Sep 30, 2013

Strava vs Garmin Connect. A review of the best gps track analyzers

edge 500 usb
After getting my Garmin Edge 500 I have been experimenting with many online services and applications to analyze the tracks that I recorded. After trying some windows applications all that I tried looked old and did not offer anything that other online and free services didn't offer.

As a Garmin user, you will be first drawn to try Garmin Connect, the Garmin online service, which lately is being improved because other service are getting ahead of it. This is also the place to get updates for your GPS device.
Good points:
  • A detailed track analysis of the data recorded by your GPS device.
  • Activities conversion to courses, and sending to your Garmin sports gps.
  • It has an interesting search for activities, that can be easily converted to courses.
  • Recently it has added training programs.
  • It is completely free.
Bad points:
  • It does not give you any extra information that can be useful for your training, you have to analyze the data that the track details give you.
  • Automated personal records for running don't work if you have a cycling Garmin, for example my Edge 500.
  • You can not export easily the training routines to your device.
  • Uninteresting social capabilities and lack of privacy, for example you can't define privacy zones and also by default your activities are public.
  • With Connect's revamp they are forcing you to use Garmin Sync, a service that runs on your PC background to upload and download activities and courses.

If you do a small research then you will find Strava which is probably the service which is getting the most attention recently. They are doing a great work and are offering a service with too many good points that is difficult for a sports enthusiasts to ignore.
Good points:
  • A detailed track analysis of the data recorded by your GPS device.
  • Its social component makes you to get more competitive, the system tracks parts of your tracks, called segments, and compares it to the other users of Strava that rode or run that same segment and makes a leaderboard of it.
  • It has a good system of records, analysis and statistics of your rides for the free account. If you are a professional it offers an increased numbers of stats that can be useful to improve your training.
  • It has challenges with prizes to test yourself and get more competitive and motivated.
Bad points:
  • Many features are premium only, for example if you have the free account you can't download other user tracks, track data analysis, heatmaps, courses (beta), etc.
  • Privacy concern seems not enough, although you can define privacy zones, that hides part of your track on the map, I doubt that if a premium user downloads the your track file the track points in the privacy zone are omitted. Also you can change the privacy for your account but I tested it and it seems that does not work well enough.
  • Lack of price segmentation, paying $6 every month for an aficionado it seems a little too much, it would be a much better option to give the opportunity to people like me to get some extra features for a symbolic amount ($1-$2), and leaving the pro features for professionals. We tried to contact @Strava on Twitter to ask about it but they gave us no response.
  • Also lacks a way to import tracks to your device, making necessary to use Garmin Connect.
You can see that the two services can be complementary for someone, like me, that does not want to pay the Strava premium account. In my case I upload my tracks to Strava for analysis and segment competition (which is difficult to resist to) and Garmin Connect to plan routes and find interesting activities of other users and transfer them to my Garmin Edge 500.

But if you are a professional or enthusiast and the $6/month is not a problem for you I recommend to go premium at Strava, they are getting more and more new features every day that other services can't keep up with.

Remember that to use Strava and Garmin Connect you need a GPS device, we have written a couple of articles comparing some Garmin Edge models, the ones special for biking:

Also try Motivate a free web app that integrates with Strava to get extra stats and features.

Here you can check the prices of some of my favorite sports GPS or also compare prices on #WhereToBuy:

If you found this post interesting or useful, please, share it on your social networks to make it useful for more people.
Thanks for reading!

This post was published first at Put in your basket, 6:44 PM