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Update on my thoughts about the Garmin Forerunner 410
by on Friday, December 20, 2013  (2 comments)

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Not quite as great as I first thought

I earlier wrote a post generally on GPS running watches but not hiding the fact that I had the Garmin Forerunner 410 and that the positives I had found were based on my experiences with that watch. I've also talked with quite a few people praising the features of the Forerunner 410. I truly believed it was a great watch and expected to love it for years to come. I wanted to offer an update because my impression of this device has changed dramatically over the past few months. I still think there are benefits to GPS watches but I'm questioning my investment of $200+ on the Forerunner 410.

About 13 months after I bought the Forerunner, its battery life began rapidly declining. While I could go about a week between charges (6-7 days in "power save" mode and roughly 8 hours in "training" mode) when I first got it and even 11-12 months after purchase, it rapidly deteriorated to the point where I could barely get through a weekend (about 2 days in "power save" mode and less than 3 hours in "training" mode) by 13-14 months after purchase.

I attempted to contact Garmin support 4 times. I never heard back from the first 3 attempts. On the 4th attempt, I got through. I was then given instructions to do a factory reset on the watch, let the battery run down to empty, then fully recharge it. This seemed to help a little bit...for less than a month. I was also told, if this didn't work, I could send it to them with $90 and they would repair or replace it...after I was without it for an undetermined number of weeks.

Now, the Garmin is 15 months old. Before yesterday's run, I started it up and checked the battery life. 41% remaining. Good to go. So I put it in training mode and it immediately beeped at me with a low battery warning. The screen then went blank and the watch restarted. As soon as it was started up, I checked battery life again. 0% remaining. Just seconds after it reported 41% remaining. It then beeped at me again and restarted. It then got stuck in that loop, beeping at me and restarting about once every 10 seconds, for the next 5-10 minutes. Roughly through the first mile of my run.

So, to recap, things began getting bad about 13 months after purchase of this $200 device. Their fix didn't work. Now, if I want it fixed, I have to spend another $100+ (with postage) and be without it for some number of weeks. Then I can count on it to last, what, another year before I have to put down another 100+ to get it repaired or replaced? This is not the quality I thought I was paying for when I bought this $200 device.

As much as I like the features and I fear I've become somewhat addicted to a few, I would not recommend purchasing this device based on my experience. I'll be holding on to this until it dies for good, then I'll be on the market for a different brand with similar features and hopefully better durability and reliability.

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2 comments
Lighty:

I completely agree with you, Ryan. Dave bought me a 610 in May of 2012. For about 14-15 months it worked as expected. Then one day I took it off the charger, 100% charged and it would not start up. It appeared to be dead. We found some information about resetting it, which deleted the history, but it did not reboot. It kept saying low battery 0% and shutting off. It got stuck in the same loop you mentioned. Dave took it to work that day and just left it on the charger. He said initially the charge said 100% and then the charge, while on the charger, started to decrease. After the charge was down to a very low percentage, the charge began to increase again until it reached 100%. It booted up and worked again, but the history was gone.

Now, I have to recharge it after about 3 or 4 runs. If it sits for 3 or 4 days in power save, the battery is dead. Before every longer run over 2 hours I have to make sure it's 100% before I start or it will not make it through the run. After a 2 hour run I have to recharge it to use it for another run.

The other things that bother me about it are the pin in the wrist band just flies out making the watch fall off my wrist and the back of the watch is corroded from sweat. That seems cheap for a device that cost over $200. Also, once you lose satellite reception, I have never been able to figure out how to make the watch search for signal again without shutting it off and powering it up again. Once the signal is lost it stays without satellite reception even if I go back into an area where there is satellite reception, for example going inside for a few minutes to go to the bathroom or something like that and then going back outside. If I lose the reception inside, it doesn't automatically search for satellites again once they are available.

I will do the same with mine as you. Use it until it's dead and then find a different brand. I feel like my old 305, which still works after 8 years, was a much better quality product. Garmin's quality has really gone downhill. It seems like they are taking shortcuts to save money and are more concerned about profit than making a quality product.

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Ryan:

Jackie, thanks for sharing. Given Garmin's reputation, I thought I got a dud or did something wrong and maybe I ticked them off somehow to get that kind of customer service. Maybe they caved to the pursuit of profits over the pursuit of customer satisfaction, not realizing (or not caring) that customer satisfaction leads to long term profits.

Anyway, when I tweeted at Garmin because I couldn't even get through to their customer support, Andrew sent me a link to a Soleus watch with a suggested price of $99 and it looks like you can find it below that at some places. I'll definitely be seeing if this has the features I'd be interested in when the time comes. I'd suspect it does. What I'm looking for would seem to be somewhat basic for a GPS device.

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