I’ve had my new Garmin 230 for a week now. It came last Sunday afternoon and I spent at least an hour adjusting settings and screens and figuring out what all it can do.
From my Amazon cart to my house in seven hours.
When I first took it out of the packaging, I turned it on but it didn’t respond, even when I pressed the start/stop button. It beeped, but nothing happened on-screen. I thought maybe it had a screen protector on it, but when I ran my fingers over it, I couldn’t find a plastic edge that I could peel back. Still, nothing was happening on the screen. I looked more closely and figured it out really did have a screen protector, and when I peeled it off, I realized that all the button-pushing had tried to set the language to Russian, or maybe that’s Greek.
Stupid plastic screen protector
Once I got it back to English, I set it to show four fields on the first screen: elapsed time, pace, distance, and outside temperature. Not sure why I chose outside temperature–probably my somewhat-unhealthy obsession with running weather. The second screen shows lap time, lap pace, calories, and estimated finishing time. That last one is a widget that can calculate, based on my pace up to this point, what my finishing time would be for pre-set distances. I am still tinkering with the auto scroll–on my 220 it was set to Fast, but when I used that setting here, I had trouble focusing on the four fields before it switched. So now it’s on Medium, but it feels too slow.
I figured out how to control my music, check the weather, and read texts sent from my phone, although I have no intention of paying a whole lot of attention to messages on the run. I really just want to know if my kid needs to reach me for something. I also downloaded a widget that creates a screen with emergency contact information, and I played around with the background colors.
Phew. That was a lot of settings to figure out.
The first time I used it, I ran three miles at the Brushy Creek Regional Trail. I didn’t have a steep learning curve when it came to using it–the stop/start buttons, the scroll buttons, and the back light all work the same way they did on my 220. The GPS matched the mile markers more closely than my 220 did.
My second run with it was my 4.5-mile Tuesday quality workout with lots of starts and pauses–1.25 miles out to the meeting point, multiple loops with a core exercise between each, then back. I used the lap function for the speed workout and it recorded six laps of exactly .31 segments. Seems accurate. The only minor problem was that when I started doing push-ups, my wrist pressed the start button and I had to spin it around so that the face was on the underside of my wrist so I wouldn’t accidentally activate it again.
Thursday I ran 5.3 miles around the neighborhood where B had lacrosse practice. I didn’t have many stops and starts, but I doubled back on myself a couple of times and the map distinguishes those separate lines.
Finally, I wore it for my first long run on Saturday. This one was downtown–which means all five of my runs were in different locations around the Austin area rather than concentrated in my immediate neighborhood. Didn’t seem to matter–it locked on to a GPS signal very quickly each time. I liked that instead of having to watch the little
Star Wars Imperial fighter GPS symbol turn from red to green on my 220, the 230 alerted me when it acquired a signal.
Saturday’s run was 12 miles. Fifth Street to Nueces to Sixteenth to San Jacinto to Duval, then the whole thing in reverse. Austin doesn’t have a forest of skyscrapers like Chicago (which totally jacked with my GPS signal) but every time I turn around, another 40-story condo building has sprouted. No negative effect on my signal, though. The battery level dropped about 30% from the time it was charged Thursday night, through my run when it was actively accessing GPS, and in watch mode the rest of the day and evening.
On Sunday I went out for a bike ride to give my legs a break after running 12 miles the day before. The first thing I realized is that the “run” settings don’t automatically apply to “bike” settings. I had to go in and configure the data fields I wanted for biking–pretty much just time, distance, and speed, plus turn on the auto-scroll. I also changed the profile color to orange so that if I forgot to switch it back to running (which I’d set to purple), I’d notice the different color. This means if it’s still on “bike” when it goes into watch-only mode, the hour will be orange instead of purple too.
What else do you need to know?
The 220 and the 230 are the same size physically, but the screen face on the 230 is a lot bigger, and the numbers are larger as a result. That’s why the 230 can fit four data fields at a time without a loss of visibility.
220 on the left, 230 on the right (but I don’t trust the battery meter on the 220)
Another cool thing: the strap loop thing that holds the extra watch band has a notch that fits into the holes in the band. This way the loop stays in place instead of sliding up and down the watch band.
One of those small details that turns out to be really helpful.
I don’t use the step counter because I have a Vivofit, and I’m sure there are other features I either haven’t discovered or aren’t important to me. I started looking through the widgets on the Connect IQ Store (from the More
menu in the Garmin app) but quickly became overwhelmed by the options. In that respect, the lack of extras in the 220 made it much easier to manage.
I found one minor thingthat the 220 did better–let me see if I can explain it. When I start a run but for some reason stop and discard it, it asks me if I’m sure I want to delete it. The “no” is highlighted by default and I have to hit the up arrow to highlight “yes.” On the 220, I could hit up or down, but the 230 requires the up button specifically. The down button is more natural, as far as position, and it’s more awkward for me to reach for the up button. Perhaps people were having problems accidentally deleting their workouts? It already defaults to “no,” so the extra step seems unnecessary to me. But considering I don’t use this function very often, and it’s such a minor detail, it’s hardly a big deal. I am sure I will get used to it. I just find it kind of weird that Garmin changed the way that works.
Oh, something else I figured out: if you’re in the middle of a run (or ride) and want to adjust any of the 230’s settings, you can do that pretty easily. When it’s paused, scroll down to Activity Settings and all those options are available. On the 220, if I started a workout and wanted to change something (data screens, whatever) I couldn’t do it without stopping/saving/deleting the workout, then starting over. This was helpful today when a mile or so into my ride I realized the biking settings were separate from the running ones, and I was able to stop and tinker with them as I went. Not sure how often I’ll need that, but it was handy today.
While I’ve only had it for a week, I’m not finding a huge learning curve moving from the 220 to the 230. It fits well, it’s accurate, it has an improved battery life. Since I have several major races coming up in the next six weeks, these are the functions I really need most.
So far, so good.