We got a sneak peak at some soon to be available wearable tech from Garmin, plus their first Garmin branded global satellite communicators since acquiring DeLorme. The new Fenix 5 comes in a few new variations with some pretty cool updates including full on viewable maps and navigation on the flagship Fenix 5X, and the Fenix 5s which is a smaller, full-featured Fenix that won’t dwarf smaller wrists. You won’t get lost no matter where you are with their new inReach SE+ and inReach Explorer+ satellite communicators. They offer adventuring souls several built-in features like navigation, interactive SOS, and the ability to send texts & emails from anywhere on the globe.

Also check out some slick updates to their open platform Connect IQ for third-party developers to create content for Garmin wearables, bike computers & outdoor handhelds. You can now monitor levels & control you compatible Bontrager lights, be aware when you need to shoot another GU or drink more Nuun… and even hail an Uber!

One thing Garmin has put a lot of effort in over the last several years are their “wrist computers”. They started off pretty clunky with function WAY over fashion due partly to the technology at the time (as demonstrated in the 310XT multisport watch). Over the last few years, they’ve put more emphasis on aesthetics, along with even more advancement in the technology. By designing full-featured product to record & monitor your activity and be worn with anything from a t-shirt to a suit, Garmin is killing two birds so to speak. The Fenix watches have always had an industrial stylish look and when the Fenix 3 came out, they began to earn some serious style points. Adding to that, they took it to ‘luxury watch’ levels with the introduction of the swanky Fenix Chronos (technically this was the Fenix 4, but in some cultures the number 4 is as bad luck as the number 13 is in others).

The new Fenix 5, 5s, and 5X are all full featured multisport watches wrist computers that do just about everything their Edge series of computers does, but in a stylish wearable that actually looks cool. Things like smart notifications (display email, text & other alerts), music control, activity tracking and ‘Find My Phone’, amongst many other features are standard across the board. They even control Garmin’s Virb cameras and pair with compatible ANT+ sensors.

Probably the biggest little thing they did was to create the full featured Fenix 5s ($599) which brings the casing down to a narrower 42mm width, almost a whopping centimeter narrower than the Fenix 3 (51.5mm). The 5s is the narrowest as well as thinnest of the Fenix models to better fit smaller wrists, as well as to make a more comfortable swimming companion. It packs all of the multisport functions and connects to your phone just like the standard Fenix 5 (below), getting up to 8 days running in smartwatch mode & 13 hours in GPS tracking mode. It’s also available in a Saphire edition ($699) which gives it a scratch proof lens & wi-fi capability, or with a metal band ($849).

Additionally, the Fenix 5S was just named a CES 2017 Innovation Awards Honoree in the wearables category.

For the same price, the standard Fenix 5 is the now ‘mid-size’ option coming in at 47mm wide and 15.5mm thick. That’s still pretty good sized, but also 2mm thinner than the Fenix 3 & new 5X. It’s likely a little more friendly for swimming too. It also gets a similar Saphire edition, and the only thing the Fenix 5 has over the 5s is a slightly larger display and longer battery life, (up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode *depending on settings*, up to 24 hours in GPS mode, and up to 100 hours in UltraTrac battery saver mode).

Features: Fenix 5 & 5s

  • Connect IQ app support: watch faces, data fields, widgets and apps
  • EXO antenna GPS/GLONASS
  • Wi-Fi: Sapphire versions only
  • ANT
  • Bluetooth Low Energy
  • Training Effect 2.0 measures impact of an activity on your aerobic & anaerobic fitness
  • Training Load
  • Training Status
  • Lactate Threshold
  • Weather Alerts
  • UltraTrac
  • tempe sensor support
  • TracBack
  • Ski features
  • Physiological measurements
  • SUP/Rowing
  • Foot pod: optional

The Fenix 5X ($699 or $849 w/ metal band) is only available in Sapphire edition and is the same size as the Fenix 3 series making it the largest of the three new models. The 5X adds preloaded topo & cycling maps as well as over 40,000 golf courses with easy to follow ‘at a glance’ navigation guidance cues that provide banners on the display showing upcoming turns. Round-trip Run and Round-trip Ride routing, like in their Edge computers, lets you enter a preferred distance and will plan out a route for you which returns to your starting point.

Features: Fenix 5X

  • Maps: Preloaded topographic and cycling maps, plus more than 40,000 golf courses around the world
  • Connect IQ app support: watch faces, data fields, widgets and apps
  • EXO antenna GPS/GLONASS
  • Wi-Fi
  • ANT+
  • Bluetooth Low Energy
  • Round Trip Run
  • Lactate Threshold
  • Pre-loaded Garmin cycling maps
  • Round Trip Ride
  • Training Effect 2.0 measures impact of an activity on your aerobic & anaerobic fitness
  • Training Load
  • Training Status
  • Weather alerts
  • UltraTrac
  • tempe sensor support
  • TracBack
  • Ski features
  • Physiological measurements
  • SUP/Rowing
  • Foot pod: optional

What will be a welcome update to many is Garmin’s new ‘QuickFit’ watch strap & bands. The QuickFit system allows you to swap bands on the fly without needing a tool. If you opt for the metal band which is available on all Sapphire models, it comes with a rubber strap too, so you can dress up or down depending on what type of “suit” you’re wearing.

Of course, Garmin Connect IQ lets you do all sorts of custom things like display images and customize screens depending on what you prefer to see. This comes in handy letting you set the device up just the way you want it. The number of custom options has grown a lot over time, and it’s easy to get lost trying to decide which cool display you want if you’re not too careful.

Earlier in 2016 Garmin acquired DeLorme, makers of satellite communication devices. Now, their new inReach SE+ and inReach Explorer+, while not cycling specific, are definitely something worth considering if you find yourself way off the beaten path and out of cell range often enough. The inReach Explorer units allow you to communicate from anywhere on the globe via text or email and lets others track your every move. With the Earthmate phone app, you can pair your inReach-enabled device with smartphones and tablets making controlling the unit and communication even easier. Just like your mobile phone, using inReach requires a monthly service that starts at $11.95/mo. It also has navigation and topo maps built in so you don’t get [too] lost.

An S.O.S. feature lets you trigger a distress signal should something really bad happen. The inReach SE+ ($399) and Explorer+ ($449) both offer 2-way communication with GEOS which is basically a global ‘we’ll save your ass’ emergency rescue service. That way you can describe your location and condition so the proper emergency response can come to your aid. The inReach Explorer+ provides full-fledged GPS on-map guidance with preloaded TOPO mapping and waypoint routings that are viewable directly on the unit. It also has a built-in digital compass, barometric altimeter and accelerometer to give you more information on where you are and need to go.


Making your life even easier, Garmin Connect IQ is an open platform that many companies like Bontrager, GU, UBER and many more have begun to take advantage of, so you can use any of the new compatible Garmin devices to do things like remind you when to drink or eat, monitor and adjust your lights, and hail a ride in case you end up stranded but still in reach of a support car… or are just pooped and want a ride home.

Garmin.com

1 comment

  1. Flatbiller on

    Those inReach devices looks very nice. Finally, what looks like a decent alternative to the crap SPOT has put out over the years.

    Reply

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