4. The device also looks terrible. Check out the Sunnto Ambit3. This has a similar spec but is much better looking. The Garmin ecosystem remains attractive though. If you’ve got vector pedals you’re less likely to go for a Sunnto.

  5. I am on a 20,000 miles run around the world. My trusty 310xt has seen me across Australia and the USA. It’s now time to replace it. I can often run for up to 13 hours a day. A smartphone would not last that long. Only the 310xt (a brilliant device) and the 920xt are on my list for a replacement device. I’m beginning to think that another 310xt may be the way to go. There doesn’t seem to be a big enough advance in the tech between these 2 models for my needs. Especially when you look at the price of the 920xt.

  6. What is inacceptable form my side is the announcement beginning of octobre and then the continuous delays before the product gets finally available. It is definitely a good product but surely a poor company behaviour from the initial marketing to the customer support which is practically unexistant.

  7. I agree with your view. You cannot justify a premium for a product like this. Its a matter of time, smart devices are catching up. They will make a wearable device, which can give a Garmin its run for money. A few years ago, Apple was leading, today its playing catch up. But along the way, it ate up nokia, blackberry, the walkman and shook up the entire music industry. It shook up the camera industry. Google and Apple together are going to be the death of Garmins as a GPS device. Who buys a Garmin today for navigation in your car? Now that Apple and others also have wearable watch like devices, you’re going to get a watch from where you can do a video call, which can give you routes, and do all the cool stuff athletes – casual and intense alike want.

    Technology has to be made affordable to customers, and you get more and more people to that.. Garmin has an edge, they should do better, if they want to keep that edge!

  8. You know this is the first site post I have commented on and it is a direct reply to your development logic. You answered your own statement. If you don’t like the metrics anymore then don’t blame the watch. The previous model was impressive enough and incredibly robust. This garmin is a niche device whereas a phone is a mass market device. Can’t compare envelopment speed.

    The improvements are quite significant including all realm of Bluetooth and Wifi, notifications and colour screen all in a small package. If you are happy with the metrics of your 310 then stick to it. Re phone advances I would also think that on real terms it’s camera processor and screen. The rest has been apps and ecosystems.

    Not many phones will last 10 hours with the screen and gas on.

  9. You comements are I interesting , but this watch is not for a casual athlete. I liked reading it though, I have not really seen any negative ones yet.
    “apples to pears,” is very correct, this is a training watch designed with that in mind. The smart watch features are just a neat little addition. And as I am sure you can attest to, if your hands are sweaty from running, a touch screen is useless. The hatdwear tech is such a waste of time to look at. Take what you want to accomplish, and find the device that helps you get there. What does it matter if it is a processor that you’ll never actually utilize? Example tell me any apps that can’t run on an iPhone 4 even though there’s an iPhone 6? (Screen size asidd) But I digress.
    If you are training for a triathalon especially an ironman this is a good tool. If you watch a finish line you will see this watch there on 90% of the Athletes. Well at least it’s predecessor. And there is a competing model, Polar v800 which costs the same and doesn’t even do as much.
    But you’re right if you’re looking for a smart watch this is definitely not the watch for you.
    However if you’re truly training for something and really want to improve and want to have the numbers and information you need to do so then this is the tool you want. But like I said a good review of it from a different perspective.

    1. Perhaps I’m not an athlete – I run a 1:32 half marathon, my cycling is more impressive my swimming is marginally less impressive. I would say I’m a casual athlete and I don’t often compete. I just don’t care about metrics like I used to and I can’t see why the Garmin costs £390 – it’s barely any different to the old ones. I guess this posts is just my reaction to an expensive product I feel is poor value for money and relatively low tech.

      I appreciate your comment though Bo. Do you use Garmins?

      1. James 1.32 half is avg at best and this watch is clearly aimed at tri or ironman training were swimming is required .This watch is waterproof and gives input while swimming .I dont know where you are getting the price from as its available here in Australia for $450 which is half the price you have suggested.PS my half marathon PB is 1hr 18m,

    2. Also agree. But it was interesting to read a run down of Garmin’s price vs features.
      And an earlier poster mentioned that many people no longer use a dedicated sat nav unit now, preferring to opt for a phone with apps that do as good a job. So garmin’s market share is shrinking. They will need to do better than they are if they don’t want to go the way of the Nokia.
      If my phone was ANT+ so I could use my vector power pedals (note that other options now don’t force you to use ANT+ and that bluetooth power is already available), had a battery life that would last through a full ironman distance race, and that I could swim with, I would not have bought a 910xt or now my new 920xt.

    1. That’s true. Though I have to say that my Garmin 310XT is quite uncomfortable for long runs and the 920XT looks similar. I prefer to use a stopwatch for swimming as I can operate it faster at the side of the pool. Similar to as I said above, I’ve fallen out of love with monitoring metrics. I like ‘Total Time’ for swimming and running and ‘Total Time’, ‘Average Speed’ and ‘Current Speed’ for cycling + the maps.

      Thanks for your comment ‘Some Guy’, I like to hear other peoples views do you use a sports device – what metrics do you like to track?

      1. You must consider the improvements garmin have made. I use my 910xt for all of my Aussie rules training so i can see the data breakdown of my season. Allowing me to fast track my preparation compared to others in my team.
        My one big issue with the 910 is the inability to upload data to my phone on the spot.
        The new 920xt allows this, tracks vo2 on the bike, stride length and contact time with the ground. Plus a recovery coach to assist with post event training. Finally the ability to turn off all smart features so the watch will last up to 30 days is handy if you forget to charge it and only have 20% battery before you start training.
        There are other fixes like improved stroke identification and swimming drills but they are just software updates.

        I agree with john cooper in that if you are one of those people who likes the ‘idea’ of training but are not commited to the 5am mornings this isn’t for you instead buy a fitbit. But for those people who are at the stage of their training where analysis will help event prep and performance this is the watch for you.

      2. In the pool the 910xt is a great tool. It lets me keep focussed on my swimming. Losing count of laps no longer happens (the watch counts those) and its nice to know whether the pace i’m running is a few seconds faster than last month, or slower for the same perceived effort.
        its really a targeted niche market, when you spend 15 hours a week training for a long race, its nice to save the brain power for something more useful (like self motivation) than calculating pace per 100m in the pool ;)

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