I’m a big fan of Garmin.
I have been raving about it to everybody ever since.
It’s a standard ANT+ sports watch which connects to a heart rate monitor and cadence/power meter on my bike, but also includes GPS built in.
The killer feature in my opinion is Garmin Connect, a website where you can upload data from your device. This gives you a great view of the information collected while you’re training or racing (including plotting routes on a map) and let’s you keep track of this over time. For example, here is a replay of the bike leg I did at Challenge Wanaka earlier this year (please focus on the first half of the race when I was flying, not the second half as I was dying up-hill and into the wind!)
This site has a really clean and simple design, and is a great example of a site that fades nicely into the background putting the focus on your data.
And, now that they have proper support for OS X, the integration is super slick – I simply put the watch in the same room as the computer at the end of a run or ride and the data is automatically sucked out and uploaded.
So, all was good. Until…
I was on a long training ride a couple of weeks ago and noticed that the display on the watch was starting to fade in and out. By the time I got home it was so faint that you couldn’t really see the details anymore.
As I write it’s less than 20 days until the Taupo Half Ironman, so (if you’ll excuse the pun) it couldn’t be worse timing.
The next day, I took the watch into a local shop to get the battery replaced, only to be told that they couldn’t help me. So, I called the Garmin service department, and it turns out that the battery is not replaceable.
I have to say, they did everything right. The lady I spoke to was very friendly and helpful. Even though the watch was outside of its warranty period, once they checked the serial number they offered me a replacement at a significant discount to the normal retail price which arrived by courier a couple of days after I returned the faulty one.
But, I couldn’t help feeling like I was the sucker – somehow I’ve become locked in by an eco-system of accessories, online services and persuasive support staff.
So, I guess I need to add Garmin to the list of companies that has earned the right to tax me as they see fit.