My 5 favourite and least favourite Garmin features

NPE heartbeatz – broadcast Apple Watch HR

My 5 Favourite and Least Favourite Garmin Features

I’ve been forcing myself to use a Garmin Edge 540 recently as my main bike computer alongside a Forerunner 965. As a consequence of that, I’ve been reflecting on what I like about Garmin for my training and what I’m less keen on.

There are a couple of peripheral featurettes here you might not have come across or known what to do with, and other favourites are complete features while others are just aspects that I like.

disappointment | Garmin Edge 540 Review (840 Solar)

Fave #1 – AMOLED Screen

I’m a sucker for a pretty screen. I always wanted one on my sports watch just so I wouldn’t be embarrassed to wear it outside of sports. The Garmin Forerunner 965 is the first Garmin watch that has made me happy in that respect.

What’s special about the 965 is that it has a much bigger screen than Garmin typically puts into its mid-size watch case, with a 1.4″ display at 454x454px. I don’t have the brightness set to full and can still read it in sunlight.

Garmin Forerunner 965 – all the cr*p bits, did I just waste my money? This review says…maybe

Fave #2 – Lap by Position

I moaned that Garmin lacked this feature for a couple of years. They eventually (re-)introduced it, and then I promptly switched away from Edge units to use Wahoo for a while. I’ve rediscovered this feature on my Edge 540 and regularly use it.

Lap by position works by changing how a manual lap button press works. When you press LAP, Garmin remembers the position, and for the duration of your ride, it will always automatically insert a new lap at the same position, give or take a few meters.

Multiple end lap positions can be used in any single ride. I think I managed 5 once, but only because I mistakenly pressed the LAP button.

I use this for laps of Richmond Park, and I also add a lap as I start the ride near home, which has the added benefit of adding one automatically when I return home. I’m not quite sure what I will do with these laps, but I’m sure they will come in handy one day.

Fave #3 – Accurate Autocalibration of Elevation by Location

You should do this.

Garmin performs several kinds of elevation calibrations that look at relative changes based on barometric pressure, a 3D satellite position, and the position from a Digital Elevation Map based on a 2D position. However, what takes priority over all of those is a manually set elevation.

Get a GPS fix on the pavement outside your house. Now enter the correct manual evaluation calibration based on whatsmyelevation.com (yes, really!). Finished. Now, forevermore, once you leave home, your workout will always correctly have the correct starting elevation.

Fave #4 – SatIQ

The consensus was for years that Garmin had accurate GPS. Or at least that’s how it seemed when I read other review sites. It didn’t. It wasn’t accurate. That was another decade-long moan that I didn’t especially enjoy making. However, that’s all now changed with Garmin’s Airoha GNSS chipset, which does give accurate location readings based on multiple constellations and dual-frequency bands. The problem is that the accurate mode gobbles the battery juice too quickly for my liking.

Handily, Garmin introduced SatIQ, which intelligently turns on the high precision, battery-hungry mode only when reception conditions are poor and it is really needed.

Garmin SatIQ on Multiband GNSS – What is it? Is It Good and Do I need it?

Fave #5 – Logging HRV

Your Garmin will already be happily logging HRV at rest, for example, when you sleep.

A good way to eat a bit more battery and increase the size of your workout’s FIT files is to also enable HRV during exercise in the system settings. This records every single beat rather than a single reading per second.

Why?

Most of you will get no benefit from doing this, but if you use some of the true AI/ML sports tools like AI Endurance, then these HRV readings can be used to determine quite clever insights into your physiology. For example, a dfa a1 analysis can be performed by AI Endurance to give you your lower threshold LT1/AeT as a potentially more accurate limit for your easy workouts than the same figure back-calculated from an LTHR/LT2 test.

DFA Alpha 1 (DFA a1): new training threshold discovery method via HRV

Fave #6 – Connect IQ

OK, I said there were 5. Sorry.

This one shouldn’t be on the list really, but I do use it a lot and like it a lot, so here it is. I use CIQ apps and data fields mostly for linking to weird sensors that I need as part of this blog. As a triathlete/runner, I don’t think I would ever normally use CIQ, as Garmin has all the basic features that I would need out of the box, except maybe for a Stryd data field.

However, CIQ is Garmin’s big commercial differentiator, and many of you really do use it. It also gives small startups a way to integrate their new product or service into your Garmin ecosystem.

Garmin CIQ 6.2 – new features and a new name

Fave #7 – Stamina

I don’t quite know why I like Garmin’s newish stamina feature as it’s almost certainly inaccurate.

However, I do regularly have it on display on longer rides and runs, if only to see it fall to zero and then say, “Ha ha! I knew it was wrong.” However, with proper manual zones and proper sensors (i.e., a chest strap and accurately calibrated power meter), it’s not too bad.

Stamina : What is Garmin’s new Stamina metric?

Fave #8 – Morning Report

Even though the data it shows is often complete pants (readiness and sleep stages), I do look at my morning report almost every morning when I get up. It’s a really neat idea just poorly executed because of inaccurate data and/or algorithms.

It’s nice to see recommended workouts for the day or event details.

Love ❤️ It – Garmin Morning Report

My Least Favourite Features/Aspects

A few years ago, ‘accuracy’ would have been my biggest complaint. Garmin seems to have sorted out the accuracy of the basic inputs if you use the correct sensors, so the inaccuracies that still appear must be due to poor algorithms.

is Garmin 965 Accurate? full report

Gripe #1 – Physiological Stuff

Garmin has many awesome ideas when it comes to presenting physiology-based insights. Many of them are often plain wrong. Just because a company’s marketing materials say something is accurate doesn’t mean it is.

I used the Forerunner 955 with all the defaults for several months and let the watch determine my zones and LTHR, etc. It gave me complete rubbish – one example that made me laugh was biking for an hour and getting an actual average 60-minute power, which Garmin then said was above my FTP… that just can’t be right! With the 965, I’ve tweaked the zones, and that does improve the quality of the associated physiological insights.

Gripe #2 – Refreshing CIQ-type Data

Whenever I go to look at the weather on my watch, it tells me to refresh the data connection to the app. So, I open up the phone and look at a weather report there.

Similarly, I get tide information from the CIQ widget, AK Tides. But it needs updating via the phone. I want a proper service for these things to update via WiFi and/or LTE.

Gripe #3 – The Garmin Forerunner/Fenix Charging Cable

These just don’t work. Over multiple years and multiple watches, when I plug the cable into the watch, it simply doesn’t automatically get recognized by my PC even though it does charge.

Thoughts

What are your favourites or least favourites?

From survey responses, I know a lot of you like Garmin’s take on VO2max.

 

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14 thoughts on “My 5 favourite and least favourite Garmin features

  1. Nice list! For me the biggest draw back is simply the fact that to get any meaningful data (assuming you’ve set the right zones!!) you have to wear the watch 24/7, and that’s just not my thing.. I hate wearing watches in bed, and couldn’t give a stuff about my ‘sleep quality’ as it’s all shite on all devices, but this means I don’t get many of the metrics…including morning report! Cheers, Rob

  2. My favs is pretty much the same as yours 🙂

    One thing that I really miss is trainingsessions with audio cues.

    e.g. I have a training session that says

    15 min warmup
    5 x 30-20-10 seconds interval (30 easy pace, 20 secs fast pace, 10 secs sprint) repeat 5 times.

    Repeat the one above 3 times in total

    15 mins cooldown.

    I would love to get audo prompts just to say run 30 seconds, run 20 seconds, run 10 seconds

    Tried tons of settings but never managed to get to work on any of my Fenix or Forerunners.

  3. My least fav features of my 965

    1. amoled screen. It doesn’t give me any new possibilities but the gesture to turn up the brightness during runs doesn’t work very well and annoys the hell out of me.

    2. morning report. Not so useful, specially not right after I just woke up. But I turned it off, so not an issue.

    3. software quality. My old forerunner 935 had it’s issues, but nothing compared to my 965 with regular freezes and crashes.

    4. trackmode. It doesn’t work for me. But what I understand, you first have to run a couple of laps on the track before it recognize the track and cannot do the warmingup outside the track. Well, that’s not how training at a club on a track works. Really not.

    5. The default watchfaces. Designed for 10 year olds.

    1. point of correction: 8 year olds.

      my use of the 965 is mostly crash/freeze free. what annoys me more are the lags which i think are ‘normal’ rather than a bug in the latest firmware

      1. Yeh, I also suspect the lags are “normal”

        My old 935 had limited processing power but it was enough for the very simplistic user interface.

        My 965 has probably more processing power and a very complex user interface with fancy animations. But I suspect the processing power increase isn’t enough to handle the more complex user interface.

        Oh, and I do value the improved bluetooth connectivity with my iPhone. That was a pain in the place where the sun never shines with my old 935 and quite smooth with my 965.

  4. When I’m outside of a training plan, I like to have training proposed by the watch. As I’m getting older (meaning I’m not going to start some FTP runnings after only 10′ of a light jog), I just wish we could edit the proposed training.

  5. 1. ClimPro in Forerunner 255 (Music)/265.
    2. Return of the LTE module (see point no. 9).
    3. DualOS – combination of Wear OS with the Garmin platform (Google’s system for smart functions, Garmin’s system for sports).
    4. Faster charging.
    5. Wireless charging (Qi standard).
    6. Charging when the watch is turned off.
    7. Start a course while the activity is on.
    8. Professional “football/soccer mode” with heat map.
    9. A revolutionary approach to the operation of the eSIM module. How? In the way of configuration. Such a module, as we all know, can finish the battery as much as possible in such a small device, so a nice convenience would be the ability to set the operation of this module, but not with zero-one. For example, I would like the eSIM module to connect to the network once every 5 minutes and check the notification if someone wanted to connect to me and the notification from the applications I selected. Such a “beep”. Additionally, in running/biking, it could send my position every 1/2/5/10 minutes (depending on setting).
    10. New generation of transflective screens with higher resolution (min. 360×360).
    11. Larger screen -> smaller bezel (for example: Xiaomi Watch S1 Pro).
    12. Charging using a magnetic adapter for a regular USB-C cable to the charging input/pins located on the left side of the watch so that it is possible to charge the watch during activity (without removing it from your hand).

  6. interestingly, lap by position was removed from forerunner devices a while back – some still have it (undocumented) but my 955 certainly doesn’t (unless they’ve hidden the setting somewhere weird).

      1. It was never removed from Edge series. 205, 305, 705, and 500, 510, 520, 530 together their brothers all have Lap by position feature. Maybe not all have all the 3 sub-types (start and lap, lap only, mark and lap) , but at least 2.

        Forerunner 310xt, 910xt had, but not 920xt.

        None of my Fenixes had, I have no info whether F1 and F2 had (very likely they did not have), but definitely not from 3 until 6.

        So only runners were let down by Garmin except they run with an Edge.

  7. Right! I thought only me has the problem with weather report. Why it’s so hard to implement it properly to show weather forecast on watch anytime without being persuaded to open app in the phone.
    And yes, VO2max is pretty interesting.

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