Well, it is happening again. We welcome another post-holiday tech event that turns our new electro holiday gadget that we lusted after for months before finding underneath the tree into an expensive paperweight. How did this happen? If you are like me and have done your best to keep up with what is considered the “tip of the spear” in sports and fitness tech then you know today, Garmin announced their new line-up of wearables, activity trackers, and sports watches:
Garmin® vívofit® 2 and the Style Collection: An Activity Tracker with Interchangeable Design Options to Stay Fashionably Active
Garmin® vívoactive™: a GPS Smartwatch for the Active Lifestyle
Garmin® epix™: Hands-free Navigation Device
Garmin® fēnix® 3: The Next Smart Multisport GPS Watch
It is that last one that garners my attention. In about three years, we have gone through three iterations of the Garmin® fēnix® which as of the latest press release is:
“Premium materials, a rugged aesthetic and smartwatch capabilities make fēnix 3 the perfect watch for someone who lives a rigorous lifestyle,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin vice president of worldwide sales. “Designed to handle even the most rugged conditions, fēnix 3 provides a comprehensive multisport feature set that can be fully customized to the user, making it easy to transition into everyday activities.”
I am still rocking my 910XT so what does this offer me that I do not already have? Just a few additional morsels of technology that are sure to whet one’s appetite:
1.2-inch sunlight readable color Chroma™ display
Fitness training features like VO2 Max and Recovery Advisor (when used with a heart rate monitor¹)
Outdoor navigation features like 3-axis compass, altimeter and barometer, TracBack and Sight’n Go
Connect IQ™ compatibility for customized apps, widgets, watch faces and data fields
Auto goal (learns your activity level and assigns a daily step goal)
Move bar (displays on device after a period of inactivity; walk for a couple of minutes to reset it)
Sleep monitoring (monitors total sleep and periods of movement or restful sleep)
Yes, you read that right. It sounds like they fired a shot across the bow of Jawbone (UP3), Fitbit (entire line), Withings (Activité line), and Microsoft (Band) by adding their activity tracker. So now instead of slapping your GPS watch on and your activity tracker, you only need to wear one device that has all the modern features that you need (or just want to have). The inclusion of Connect IQ™ give the watch a certain amount of smart watch capability. All said, we still need to keep in mind that sometimes the rolling out of new features is not all it is cracked up to be and battery life on the last two versions of fēnix® went from unacceptable to bearable.
Let’s not also forget that Garmin’s walled garden or just plain lack of ability to truly share data with other fitness ecosystems can be a showstopper.
Do not feel disappointed if you got the Garmin® fēnix® 2 under the tree; there is still time to return it and wait for the brand new hotness to adorn your wrist. The only point of contention will be if Garmin can deliver. We have seen other companies generate plenty of razzle-dazzle only to have delayed production or excessively long shipping times (see Jawbone UP3). Tech-buzz has only so much staying power before attention is turned to the next big thing. In this screenshot, we can see that the fēnix® 3 is slated to ship in 3-5 weeks. Not bad compared to some other, almost-comparable wrist tech.
You can find a link to the official press release here and an in-depth review of it from DC Rainmaker here.
What are your thoughts, will you be buying one or holding off for the discounted fēnix® 2?