JUMP TO:

Garmin’s Biggest Competitor Is Their Own Software Instability

DSC_1323

To the casual observer, one might assume Garmin’s biggest competitors are Apple, Fitbit, and in certain cycling circles – Wahoo. But in reality, I’d disagree. Garmin’s biggest competitor is themselves. Or more specifically, their lack of focus on solving bugs that ultimately drive consumers to their competitors. In effect, my bet is the vast majority of time a person chooses a non-Garmin product over a Garmin one is not because Garmin lost the features or price battle. It’s because that person has been bit one too many times by buggy Garmin products.

And sure – that intro paragraph might seem unfair, after all I do record the vast majority of my own workouts on Garmin products without issue. But the reality is that the ‘Garmin bugginess’ is also true, and everyone knows it. The sole reason Wahoo has slowly gained market share in cycling GPS computers isn’t because they have a technologically more feature laden or better priced product (they don’t). It’s because they have a product that seemingly has less bugs (and also as everyone points out, because you can configure your data pages via phone app).

The reason someone chooses a Suunto watch over a Garmin Fenix series watch isn’t because Suunto has more outdoors features or even better accuracy these days (they don’t). It’s because Suunto spends the time to ensure the vast majority of bugs are never seen by customers. Be it hardware or software related issues, the products are just more dependable.

Which isn’t to say these other companies are perfect. Far from it. But this isn’t a post about whataboutism. It’s not about some random bug that Apple, Wahoo, or Polar hasn’t yet fixed. Or Suunto’s site. It’s about the a cultural problem Garmin seems to have around software stability and bugs, that appears to be ‘features first, stability later’.

Understanding the Scale:

DSC_0167

Before we talk bugs though, we do need to talk scale to put things into perspective. Any conversation that skips this isn’t really truthful.  Said differently, when I evaluate the steady stream of issues that land at my virtual doorstep via comments, e-mails, tweets, and carrier pigeons, I try and question a few things (no matter the brand):

A) Was someone just confused?
B) Was this already fixed in a firmware update?
C) If this is a legit issue, then is it widespread, or a very limited edge case?

Whether or not people want to hear it, the vast majority of items do tend to fall into buckets A & B above. That doesn’t mean the company (Garmin or otherwise) is not at fault. Perhaps the product user interface was poorly designed, or perhaps the experience was otherwise ripe for failure. But if ultimately the user (even on a technicality) did something ‘wrong’, then that roughly falls into those first two buckets.

It’s that last bucket (C) I’m more focused on. There, methodology goes like so:

A) When was the last time I saw/heard of this issue?
B) What’s the rough frequency of how often I hear of this issue?
C) Is this a super rare combination of factors/environments, or something that should always just work?
D) What’s the rough ratio of units shipped to problematic units

The first three are pretty easy. I’m trying to figure out if this is a one-off, which may never be seen again, or is this something that’s happening super frequently to a lot of people.

The last question though, the ratio, is trickier. But essentially I’m mentally doing a numbers game. For example, I know that while I might see 5-8 cases of a given problem on a Garmin Edge 520 compared to 1-2 instances of a problem on an Wahoo BOLT, I know that unit sales wise, in that scenario the Garmin actually trends better. That’s because if we look at the numbers, Garmin absolutely dominates the marketplace in wearables for sporting events (obviously, Apple dominates overall sales, but we’re setting that aside from this sport/fitness focused site).

For example, here’s two major running races recently on two different continents showing Garmin wearables market share:

image

This is especially true the further up the endurance ladder you get. In a 5KM event you’ll see higher Apple Watch market share than in a 10KM event, and even less Apple Watches from a marathon. Garmin typically has 10:1 adoption rates compared to Apple in 10KM and above events. And compared to Suunto? It ranges between 25:1 upwards to 50:1. Polar often half of that again.

From a competitive side, no matter which continent I look at the numbers from – the other brands aren’t even close. Again, we’re just talking people using these for sport. Obviously, if we look at total Apple Watch global sales numbers, they easily beat Garmin. But the vast majority of those watches are going on people’s wrists who aren’t running a mile.

On the cycling side, things are shifting however. In some cases pretty drastically in the last year. Previously Garmin dominated at about 90% of GPS head units on people’s bikes. But in certain events this past fall and spring, Wahoo is coming in at between 15-30%. Way higher than events a year ago. A bit of that tends to be semi-environmental and race-specific. Meaning, in other regions we see them at about 10%, especially when you move towards non grand fondo events (just picking various smaller races or stretches along the side of the road).

image

So what’s the point?

Well, simply put: With more units in the wild you’re going to see more issues. I’m going to see on average 20x more comments about a Garmin issue than a Suunto or Polar issue. And on average about 4x-10x more comments on a Garmin cycling issue than a Wahoo cycling issue.

Same goes for forums. Garmin actually has their own forums (kudos), where people can post troubleshooting issues. And just like Apple’s forums, they’re packed with troubles. But that’s just like going to a hospital, that’s where you go to find sick people (and hopefully ways to get better). I’ve never understood the logic of saying ‘Their Garmin forums are packed with people with problems’.  Of course they are: That’s the point of them. Problems happen, the point is to resolve those problems. Something that Suunto, Polar, and even Wahoo all lack (Wahoo technically does monitor a Google Group you’ll never find though). Yet similarly, nobody says ‘The Apple forums are packed with people with problems.’

So, with that bit of data-backed caveating, let’s get to the meat of the issue.

Perennial Problems:

DSC_1326

Garmin LiveTrack.

See, you just giggled a bit.

Not because LiveTrack is funny, but because you know – just like I and everyone else – that Garmin LiveTrack is horrifically unreliable. It’s actually almost impressive how unreliable it is. I certainly don’t bother to use it. I know better. Almost every time I do use it, my wife gets more upset than if I hadn’t used it. She wants to follow me, not assume I got hit by a car every time the connection drops permanently.

And it’s been this way for years, and yet has somehow gotten worse in recent years. And it’s easy to pick on LiveTrack. But I can do this all day with other bits.

Garmin Edge Bluetooth to phone connectivity.

See, you just giggled again.

Because you know that’s a pain in the butt. You know that getting it paired can often be cumbersome, and when things go wrong, there’s more steps to the dance than the Macarena. And sure, there’s lots of reasons for some. Some technical, some just ‘because it’s the way it’s been’. None matter to most people though – it’s just architecturally broken.

But let’s go back to LiveTrack for a second. One only has to look at my Facebook post or my recent Garmin Live Event Sharing post to see that the vast majority of comments are on people’s semi-unrelated LiveTrack failures.

And I get it, as a technically minded person, I really do: LiveTrack is actually more complex than people realize.

You’ve got basically two levels of things that go can wrong: Edge connectivity to your phone (interference/dropouts such as being in your back pocket), and phone to cellular tower connectivity. At present, if the Edge to phone aspect breaks, the whole thing crumbles, usually permanently. Whereas it really shouldn’t. There’s no reason the phone can’t take over GPS position responsibilities until connectivity can be re-established to the Edge. Companies like Fitbit do a variation of this within their ‘Connected GPS’ functionality for certain devices. I asked Garmin why it doesn’t simply use the phone’s position instead, and here’s what they said:

“The phone does not perform any ‘backup” GPS position transmission if the Edge device connectivity fails.  From our experience, this is typically not the cause of dropped points.  Cellular network availability is believed to be the main cause of dropped LiveTrack points.”

I don’t have the underlying data that can refute that directly. However, I have never-ending data points from people. Even one comment barely 12 hours old posted to the Edge 830 review.

“Hi everyone. I have purchased successive Garmin edges…the latest being the 830. What is going on with the LiveTracking feature? Garmin heavily promotes it but Live Track has not been working for over a year!! I’ve downloaded, deleted the app numerous times, paired, unpaired the phone hundreds of times. NOTHING!!!!! It won’t even send out the Strava Beacon…let alone Auto Start The message I keep getting is “Cannot send invites at this time. Try again later.” This should be the EASIEST function for Garmin to get right being in the GPS business and all. Can someone finally get to the bottom of this. New 830, new IPhone….same old problem. Second, the sync function works only half the time….why does the Edge 830 have two different Bluetooth connections?”

Of course, I have no idea if this comment is fake. Or if the user is somehow at fault. I suspect neither though. Given our (The Royal Our) collective experience with LiveTrack, I suspect it’s an accurate and real issue. As it always has been. And in this case, they wouldn’t show up on Garmin’s ‘cellular connectivity is the issue’ bucket, because frankly they can’t even get to that point.

Now ironically, I’ve actually had pretty good luck lately with it, even while testing the new Live Event Sharing. And in talking with Garmin they aren’t seeing any meaningful numbers of failures – outside of period a few weeks ago where they had backend server issues. The challenge is reconciling that with the torrent of people saying a variant of: ‘It’s hopeless’. Heck, even trying to take the photo above (this morning) would crash my Garmin Connect app each time I opened Live Track. I’m serious.

DSC_1340

But let’s shift to something else near and dear to my heart: Openwater swim tracking.

This past weekend I did a triathlon (race). Nothing complex, just a simple sprint triathlon where it had to track my openwater swim for a mere 750 meters. I was wrapping up my testing of the Garmin MARQ Athlete watch, which is Garmin’s top of the line $1,500 GPS multisport watch.

Yet the watch lasted a mere 34 yards in the water before it forgot how to track my swim. The next time it started tracking GPS was when I exited the water.

image

Now in the world of endurance sports, openwater swim tracking is among the hardest things to do. Half of the time your watch is under the water without signal, the other half it has about 1 second to gain signal and determine a location before being plunged back in the water. So yes, it’s hard. But it’s also something Garmin and others have been doing for almost 10 years. Yet somehow in the last year or so, Garmin has gotten really bad at it. An issue their competitors mostly haven’t had. In fact, Apple has laid down some of the most astonishing openwater swim GPS tracks I’ve ever seen (yet, they somehow can’t track a casual neighborhood run properly, sigh).

But my issue here isn’t my lost 750m sprint swim. It’s that I called out this issue a year ago in my Fenix 5 Plus review. Then again in an openwater swim video comparison video in July 2018. Again in the fall of 2018 in another openwater swim compilation piece. And more times privately and publicly since then. Yet it’s still not fixed.  And now it gets worse, this same issue is impacting the Garmin Forerunner 945 too – where some users are reporting 4 out of 5 swims are producing data that stops tracking after a few dozen meters.

Let’s be frank: The entire point of a multisport watch is triathlon (multisport is the politically correct term to not offend duathletes, but really it’s a triathlon). And yet it fails less than 60 seconds into the main event.

In discussing this issue with Garmin this past week they believe they have a fix in that may resolve the issue. Here’s what Joe Schrick, Vice President over Fitness said this Saturday when I asked what that timing looked like for both the new slate of products as well as existing ones suffering under this:

“We are working on releasing a public beta for the GPS software sometime next week for 945 and MARQ.  Pending positive feedback from beta testers and additional internal testing, we are targeting a formal release at the end of June.  We are also targeting a formal release for GPS software for F5+ and 935 at the end of June.”

However, last summer they said they had fixes in for it too. I refuse to believe people actually tested this functionality prior to this past week. If they had tested it, even just swam a handful of times, they’d have seen the issues that so many others see. In noting though, Garmin says they do work with a large number of people to trial units:

“Our test pool is significant in size and consists of internal and external testers all over the world in both hemispheres (to smooth out seasonal variations).  We obviously have more runners and cyclists in the test group compared to swimmers, but we are continuing to add swimmers to help provide better real-world test coverage.  We are continuously refining our testing procedures to provide the most comprehensive test coverage possible before public release.”

And while I don’t doubt any of that (and I know it to be true), it’s clear that population either isn’t large enough, or isn’t given enough direct guidance on what to test specifically. It may be that population is told to just use the device like normal. Whereas when I worked at one of the largest software companies in the world, for test devices or software that I ‘brought home’ to test, we were given weekly focus areas within the device to push hard on. And almost always with incentives for the people that filed the most bugs in that section.

My Proposal:

DSC_1332

My proposal is simple, at least on paper. In fact, it mirrors one of the most famous tech company driven initiatives to date: Bill Gates’ ‘Trustworthy Computing’ letter of 2002, sent to all employees. It was at that point that Microsoft made a significant mindset shift around security bugs/issues. Not everything was a bug per se, but rather, just a lack of focus on security. Whether or not you like Microsoft is besides the point, anyone in the IT industry will tell you the long term impact of this initiative was huge on/for the company. You can read the famed letter here.

But in particular, there are two small paragraphs that I think should resonate the most for Garmin:

“In the past, we’ve made our software and services more compelling for users by adding new features and functionality, and by making our platform richly extensible. We’ve done a terrific job at that, but all those great features won’t matter unless customers trust our software.

 

So now, when we face a choice between adding features and resolving security issues, we need to choose security. Our products should emphasize security right out of the box, and we must constantly refine and improve that security as threats evolve.” – Bill Gates, Jan 15th, 2002

In many ways, Garmin could replace the word ‘security’ with ‘stability’ (or bugs), and then press send.

But it goes beyond sending a pretty letter. I think Garmin needs three things to occur:

1) A CEO driven leadership letter that organizationally prioritizes stability over new features
2) A customer-facing bug reporting site that allows people to quickly and easily send Garmin issues
3) A team within Garmin that’s specifically (and solely) tasked with proactively finding bug/issue trends and getting them resolved

Since I’ve already talked about the letter, let’s talk next about the bug reporting site.

Today when a customer has an issue, they’re required to open a support ticket. In some countries/regions that’s as easy as an online chat session, whereas in others it requires a phone call or e-mail be opened, and in yet further countries the support is mostly just a digital shrug. One reader last Wednesday reported a pile of issues to their local country support desk and wasn’t assisted on any bugs or given a replacement unit due to lack of stock in that country. While other country support desks (such as the US and UK) are really good about handling customers.

Either way, the current support system doesn’t really focus on known bugs. Mostly because the vast majority of customers actually don’t encounter bugs, they encounter general issues. So funneling them through bug triage wouldn’t help if they just had a normal support problem. But ultimately, that current support system doesn’t appear to adequately compile the frequency of bugs seen by customers – often instead just applying a short-term band-aid to get the customer going again. I know from talking with these support groups that they do consolidate the most frequent issues back to engineering teams, but it’s clear that’s hardly global and even in those well-established support centers, many times the goal seems to be to close the customer case, rather than to close the underlying bug.

If Garmin had a simple customer facing webform that allowed people to describe their bug and include relevant files/etc, I suspect that might make it clear to engineering teams where the bugs actually are, versus depending on support desks that people either don’t want to call or get lackluster results from.

Next, and perhaps most importantly is a team that has ship-blocking authority within Garmin. Meaning, right now the decision for whether or not a product (or firmware version) ships is within the product team itself. And in most software development realms, that’s a logical place for it. But Garmin has consistently proven – product after product, year after year – that those software development teams are incapable of judging that bug bar. Now don’t get me wrong: Bug-free software at the complexity level of devices Garmin is making is a virtual impossibility. No different than Apple or Samsung, Microsoft or Facebook. But, the goal threshold needs to be moved up. Right now that acceptance gate is either too low, or too short in duration to be catching the issues people are seeing.

That team needs autonomy from product group organizational charts to act as a bit of a backstop for customers, and also support. They should be leveraging support division expertise, forum posts (in Gamin’s own forums), and the sifting the internet at large to ferret out issues and hold the product development groups accountable to fix those issues in the next firmware version before more features are added or new products are released.

And I know that this sounds easy on paper and is hard to execute in practice. But it’s also not. It simply starts with organizational direction from the top of the company. Once that ball starts rolling, a cultural shift can occur. It won’t be overnight, nor will it be painless. But it can happen. It took Microsoft years for that organization shift to occur around security (albeit in a vastly larger and more complex company), but the fundamental building blocks are not terribly different than what is outlined above.

Going Forward:

DSC_9843

It’d be easy for Garmin to dismiss this post as just a knee jerk reaction to a bad week or two of issues. After all, their Fitness and Outdoor divisions financially speaking are doing better than ever. The company is selling more units than ever before. But it’s also true they’re losing sales of more units than ever before to their competitors. Be it the obvious ones like Apple (which has arguably carved out new market areas), but also to Wahoo in the cycling realm.

It’d also be easy for Garmin executives to dismiss this post as an attempt to get clicks or views. But realistically, the views from a piece like this are inconsequential for this site in the scheme of a month’s worth of posts. Just like they could argue that James’ tweet (a very well respected cycling reviewer and journalist) would naturally become an echo-chamber of 518+ replies. But we’d all know that’s not true. We’d all know that what those 518 replies represent is paying customers’ frustrations with products they’d otherwise love. After all, Garmin’s social media team actually tried to respond to two people in that storm, before they realized they were driving their vehicle the wrong way during a hurricane evacuation.

Just like my tweet a week ago with swimming frustrations would be easy Twitter fodder, but it shows that some 59,000 people saw it, and more importantly: 13,374 people were interested in it enough to actually look at the images.

image

Finally, some might ask whether I’d continue to recommend (or use) specific Garmin products. And the reality is that every product is different – and more importantly, so are the alternatives. The reality is that for my specific requirements, Garmin generally ticks all the boxes better than most other products. Further, it can be challenging to fit in a larger organizational/cultural arc (like software instability) into a given product review unless that specific product was impacted by it. Or unless I actually saw that specific issue during my review time-frame (such as the case with the upcoming MARQ review).

What I hope Garmin takes away from this is that consumers want the company to do better. They aren’t asking for them to reduce their ever-growing prices, or give things away for free. They aren’t asking for more features or swankier watchstrap materials. They are just asking for the things they want to buy or have bought to work consistently from Day 1.

It seems like a simple request.

With that, thanks for reading.

Tags: ,

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
If you would like a profile picture, simply register at Gravatar, which works here on DCR and across the web.

You can click here to Subscribe without commenting

Add a picture

*

770 Comments

  1. A No

    Thanks for bringing this issue to the fore, Ray. Hopefully, this will get Garmin’s attention and lead to changes down the road.

    As a software development professional and longstanding Garmin user, I’m continuously befuddled to understand how the company continues to deliver poor quality software time and time again.

    I’m also at a loss to understand how the problem seems to be limited to athletic products; I have two Garmin automotive devices that have generally worked flawlessly for years.

    Following your recent review, I took a chance and ordered an 830 (previously owned 500 and 810), but it’s the last chance saloon for Garmin; any issues and I’ll be returning the product and switching to something else.

    My final wish is that the integration of Garmin and Tacx won’t ruin the latter’s software, since as the owner of their NEO, I’d hate to see that follow the same path as typical Garmin products.

    • Paul S.

      The one problem I’ve had with Garmin automotive devices is when I get off an Interstate to stop (gas, food, etc.) when I go to get back on it always tries to route me to the next intersection via surface roads rather than the one I just got off. I just ignore it.

  2. greyltc

    Ray, I think you’re giving Garmin too much credit here in assuming they weren’t aware of the MARQ & FR945 open water swimming failure. Of course they extensively tested the most difficult GPS task when they changed the GPS chipset in their multisport watches. Somehow they didn’t care that it fails and advertised/sold the devices as supporting open water swimming anyway. A class-action lawsuit for their false advertising is in order and maybe we can hope that something like that would drive a cultural change in the company. Does anyone know a lawyer who likes to eat low hanging fruit?

  3. Steve Taylor

    When you say Garmin, with a lack of relevant data, you might want to emphasise you mean the Fitness division. Unlike Wahoo they do a whole lot more than bike stuff. If this level of problem were to exist in their Aviation or Maritime divisions, I’d be seriously concerned. Perhaps they could learn from one another?

  4. David

    Hit the nail on the head Ray – thank you.

    Had (and have) lots of Garmin products from their Edge and Forerunner lineups and vivoactive and car GPS. I’m now back to using an E800 and E500 because despite shorter battery life they seem not to crash and lose rides.

    I “want” an new E830 but don’t want the hassle that goes with a new Garmin so I’ll eke out more time with the E800 in the hope Wahoo or someone will come in with something close or at least close enough features wise and go that way unless I hear in the meantime that early E830 users are having a good experience. So, Garmin could have made a sale but most likely won’t.

    Have just got a F945 to replace a F935, it has the permanent 236km/hr wind bug, it has dropped all sensors at the start of a ride, it has kept all sensors but lost the power sensor at the start of a ride, it can’t keep the display screen I want on display even though it’s set not to auto-rotate through displays, battery life is worse than the F935, optical HR is nonsensical (but I knew that was going to be the case – chest strap required if you want something sensible). And that list is just from 3 weeks of ownership – where I haven’t run or been for a swim! Next race will require the F910 so I can be sure I will get the race data. Next watch – well, I’ll see what’s out there but I hope there’s something else that does what i want even if it doesn’t do everything Garmin say whatever their latest watch at that time does. So, again, long time Garmin customer who will happily (even eagerly) jump elsewhere given something close to good from someone else.

  5. Joe

    Garmin Italy is inexistent.
    If you open an issue, the only track for them is the subject and in somebody (garmin team) change that, only post open a different issue and the most “funny” thing is that different replays from garmin team are totaly different from each other. Es: Reset the watch, reset garmin connect app, send back the watch, wait the fix on an known issue and so on…
    It’s not normal that, for issues opened after 2 or 3 days for an expensive watch, garmin doesn’t do the refound. I have had a new watch from garmin that has the same old problems. Is’s so frustrating. I am not able to make sync via wifi with more routers and nobody cares. Here some of them:

    D-LINK DVA-5592 (Wind-Infostrada)
    ADB EpiCentro VV2220 (TeleTu)
    easybox 904 xdsl (Vodafone)
    Archer VR200 (TP-Link)
    Tp-LINK MR6400

  6. Smileman

    Thanks Ray for this post.

    I was a loyal Garmin customer and owned a bunch of Garmin products, but around two years ago the growing frustration over a myriad of software issues (and no feeling there was a light at the end of the tunnel) caused me to throw in the towel.

    I switched to competing products with more reliable software and the trade off has been well worth the switch.

    A few years ago I actually even wrote a similar post to yours and the Garman forums, and incredibly Garmin removed it. There was no harsh language or insults, just a call to arms for Garmin to get its software act together.

    Anyone passionate about sports equipment should be rooting for Garmin to succeed. Let’s hope they can take your suggestions to heart and produce better software. I’d love to be a customer again.

  7. Joe

    The watch is a Fenix 5X Plus and the routers that doesn’t work via wifi are:

    D-LINK DVA-5592 (Wind-Infostrada)
    ADB EpiCentro VV2220 (TeleTu)
    easybox 904 xdsl (Vodafone)
    Archer VR200 (TP-Link)
    Tp-LINK MR6400

  8. davie

    Per my facebook comments, I have an Edge 510. The latest/final firmware v6.1 has a bug which was FIXED in an earlier firmware but re-introduced in version 6.1 AGAIN. The back button just dissapears from the power/light settings screen. The only way to go back is to lock the screen then unlock it which takes you back to the main menu.
    How bad must Garmin’s quality control be to re-introduce bugs which they have already fixed?

  9. Leo

    It’s not only software bugs. Garmin also adds things to their software which reduces usability.

    For example, Garmin Connect (on my iPhone) has a graph that shows both resting heartrate and maximum heartrate for every day.

    Maximum heartrate is not very interesting, but resting heartrate is and more precisely; the trend in resting heartrate.

    But the trend in resting heartrate is not visible because the scale of the graph is from 30 to 180 because they also show maximum heartrate, and my resting heartrate is tipical between 40 and 45. Now resting heartrate is shown as a almost flat line, while in reality there is more fluctuation.

    I’ve complaint to Garmin about it, saying that added the maximum heartrate makes the complete graph useless. There reaction was: “Different users find different information usefull”

    To me, Garmin is a company driven by marketing. As long as their feature list is longer than that of their competition they’re happy.

    And to be honest: it works! They sell a lot of devices, and people do look at the number of features when they chose a watch and don’t know or don’t care if features are useless (or don’t work at all)

    And to be even more honest, I did chose a Forerunner 935 2 years ago because my favorite brand, Suunto, made a mess with the Spartan.

    • Joe

      Ok, but after different garmin watches and actual two models (FR920XT, F5X+) I decided that I don’t by anymore a new model. I have had only garmin for many years. It’s time to change.

    • Leo

      When my Forerunner 935 dies I will go back to Suunto. Also not perfect, but 2 Suunto watches gave me less irritation than 1 Garmin watch.

      At least I learned a lesson: The jealous making feature list of Garmin is not something that makes you happy at the end.

  10. Toby

    OMG! This article resonated so much I had to add my experience with Garmin.

    As noted by Ray, I too have been forced to become Garmin’s beta tester over the years as they continue to release incomplete software/hardware. Whilst the advent of numerous genuine competitors across Garmin’s portfolio has continued to push Garmin’s innovations they are still far from being anywhere close to being good.

    These days I try and wait for at least a year before I pick up any of Garmin’s new releases as I no longer have the patience or desire to work through issues they should have resolved pre-shipping.

    I question whether Garmin employees actually use Garmin devices? If they do surely they would push their company harder to get things right before releasing?

  11. Daniel

    Nailed it! About 5 rears ago I sold my Fenix 2, VIRB, and eTrex (all which were on multiple replacements for bugs). I’ve been using a flawless Suunto Ambit 3 and Wahoo ELEMNT since. I love some of the features of the Garmin devices, but I can’t be convinced to return until their bug reputation improves. I will say that I think when people are sensitive to potential bugs with any product, they are “on the lookout” for future bugs and I think their tolerance goes down. For example, if I returned a device because it would freeze or shut down mid-ride, then the replacement worked fine except that I had to sync it to the app 3x on one occasion, I would be a lot more upset about the latter than I would have been if I hadn’t needed to replace the original already. I’d say the syncing example is less serious of a bug, but then you start thinking “if it can’t sync, I can’t trust it – it might indicate it’s gonna freeze again.” or “damnit!!! I spent all this money and I just want the basic features to work flawlessly; I want my money back.”

  12. Tim Grose

    Little confused by this article. Almost every other commentator cites their gripe with Garmin and yet in your own link to dcrainmaker.com they “win” virtually every watch & bike computer category despite all these issues. If LiveTrack, OWS and BT Edge connectivity were bit better would there even be point anybody else even trying?

    • “If LiveTrack, OWS and BT Edge connectivity were bit better would there even be point anybody else even trying?”

      As you know, it’s not just those three things. One only need to look at the 281 other comments here (or the 173+ on Facebook) to see that. It’s a general frustration with the bug levels of Garmin devices. Those three items are specific tipping points. If anyone, especially Garmin, looks at those specific issues, solves them, and then says ‘Mission Accomplished’, then they’re missing the point.

      As I argued in the opening paragraph – no – I think if Garmin had stable software, then their competitors wouldn’t make any meaningful ground. We rarely see their competitors introduce significant new features in comparison to what Garmin is doing, and in some cases, their competitors actually remove features (see: Polar Vantage series anything, Suunto app/web platforms and app store).

      As I noted in my closing paragraphs, at the end of the day Garmin’s overall product functionality for me generally wins over the bug annoyances. But I don’t think that path is sustainable.

  13. Deane Blazie

    This is a much needed article. Kudos.

    I’ve been in the software and embedded hardware business all my life and I too curse my Garmin cycling computers routinely. I currently use an Edge 1000.

    The main problem I see is that the products are built on VERY poor UI, Human Engineering design and this frustrates users from day one. And this creates an enormous support burden for the company. In many cases it’s not a software bug, it’s just poor user interface design. Garmin Connect is a perfect example. Look at all the posts about Bluetooth connectivity not working. This is not rocket science and yet we all wonder if our ride/run/swim will sync. 50 years in the software business (not exaggerating) and I’ve given up on getting WiFi to work on my Edge 1000. Bluetooth works most of the time with some fiddling.

    Alas, I use Garmin aviation products and they just work, are easy to use and very expensive.

    Garmin, hire a Human Factors Team and build a solid User interface before shipping the first product. I’ll help!

  14. Kevin

    A post that nicely summarises what a lot of us have been thinking for years.

    My ‘favourite’ s/w bugs have been:
    1. FR935 recording an 84m OWS in a Half-Ironman
    2. FR935 elevation smoothing that caused massive under-reporting of total ascent
    3. Edge 520 battery gauge reporting 2% for 2 hours
    4. Vivoactive 3 rapid battery drain when powered off

    And on the hardware front, I’ve had the pleasure of:
    1. FR935 OHR cracked resin (twice)
    2. Vector 3 battery cover debacle.
    3. Edge 510 touchscreen failing

    But like a lot of people on here, I get sucked into the new product hype, with the hope that this new device could be the one that Garmin gets right. One day I’ll learn.

  15. Jim S

    Ray, will you share Garmin’s response, or lack thereof, to this post? I hope this shakes them up enough to change, but it will be telling if it doesn’t. Thanks for what you do.

    • If there’s a big enough response to share, I definitely will. If however, it’s basically a variant of ‘Here’s the latest firmware versions, we hope things are fixed’, then less so.

      Which isn’t to say I don’t want to see things fixed. I’m definitely waiting for them to send over firmware updates for the MARQ/FR945/FR935/Fenix 5 series watches for openwater swimming (which is supposed to be this week). And if that fixes things, then the next week or two is a great time to do some openwater swimming outside the DCR Cave. I’ll happily swim back and forth across the lake each day. Partially because I want to see if things are fixed, and partially because it’s time for another openwater swim comparison showdown. And I’ve got some other swim stuff to test anyway.

      I know that most of the Garmin Fitness/Outdoors leadership is actually at an offsite event with a pile of media folks starting today, so I have no doubt that this post will be discussed there. Both in the context of internal Garmin discussions, but probably also amongst the media. Maybe some of the media will bring it up. It sounds like James for CyclingTips had interviews with Garmin around this topic last week. So we’ll see…

  16. Bruce

    I have always felt you are just renting a device from Garmin, they never seem to support a product after two years. Bugs or no bugs you just have to live with it or buy a newer more expensive device….

  17. Fritz

    Great article…. I am a garmin fan owning a fenix3HR an edge 800 and edge 810.

    Their phone service in the UK is good…. they swooped out an edge for me once that had already gone a month beyond the warranty.

    Would I trust them…. NO WAY. Their software is not stable. I have lost rides on a once in a lifetime tour across the alps. I now know how to use file fixer and rely on Strava to fix and save files…. Garmin connect is simply a conduit because so many files are not on there.

    I have had issues with elevation showing +10 when going down a mineshaft… when I phoned customer service it turned out to be a corrupt file I had to delete. In other words it was unstable software again.

    Then there are connectivity issues where it doesn’t connect and the suddenly connects…. but how or why who knows….

    Oh and have you ever tried to plot a route on garmin…. it’s a nightmare…. I can show you a hill in the English Chilterns that you cannot ride up because garmin has not discovered that you can actually cycle underneath a railway line.

    A lot of moaning yet I do love my garmin I only wish they could be a bit more user friendly.

  18. Will

    Thank you for this article. As a Garmin customer for almost as long as I’ve been running (6 years), I’ve had my share of software issues, starting with when I bought a higher-end Garmin. As others have said, the more the devices costs, the greater the likelihood of issues, for some reason. Then again, 5-6 years ago, the mid to lower-range Garmins didn’t have a lot of functionality, relatively speaking.

    As someone who wrote a couple of third-party Garmin Connect IQ apps for fun, I’ll say that the same kind of culture extends to the API/SDK for developing third-party apps. Just a few examples:
    – Bugs in the API that stick around for years
    – Bugs that they knew about, but forgot to fix
    – Incomplete/misleading/broken API documentation
    – Baffling design decisions — one that sticks in my mind was the decision not to notify CIQ data fields of a new lap during a structured workout. This meant that any CIQ data field which displayed lap stats (which have to be calculated by the app) would display nonsense during a workout, leading to unhappy users. When they finally designed to fix it, they did it in such a way that: all affected apps would have to be modified and resubmitted, and that the fix only applied to new devices.
    – 3 different ways to manage Connect IQ app settings (Garmin Express, Garmin Connect Mobile and Garmin Connect IQ), and they all have slightly different bugs and limitations on different platforms
    – Devices-specific quirks which aren’t reflected in the simulator – this means that sometimes the only way to be sure certain things will work or look good is to own all the devices or to wait for the bug reports to come in

    So none of this is a coincidence, IMO. I’m sure everyone who works on this stuff takes pride in their jobs as well do. But I think there’s cultural/systematic issues, like lack of resources/time, which cause all kinds of problems to surface.

    It’s frustrating for me because I love Garmin running watches and I don’t want to see them crushed by Apple. We all know that Apple won’t release an Apple Watch with physical buttons and an always-on screen that looks good in sunlight. Physical buttons aren’t trendy and the type of low-res, low-colour, washed-out screen that Garmins use seems archaic to people if they don’t understand why a screen like that is better for battery life and outdoor usage.

  19. Joe

    Something else that I do not understand at all. To install a beta firmware I have to do a betatester for Garmin for a watch (F5X +) that in the store costs € 850 but that’s not enough, I have to make everything manualy. Is that so hard for garmin to make a dropdownbox to chose which version to install? Is that so hard to make an firmware area that contains all the user configurations like alerts, page fields and so on, so if I install the new firmware and test for garmin in a watch pay by me, everything becomes more light for the user?

    Thank you DC. I think that a post here make more that 10 issues posted to garmin 😉

  20. *Possible* new bug on the Forerunner 945:

    Data recording is *always* “1-second” despite “Smart” being selected.

    Try it yourself – sit on a park bench for a minute – seems to generate 60 data points in the .FIT file.

    • Honestly, I love that bug. Maybe Garmin will keep it.

      (Tidbit: Selecting ‘smart’ recording doesn’t save battery at all, it simply makes smaller file sizes, which are so tiny already, that it just doesn’t matter.)

    • Beri

      If you have a powermeter sensor attached, it will always be 1 second. AFAIK the smart setting is ignored if you are using power.

    • Correct, power meters always force it to 1-second recording. Frankly, I’d love them to get rid of smart recording altogether. There’s just no good reason for it in 2019. All it does is increase customer confusion.

  21. Jon Niehof

    I think there’s another layer here. I think there’s some level of manufacturing QA issues as well. My fenix 3 is a dog. I keep it up to date, have reasonable config options, etc. and the pacing, distance while hiking, etc. are terrible. This is the *replacement* unit that Garmin sent me, with basically “we think your expectations are too high but try another one just in case yours might be bad.”

    I’ve been next to people with fenix 3’s that do beautifully. So it’s probably not software and it’s probably not design, but some sort of hardware QA. I suspect that might also be true with the fenix 5 sensor connectivity issue.

    Because these are devilishly complicated devices, if it’s not performing up to snuff, the consumer doesn’t know: is this a software issue that will be fixed in an update? Is this a bad unit that I can swap? (And maybe swap several times because Garmin just sends units out without verifying that the received one is “bad” or the replacement is “good.”) Or is this just a bad design? So I don’t buy a Garmin device until it’s been on the market at least 18 months (at which point there are very few updates left) and substantially reduced in price.

    And QA and software can sit and point the finger at each other and neither gets fixed.

  22. Braithwaite Richard

    Ha, Garmin Edge 520 has started randomly freezing during rides, hugely annoying as the only solution seems to be to stop riding, press the on/off button for 15 seconds and it then restarts, and yes it continues to record the same ride but is it now accurate, does it record the complete ride . Is this ideal? Not really!

  23. David Kroter

    5 edges 1030 with the well-known blue halo on garmin screens. 4 years without any solution in 820 and 1030 incredibly reproduce the same defect without any intention of solving it. This company will disappear once known its software and hardware problems and its null intention to solve them over the years.
    PS.-You will not see any picture of any pro cyclist on instagram or anywhere without a blue hallo on their screens. Is this normal? Is this a serious company? Play for years the same problems without the slightest intention to solve them ?.
    Bye Garmin¡¡

  24. I think it’s great that you have started writing about this. I have owned most of Garmin Edges since the 800 and they constantly get worse, even at their basic functions, recording a ride reliably.
    I have now bought a cheap Android phone ( I am an iOS user but won’t use my iPhone Xs on the handlebar) and will try my best to replace my Edge 1030 which makes me crazy at times.

  25. Jeff Haye

    After this weekends event, where my 520 crashed at the 69 mile check point. I was in a “Profiles Loading” screen for longer than I could wait, needed to finish the ride. I AM DONE WITH GARMIN….DONE!

  26. Derek Lessard

    Hi Ray. You pulled my comment from the Edge 830 review. I may be at fault, but definitely not fake ;). In fact I called Garmin customer service yesterday who were very nice but provided the very same solutions as un(re)-pairing bluetooth, ensuring Garmin Connect app was updated; and then re-syncing edge and Garmin connect. Unfortunately, I am writing today to report that the end result remains the same.

  27. This is quite an interesting observation. Not just the article in itself but the comments here as well. I have become used to always having two computers because one of them is regularly crashing or doing something odd. The crashes in and of themselves are annoying but the resulting practice of riding with two devices is actually really nice. My current “setup” is a virb, a fenix and an edge – a nice overview on the handlebar and the haptics of the watch.

  28. Clair Stewart

    Hit it right on the head Ray. I am a Garmin fan, 99% of my workout tech is Garmin and has been for the last 10 years but it’s shifting. I’m riding with an Asioma power meter because the Garmin pedals just had too many bugs. Your review plus Garmin’s own forums was enough to show me that The Vectors weren’t ready. People that are this interested in tracking their workouts and data associated with said workouts are not stupid. They want promised features to work and even when 95% of the features do work well, you somehow feel like Garmin has cheated you because of non-delivery of it all. I love Garmin but they will lose me to other products that just work as promised.

  29. DLF

    Thanks for the honest article. I’ve had a Bryton 330 for three years now and have had almost no issues with functions not working. Granted it’s a much simpler device than something like the Garmin Edge 530 but I am very hesitant to buy Garmin products with all the problems that people seem to be having with them. I really wanted to pull the trigger on the Garmin 530 or 830 because of all the features described but what’s the point if some of the features are only periodically working! I will wait and consider products like Bryton 450 and Stages L50. Thanks again!

  30. Hkgmatt

    Thank you for this post which is as courageous at is it necessary.

  31. Shane Fenton

    Absolutely nailed it. Now if only they’d pay attention. I thought I’d upgraded to the 830 from a Wahoo Bolt last month. It’s locked up waking from sleep mode multiple times and ironically enough after reading this last night I get up to ride and after another forced reboot because it was locked up after waking, it records the ride as having occurred about 30 hours previous and is a complete CF of data – other than GPS coordinates somehow. Have a look. My Bolt was setup in 30s, and used without any issue at all for nearly a year. The Garmin? It took 15 minutes just to get the app to sync (even though my phone connected fine) and I still have to deal with this BS instability.

  32. MrB

    Excellent post Ray, hopefully stakeholders at Garmin take notice.

    My introduction to Garmin ecosystem was last years Edge 130, which for the most part has done what I need it to. Yet, there are still some issues and nits which haven’t been addressed and no FW update for at least 5mos now. Is that it? Is this EOL for this product in terms of attention from their development team?…and FIX LIVE TRACKING FOR PETE’S SAKE!!! one of the safety features that drew me in the first place, and stopped working months ago!

    Not great for giving me ‘warm happy feelings’ about Garmin brand and enticing me to upgrade to one of their latest or higher end devices; and starting all over as an Edge 530 ‘beta-tester’, for example.

    • Paul S.

      Two years is about par for the course, although they abandoned the Epix in about one. And there’s always something that’s never fixed. Of all of the Garmin stuff I have, the only ones I expect to see an update for are the new ones, the Edge 830 and the Fenix 5+. The Edge 1000 is probably over, I’ll never see another update for the VIRB 360, and everything else is older. But that’s not that unusual. Apple only supports the current and the two previous OS’s, so three years, although the current OS is often usable on devices much older that 3 years.

  33. Ken Kilmurray

    I was planning to get a 530 as soon as available but maybe not now. Better the devil I know. My Wahoo Bolt has some irritating quirks and has stopped navigating mid ride, but the rides were saved by up loading to Strava. It drops my HR and cadence, and does not connect to my phone consistently…but it has never lost a ride. Do I want to lose the relative stability of the Bolt to get the cool features of the 530?

  34. Andrea

    Some years ago, I sell my horrible Garmin Edge 820 in favor of a wahoo Bolt.
    Far to be perfect but it’s thousand time better than the Garmin one.

  35. John Wayne

    Honestly, can anyone give me a recent non Garmin watch which can replace the Forerunner 935? Polar Vantage is terrible gps and hrm and that is the same for the current Suunto models… I even went back to my 5 year old Polar V800…
    It seems that, as technology evolves, the electronic devices are getting worse but the prices are goung up way high…

  36. Dr B

    Thank you so much for putting this out there! I so hope that Garmin gets the hint! I have vivid memories of riding along next to the Garmin TDF van in 2009 (as a spectator) grilling the VIPs as to why they didn’t support the Mac platform! I have just given up on things like LiveTrack and this BT thing is just pitiful. Just look at your Strava feed and search “Garmin crash.” A lot of this I thought was just me. It really does seem like they don’t care (hello GM 1979!). I was also part of the E820 fiasco and even gave them a chance to make up for it by giving me a discount on the 530 if I send them their junk back…nope! Hello Wahoo! Great post.

  37. Gustaf Hagel

    I’ve never owned a Garmin sports product but not for lack of interest, but rather the above issue. When I got my cycling computer a couple of years ago, I was scared off to Polar V650 because of the buggy Edges in my surroundings. Sure, it lacked in features, but the only thing I still really miss is smartphone notifications. And I really don’t miss that enough to buy a new one and abandon Polar Flow.

    So now when I was after a new watch, I was again looking at Garmin, but was again scared off due to reading about all the software issues, but there was another factor as well: the sheer amount of Garmin watches out there with just one or two features difference. I couldn’t be arsed to inform myself about the 12 million Forerunner models, 8 different Fenix models and whatever else there were. I went with Polar again, but that one hasn’t arrived yet so I can’t comment on my satisfaction there.

    I think if Garmin could shift focus to reliability, longevity and support, they’d win a lot of new customers and back a lot of old customers.

  38. B.Chan

    You only mention their wearables here, but 2018 was a disaster of a year for their Wahoo Kickr Snaps as well. We bought 12 Snaps, and ended up replacing 14 of them before requesting a refund, which is still ongoing. Defective Snaps were replaced with used defective Snaps. They have barely acknowledged the issue and downplayed it, but I’d be willing to bet it affected far more than the 0.5% of units they have admitted to.

  39. Larryg

    If you want to show your location to friends and loved ones forget garmin and strava. Just use Google maps share location feature. It’s free and always works

    • The reason most people prefer to use LiveTrack (when it works), is that it offloads the GPS work to the device so it saves battery on the phone (since GPS is the biggest battery draw after the display). It also has the benefit of sharing sensor data (HR/Power/etc), and can show where you’ve been, versus just where you are. Again, when it works.

  40. Guillermo Guerini

    Wow, I’m amazed by the amount of comments agreeing with you! Hmmm.. Am I really? Like most people here, I’ve been a loyal Garmin user for the longest time. I started with the Forerunner 305, then 405, 920xt, Fenix 3 HR, 935 and most recently, the 945. While I agree that Garmin’s software is buggy (it is! lots of regressions), they also have lots of hardware problems to sort out.

    I had issues with the Fenix 3 HR (can’t remember what) and 935 twice, separate devices (sync problems, battery). Garmin’s support, at least in the USA is great. I got replacement units and I was happy with them. But then, I got the new 945. Man, total shit show! I had to return it (mushy buttons, poor battery life and unreliable syncing). Now, looking at Garmin’s forums and even here, people are having the same old issues: cracking HR sensor, altimeter/barometer issues because of chlorine, mushy buttons, syncing problems, horrible battery life, etc. WTF!?! And I’m not even going to complain about the new shitty GPS sensor! My 10 year old 505 had better tracking than the “state-of-art” 945.

    In my opinion, those issues are unacceptable. It’s a $600 (!!!!!!!!!!) watch for f sake. Considering the 945 is built on top of the 935, they had more than two years to figure out the issues. But they didn’t. It’s so disappointing Garmin!!

  41. Ross Cadogan

    You’ve hit the nail on the head Ray. I owned the Garmin Edge 510 and 520 as well as several Forerunners and sensors before growing frustrated with their unreliability.
    I moved to Wahoo and never looked back. I won’t touch another Garmin product because no matter how good the feature list looks I know it will be let down by dreadful software.

    I suspect it’s a cultural problem at Garmin. I’m a software developer so I know how hard it is to produce good code. You need a development culture that’s committed to quality and a development process that supports reliable outcomes.
    Even as a customer this is visibly present at Wahoo. When there are bugs they are quickly identified and resolved. There were plenty of bugs when I bought an ELEMNT upon its initial release, but a few months of regular upgrades later and platform stability was rock solid, all the bugs driven to ground by persistent attention.

    My ELEMNT hardly ever gives problems now, but I still frequently find it installing the latest over-the-air update when I boot it up. I take that as a reassuring sign that another bug or edge-case has been knocked before I will ever have to encounter it.
    I own lots of other Wahoo kit nowadays too, from the KICKR to the Headwind and various sensors. They’re all rock solid too.

  42. John B

    I have owned a a number of Garmin products including an eTrex, an Oregon 450, an Edge 500, an Edge 520 and a couple watches including the FR15.

    I even bought an Index scale that crapped out on me within 90 days. It would return a weight I knew to be about 20 pounds too light. After alerting Garmin of the problem they eventually allowed me to return it in exchange for another refurbished Index which has been fairly reliable for the past 18 months or so.

    My FR 15 had to be returned and exchanged for another refurbished unit and it has worked as expected for about five years as long as I keep the battery meter showing full power.

    My Edge 500 would auto-pause only when the activity history was empty. This was just another step in the post-ride/post data transfer process. All-in-all a reliable unit for me.

    I upgraded to the 520 because I wanted the LiveTrack feature and It worked more or less as advertised up until I started reading about the failures other folks were having with it. After being off the bike for a few months I got the LiveTrack failure notice for the first time a couple weeks ago. My wife actually liked hearing the reassuing “ding” when she recieved an email telling her my ride had just started.

    My 520 would also cut out and reboot mid ride but that has come and passed.

    This blog has kept me informed of the quirks my Garmin products may experiance so I definately do not feel alone. I guess I just put up with them and lower my expections.

    I am not in a real hurry to “upgrade” to anything at the moment.

  43. staffann

    I wonder how Garmin actually does its software testing. What is the test strategy? Does it use continuous integration? Unit/Integration/System tests? Does it use automatic testing? And since many of the software issues seem to appear in existing functionality, what about regression testing strategy? I find that the only way to keep a good quality in complex pieces of software like this is to go for the combination of CI, automatic tests and (of course) automatic regression tests. Then virtually all tests can be repeated regularly – as often as possible, ideally with every commit or pull request – so that problems in that existing functionality are found quickly. It is a bit of an investment to start going down this route, but it is worth it.

  44. Simon

    lol I’ve been saying this for YEARS. I wouldn’t recommend a Garmin ANYTHING to anybody almost solely based on the underlying software.

    I used to say about my 820 that it was proof that nobody at Garmin actually uses the products they make.

  45. pavlinux

    BRAVO!!!!

  46. Mark Burns

    I definitely have a love hate relationship with Garmin. I am astounding that they can’t consistently have the steps on my watch match what gets into Garmin Connect and can’t have a weight graph on the app (I’m on android, but may be the same on iOS) where the scale isn’t so ridiculously huge (90 lbs) to make it absolutely worthless.

  47. cptsilver

    Have you communicated to anyone at Garmin directly? I truly believe they’re not interested in improving things, because they’re still selling units, enough people are still buying their stuff, regardless of the amount of negative experiences shared online. Until this has a meaningful impact on their sales, I don’t think anything will change. Curious to hear Garmin’s perspective though.

    • I communicate with them constantly. Also, there are quotes in the piece from their head of the Fitness division (which is roughly one stop away from the CEO, there may be a dotted line in there to someone else in between, but basically the quotes I have are from the top of the fitness world). I also usually have a meeting with the CEO each April as well when I’m in town for the Connect IQ Summit. This topic didn’t come up in that meeting back then.

    • ChuckPDX

      At least in the cycling head unit space, I would hope that their sudden ~15-30% loss of market share to Wahoo has caught their attention! I admire Garmin’s innovations and have been a loyal customer since 1994, but like many others I’ll be voting with my wallet soon (despite the Roam mount misstep). I’m not in the “never again” camp – I hope they can win me back someday.

      Ray, in your conversations with Garmin do you think they understand that stability and ease-of-use issues are the key reason they’re losing customers?

    • Yeah, I think the 15-30% needs to be taken with a grain a salt. As noted, in some markets it was just a handful of percent. I think a reasonable across the board percentage for new units is between 5 and 12%. Again, just a swag.

      (Side note: What’s far more fascinating would be comparing like vs like. For example, ignoring things like older Garmin units – an Edge 510, and only comparing the market-share from the timeframe the BOLT came out.)

      As for Garmin understanding the ease of use issues, I actually think they’re starting to understand it. And to be fair, if you’ve tried their recent units the setup process (data fields aside) is much more streamlined and phone-focused than it used to be. I don’t think they understand how much the whole complete data field phone setup bit sells Wahoo devices. I think they vastly underestimate that feature (and the fact that it’s the leading thing anyone talks about when they talk Wahoo, followed closely by ‘ease of use’).

    • Graham

      (I personally don’t much care about this feature – it’s not that hard to set up or tweak the data fields etc., especially on a touch screen Edge.) However, it is plain daft that they still don’t have a method to do it off-device. It’s plain that people want it, and it’s plainly not that hard to do, at least in a basic way, given the fact that I can backup and restore those settings via a few .fit files. I did consider reverse engineering those .fit files and making something myself, but I can’t really be arsed. 🙂

    • DS

      I recently picked up a 520 Plus and was astonished that Garmin displays still can’t be set up via app or computer. I just assumed Garmin had gotten its act together in the years since I got my 920xt. Instead, my introduction to a shiny new Garmin product was a few miserable hours of scrolling through tiny menus with a 1980’s-era buzzbeep every time I touched a button. Now that I know Wahoos work better, I’m probably going to swap the Garmin for a Bolt.

      The Timex Global Trainer, which debuted almost 10 years ago, let you set up the watch and customize everything on a computer. All you had to do was drag and drop on your computer, then sync the watch and the changes would appear. Garmin is 10 years behind Timex. TIMEX!

    • DJ

      I feel like you need to be chatting to the CTO to see what’s happening here.
      Your proposal is good but it won’t solve the issue. We’ve seen when they’re aware of critical issues they’re too slow to fix them, or they never get fixed. Garmin need to be open with tickets, their transparency is pretty opaque on issues.
      I get the feeling they’re struggling with legacy coding practices and hardware spread across a sprawling range of devices. Leaving them unable to innovate quickly or fix bugs in a timely manner

      And when you’ve solved garmin, can you sort Strava and the chronological feed too 😉

    • ChuckPDX

      Thanks Ray,
      Yes, market share breakdown of similar current product would be useful. I’m sure Garmin tracks this internall, but maybe there are analyst reports that could be somewhat helpful. For example:
      link to marketwatch.com

      Good to know that Garmin is starting to address ease-of-use. I worry that trying to do this “piecemeal” on their current platform will be difficult, as compared with a new software architecture. Yesterday I rode with a 1030 user, and their eyes bugged out when I described Elemnt setup, management and usage workflows.

      Judging by the huge flood of reader comments, you’ve really touched a nerve with Garmin users! I hope Wahoo (Chip and Murray) are monitoring this – stability and ease-of-use are their crown jewels. They’d better not do anything to mess that up (Job#1)

  48. Robert N Gelder

    Edge 830 stopped calculating distance after I activated the bike alarm feature. Also it just from after I paused a ride only 5 minutes in!

  49. Mattv

    Typical lifecycle of cycling computer user:

    1) Buys Garmin
    2) Says “Wow- look at all the features”
    3) Uses for a few months
    4) Reads internet forums documenting all the issues
    5) Buys wahoo
    6) Buys a polar
    7) Buys a Karoo
    9) Buys the the updated version of the same garmin in step 1 with more features
    10 Repeat until you stop riding bikes

  50. Mark Cohen

    Ray, your article released a firestorm of pent up Garmin frustration. Your stance was fair, neutral and painfully accurate. Hopefully Garmin will turn all of the negative experiences into a positive reset of priorities. Here is my Garmin history dating back to my first watch, 310XT in 2010. An amazing watch for its time, too big to wear everyday, but it turned every mountain bike ride into an insightful workout.

    After several very satisfied years with Suunto (Ambit 2 and 3), I came back to Garmin for the Vivoactive HR. Excellent watch but a very short life of just over a year. I went back to Suunto for the Spartan Wrist HR, but was very disappointed, so I came back to Garmin for the 935, which is to date, my favorite watch. Since the 935, I ordered Fenix 5 and returned it, and then Fenix 5+ and returned it. Both had battery issues that were never resolved, even with replacement units. During that time I bought an Instinct for my son, who loves it.

    During the past few years I have also been very pleased with my Apple Watch 2,3 and now 4 as a daily driver and surprisingly consistent fitness watch.

    And now, after reading about so many frustrating issues, I am unable to pull the trigger on a new 945. For me, the 935 fills all my needs, and I have only had occasional software glitches over the past few years. I am happy with my Garmin watch, but I have no confidence in buying new products. I am currently awaiting the new Matrix Powerwatch 2, and I am considering a Suunto 9 Baro.

    A sincere thanks to Ray for his commitment to all of us, and to everyone who shares their experiences on this site. I couldn’t navigate this industry without you!

    Mark

  51. 9P6

    Second to that

    It is and have always been

  52. 3underscore

    Some things are so simple and infuriating.

    The last two updates to the app completely destroyed the link with my Fenix 5 Plus. I had to go through unlinking, disconnect bluetooth, rejoin to my profile.

    Next day I run a 5k with my kids in about 36 min (I typically run 21 min and have in the past with this watch). NEW RECORD – 5K PB! NEW RECORD – FASTEST MILE – 12 MIN!

    It is stunning how reliably bad the customer experience is. If I wasn’t on android and if the apple watch didn’t look like crap…

  53. Sabi2017

    Ray: Your editorial on Garmin product reliability was spot on. Live tracking is virtually worthless. Every time I attempt to use it my wife worries because it never works. Presently I own use a Garmin 1000 and a Fenix 5, but I am looking to replace my Garmin 1000. While both the 830 and 1030 look enticing, I am looking closely at the new Wahoo Roam for exactly the reasons you state in the editorial; namely, stability of product and willingness to correct software bugs quickly. You are so right in saying to Garmin that it isn’t price that frustrates buyers, its reliability of product function for the price. If you want to charge top price, then the consumer should expect top of the line functional reliability. THANK YOU for your excellent commentary.

  54. Kring

    Thanks for posting this Ray – This has been the state for so long. Garmin can’t get out of their own way. No only is their software so poor, bugs run rampant.. I’ll argue that their hardware department is so far behind the times… they go out of their way to source out of production parts for their new models..

    I bet if you cracked open the edge 830/530 you will find 12 year old chips for Bluetooth, WiFi, processing, barometer, screens, etc… their lack of keeping up with mainstream technology components is costing them a lot of money and frustration. When you combine their poor architect & engineering of the hardware, poor sourcing of technology components and then wrap that in horrific software development and throw in the oven at 75 degrees for two years… out is the standard half-baked Garmin product we experience year after year. If anyone doubts how much garbage tech they pack into their over priced devices – just look at an Apple Watch or iPhone Xr and realize they are nearly the same cost and much of Apple’s tech is readily available from component vendors… for $600… the iPhone XR or Watch Series 4 with Cell or a Garmin Edge 820…. it’s not even close, the brand new Edge 830 is weaker, slower has a worse screen and has less features than an iPhone 3GS.

    Their biggest competitive advantage was no one was willing to challenge them so Garmin’s management made the decision to stagnated and continue charging a premium and use the revenue for pet projects. They show no signs in investing to leap ahead of any potential competitors.

    Wahoo still fall short IMO on a lot of features if you like gadgetry (like Varia radar) – but it appears from my limited use and commentary from people I ride with, the Wahoo devices are far better and simpler if you just need a ride recorder.

    I’ve been a long-time Garmin owner, purchased every single top-end device since Edge 205, My optimism carried me many years thinking they will turn a corner, but now after the 830 was announced — I just think they simply are a poorly run company that won’t be around much longer.

    • Paul S.

      iPhone 3GS has more features? Maybe, it’s a closer to a general purpose computing device, unlike any Garmin device. Better screen? That depends on what you want. For cycling or for cross country skiing, I want an always on screen that can easily be seen in direct sunlight. iPhone and Apple Watches (I have an XS and a 3LTE) have gotten better over the years, but the screens are still worse in direct sunlight than the Garmin devices I own. Maybe an app can make a phone sort of be a cycling computer, but the hardware of any iPhone (battery life, visibility in sunlight) just isn’t up to it. The processor in my 830 may be weaker/slower than the one in my XS, but it has only specific jobs to do, and it’s more than able to do them (or at least the ones I care about).

    • Kring

      To be clear, I wasn’t saying use an iPhone 3GS, I was reference that 10 year old technology that Apple sourced out paces anything Garmin produces today. If Garmin had even a shred of innovative ability or sourced the right components they could easily make a product relevant in modern times… But they choose to hover back about 10-15 years in technology for no reason other then they are poorly managed.

      It’s hard writing software in modern times that supports hardware from 10 generations ago that most vendors no longer support… Garmin continual makes it an uphill battle for themselves.

  55. CP

    I’ve had two Garmin Edge 520s go tits up on me. The first time, it just wouldn’t connect/show up on my computer when plugged into USB. Garmin sent me a new USB cable. Didn’t fix the problem. Since my 520 was then still under warranty, Garmin replaced it under warranty.

    Fast forward a few more years and my 520 gets a “USB drawing too much power” message when plugged in. Tried different USB cords. No joy. I even tried plugging my 520 into a phone charger just to see if I could get it charged up (and theoretically still use and just transfer rides to Strava via BT). Nothing. Essentially bricked. Since my 520 was out of warranty, Garmin was basically “too bad, so sad” about it. Offered to let me buy a refurb’ed 520 for $100. I countered with how about an 820 since I knew the 830 had just been released. Nope.

    Same thing happened to a friend’s Garmin and he got the same response. I read on the web about at least few other people with the same experience. Garmin’s attitude was that they didn’t have tons of people reporting about the problem so not an issue they were going to address. I pointed out that if it wasn’t a big problem, what would be the big deal about them remedying it since it’s not like they’d have to replace hundreds or thousands of units and they’d have a happy and loyal customer. They weren’t interested.

    Customer service person was nice enough but clearly coached on how not to be helpful.

    I’m now a new Wahoo ELEMNT Roam user.

  56. David

    Garmin …..great hardware (ok, stretching it slightly) rubbish software.

    Considering how huge is Garmin one would think they could invest more in software development.

    Did make me laugh when Garmin released a dive computer …..not a chance I’d use a Garmin over my Suunto

  57. AD

    Ray, I really appreciate you writing this article but I hasten to add that until this point you have always come across to me as a bit of a Garmin fan boy – other than a notable Edge review some years back. It’s good to have some (belated) balance back.

    I’m much like other people on here, a long term Garmin user with a love/ hate relationship with their products. I started off with a Geko many years ago and now the family has many different devices. I’ve always viewed the software as being flakey and low grade. For years I’ve been able to kinda live with it. I’ve got used to updates crashing, random power downs, restarting/ reconnecting BT, accepting it in the way in which you might make excuses for an eccentric colleague/ neighbour/ family member.

    Today I have a 935 as a daily driver, old Edge 1000, scales (bombproof to be fair) and lots of other family devices and sensors. Personally Strava is the go to app, but I do like Garmin Connect which definitely ties me in somewhat to the Garmin ecosystem.

    But what has really fried my piss are my Vector 3s. What a useless bit of expensive kit. I waited until they had the physical update with the battery doors and then took the plunge. £1k is a lot of money for something to do one thing. Your Marq might not do OWS but at least it tells the time!

    The UK aftersales has been appalling. I received a replacement which were basically a refurbished pair that didn’t have the updated battery door, ie the version i’d waited to avoid. These are worse than the previous version, so bad that I’ve taken them off the bike and they are sitting in the box waiting to be returned to Garmin. Unfortunately Garmin’s response to this problem is to simply ignore my emails – I kid you not.

    I really hope some other player can build an alternative to this niche monopoly provider who takes us all for granted – the market has to find a solution.

    PS made me chuckle the comment about Edges powering up when they are unplugged. How many times have I been in trouble getting up at stupid o’clock to get ready for a ride and my wife getting woken up by the stupid chirping. That one “feature” tells me for absolutely certain that Garmin’s employees don’t eat their own dog food.

  58. Patrick Myers

    If any Garmin execs are reading this, I own a 920xt and specifically did not upgrade to the Fenix 5 or 5+ when they came out because they had well-documented, seemingly unsolvable problems (the Fenix 5 has compatibility problems with certain sensors, the 5+ still seems to have battery issues). I’m still waiting to see how the 945 shakes out, but the constant problems with devices that we pay $500-$700 for is tough to swallow.

  59. JR

    Had lots of Garmin watches from 410 to 935.

    Love them (when they work) but when they don’t then trying to trouble shoot problems is maddening .

    End game with Garmin CS is always a hard reset, yep lose everything and start again. I get layering upgrade over upgrade can cause problems but an Apple type settings restore would be a great help (copying files from the watch helps but isn’t comprehensive)

  60. Robert Jobb

    I’m another who shifted from being a loyal Garmin user. I just gotbfed up with faults, more faults, fixes that made things worse, and actually garbage suport.
    I have a ticket still unresolved from 2 years+ ago. So does my wife (on a totally different device and problem.

    As Ray sums up nicely… i don’t want more irrelevant ‘fluff’unctions. I want the basics to work well.

    Polar have been a revelation in comparison… they reply to emails and tell me what they are doing. They sorted a hardware (just a strap) simply with 2 short emails, and a replacement was in my letter box within a couple of days.
    And for a software bug, have confirmed right away they are on it / have a fix coming in the next release.
    Garmin… radio silence quite often.

    Oh? Amd the device was fewer £££ too.

    And definitely tracks Open water far better than my 2 previous garmin multisport watches when tried back to back

  61. Brandon Gittelman

    Long-time Garmin user here (Forerunners 201, 205, 220, 230, 735, now 245M, Edge 500, 510, Etrex 20)

    I’ll be honest – the only issues I’ve ever had were with my Edge 510 not always pairing with my phone and locking up when riding a course. Otherwise, everything I’ve had has worked pretty well.

    One thing that Garmin is awesome at is supporting old hardware. I still have my old 205 – and it still uploads to Garmin Connect over a decade later. That thing came out when the PlayStation 2 and Gamecube were still the big video game consoles.

    Also, the grass isn’t greener on the other side.

    I replaced my Edge 510 with a Wahoo Bolt. While it does nail the basics, the build quality doesn’t feel like it’s a $250 device. The case is cheap plastic that scratches if you look at it wrong. Wahoo also has issues with mounts breaking on the new Roam and buttons falling off older Bolts. Then you look at their software platform. The reality is that the Wahoo platform is essentially middleware. You need to connect to Training Peaks to setup workouts, Strava to view rides online, RideWithGps to map routes, etc. All of these software platforms have free versions, but if you want to get the most out of your device, you need to pay extra each month. Meanwhile, Garmin Connect, while not perfect, has all of those features there in a single place and is completely free.

    Let’s move to Suunto – Spartan Trainer/5 has a small crappy LCD. Their online software platform is a mess and you can’t do planned workouts. You can’t review daily HR after 24 hours in the past.

    Polar – Numerous issues with the Vantage M/V have been noted. You talk about releasing a product before the software is ready? When the Vantage series launched, they didn’t even have smart notifications working!

    Coros – Newcomer with a product line all over – personally not sure if they will be around in 3-5 years. You watch their user groups and while they do take to heart user feedback, it does concern me that they don’t have an apparent feature roadmap and are all over with what they do and don’t add. Almost Kickstarter like. Also one of the things was a bit offputting was one of the requests was for being able to follow a course on a bike ride. They claimed they didn’t want to do that because of the concern for user safety. Weird stance to take, IMHO.

    • Simon

      lmao, Garmin Connect alone should have the executive board hauled over for trial at the Hague. Any, and all, of those services you just listed are better IN EVERY WAY than GC, and the majority of what anybody would want in those services is included with the free versions.

  62. Chris Belyea

    Thanks for the great, and well balanced, post

    My experience over the years has been

    FR620 – numerous lock up/freezes when out running. Replaced by Garmin twice
    Vivoactive 3 – generally OK until it just permanently locked up. Replaced battery. No joy. Threw it in the bin
    Edge 530 – my least irritating Garmin until Garmin introduced the battery drain bug which rendered it essentially useless
    Fenix 3 – bought it for MTB riding but randomly dropped sensors, particularly power (Stages)
    Edge 820 – useless touch screen. Intermittently dropped power sensor during every ride
    Fenix 5 – won’t stay paired to any sensors except HR. Ridiculous altitude/elevation bug

    Wahoo Bolt, and now Roam – faultless
    Apple Watch 3 & 4 – faultless

    I’m firmly in the ‘never again Garmin’ camp

    • Ben

      Hey Chris,

      What’s the ‘battery drain’ bug you speak of on your 530? I’ve had mine for almost a month now and the battery has been unbelievably good. I did a 7 hour race this weekend with course navigation active the whole time, for example, and the battery went from 100% down to only 79% in those 7 hours. Battery issues have been deal breakers for me in the past as I do a lot long events.

  63. BJ

    👏. You nailed it:

    “The sole reason Wahoo has slowly gained market share in cycling GPS computers isn’t because they have a technologically more feature laden or better priced product (they don’t). It’s because they have a product that seemingly has less bugs (and also as everyone points out, because you can configure your data pages via phone app).”

  64. ChuckPDX

    Ray, you’ve written an excellent article here!
    Stability/reliability is certainly one of the things that Garmin has been sacrificing while trying to jam in new/whizzy feature check-boxes.

    The other thing that’s been sacrificed and is just as important is EASE OF USE. Garmin’s first time setup and daily usage experiences have been complex and confusing, creating another huge gap for Wahoo. I’ve lost count of the number of people that I ride with that need help/tutoring on how to use Garmin cycling computers, whereas Wahoo has delivered more of an Apple-like “it just works” experience. A search for “easy” in your own Roam review and reader comments bears this out!

    During my career I was architect/developer for many products, and making a product easy can be a real challenge. For Garmin to respond is much harder because they got lots of architectural and partnership baggage to deal with – big ships are difficult to turn. It will be interesting to see if they are willing to spend on R&D and Human Factors needed to adapt, or if Wahoo and others will be able to disrupt Garmin further.

  65. Jeff

    Long time reader and I implicitly respect your views Ray. I run and I cycle. Never swim.

    Owned multiple Garmin devices (currently the Fenix 5s Plus and 520). I really like Garmin products and have had very few issues over the years. Very reliable recording of my workouts and the connectivity to TP and Strava just works. I am a happy proponent of all things Garmin

  66. okrunner

    Right on point. Besides Livetrack and bluetooth to Edge connectivity, Grouptrack is a train wreck. I still use Garmin but their attitude towards customer complaints is down right awful. “We’ve not had any complaints about that issue before.” Right! The forums can be chuck full of the same issue and they deny any complaints about it at all. Specifically, the original Garmin Fenix and the Edge 130 were a disaster. So glad I didn’t buy an Epix. I just wish once when you called on a warranty issue the person at the other end would say “Yep, we are aware of the issue it’s affecting x percentage of our units. We are going to send you one tested to make sure it’s working and a twinkie for your trouble.” Instead, you get treated like you just came from an OU/KU football game wearing your OU shirt. (Kansas always loses, 41-3 in 2018) Oh wait, maybe that’s the problem. Not going to let them know I’m from Oklahoma anymore.

    • Paul S.

      The Fenix 1? Except for the period I was using the beta releases, it was rock solid for me. Altitude correction actually worked, GPS was fine, and the most amazing thing was not a feature at all, but probably just a mistake by Garmin: you could put maps on it? They were cut down versions of OSM maps, and there wasn’t much storage for them (and of course you couldn’t navigate by map), but they displayed nicely in 4 “colors”. Mine had water ingress and had to be replaced, but it worked well for years.

      The Epix was OK except for the altitude offset bug that they never fixed. If you calibrated it it would display altitude correctly, and it always stayed more or less correct as you did an activity. Then when you got home and got the FIT file off, the altitude was offset by (it varied by user) in my case 100 ft high. Altitude correction never worked, so you had to calibrate it each time you used it. But it had real maps, and could sort of navigate with them (getting it to do turn-by-turn was a chore, but route based navigation worked fine). Garmin is still the only company that has real maps and navigation by map on any of their watches (ignoring things like the Apple Watch which aren’t usable for real activities).

  67. Michael Vogel

    Every word is true…

    I had them all for “sport”, starting from the Forerunner 101 up to the 935 for now (and even think to buy the 945), while I already gave up to buy new “adventure” products (last one was the Oregon 500 or so).

    The reason why I still buy Forerunners? Garmin IQ. Nothing else.

    Without that, I would only see the same pattern as observed for all the other product lines – starting with an alpha version firmware, updating up to a beta level but not more. I still have my Oregon somewhere in a box, but the software did never get stable.

    Garmin also struggles by creating “just” software: I fear the Garmin Connect (GCM) hasn’t been done by real programmers – it seems like an app has been built using LEGO Duplo bricks. I would have expected a reliable small kernel app handling the information exchange (e.g. notifications) and modular add ons for statistic’s, etc. But the actual app wants to do all – but even fails to support a simple tablets/landscape mode.
    Same effect have been seen years ago for the Training Center (GTC) – I sent tons of bug reports, but the unreliable design did never change (at least Garmin modified the database at the end).

    The big question for me is, why Garmin was not able to bundle all energy to create a solid single firmware instance which runs on all watches? Shouldn’t every watch today (Forerunner, Fenix, Marq,…) use more or less the same CPU, the same display processor, etc.? Wouldn’t it be possible to develop a core code identical for all watches? Just disabling a feature here and there? Adding a single different watchface for marketing reasons is okay, but supporting completely different codes for different products will not make Garmin great again…

  68. Michael

    Over the last few days I found out that my new Edge 830 doesn’t “do” roundabouts with Garmin’s stock maps – it always prompts right-turns instead of proper roundabout exits. Replacing the maps was the only solution to the problem, took me probably 8 hours to figure it out and resolve.

    Thank you for shedding some light on Garmin’s shitty software an QA.

    • Roland

      Hello Michael,

      I have the same issue with roundabout exits on my Edge 530. Can you give me some details with which map you replaced the Garmin pre-installed stock map?

      Thanks, Roland

    • Michael

      Most popular site (afaik) is link to garmin.openstreetmap.nl

      Because it was down over the weekend, I have used country maps (Switzerland, Germany) from link to alternativaslibres.org. Worked without problems.

      Cheers,
      Michael

    • Roland Holzer

      Hello Michael,

      great, thanks a lot for the reply.

      I have used garmin.openstreetmap.nl before to download Maps for my Garmin Edge 520 (non-plus) but I was not aware that these maps support routing (since the Garmin Edge 520 doesn’t support routing).

      regards, Roland

    • Michael

      Just FYI:
      One of the OSM generic maps from garmin.openstreetmap.nl gave me a strange behaviour where some of the roundabouts would be displayed upside-down (i.e. the arrow pointing down instead of up). The other one works fine.

      Not sure what the problem is… it’s strange.

  69. Alexander

    Having only experienced owning an Index Smart Scale, Garmin VivoActive HR and then a ForeRunner 645M I would agree that they need to focus more on improving the stability of the software and helping make it easier for customers to report issues and receive responses. I stay with Garmin because I am semi locked into the ecosystem with other family members and we actively share our runs etc between each other.

    I would also add that the Garmin Connect Mobile App (iOS) needs a lot more work to make it more user friendly, fix notifications and generally just improve it.

  70. pavlinux

    – Ale, is the Garmin Russia service center?
    – Yes!
    – Do you repair the Vector pedals?
    – No, they are not repaired at all. Beep, beep, beep ….
    – Al…

    – Ale, is the Garmin Russia service center?
    – Yes!
    – I got a halo on the Ege1030, can you change the screen?
    – Did you buy in our store?
    – Not.
    – Contact where you bought. Beep, beep, beep,…

    • Joe

      – Hi, is the Garmin Italy service center?
      – Yes!
      – I got a Fenix5X Plus. The wifi doesn’t wark with more routers and the watch reboots itself during activity. In the paper of your home page was written that I can request the full refund. I bought the watch 3 days ago. How can I do?
      – Did you buy in our store?
      – Not.
      – Contact where you bought. But nobody can make a refund

    • Within the EU you have the right to return any product you deem defective within 14 days, to the trade (store) you bought it from.

      link to europa.eu

    • Joe

      I asked to garmin that tells to me to speak with the store that sold the watch. The store tells me that garmin doesn’t refund them so nothing to do. The store sends the watch back to garmin and garmin sends a new one. The problem for me is the same. I have the new watch from less than two weeks but I think nobody refunds me any more. The main problem to understand is: “product you deem defective”. For me if the wifi is so weak that doesn’t work with more routers (also with mine two), makes the watch or it’s firmware defectiv, but for the garmin it’s not (for them it’s my router, which by the way works perfectly with a dozen of electronic devices also another garmin). Who refunds me? The store or garmin? To whom should I request a refund?
      I bought the watch at 25 of aprile. The watch after 10 days goes to the assistance for more than 4 weeks on may, I take the new one from the sender the 3 of june. I do not know if I can have a full refound today.

  71. pavlinux

    Russia Edge 1030 now stands, in terms of the euro – 713,86€
    link to garmin.ru
    World price about 446,99 €

    Garmin, tell Russian dealers that they are fu_ked up

  72. Stephan

    Thanks for this post! I’ve seen LOTS of issues with Live Track (and I have 40+ years in software development). I would suggest that reporting an issue should be easier than going to a web site and filling out something, although that is worthwhile.

    For a while, I was running a beta version of the Garmin software on my Android phone, and it had a “feedback” menu item which automatically sent relevant data.

    I think the devices (Edge 1030, Fenix 5, Android phone in my case) should ALL have that ability to “click” feedback and report an issue. It would also standardize some of the data being submitted, which should lead to some automation (which has it’s own pitfalls, of course in missing rare but significant issues).

    This is the MOST RELEVANT post I’ve read from you in a while, and I do enjoy almost all of them Well done!

    • pavlinux

      They do not care!
      The problem of the interaction of the Edge 1030 and Edge Remote they solved 1.5 YEARS!!! From October 2017 !!!

  73. pavlinux

    Everyone saw the quality of the soldering and fabrication of the Edge 1030 (device for 700 euros)

    link to fccid.io

    In Chinese, nameless irons are much better manufacturing 😀

    • pavlinux

      They do not care!
      The problem of the interaction of the Edge 1030 and Edge Remote they solved 1.5 YEARS!!! From October 2017 !!!

  74. Austin

    How long has it been since Garmin put out the HRM-tri and HRM-Swim, but the data still doesn’t integrate into other third party platforms like Strava or Trainingpeaks? 5 Years? When will it get done … my guess is never.

    • To be fair, the file format is an openstandard, and I’m pretty sure it works with TrainingPeaks these days (not Strava though).

      Sure, Garmin could apply some more pressure here – but honestly this particular item’s blame sits squarely on these other companies to implement.

  75. Pub bike

    Excellent blog post. My experience echoes yours exactly.

    I think Garmin must have known you were writing it though, and is that why they deleted all the forum posts for legacy devices!

    • I’m not sure why old forum posts disappeared. When I talked with them about the forum transition back in April in the context of the Tacx acquisition forums, they agreed that having all that old data was incredibly useful for support. I’ll poke and ask what’s up.

    • Will

      Yeah, they don’t care. They broke all the old URLs, which affects bookmarks and search results. And they got rid of all the “general discussion” subforums (like Running, Cycling and Swimming). There were useful threads in those subforums, like convos about training and VO2 Max. As someone who wrote a detailed guide on how to hack your watch settings to set a bike wheel size smaller than 100 mm (which Garmin won’t allow, but which is required for some trainers apparently). I’m pretty annoyed that my thread is gone forever (except for a local copy I saved). You know what? If someone has that problem in the future, maybe Garmin can help them. It’s almost a slap in the face for people who’ve been around for even just 2 years, and spent some of their free time trying to help the community. The irony is I never would’ve even participated that community if I didn’t have so many problems with my 935 at release.

      Pretty obvious to me that management only cares about user-to-user support for *current* devices.

      I’ll also say that they picked a forum platform which has a terrible user experience. Some ppl speculated that forum regulars don’t like it because they don’t like new things, but I can point to several thoroughly modern platforms which have a better UX (like NodeBB or reddit). You can’t even post links on mobile or search within a single thread.

    • Paul S.

      Do they even care about user-to-user for current devices? I’ve been away from the forums for a year or more, but checked the new forums when they were turned on. They look completely unusable. It’s not likely I’ll ever go back.

  76. SHANNON DAY

    +1

    I love my Garmin stuff and think they are the best. However with 100% certainty, I encounter a bug 3-4 times over a two hour ride, It’s a very specific use case, but something is up that has not been tested.

    Garmin 820 paired with Di2 connector, Quarq PM, Varia radar and Apple iPhone X. Invariably I will lose connection with all and in worse case scenario, the 820 will shut down completely. This is my road/gravel setup. MTB has only PM and watch/phone and never has these issues.

  77. FatTed

    I have had issues with several Garmin Edge computers, and usually unhelpful support. My 520 died and all I have got is a shrug and buy another, I think not. I liked it and having owned a few know how to work it. It is time for a Wahoo I think.

  78. JuhaR

    Thanks extremely good post!! Have been trying to buy new watch for over year now, but haven’t find anything that I would be willing to buy. fenix5 plus would be the watch I would buy if I would see that the OWS accuracy problem would be fixed and also verified by forums! Suunto is out of question because really bad experience with their support, even though I speak their native language. Polar is lacking saphire glass from latest vantage V titan, otherwise that would fill all the ticks in my list.

    • Joe

      If you want a multisport watch, a good garmin may be an old model. I have my Forerunner 920XT that works good , openwater, pool, running, cycling, mtb so in the forest under trees and so on. Also the battery life is good enough after 4 years of life. Do not buy a new model. It’s a non sense that I did.

    • JuhaR

      Already using 735xt, it works fine when not broken. This is 3rd unit in 2 years. And I would prefer something more robust but still good looking watch. Suunto had good hardware, but the server connectivity problems were never solved. When I send to Suunto support Wireshark log where I can see that their server is not working correctly, they replied to check the cable between watch and computer and then stopped replying.

    • Joe

      I have had 2 FR920XT. The first one I sanded back after 5 days of use (it was a new entry on gamin), than I re buy the same watch after a year and it was like another watch. No significant bugs, solid updates and so on. I wanted to replace with Fenix 5X Plus after 4 years and 4/5 workouts a week (run, pool,bike) and in the winter snowboarding and so on, only to have un upgrade (just a whim). The F5x+ was born at October 2018 so I sad “will be mature”….:(. No way, wrong thought 🙁
      The FR920XT was made in good plastic (I have not a scratch in years), the battery life is good if you do not have to do very long trails, and the battery replacement today costs less then 20€. So I think depends on use but for me is a very good product. Today you can find it new for less then 250€ …

    • Joe

      …of course “good looking watch” is subjective. For me is a “fatigue tool” so i use it when I go in the office and I have a workout on the lunch time.

    • Jens

      Joe I would like to know why the F5X+ is not good enough. I got mine a few months ago. Yes it did reboot itself during pool swim once, perhaps even twice (not sure about one of the times, might’ve been user error) but for me it’s been working well for running, trail running, bike (I don’t use sensors) and pool swim(I swim 2-3 times a week). (My F5S never rebooted in pool swim so ok that’s a drawback for 5X+ perhaps)
      Also the Garmin Pay works perfect for me. Route navigation worked well for me in trails too. Strava live segment is new to me but I think it has been working fine.
      My “only” real problem has been 400m intervals on a running oval. They have consistently been measured 0.43-0.44kms which I think is horrible. Unfortunately my FR935 was equally bad the other week though. I think this might be a firmware problem as last year, my FR935 said my 1000m intervals were 1.02kms which was very good IMO. (older firmware)
      Also, for what it’s worth, the 5X+ is the only Garmin watch I own that correctly sends the temperature to Strava for pool swim. My F5S and FR935 must have a different format in the files cos Strava always gets 0C as average temp (while GC is correct)
      I still would like to know which watch(es) Ray thinks is best for OWS 🙂 Since all Garmins seem to have a bug there.

    • Joe

      After reboot on the pool results 6h of activity after 20 min of real swim. Garmin sends me a new watch but I am pretty sure that the problem is not only mine. For the rest, the temperature sensor of this watch is realy stupid. If you take the watch on your wrist like every normal person did, it signs something between air temperature and body temperature (something realy unuseful). I hope the F5X+ works fine in open water (I will use it soon). The only thing that makes me to do the upgrade fron FR920XT is the music. It works fine for me and with the music my pace goes down about 30s ;).
      I realy hope they fix the wifi problem. If my router works fine I would never have noticed the problem, but this is realy bad. Many peaple have problems with the altimeter, another regression of a bug on fenix3 fixed a year ago, and so on. So for me, music and battery life I give a plus, for the rest, I do not know…I’m really sed

  79. JONATHAN WOO

    Very well written and can’t be said any better. I hope the Garmin execs. will be reading this story. Currently I’m having BT connectivity issues on my 830. Upon finishing my ride and with my phone within BT range, the 830 wouldn’t connect to the phone unless I manually open up the Garmin Connect App. Funny thing is my 520 doesn’t have this problem. Upon finishing the ride the ride data is automatically uploaded to GC without me touching my phone. I really hope Garmin will get their act together.

    • After reading this article yesterday I switched on my 520 at the start of a training session based on power and found all my customised data fields had disappeared and some random ones in their place. 2 of the 5 activity profiles I had set up also gone. So I was standing at the side of the road, in the rain, trying to “quickly” program the data fields/screens I needed for my training session. This is the 2nd time this has happened, I’m guessing there was a software update. But the interesting thing is that my wife’s 520 has never had this issue.
      My 935 only recorded about 200m of my Ironman 70.3 Mallorca swim and then completely locked up when I hit the lap button at T2. I spent the first minutes of the run trying to unfreeze it and gave up and then I heard a beep and looked down and it was re-booting and then started working where it had left off apart from a wonky T2 transition time.
      I didn’t bother to report it to Garmin because “what’s the point”, and I wonder how many faults don’t get reported because it’s become normal for software to have bugs and we all just shrug our shoulders and live with it.
      But I also accept that there are probably a lot of “bugs” complained about that are down to user error, unreasonable expectations or not reading the instructions.

    • Andrew Miller

      The Spontaneous Factory Reset. Happens to my 510 about twice a year 🙁

  80. JB

    Very well written indeed, have mixed experiences:

    – Edge 500, bombproof, it still works today even with good battery life. I STILL use it when going for MTB ride where I don’t need navigation

    – Edge Explore, quality/price quite a good unit, I also was able to buy with quite a heavy discount. Yes, there are some bugs but most of them got solved. Recognizing this is not the most complex unit either. But it generally does what it needs to do. Integration with CIQ Komoot app works well planning routes. Yes it sometimes takes a while for the device to recognize the phone and connect.

    – Vivoactive 3, now on my 2nd unit, doesn’t stay connected to ANT+ sensors, battery behaves odd. Don’t use it anymore, is up for sale.

    – Was planning to buy Fenix 5+ or FR945, however the longer I think about it the less I’m thinking of buying one looking at all the feedback.

    How I see the future, if Garmin continues like this they’ll get less and less market space, why?

    – Wahoo and others are taking space from them on the cycling units side
    – Apple Watch will rule the smartwatch & sports watch space in the future. They have the whole backend platform and can do things which other manufactures can’t because of the phone/IOS/Watch integration.
    They have the money, people and board to push these things forward. There are not some many things they need to fix to be on par with Garmin:
    – They need a “sports/ruggedized” variant of the AW
    – Battery life
    – Sensor support (ANT+ mainly)
    – All the other features will be covered by “apps”, e.g. training load metrics, GPS routing,… they just need better integration there. And you already see the 1st signs of that: dedicated app store for the AW.

    Just my 2 cents :-), no I’m not an Apple fanboy, but at this moment they have the platform and money to succeed in this space.

    • Paul S.

      Platform and money, but probably not the desire. If Apple wanted to, they could simply buy Garmin and clean up the software act. Otherwise, the “sports” AW would probably wind up looking much like a Fenix 5+ because they’re going to need an always on screen (so they’ll wind up going to the screens Garmin uses, a little washed out but easily visible in direct sunlight), better battery life, more buttons (the two buttons on the AW are already overloaded), maybe a way to turn off the touchscreen if they even keep it, and the ability to function normally off the wrist.

    • David J

      I replaced my old trusty Edge 500 with a new Edge Explore, based largely on Ray’s glowing review 😉 and the fact I didn’t really need power. And it not a bad device, but it certainly IS as buddy as the other Edge series – Livetrack not working most rides, losing connectivity to my iPhone, rerouting not working properly if you go off a course, etc. etc.

  81. vojko

    Good one….I also hope that Garmin will take something from that post…it would be much appriciated action…:)

  82. MK

    Edge 500 user for about 5 years and Vivoactive HR for about 1 year. Had been hoping to upgrade the VHR to a 245/945 but the issues make it impossible to do so. Then I looked at the Fenix 5 Plus range, issues still outstanding. Might look at the FR235 as it seems to be stable but not much of a jump from the VHR.

  83. Nevan King

    I know the Apple Watch issue that you’re talking about, where the GPS track can’t handle sharp turns and smooths them out. I do a 5km parkrun and it was always recorded as 4.8km. But sometime last year in a minor update for watchOS 5 it changed. It seems like the watch is now using accelerometer data together with GPS because the GPS track showed much sharper turns. It still has trouble with long slow turns but in general my 5km run comes up around 4.95km. I’d urge you to give it another go.

  84. spidercrab

    Ray – Well written, brave article that really hits the spot and says what others beyond the non influential Garmin Form members, will say in public.

    I have used many Garmin products over the years from yacht chart plotters to bike computers to trackers to my current recently purchased Fenix 5. I am a big fan of well behaved Garmin kit that works as advertised. When Garmin get it right, they really get it right.

    My observation over time, is that Garmin devices that were created pre bluetooth connection to Connect were absolutely rock solid. I continue to use and have used my trusty Edge 500 a great deal and it is an outstanding bit of lightweight reliable kit and I have already bought a back up device and spare battery from eBay to prepare the day that the 500 might eventually die.

    IMHO, when the Connect App appeared, it all went wrong for Garmin, even though Strava was at that time, already well established and all Garmin had to do was build a rock solid Bluetooth comms system and copy Strava. Recently, I really debated with myself whether to invest in another Garmin product, even though I promised myself I would never so this again. My logic was that Connect would only act as a way to transmit my Garmin recorded data to Strava and that surely by now, they had sorted out the connection issues. While I am still in the initial honeymoon period with my new Fenix, I am noticing more and more “no connection” issues. So far I have not tested the features that I expect to work, do actually work well enough to consider it reliable and accurate. If this turns out not to be the case the Fenix will be returned in an instant.

    So far, the Fenix connect to iPhone and stairs counting are unsatisfactory, but I can currently live with it during the honeymoon. The stairs counting has improved from the clown like, random number generator used in my previous Garmin device, but it still behaves like a feature not fit for a beta release in a future untested product.

    There is no reason for any Bluetooth product in 2019 to have crap connection problems other than it is untested, or uses shoddy HW or the SW is flakey or maybe all three. I, like many here, can name the various products in my life such as car systems, speakers, etc, that have either rock solid connections or the ones that cannot maintain a reliable connection. Some companies get it absolutely right and some don’t get it right and can’t get it right, and Garmin has to address this as well as the high number of other outstanding year after year issues.

    It is most disappointing that someone senior at Garmin has not responded publicly to Ray with a “things are going to change”, “new software culture”, “heads have already rolled” type of response. This perpetuates my view of Garmin as a company that doesn’t listen to customers and is not interested in developing and maintaining Software that matches the Hardware.

    The higher end Garmin watches and trackers only exist because Apple have not created a rugged round watch with some more exercise focused HW and that is the competition waiting just over the horizon. Apple may not chase that market because “we” are a tough bunch to please – we are are not difficult to please but do expect all advertised features to work as advertised. I already have a few Wahoo devices and the SW experience has been most refreshing when compared to Garmin, and in an ideal world, I would gladly pay more for a Garmin device that could use a Wahoo app.

    Dear Garmin, FIX THE BLOODY SOFTWARE”.

    • Paul S.

      Well, again, the 500 doesn’t even have Bluetooth, so there’s no way for it to fail in that way. You can still operate devices without Bluetooth or WiFi if you want, just turn it off on the device. So far as I know, they all still sync via Garmin Express when you plug them into a computer (unlike, say, the Apple Watch).

      But Garmin has raised expectations, so it’s supposed to work, and it definitely should, without all of the problems. Occasional problems, fine, I have them occasionally with my Bluetooth headphones, and even my Apple Watch will now and then show it’s not connected to my iPhone for some reason. With Garmin, though, it’s always a roll of the dice with some big odds that it’s not going to work.

  85. John Burgess

    Open water Swims.
    As with Run Pods why not Swim Pods which go under swim caps, sounds so simple, but probably not.

    • Yeah, the challenge there is water blocks most all signals. So Bluteooth and related signals only go about 1″ underwater (2-3cm). So the headphones would have to actually store music onboard.

    • Tom K.

      Ray, I think what John meant was to have something like a gps-swim-pod to put under the cap like you did a while ago with watches.
      I think of something like simple gps pod with one button(double click start, double click stop) and some straps/clips to attach it somewhere on your googles or under the cap would be fine. Maybe it could be even controlled from the watch as an external gps sensor during swim that syncs after the training like the HRM-Swim does.
      It wouldn’t require transmission through water.
      After I read John’s comment I thought that would the simplest solution to all the open water swim problems.

    • Oh.

      Yeah, that’s a more logical comment.

      What’s funny is that technically speaking there is an ANT+ profile for secondary GPS sensors. I’m not aware of any sports tech company using it however.

  86. Andy Lynex

    Interesting post, i’ve had a number of Forerunner units, replacing every 2 years. Historically i didn’t see any more bugs than on other consumer tech. I definitely see issues more frequently over last 12 months: i’ve had the non-tracked outdoor swim about a month ago, despite working well before that, i always struggle to pair my 935 to phone, most annoyingly the temperature/ altitude readings have now failed repeatedly requiring three replacement units

  87. CuseRunner

    The Fenix 5 connectivity issues and the terrible response from Garmin. An admitted hardware issue with their premium outdoor device at the time, and they offered absolutely no resolution. That one left a lasting bitter taste in my mouth.

  88. Hank Morris

    The article makes some excellent points, but I have mixed feelings reading the comments here.

    On one hand, I personally think that Garmin makes a really good, if not currently the best, hardware-software ecosystem for sports-focused devices. By “the best” I mean a good balance in terms of features, hardware quality and cross-device integration.

    I’ve owned the Edge 500, 520, Fenix 3, Fenix 5x and currently 5x Plus and all these devices have worked really well for my purposes. I mainly mountain/road bike, hike and trail run (two to three bike rides a week, a couple of runs, a few cross-training sessions). They have/had their faults (most notably intermittent crashes on the 520, Fenix 5x OHR sensor cracks which was replaced by Garmin), but nothing to make me really want to switch out of the Garmin ecosystem. My 5x+ has been pretty solid (touch wood!): rather acceptable GPS tracks on different types of terrain, uploads activities wirelessly without a hitch, never drops phone connection (android phone), great battery life, and while opinions on design aesthetics are pretty subjective, I think it is a nice looking bit of kit and usability for a feature-rich multisport device is pretty good.

    On the other hand..there is no smoke without fire. The comments here are evidently overwhelmingly negative.

    I am looking into buying the Edge 830 now, but reading the comments here I wonder if: a) I am one of the few happy Garmin customers…a fluke or b) I am one of the happy Garmin customers who share their positive experience online or c) “The Garmin Experience” is a highly variable one, depending on where you are and what device(s) you own/sport(s) you’re into/ and degree of comfort with technology you have (or all three?).

    • Paul S.

      I bought an 830, and don’t (yet) regret doing so.

      I think that, like forums, a post like this is apt to attract people who have had problems, and the ones who don’t have any aren’t inclined to read all the comments or post. For example, I don’t care about LiveTrack or even Bluetooth, and how many complaints here are due to those? I wouldn’t use LIveTrack because (as we can see from this post!) the chance of worry/aggravation due to false positives far outweighs the chance that it will actually be useful. (I’d turn off Fall Detection on an AW4 if I had one.) Bluetooth I’m not that interested in. It’s on on both my 830 and my 5+, but I pay no attention to whether it’s actually working or not. If WiFi doesn’t upload my rides at the end, I’m going to plug my 830 into a computer anyway, so it’ll happen then, either through Garmin Express or manually if I have to. (The 5+ might be a problem since it doesn’t show up as a disk.) If the HR sensor on my 5+ broke, I wouldn’t care,
      since it’s primary use is cross country skiing and for that I’m not going to be use wrist HR anyway. (Oh, I’d get it replaced if it was still under warranty, but if there was snow on the ground, I might wait until there wasn’t before sending it back.) So I think it depends on what you want out of a device.

    • Hank Morris

      I agree, for the most part. A big part of the extent to which you will be satisfied or disappointed with Garmin (or any other manufacturers’ devices, for that matter) is going to depend on your expectations and the perceived value you think you should be getting against what you paid for the device. Some of the things you mentioned will be very annoying to me if they start misbehaving (I really, really don’t want to plug my devices in to upload activities. I use an HR strap for sports, but I like OHR all day HR tracking and it is an important feature for me, etc.). LiveTrack has been working fine for me, but lots of my mountain bike rides and trail runs are in locations without mobile network reception, so I bought an inReach mini (which integrates beautifully if not perfectly with the Fenix 5x+), so I don’t care much for the new emergency features which I think are still a bit gimmicky and unpolished (if a step in the right direction).

    • Paul S.

      If the altimeter/barometer broke, *that* would bother me. I’m a little ticked at my 5+ right now; I took it hiking (= dog walking) up in the mountains this afternoon and it DEM calibrated to 1955 ft (about right) when I started but when I got back it was 2008 ft. For forty minutes that’s a little too much drift, although there is a front coming in. I think I have auto cal turned on, but that hasn’t worked since the Fenix 1, so I should probably just turn it off.

    • Ernesto Acosta

      Paul, good points. I agree, people often complain the loudest when they are unhappy; they seldom write when they are happy.

      To paraphrase Marc Anthony (when delivering Caesar’ eulogy):

      The evil that companies do lives forever in the Internet, the good is often buried along with their bones.

      I think, however, that your comments miss the mark. It is not that people expect too much from their Garmin products. The real issue is that when Garmin products do not perform as advertised (or work as intended by Garmin’s hype) Garmin turns a seemingly blind eye, or deaf ear, to the complaints, ignoring them. Consumers have every right to work as advertised. If I spent a great deal of money on a new car and it ran only four days out of seven, I would be rightfully upset. It wouldn’t matter to me if it ran wonderfully during those four days. I expect, and want, it to run right all seven days of the week.

      Garmin should be reminded that some of the worst wounds are self-inflicted. They are not the only game in town. There are plenty of competitors out there waiting to take over.

  89. Neil A.

    Beyond all the comments on individual bugs and failures on devices, the one thing the Garmin team should be paying attention to is the most common statement I see being made here: “GARMIN DON’T CARE!”. It could well become their competitors new advertising slogan….

    • Paul S.

      “Garmin don’t care, but we don’t have maps on our watches and we don’t support radar!”. I’ll take the Garmin, thanks.

  90. Stephan

    Google Maps “Location Sharing” DOES work all the time, and has for a long while. It doesn’t give any of the ride stats, but if all you need is “where is my partner/friend, etc”, then it’s something to look at.

    • JD

      Google Maps is woefully inadequate for live tracking. Sure it’s better than nothing if you only want to share your location at the moment, but there are too many negatives. Maximum battery drain for one. Would you use your phone as GPS in your car without the power cord plugged in? Plus there is no route indication (are you on a loop? out and back? half way done? where/when did you start? headed home? etc.), manual start/stop required, no stats, and more.

      If Garmin takes one action item from this article it should be first FIX GD BT connectivity (GCM) then make sure Live Track is BOMBPROOF (device and GCM).
      If Live Track is started (or set to auto-start) your Edge device should maintain the link no matter what happens. If the BT connection is lost for any reason then re-pairing should trigger automatically in background. If that fails for any reason then your Edge device should nag you with a message that can’t be dismissed other than stopping and purposely disabling LiveTrack (contacts receive a canned message – LiveTrack disabled by user).

      In the meantime Road ID’s mobile app looks promising as it supports eCrumb tracking and stationary alerts. I wish it had a simple start/stop option versus defining a duration. Feedback is easy though (click, type, done). Haven’t tested battery drain on any long rides yet.

    • Graham

      I use Real-Time GPS Tracker from greenalp (greenalp.com). Uses very little battery indeed on my Android phone. I’ve never even tried Garmin LiveTrack or Strava Beacon, because this thingy just works fine. That’s how my wife knew that things had gone wrong even before the policeman called about my broken spine…

      Is the Specialized ANGI doodah any good for this?

    • Unfortunately ANGi doesn’t have GPS in it, it just leverages the phone GPS.

  91. Charlie

    I wish Garmin had not changed the User Forums recently because it was the place I went to resist the urge to buy the newest product. The forum does not have the hierarchy by product anymore so you cannot get a view of the full scope of problems. Makes me think Garmin is trying to hide its problems and whoever did that needs to be fired.

    • What do you mean with “does not have the hierarchy by product”? The new forum is organized just like the old one, with areas and then products.

  92. Christoph Krieger

    My experience so far:

    Speed Sensor –> No issues
    Cadence Sensor –> No issues
    HRM Tri –> DOA, the second one worked.
    Vector 3 –> No chance to get it working correctly –> switched to Assioma
    FR45s –> DOA, the second one (FR45) works so far

  93. davep

    It’s not just that there are bugs but that there are bugs in stuff that used to work.

    I suspect some of the problems stem from making changes to legacy code (instead of having a modern code base).

  94. Doug Curtis

    Well said Ray. I’ve never understood why there isn’t a computer or phone based app for the profile configurations. It would be great to have a drag-n-drop interface to configure the data screens. So far my Edge 530 has worked well. Out of the box I got the 3.20 update almost immediately and it has worked well for the limited number of rides I’ve done so far. I’m hoping to put it to a little harder test this weekend.

  95. Deloss Buseman

    Spot on. I have no confidence that my Garmin will make it through a long event without any issues. Wahoo doesn’t have as many features, but it just seems to work. I saw a guy that had two computers mounted on his bike. One was a Garmin and he had a Wahoo mounted underneath for a backup because he had be burned by the Garmin to many times. So yes, Garmin has some work to do to gain the confidence of many of it’s users.

  96. Aaron

    In what probably ranks as the Worst Possible Timing Ever (given this article), Garmin made an update to their website in the last 24 hours so that sync services such as tapiriik using the legacy REST API are now seeing erroneous test data included in requests for user data.

    This data is getting replicated to other services such as Strava, Dropbox, SportTracks and others. And to the user it appears that other Garmin accounts are leaking their private workout data. In the security conscious climate we now operate in around social media and online data, this isn’t exactly a confidence builder. :\

  97. Dengler Franz

    Open water swim on the Fenix 5 is a nightmare. A 2000m swim ends in a 4500m swim jumping around wildly. 100m jumps in 1s are occuring often. In comparison when I have my old 910xt gives accurate tracks. Technically it should not be an impossibility. The funny thing is that before GPS 2.30 it works quite good.

  98. Josh

    Ive had a variety of Garmins over the years and it’s been a frustrating ride. When things are going well, i have been niggled by the unfriendly UI’s and when they are buggy, I’m ready to throw theyin the bush! I stopped using my E500 a couple of years ago after it would display “working…” on the screen for the entire ride.. feels like Garmin is having a laugh as i would describe it as ‘not working’. I’m in the market for a E530 or equivalent. Any suggestions of similar models in other brands?- I’m hanging up my Garmin towel.

    • David J

      If you’re upgrading from Edge 500, a Wahoo device should seem a decent upgrade. Unless you want to use the Varia rear-view Radar, like myself and many others. Garmin is the only game in town, unfortunately.

  99. Tom

    Garmin Vector 3 pedals never paired with my Samsung S7 phone using GCM.

    Multiple email and phone conversations (including updating to the latest firmware and software) never resolved the problem. One customer rep finally admitted he had the same problem. There was never any resolution so I sold the pedals at a loss.

    I’m currently buying a sports watch, but having a pause at the Garmin models.

  100. I’m more concerned with Garmin’s lackluster response to their widespread hardware issues, mainly the epoxy used to coat their Elevate Optical Heart Rate Sensor (OHR). Through returns, I’m now using my 2nd 735 and my 3rd 935. Of the other units, none lasted longer than 6 months before the OHR sensor developed cracking so bad that water seeped into the sensor and rendered it inoperable, not to mention roughness irritated my wrist to the point of an open sore. My first return was easy, as Garmin said they recognized it as an “engineering issue” and replaced my 735 with a new one at no cost. All the returns after the first have been a nightmare. Garmin suddenly started suffering from amnesia, telling me the OHR issue was “something new”, not widespread and nothing their company was currently aware of. This was after I went back and forth with a few Garmin people as they asked for help to identity what was causing the issue (environment, lotions, skin PH). With my last few returns I’ve had to blog about them and Twitter bash to get the units replaced with new ones, at no cost to me, like I did with my first one. I almost jumped to Polar. Instead I saw the 945 and ordered one because of the number of features it has that Polar does not. I also use many other devices on Garmin’s ecosystem. To my dismay, I’m seeing even more problems with the Elevate v3 OHR on the 945 and they are happening within weeks, not months of use.

    • Guillermo Guerini

      Yeah, I mentioned that before. It’s unacceptable they can’t figure this out. We are seeing the same old problems in the new generation of products. It feels like they simply don’t care and are willing to ignore it’s a problem.

  101. Kenny Dewilde

    I posted your article on the Garmin Forum. Peepz started mentioning some extra troubles and experience with Garmin and just now they locked the thread 🙁

    link to forums.garmin.com

  102. Bob C

    Great piece and on the mark. I love the idea of what Garmin would like to do, however the management of the company has turned unleashing semi-beta software onto the marketplace as part of the business plan. I truly don’t think Garmin cares about customers — and worse when problems pop up historically their support team flat out denies the existence of problems despite customers howling in pain.

    After being a Garmin customer for 15 years, I was one of the first buyers of the horrific Edge 820. I got one with an unusable screen (which left me without navigation 190km from an area of Japan I have no familiarity during a 14 hour rain storm… nice, Garmin). Despite massive numbers of users complaining about the 820 screen, Garmin’s customer support flatly denied a problem. I tried to get a return, no dice because by the time I was done trying to reasonably troubleshoot the issue, I was outside of the return window. So I work with you and THEN you refuse the return??? Later I read at DC Rainmaker that Garmin now acknowledges that the 820 screen issue was manufacturing faults on THEIR end. Well, why didn’t they reach out to registered customers who tried to return the damned thing?

    I moved over to a Wahoo Bolt and encouraged literally everyone I know (in a very, very large cycling organization) to do the same. Garmin lost countless sales — and as you note so accurately, the Bolt isn’t as feature rich, but it is reliable, which is more than anyone can say for a Garmin.

    A couple of years later, I needed to upgrade my running/multi-sport watch. With a gulp I decided to try a 935 (well after the initial issues THAT device had). I was shocked to find that the 935 was a terrific device (early adopters suffered we later adopters did not).

    So when I saw the new features of the 830 and 945 and read your review, Ray, I jumped. So far the 830 has had software issues on every ride I’ve taken it on save for one — including crapping out and freezing and losing sensors (documented issues on Garmin forums) 150k into a 600k brevet. Fortunately, I brought along my Wahoo Bolt as a backup and it worked without issues.

    My 945 has been mostly OK — although I’m experiencing a mild form of the button problems others have been having. I hope it doesn’t get worse. Happily at least for the moment, it appears Garmin support is acknowledging there are issues, which is a big improvement for their customary denial.

    Here’s the thing, as you wrote if Garmin would just value its customers enough to release stable software, acknowledge problems and work HARD with customers to make it right, then it could literally own this space. While there are 50 improvements I’d love to see with Connect, having a unified and reasonably smart place to collect all your training and performance data is great.

    At the moment, no single product universe and backend data collection can match the Garmin universe for bringing together the multi-sport activities that we take part in. (The Inreach mini is a big game changer for some of us too for backcountry exploits….) But if some company does go truly multisport — or if Suunto, Wahoo and Sportracks teamed up to be seamlessly interoperable, for instance, then Garmin would be in very big trouble.

    Garmin has earned almost no loyalty from customers despite its ubiquity — that’s a profoundly dangerous situation for a company because it means your installed base in meaningless.

    When Garmin products work, they’re great. But they are significantly unstable and Garmin ALWAYS treats customers like crap. This means customers, even those who like 80% of the products, tend to loath the company itself. That makes it vulnerable. And honestly, as you say Ray, this is an issue for upper management to address. Either the CEO of Garmin should take a bold initiative to fix this — and announce it to the world in a general “mea culpa, we get it…” — or the board should find a new CEO. As it stands, for many of us, as soon as there are solid alternatives that are unified: we’re gone from Garmin forever.

  103. Eric Buxton

    I got a Fenix 2 2 weeks before the 3 was announced, but used it for 2 years-for the most part it was reliable-a few crashes during biking but was fine overall. I was just envious of the 3’s display and bluetooth upgrades the whole time. Bought a 5X when it was released and so have had it over 2 years now. No issues and doesn’t drop cadence sensor or HR (both are ANT+ and are Garmin) GPS is way better than on the F2-there is an area by work that every time I went running with the F2 it zigzagged all over the place for a bit even though there was nothing other than a parking ramp it was a consistent issue-not so with 5. However, GPS isn’t perfect. Battery life is ok-when biking typically lasts 7 days-when running only stretches to 9 days. (Bike 40miles 2-3x week when biking outdoors, run 5 miles 3x/week when running only). Battery seems to be about same as when new. I wear the watch daily and shower with it, but rarely swim so perhaps that is why have not had altimeter issue. I use the 2 on my bike handlebars as my speedometer/odometer and it still works and battery is decent.
    Wife has Vivoactive HR-first unit failed just after a year-the display was full of lines. Doing a little digging on their website it turned out that they knew of this and she got a free replacement. 2 friends who bike have had no issues with their Edges (not sure of model numbers) except for declining battery life.

  104. Brett

    Was thinking of replacing my Edge 520 with a 530 because of the new mountain bike features. Took a look at the Garmin 530 forums and I’ve now reconsidered. Bad units, bugs. I’ll let the pioneers take the arrows until they can actually ship a stable piece.

    And it’s been this way for years. I couldn’t use the final firmware revision on my Edge 705 because it would crash, finally ended up just using the last “stable” version that generally worked for me.

  105. Zach

    FYI – Garmin is now locking forum threads that refer to this page. (two so far)
    Reminds me of when Hammerhead deleted negative facebook posts.
    Garmin states the reason is that the forums are for specific problems. I’ve never read a forum rule stating to only discuss problems there. IMO they’re going way to far in doing that.

    • Hmm. I do think there’s a different between locking threads and flat-out deleting them. I agree that I don’t ever remember a specific rule staying problems only, though, I do remember some variants of that in the past around more general discussion.

      I guess for me, I’d rather focus any ‘feedback energy’ there towards getting the historical data restored.

    • Fredrik

      Garmin is chasing down and locking every thread that mentions or links to DCRainmakers critique.

    • Will

      Well, they used to have threads directly under the Running, Cycling, and Swimming categories which were used for somewhat general discussion, but tellingly, all of those topics are gone now, and you can’t post threads there anymore. While this may be a limitation of the current platform (where a category can’t have both subcategories and topics), there was nothing to stop them from making new “General Discussion” subforums under Running, Cycling and Swimming and migrating the old threads there. Instead they just threw them all out.

      Seems to me that they don’t want general discussion anymore, just discussion of product-specific problems.

    • Boris

      Holy moly – is that a bad move (from Garmin). They know it exactly.

    • JD

      @Will – “Seems to me that they don’t want general discussion anymore, just discussion of product-specific problems.”

      I don’t have a problem with that. As you mention they could add back General Discussions IF they want to. As DCR points out they haven’t deleted the posts, just locked them since they don’t address a specific issue. I suppose “corporate culture” could be considered a specific problem. :->

      I don’t think they can address all reported issues without a new codebase. One that includes audit logs and feedback sent direct from the device to a behind-the-scenes development center help desk with tickets tied to the device’s SN.
      There are just too many variables and functions between the hardware and software to determine which issues are legit (and reproducible) versus one-ups or operator related.

      If they can’t stabilize the current codebase perhaps they should gamify crashes and meltdowns and include animations with sound effects. Lose a sensor — “whut-rah!” Drop a ride recording — “evil laugh” System crash — countdown timer with kaboom GIF.

      I for one have had minimal issues with my E1030 and RTL510 — in use for almost a year now. I just wish Live Track with a BT connection to Android (Pixel) was solid.
      Yes there are other quirks (like battery-save screen countdown fails), but nothing that would cause me to look elsewhere — so far.

    • Will

      @JD As I mentioned in another comment, I have a specific problem because I wrote a detailed guide in the “Running” forum on how to set a bike wheel size of less than 100 mm by hacking watch settings, in response to several requests from people who needed that for their trainer. I spent my free time figuring out how to do that and writing up a guide for people, as well as hacking settings files for anyone who asked.

      Garmin didn’t have a problem with that when I originally posted it. The only reason the thread is gone now is because it was in the general Running forum and not a product-specific forum, and they’ve deleted all their general forums.

      There were also a lot of great threads on VO2Max (as relating to Garmin devices) and training advice (which admittedly is not directly related to Garmin), which are all gone now.

      It’s fine, but that kind of thing just makes me not want to participate in the community. They don’t really want a community, they just want free user-to-user support for current devices, to lower their own costs. Which is fine, I totally get it. I’d be curious to see what the numbers are like for their new forums. As far as I can tell, some of the most-viewed threads are the ones which complain about the new forum platform.

    • Kris Neirinckx

      it is sad Garmin don’t react on this dicussion because they can learn about it and make more clients happy.

  106. James

    I had a Garmin fail due to crappy watchband, they honoured the warranty but the same defect was on the warranty watch. That one failed after 6months.

    Bought a suunto. Wore the battery out so was getting a new one when their courier stole the watch and I got an empty box. The sent me a new one. I’m sticking with suunto.

    • Jonas Vesterlund

      This has happened to me with every Garmin watch strap i have owned, both the original strap and the replacements has cracked. The band always cracks because of the oils on the skin is killing the sub-par rubber material. This could easily be fixed with a better strap material but they just don’t care about it.

    • Paul S.

      Which watch are you talking about? The recent ones have a quick release type attachment (I forget their marketing term for it) and there are any number of third party bands available. I bought a band for my 5+ on Amazon for about $15. You’re not stuck with Garmin bands.

    • Jonas Vesterlund

      FR210, FR620, Fenix3 and now FR645. All of the straps broke on the inside (skinside) within a year and so did the replacement straps they sent me.
      I expect the strap to last at least more than a year when i pay this much for a watch. Especially when it’s not that much more expensive to change to a skin safe silicon strap.

    • Jonas Vesterlund

      Also, I have worn wrist watches 24/7 almost my whole life (40y) and the Garmins are the only one that gets broken straps if not counting unusual circumstances like accidents.

    • Paul S.

      A quick search at Amazon for “Garmin Forerunner 645 bands” turns up any number of non-Garmin options. (I’m surprised the FR645 doesn’t have the QR bands.) I’ve had Garmin bands break as well (Fenix 1, Epix). My main problem with Garmin bands is that they’re not long enough to go over my winter gear securely, and that’s why I immediately got a new band for my 5+.

    • I wasn’t even thinking about the bands! They’re really weak and the colors have issues. I had a yellow OEM band on my F5 that was discolored black from the retainer loop things after 1 month. Garmin gave me a hard time about it and finally relented, but made it clear they’d never do that again.

    • Jonas Vesterlund

      I don’t really care how many replacements you can buy, we shouldn’t be forced to buy a better replacement band for watches this expensive so soon. They know it’s a problem but they just don’t care about it just to save a few cents.

    • One of the random interesting tidbits I’ve learned over the years in covering this segments is that most people don’t realize how different peoples sweat has different impacts on watch bands/materials. For some individuals they can workout with a given watch band every day for years, and never have an issue.

      Whereas other people can manage to kill a watch band in a few months. Same activities, different results. A fun example of a random study showing the variation of sweat contents: link to core.ac.uk

      This same reality of sweat-killing is true of HR straps as well. Some people can go years with a strap before it dies, whereas other people working out at the same levels goes at most 6-9 months.

      Generally speaking you’ll find that Garmin straps are slightly thinner than Suunto or Polar straps. They’re also more flexible. No doubt this reduces strength – but the reality is that it also significantly increases comfort. Comparing the Suunto 5 strap with the Garmin FR245 strap for example, at the point where it meets the watch it’s nearly twice as thick. Seriously. And while it’s not often discussed, it’s often a driver for people who try on watches in stores and then immediately discard the thicker watch band. Especially because that’s at the point they never get to even use the watch.

      Anyway…food for thought.

    • Jonas Vesterlund

      Yes but there are silicon materials that are completely sweat safe. If I buy a watch for $500+ I would think that they would use top class materials that reflect the pricing.

  107. Sue

    I took the plunge and got a FR945 and edge 530 as all the features drew me in , and both units were working properly and I am pleased with them , however the day came when I paired my wahoo tickr X heart rate monitor and both garmins offered to pair the speed cadence feature of the wahoo , that’s when all hell broke loose , both devices started freezing and generally being unstable, so I removed the speed cadence part and both are fine now, I had a polar 460 head unit before , and it never liked the Tickr X either
    But overall I am pleased with my garmins , although I had a FR 645 music before and that was always doing the blue triangle of death and losing everything , I even got a replacement from garmin and that had the same problem.
    I think the problem now with garmins is too many features and lots of antennas inside doing too many things at the same time, but its the features that attract people to buy.

  108. Steve

    Thanks for acknowledging this!

    I will NEVER, EVER, EVER purchase a product from Garmin for the very reasons you so clearly articulate. They need only skim the nearly 500 (as of now) comments to get an idea of the frustrations their products facilitate. The culture at such a place can only be dysfunctional beyond belief. As an organizational consultant, I’ve seen companies where the leadership simply refuse to acknowledge their own weaknesses and it’s usually a nightmare for the smartest, most creatuve high-achieving employees who leave in frustration. I wonder if they have high turnover?

    My guess is that Garmin leadership will continue to ignore their shortcomings and eventually they’ll lose enough market share and good employees that it’ll hurt them. Short term thinking…

    • Peter Lowry

      From what I understand, they have extremely low turnover and high tenure.

    • Peter is correct. Incredibly low turnover would be the understatement of the day. To put it in perspective – my engineering/product group contacts (outside of their PR team) have *never* changed in in the roughly decade I’ve had contact with them.

      Sure, new people come in, but almost nobody ever leaves. That has pros and cons. The benefit is that you get incredible institutional knowledge, and you reduce time having to teach new people stuff. The downside are more obvious in that you don’t generally get new leads from outside the company. Most of that is people moving upwards. Again, in many circles that’s seen as a good thing, and I think in some aspects of Garmin, it’s actually a good thing.

      For example,while this entire post and the 491 comments on it focus on the lack of stability of Garmin products – nobody is saying that Garmin doesn’t understand their customer base or what their customers want to buy. And nobody is saying Garmin doesn’t understand their customer’s sports/categories. They get it better than anyone else in the industry (even if again, they fall flat on stability). That’s due to people spending decades at the company and understanding the 1% factor. By that I mean that everyone (including here) has a feature in the product that they consider the most important thing on earth. It could be a big feature, or some small setting (usually it’s something small, but critical to them). If the next product lacks that feature, they’ll put up a stink.

      Garmin has enough people deep enough to understand all those 1% factors. Inversely the challenge they have is balancing those. I have zero doubts in my head that the stability issues they face is almost entirely due to the 1% factors adding up. Sure, someone should swim with watches, but what’s far more challenging is figuring out how to test the crazy high numbers of combinations of outdoor fitness devices with 3rd party sensors in all sorts of environmental conditions. Wahoo/Polar/Suunto have a fraction of the features, and thus the fraction of the things that can go wrong.

      Obviously, I think that’s Garmin’s biggest challenge: How to properly test this stuff, and hold back products until they are really hard-validated. If we look at another company in the industry that’s known for painfully long test cycles, it’s SRAM/Quarq. When I hear rumors of a new products, I know that we’re still a solid year+ away from release. Because they’re spending that long getting it right. Is it always 100% perfect? No, every company is made up of humans. But their dev cycle is so quality focused it’s astounding in 2019.

  109. Jerry Lasky

    Thanks Ray, Agree with your comments. Regarding software features, I’d like to relate my own peeves. To transfer a course from your phone to the Garmin Forerunner 945 YOU MUST HAVE AN INTERNET CONNECTION. Out hiking in the woods or in a rural area with no internet and want to change your route? Out of luck. The same is true on the Edge 530. I called Garmin and they said the only way around this is to use a cable between phone and watch. Same for Edge 530. This does work, but really?? Take out a cable mid ride. And no, this is not a technical problem. There is a mapping app for Android called Locus Map Pro. They recently added a companion app “Locus Maps for Garmin”. Tap a track, select share > Garmin and it is transmitted VIA BLUETOOTH to the watch. So why doesn’t Garmin offer this? And if they want to use WiFi almost every camera today offers a local wifi connection to send photos to phone without having access to the internet, so that solution is also possible.
    Also on the Edge there is no way to create a course without use of a phone. Sometimes you just want to define a few points to create an alternate way. Older Garmin’s such as the GPSMap64s allowed you to pan the map and select successive points to define a route. Tedious, but if all you need is 3 or 4 points preferable to getting out the phone.
    How about changing a course on the Forerunner 945 mid workout? As far as I can tell you have to end recording, and start a new recording thus having two separate files after the ride.
    And oh, in BaseCamp you used to be able to view your route in Google Earth just with View > Google Earth. Not after their updates. It seems Garmin frequently removes useful features and no doubt they get “suggestions” from many users, but I can tell you mine have not been acted on.

    • Actually, you should be able to do this with the Garmin Explore app: link to buy.garmin.com (it’s free)

      I haven’t used it in a long time, but it’s billed as basically being exactly what you want: Off the grid focused map creation/syncing/etc… for the watches anyway. Not for the Edge units.

    • Robert

      Well… Garmin Explore….
      For me it was the reason to get myself the GPSMAP 66. No more USB OTG cables, USB card readers whatsoever to take with me, just my phone and my Garmin. At least I thought.

      Unfortunately, you can not import any gpx tracks into Explore when you are off the grid and even when you have a data connection for your phone – the Explore website is absolutely unusable on the phone.
      There is a Connect IQ app, that used to work nicely but stopped on the FW 2.80, I have not tried on the current 3.00

      ConnectIQ App: link to apps.garmin.com

      ConnectIQ Widget: link to apps.garmin.com

      Android App: link to play.google.com

      Source code: link to github.com

    • Tomasz

      Unfortunately, Garmin “forgot” about providing Explore app compatibility for the 945.
      And the Edge 530 isn’t on the compatibility list, either.

  110. Tony C

    The Garmin advert they are currently showing on YouTube before GCN videos seems to show bad their software is. There’s a guy riding along a flat coastal road and the camera zooms in on him before panning to his Garmin. The Garmin is showing him half way up what look like a massive climb. Priceless.

    My Edge 800 is still going strong so I guess I’m lucky I haven’t had to upgrade yet.

  111. Tom K.

    As everyone is sharing I’ll add my two words.
    I had few Garmin devices and I’ve seen few bugs but nothing serious really. Just irritating small things.
    Most notable bugs that I remember was Vivoactive HR which reset if it found a polish character in menu/sms or anywhere else. It was fixed by firmware update and workaround was easy, just switched to english.
    Other bug which annoyed me a bit more was Vivofit Jr. 2. and Toe-to-toe challenge. There is a Connect IQ app for that that simply doesn’t work. I downloaded it tried to challenge my son and nothing. I reported this to Garmin and nothing. No changes and it still doesn’t work.
    You would expect Garmin to Garmin communication to simply work as they control all the parts but for some reason it doesn’t.

    What annoys me the most with Garmin is their artificial product differentiation by restricting some features on cheaper watches while the hardware certainly can manage.
    1. Forerunner 220 had only running as an option. You could bike with it but it inserted dummy cadence into the training and pace calculation after such ride was a bit off. I wrote to them to add simple “other” activity but no reply and nothing added.

    2. Running power on Vivoactive. You cannot just buy their running pod/hrm-run sensor, install ConnectIQ field and enjoy additional features. You need to have specific high end watch even though the hardware has all what it needs. (Ray complained at this in his post about running power)

    3. My wife has Vivomove HR, it doesn’t have GPS. It’s ok for her as she’d rarely use it anyway but from time to time we do family bike rides and she’d like to see the gps track on it but Garmin doesn’t allow to use your phone as GPS sensor. I get the reduced track quality, battery usage etc. but get the people to choose! Fitbit doesn’t have problem with this with their devices.

    So as I get the hardware limitations I’m frustrated with purely software restrictions which in fact if were lifted might have drive their sales like with the running power. Maybe even add running dynamics to a FR35 if you connect it with running pod. Something like DLC for watch.

  112. Phil

    BINGO – Ray.

    I have bought 6 Garmin devices (Edge 520, 820, 1000, 1030, Fenix 5 and Vivoactive 3) and 14 sensors. I am a Garmin “life-time customer” because of the integration, training features etc. etc.

    BUT – Phone connectivity! LiveTrack that my wife and I use to keep track of each other on joint (but not necessarily together) rides & sensor connectivity (or not) at start of rides are a BIG PAIN.

    I’m also a Programme Manager in the software business – you are right it’s about culture, systems and processes.

    Garmin – please sort otherwise you will lose your loyal customer base.

  113. Bill Shepard

    I made the mistake of replacing my Fenix 3 with the 945 and now my openwater swim doesn’t work. I bought and sold an Edge 820 last year (that replaced an 800) over a wonky touch screen. I bought and sold a Vivoactive 3 (went back to the Vivoactive HR) over the touch screen. Every upgrade has been a down grade. I have spent a ton of money to have devices that no longer work for their intended function. I agree completely on your idea to model Microsoft. My new functions on my 945 like PulseOX and respiration work great now can I just have a working openwater swim like we had for years? I need this to work. So again I go back to my Fenix 3?

    Don’t get me started on LiveTrack. That was why I bought some device years ago. FindMyFriends on my iPhone works just fine. Reports say Strava works.

    We have so many Garmin devices from our cars to our bathroom. Maybe it is time to move on.

    • Jens

      Bill when I read about the bad OWS I started looking for deals for F3! Today I see there is a beta fw out which supposedly fixes this though so hopefully we are good to go soon. (I got a F5X+ not long ago and am hoping to use in OWS). Possibly my 735 is still unaffected so that might solve my problem if I swim before new update!? Does anyone know?

  114. Hans Battle

    Garmin’s management has Icarus Syndrome… the organization is succumbing to its own hubris.

    I use a Garmin watch and bike computer not because I like their interface or don’t get occasionally driven mad by their bugginess, but because I prefer to stay within one ecosystem (i.e.–one brand) for all my activities. Garmin has great coverage for triathletes. I much prefer Suunto for running, but Suunto alienated cyclists (and therefor triathletes) when prematurely abandoning ANT+ right after I’d invested a small fortune in an ANT+ only SRM power meter.

    If a competitor could offer a comprehensive enough one-stop-shop ecosystem, I would gladly abandon Garmin in a heartbeat. So many times have I wanted to smash my buggy Edge with a hammer… so many important workouts on my 920 went unrecorded due to botched firmware updates and or buggy pairing. Garmin just gives me a headache. My old Suunto just worked every time.

    I’ll stop short of expanding this into the battery/continuity issues with their second gen power pedals…

  115. giorgitd

    470+ responses before I get my chance. Garmin ought to be listening now! My own experience started at the dawn of the Polar age and I had a couple of terrific devices from them. They lost the plot at the start of the GPS era, requiring an arm-worn separate GPS pod to communicate with the watch. Ugh. And the 1st GPS-integrated device was super expensive. That put me on the Garmin train with an FR305 – which was (and is) pretty awesome. Needing power, eventually, I got a 920XT, which I still use. Barometer replacement and frustrating lack of feature development while similar new devices were advancing. I had a pair of Vector 3 pedals. Total dogs, lost data from races, returned those for a replacement pair. Those worked until I was on a multi-day even when they crapped out. Returned them for a full refund after almost 10 months! Great customer service , but terrible engineering. I’ll use the 920XT until it dies, but won’t be tied to the Garmin ecosystem for my replacement…

  116. Aaron

    Any chance of a follow up article if anything happens on the Garmin side?

    I’ve had Garmin products in the past but moved over to a Wahoo Elemnt after constant issues. I love the features of the new Edge computers but won’t touch them if they’re still this unstable. Really hoping there’s a positive to all of this and Garmin can make this all better in the near term.

    • Fabien

      Moved from elemnt bolt to edge 830. Few weeks in but so far I love it. I added the radar as well
      Don’t get me wrong, wahoo just worked and user experience over was better but the new features like climbpro are worth it.

    • Michael

      Same here (Bolt to 830).
      Love the screen and some of the features, but I don’t trust the darn thing. Navigating (of all things!) is hit or miss, stock maps are broken (no roundabouts), GPS/Galileo doesn’t work, various settings are ignored (e.g. recalculation), ClimbPro is an intrusive mess for day-to-day use and so on… I have not appreciated the Bolt enough for what it was. Oh and I forgot the occasional mid-ride reboot – fantastic!

      So as long as I have these trust issues I am riding with two head units until I make a final decision.

      Garmin’s QA is a joke.

  117. Andy

    Ray,

    Your comments ring true. I only buy a Garmin after it has been sold for over a year.

    I have a Tacx Neo 2, and I fear that the promised future features will now destabilise the unit. Garmin’s acquisition of Tacx is very bad for Tacx owners.

  118. Andy

    Ray,

    Your comments ring true. I only buy a Garmin after it has been sold for over a year.

    I have a Tacx Neo 2, and I fear that the promised future features will now destabilise the unit. Garmin’s acquisition of Tacx is very bad for Tacx owners.

  119. Ernesto Acosta

    I am struggling with pairing issues between my Garmin Edge 520+ and my iPhone. As this article noted, pairing is both buggy and iffy. I was initially able to pair the device with the iPhone and ALL worked well. I was in Garmin heaven. Then, for no apparent reason, the device stopped pairing. Nothing worked, not even an exorcism by a Garmin certified Catholic priest worked. I wrote to Customer Service (USA). Two different reps wrote back, asking identical information, which I provided. One wrote back, requesting the very same info I had previously sent. Finally after several email exchanges they agreed to replace the unit, but with a couple of huge caveats. First, I have to send the defective unit at my own expense (😡). Second I have to ship the defective unit to them and then wait for a week before they send me a replacement. That’s unacceptable. I need to monitor my rides with the Garmin HMR, not because of my training regimen, but because I have coronary heart disease and my cardiologist wont let me ride unless I closely monitor heart performance. You are absolutely right, Garmin and its tech support and software development team are their own worst enemy. Will they ever learn?

    • Toby

      This sounds very familiar.

      Well I know this doesn’t help you in anyway but the process and timescales match my experience exactly. So they are at least being consistent(/ly crap – you choose).

    • Ernesto Acosta

      Toby, we join together in our misery. And you are right, Garmin is being crappily consistent. But as the American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson pointed out, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds (or companies).”

    • Volker

      Take a look into the bt settings of your phone, if there is a “old” 520 listed, delete it and try again

    • JD

      @Ernesto — Same experience with my 1030 paired to an Android Pixel 2.
      Initially worked fine then suddenly stopped pairing without manually re-pairing before most rides.
      DCR’s universal fixit (reset) instructions resolved the issue for me —
      link to dcrainmaker.com
      Worth a try if you haven’t already given those steps a go.

  120. Andy

    I don’t usually comment on articles on any website, but felt compelled to do so in this one because it hit so close to home. Lately I’ve been keeping track of bugs and broken features and attempting to report them to Garmin. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a company with such an opaque way of reporting issues/bugs. I’ve taken time out of my day to type up these bug reports and attached pictures to help illustrate issues, but the impression I get in return is that Garmin couldn’t care less about bugs/broken features because fixing them isn’t a priority. It’s shocking to me how quickly I’ve been able to find bugs when using my watch or new Garmin Connect features in a fairly normal way. It’s as if Garmin does no QA testing. Meanwhile, I’d love to find and report bugs and test things as a user for free because I just want the software to work!

    I’ve bought a couple Fenix watches in a row, and while I’d like to buy the Fenix 6 on release date, I’ve been researching watches by Suunto and Polar (and even Apple watch fitness features despite only ever using Android phones!). I’d love to switch to a competitor that doesn’t frustrate me as often as Garmin.

  121. Jonas Vesterlund

    The only reason i buy Garmin is the broad compatibility between platforms.
    I really hate the level of support you get and the never ending bugs that, if they are fixed at all, takes forever to fix.
    It feels like every problem get stuck in bureaucracy hell because of Garming dipping their toes in a far to wide product landscape that they can’t handle. The ship turns very slow and if there is an iceberg in its path it will hit it.

    In the end you pay a lot for great hardware that seldom works as intended because of shoddy software.

  122. Really great post, and really needed. I’ve found Garmin to create the least stable products I use on a regular basis, and their support has always been painful. And I’m in the US. I’m all in with Garmin (watch, head unit, HRM, etc), switched to the Apple Watch and came back because it just wasn’t good enough for serious activity junkies. I just wish Garmin was all in with me, too.

    Why did I go for an Apple Watch? Curiosity became opportunity when my F5 buttons wouldn’t press, and Garmin said it would be 5 weeks to diagnose and repair or replace it (which took them 3 days to respond to my support request to tell me). 5 weeks without a watch wasn’t a great answer, so I got an Apple Watch the day I shipped my Garmin out.

    I’ve had an Edge 810 that reset 5 miles into a Century Ride (let alone doing the same on countless training rides), so I always also had my 910XT tracking my ride (without speed/cadence or HR since those were tied to the 810) out of fear of having no tracking. I had a Vivoactive screen die at month 9 and Garmin say it was my fault (how?) until eventually they relented and sent a new one. My 810 replaced my 510 that was actually fairly stable, but took 10 minutes to get a GPS fix sometimes, and consistently lost it.

    I love Garmin products when they work well, but I also know better than to trust that they will. It’s not a great feeling when you are constantly alert to what will go wrong with a company’s products. That is a wide door they’re leaving open to competitors, and I think your article was so well said and appropriate.

    Nail head, you’ve just been hit.

    • Paul S.

      Tied to the 810 how? ANT+ sensors can pair with multiple devices. Simply pair them with your 910XT and you’ll get speed/cadence and HR there as well.

  123. JB

    Certainly not a good time for Garmin, while we all recognize the bugs, issues and frustrations… I’m still convinced on numerous occasions they provided good solutions, and that’s thanks to this man, they announced yesterday one of their founders died: link to finanzen.net

    RIP.

  124. Mazza

    What drives me crazy is trying to upload a ride after finishing it. I usually have to restart my Garmin 1000 yet other times it just uploads.

  125. Automatic recording interval only makes sense if gps reception and accuracy is very good (within a few meters).
    Only then the unit can decide which points to record and which to discard.
    Therefore, in most cases 1second interval is better.
    This leaves the decission which points to use to the user or the software used afterwards.

    • Walter

      The above comment was on automatic vs 1s recording.
      I thought it would be posted right under the comment I commented on…

      I would like to thank Raymond for writing this article.
      It is spot on, let’s hope Garmin takes this to heart.

  126. fotis

    Hello to all

    If anyone interesting how to downgrade Garmin 520 firmware to a specific one YOU choose please let me know to type the steps its easy and the whole time is just 3 minutes job via Pc.

    I just downgraded mine from 13 to 9.21 without a problem easy and 520 works really good till now.

    • carsten

      ha, did just the same 2 days ago from 13.00 down to 9.1 on my Edge 520. And now the mess with elevation is gone. The Edge is now recording what you are seeing during the ride and not shiftet anymore.

      And it seems that the battery last longer, on a 2 hour ride yesterday it was only down to 88%.

    • Walter

      In reply to Fotis’s suggestion (link to dcrainmaker.com)

      To prevent Garmin Connect or Express to mess up things again after downgrading to your favorite firmware, you can put a dummy GUPDATE.GCD and GUPDATE.TMP in the Garmin folder on your device.
      Just use a text editor to create a file with some text content, for instance DUMMY.
      Save it to your device in the folder named Garmin as GUPDATE.GCD and save it again as GUPDATE.TMP.
      (added an example)
      This will prevent the Garmin software from updating your device again.
      Because that is one of the functions that does work…

      (Also prevents the sync from slowing down, because the update file won’t be send over BT)

  127. Nan

    I recently discovered that my inreach mini can’t send or receive messages. Meanwhile I have been paying the subscription fee every month. I have been calling Garmin support for the past two weeks and they always tell me the same thing which doesn’t fix the issue.

  128. ChuckPDX

    Thanks Ray,
    Yes, market share breakdown of similar current product would be useful. I’m sure Garmin tracks this internall, but maybe there are analyst reports that could be somewhat helpful. For example:
    link to marketwatch.com

    Good to know that Garmin is starting to address ease-of-use. I worry that trying to do this “piecemeal” on their current platform will be difficult, as compared with a new software architecture. Yesterday I rode with a 1030 user, and their eyes bugged out when I described Elemnt setup, management and usage workflows.

    Judging by the huge flood of reader comments, you’ve really touched a nerve with Garmin users! I hope Wahoo (Chip and Murray) are monitoring this – stability and ease-of-use are their crown jewels. They’d better not do anything to mess that up (Job#1)

    • Paul S.

      And did your eyes bug out when you saw real maps with street names and POI’s? It depends on what you want. (Wahoo should learn what maps are for.)

    • ChuckPDX

      Paul,
      I suppose you’re right. I personally never use the POIs with my Garmin, but instinctively grab for my phone instead. Perhaps I’d do it occasionally if I had a touchscreen model (dunno…)

    • ChuckPDX

      Paul,
      PS: I distinguish things like POIs, street names on map, radar support, etc. as features/capabilities. Garmin rules there, no question.

      If basic usage of the unit is so unstable or complex/confusing that many people are fed up and saying “Garmin — never again”, the value of cool features starts to get lost.

      All it takes is for my Garmin to crash once during my ride, then that’s it. The distraction caused by having to restart and get navigating again is more than just a nuisance — fiddling around with your GPS after it shuts down is a safety issue. Losing a some or all of my ride data is also a pain.

    • James C Jordan

      Wahoo do a lot better than Garmin. My 1000 never navigated right in the time that I was using it. Constantly putting me off course, changing the route after upload, dropping off turn by turn after a pause. All this and then hoping the darn thing would actually record. Same problem on all 4 units and to be honest similar to the problems that I had with my 810.
      None of this is a problem on my Element. Sure if I want to change my route or get back on when I get off track I have to pull out my phone but I had to do that with my Garmin as well.

    • Paul S.

      I’ve never had an Edge crash on me during navigation. I’ve had plenty of weird experiences. My 705 loved to try to direct another pass around loops. My 800 would frantically try to send me back to the beginning if I forgot and started navigation at the beginning (which was also the end; since I was at the end it figured it’s job was done); I always started navigation about 1/2 mile in when I remembered. My 1000 wasn’t very good at leaving the course (always wanted to direct me back to the point I left the course, which wasn’t possible most of the time since the course was blocked for some reason and couldn’t be travelled). So far my 830 has been very good (and I’ve been navigating a lot more to use ClimbPro), but I had one experience where my climb list was full of climbs of 70-80% and the elevation graph was riddled with 0ft sections, so I just turned off navigation since I didn’t need it (that was the ride where it froze and I lost the last 2 miles). But for me, aside from the basic pair with sensors and record the ride, the most important thing is maps/navigation with an accurate altimeter a close second. The maps/navigation simply rules out Wahoo (even the ROAM, where I haven’t seen a screenshot yet that shows street names on the maps, and of course they say they don’t support POI’s).

    • Jonas Vesterlund

      The big problem is that Garmin starts to develop fancy and pretty unnecessary gimmick functions before the base functions are completely flawless. I couln’t care less for mapping if the tracking itself doesn’t work, the device just stops recording randomly or other intermittent problems with the base functions.
      First give me a device that works the way it was meant to work and after that you can start adding the functions that people use once or twice before the novelty wears off.

  129. Jim Braley

    i have been a Garmin user for years and now have the Edge 1030, no major issues in two years and if i ever have a minor issue I call customer service and they are extremely helpful. Sounds like I may be in the minority but i am a real fan and highly recommend their products to anyone who asks.

    • John Williamson

      Same experience, although yesterday there was a 45 min wait for a call back, then got hung up on while diagnosing and no call back. First negative in a long time.

      BTW, there is supposed to be a recent Beta for the Edge 1030 (software version 7.42 Beta) however when I download it and unpacked it, it was version 7.40, same as I currently have. Maybe they pulled it from the site…dunno!

    • John Williamson

      Update: Garmin support was excellent today. I had a gupdate file in the SW folder that prevented my updating to the latest beta version. Deleting that file, and loading the new beta was successful.

  130. Francesc Cruz

    I had an Edge 800, and Edge 810 and now an Edge 520.
    With all of them I have lost rides, had sudden chrashes that needed reboot. Lost pairing to my phone.
    Livetrack has been a nightmare for my wife on the Edge 520. Incredible number of issues with Xert apps.
    I always bought a new Garmin expecting that this one would fix all bugs, but this was not the case.
    Thanks for this post on your blog. It was a must.
    Francesc

  131. john

    When updating to map 2019 on my Garmin Edge 1000 I was noticed that the SD-card in the Edge was incompatible. The card has been in the GPS since I bought it and always did function OK.
    Stupid me formatted it and continued the installment.
    When finished Garmin Express told me there was new update and I let it continue. Once again letting it update.
    When finished same message. New update.
    I decided not to update again and annulled the update and disconnected.
    The Edge 1000 was then restarting, updating map and told searching for profiles. An hour later it was still searching for profiles and I let it do so until next morning when it was still searching for profiles.
    Went to Garmin with the device and a week later I was told it is bloqued (live in Spain) and cannot be repaired but offered a new with 6 months warranty for close to 200 Euro.
    Is there any other GPS bike computer with similar capacity and size screen that is not much more expensive I surely want to get such a one instead?

  132. Marcus

    I’m strongly considering cancelling my 945 order with all the reported issues. My fenix 3 is rock solid. I want to upgrade but for the cost it has to be a very solid device.

  133. James C Jordan

    Garmin need to really look at what they are trying to achieve because I think their whole priority is misguided. After having my 810 replaced 3 times and then stupidly buying a 1000 that was replaced 4 times in less than 2 years I sat down and looked at what I needed rather than being attracted by the shiney features. Garmins need to add features, the vast majority that are never used even when they work, is taking their focus away from the core. After I got my Wahoo and talked to everyone it was interesting to note that no one used IQ apps, most people had exactly the same data screens up and the vast majority of features of the Garmin we thought of as having no real purpose.

  134. Jon Briafield

    My Fenix 5 has been dreadful in terms or wrist heart rate monitoring – my fourth device and by far the least reliable. Garmin support have been awful at trying to resolve why I’m frequently recording negative HRR% during exercise – through about six firmware updates.

    One thing’s for sure the Fenix 5 has made sure my next device will probably be the Apple Watch 5 – I feel they’ll have caught up and overtaken Garmin by then.

  135. Anna

    My Garmin experiences:
    Forerunner 230: needed a year until the software was bug free. Until then each update may have fixed issues, but created new ones with even basic functions that were previously working. Hard to imagine anybody tested the firmware.

    Edge: rented a current one (820?) a year ago in Austria along with a bike and actually could not believe how bad such an expensive unit was. Absolutely unreliable, took ages before you could start a tour, crashed on every tour and battery life was a joke. Completely unuseable. Bought a wahoo afterwards and even for the running watches would not buy one that has not been on the market for at least a year

  136. Squeege

    It’s kind of funny.

    All of these negative comments but if you look at the “Because It’s Friday $500 Giveaway” the vast majority of the entries I looked at still wanted Garmin products…

    • A fact not gone unnoticed by myself or Garmin.

    • Steve D.G.

      Could be related to the fact that they’re not actually paying for it.

    • True. Though the numbers I see in other ways (views/marketshare/social media interest/etc…) don’t really lie: People overwhelmingly consumer Gamrin device information and buy Garmin devices.

      That’s what makes this conversation so tough. Garmin can easily look at this and thing and go: Shrug, we’re selling more devices than ever before and dominate the market.

    • simon

      Of course that’s true and Garmin know it – people buy “features”, even your reviews tend to focus on new features. Rather oddly it’s probably features that a majority of Garmin’s customers don’t even use – DCR’s readers are a very specific subset.

      Ultimately though, mud like this sticks. Much like Microsoft found out. Windows was seen as more virus prone and buggy then OSX and even if that wasn’t strictly true it hit sales and Microsoft were forced to change.

      We see the same type of comments here. Every Edge/Bolt post shows comments about people saying they are moving to Wahoo because they perceive those products to be more reliable although generally without any direct evidence that that is true.

      FWIW I agree with the thrust of the argument though, I’ve had (have!) loads of Garmin devices and have seen some hilarious and showstopping bugs along the way – I’ve had devices uselessly swapped out by support, multiple times, due to to software issues as they have no way to acknowledge that the problem is software not hardware.

      Garmin bugs also seem to stick around for years and years and aren’t limited to new features, they often they break things that were working perfectly previously.

      either way thanks Ray and James Huang for bringing this issue some daylight

  137. Johan Mokhtar

    Irritating but not deal-breaking issue
    Edge 705, Edge 1000 and Edge 1030: Occasional corrupted files resulting in activities which will not transfer from the device to Garmin Connect.

    Deal breaker
    Edge 1000: Rubberized power button cover broke off. I could turn the unit on or off by poking the button with a paper clip, but the unit was no longer sealed against rain/sweat etc.

    The authorized distributor in Malaysia was unable to repair the unit on site. They were also unable to replace the unit. The unit had to be sent to Taiwan for repair, at a cost north of USD200. For a broken rubber cover.

    In my opinion, and of other posters on various online forums, the power button cover was a design defect. The cover was destined to fail, especially in the heat and humidity of Malaysia. Note that the Edge 1030 has a redesigned power button without a cover.

    • john

      My Edge 1000 bought in 2014 also had the on/off button disintegrate in 2016.
      Definately constructions fault. Poor rubber quality.

    • Paul S.

      With FIT files that can’t upload to GC, sometimes they’ll upload to other places or can be imported by other software. Then you reexport them in a text format (TCX or GPX) and upload them to GC. I’ve had it happen occasionally, and that’s what I did, usually to Strava.

  138. Felix

    Great post! Unfortunately it’s so true…

  139. Pat Costello

    As a recreation biker I bought my last 2 Garmins solely for features so my wife could track me (Live Track & Incident Detection). Incident Detection is USLESS. It sent so many false alarms that I turned it off years ago. Live track fully functions about 20% of the time (I live in a suburban area, cell towers are plentiful where I ride). I thought getting a newer device would help… it got worse.

    My sone suggested I get the new Edge, my response was ‘Garmin software is too buggy.’

  140. Greg

    The truth is nothing will change as long as you don’t vote with your dollars. Otherwise all of te above is just whining. Garmin’s forums have been full of comments like these above and people threatening to leave but still buying new G devices. For years.
    Polar and Suunto made it easy for Garmin because they chose to follow the same path with new devices.
    But until sales drop, nothing will change. Why should it?

    • Zoltán

      You are right. Moreover you think like a real Hungarian grasping the most important factor, so you deserve an extra point. 😉

  141. Michael Cutri

    Well said Ray.
    I’ll add my 2 cents (Ok, maybe 10)
    After using a 310XT for a few years of running and cycling tracking, I got a Vivoactive when it first came out. I really liked it and didn’t have too many issues with it, but did have the occasional glitch here or there.
    When Garmin released the VA3, I figured that they would have ironed out all the software glitches by then, so I got one for myself (Black/slate) and my wife (white/silver). I could not have been more wrong. My wife’s VA3 would reboot at least once per day and she would lose all her steps to that point. Thinking she might have gotten one with some bad memory or something, we exchanged it for a new one. This one was better, but still would reboot occasionally and reset her steps to 0. It’s really annoying when you are on a goal streak of 100+ days and your 8000 steps for the day are gone. She just switched to a Samsung Galaxy Watch Active and loves it.
    My VA3 hasn’t been nearly as buggy, but I have been on a steps goal streak since Jan 1 this year. My watch accurately displays the streak each day when I hit my goal, but for some reason back in March, Garmin Connect didn’t sync properly with my watch after I hit my goal, and it only shows a streak of 80 days now. No amount of manual syncing through my phone or the computer would fix the discrepancy. My personal streak record should be over 165 days now, but Connect only shows my 109 day streak from last year. It’s pretty frustrating to say the least.
    I like being able to go back and look at all my past biking and running data over the last 7 years in one place, but I’m not sure that is enough for me to make my next watch another Garmin unless they get their act together.

  142. Michael Curtis

    I enjoyed reading this article, not because it came as a shock. I’ve had Garmin devices for years. On the plus side the hardware support I have received has been good in the UK. On the downside was my Garmin Edge 520 battery issue. You only had to read their forums to know I wasn’t the only one with the sudden drop in battery life.

    The best part about this article is Ray was brave enough to right it. Someone who is so well known in the industry might just sit back and not say anything. I’m sure he could have written a personal email to Garmin. It is nice to get this out in the public. Hopefully Garmin can improved. They have a good foundation at the hardware level from the devices I have, but every firmware update seems to fix one thing and break two others.

    If another company did this they wouldn’t be around for long. The Garmin name is saving them at the moment.

  143. youpmelone

    So, all of this text and the only thing we really want to know is when is the new Edge 1xxx expected?

    ;-))))

  144. IvanDobski

    After several different Edges I got fed up of my 1030 dropping connections, refusing to sync and losing data so sold it with the intention of buying a Roam.

    Since the delay meant no chance of getting a Roam before a recent cycling holiday I instead bought an Elemnt and a Bolt to tide me over (1 for me, 1 for the Mrs) and the “just works” factor is amazing!

    Everything syncs & uploads etc perfectly and whilst it doesn’t have the same amount of features as my old 1030 I’ve not regretted the change in the slightest. Given these are 2 year old units versus the current Garmin flagship if I was Garmin I’d find that sort of feedback worrying.

  145. Maarten Kamp

    This is so timely for me. Having looked at the 945, decided that I didn’t need to upgrade from the 935, as I would expect a much better sports watch for the price, not the biggest “improvement” being its music choice (no improvement at all for me). Garmin is becoming more and more just a device to run others great apps on – but they kept this limited yet again by failing to address the need for more IQ fields. Really, better music, no data or monitoring improvement of note. Then there is the almost inevitable need to reset some of the fields after each minor software update, and the issues the updates often cause for the developers of other apps, and seemingly without adequate time and forewarning to address before Garmin hits the go button. From someone who would never have considered anything but Garmin, the likelihood that my next sports watch will be Garmin is approaching zero. Garmin you could soon be following the trajectory that Nokia did.

  146. James

    Looks like Garmin have read this article, a facebook post has popped up from garmin australia asking for feedback on software and a promise of sorts that their engineering team are there to fix the issues.

  147. Michel Curtis

    I was thinking more about this. I have started to use the new Trainerroad feature that pushed workouts to my Garmin Edge 1030. Garmin are going to have make sure this works. It is one thing when your software only affects your products, but when you are breaking other peoples software via an API you are going to make more people unhappy.

    You don’t want third parties reporting this is a Garmin bug and we are waiting for them to fix it. I know Trainerroad have given Garmin some feedback about this API. It will be interesting to know if these request are implemented.

  148. Mike Southgate

    This is my first visit to your site and the first article I’ve read on it. I bought the very 1st model of Garmin GPS watch and many since. You have paraphrased my comments to friends almost exactly. I recently tried the Timex One – good software, horrible watch. On to Polar – better software, middle of the road watch. But all in all, when ranking them the Polar wins over the Garmins not because it’s perfect, but because it’s reliable.

  149. Danny Bishop

    The threads on the Garmin Index Smart Scale both on your own site, Ray, and on Garmin’s support forums I think are the perfect example of this being a cultural issue.

    Out of the box for many people the body fat% reading reports 7% and never changes (a thread on their support forum has been complaining about this issue for 2+ years!)
    For just about everyone else it appears that the body fat% is simply arithmetic… mine fluctuates day-to-day in-line with any weight increase/decrease as if there is little more than Fat = Weight Divided by Constant Value X driving it.

    Those are the classic “It should work consistently from Day 1” requests that are annoying enough.

    Othe issues plagued this device for years around just connecting to a WiFi network. Garmin saw dozens and dozens of these complaints in their user forums. That seems to be resolved now, but it was a bug that existed for well over a year that would cause the scale to be incapable of sending any data via WiFi… kind of an important function of a “smart” scale.

    My personal experience however is even worse than this. For months I tried to show Garmin’s support team that the scale (via Garmin Connect Mobile for iOS) was sending BMI measurements to Apple’s “Health” apps as the Body Fat% reading. For months I explained what was going on, and for months their support team told me it was either a) a user fault or b) Apple’s fault.

    I’m a pretty technically savvy person, and have product managed development teams that have built iOS apps that have ranked #1 in the App Store (in Australia). I may not be a developer, but I know enough about the way things work in iOS code to know when the buck is being passed.

    I eventually got Apple’s support team involved, who confirmed that the only way that the data was getting into their eco-system was by Garmin sending it.. there was no way Garmin’s statement of “Apple are at fault here, we don’t send data, Apple pull it” was possibly true. That statement was repeated to me several times, including at least once where the support person said they were passing on what their engineering team had reported after investigating the bug. That was either a complete lie, or gross incompetency, because it is absolutely, categorically untrue as Apple confirmed.

    Eventually I was offered by Garmin to send the scale back for a refund… and low and behold, the next day a software update for Garmin Connect Mobile resolved the issue and Body Fat started appearing as Body Fat rather than the BMI reading.

    It was an infuriating fight that lasted more than 4 months between Garmin Connect Mobile 4.8 and 4.13. But the reality is you are spot-on Ray… this says more about the culture of releasing buggy products, and the lack of care on supporting the product features that are supposed to work.

  150. Dave hicks

    I’ve stuck with Polar HRM’s for over twenty years and now have a V800, primarily because of it’s better open water swim functionality when it came out five years ago. Since then, my wife has gotten more serious about her racing and I helped her select a Garmin 735XT, thinking it was better than Polar. Garmin support has been awesome for her and replaced the watch twice in the last three years. But there is ALWAYS some glitch that she’s on the phone with them about, like 1-2 times a month. By comparison, I’ve probably called Polar support less than five times in the last five years. I’m now ready to replace the V800 with what I assumed would finally be a Garmin product, but her experience has been such a total turnoff, I’m re-looking at everything else, including another Polar.

  151. Jim Braley

    There must be something wrong with all of my Garmin units. I have 4 of the Edge units and currently have the 1030 plus the radar unit, the VIRB camera, HR straps, cadence and speed sensors, the headlight and the 935 watch. With the exception of several very minor issues with the 1030 there have been literally no other issues. Customer support walked me through the correction of the issues with the 1030 and problems solved. I may not use all of the devices the way others use them but i am extremely happy with Garmin and am a huge supporter. Maybe i am just lucky!!

  152. Carl Sundquist

    Thank you for your work!

    • Hans

      Garmin Sports/Fitness/Outdoor must have some software developers who know how to get out of the mess that they’re currently in. Their software is “mostly kind of like sophisticated”, but also “kind of messy and convoluted”. That at least is the appearance from the outside looking in. Who knows, if they simply need to get more careful about checking in the changes that they’re making … or if Sports/Fitness/Outdoor needs a whole new architecture for the code inside their units.

      So many phone cpu’s these days come with multiple cores and Garmin might benefit hugely from dealing with sensors [and a few other things] on a low-powered core while they do everything else on a high-powered core. Tightly controlled timing and syncing is only necessary for some things that they do [think of calculating power from two fast spinning pedals. If you don’t “know” exactly where the pedals are in their stroke you can’t possibly figure out the power that they’re generating, because you need to add up the power with an algorithm that uses their synchronized signals].

      Untangling a few of these different requirements could potentially help fix the mess. If that’s even part of the problem. Again looking in from the outside Garmin Sports/Fitness/Outdoor knows a lot more than is visible to someone who uses their products.

      The annoying part for the user is that the “fix one thing break two others” and use early adopters as beta testers has now been going on for years.

  153. Pete

    It’s interesting that Garmin Australia has a facebook post up since yesterday inviting comment on their software & products. I wonder what prompted that….. 😉

    • Neil A.

      I noticed that too and commented, also mentioning this article.
      They used all the right buzz words even attempting to oppose the “Garmin Don’t Care!” tag with “As we genuinely care”.
      I believe they do care but there’s not much they can do except pass on all the complaints to HQ.

    • Paul S.

      Yeah, I don’t get it. Garmin is headquartered in Kansas and does all of its manufacturing in Taiwan, right? From the comments I’ve read here over the years I get the impression that Garmin’s support in Austrailia is unusually bad. So why Garmin Australia? They don’t do any software development there, do they?

    • Neil A.

      If it’s like other similar set-ups in Australia, they’re mainly a distribution/sales company so support is a necessary evil and not a prime focus. I suspect they may have one or two people who have some technical knowledge and a proforma response sheet to refer to but any serious support questions have to be offloaded to US.
      Their latest FB post suggests that’s the case:”..we passed it all to our engineers at HQ..”
      My past experience also suggested that but sadly I had to seek the US assistance myself at the time as they didn’t know the answer and didn’t escalate it either.
      It may have changed since but after prior experience I decided it was a waste of time contacting Garmin AU for support.
      I can’t fault their sales/social media team however, as they are very active.

    • “They used all the right buzz words even attempting to oppose the “Garmin Don’t Care!” tag with “As we genuinely care”.”

      I actually do believe that they genuinely care. Both the Aussie folks and the vast majority of Kansas folks. I just think that a combination of the pressures of product cycles (to make investors happy, it’s a publicly traded company after all), combined with the lack of proper built-in product crash/issue reporting is really a key driver in them not understanding the scope of the issue of frustrations.

    • Neil A.

      Agreed.
      I just get the impression that Garmin Australia don’t have the local staff resources to meet the support demands placed on them.
      Is that your experience?

    • Paul S.

      That’s another thing I’ve never understood. They have Garmin Connect, a massive database of information collected by their devices. They should be able to at least detect GPS and altimeter problems algorithmically, if not other problems.

      And of course, the forums. One of the best experiences I had on the forums was during the initial phases of VIRB Edit. The developers were actually there, actively interacting with users. A far cry from the “these are user to user forums in which we don’t participate or even listen to”. Now, of course, the forums are unusable (deliberately?).

    • I agree, I think there’s so much more Garmin could do around big data type analytics. Perhaps that person exists on-staff, I’ve just never met them or had anyone hint that kinda stuff exists.

      To Garmin’s credit though, that’s one area that they tend to defer back to privacy concerns around. I don’t think people realize how much more private your data generally is with Garmin than general online fitness platforms. But, I think Garmin sometimes takes that as a cop-out for not requesting permission to get better bug-type analytics. It’s an easy thing that most hardware companies do, a simple request and then start looking at that.

      As for the forums, I agree. Some sub-forums suck, and some are awesome. VIRB is a good one of being incredibly active, so is Vector (even if people didn’t like the fact that they got themselves in that pickle).

    • ChuckPDX

      Garmin’s sports/fitness business as of Q1 appears to be VERY healthy — 9% revenue growth and 50%/10% gross/operating margins. Hopefully somebody at Garmin with good biz acumen sees stability and ease-of-use differentiation as possible a disruption by other companies.
      If not, they won’t wake up unless more people voting with their wallets significantly dents their market share…

    • Stéphane

      95% of the uploads to Strava come from the auto sync with Garmin….Garmin allows users to give their data to Strava for free. And a fitness platform without big data is worthless….

      So the privacy concern is not very convincing…..

    • Roughly 60-70% of endurance sports Strava uploads come from Garmin devices (it skews less with things like 5K races). About 15-20% come from Strava’s own apps (iOS/Android), and the remainder come from the various other players (as outlined in the post).

      Inversely, the number of people on Garmin uploading to Strava? My bet would be under 15%. Totally wild-ass guess, but a guess nonetheless with a touch bit of math.

      As for the privacy comment – I don’t understand. It’s the users deliberate choice whether or not to send Strava their data. It’s hyper deliberate, since you have to authorize/login/etc and then allow it to go to Strava.

  154. Peter S.

    Thank you for posting this and giving a voice to people’s frustrations. I hope Garmin hears their customers and makes a culture change.

    I have a fenix 3 that was AMAZING for about 2 years, then the GPS suddenly stopped connecting. I updated my epo.bin file, watch firmware, and phone app and it still wouldn’t connect. A factory reset fixed the issue for about a week, then it came back. Garmin’s solution was to update the epo.bin file and then try a factory reset…

    Three full resets later, I know that the GPS will connect quickly right after the reset, so the hardware is fine. It’s the software that’s the issue. Since I’m out of warranty, I’m just SOL.

    As I now likely have to get a new watch, I’m deciding whether or not I want to stick with Garmin or switch to another company. These large scale issues Garmin is having are making me lean away from them, unfortunately.

  155. Michael

    I’m using Garmin for years, first the GPS 60, then GPS60CAX? and then Edge 800 and actually Edge 1000.
    Every time i’m not satisfied, because every Gadget is very slow. The Edge 1000 was the TOP Edge, and is slowly too. My next ist a Wahoo Element Roam, f* Garmin, a lot of BUGGY features didn’t satisfy me.
    Bugs didn’t matter if the Vendor FIX IT asap.. and not “Ok we habe a bug, but Customer have no other choice”.
    And i want a FAST Edge, .. but.. think Wahoo unterstand the customer better.. Garmin thinks they can tell the customers what they ned

  156. RickH

    5 Days after this Garmin Australia is asking for public comment through social media.

  157. Javier Diaz Silvestre

    I really agree with you. I have an Edge 810 and it’s frustrating having device shutdowns 1 out of 4 rides 🙁
    I have two sons, 15 years old twins, who ride. Here (Basque Country, Spain), although being a region with a lot of amateur and professional bikers and great supporters of cycling, riding it’s a dangerous sport. So I took a pair of edge 520 for them at Clever Training to use LiveTrack when they go alone.
    Just a nightmare. It’s been a month with more than two rides a week and we have never been able to follow both of them in any ride. Sudden stops, one of them works but not the other….
    I thought that with a newer device, some of my 810 problems would had been corrected….
    And when I’ve ask for support it remembers me to “IT crew”: “Reset”, “restore to factory defaults”, “upgrade to last version” …. Giving such advices is really a support?

  158. Dave Lindsay

    A great read and sums up many of my experiences. I hope garmin take note and change the way they handle issues as you suggest. Over a year to get my remote was my big bug bear but I always marvel how long garmin connect takes to negotiate with any garmin product before syncing or transfers starts over a cable.
    Keep up the good work

  159. Micha0815

    I totally agree with you – and at least here in Germany Garmin’s support / helpdesk is a mess.
    I reported several issues I have with a brand new Edge 1030 (IMHO a premium high price device) with the official “support and help” page at their web site – and got absolutely no reaction by Garmin’s support team.
    No answer, not even an automatic E-Mail that my reports have been arrived.
    I also tried to wake them up by resending / re-asking after a few weeks (!) – still no reaction.

    And now they made the possibility to get community support even worse – they relaunched their forums with a newer version which is nearly unusable – so for me it seems that they don’t want things to be reported…

    I wonder how long they can act like this and when the point has been reached where more and more customer buy competitor devices – as you said: not because they make better devices, but because they listen to their customers and at least answer their requests / questions.

  160. Fabio

    With Garmin i m really happy …but i suppose there is a reason…or 2 for this

    1) i’ve never bought a garmin at day 1, or month 1…i don’t like to pay for being a beta tester (but this happens not only with garmin):

    2) i’m lucky 🙂

    When it was my time to choose for a PM for my bikes the first product i saw was the vector 3…why not? it s a garmin and i’m happy with garmin..then i start reading about battery pods and something else. I bought the assioma and i’m still very happy with them. 0 Issues about accurancy, disconnections and they works with my oval rings…but was hard for me at the beginning to look for other companies.

  161. Thomas

    I’m that guy having both a Garmin free AND a Shimano free bike 🙂 It gives some satisfaction to be different, I must say, but I’m not a better cyclist now choosing Polar instead of Garmin (and Campa instead of Shimano). And vise verse, of course. It is in how much I train and how I train. Gadgets can give some motivation, I think my Assioma power pedals can give some motivation to push harder sometimes, and gadgets can give tools to improve training. However, the way I use my Polar V650 today, I can clearly say it is not limiting me. AND IT ALSO RECORDS EVERY TRAINING SESSION. It is a bit funny, and a bit sad, to hear that training equipment in 2019 fail to record full training sessions.

    What I would like is to have some better Bluetooth standard for power meter data so that I can see power during full revolution. That I would have with a Garmin device and ANT+, so I am lacking a bit due to my choosing.

  162. Thijs

    I think Garmin simply doesn’t give a sh!t. They’re by far the biggest company in their field, they seem to still be able to make stuff that people keep buying and that’s what counts, right? Support costs money.

  163. timojhen mark

    Just wanted to weigh in as another multiple Garmin user / owner who’s unsatisfied. At this point, I’ve owned a 500, 510, 810 and a 530 on the bike, Fenix 3 and 5+ on the wrist, several smart scales.

    Experimented with a Stages unit on the bike and a Suunto watch — would seriously consider any comprehensive options which didn’t leave me spread across several ecosystems but offered consistent quality even with fewer features.

    Pretty unfortunate as Garmin has such a corner on the market that they’ve allowed that to translate into such poor quality. Would guesstimate that 25% of the time these devices don’t perform as expected for a variety of reasons. I’ve become somewhat numb to it at this point as alternatives are few. (for now)

  164. Eduardo

    Oh well. Let’s see: my previous watch was a Garmin 620, that made me happy from 2012 to 2017. Somewhere around 2015 when I replaced HR bands it would drive me crazy trying to update firmware from something that I no longer had (and was not paired) and would lockup or delete files and activities. Many months of support emails, including an unbelievable one along the lines of “but this serial number came with that HRM, so it should be able to update its firmware” – for something I no longer had. Then I upgraded to a Fenix 5 that made me happy for almost a year before the screen suddenly died. Replaced under warranty, still using the “new” unit. Every so often there will be Bluetooth instabilities (to the phone) or will suddenly be unresponsive. I just shrug those off with a reboot. Still (mostly) happy. The previous 620 went to my sister, who simply cannot sync it to her own phone or connect it to her account, as the thing refuses to pair.

  165. Jaime

    I have had the FR 305, 405, Fenix2, Vivosmart HR and now the Edge 530

    The way Garmin abandons old products is quite sad, even leaving them with bugs or inter-connectivity issues with new sensors, platforms, etc..

    For the Fenix2, I understand it’s an old model but some GPS bugs are easy to fix. This thing tends to wander when you stop for a little while, like red lights or water stops, so the auto-pause doesn’t work. Or the indoor running based on internal accelerometers gets uncalibrated if you bike, swim or ski… FGS, it’s a different type of activity!!! (I now have a footpod, though)

    But their fitness division is far better that the car GPS one… I had a Nuvi and it was milles behind Tomtom… To search names you had to be exact, with Tomtom no, and their routing was terrible… It made us take a dirt road, when there was an asphalt alternative, another time we were on a straight road to our destination, it was asking us to enter into private land, another time we passed by our destination, but it made us do a loop to be on the other side of a park, and asked us to drive thru the park (read soccer fields, play grounds, etc) to get to our destination.

  166. Reuben

    I’d kind of like to keep everything in statute but do my laps in 10 km increments instead of 5 miles.

  167. TJP

    I just bought a Forerunner 245 yesterday, my first Garmin running watch, and the experience so far has been pretty bad. In less than 24 hours, I’ve experienced the following bugs:

    * Yesterday evening I tried installing a new watch face via Connect IQ, the install failed and the Garmin Connect app kept giving me the cryptic error, “Sync failed: device connection error.” This went on for several hours (despite restarting my watch+phone, reestablishing bluetooth connectivity, etc) before mysteriously resolving itself.

    * The device did a hard-lockup right before bed; the watch face was stuck with brightness at full and nothing on the face would update. None of the buttons did anything. I had to do a hard reset holding the light button.

    * This morning I lost about 2500 steps, seemingly out of nowhere. I did some walking errands in my neighborhood and I remember seeing about 3000 steps on the watch face when I was walking in the door. 30 minutes later, my watch is now reading 401 steps total for the day.

    * Now that I’m looking more closely, I’m also missing all heart-rate data from 10:30a-12:30pm. What the heck.

    I get that there’s a learning curve for any new device, but I’m having serious doubts about this being a reliable device for me to use for the next several years. My series 0 apple watch has served me well since 2015, and that was a first generation device. I think I’m taking the forerunner back.

    • Spidercrab

      This unfortunately is a very typical behaviour that got reported on the old Garmin forums, and has certainly been my experience (not with 245) going back several years. At the very simplest level of data collection and recording, there should never be any loss of data such as steps or stairs climbed during a day. The value should increase and never decrease, or else something is very wrong and the instant that Garmin had this reported to them, they should have killed that problem dead. The fact that these bugs exist from product to product is usually an indicator that core buggy software modules are being used from product to product.

      When this happens, it is usually a situation where data is being overwritten by badly behaved software and there should in 2019, be software procedures to guard against this happening. Garmin should IMHO really jump on this stuff when reported and for example, provide you with a diagnostic app that monitors the data and builds a report to send back to them when it happens. This is just basic school boy adding up sums to detect an issue diagnostics.

      E.g. my not fit for purpose, VivosmartHR would show 147 stairs climbed when I had climbed 1 level and spent all day sat at a ground floor desk all day when the barometric pressure was constant all day. I would climb a further 5 levels and the display would then display something like 23 stairs. Garmin never answered my emails, so I offloaded the VivosmartHR at a loss. I feel somewhat dumb to have recently got a Fenix5 and continue to kick myself when I see that the stairs climbing is so bad as to be worthless. The Edge530 I was planning to buy is certainly not going to happen and it looks like this Fenix will go back to the unfortunate vendor, as “does not work as advertised”.

      I was somewhat dazzled by the new feature list of the 530, but now realise that a Wahoo solution, even though currently is less feature rich, has solid a software reputation that Garmin doesn’t value and cannot provide.

  168. rpjwhite

    Just throw my hat in I got a Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music (based on Ray’s advice) and apart from the battery life (which sucks) it has been fine. Up until I started doing structured workouts (from Garmin) where in it started having phantom lap presses. First I thought it was the rain, or maybe my long sleeves (because of the rain) but I managed to replecate the issue with short sleeves.

    So I emailed Garmin UK support and to give them their dues they have done what they can. They are a little slow in responding but they do respond, ask me to try things etc. I have now been promoted to technical fault and they are investigating all my data to see if there is something in there.

    Been a few weeks without resolution but we just keep going.

  169. Jim

    Garmin’s big money is in the aviation business. Sports/activity monitors are a distant second in their priorities…
    I use their monitors and (partly because of where I live) have learned to accept the shortcomings as ‘just the way it is’. It’s the same with my internet service, too. As long as your expectations aren’t too high, you don’t get disappointed. I know, I should expect more, but little goes as expected. And, if I can’t change it, it’s better to accept it and do what can be done.

    • Nope, Fitness/Sports dwarfs aviation. Like, not even close. Here’s the FY2018 revenue:

      Aviation: $501M
      Marine: $374M
      Outdoor: $698M
      Fitness: $762M
      Auto: $785M

      Remember, ‘Outdoor’ is where the Fenix/MARQ/Chronos/handheld lineups are classified, which is increda-heavily slanted towards Fenix sales (rough estimate of a million Fenix units a year means that almost all that revenue is from Fenix). So basically, for the purpose of this conversation, sporty stuff is Outdoor + Fitness = $1.5b (yes, billion, with a b), compared to a mere $501m for fitness aviation.

      Full report for 2018: link to garmin.hqprod.businesswire.com

    • Scott

      *$501m for aviation

  170. Thanks for posting this. Replaced my fenix 3 due to itvrandomly turning on and off w a fenix 5 plus about 2 weeks ago. Spent 7 days in Aruba and added in 2 Open water swims. It failed each test miserably. I swam about about 25 minutes and it logged all of 34 meters. I’m a 30 minute 1.2 mile swimmer. It’s absurd how terrible it is. I’d Almost rather send it back if it won’t work on 1/3 of my sports. And for $600?? Seriously. Get your crap together garmin. So disappointed.

  171. JM

    «…a cultural problem Garmin seems to have around software stability and bugs, that appears to be ‘features first, stability later’.»

    AMEN!
    I believe that culture most likely stems from over ambitious management and greedy shareholders eager to release new products with premature software full of bugs to $$$ in. Unprofessional and disrespectful for the vast number of customers.

    At times I’ve been so frustrated and angry at Garmin Connect for all those inexplicable disappearing workouts / races that I’ve been close throwing it against the wall.

    Overly buggy Garmin software is common and they know it. Still they silently ignore this fact, moving on to the next one.

    And now… the release of the new 945 crammed full of useless added jippo Apps from Apple!…OMG It’s clear as day where the focus is at. And it sure ain’t optimising training and recovery at all. It’s ENTERTAINMENT.

    I, – and I suspect many with me wants to know what company focuses most on research in the field of cutting edge training and health / recovery.
    Not distracting apps.
    FirstBeat or Polar- which one are the most professional – spending most efforts and resources in their field?

    What GPS systems work best for different continents and countries?

    Biggest and clearest screen in sunlight and darkness -optimal for near sighted(!)

    These are answers I wanna know. Not that I now can pay for my Organic-Choco-Loco-Soy-Latte with my sport watch…Fiddling with messages and social media when I want and need to shut the world out and focus on my workout.

    I’d be happy to hear thoughts from others with thoughts like these. Who are the most endurance sports focused company on the market today. If it’s Garmin it’s a bit sad IMO. There is already one Apple. Do we really need another..

    Looking for a new (bug free) watch. Bewildered.

  172. Tom

    I love Garmin products. I had a few and some went wrong, but were swiftly repaired/replaced by Garmin. Never really had issues with the software, but recognise some of the issues you are describing. Especially the swim accuracy. HOWEVER, i have one big big problem and that is their HEARTRATEMONITORS, I had a few, and almost all of them broke very quickly. The latest after only 7 month. Again its a warranty case, so no big deal, but I am surprised it is not being reported more. I had at least 2 replaced under warranty, others I just didn’t bother replacing as I have a few straps lying around. I would be curious to hear if I am the only unlucky one around.

    • Paul S.

      I’m exactly the opposite. I got my first hard shell Garmin HR monitor with my Edge 705, so over 10 years ago. I might still have it. I currently have two. I bought another when I forgot mine during a trip to my mother’s in Ohio and ordered another from Amazon, then left one (don’t know which) in a hotel and bought a replacement. Both of the ones I still have are many years old, and I swap them about once a year. Sometimes I wish one would fail so I could order one of the soft HR belts with the pods just to try one out, but that hasn’t happened yet.

  173. SteveDC

    A lot of you have probably wondered why Garmin is located in Olathe, Kansas of all places. The answer is King Radio! For many years I was a private pilot based at Washington National airport. I was fortunate to have my own plane, and it was outfitted with the best avionics at the time — made by King Radio, which dominated the market for quality and fairly reasonable prices. The story circulating in the aviation community was that two brash engineers left the company and formed their own, believing King was stuck in the mud and wasn’t offering what pilots had been asking for for some time: a screen to visualize their flight and position using GPS technology. They opened up in their home town: Olathe. I think the company name is a combination of the last name of the two engineers who took this leap of faith. Accuracy of software is a life and death matter in aviation, and they succeeded in producing navigation products of the highest quality — reliable and very functional. Very quickly they became the trend setting, go-to avionics manufacturer. I myself purchased a unit and put my life in its hands. I’m here today. What about King? They’re still around, but not the company they used to be. The lesson for Garmin? Remember what you did to King, In this case, as Ray has so eloquently pointed out, it’s not lack of innovation, but what seems to be a push to develop new products so fast as to dominate the marketplace, while giving a back seat to reliability. I, too, have hesitated to re-up on Garmin, and have considered other manufacturers, principally Wahoo. Ray’s comments were brave to make and struck a nerve with me. Steve

  174. Hamish

    I loved my suunto ambit but finally left them due to the never ending website outages. And there was no other way to get my files down or tweak the watch set up. Fenix 3hr for nearly 3 years now and find I’m generally happier.

  175. James Thackrah

    Latest firmware update to my Vivoactive HR has unearthed a new bug.

    Promiscuity!

    It now pairs, without prompting, with any other athletes sensors in proximity.

    I use the VAHR primarily to broadcast HR to a Wahoo Elemnt. This still works fine as long as I don’t go near another cyclist.

    As soon as I do get within a few metres, the VAHR screen puts up a banner saying ‘connected Radar’; ‘connected HR3333’; ‘connected 16735’ etc. And from that point on, my recorded HR will flatline to end of ride.

    After a group ride, I now have half a dozen other people’s sensors listed in the sensor page on the VAHR!

    Most frustrating thing is Garmin support were looking at the issue until I said I had a non-Garmin cycle computer, so now they say ‘talk to Wahoo’. Even though I can replicate the issue just with the VAHR and a chest HR sensor. Grrr!

  176. Todd

    Wow, you nailed it DC. I hope Garmin reads this. This culture change is WAY overdue.

    P.S that bluetooth connection issue drives me crazy!

  177. Anon

    Garmin wouldn’t even correct how to pronounce “Brooklyn Bridge” in its GPS updates: link to nydailynews.com

    Still not fixed and never will be by Garmin.

    Grrrrrrr.

    • Paul S.

      My favorite one of these is when driving to Baltimore-Washington International airport near Baltimore (BWI), both my Nuvi and my in-dash Garmin pronounce it “bwhee” rather than “B W I”.

    • Paul S.

      Oh, and another: there’s a town nearby named “Bellefonte”, the county seat of Centre county, which is usually pronounced “bell-font” by locals. The GPS says “bell-a-font-ee” much like the famous black actor Harry Belafonte

  178. Offered a bit of counterpoint to this post. My take is that some very, very valid points are made but I think some perspective is in order. To be honest, I think every manufacture, not just Garmin, should heed DC Rainmaker’s proposal. Design-wise, virtually every manufacturer of health related devices suffers from ill-conceived hardware, software, and support. The whole service design process is broken in someway or another.

    link to velonut.com

  179. Robert Moore

    I have a Fenix 5 that, like many, won’t connect to my Stages PM from more than a foot away, and can’t hold a connection to my phone from more than 15ft. I love Garmin devices, or at least the idea of them…

    • Dengler Franz

      I have to turn my Fenix to the inner side of my arm to have direct sight to the HRM Tri. Otherwise the ANT signal is so weak that connnection ist lost very often. I have got a second HRM Tri from Garmin. However I would prefer one that really works. I bought a Fenix because the quality of the 910xt really convinced me. For my next watch I will surely read reviews and select a Wirkung one.

  180. Scott

    Great post with many valid points. I never had any problems with my older Garmin products. The more features that have been added, the more problems I’ve encountered. I can’t even seem to do updates on Garmin Connect. (It always says my devices have pending updates, even right after updating).

  181. Pascal Zimmermann

    Garmin Fenix 5 is the worst for running. Compared with the old Garmin 910XT, the pace is jumping from 4.30/K to 6.30/K within seconds and back and totally not usable. Having the fenix on one wrist and the 910 on the other, the 910 is pretty consistent and the Fenix jumps.
    Sent both files to Garmin but no reaction at all 🙁
    useless for races :-(((((((

  182. JD

    For anyone interested the 7.5 update for 1030 adds control for radar alert (single tone, multi tone, or off).
    Also includes some fixes.
    So they do listen to people. 😉

  183. Scott Buchanan

    Ray, are you expecting a reply or any sort of engagement from Garmin on this?

    • Not entirely.

      They provided comment ahead of the post, which I included. Certainly, if they feel like there’s something they can add, I’m happy to append/update/whatever. But I honestly don’t see that happening. And to some degree, I’m not sure what they can say. Actions speak louder than words here, and right now no amount ‘X bug will be fixed soon’ really solves for it.

  184. MiserableMARQ

    Late to the party, but I’ve got a MARQ horror story to share.

    So I had problems before I even got to use it. First, I ordered the product from a place I’ll call JD, Kay!j See what I did there America? The product, an Expedition, had clearly been worn before. The white stitching was somewhat frayed and black/dirty in some cases. I called their support and was told a) Refunds take 30 to 40 days, b) No expeditions and c) if I wanted to downgrade to the Athlete, which I was fine with, I’d have to drive 26 miles, twice, because they won’t do that online and the store won’t have one. In the store, the sales associate went to the same website I did and processed the exchange almost exactly the same way I would have.

    I have no words to describe the store named after a disgraced Subway spokesperson.

    Meanwhile, I have an REI 2 miles away that would have exchanged / replaced, even now, this watch without blinking. I guarantee this place won’t do a refund at this point.

    Now, to the fine craftsmanship that is a MARQ.

    * Setup was miserable. Many, many tries because somehow I got out of sequence with the setup. So, it got half way there but wouldn’t finish. Many tries later it finally worked.

    * But, even then, it complained about Garmin Pay not being finished even though it was clearly showing a credit card in it.

    * Next, Spotify. You can argue this is a Spotify problem, and they blow at podcasts, but I can connect to Spotify, see podcasts, but it won’t load them. The watch complains about a network error. Oh, and jesus H, enough with making me open the Garmin app to load podcasts. I can get those free off Apple with a cable, my current workaround.

    These are things I could live with and work through, but the bluetooth, has been literally awful.

    First, it took me many, many tries to connect my Plantronics something or other to it. I did, felt good, went for a run, walked a bit, and it started dropping. The bluetooth doesn’t reach with my hand at my side. I have to raise it a few inches.

    Thinking maybe the problem was the headphones, and I wanted headphones without an ear wrap (have to wear glasses), I thought I’d pick up some Jabra Elite 65T. I kid you not, tried for an hour to connect to them, finally, no idea what did it, I did. The next day, tried to use them, the same problem, wouldn’t connect. I got them again, somehow, and it seems like they held, but, you can guess, bluetooth drops with my hand at my side.

    So, I contacted support, not expecting a solution to the bluetooth problem, but no response other than a form letter. I know they’re working on it, official forums, but at least acknowledge the information with more than a form letter.

    I can’t return this thing, still have my 5+, so I’m half-thinking of putting it on eBay and waving goodbye to it. There’s no way to justify the price even if it worked 100% (I could get 3+ AW4’s for this price) and it definitely has not worked 100%

    • You mentioned Plantronics and Jabra. My experience with both of these companies strangely mirrors your own experience with the MARQ in that the quality of their stuff isn’t as good as it should be. My take on all of this is that it isn’t just Garmin…it’s really everyone creating products in this industry. I’m a designer and I can tell you that virtually every electronic device within the fitness industry suffers from some form of a lack of design. It’s either a hardware issue, a software issue, support issue, or all three. Somewhere the design suffers in some shape, fashion, or form. None of these products are perfect. It’s basically about picking which part of the thing you’re ok with not being as good as it should be. In the end, I really think companies need to step it up when it comes to the design and quality of their products.

  185. Giedrius

    Garmin Forerunner 45 intermittently reboots every few minutes. Sometimes it can go into 20-30 reboot cycle.
    I haven’t noticed any reboots with phone/watch bluetooth pairing disabled (iphone7).
    link to youtube.com

  186. John W

    Excellent article. It exactly matches my experience with Garmin, especially after a software update to a Vivoactive 3 appeared to increase battery drain by nearly 50%. From nearly 6 days life down to just over 3.

    My experience of the support in the UK has been shocking, even when involving the local CEO/Managing Director directly fairly early on.

    – Support appear to ignore the possibility of a hardware fault, despite enough indicators on their own forums (for multiple watch types) that software may have had an affect. Insisting on replacing the hardware (at my expense for the carriage)
    – Wrong or missing information and links. Some is for the wrong jurisdiction (i.e. US not EU/UK), with others it’s the wrong product (Marine not Consumer). And even when I do get pointed to the correct pages they contain spelling, grammar and punctuation errors
    – Apparent refusal by support to send out the documentation in full with the correct information and correct links (which have been updated correctly). I would then arrange to ship the “faulty” device back.
    – Refusal by support to send me their escalation procedures (which didn’t point back to themselves) – “Poacher turned gamekeeper” maybe?

    The email trail is up to over 10 pages A4 – even with all the spacing, personal identifiers and superfluous information taken out.

    I’ve now been waiting for nearly 48 hours since an email from their local support manager indicated that my complaint would be looked into and a reply would be sent within 24 hours – And that email was instigated by a request from the CEO/Managing director themselves.

    Great range of products, but terrible software updates and even worse support.

  187. Tim

    I do not know if things are changing or if I am n=1. My fenix5 stopped counting stairs about 3-weeks ago. I followed every procedure I could find to clean and reset it. I decided to start a chat with Garmin support. After about 15 mins of troubleshooting and a master reset, it still would not count any floors or stairs. The agent then advised they’d process a replacement order for me and that the fenix5 should not be having these issues after just over 2-years. While it stinks to have a problem with the device, the customer support was very good in this case.

  188. JM

    In a sad way, I’m quite pleased to read all these bad experiences with Garmin. That means I’m not in a particularly unlucky group of buyers grumbling in forums. Big company ignorance based on market share is a dangerous mindset. Not fixing software bugs for existing devices is basically screwing your own customers. Why come back for more bad service..? It’s not unlikely to get swallowed alive by a superior technology real quick. Kodak style.. Brand loyalty and technology isn’t really there. We love our gadgets. And guys in particular want the very best. Hopefully the competition will get harder. There’s no hiding behind glossy advertisements. My next sports watch won’t be a Garmin.

  189. mara

    Have you done a review of Garmin Connect and other apps like Strava or Nike+? I only have experience with Garmin Connect, but am interested in a comparison of the alternatives.

  190. Hanna Blackledge

    Too many features, too complex hardware and software-wise, Garmin is over-reaching and its all about marketing now, not looking after your customers!
    For me the main problem is that GPS tracking is much less accurate than it was in the the older units and wrist HR is inaccurate too – I don’t bother with new units for running (cannot do any sensible training by heart rate or pace). Stryd for pace and an external HR (such as Scosche band) are still necessary for good feedback while running.
    I am not sure this is all down to software, new chips could be at fault too.
    My last Garmins were Edge 520 and fenix 3 (even these 2 are frustrating at times).
    I will not look for a new Garmin until they make a ROBUST, RELIABLE and small enough sports watch without any gimmicky features, such as music storage (small cheap players available), pay services (credit card? only when you are going far…), email/text (still need a phone in your pocket, so what’s the point?), but with BULLET-PROOF:
    1) GPS tracking
    2) WiFi connection
    3) Bluetooth
    4) Long-life battery (dropping all unnecessary features would sort that out) AND ability to easily charge on the go
    5) Two-way connectivity (activity out and planned workouts in) with apps such as Final Surge/TrainingPeaks/Strava – Garmin Connect in its current form is just embarrassing.
    6) I doubt that wrist HR will ever be accurate enough, so no-HR version.
    7) Optionally a barometer

    I would even be prepared to consider a premium price for such bare-bones version!

    NB Current watches are still too bulky to wear 24/7 so I regard daily activity tracking as a gimmick too, at least at the current technology level.

    • Hank Morris

      I think “too bulky to wear” is a rather subjective judgment that’s highly dependant on wrist size and how good your eye sight is :). I’ve had the Fenix 3, 3HR and now the 5x. I don’t think I’d consider devices with smaller screen sizes for my usage scenarios.

  191. nicholas akroyd

    Hi, I’ve had a fenix 5plus for less than week and so far it has crashed twice whilst pool swimming, once on 2 miles and today 5 mins away from my first 4 mile swim. I’ve been advised to update the system as it’s the 7.10 when it should be 7.60 but the Garmin Express won’t sync with the server so I’m now stuck in a never ending circle of doom…. especially as I can’t find any other instance of the watch turning itself off mid swim online.

  192. Joe

    Now on F5x+ I can not update at all to the new stable version using the cable and express. The error is:

    “Siamo spiacenti, si è verificato un problema di comunicazione con i nostri server”

    Unbelievable

    • Jens

      For what it’s worth it’s the same for me. Guess everyone is trying to update. It’s been like this for me for over 24h now. However, only my F5X+ has this problem, no other of my Garmins so it’s specific to certain models (plus I guess).
      Don’t panic 😉

    • Joe

      My FR920XT just update fine. I think the release works like for the smartphones, for groups od dispositives, And mine it`s not abilitate from garmin to have the update, otherwise there is another bug om 7.60 that will bi replaced with another version very soon.

    • Joe

      I am very sure that this problem is related to the problem that I have with the wifi connection. I saw the watch connected to the router and only later I had the error from the router. There is something wrong with the communications with the garmin servers, for this model

  193. Ryan S

    My Edge 520 Plus recently has lost all GPS ability. It says looking for GPS when it first boots, but then never actually finds a signal. A software reset from the device didn’t solve the problem, and I can’t find a fix online, either.

    Any one out there have a similar experience and know to solve?

  194. Gareth Metcalfe

    I too work for a software / hardware company in New Product Introduction, so I am familiar with all the fun and games involved in balancing the “need” for new features with the need to address open gripes.

    As you pointed out – one of the key tools to managing this is an easy and well established process for capturing reported problems, classifying their importance (corner cases vs every user, annoying versus just wrong versus dangerous, etc.) and then prioritizing and addressing each one.

    I bought a pair of Edge Explores for my wife and me. The feature set matches our needs well. Casual cycle touring both following pre-built routes, or at random. The on device mapping is important to us, both when we are biking away from our usual area, or to route back to the start when we run out of steam.

    With the latest maps and firmware, I have discovered a bug where the Garmin routes me >750km to get to my corner store (5km away)!! As a regular Beta tester of our products, I confirmed the results, tried a few similar scenarios, replicated the problem on the second Explore, and documented the situation with screen shots, etc. It seems to be a unique scenarios – but still – it’s plainly ridiculous.. But then what? Where to send it?

    I ended up posting it within the Garmin Forum, link to forums.garmin.com and even there, there has been no acknowledgement from Garmin that it has even been noticed.

    I don’t mind “beating up” a product and helping to improve it – it’s what I do – but I do expect acknowledgement of the report and follow up would be great.

    • Paul S.

      It’s simply a mistake to rely on the forums. With very rare exceptions, Garmin doesn’t participate there and my impression has always been that they don’t read them, either. You’re not going to get any acknowledgement. I think what you’re supposed to do is call/contact support, where they can either deny that there’s a problem or lead you through some useless steps (reset the device, etc.) that won’t solve the problem.

      One thing that you can do is to check the navigation avoidances if you can do that on the Explore. But it sounds like a map problem.

    • Jim Braley

      I have always found it much easier and quicker to call the Garmin 800 number at 800-800-1020. Service reps are knowledgeable and they have always been a huge help to me. I have lots of Garmin devices and anytime I have an issue (which is rare) I make the call and the problem is solved

    • JD

      Garmin does not seem to have a formal ticketing system for support requests or bug reports.
      My experience in the US is phone support is good as long as your problem is known but you can forget about trying to generate a support ticket that receives reasonable follow-up.

      The new forums are perplexing to me but perhaps they will improve over time.

      I also cannot locate a change log site for the 1030 that lists all historical updates in detail.

  195. Jim Braley

    I have always found it much easier and quicker to call the Garmin 800 number at 800-800-1020. Service reps are knowledgeable and they have always been a huge help to me. I have lots of Garmin devices and anytime I have an issue (which is rare) I make the call and the problem is solved

  196. Carl Sundquist

    Has anyone had an Edge 1000 that no longer charges? Mine started suddenly, i.e. not a loose connection that charges intermittently. I had the battery replaced but it didn’t rectify the situation.

    I called Garmin customer support and all the guy I spoke with only offered to sell me a refurbished unit for $200. I asked why they should profit from the failure of their own product and the guy told me, “Because you buy a new phone when your old one breaks.”

    F— Garmin.

  197. john

    With so many having bad experience with Garmin one could wonder if it is very difficult to make both good hardware and software.
    The old Edge 705 last forever and the 800 is also not really bad, but since that the on/off button on the devices is melting or whatever and the software is not installing correct. TrainingCenter is no longer supported and latest update to BaseCamp 4.7.0 has a defective map installer 4.2.0 still not fixed.
    I know I am old-fashioned but I have no need for having my data stored other places than on my own computers. No bragging (and nothing to brag about) on Strava or whatever only desire to have a bike computer that can show me a map of where I am no matter if it is in Europe or Africa and openmtbmap is a decent priced place to get more than Garmin is offering.

    Back to my wish: Some company should be able to make a device that can do what the Edge series do without all the problems Garmin add free of charge. Or is it not possible?
    There should be a market for a bike computer that function and is without the problems included in the excellent Edge computers (when they function they are good).
    Nothing existing? Or coming?
    Too bad!

  198. Mike

    Wahoo is not without their issues either. I switched back to Garmin. The bolt side buttons rubber eventually will come off and that’s the problem. My unit was two years old and this happened. The major issue after that was that when wind or rain go into it the speed part went crazy. It went up to 85 mph so it screwed up many many rides. Ridiculous who cares about setting up the app the Garmin set up is easy

  199. Art

    One ride made me super human
    My FTP jumped to 817W
    860w for 20min effort