Garmin | 920XT | Fantasy Review – Forerunner Triathlon Duathlon Watch ((Pre-Release Thoughts)

This was originally a fantasy insight/review from before the 920XT release in Autumn 2014

Elsewhere on this site there are comments on the release version.

Check <this> for thoughts on upgrading from the 910XT…is it worth it?.

Whereas <here> is the released review of the Garmin Forerunner 920XT Triathlon Watch.

—Original Post—————————————————————————–

My predictions were based on my general knowledge of other gadgets and emerging technology, including that already offered by, or owned by, Garmin. I think my predictions (below) will be close to the real thing.

EDIT: <Here> are some post-purchase thoughts on upgrading from 910XT to 920XT

If you want to read an even more fantastical review of the future of watches. Here is my 2021 review of the Garmin 930XT. Hmmm, some quite interesting things will be possible in a few years time. Maybe. Perhaps.

Back to the 920XT… My view would be that they produce another similar ‘form factor’. In English: It’ll look like the 910XT, IMHO, perhaps using the same casing and maybe even the same screen. That could be because they effectively just upgrade the 910XT with the features we already know about (more further on). Let’s face it, MANY people would buy the ‘new’ watch even if it were only slightly better just to have the latest gadget. Sadly, I might even be one of those people.

Here’s what will be added, IMHO, and with my degree of certainty [EDIT: These are mostly correct down to my 50% certainty level, some notes have been added where appropriate based on the 920XT’s actual features]:

  1. 99%: A New HRM (HRM4 as used with the 620) [YES!]
  2. 99%: Running Dynamics Metrics as used on the 620 – Vertical Oscillation, inbuilt cadence from HRM + more (eg new pods … probably not !)? [YES!]
  3. 99%: Predictive/Improved GPS fix based on extrapolated satellite positions from last known location. (eg 620 , Fenix2)  [YES!]
  4. 99%: Fix the current (run) pace bug  [YES!]
  5. 99%: Get altitude properly sorted. [YES!]
  6. 99%: R-R, HRV (You can get HRV on your 910XT using the **secret configuration menus**, here) [YES!]
  7. 99%: More than one colour. THOMSK and RDALZIEL have found 4x product codes on the Garmin website for the 920. So we assume 2x HRM strap version and 2x colour versions (The empty Garmin manuals page shows BLACK+BLUE and WHITE+RED). [YES!]
  8. 95%: Cycling Efficiency Metrics as on the Edge 620 (+Vector) – Torque Effectiveness, Pedal Smoothness + more ? (Edit: Aug 2014 – yes MORE !! Cycling Dynamics to be released to the Vector platform late 2014 so probably in line with this) [YES! Officially planned for Q1 2015]
  9. 95%: More powerful processor – more likely the Mediatek rather than the 910XT’s SiRF Star. So could be a scaled back and then extended FENIX2? Then again more powerful FIRMWARE would REQUIRE a more powerful processor. [YES!] A couple of forums suggest the chipset is: Media Tek MT3333
  10. 95%: Support for output via Bluetooth SMART(eg to an Android device as with Fenix2, Vivofit) [YES!]
  11. 80%: Increased connectivity through Bluetooth and WI-FI. There will be some fancy way of linking it to SMARTPHONES via Bluetooth & ANT+ I imagine. (Eg Edge 1000, Fenix2 and even the Vivofit!). Maybe even read your emails (not saying I want or need that!) [YES!]
  12. 80%: Look and feel: I think the general look will still be a bit dated. IMHO pretty much all sports watches look dated as they tend to rely on a couple of years old technology that is ‘proven’ to work to mitigate their design risk. The Forerunner 620 is one of the exceptions but even then it still compromises on the modernity factor. [YES!]
  13. 70%: Swim workouts
  14. 70%: Touchscreen (like the 620; hope not!) [NO! PHEW]
  15. 60%: Ability to work as a watch with date and time including seconds, perhaps using powersaving (like the Fenix2). [YES!]
  16. 60% Digitised physiology as currently found with the partnering company’s software (firstbeat). This sort of thing to do with recovery times and with holding back on your session or encouraging you to do more is a key addition but may be limited by licencing issues/costs with firstbeat. Also many of these metrics don’t work with swimming which might also limit the willingness to include them. Would be very nice though. [YES!]
  17. 60%: An improved battery that can handle an IM finisher rather than an IM racer even after the battery’s performance has dropped a bit over time (as batteries in general do) eg Fenix2 [YES!]
  18. 50%: Better screen resolution/colour (eg it’s easily possible : Samsung Gear is an amazing piece of hardware…shame about the software!) [YES!]
  19. 20%: Some form of optional wrist based HRM band (or inbuilt sensor) that will work in water to augment existing swim metrics. (If not look at, and note that HRM wrist bands such as the MIO Link already exist – I have one !). My understanding is that Garmin are not convinced that optical HR is accurate enough. [NO/YES] The YES is there because HR is apparently turned on for the openwater swim mode where it can pick up a wrist generated HR signal BUT it will never pick up a signal from a chest strap and it cannot (yet) be turned on at all for a pool session (yet!)
  20. 20%: More metrics per screen (ie>4 like the Edge 820) [NO]
  21. 10%: Larger screen (eg New Garmin Edge 1000 is larger but then again that goes on a bike) [NO]
  22. 10%: New ‘form’ eg round like the 620 (hope not) [NO]
  23. 10%: Thinner and maybe lighter (maybe not as the 910XT is already an OK size for triathlon IMHO.  [YES!]
  24. 10%: Activity/lifestyle tracking. I think this would be a really nice feature but to be really worthwhile it would need to have an inbuilt optical HR monitor as well as long battery life just to make it work 24×7. This feature be included as other products like the imminent Polar V800 supposedly will have it.  [YES! I missed this one, sorry]
  25. 5%: Support for non ANT+ devices as inputs/data sources (eg Bluetooth but even Bluetooth would not give HR underwater – all it would do is allow you to buy more other manufacturer parts rather than Garmin and a few others) [NO…but it does support ‘output’ to Bluetooth smart phones].
  26. 5%: HR Underwater through store and burst upload HR data caching on the HR belt (Garmin already own this technology via Dynastream I believe). So it is possible and Garmin CAN do it. I just don’t think they will sadly.[NO]
  27. 5%: Swim dynamics. There’s running dynamics on the 620 and cycling dynamics will soon (Q1.2015) be supported through the Vector on several models. Why not swim dynamics for the 920xt? Really not sure about this as the originally released 910XT had enough problems recognising the correct stroke for less good swimmers let alone stroke mechanics. [NO but there are swim additions like rest drill ‘modes’]
  28. 5-40%: Tracking. Ability for your family to track you when you race (or when your wife suspects that your training is really an affair). This could be unlikely though an inbuilt cell/mobile chip or more likely an aforementioned link to your smart phone which then re-transmits your position. All quite feasible but would you carry your phone round KONA for 10 hours? [YES]
  29. 100%: A few pounds/dollars on the existing price tag of the 910XT! Say GBP350-GBP500 at the top end. [YES]

Here are some suggestions for minor software improvements compared to the 910XT

  1. Multisport Mode that enables the initial start screen for each sport to be customisable
  2. Ability to configure multiple bikes/run types INCLUDING indoor bike/run that automatically turns on/off GPS and the appropriate speed/pace sensor so enabling, for example a multisport session: IndoorRun (footpod):IndoorBike (GSC10):OutdoorRun: OutdoorBike:OutdoorRun. [YES!]
  3. Better display of ‘large’ metrics eg for 01:06:05.00 then only 01:06 is currently shown in a 4 metric display. The hour is superfluous. If you’ve been running for an hour you know it. (For an IM/HIM you might want the hour). [Yes, the hour is made into a small pitch font]
  4. Endless MULTISPORT mode in terms of SRBRBRBRBRB…etc individual sports (for training) – the FENIX2 limits it somewhat, 910XT currently is OK. [NO, limited to 5]
  5. Enable a lap/split within an interval or within a sport (also to work in multisport mode) and/or segments (segments are now sort of on the 920 as part of courses).

Do you have any feature suggestions or needs that I’ve not covered?

Here are my reviews of the Garmin Forerunner 620 and the Garmin Vector pedals (both of which already use the new metrics), just to give you an idea of the sort of thing that WILL be included int he 920XT.

Here are an example of some of the new run metrics in Garmin Connect (from the 620)

the5krunner - ground contact time and vertical oscillation
the5krunner – ground contact time and vertical oscillation

Here are some of the new bike metrics from a Garmin Vector viewed in SportTracks using the LiveRecording+ HRV plugin…cool! The same data is obviously in Garmin Connect. However this nifty plugin lets you view it live on a large screen…home turbo mode only! No watch was used for this data display but the Garmin Vector sends it out to whoever can receive it. The Edge 820 and Edge 1000 show this data, so will the 920XT – note the torque effectiveness, pedal smoothness and LR power balance.


What might this mean to a 5k runner? Not a lot really!! You can already get what you need with the Garmin Forerunner 620 (review here)– that’s the one you need if you are just a runner. What might this mean to a duathlete/triathlete? Quite a lot. New kit to buy 🙂 More data to analyse to pore over our efficiency and try to get better (rather than training). An improved workhorse for what we do, just a bit better. & that ‘betterness’ will be around more analytical capabilities for the efforts we perform.

HOWEVER: You might just want to shoosh on over to the Garmin website and look at the Fenix 2 (Edit: 2015=Fenix3, very similar if not better than the 920XT). This is released April 2014 (I have one). This comes from a different ‘stable’ within Garmin and the new watch is a serious alternative to a 910/920 – especially if you are also an ‘adventure’ athlete. It already comprises some of the features I’ve suggested in the bullet point list eg the Fenix 2 IS a genuine multi-sport watch (the earlier incarnation was not) that now has Running Dynamics.

So, if you need a multi-sport+navigational-adventure watch now then the Garmin Fenix 2 (3) is a contender. If you have a Garmin Forerunner 910XT (review here) then there is little general benefit to upgrading to a Fenix2 (3) but there could be specific benefits that you might ‘need’ or ‘want‘ such as the special run metrics.

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5 thoughts on “Garmin | 920XT | Fantasy Review – Forerunner Triathlon Duathlon Watch ((Pre-Release Thoughts)

  1. I really, really hope that they don’t do touch screen, tactile buttons are absolutely a must! you can push them without looking, etc … also rectangular screen seams to be efficient for reading text, circle would have some unused space, would like the screen to be little bigger, but it could be a problem for small wrist ladies… Optical HRM? – just thought…

    1. +1 tactile buttons. I agree.
      +1 the optical HRM. I think that might work, maybe not from Garmin though (possible as the vivofit thingy is being bought by people who THINK it is a HRM). Some of the optical HRMs are Bluetooth and that may well get added. However I think ANT+ and Bluetooth simultaneous working is not possible so that might cause other problems. What I would like would be a HRM wrist unit that can record to itself UNDERWATER.

    1. looking likely. Strangely Nov2014 is the time some new stuff is released around Vector pedal super-firmware with cycling dynamics and just in time for bumper Christmas sales. Although a lot of people do buy in Oct it is usually the more cost conscious (or organised)…so, yep, November would be my bet at the present time. Then again i’m writing this in September so that date has probably gone!

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