I’ve probably spent a little too long recently looking at GPS (GNSS) plots of numerous runs that I’ve done, attempting to see if GPS+GALILEO offers any improvements over GPS-only or GPS+GALILEO.
In hindsight, the inordinate amount of time I spent looking at google map plots would have suggested, in itself, that there is no obvious answer.
The Obvious Answer
The conclusion that I came to was that:
- Sometimes, GPS+GALILEO is slightly better at recording a plot showing where I’ve been.
- Sometimes it’s about the same and
- Sometimes it’s about the same in places and a bit better elsewhere BUT at the same time a bit ‘jagged’
- Sometimes it’s truly awful and totally unusable.
Ref: DOP – Dilution of Precision (link to: wiki)
I’ve also used the GPS Plan app on IOS to determine the DOP conditions in various tests that I’ve done over the years. HDOP/TDOP/VDOP/PDOT conditions do vary where I live but the conditions tend to vary within the realms of Excellent-to-Ideal almost all of the time. Indeed on the very few occasions I have had a mere ‘Good’ level of PDOP I still had good tracks in those conditions.
However I’m not entirely sure if the stats I looked at worked out the DOP scores based on the entire constellation of GPS+GALILEO+GLONASS (I assume it did). Which makes the results and my time potentially meaningless and wasted, respectively. Grrr
However, one thing that did stand out was that the number of available GALILEO satellites varied from 2 to 6 at my location. Quite low I thought (2).
You might have thought that buying a new watch to get access to two more satellites might be somewhat less than cost effective.
But, then again, it’s not the number of satellites that will necessarily give more accuracy. 2 GALLEO satellites in the right place in relation to the other GPS satellites could quite easily be better than 6 GALILEO satellites in ‘unhelpful’ locations.
Some Test Results
The Garmin Fenix 5S Plus (w/GALILEO) does seem to be an improvement over the 5S but is still not comparable to the better Suunto and Polar devices. There seems to be something generally wrong with running tracks that are not sufficiently smooth for my liking.
Whereas the Forerunner 935 w/GALILEO was actually pleasantly better than on previous run. I’m going to use my new app to plan the best time to get optimal GALILEO coverage and do a proper test run and see what it comes out with. It might, just might get close to the better Polar and Suunto models..or not. Then again, it’s 2 steps forward and the proverbial one step back. The one step back seems to be in open water performance where it’s defiantly not as good as before which seems to concur with Fenix 5 Plus performances elsewhere (link to dcrainmaker.com).
I had completed quite a bit of COROS Pace testing. COROS then released an improved GPS+GLONASS algorithm. Grrrr. But that *DOES* seem pretty good. Surprisingly so. It’s given me some excellent results that DO match the results of the best GNSS devices. #VeryPleasantSurprise
I seem to be getting slower because of too much fiddling with gadgets. Maybe I should actually spend more time looking at how fast I am running?. Thus I’ve no feedback (yet) on any improvements to Instant Pace accuracy or otherwise. I would imagine that, at best, it might only be very slightly improved.
Well I wouldn’t switch to a high-end Garmin right now just because of the GALILEO option. GALILEO wouldn’t be a factor for me AT ALL in a switch/purchase decision. Sure if you want to upgrade form a Fenix 5 to a 5 Plus because it won’t connect to your power meter then go for it….but that’s one of many other reasons to switch or trade up.
Indeed I would say that GALILEO currently has issues on the v2.20 GPS firmware. It’s fine to use it as a toy but it could go badly wrong eg me this week in a ‘C’ race.
If you are a 935 owner and feeling a little left out on the features front then you might want to think about my current, cunning plan. My cunning plan is to switch to a 5S Plus as my tri watch. That’s very much a W.I.P (work in progress) thing right now but that move will give me all the new non-sporty features that, of course, I won’t use too much 😉 But it will retain pretty much all of the sporty stuff that the 935 can do and it will do it in a similar sized/weighted format. Both have GALILEO. More to follow on the 5S Plus Switch.
If you are thinking of avoiding Garmin and getting a COROS Pace tri watch then that is starting to look like a more and more sensible move as the weeks go by. Especially with the apparently improved GPS+GALILEO. The lack of ANT+ support in last week’s firmware update was a cause for concern, although I was pre-warned of that. ANT+ is now scheduled to ‘later this month’ and ‘later this month’ is fast approaching. Maybe they’re actually testing it first to release sans-bugs??? Do companies actually do that any more 😉
Edited after a truly bad GALILEO experience