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Old 09-29-06, 08:52 AM   #1
John Minnesota
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Garmin Forerunner 305 - Product Review

I purchased a Garmin Forerunner 305 about two months ago, and while I really liked the idea of having the GPS and HRM and tracking data, my experience with Garmin and this particular product has not been good.

When I first got it, I followed the instructions, got it plugged in and went out for my first ride with it. When I got home and plugged it in to my computer USB bus, the computer froze and required a reset to reboot. Once the computer came up again, the USB bus didn't work. I realized that the likely problem was too much current draw on the USB bus, and was going to need to get a new motherboard Darned disappointing, but being a computer and electronics person, I went and purchased the new motherboard and a powered external USB hub and about 12 hours later I was up and running again.

So, this time I plugged the Garmin Forerunner 305 into the powered USB hub instead of the computer. As soon as I did this, my computer blue screened (crashed) and it did so nearly every time I plugged the Garmin in. At this point I decided it must have been a problem with the Garmin Forerunner and got on their support system. Here is where the real problems happened.

Their support person told me:
1. Check for chipset names that are INTEL, NEC, etc. These are compatible chipsets with our devices.
2. If you have a chipset name that contains SiS, Via, OpenHCD, Ali, or Alr,
these chipsets are not compatible with our devices and may not allow the USB Card Programmer to function.

That wasn't on the package, or in the instructions, but regardless I learned that I had a compatible chipset from the manufacturer. So after letting them know that and that I now expected some compensation for my loss and that something definitely caused my motherboard's USB bus to go bad they asked that I send the unit, cable, charger, etc back to them so they could determine what might have caused the problem, which I did. After a week or so I asked if anything had been determined about what had happened but they didn't have any answers. I told them at this point that I expected some compensation for my damaged motherboard - another unit maybe? Something. They offered to send me a new unit and a cadence unit (for my bike) but I indicated that I already purchased the $60.00 cadence unit and that it didn't work on my bicycle due to the frame/pedal design and that a new unit would help since I really wanted to start using the new toy I bought.

After getting the replacement unit which didn't cause any blue screens (after about a week) and seems to be functioning as well as the rest of them (I highly recommend waiting for them to fix the problems with this unit as of Oct 2006), Garmin refused to compensate me for my motherboard - I offered to accept the unit that I sent in back as payment - Garmin's response:

"Unfortunately, it appears as if we are unable to determine why the failure occurred given the information you provided. Thus we question whether the Forerunner 305 had anything to do with the failure on your PC. The device you provided does meet all specification standards. I apologize we could not provide a more conclusive answer.".

Unfortunately, I had already sent the bad Forerunner 305 back to Garmin along with the crash dump files from my PC and offered to send them the motherboard several times as well - they were never interested in what brand/make/model of motherboard I had - so I was no longer able to determine if a component had failed in the charging circuit of the Garmin and was out of luck.

And that has been my experience with Garmin. Great idea, but a bad company. There are a lot of problems with Garmin's products, unlike many better manufacturers they don't deal with the problems in an equitable manner.

Be ForeWARNED!
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Old 09-29-06, 07:05 PM   #2
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I would check the warranty on your systemboard or your PC and see if you can get a replacement through that channel. Most decent boards should not fry the usb bus just by being shorted out. I wouldn't fault garmin here. The product not supporting such and such chipsets probably doesn't mean they will not work with them, but that they have not been tested fully. Garmin makes many GPS units with usb interfaces and I would think they are not that bad.

that being said I've bought many computer devices I've been unhappy with and unfortunately stories like yours are the norm. It seems like every PC related product will need some kind of download or firmware update besides the included cd for an updated driver or a patch. It's kinda sad that stuff doesn't work out of the box. People seem to be accepting this though and it looks like it will continue.

Anyway how was the physical unit.. it seems like GPS would be less accurate on distance and speed than a standard cyclocomputer.
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Old 09-29-06, 08:07 PM   #3
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kitty says "WTF?"





wheres the actual REVIEW of the product? We all know your PC is a pile of crap...but what about the GARMIN?

Last edited by CrashVector; 09-29-06 at 09:18 PM.
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Old 09-29-06, 08:25 PM   #4
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good job crash we need a picture in here, too much reading on that original post. Just ranting about how he can't get his pc to work and nothing about the unit itself.
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Old 09-29-06, 09:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DirtPedalerB
good job crash we need a picture in here, too much reading on that original post. Just ranting about how he can't get his pc to work and nothing about the unit itself.

lol...I'm gonna be the bike forum's new picture-wh0re..lmao

figured that a pic says a thousand words....and that the OP could have used the hint..lol
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Old 09-29-06, 10:25 PM   #6
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Bah - I've used Garmins in multiple applications, including aviation navigation and communications. Never had a problem with their equipment in the air on on land.

Sounds more like a problem with your computer than the Garmin equipment.
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Old 09-30-06, 07:37 AM   #7
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I've got a Garmin Rino 120 mount for my handlebars and use it to make track logs and measure distance each time I ride. It's a great tool.

Did you set the GPS to 'host' before you plugged it in?
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Old 10-01-06, 12:08 PM   #8
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Garmin Forerunner sucks

How's that for a review?

I plugged it in, my computer failed. What difference does it make what else it does? My computer *is* now a pile of crap and Garmin's support doesn't care. That sucks too.

Search the net before you buy one - you will find a LOT of people complaining about the performance and functions... like problems charging and the battery failing after an hour or so - one guy wrote about his failing during the Boston Marathon - what a drag. Also plenty of people have the heart rate monitor fail, innaccurate lap info, etc.

FYI
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Old 10-01-06, 12:56 PM   #9
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I have yet to have problems with my Garmin unit...
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Old 10-01-06, 04:12 PM   #10
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I've been using a Garmin watch Forerunner 201 for biking and running for several years now, day in day out, and it has worked very well. Not perfectly, but extremely well. The antenna seems to lock on pretty much anywhere where you have a clear shot of the sky, but it will get glitchy and lose signal under tree canopy. It can adjust for both biking speed (mph) and running speed (min/mile), keeps a record of your past 100 runs, and even draws a map for you (in case you need to backtrack.) I don't even sync it with my computer because there's no reason to, but I've never had any CPU problems.

The other Garmin unit I have is an absolute "can't-live-without" item, which is the automotive Garmin i5. (I know, horror to discuss car units on a BIKE site - tolerate this one!) It's a navigational unit that for $325, does its job with such aplomb that I've recommended ALL of my friends to get one, since it'll save you hours and hours of time and frustration over the years. This one has synced to my computer many times, all glitch-free.

This sounds like a big Garmin ad, but as far as I'm concerned, they're probably one of the few electronic gizmo companies whose products I find are solid, useful, and are great values for the functionality.
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Old 10-06-06, 02:07 PM   #11
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Arrgh

UPDATE: 6 Oct 2006

The replacement Forerunner 305 Garmin sent me started causing blue screens today on my XP machine. What a disappointing experience. Maybe one of the worse consumer experiences I've ever had, and to have their (explatives reserved) senior staff attorney send me a copy of the warranty and tell me I am "unprofessional" and therefor don't deserve to be heard any more... well, imagine being dealt with that way.

I highly recommend waiting for another option. The GlobalSat doesn't look as sleek, but looks aren't what it's about. And as far as software goes, Garmin's software isn't that great. There are better options for software out there to work with GPS data. SportTracks and MacGPS for example.
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Old 10-06-06, 02:09 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Minnesota
How's that for a review?

I plugged it in, my computer failed. What difference does it make what else it does? My computer *is* now a pile of crap and Garmin's support doesn't care. That sucks too.

Search the net before you buy one - you will find a LOT of people complaining about the performance and functions... like problems charging and the battery failing after an hour or so - one guy wrote about his failing during the Boston Marathon - what a drag. Also plenty of people have the heart rate monitor fail, innaccurate lap info, etc.

FYI
John
Why do blame this on the Forerunner rather than your computer?
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Old 10-06-06, 02:13 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by recursive
Why do blame this on the Forerunner rather than your computer?
Why would a USB device cause blue screens? Not one of my Canon cameras (three of them) my Toshiba Pocket PC, my Seagate USB drive, my Plextor DVD writer, my three or four card readers, my wireless headphones, (and other devices) have EVER caused my computer to blue screen when I plug or unplug them. TWO of Garmin's Forerunner 305's have caused it now. I call it logic.
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Old 10-06-06, 02:17 PM   #14
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what on earth does this have to do with mountain biking?

Mr. Minnesota, stop blaming Garmin for your paperweight computer.
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Old 10-06-06, 03:04 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by free_pizza
what on earth does this have to do with mountain biking?

Mr. Minnesota, stop blaming Garmin for your paperweight computer.
I paid over $350.00 for that Garmin junk pile so I could track my rides... that is what it has to do with mountain biking!
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Old 10-06-06, 05:47 PM   #16
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Sorry to hear about your problems. Mine works perfectly. I'm glad I've never needed customer service, as it sounds pretty bad.
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Old 10-06-06, 07:04 PM   #17
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If you don't like it return it.. what's the big deal. I don't see the need for a handlebar mounted GPS. I use my handheld unit in my backpack to map trails sometimes, but I never feel the urge to look at a computer screen any more complicated than a watch while I'm out riding anyway.. Lord knows I stare at enough screens at other times to make up for it.
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