13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2013
The Garmin Fenix is truly a swiss army knife among watches. By this I mean it has a myriad of functions and uses, but at the same time it doesn't exactly specialise in any. As there is so much to cover, I'll try to break the review into sections. I'm also likely to update the review as I use my Fenix more and discover new and hidden features.
STYLE & DESIGN
It's certainly a chunky watch. Pictures I've seen on the internet tend to give it a slightly more stylish appearance than in the flesh. It has a plasticy feel to it, and not the rubbery, durable kind of plastic found on Garmins other watches like the Forerunner 410. As such I recommend looking at the Fenix in a shop first. GoOutdoors and Cotswolds Outdoors both stock the Fenix. The only other watch currently available with a similar range of features is the Suunto Ambit + HR, which looks a bit more stylish in my humble opinion.
The Fenix Performance bundle comes with an additional Orange wrist strap. It's not a different size or anything, just a different colour. A nice addition, especially when considering the wide strap size which could make it difficult to find an alternative/replacement strap. Thankfully the Garmin straps are a soft rubber which is surprisingly quite comfortable on the wrist.
The Watch features 5 buttons around the bezel. It doesn't take long to get used to operating it using these. The buttons have short and long press functions (such as "back" also returning to the main menu, or "select" doubling up as a "mark waypoint" button.
As mentioned at the start, the watch is a jack-of-all trades. Built in profiles include running, hiking, mountaineering, cycling, geocaching etc. You also have the option to create your own profiles. Changing the profile alters things like auto lap distances, map display, track logging etc. As far as I am aware it doesn't change the user profile, which is a shame. It would be good to be able to swap between users so that a family can share one fenix as required.
The saying "Jack of all trades, excels at none" rings true here. Though this watch does a lot, it doesn't do any of its jobs better than a device dedicated to that use. So if you're a keen cyclist, a Garmin Edge may suit better, runners would find the features in the Forerunner series more capable, and Geocachers/hikers might find a dedicated handheld GPS like the GPSMap 62 series a better option. You may be wondering why I've given the watch 5 stars if this is true. My reasoning goes back to comparing the watch to a swiss army knife. The knife has a lot of functions, but is no replacement for a proper saw, or a machete. It's a back-up tool to cover all eventualities. The Fenix is the same. It's not as good as a dedicated device for each sport, but it'll do an alright job for all of them. It's a bit pricey, but if you consider the cost of a mediocre handheld GPS + running watch + cycling computer etc, it's quite good value.
I like this watch, quite a bit. I'm a keen walker, runner, cyclist and geocacher. As such I own a range of GPS enabled devices. I like the fact that this will do everything I need (though if I geocache I'll take my GS unit). Once you're used to the menus it's quick to change settings on the fly. It's still quite a new device, and as such Garmin is releasing fairly frequent software updates that solve bugs and add new features. I've had a bug with track log display, but a hard reset fixed this.
Overall I recommend this watch for someone wanting a one-stop-shop type of device, if you do multiple activities. If however you're dedicated to a single sport (running, cycling etc) I'd suggest looking at a device for that sport, as it'll be easier to use on the fly and container more specialist options.
The watch does so much I know I probably have neglected a lot from this review. I'm passionate about watches and GPS and other gadgets, so if you have any questions, please leave a comment and I'll try my best to answer!
TIPS & TRICKS
The Fenix logs tracks either as GPX or .FIT files (Or both at the same time). GPX is great if you want to view the track information in Garmin basecamp, google earth etc. However, if you're into your sports tracking, and use something like Endomondo or Garmin connect, you want to use FIT in the track options. Also note that track options are set to each sport profile, so if you run and cycle, you'll want to set the track options to .FIT for both!
In case you need to reset the watch, a hard reset can be performed by powering on the watch whilst holding the down button.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 16 April 2014
A somewhat bulky but light good all-rounder. As a watch it provides a lot of useful functionality and can be utilised for a raft of different activities. Although not really a fashion statement (unless "big" is your thing) it can be worn as a main watch - battery life is pretty good when not using GPS, recharging via a USB cable, probably once every four to five weeks based on my experience. More frequently if GPS is used a lot.
If you're looking for an "activity" watch and you like hiking, running, biking and other outdoor activities - this is where the watch comes into its own - providing pretty much all you might need using various "profiles". It claims water resistance to 50M - so you can also take it sailing, kayaking and out on very rainy days.
The Fenix provides a lot of basic measurement information:-
> Barometric air pressure
This is certainly a watch you could use for weekend activities such as hikes and bike rides, although heavy use of GPS will impact battery life significantly.
The Fenix can be set to different “profiles” depending on activity. For example, hiking, running, mountain biking, geocaching. In addition to those provided you can create your own custom profiles.
A profile provides data fields/screens, relevant to an activity – organised by screen pages.
The Running profile provides screens very similar to those of the Garmin Forerunner 410 I use for running. In fact, the Fenix could easily replace that as it actually provides more.
Connectivity to external sensors is provided via the Garmin Ant+ sensor. This allows use with heart monitor, cadence sensor, and temperature sensor.
As with other Garmin sport and activity devices – the information available once you upload it to a Garmin Connect account is useful and informative. I did go round a somewhat circular path with the “Garmin Connect” browser plugin. “You need it, you have it, you need it” – repeated a number of times. All activities can be edited and categorised. Uploaded activities are all categorised as “Running” irrespective of the profile they were generated with. Despite the Fenix having Ant connectivity it does not allow connection to PC via Ant –the supplied USB cable must be used.
The Fenix can also be used with Garmin BaseCamp – an application which allows planning of routes using waypoint information which can be uploaded from the application. Maps with useful levels of detail need to be purchased.
+ Fine as an every day watch inc. DOW/date + lite
+ Good general functionality - alarm, stopwatch, countdown
+ Controls/options easily accessible - reasonably intuitive.
+ Battery life in day to day use is very good – respectable with GPS use.
+ Profiles allow easy use for different types of activity.
+ Altitude, temperature, barometric pressure, compass
+ Good connectivity with e.g. Garmin Connect
+ Ease of use is pretty good – but RTFM!
- Big/bulky (just over 1.5 cm high) - but not heavy
- Functional looking - but not really "cool"
- Strap feels a bit flimsy for prolonged use
- No Ant+ connectivity for PC syncing/linking
- No Bluetooth connectivity.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Douglas Adam's once wrote that 'people still thought digital watches were a neat idea' - well, if they did this would be the watch to convince doubters I think.
Why? it looks excellent - I now use it as my everyday watch and the battery life means that I run most days using the GPS and it still only needs charging once a week. And there is a neat alarm that will warn you when it does need charging as well - and you can set what level you get the warning. It has a alarm function and its a little thing but you can set a weekday alarm and not have to reset for the weekend.
Its really straight forward to set up and there is a quick start booklet with it (the ful manual is a download) - my arrived about 75% charged already so it really was 'out of the box' - the charger itself is unique making a cradle to charge the watch - a micro USB might have been simpler given that phones use them but a minor point - it will at least charge from a PC which is useful
Main function is on a big orange button or there is a simple forward scroll from the main page direct into the compass . then altimeter and barometer in succession. Again , minor gripe, the temparature reading is affected by body warmth - but you can buy a seperate sensor (or take the watch off for 30 minutes)
Top left is a simple backlight button and just watch pressing that for too long as it also doubles up as the reset button - bit disconcerting that the first time you do it ..
On the orange button you get a series of other options
The first is start GPS and then it sets about finding the satelittes - I have a Forerunner 205 and the Fenix acquires them a LOT quicker by comarison - and is more tenacious about keeping hold of them as well it seems
At ths spoint its a hold button press to get 'Activity started' - and it will record as any GPD would - but it also has a variable logging function - I like mine to record each kilometre, dead handy in a 10k race as a pace reminder
The screen is easy to read when running and the backlight helps that at night as well
When you are done, its just press the orange button to shut off the GPS and it saves automatically - nice when you tired at the end of a run.
Afterwards if you wish to review the data you need to scroll down to FIT data and select a date/time to review
It was not immediately obvious but when you load the data it presents a screen of distance / time etc
You can then scroll forward to get screens of data on the sub detail relating to checkpoints recorded during activity. So for example you get the 1k splits (as I have it set up to do so) on time / pace etc and this really helpful for longer runs / walks as you can judge the drop off in speed.
This is also where the battery indicator is - another improvement over the 205 as I never knew how charged it was ..
Below that is the setup option - handy for changing between running and walking profiles
Below that is the clock and options around 24 hour display - and here is another neat trcik , turn on the GPS and its sets the time ..
The alerts feature I have only used a couple of time but found it handy with plotting out and back routes when running - you can work out where 5k is and set a reminder to know when you reach it - distance and time are also covered - I have to admit though I just looked at the watch
Then the important option - FIT history, everything you record is held here until you upload it to the website - so distance, time etc
The Waypoint functionality I've used for cross country running to check distance and time and having the ability to recorsd a track (and then review it) I found really useful
The last feature I've used quite a bit is the GPS tools - the first part is just another way to look for satelitte's but there is a co-ordinates function that enables an alarm when you reach a position - again, not a complete substitute for map reading skills but very useful support
I really like this watch/GPS , it pactical, more use that the old forerunner and all I would say is that is probably for the complete outdoor activities rather than just a GPS watch for running, so you would have to choose to spend the extra money
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 23 August 2013
Full of bugs early watches were not waterproof,
After 8 months and a lot of run ski sailing, and kayaking
I am giving up
And so does the unit, went for a dive and the unit frezze never to wake up again
I just ship it back
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 28 October 2013
To be honest, if you are spending this money, unless you want it as a toy, buy a handheld.
The instructions are a bit confusing, it took me two weeks to work out how it works properly, I assume I pressed a button I shouldn't have done when I first unpacked it.
As a watch it is expensive and height and barometric readings you can get in a watch less than half the price, so think whether you really need/want this.
As a GPS, it works well enough now I know how, but having to charge it is a pain, solar batteries would be the hit and for nearly 300 squids, is that too much?
I recommend buying a hand held, charging it in the middle of Africa would be a problem and make it pretty much useless.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I have walked miles with the Garmin Fenix watch; taking it hiking around the Derbyshire countryside and Central London. As a digital watch the Fenix has some nice features; the time is always accurate using the GPS clocks; it also has multiple time zone functions.
If you are going to put a watch this size on your wrist you are going to want something more; and Fenix delivers with programmable tracks; route tracking there is also a barometric altimeters and a temperature sensor that can warn you about changes in temperature. The temperature and altimeter features need a degree of setup each time you want to use them in order to make them accurate. You can purchase separate external temperature, heart rate monitors and cadence sensors to give you some physiological monitoring as you go.
In central london the GPS was better than i expected at keeping track of where it was; on the paths there were gaps as I walked between large buildings but the majority of the tracks was intact. In the Peak District it was pretty much perfect; alerting to route changes and keeping track of where we had been.
Programming the routes the Garmin way requires you to use Garmin's Basecamp software. The problem being that Basecamp's maps are appalling you can't plan any route using them - the country is a blank slate with only major roads and cities showing. You can pay Garmin to get more detailed maps or download maps from alternative online sources. Once you have some more detailed maps you can program routes and transfer them to the fenix with the supplier USB dock.
After using base camp to plan some walks I connected up to Garmin's Connect service which uses bing maps to show where you have been out for your run. I am no runner but for tracking where you went and how fast you did it it seems excellent keeping track of pace; along with the detail from the altimeter it tracks as you go up and down hills too.
The watches battery life help up to Garmin's claims - running purely as a watch it was still going on day 5. Using GPS the battery drains much quicker - in central London it lasted about 8 hours and was almost flat. Recharging it is super convenient using USB (there is a mains charger in the box) - and you can use an external power device to keep it going longer unlike my older GPS which was AAA powered.
Overall for me its a 3* device. The basecamp software is a real letdown and out of the box is unusable; and feels like Garmin just want to make more money out of good customers who have already invested a considerable sum on the watch. For runners the picture is rosier; the Connect software is very good. For everyday use the watch itself is too bulky (and its digital.)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 February 2014
Fantastic unit, I use it for training and out in the mountains. I do not carry a handheld gps and to be honest I rarely use the gps in this for navigating other than for particularly bad weather. Altitude and barometer are great, and with tempe I get a great picture of what is and has been happening with pressure and temp.
Buttons can be operated with large gloves and it's a pretty sturdy piece of kit, I have only a few surface scratches from many routes with deep jams/general flailing on my part.
HR strap was not included, but I found it relatively cheap on amazon. I heard reports that it wasn't waterproof - perhaps in older models but this one is fine for swimming/sweating/being wet in the mountains.
Overall it's an excellent unit than means I can show the data I need and hide the stuff I don't.
I only have a couple of issues -
1. Only 3 data fields are allowed per page (so I can't have pace/duration/HR/distance on one page, must be over 2 pages)
2. The battery lasts me a day, so if you're out overnight in the hills you have to be mindful of battery life. Luckily you can choose a GPS mode with fewer 'calls' to save battery, this makes a huge difference and I don't need second by second accuracy for walking or climbing.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 April 2014
I was excited at having the opportunity to review this spectacular watch. Specs look great and it has many features an outdoors person would love. The Getting Started guide was a little too simple leaving me with the feeling that although I had powered it up maybe I was missing something. I wasn't, it simply synchronised THAT quicky. The display is very clear and the altimeter/barometer pretty accurated. The time display and backlight are impressive.
A couple of points that make me think Garmin have missed a trick. When out rockclimbing or even hillwalking I don't want to fiddle around with gloves to get inside a cuff to look at my watch. I want to be able to wear it on top of a technical fleece or even waterproof, and the strap simply is quite long enough. Another couple of inches, or strap extension would help make this the perfect outdoor watch. Wearing outside clothing also helps the built in temp sensor actually function without the need for an external sensor (not provided).
Compared to the Suunto walking watch (without GPS) I have been using this is a breath of fresh air.
Big, chunky, clear to read, this watch is an outdoors statement - not a fashion accessory.
No crashes or lock ups as yet.
I'm rather impressed.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 December 2014
Another item full of promise but which ultimately disappointed. Lots of features, many hidden away in nested menus but trying to get it to do anything useful is trying! The basic problem is that it is very slow and sluggish in operation and seems to have a minuscule memory, so that after saving a few tracks or trails you get "out of memory" messages and it is extremely difficult to clear it. The Garmin Connect software is also almost useless as the watch would forever lose the Bluetooth connection and require you to re-pair it. Even when it worked it is not the slickest interface out there. Finally the watch is extraordinarily bulky. Overall for the price it is very disappointing.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2015
Nothing but problems with it from day 1. Will not pick up satellites at all. Took me a month before Garmin even responded to my endless emails, phone calls. Eventually spoke to someone and sent it back to Garmin. It went away with an orange strap - which I liked and it came back with a black strap, it was another reconditioned item. Again it would not pick up satellites. Went thru the same process again and sent it back. This time Garmin sent me a new Fenix2 as they said they had none the same as mine and they would not give me a refund.
When it arrived I did not even open the box, I put it on Ebay and sold it straight away.