Building on its GPS roots, Garmin today introduced three new smartwatches with solid navigation features for hiking and fitness activities. The three vastly different products are designed to appeal to a variety of consumers in the burgeoning smartwatch market Apple will soon be entering, and include the watch-centric Fenix 3, the rugged Epix and the fitness-focused Vivoactive.
The Fenix 3 is the next generation in Garmin's multisport GPS watch category. With its built-in GPS, 100m water resistance and onboard barometer and altimeter sensors, the Fenix 3 supports a wide variety of outdoor and fitness sports, including swimming, biking, skiing and snowboarding. It also connects to the Connect IQ store allowing users to add apps, widgets, and other smartwatch features to the GPS watch. The $499 Fenix 3 will go on sale starting Q1 2015 with both Gray and Silver color choices and a heart-rate monitor bundle that will cost $50 extra. Garmin also is offering a premium Fenix 3 Sapphire with a scratch-resistant sapphire lens and a suggested retail price of $599.99.
The Epix is a rugged GPS mapping watch for outdoor enthusiasts looking for a backcountry navigation solution. With its 1.4-inch color touchscreen, the Epix offers the ability to preload up to 8GB of maps that can be viewed and manipulated in the field. The watch features GPS and GLONASS for accurate positioning as well as support for external sensors that measure outdoor temperatures, user heart rate and more. Similar to Garmin's other new watches, the Epix connects to the Connect IQ store, allowing users to install apps, widgets, watch faces and more. The Epix will be available in Q1 2015 with a starting price of $549.
The Vivoactive is focused on the fitness enthusiast with a sunlight-readable color display, GPS activity tracking, smartphone notifications and support for wireless sensors such as heart rate monitors. The watch also features an interchangeable band as well as app and widget support via Garmin's Connect IQ store. Priced at $299 with a heart rate monitor and $249 without, the Vivoactive will begin shipping in Q1 with white or black color options.
Top Rated Comments
Sportwatches are not meant to be cool -- other than the extent their features help one's training or fitness improvement. If you don't get that then, sure, they are not for you, but that's not reason to banish an entire product category. I detest cargo shorts, but I don't rant about them, I just walk by them in the store. Not hard.
Your point is fair though. Garmin's needs to play music. Even if it's just a few GBs to hold workout
playlists. Still, if I have to have two devices to get both music and real fitness tracking on a run, I'd rather go Garmin+iPod Shuffle than :apple:Watch+iPhone. Much longer overall battery. Less total encumberment. Tougher devices and less money risked to workout wear and tear.
Really, my main beef is that there is absolutely no way my iPhone is ever part of my workout. Ever. Period. Too bulky. Too expensive. Too fragile. Tethering the watch to it immediately disqualifies the watch as a fitness device (to me).
They weren't cool 10 years ago and they still aren't, this trend needs to die.
I hear ya on that, but, honestly, I don't think the wrist based HR monitoring is quite there yet. I bought a Fitbit Charge HR last month when Fitbit did an early release and wore it alongside my Garmin FR620 on runs. The Fitbit was consistently 5% to the lowside of what my Garmin w/ chest strap was reporting.
I think we can agree that with 24/7 casual monitoring +/- 5% is acceptable, but when training it's a disaster because that could easy mean its reporting aerobic HR zone when one is actually anaerobic or in warm up when actually already aerobic.
So as much as I detest the strap too, I can't fault Garmin for not incorporating it in high end training watches.
What I see isn't a lack of quality, per se. I see a company that knows who its target audience is and the product they need. Apple no doubt will excel at quality. But functionality and practicality fall very short of even the $250 Vivoactive if (and this "if" certainly doesn't apply to everyone) you're looking for a fitness device.
This is why I don't undestand the goal of the :apple:Watch, who it's meant for. If I need a fitness watch, I can't justify the :apple:Watch because it's an inferior fitness device, even if it does have other interesting functionality. If I want a notification device, Pebble and other options do the job just as well or better for much less money and bulk. If I want a luxurious piece of jewelry, the :apple:Watch just isn't in the same league as other timeless options.
And now we're seeing some of these other products expand beyond their core functionality. If Garmin can make a hands-down superior fitness watch that also has serviceable smartphone notification features, how could an :apple:Watch win over anyone needing a fitness watch? With some of the luxury watch makers adding smart features, how does :apple:Watch win over that crowd?
:apple:Watch has not yet revealed a killer feature. It's the less-well-suited choice for any particular need (fitness, notification, luxury). It's only the ideal choice when you need all three of those things but specifically don't need the best of any.
But a Garmin watch has a vastly longer battery life and works without belting a large, fragile, and expensive second device to your sweaty body (your phone).
Apple's making a more general use product, but if you're in the market for a fitness device, Garmin puts what we know of the :apple:Watch to shame.