New 2022 Garmin devices - Solar charging and other functionalities
Early June this year, Garmin released new devices including the Forerunner 255, Forerunner 955 and Edge 1040. All of them are coming in non-solar and solar versions. Let’s see what works and what doesn’t with each of them and whether you should pay the premium for the solar versions.
Kiprun KD900x – Specs
Weight: Official: 221g in US9 – Actual: 251g (8.8oz) in size US11 / EU45
Stack height (forefoot/heel): 37/29mm
Durometer score (0 to 100, soft to hard): 26.1/100 for the PEBAX-based VFoam midsole compound
Morning report: the real added value of the Garmin Forerunner 955
Until recently, I was a Whoop user. It’s not relevant for this article to detail why I stopped my subscription and whether I am going to resume it, but I think it’s good to keep in mind as a background. And that’s mainly because the morning report on the Garmin Forerunner 955 is coming close to the value brought by tools like a Whoop band or an Oura ring. Essentially it allows you to know how rested and ready to train you are. This algorithm takes into account several factor like your sleep, HRV compared to baseline (yes, you read that right), training stress load from the previous days, etc.
While the actual results are somewhat a little strange – no saying this because the ones pictured here are not great, more more because they’re not fluctuating a lot and seem to always consider that I’m not ready to train – the added value of such a tool is immense. Not only people can combine their subjective feelings with actual data to determine their training but it is done in a very friendly and UX-optimized way (see pictures below).
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar – what I liked and what I didn’t
It may sound a little simplistic but it also allows to go straight to the point.
- Touchscreen which is found responsive and very pleasant to use for swiping through the widgets;
- Morning report (see above);
- Form factor – the Garmin Forerunner 955 has the perfect form factor for my rather tiny wrist;
- All of what Garmin already did and brought to this watch too (Music, payments, Connect app). I must be honest it’s hard to leave this behind when returning to my Coros Pace 2.
- Running power – still not native and Stryd integration is still meh. Garmin claimed improvements on that side but it’s still the old Garmin thing working only with their HR strap and providing you crazy values;
- Crashing while in activity mode – I got used to it after a few months with this watch, but getting your workout interrupted because the watch dies is pretty annoying;
- Solar – and yes this is the perfect segway with the Edge 1040 below. Why pay the $100/€100 premium for the Solar feature on the Forerunner 955 when it does not do much? See the silvery thing around the bezel? That’s the solar “panel” on the watch. Yes it is very limited in surface and the display itself also comes with some extra surface but only marginally exploited. Unless spending 6-8 hours per day in very bright conditions (to get a few extra hours of battery life during a charging cycle) , this feature is not for you.
Garmin Edge 1040 Solar – size actually matters
The title speaks for itself but let’s go deeper into some explanations. Of course the Garmin Edge 1040 is bigger than my actual bike computer, the Garmin Edge 830. But the point is not here. And what matters with the size is actually the available surface of photovoltaic receptors. The obvious on the Edge 1040 is that bronze-colored bezel on top and below the display (see pictures below). That’s already some decent estate compared to the photovoltaic bezel of the Forerunner 955 Solar. And that portion has a photovoltaic level of 100% (meaning it captures 100% of the sun rays hitting it).
But it’s not just that. There is also the display itself coming with a 15% photovoltaic level and acting therefore as an auxiliary solar panel. Auxiliary but not insignificant given the surface of the display. And that’s the whole difference with a watch – Forerunner 955 or any other. A bike computer gets naturally more exposed (it’s almost always used in a flat position, compared to a wrist that moves) but has also more estate to offer for the solar panels.
The results speak for themselves with my testing showing up to 23m of battery life gained over the course of a 1h ride. And yes that is ideal case scenario on one of the best days of the year in terms of weather and sun exposure. But I’m happy with that number and here it would justify to pay the extra buck over the regular Garmin Edge 1040.
Garmin Edge 1040 Solar – The good and the bad
- USB-C charging port. Makes life much easier and I hope we see all manufacturers move towards that standard;
- Solar function (see above);
- Widget customization on the home screen (see on the right). Makes the Edge move in the direction of a smartphone.
- The display size is hard to quit. My Edge 830 isn’t bad at all but here on the Edge 1040 you get the info you’re looking for at a glance.
- Cycling ability widget is clever and easy to understand. Many could benefit from it. Same goes for the Stamina widget (showing you how much energy left you have in the tank essentially);
- Multiband GNSS chip is flawless and showed good data in urban conditions
- The Solar version is priced like a smartphone at €749. But it does way less than a smartphone;
- The lap and start/end buttons feel cheap. They’re a little wobbly and definitely do not match the expectations one could have seeing the price tag;
- No music & payment options. The watches can do it, Garmin please add this to the bike computers too (Editor’s note: Beta version on the Explore 2 seem to allow music now. TBC).
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