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OK here is a test from yesterday on my MTB on a trail. I was specifically looking at how optical HR handled a bumpy but flat hardened, mud/grass trail. The vibrations can cause problems for optical HR in general, so that is what I was looking at ie a demanding scenario.
The Edge 820 is a reference device using a HRM-TRI chest strap. It should be correct. Then again, it is the Edge 820 so you never can be too sure.
There are stories about Suunto’s WHR having problems with oHR at the moment. There were stories about Suunto having GPS problems last year.
Yet in this particular test the Suunto’s optical HR track is good with only one trough/spike and the section of the track I have shown has the Suunto delivering a near-perfect GPS track. FWIW all 3 devices were GPS-only with no GLONASS. FWIW Suunto’s SPARTAN SPORT models have delivered among the best GPS results I’ve PERSONALLY had.
Yet clearly the Garmin Fenix 5X delivers an EXTREMEMLY poor oHR track and an OK GPS track.
So do I toe the commonly accepted line that Garmin are wonderful and hide this result?
Do I take solace in the multitude of functions on the 5X? My new toy.
Do I moan about Suunto only supporting Bluetooth sensors and if they didn’t they would soon rival Garmin?
Or do I bemoan the fact that the Garmin 5X is the most expensive sports watch I’ve ever bought and get accused of pro Suunto bias?
Or do I wait until someone says that I’ve deliberately miss-labelled the FIT files in Sporttracks? Or that I’ve selectively chosen a section where the Suunto’s GPS performed well? before wasting 10 minutes of my life and posting the original FIT files and linking to them (here) 😉 … there’s currently no link. I’m waiting; comments below please.
Or do I wait until someone points me to a Facebook page where lots of people get perfect Garmin results and everyone else there gets awful Suunto tracks? And then waste another hour of my life reading that?
Or do I perform lots of tests for the 5X on a stationary turbo trainer in HR Zone 2 where results will be great? I can then use that data to mask the performance shown above.
Or do I try an alternate line in that maybe we all need to chill out a bit about accuracy, even though that is the thing we all want?
Or do I post some alternate graphs where Suunto does not do so well (I have some)?
Or do I post views from other bloggers like fellrnr saying that the F5’s GPS is not great? or from DCR, in balance, saying about oHR that “things are pretty good (the best we’ve seen from Garmin’s sensor tech) while running, but a mixed bag while cycling”
Or do I realise I’ve wasted an hour so writing this and need to get back to my day job to earn some money? 😉
What would you do?
PS I keep getting accused of pro Garmin bias one week (and then anti-Garmin bias the next). Yet they now refuse to send me PR devices and, last year, I turned down some sort of Garmin ambassador thing they were offering that would have given me early access to new models (but not privileged access). Really I don’t toe the Garmin line. And REALLY I am no official/sanctioned part of their marketing strategy.
A: Well what I did was re-test the results today with pretty much the same test. The differences were: the weather; me going a bit faster despite an underinflated tyre; an errant dog-walker; and the F5X was switched to per-second recording from SMART recording.
This is what I found. Suunto still has a good GPS track (BLUE) but both the WHR and F5X suffer on the oHR. But still the Suunto is ‘better’ (note the colours of the lines have changed for each watch)
What is QUITE strange is that, in this instance, both ohr devices seem to need just over 15 minutes to ‘warm up’ and I’ve heard that this is something the manufacturers are aware of and might factor in to algorithm improvements later in the year.
But this variability then raises new questions (thanks Tim @inginero). I appreciate the oHR will have off-days and will most likely not play ball in certain conditions (like MTB). So do I wear a chest strap in those conditions? And then what about those scenarios where perhaps 1 in10 set of results will not be great? But then where do I draw the line? a 1 in 5 or 1 in3 or 1in 2 scenario?
FWIW: the data that has gone into my proper training log was from the Garmin Edge+HRM-TRI as I like to record EVERY sporting heart beat as reasonably accurately as I can. But I don’t mind chest straps.