Today Garmin released a new firmware update for the Garmin FR610, which aims to fix the accuracy issues that have been noticed by some users. You likely saw my 2011 GPS Accuracy Test Results not too long ago, which found the FR610 to be consistently short (about 2% on most courses, upwards of 10% on some shorter distance routes).
Shortly after I published that series I was provided a new firmware update to test out that aimed to address some of these problems. Unfortunately, I couldn’t speak about it publically since it was under embargo until public release.
Since then I’ve had a chance to do both regular run tests, as well as re-run some of my GPS accuracy tests to see how it faired with the new update. This test will discuss the GPS accuracy issues, but from a general standpoint, I haven’t see any repercussions of the firmware update otherwise – and even used it in my ‘A’ race – Ironman Boise 70.3.
But let’s start with just a general run with two Garmin GPS watches – the running focused FR210 and the FR610. I simply started both at the same time (just pressed start, no other funky button combos), and then ran at a 7ish mile pace. Was started I otherwise ignored it, though both watches had either distance auto-lap (FR210) or distance alerts (FR610) on, simply because they were turned on that way from a previous run.
My run route was one of my standard ones that I do multiple times a week. It includes a pretty even combination of a few miles of open air (little tree coverage), a few miles of canopy tree coverage, over half a dozen bridges to go over, and a lot of turns.
Throughout the run both units tracked within .01-.02 virtually the entire time. Sometimes one would be a touch bit higher, and then sometimes the other. But basically they were doing the same thing at the same time.
When all was said and done, here was the results…pictures speak louder than words:
(Calorie differences are simply due to the fact that I don’t have the health settings set the same on both watches)
As you can see, about as close as I can get without being exactly spot on – and at only .01 miles off on a 6.5 mile course that means they were within 99.846% of each other.
But I wasn’t content with just that. From there I decided to re-test three of the five tests I did. Specifically I tested:
1) The Straight and Narrow (1-mile test)
2) The Bridge Underpass Test
3) The Rambling Loop Test
I did all three tests on a bike at relatively low speed, simply because I was trying to knock them out more efficiently. Last time though I didn’t see any appreciable difference in the FR610 specifically when it came to accuracy differences between cycling/running/walking (some of the other units did see differences however).
With that, let’s get straight to the results. On the left you’ll see the summary results for each of the three tests I did a few weeks ago, and on the right you’ll see the new test results with the latest firmware update:
Yup…seriously. Every test was exactly spot on.
Like before though, I only showed the numbers that you the user sees though are the mileage numbers noted above. For fun though, I did look at the mile test – which should be 5,280 feet – and it measured it as 5,273ft. Pretty impressive.
Also note that to date, no watch I’ve ever tested has scored a straight 100% across any three tests. And while I didn’t have the time to head into the twisty tree course, I’d guess it’ll improve some there (though I suspect that like the rest of the units it’ll still have some general GPS issues).
All in all I think this is a pretty vast improvement from a firmware standpoint. Like I said before, I’m always willing to retest products if/when a firmware update addresses an issue. Hopefully we’ll see some other companies do the same with other watches that have performed poorly in the past.
You can pickup the FR610 firmware fix here…
Thanks for reading, and feel free to ask any questions in the comments. Thanks!