December 27, 2014

I was happily using my Suunto Ambit3 Peak and Movescount, but there was always this worry in the back of my mind. The Ambit watches are great pieces of equipment, built tough, solid GPS and stable onboard software. The only thing that worried me about my multi-hundred dollar watch was that it was directly tied to the Movescount website. The watch does not work if the website is not there -- there's no way to configure the activities on the watch itself, but more importantly, there's no way to get data off the watch without it synchronizing to the website first.

Just shortly before Christmas, I was shown how worthless the watch was without the website. Movescount went down and did not come back for five days. Yes, it wasn't a life or death situation, I would just wait until the website came back up, but it still shows that the watch -- no matter how fantastic -- really is not much without the website. It was annoying.

So, out of annoyance, I went to REI to see if I could pick up a Garmin Forerunner 620 to try out for the time-being. I really wanted to get the Garmin Forerunner 920XT, but it wasn't listed online as in-stock. The FR620 according to DC Rainmaker is a great watch and my friend Steve also says that his performs just fine. I was worried about it behaving like the Fenix 2, where it could not track my runs properly.

I like the Garmin way of doing things with their watches. The watch itself can be used as a stand-alone device. All configuration is done on the watch itself, which can be painful after seeing how Suunto does configuration with Movescount -- where all Ambit configuration is done via a point-and-click interface on the website. The best thing about the Garmin watches is that they store the activity files on the device in FIT format and the watches themselves mount as USB mass storage. In this way, I can plug the watch into my computer and pull the files off without having any internet connection.

When I got to REI and walked over to the display where the GPS watches were, an employee had just walked out from the back with some stock and he put a brand new blue/black 920XT into the display case. I asked about it and he said that a customer had ordered it online and had just looked at it but said that it was the wrong one. The 920XT was free for sale, so lucky me, I snapped it up.

I have put a dozen miles on the thing and the 920XT tracks much better than my old Fenix 2. No more running over buildings and no more running like a drunken sailor. I picked up a foot pod also because I still run a lot on the treadmill and I have found wrist-based cadence is horrible.

Some observations:

I will write more about the 920XT as I continue to use it. So far, I like it.

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