Garmin fenix 2 was announced this past week and we have been busy building our new Heart Rate Watch Company website so I did not have a lot of time to pay attention but I reviewed it very carefully on Sunday. At first blush it looks pretty damn cool.
Looks are identical to the Garmin Tactix, not 100% sure why Garmin went with the black screen although my Tactix is very readable (been testing it for 6 weeks now) even in bright sunlight so unlike black screens of days gone by this is not the concern it used to be.
What’s To Like?
Garmin decided to used their Bluetooth Smart from previous watches in the same shell – the original fenix, Tactix, along with their pilot and boating watches – to gain access over your phone and even display your text messages on the watch screen. That’s pretty cool for youngsters that have eyes that focus like a microscope but may not work so slick for the over 45 set that has near vision issues. It’ll be great if you are the type that can read really small font but if you can’t you’re probably going to be left out on this.
Garmin calls this new feature Smart Notification but your iPhone 4S or later is going to have to be along with you for it to work because it depends upon the watch and the phone talking to one another in close proximity.
Garmin fenix 2 adds all the swim features that are available in the Garmin Swim watch and the Garmin Forerunner 910XT, so it is going to be pretty handy for pool swimmers but it is going to be large enough so you feel it because it is twice the weight and not as thinly profiled as the Garmin Swim watch.
More Advanced Snow Sports Features
For skiing and boarding this watch should be the big-ticket. Ski-Board mode puts speed, distance, vertical drop and an automatic run counter (with Auto Pause for the lift line) and more at your fingertips.
Remote Control Garmin VIRB Action Cameras
Garmin fenix 2 can remote control Garmin VIRB elite action cameras and share data. You can also use fenix 2 with the Tempe sensor for temperature and any of Garmin’s run and bike sensors.
This is still a big watch, 3 ounces and rather thick, so we still don’t think this watch is ever going to appeal to the ladies, sorry ladies. Once they figure out how to nano this type of technology further and get it down under 2 ounces and lose about 40% of the size then there will be a ladies alternative. Until then there just is not a good option.
The Sports Features
This is where the watch gets really interesting. As many of you know Garmin came out with their super-duper running watch called the Garmin 620 this past December. It featured things like Vertical oscillation (bounce), ground foot contact time, VO2 max estimates based upon heart rate variability, predicted race times and more. Well, fenix 2 is going to have all of those features.
This sets fenix 2 up to be the new watch of choice for ultra-marathoners thanks to its extra long battery life. With its best-in-class navigation features and the ability to do about every outdoor sport known to man its a pretty good choice for everyone from mountaineers to snow sports enthusiasts to traditional endurance sports.
Garmin fenix has a bit longer learning curve and is slightly less intuitive on menu navigation than the Suunto Ambit 2 series. That being said it is worth the effort once you can dig into all its features and for navigation it has no peers but its going to take you a couple of weeks to master it.
Guys we’ve had using the original fenix and Tactix in the military have said these watches are absolutely indispensable.
All the critique aside this is still going to be one hell of a watch and for the right user, generally a guy with ultra ambitions at any sport and the go all day mentality it will be a really sweet product.
Combine Garmin fenix 2 with a Goal Zero Guide 10 Adventure kit for portable recharging and there really isn’t an outdoor sport you can’t conquer from multi-day sports to conquering Mount Everest.
Definitely get the Performer Bundle for $449 because it adds the HRM-Run chest strap that was originally designed for the Garmin Forerunner 620 and adds all the advanced running and body measurement features that have made this watch such a hit with runners. Otherwise the HRM-Run strap is a $99 item but its only $50 when you buy it in the Performer Bundle.
We’ll definitely update our thought further when we put one through the paces in late March but for now this really does look like the real deal and a next level advancement for GPS watches for outdoor athletes.
– Rusty Squire, copyright 2014, email@example.com