The Garmin UX: terrible!

Rant alert. I got myself a new racebike about 2-3 weeks ago and also received a Garmin Edge 605 bike GPS for my birthday a few days later. Started using both straight away… well kinda. I am a bit of a web & gadget addict (I am sure you had that one figured out by now) and can only say that it has been a very long time since I last had a user experience so awful as the one with my Garmin Edge.

As usual I started using the device without reading any of the documentation and obviously Garmin is not to blame here, it’s just how we roll :). It didn’t take long before I did look into the user guides as I couldn’t quite figure out some of the main features. It took me a while to find the Garmin Training Center software, which doesn’t come with the device but is offered as a download via the user guide, you do need it though when you want to look at the data you gathered while cycling with the GPS tracker on. Later on I also found out about Garmin Connect, which is the ‘old’ Motionbased web service. Not all very obvious either because when you sign up to Garmin Connect you land on My Garmin where all immediate links to Connect are hard to be found… you just wonder that’s all there is to it at first.

garmintrainingcenter

The odd thing is that Garmin Training Center and Garmin Connect are not connected. They pretty much do the same thing – one on the PC, the other online – but you got to upload data separately, it uses other user accounts, … I guess Garmin hasn’t heard of Software+Services just yet. Very unfortunate. One of the things I also wanted to use is RouteYou (or similar services) where you can download and share tracks from and with other users. Downloading tracks to your device is easy, although can be improved quite a bit. You can download in several formats (GPX, CRS, TCX, …) but it’s not clear which one you’re best off downloading. Garmin also offers a Communicator website plugin that transfers the track straight to the GPS device… but since it always used the same name (garmin.gpx) you can only use that for one track at a time… silly I’ll tell you. Uploading tracks that you’ve done to the site is even more difficult. Both Garmin Training Center as Garmin Connect only allow to export tracks in the TCX (Training Center) format… but RouteYou and others need the GPX file to upload. So you need a TCX to GPX converter after exporting a track before you can upload it to share with others… not sure if I want to go through all those efforts. Garmin Connect allows for one-click easy sharing of tracks though… on Digg and Facebook, how useless is that.

Yes I’m frustrated. And I haven’t even started talking about the questions I still have on the UI of the device itself, or on Mapsource (the additional software to create routes), … Hopefully I’ll find out at some point, feel free to point me in the right direction. For now I can just repeat what I said before, Garmin you got some work cut out for you because the UX of your devices and software just sux.

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