Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Quirks of the Garmin

I'm back to the work week routine and despite the residual fatigue that comes from rising at 4:00 AM I've settled back in to my running program. Although I am pleased with the Garmin 50 I've experienced some frustration with its operation, mostly due to its complex interface and its too simple instruction manual.

There are four buttons on the watch that do different things based upon the mode: time, training, intervals, etc. It is not obvious to the user which sequence of buttons need to be pushed to start an action, check a performance metric or calibrate the unit. The manual doesn't cover much of what the watch can do so I'm left frustrated knowing I'm not getting everything I can from the watch. In some cases the frustration comes from inconsistancies with the interface. For example, when in training mode, the usual default screen displays 0000:00:00 meaning "hit start and run." It then records distance, speed, cadence and pulse rate and will display any of those metrics by toggling with one button. That's great except when that display doesn't show up when you switch to training mode.

This morning I got going on the treadmill, brought the speed to my normal starting pace, switched the Garmin to "Train" and was annoyed to see that it did not give me my expected start display. So as I'm running at about a 6.5 mi/hr pace I'm jabbing at the watch in hopes of correcting this so I can record my run. Eventually I noticed a different display that seemed to be capturing distance so I left it alone and in the end it allowed me to save the run. The aggrevating part was that I ran at least .3 miles while this all played out and consequently none of that data was captured.

I'll see exactly what it did capture once the run is uploaded to Garmin Connect. I'm sure I'll eventually learn every aspect of the watch through trial and error but I'm puzzled by the lack of operational documentation. I wonder how many Garmin users give up on the features simply because the thing's so darn complicated.

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