Is the 2014 triathlon smartwatch indeed a real world changer? That is what we’ll find out in this Garmin Forerunner 920xt review. With the Fenix 2, Forerunner 620, and a recent refurbishment of its web tracking tools and the Connect smartphone app, Garmin has been continuously developing a more modern, user-friendly edge.
Interestingly, the most recent smartwatch to get the upgrade/refurbishment treatment is the leading multi-sport watch, the Forerunner 910xt, which has been reloaded, redesigned, and relaunched as the 920xt.
The idea that we should just be aware of our fitness capacities is pretty obsolete – the technology is there to rebuild us, although it’s necessarily not cheap. There are an ample of less expensive fitness-tracking straps and wristwatches for the ambitious athlete, but the Forerunner 920xt is something that’s completely more serious than others.
Ideally, the 920xt is a driving force of a watch, which is like a coaching team sitting on your wrist to coach you every step of the way. It’s built to be your ideal companion for cycling, swimming, running or a combination of the 3 (a triathlon).
Admittedly, the Forerunner 920xt is one of the most (if not the only) feature-rich, multi-sport watch out there right now. Not only does it tracks 7 different disciplines including indoor swim, outdoor swim, indoor bike, indoor run, run, bike, and triathlon, but it does all of this effortlessly, with ease, accuracy and a high-level of detail that’s very impossible to beat.
Not only is the 920xt loaded with some single discipline smarts to keep any swimmer, cyclist, or runner happy, it equally features enough killer tech features such as auto sync, Live Tracking, and smartphone notifications on the timepiece. That’s not all, it’ll also track your overall movement just like the Garmin Vivosmart or Vivofit. All these amazing features put it at the forefront of the pack as far as sports tracking smartwatches are concerned.
Furthermore, other notable features includes the type of activity tracking that a strap offers – updates on your daily steps and sleep, as well as regular poking to motivate you to do more – there’s equally GPS, social connectivity which helps in comparing and contrasting your activity levels with your fitness mates and the entire world, combined with the option of including this stylish heart-rate monitor.
However, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that such an erudite and refined tracking device is a lot more expensive than fitness bands which monitor only steps taken, nightly sleep, and calories burned. The Forerunner 920xt is equally costlier than some of the other multisport GPS smartwatches on the market, like the TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio.
With that out of the way, let’s quickly get to the main point:
- Garmin Forerunner 920xt Review | The Watch Design
- Garmin Forerunner 920xt Multisport GPS Watch | Features
- Garmin Forerunner 920xt Tri Bundle | Cycling Features
- Forerunner 920xt | Running Smarts
- Garmin Forerunner 920xt Manual | Swimming skills
- Battery Life
- Garmin Connect
- Garmin Forerunner 920xt | User Friendliness
- Conclusion about Garmin Forerunner 920xt review
Garmin Forerunner 920xt Review | The Watch Design
The Forerunner screams function more than pretty form. But that has always been the way with Garmin watches and this is immediately recognizable as a smartwatch from those guys with the now-familiar Red/White and Blue/Black color mixtures we’ve noticed on the Garmin Forerunner 620.
However, if you need a sports watch with Android Wear shininess or Apple Watch, then this particular timepiece is certainly not for you. It won’t look good with your Hickey Freeman suit, even to a fellow triathlete. This is a mean looking watch specifically meant for sporting activities.
Essentially, the very first thing you will notice once you put on the Forerunner is how lumpy it is. With the face of a watch that’s almost half the size of a regular business card and 13mm thick, it’s much larger than its numerous rivals and might not fit so well on a small wrist. That being said, it’s a lot more compact than its predecessor and is astonishingly light at just about 61g and its tough, rubberized band makes it very comfortable to put on.
However, this lightness does come with a shortcoming. Here’s the point: If you’ve gotten used to a weighty, more metallic timepiece such as a Suunto, you might discover that the plastic finish on the 920xt lacks a bit sophistication but if you’re more interested in a lightweight and function, then you won’t really have a problem with that.
Six pleasant big buttons surround the 1.1-inch by 0.8-inch color screen, two of which are apparently “Enter and Back” buttons. Lots of the other sports watch on the market usually compel you to look for these essential controls but it speaks volume to the simplicity that runs right via the Garmin watches, they’re basically right where you most need them.
You can decide to purchase the version of the Forerunner 920xt which comes with the HRM-Run chest band and we’d really advice you to do that. All thanks to smart use of fabric instead of the stiff plastics that you get with some bands, it’s a lot cozier to put on for extended periods of time. Interestingly, it’s equally the brains behind most of the running dynamics we will discuss later on this Forerunner 920xt review.
Furthermore, while Garmin has been clever enough to make use of a USB charger dock which will happily enter any USB port or plug out there, you’re still required to make use of the specific cable. Basically, they’ve not added the micro-USB charging feature that we’ve witnessed in some other sports watches such as the Polar M400.
Unfortunately, this is a bit frustrating if you’re the type that travels all the time because it simply means that you have to always take this cable with you everywhere you go. Or else, you might get caught short of battery.
Garmin Forerunner 920xt Multisport GPS Watch | Features
The primary aim of the Forerunner 920xt is simply to be your only sports watch of choice so it’s fortified with an enormous amount of features which we’ve never seen introduced elsewhere in the entire Garmin’s fitness kits.
Moreover, it wouldn’t be any sort of exception if Garmin had excluded the option to track your daily activities and instead of investing in another fitness band device, the Forerunner 920xt will monitor miles covered, calorie burn, and steps taken for a complete 24-hour period as you work towards your everyday goals for overall movement.
Similar to the Garmin Vivosmart and Vivofit, it also has an activity alert bar which runs along the bottom of the clock to notify you of when you’ve had some periods of idleness. Unfortunately, though, there’s no alarm or vibrating alert to let you know when you’ve sat still for an extended period of time so it’s not entirely a good reminder.
Furthermore, the Forerunner 920xt equally monitors sleep, although we discovered that it’s a little cumbersome to wear all through the night. You’re also required to put the Garmin into sleep mode manually to track your zeds as well (this can be easily forgotten) and the stats you get later in the morning does not have the depth of a Jawbone UP24. In other words, you cannot see deep sleep or phases of light, for instance, you’ll only see how much you have moved during the night.
However, the added functions don’t stop there. The Garmin Forerunner 920xt can be connected to your smartphone as well, and have all incoming phone notifications shown on the screen, selecting whether you want this feature while you work, workout or both.
Additionally, the Live Tracking feature we experienced in the Garmin Edge series is equally added. The smartwatch can typically piggyback the connection of your smartphone to let family and friends follow your progress easily in real time.
That said, how about the key features?
How does the Forerunner 920xt function when you hit the road, the pool or the saddle?
Below is a rundown of the sport-specific functions:
Garmin Forerunner 920xt Tri Bundle | Cycling Features
When taken to the saddle, the Forerunner 920xt tracks all the usual distance and speed with the use of the watch’s GPS. You can effortlessly enhance the variety of stats by simply adding ANT+ accessories such as speed and cadence sensors or power meters.
Regrettably, the people that own cadence/speed sensors or Bluetooth Smart power meters will be disappointed as these aren’t supported.
However, another noteworthy feature is its ability to accurately track your Cycling VO2Max and similar to running, there’s equally an indoor tracking feature where any of the workouts you performed on an ANT+ powered bike in the gym will be transferred to your Forerunner 920xt and direct into your general stats on Garmin Connect.
Aside from that, you can equally auto-link your stats with TrainingPeaks and Strava, providing you access to their better analysis tools and powerful community than you’ll ever discover even on the overhauled Garmin Connect.
Forerunner 920xt | Running Smarts
Similar to the Forerunner 620, the 920xt boasts of an enormous collection of Running Dynamics for real depth to your post-run and real-time analytics. The primary purpose of this is to help enhance running form and efficiency including Cadence, Vertical Oscillation, and Ground Contact Time.
Additionally, you’re also given performance data which will come in the form of an estimated VO2 max, which is always updated at the end of every run. This is combined with gender and age stats to provide a very useful post-run prediction on exactly how you could act over a range of distances like 5km, 10km, Marathon, and Half Marathon.
Furthermore, another notable improvement is the Metronome feature, which allows you to set alarms linked to a particular running cadence – the total number of times you strike your feet on the ground in a specific period of time. Moreover, improving your cadence is the only way to enhance your form and turn out to be a more efficient runner.
Experts such as Mo Farrah will aim for about 180-strikes per minute as a peak and having an audio or vibrating alert to assist you to hit the cadence is also an excellent addition.
However, for newbie runners or anyone that’s training for an extreme, there’s equally Walk/Run mode which lets you do sessions that merge some periods of running with segments of walking. Ideally, it’s a perfect way to build endurance and distance.
Treadmill lovers will also be excited to find out that indoor running can equally be tracked. The Forerunner 920xt makes use of data generated by your wrist movement throughout your outdoor runs to calibrate and ascertain your distance and pace. However, while it wasn’t 100% accurate when you compare it to treadmill’s own stats, having the ability to capture your indoor work and enter it into your training data without inputting it manually, is a big plus.
Garmin Forerunner 920xt Manual | Swimming skills
Swimming is well accommodated with tracking modes for both pool and open water swimming. The former uses the internal accelerometer while the latter relies on GPS to detect when you’ve finalized a length of your local pool, strokes logged and if you’re making use of different types of stroke.
However, before starting to swim, you’re required to let the watch know the length of your pool by choosing from an ample of pre-sets or simply entering your own. It usually retains your most recent pool size, so except in a case where you’re skimming between your local swimming baths then you’ll not be required to change it up every time.
Disclaimer: The Garmin Forerunner 920xt has only being tested in an indoor swimming pool. And in the cause of our tests, we discovered the length accuracy wasn’t always as dependable as we’d expect. The wristwatch always misses the odd length but in impartiality to Garmin, if at any point in time you slide, stopping or pausing it can distort the readings so it’s of utmost importance to master how the tracking acts and try to avoid anything that could potentially puzzle it. Admittedly, it’s easier said than done while in a busy pool but it’s equally true for any swim-tracking wristwatch.
Finally, the stroke count performed better, mainly matching our own tally. We equally love the SWOLF stats. Obtained from merging the keyword swimming and golf, the SWOLF adds the total amount of time and the number of strokes required to swim a pool length. For example, 30-seconds and 10-strokes to swim the length of a pool will be equal to a SWOLF score of about 40. However, a lower score is much better, just as in golf. It’s a perfect stat to monitor your swimming efficiency over time.
The 920xt battery will last for up to 40-hours in UltraTrac mode (a setting meant to take infrequent readings when it’s unnecessary); and up to 24-hours when in regular training mode, and up to 4-months when in watch mode, but that totally depends on if you’re tracking activity and getting notifications from your smartphone, according to Garmin.
While we found out that the battery approximately matched the training and UltraTrac mode figure, the normal usage period of 4-months is way out. This is simply because we couldn’t get the 920xt to last much beyond 5-days even with the tracking and connectivity completely turned off.
Additionally, another lost opportunity, specifically for Ironman cyclists, is that the watch cannot be charged while on the go. Therefore, even though you have a solar pack or a good way of potentially charging the battery while you’re mid-activity, the smartwatch won’t allow you.
Syncing stats from your Forerunner 920xt to Garmin Connect can be automatically carried out through Bluetooth to your smartphone app, or over Wi-Fi to the internet. It worked for us perfectly 99% of the time and as we already stated above, we indeed love the fact that you can directly transfer data to 3rd party apps such as Strava. However, we’ll also love to see even more 3rd party apps included in the near future.
For the people that have access to office Wi-Fi or gym, you can essentially add up to 7-networks and choose a preferred connection. That’s not all, you can equally opt for a USB-PC upload if you consider that a lot easier.
Interestingly, the Garmin Connect tool has been fairly updated in recent time with a new interface for smartphones and web. It provides an enormous variety of features for planning, tracking, and also reviewing your workouts with a customizable homepage which allows you to include your desired number of data files.
From getting ready for a marathon and setting up your monthly goals to joining team step contest and beating the best times of other runners around your local routes, there’s a bunch to select from and its new appearance has definitely made controlling your workout stats a lot more spontaneous.
Garmin Forerunner 920xt | User Friendliness
Like most of the multisport GPS watches out there, the 920xt has a bunch of features, and that simply means you’ll want to get to understand the timepiece before you begin to use it in tracking anything. Fortunately, the instruction manual which accompanies this watch is easily understandable.
Aside from that, the Garmin website, the company’s FAQ page particularly, is equally an excellent resource, whether you’re just starting with the Forerunner 920xt or if you meet any difficulty with it. I specifically love the short videos on the website that show you how to properly configure and navigate the watch.
However, video tutorials might not be needed to understand the 920xt, because regardless of its multiple features, the timepiece is reasonably easy to navigate. On the display screen, you’ll see the time of day, together with the date and day of the week. On the top is located a battery icon, this makes it pretty easy to notice when it’s time to put the smartwatch into the charger.
Additionally, on the main display screen of the watch, you’ll see your daily step count as well as the signature move bar of Garmin — a symbol that shows on the screen if you’ve been idle for over an hour. And if you keep on sitting around after the move bar displays, the wristwatch will tinkle your wrist thereby reminding you to stand up and move around.
It might also excite you to know that you have the ability to turn off this feature. You can equally turn off the irritating beeping sounds that come up each time you press a button on the 920XT, together with the alert tones that buzz loudly whenever you start or pause the stopwatch.
Now, for you to begin using the Forerunner 920xt, the first thing you should do is to download Garmin’s software and connect the smartwatch to your computer with the of the charging cradle and USB cord that come with the watch. After which you should register for a Garmin Connect account that will let you see the data your watch collects on a mobile app or on the web. Dissimilar to most wearable devices we’ve checked out, data can be synced from the Forerunner 920XT to the Garmin Connect app through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
While we had no difficulty syncing the timepiece with my smartphone through Bluetooth, we like the fact, if Bluetooth connection didn’t work, there exists yet another wireless means to get data from the watch and onto your smartphone. However, if you’re not viewing your data with a mobile device, you can also set the watch on its charging support and simply plug it into your computer so you can upload your workout stats to be into the Garmin Connect site.
Watch this short video review of Gamin Forerunner 920xt:
Conclusion about Garmin Forerunner 920xt review
We’ve finally come to the end of this Garmin Forerunner 920xt review. The bottom line is that the Forerunner 920xt has an ample of features that will keep ahead of your game. It functions on a way that you can instantly track and watch as you improve on your skill. This smartwatch is built for those who really desire to take push their performance to the next level, who are not happy with just staying on the old stage persistently.
The 920xt feature an excellent notification pushing technology to let you transfer your data to a more accessible platform and the good thing is that it’s also priced reasonably enough to be afforded by even the average athlete.
Therefore, if you can afford time innovative sports watch, just buy it. The Forerunner 920xt delivers on almost all angle, and while it’s bigger in size than some competitors, you’re certainly getting an insane amount technology in there.
It’s definitely not meant for everyone, and I’d advice those runners that are more casual or more money-conscious to check out other alternatives that are priced lower with similar functionality. But as a do-it-all sport and fitness wristwatch, the Forerunner 920xt is indeed a great choice.