Garmin Vs Karoo update

Chat about Hammerhead's Karoo in general.
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oshapo
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Garmin Vs Karoo update

Post by oshapo » Wed May 22, 2019 3:26 pm

Hi there,
I saw a post from 2018 about a Garmin 1030 vs Karoo, functionality-wise ignoring price difference. Are they compatible by now, or does the 1030 still have the upper hand?

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Steve
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Re: Garmin Vs Karoo update

Post by Steve » Wed May 22, 2019 4:57 pm

Not by a long long way. The Garmin 1030 has miles more functionality than Karoo. Trouble for HH is that now there's a Garmin 530 and 830, which have the same (slightly better, actually) functionality as the 1030 but at a competitive price with Karoo.

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Re: Garmin Vs Karoo update

Post by JohnJ80 » Wed May 22, 2019 6:49 pm

I have a slightly different take on this.

Garmin is loaded up with tons and tons of features - mostly computationally based. So if you're into optimizing training data - there is so much you could drown in it and most of it I would never use and probably don't even know what it means (and I have high geek factor and am a numbers guy). Garmin also offers navigation and it's pretty easy to get routes into any of their units, but it's not brain dead simple. The mapping is, well, pretty mediocre and lacks a lot of detail. It's essentially just 2D roads and little else. The connectivity between phones and the Garmin units is a also questionable with some features being android only (like the ride messaging), or has to work through the phone using bluetooth which I've found to be pretty useless to the point where I turn it off - the error messages about being dropped are worse than the errors themselves. Garmin has better battery life.

On the other hand, the Karoo maps are pretty good and are better than the Garmin. I also think the navigation is improving rapidly and is pretty close to being on a par with Garmin's for all intents and purposes or even better in some cases. Karoo has pretty good data presentation which I have come to like. The display is pretty awesome and it's hard to go back to the a low res display later. Routes are automatically downloaded from their dashboard whenever the Karoo connects to the internet (wifi or cellular). Routes can be easily imported from other sources as a gpx file import, or URL importing from Strava, RideWithGps and some others.

Where I find a lot of incremental benefit in the Karoo is that it is possible, if you have some minimal technical chops, is to side load in additional android based apps. So for example, I have a weather radar app, Komoot and Osmand. Komoot and Osmand when used with a bluetooth speaker or headset/ear bud will provide verbal turn by turn directions (completely impossible on anything Garmin or Wahoo and likely to remain that way). The weather radar app, if the Karoo has a SIM on board or is connected to the internet through wifi on your phone as a hotspot is kind of amazing on those days when your're trying to ride around the raindrops or for knowing when you need to put on your rain gear. In those cases, and being used that way in addition to the native apps, Garmin can't come close to the Karoo for a navigational/gravel riding sort of tool.

So it is, like most things, an "it depends" kind of thing. I don't need all the training functions in the bike computer, I handle all of that in strava anyhow. I do need good navigation for some of the cycling we're doing now and I find it absolutely invaluable to have more than a single source of maps on board since no map source contains ALL the relevant data.

Hope that helps. FWIW, I own a Karoo, a Garmin Edge 1000, and a Wahoo Elemnt. If I had to rank order them for my use case, I'd go for the Karoo first, the Elemnt second and the Edge 1000 as third.

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Re: Garmin Vs Karoo update

Post by dthempel » Thu May 23, 2019 12:25 pm

I would have quite a bit of trouble recommending a Karoo to anyone right now as I don't think they're iterating fast enough to keep Garmin and others from marginalizing the few benefits a Karoo has right now... and they are very few indeed, basically the screen and the SIM functionality, which is only really brought to bear *IF* you sideload, as most of the built-in apps don't leverage the on-the-go connectivity. If mine broke tomorrow, I wouldn't pay another $400 as I don't know how they're going to keep going with the glacial pace of development and feature addition. Hope they prove me wrong.

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Re: Garmin Vs Karoo update

Post by JohnJ80 » Thu May 23, 2019 1:40 pm

I'm mixed on that one.

I think they are very close to having a system that will make it difficult for Garmin to respond. Adding just a few things and Garmin will be largely constrained by their CPU choice and by their legacy code base. It's going to be very hard for Garmin to change their OS - which is ancient - to keep up with a modern OS like Android. So if Karoo adds audio TbT, and some integrated apps into navigation (or as layers over navigation) such as weather radar, a dashboard layout editor then they make it very hard for Garmin to respond. I think you see this already as Garmin is essentially adding features based on data they compute as opposed to better UI, better graphics, better mapping. Why? Because they can't.

I'm an engineer and a numbers guy and I have no need or desire to dig into all of the little corners of Garmin's parameters and training features. I don't want to chase a little virtual cyclist around on my bike computer screen. And there are tons of features that I have no idea how they work and don't want to take the time to figure out. From reading the Edge 1030 forum, it sounds to me like users are having a lot of trouble doing this too and only a very few of them actually care. So I think Garmin has a problem here - this is where it's easiest for them to innovate and the place where users care the least. If they have to innovate in the UI, mapping, connectivity, interconnectivity - those are big (giant) problems for Garmin and much, much more difficult. If they abandon their man-millennia of software development to move to, say, Android or other modern OS then they are on much more equal footing with Wahoo, Hammerhead and the others.


J.

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Re: Garmin Vs Karoo update

Post by Steve » Thu May 23, 2019 2:17 pm

John, you seem to be wearing Karoo-tinted glasses. Before the "few things" that you mention, what about some of the features that are taken by granted by Garmin users, such as bike profiles, DI2 integration, live tracking and Strava live segments, to name but a few? I could add others such as notifications from a phone, but I won't bother for now.

I really don't see how Garmin would find it "hard to respond" if Karoo can't even do the basics. It looks like bike profiles are coming shortly but that's been what? 18 months for an incredibly basic feature. At that rate of development it'll be years, if ever, that some of those other features are available.

You mention data-intensive stuff and I agree that some of that is less important, but you seem to be overlooking the very basics. Basic navigation is very unreliable for a lot of Karoo users. Garmin has plenty of faults, but in general all the basics just work.

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Re: Garmin Vs Karoo update

Post by JohnJ80 » Thu May 23, 2019 3:35 pm

Steve wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 2:17 pm
John, you seem to be wearing Karoo-tinted glasses. Before the "few things" that you mention,
You're being unfair here ("Karoo tinted glasses", really?), I think - or at least hyperbolic. I have been a harsh critic in the past and I remain critical. That said, they are making good progress on things, reliability has significantly improved, etc.. Credit where credit is due.
what about some of the features that are taken by granted by Garmin users, such as bike profiles, DI2 integration, live tracking and Strava live segments, to name but a few? I could add others such as notifications from a phone, but I won't bother for now.
I think they need to get many of these features out this season and I would expect that's doable. I have consistently said that and am saying it again.

Bike profiles? I could give a shit. Matters to people who have more than one bike and then not much (to people like me even with multiple bikes, for instance). A long list of sensors is fine as long as they connect up when you activate the right set. Sounds great in practice but really doesn't matter in application for most people. Where bike profiles are important is not so the user can select them but so that Karoo can identify the bike and report the right one to Strava and other software. It's crazy to be adding wheel circumferences when, as all the others do, auto calibration of wheel circumference is the way to go. Once you do that, you don't really need a place to store that in a bike specific way. Besides that, it's too bike specific when circumference is wheel and tire specific. I have multiple bikes and and an embarrassing number of wheel sets to the point where bike profiles are just about useless to me. I need a bike profile that has a wheel profile in it. But, I can associate a power meter with a given frame and that can then be used to identify the bike and report it to Strava.

Electronic drivetrains are important especially now that both Shimano and SRAM offer value based offerings to go more mainstream. This is on the roadmap and it needs to be done this year.

From a sales perspective, supporting the ANT+ radar profile is more important. Read DCRainmaker's review on the Wahoo ROAM. He points it out right here.

Strava segments etc... need to be out this year. I don't personally care, but many do but I agree this needs to get done.
I really don't see how Garmin would find it "hard to respond" if Karoo can't even do the basics. It looks like bike profiles are coming shortly but that's been what? 18 months for an incredibly basic feature. At that rate of development it'll be years, if ever, that some of those other features are available.
Seriously? They have a CPU that is optimized for power consumption and not for higher smartphone like performance (I don't think it's even capable of that, software aside). They have been using the same CPU architecture for a very long time - I think they probably even have it as an SoC now (system on a chip). Switching that and the *massive* software base that goes with the underlying CPU architecture is a gigantic effort. It's a big barrier for sure. Then, consider the decades and millennia of man hours they have invested in their ancient but proprietary OS that is tied to that CPU. And none of it is optimized for display, for communication (pointed out by the traditional connectivity problem Garmin has had for years). Switching that - and making it all compatible with what they've done before is another huge task that I doubt they have much if any appetite to take on. Android is a nightmare for them. It's what killed their Garmin phone back in the beginning days of the smartphone. They got stuck there with a difficult time to add the UI/UX features that the Android and iOS products had and they couldn't add them fast enough nor did they have the third party tools or software base to leverage. This looks to me like it has the makings of a similar problem.
You mention data-intensive stuff and I agree that some of that is less important, but you seem to be overlooking the very basics. Basic navigation is very unreliable for a lot of Karoo users. Garmin has plenty of faults, but in general all the basics just work.
The reason Garmin is adding the data intensive stuff is because it's what they can do to try and most cost effectively retain market share. What they can't do is change their software base, change their CPU/SoC, and change to more of a cloud structure like the others. So they give us more and more and more parameters and the limited software to use them. I'm an engineer and my eyes glaze over reading their manuals or feature sets. None of that is anything I can use or (better said) want to use. It's a big engineering effort for marginal benefit.

But, sure it works, in a very mediocre kind of way. The maps suck (Karoo has better maps), the screens are laggy and mediocre, the audio is something from the 1980's, the connectivity stinks (my Edge 1000 is continually dropping the phone connection) etc.... We all know the mediocrity of Garmin's products.

Karoo's mapping has improved dramatically, at least for my geography. I have seen significant improvements in the TbT navigation to the point where I think it is very close to what I get from Garmin plus the map are better. The data recording seems to work just fine and I no longer have reliability problems and it has great connectivity to Strava which is largely seamless. So for my riding use case, it seems to work really well - better, in point of fact, than my Edge 1000. If they add the drivetrain and radar support, I'm pretty much a happy camper.

When I add in the sideloading capability for additional maps and weather radar, the Karoo wins especially in my vacations I've been taking lately where we go and ride in a different geography of which we are not familiar. If I were using a Garmin unit, I'd have to either carry the additional maps on my phone or in paper and I couldn't refer to them with a simple swipe. So that's a big advantage and one that they hopefully institutionalize with their own app store. That seems likely now that they have given the Karoo launcher the capability to support side loaded apps (at least that's in the current ATG release). Incidentally, this, I think, is a big advantage to gravel riders and is also a market segment I can see them capitalizing on quickly.

Issues for Karoo are pricing - there is a lot of competition at that price point, and certainly a lot of noise (Wahoo ROAM, for example is noise but a market miss). And they do need to perform on features this season (NA and EU season for timing). That said, none of us know how well they are doing because they don't publish sales numbers but getting some investment from industry knowledgeable people probably says a lot too. The jury is still out, but I think it's more likely they are here to stay than on their last legs.

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Re: Garmin Vs Karoo update

Post by Steve » Thu May 23, 2019 3:59 pm

JohnJ80 wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 3:35 pm
I really don't see how Garmin would find it "hard to respond" if Karoo can't even do the basics. It looks like bike profiles are coming shortly but that's been what? 18 months for an incredibly basic feature. At that rate of development it'll be years, if ever, that some of those other features are available.
Seriously? They have a CPU that is optimized for power consumption and not for higher smartphone like performance (I don't think it's even capable of that, software aside). They have been using the same CPU architecture for a very long time - I think they probably even have it as an SoC now (system on a chip). Switching that and the *massive* software base that goes with the underlying CPU architecture is a gigantic effort. It's a big barrier for sure. Then, consider the decades and millennia of man hours they have invested in their ancient but proprietary OS that is tied to that CPU. And none of it is optimized for display, for communication (pointed out by the traditional connectivity problem Garmin has had for years). Switching that - and making it all compatible with what they've done before is another huge task that I doubt they have much if any appetite to take on. Android is a nightmare for them. It's what killed their Garmin phone back in the beginning days of the smartphone. They got stuck there with a difficult time to add the UI/UX features that the Android and iOS products had and they couldn't add them fast enough nor did they have the third party tools or software base to leverage. This looks to me like it has the makings of a similar problem.
What "nightmare" and "problem" are you referring to? Read DCR's review of the Garmin 530 and 830 and tell me if he thinks that they're being held back by their CPU architecture or their proprietary OS? What evidence do you have that not running Android is a problem for them (and I'm speaking as a big fan of Android, which is one of the reasons that I bought Karoo in the first place).

But, sure it works, in a very mediocre kind of way. The maps suck (Karoo has better maps), the screens are laggy and mediocre, the audio is something from the 1980's, the connectivity stinks (my Edge 1000 is continually dropping the phone connection) etc.... We all know the mediocrity of Garmin's products.
You're comparing with a 5 year old product though (Edge 1000). Have you tried a Garmin 1030? What do the reviews of the 530 and 830 say about their connectivity? Even my Edge 520 has fine connectivity to my phone.

That said, none of us know how well they are doing because they don't publish sales numbers but getting some investment from industry knowledgeable people probably says a lot too.
To me it says "a fool and his money are soon parted", but each to their own.

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Re: Garmin Vs Karoo update

Post by Brian » Thu May 23, 2019 4:03 pm

John,

I just re-read your instructions for sideloading. Good stuff. Given the above discussions, I think I'd like to give it a shot to give my Karoo a fair shake.

Your instructions are obviously geared to the Mac you own. Is there anything significantly different if using a PC? If so, is there someplace I can go to find PC specific instructions?

Thanks,

Brian

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Re: Garmin Vs Karoo update

Post by dthempel » Thu May 23, 2019 4:13 pm

Brian wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 4:03 pm
...I think I'd like to give it a shot to give my Karoo a fair shake...
Not picking on Brian, but this right here speaks volumes and echoes what I've been begging for for months. In order to make the Karoo usable, many feel that sideloading is REQUIRED. What do you think the current percentage of users doing that is? A curated "app store" should be #1 on the priority list after "don't break stuff that's already working".

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Re: Garmin Vs Karoo update

Post by JohnJ80 » Thu May 23, 2019 4:49 pm

Brian wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 4:03 pm
John,

I just re-read your instructions for sideloading. Good stuff. Given the above discussions, I think I'd like to give it a shot to give my Karoo a fair shake.

Your instructions are obviously geared to the Mac you own. Is there anything significantly different if using a PC? If so, is there someplace I can go to find PC specific instructions?

Thanks,

Brian
HI Brian,

I don't think so, but I'm not an Android expert at all. I would have to believe the the Android Debugger Bridge (add) commands are the same for mac or pc so I don't think it should be that hard to make it work. The biggest issue when I have helped other users was cabling and directories in unix. The cable issue is that there are micro usb cables around that are charge only and that obviously won't work - so make sure you have a cable that is capable of syncing and communicating back and forth.

So I think the only major difference between PC and Mac is basically the installation processes of ADB and any differences that are introduced in directory differences etc....

J.

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Re: Garmin Vs Karoo update

Post by Brian » Thu May 23, 2019 4:53 pm

I do not feel picked on at all, DT. In fact, I agree with you completely.

I am at the point where I feel the only way to get the Karoo to work as advertised is to start sideloading. This is my last hope to get TBT to work reliably as HH seems incapable of doing so. I have a couple engineering degrees and am fairly capable with computers, but I an NOT looking forward to the sideloading exercise as I know nothing about Android. Quite frankly, I feel like I shouldn't have to go this route, but here I am...

I would be much happier today if HH launched for $200 the Karoo as an empty Android hardware platform with big, awesome screen that users could tailor to their own specific needs, with a sideloading manual. At least I would have known what I was signing up for.

What I can say for sure is that if my Karoo was stolen today, I wouldn't buy another one.

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Re: Garmin Vs Karoo update

Post by Steve » Thu May 23, 2019 4:56 pm

Brian wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 4:03 pm
Your instructions are obviously geared to the Mac you own. Is there anything significantly different if using a PC? If so, is there someplace I can go to find PC specific instructions?
There's almost nothing Mac-specific in there. The only thing is either adding the folder that adb is installed in to your PATH variable, or simply putting the full path in when you run adb (or running adb from the folder that you installed it in). I recommend the first of those options.

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Re: Garmin Vs Karoo update

Post by JohnJ80 » Thu May 23, 2019 5:04 pm

Steve wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 3:59 pm
JohnJ80 wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 3:35 pm
I really don't see how Garmin would find it "hard to respond" if Karoo can't even do the basics. It looks like bike profiles are coming shortly but that's been what? 18 months for an incredibly basic feature. At that rate of development it'll be years, if ever, that some of those other features are available.
Seriously? They have a CPU that is optimized for power consumption and not for higher smartphone like performance (I don't think it's even capable of that, software aside). They have been using the same CPU architecture for a very long time - I think they probably even have it as an SoC now (system on a chip). Switching that and the *massive* software base that goes with the underlying CPU architecture is a gigantic effort. It's a big barrier for sure. Then, consider the decades and millennia of man hours they have invested in their ancient but proprietary OS that is tied to that CPU. And none of it is optimized for display, for communication (pointed out by the traditional connectivity problem Garmin has had for years). Switching that - and making it all compatible with what they've done before is another huge task that I doubt they have much if any appetite to take on. Android is a nightmare for them. It's what killed their Garmin phone back in the beginning days of the smartphone. They got stuck there with a difficult time to add the UI/UX features that the Android and iOS products had and they couldn't add them fast enough nor did they have the third party tools or software base to leverage. This looks to me like it has the makings of a similar problem.
What "nightmare" and "problem" are you referring to? Read DCR's review of the Garmin 530 and 830 and tell me if he thinks that they're being held back by their CPU architecture or their proprietary OS? What evidence do you have that not running Android is a problem for them (and I'm speaking as a big fan of Android, which is one of the reasons that I bought Karoo in the first place).

But, sure it works, in a very mediocre kind of way. The maps suck (Karoo has better maps), the screens are laggy and mediocre, the audio is something from the 1980's, the connectivity stinks (my Edge 1000 is continually dropping the phone connection) etc.... We all know the mediocrity of Garmin's products.
Well, we'll see. We have different views of this.

You're comparing with a 5 year old product though (Edge 1000). Have you tried a Garmin 1030? What do the reviews of the 530 and 830 say about their connectivity? Even my Edge 520 has fine connectivity to my phone.

That said, none of us know how well they are doing because they don't publish sales numbers but getting some investment from industry knowledgeable people probably says a lot too.
To me it says "a fool and his money are soon parted", but each to their own.
Nightmare: That would be the development nightmare if Garmin were to decide to switch to a new OS. I actually think they have to be giving this some serious thought. Their operating system is old and proprietary with all the problems that go with that. Hard for Garmin to compete with the resource of Google for development of operating systems. And theirs is old. At some point this runs out of gas and I think they are pretty close to that with their CPU and OS combination. Garmin had a big effort in developing a smart phone just prior to the iPhone 2007 announcement. They actually announced it and almost put it out for sale. Android pretty much killed that and they (can't remember which) either never introduced or quickly killed the product. Again, it was their propriety software and OS that got wiped out by the more extensible non-proprietary ecosystems. Whether that happens in the arcane bike computer world remains to be seen, I guess.

I have looked hard at a 1030 and actually used one. I find it way way overpriced with similarly poor map and ridiculous audio quality. Display is better but pretty trailing edge given the state of displays today (i.e. smartphone et al). The UI is somewhat improved but still really arcane and configuration is trailing edge too. Data display was same old Garmin display but on a sharper display. Not interested in the 530 or the 830 with their smaller displays although I do see the price point pressure this creates for HH, Wahoo and others. It's going to literally wipe out the ROAM at that price point which, I suspect, is their primary intention since Wahoo seems to be leading the competitors who are taking share from Garmin.

If you follow the FB 1030 group you'll find they are having BT connectivity issues too. Some things don't change.

So, bottom line for me, and YMMV, is that 1030 to me is marginal improvement and far overpriced. I wouldn't buy one (the thing about a "fool and their money" applies here in my view).

Question for you - why do you run this forum if you are so disdainful of the Karoo?

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Re: Garmin Vs Karoo update

Post by nnovod » Fri May 24, 2019 12:07 pm

I'm not sure why the Sigma Rox 12.0 never enters into these discussions. I've found it to be solid and from the start have more functionality than the Karoo. It's even Android based, although it does not allow side loading. The Karoo's display is nicer. Finally, it recently dropped its price to 350USD.

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Re: Garmin Vs Karoo update

Post by Psyclist » Tue Jun 04, 2019 8:57 am

JohnJ80 wrote:
Thu May 23, 2019 5:04 pm
Nightmare: That would be the development nightmare if Garmin were to decide to switch to a new OS. I actually think they have to be giving this some serious thought. Their operating system is old and proprietary with all the problems that go with that.
FWIW I looked into the possibility of writing a fast FIT2 file parser a while ago because I couldn't find a converter I liked, so I had a closer look at their SDK (©2018 Garmin Canada)
:ugeek: :o :shock: :P :lol:
Holy fork. If that stuff is in any way indicative of the way they write their software, "nightmare" is the only appropriate description. Obviously tailored to embedded devices with memory capacities from the early 90s but decorated with byzantine software-engineering knick-knacks and peppered with WTFs like three-valued booleans. In the end I found a Perl script to decode that crap and went with that.

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Re: Garmin Vs Karoo update

Post by JohnJ80 » Tue Jun 04, 2019 3:21 pm

Exactly. Their code base is probably 20 years old. It’s got to be a mess. Then multiply that by all the different permutations for country, language, and model and it just explodes. They are completely captive to that and at risk. If I understand things correctly, they are also stuck with a TI DSP or something too so changing CPU architectures to ARM or equivalent is a secondary nightmare. And therein lies part of the opportunity for Hammerhead and others.

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