fenix revisited

It’s been over four months since I bought my Garmin fenix and wrote up my initial impressions of the watch. Having run, cycled and hiked a lot of kilometres since then, it is worth giving an update on the fenix. Garmin have released another four firmware upgrades and I am now using v3.10 firmware.

Bugs and other problems that Garmin have addressed:

  1. Foot pod support (for running cadence measurements) has been added
  2. Indoor training support has been added
  3. Altitude readings are more reliable, with more options for configuring the combination of barometric and GPS measurements used for tracking altitude
  4. The FIT history is now accessible from the main menu and has a number of bug fixes and improvements with what is tracked in the FIT file

Bugs and problems that still exist (and annoy me)

  1. The GPS can take several minutes to lock onto satellites. I leave it outside to get a lock, go get changed into my running gear and then grab the watch. The lock time is inconsistent and frustratingly slow, especially when compared with other GPS devices that I have.
  2. A number of really useful running features from the FR-60 and other Forerunner watches are still missing, such as Virtual Partner.
  3. The manual is still appalling.
  4. Garmin still don’t have a dedicated forum for the fenix, despite all the requests and forums for most (if not all) of their other sports watches.
  5. There is still no ANT+ or Bluetooth connectivity to a PC. There is Bluetooth connectivity to an iPhone app, and that’s it.
  6. Customising the watch onboard is convenient when you are in the field, compared to the Suunto Ambit which requires a PC for configuration, but the customisation is poorly documented and often counter-intuitive. I find myself wandering up and down menu lists trying to find a particular option. A good example is the group of time/date settings, which are spread across a number of different menus. 
  7. The profile support via the Garmin Connect API is very average. Import a cycling track and it is imported as a running event. Import a running track and it is imported as an “other” event. This means that for every import of tracks, I have to edit the event types to set them correctly. Every import. How hard would it be to fix this, Garmin?

Would I recommend the fenix? If you need a sports watch with long battery life (eg. Audax rides, ultra-marathons, long day walks), then the fenix is a good choice, but I would recommend you also consider the Suunto Ambit, especially now that it has “app” functionality. Otherwise, I would seriously consider one of the alternative sports watches, such as the 910XT, that are on the market, especially if you want training features.

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