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Garmin Fenix2 Multisport Watch In-Depth Review

Garmin Fenix2 with wetsuit

It is closing on nearly two years since Garmin initially announced the first generation Fenix in June 2012.  Since then the watch has transformed from what was originally seen as a hiking focused unit, to more of an ultra-runner’s unit, to finally settling in on a full-fledged multisport watch as seen now in the recently announced Fenix2.

I’ve spent the last six or so weeks with the unit, putting it through daily activities across a wide variety of sports.  Last week, the Fenix2 started hitting retail outlets as the firmware moved into the production state.  In the past week alone however, even further unannounced additional features have been added.  Nonetheless, it’s time for my full in-depth review.

To be clear, Garmin sent me over a Fenix2 to start testing with until retail availability.  Like always, I’ll be shipping that back to them in Olathe, KS, in the next few days and going out and getting my own via regular retail channels.  That’s just the way I roll.

Lastly, at the end of the day keep in mind I’m just like any other regular athlete out there. I write these reviews because I’m inherently a curious person with a technology background, and thus I try and be as complete as I can. But, if I’ve missed something or if you spot something that doesn’t quite jive – just let me know and I’ll be happy to get it all sorted out. Also, because the technology world constantly changes, I try and go back and update these reviews as new features and functionality are added – or if bugs are fixed. So – with that intro, let’s get into things

Unboxing:

Garmin Fenix2 Boxed

The Fenix2 comes boxed in two variations: One with just the watch, and one with a heart rate strap.  Specifically, the HRM-RUN.  I’ll dive more into the HRM-RUN later on, but it’s an important distinction compared to previous ANT+ enabled straps, as far as enabling advanced functionality on the Fenix2.

Garmin Fenix2 Boxed

Inside the box splits into three pieces, two of which contain the goods.  The third just sits there and looks pretty.

Garmin Fenix2 In Box

If you dump out the contents of those two boxes to the left, you’ll see the below.  Note that the non-bundle version does not contain the heart rate strap (the two left pieces).

Garmin Fenix2 Unboxing

I’ll go ahead and walk through each of the components in the box.

First up, the power adapters.  Note that some readers have asked what the difference is between the US and European editions are.  It’s simple: It’s just the power adapter for the USB power block.  That’s it.  You can still use your Fenix2 with any USB port in the world, and you can still use the power adapter with a 99 cent adapter in any outlet in the world.  So don’t fret too much there.

Garmin Fenix2 Unboxing

Next we’ve got the HRM-RUN heart rate strap.  This ANT+ capable strap transmits your heart rate strap to the Fenix2 (as well as any ANT+ device in range that’s been paired with it).  In that way, the HRM-RUN is just like any other ANT+ strap.  However, it also has a secondary private channel that carries with it additional information only accessible to Garmin devices, that constitute the Running Dynamics pieces.  So while you can use the Fenix2 with any ANT+ strap, you won’t get some of the Running Dynamics pieces without it.  Also, it’s $40 cheaper to buy the bundle than the two separately (usually, it’s a wash price-wise).

Garmin Fenix2 HRM-RUN

Next, Garmin decided to toss in a fabric strap.  This can be used with the screws and pieces seen below to replace the plastic strap.  This is useful because it goes quite a bit larger, enabling you to place it over ski coats and the like.

Garmin Fenix2 Wrist Strap

You’ll use these two little incredibly sharp screwdrivers to remove the pins.  It’s a two hand job.  Ok, I guess that came out wrong.

Garmin Fenix2 Wrist Strap Tool

Finally, we get to the watch itself.  If you’re a past Fenix/Tactix user, you’ll notice a few changes up front.  First, the buttons have been changed around.  This (in my opinion) makes the flow much cleaner, and much easier to navigate.  It also mirrors the Garmin Forerunner line.  Second, you’ll notice the display is ‘inverted’, which means its white text on black background.  This is non-changeable.

Garmin Fenix2 Sittin' Pretty

On the back, you’ll find the charging pins.  The unit connects to a USB charger I’ll show you in a second.  The reason the Fenix2 (and most other well waterproofed watches) use contacts like these to charge versus using a standard micro-USB or mini-USB port is for waterproofing purposes.

Garmin Fenix2 Backside

Here’s the USB charging cable.  The cable can be used both to charge the unit, as well as to transfer workouts/tracks/routes/waypoints/maps/etc… Garmin provides apps for PC and Mac, but the device enumerates as a standard USB mass storage device, so that functionality will work fine on other operating systems like Linux.

Garmin Fenix2 Charger USB

The clip snaps onto the back, thus it would be able to pass the ‘ceiling fan’ test, which tests whether or not the charging clip is strongly enough attached to the Fenix2 to tie one end to a ceiling fan and turn it on.  Aside from being fun, the more practical implication of this is that you can charge it on the go, without worrying about a finicky connection.

Garmin Fenix2 Charger Clipped on

With everything unboxed, let’s see how it stacks up against other units.

Size & Weight Comparisons:

Garmin Fenix2 Comparison Shot on Roller

As always, I’ve combined all the competitive units in the running and triathlon segment together for you to get a feel for how they compare size-wise.  Roughly speaking, the bigger ones are on the left side – and those are the ones we’re mostly comparing between.

Below, from left to right: Adidas Smart Run GPS, Suunto Ambit 2, Polar V800, Garmin Fenix2, Suunto Ambit 2R.

Garmin Fenix2 Comparison Shot on Roller

Next, I’ve flipped it over so you can see the depth of the units themselves.

Garmin Fenix2 Comparison Shot on Roller

If you look at the Fenix1 and Fenix2, you’ll see they are virtually identical.  After all, they are basically twins, just not identical twins.  On the visible side, the button layout changed.  On the internal guts side, the unit received a slight change in the accelerometer to enable the swimming tracking scenarios, that wouldn’t have been fully possible with the same level of accuracy with the accelerometer that’s contained in the Fenix1/Tactix units.

And remember, these watches are part of a longer line of siblings that share nearly identical physical hardware, but change in software – from the Quatix for marine use, to the D2 for pilots.

Garmin Fenix2, Fenix, Quatix

For those that haven’t followed along on the Fenix journey, the Fenix1 actually has received substantial updates over the last 4-5 months.  In fact, outside of multisport mode, power meter support (cycling), and swimming support – the Fenix1 gains almost all the features of the Fenix2.  Even things like mobile phone uploads and satellite pre-caching.  These features were introduced in beta recently, and will ultimately be brought to full production status on those units as well.  However, neither the Fenix1 nor the Tactix will get the Fenix2-only features like swimming, multisport or power meter support.  Expect to see Garmin cease manufacturing of those units by summer.

One minor little tidbit that I thought was interesting – the Fenix2 strap is slightly longer than the Fenix1 strap:

Garmin Fenix and Fenix2 Comparison

Next, while you’ll see the watch on my wrist throughout the review, I did briefly want to include what it looks like on a smaller female wrist – in this case, my wife.  She’s tiny, and her wrist size is 14cm (or 5.5 inches).

Garmin Fenix2 on small women's wrist

Garmin Fenix2 on small women's wrist

She found it heavy for her, but I pretty much said the same thing when I wore it initially. She hasn’t spent any time running with it though, nor getting used to it.

Finally, when it comes to weights, here’s a lineup of the devices you’re most likely to compare:

Garmin Fenix2 on scale

Garmin Fenix1 on scale

The key difference in weight between the Fenix1 and Fenix2 really comes from the change to the back plate on the unit.

And for fun, here’s two more units you’re likely to compare:

Garmin FR910XT on scale

Suunto Ambit2 on scale

As you can see, weight-wise they’re all basically in the same camp.  Note that for the FR910XT, I had the quick-release kit on there, which likely adds a tiny bit of weight.

With comparisons done, let’s head onto actually using the product.

Running:

Garmin Fenix2 Run Start

Without question, running is one of the most fundamental features of the Fenix2.  And in that respect, the Fenix2 has come a long way in the running feature category since the initial release of the original Fenix.  So while it’s easy to compare the initial review of the Fenix1 to the Fenix2, in general, all of features discussed in the first two chunks of the running section (Basics & Features/Functionality) are on both units.  Where the features become Fenix2-only is within the Running Dynamics portion, and then the subsequent recovery/VO2Max/etc… pieces (separate sections).  Don’t worry, I call those out specifically.

The Basics of Running with the Fenix2:

To start any activity, you’ll put the watch on and tap the red button in the upper right.  This brings you to the sport selection menu.  Don’t worry, you can lock the screen by simply holding down the upper left button (light), to prevent accidental sport triggering.

Garmin Fenix2 Run Start

Once you’ve selected the sport, in this case running, the unit will search for any paired sensors – such as a heart rate strap.  It’ll iterate through each one until complete, and then move onto satellite reception.

Garmin Fenix2 Run Start Searching Heart Rate

Garmin Fenix2 Run Start Searching GPS

The Fenix2 automatically caches the satellite location data based on a download from Garmin Connect that occurs both via USB with Garmin Express, or via Bluetooth Smart and the Garmin Connect Mobile app.  This satellite caching data helps to allow the unit to very quickly find satellites.  In general, if I move to a new location on the globe and have up to date satellite cache data, it is in general taking me about 15-45 seconds.  For example, two days ago in Mexico City, after walking out of the hotel and across the street, that’s how long it took.  Whether or not the 27-story building was impacting things is unclear to me.  If I haven’t moved to a new location and just walk outside my house and start the unit, it tends to find satellites in about 2-5 seconds (as it did about an hour later in a test in the same general area).

Once you’ve got satellite reception, you’re good to go, and can press the red button to start the activity recording.  During activities, the red button is the start/pause button, and the lower right button is for creating a lap.  Meanwhile, the bottom left buttons are for changing the view.

While running the unit will show you any data fields you’ve configured (see the Data Field section of the review).  But in general most folks will use fields like pace, distance, heart rate, and time.  For me, I prefer the lap variations of those.  So I’ve got Lap Pace, Lap Time, Lap Distance, and then Heart Rate.

Garmin Fenix2 while running

But, I can simply tap the up/down buttons and change to a different page, such as this one showing the Running Dynamics page:

Garmin Fenix2 while running with Running Dynamics

Or this one showing my total run time and distance:

Garmin Fenix2 while running with total fields

The unit will use GPS when outdoors to track your distance.  In the event of a tunnel where GPS signal is lost, the unit will switch to using the internal accelerometer to measure distance and pace, and then upon exiting the tunnel it’ll switch back to GPS.

When you’ve completed your run, simply tap the red button again, which puts the unit into a paused state.  At this point a menu is given for you to decide your next step.

Garmin Fenix2 save and pause screen

You could resume it (if you plan to start running again), or you can save it.  You can also discard it, as well as use the ‘Resume Later’ option, which is my favorite option for long activities.

Garmin Fenix2 Resume Later

With the resume later option, it’ll turn off the GPS to save battery, but will keep the activity without ending it.  This is ideal for multi-day hikes, or places where battery life conservation is critical.  Also of note is that if you were to run out of battery, the unit will automatically put the file into the ‘Resume Later’ state.  To access it, simply tap the red button and you’ll see the option to resume/save/discard/etc…

Running Features and Functionality

I’m going to run through (no pun intended) a number of features the Fenix2 has.  This isn’t really exhaustive, since there are so many smaller features that it’d be hard to include every single item.  In general, these features are actually available across most sport profiles, but I’m just putting them in the running section for simplicity’s sake.

Auto Lap: Perhaps my favorite feature, auto lap allows you to automatically create splits based on a predefined distance – such as every 1-mile.  I tend to use this on long runs where I’d like to more easily compare splits over the course of the run.  On the flip side, I turn it off for interval runs, where I’m manually controlling my splits (or, having the automated interval or workout function do it for me).  You cannot specify auto lap based on time, nor by position.  It’s distance only, but in either kilometers or miles.

Garmin Fenix2 Auto Lap

Auto Pause: This is useful for city running where you may stop frequently at stop lights.  The unit automatically pauses the recording when you come to a stop, and then will automatically resume it when you start running again.  The auto pause on the Fenix2 isn’t configurable, so whether or not the trigger point in pace is right for you might vary.  Despite living smack dab in one of the biggest cities in the world, I personally tend not to use it, as I mostly just run a different direction when I hit a stoplight.  I don’t much like stopping mid-run, as it simply lengthens the time I’ve gotta wait till I can eat cookies or something.

Garmin Fenix2 Auto Pause

Virtual Partner: Virtual Partner allows you to specify a target pace that in turn acts like a virtual running friend.  The Virtual Partner does not stray from the pace (even for hills), so it’s best used for flatter courses.  As part of the Virtual Partner feature, the unit will show you how far ahead or behind the Virtual Partner you are – both in distance and in time.

Garmin Fenix2 Virtual Partner

Note that you’ll enable the Virtual Partner through the menus, but you’ll need to also add the Virtual Partner screen as a data page to your sport profile (just as if you were configuring other data fields/pages).

Alerts: Alerts allow you to set high/low thresholds for various events.  For example, you can create an alert when you run 10 miles.  Or an alert when your heart rate goes above or below a given threshold.  Alerts can be defined for proximity, distance, time, elevation, navigational arrival, speed, pace, heart rate, cadence, and battery.  While alerts might seem appealing (and they can be in certain scenarios), for most athletic pacing and or training efforts, it’s usually better to use custom workouts (see later section).  That’s a much more refined way of doing it, whereas alerts are very basic.

Garmin Fenix2 Alerts

Running Dynamics:

Running Dynamics is Garmin’s term for a number of new metrics that were added to Garmin’s top-tier running watch, the FR620 earlier this fall, and have now found their way to the Fenix2.  These metrics attempt to capture various running efficiency data.

There are as of today three specific pieces of information that’s being captured:

Cadence: Total steps per minute – this has previously been available on the footpod, but this brings it internal to the HR strap (and inside the Fenix2 itself).
Vertical Oscillation: This is measuring the ‘bounce’ in a runner’s torso within each step. This is vertical motion, measured in centimeters.
Ground Contact Time: How much time your foot spends touching the ground, measured in milliseconds

Cadence has long been available on Garmin devices with the footpod, but the FR220/FR620 added it to the unit itself, using internal accelerometers.  Then, Garmin extended that into the Fenix1 and Tactix watches, and now, it’s also in the Fenix2.

The other two, Vertical Oscillation (VO) and Ground Contact Time (GCT) are new to the FR620 and Fenix2, and not available on other units (nor coming to other units, such as the FR910XT).  To see these metrics, you’ll need to ensure the Running Dynamics page is enabled on your Fenix2.  This is done via the data pages settings in the running profile.  Once that’s done, you’ll see this screen:

Garmin Fenix2 Running Dynamics

While running, the unit shows values for each of the three running dynamics pieces.  Meanwhile, the edge of the screen will turn into a little needle, indicating whether you are at a low/high value for that particular parameter (i.e cadence).

You can change the upper value by holding down the menu button for a second, which allows you to select a different primary value.

This data is then recorded on Garmin Connect for you to analyze later.  It is interesting in terms of correlation of fatigue to your values, or the impact of intervals or other varying workouts.  For example, here’s a long run:

Garmin Fenix2 Running Dynamics Charts

And then here’s an interval workout:

Garmin Fenix2 Running Dynamics Charts

Like many new metrics captured by sports technology devices these days, there remains to be a clear-cut reason on what to do with these metrics (VO/GCT).  Sport scientists don’t actually have any hard data or studies to clarify how best to use them.  Thus, while it’s ‘geeky-fun’ to look at the data, there isn’t anything clear-cut as far as training guidance that either Garmin or anyone else will tell you to do with these.

Cadence is a bit more clear-cut given it’s been around for years, and there’s plenty of documentation on ideal cadence ranges to get the elastic recoil effect that high performance runners aim for.  But when it comes to the other two metrics, VO/GCT, it’s still the wild west a bit.  Note, do not confuse VO with VO2, as they are two totally different things.  Speaking of which, now’s a great time to discuss VO2Max.

Race Predictor, Recovery Advisor, VO2Max Estimates, and Training Effect:

Like the FR620, the Fenix2 carries with it a number of new training progress functions.  These functions aim to give you feedback on rest, recovery, and estimates on where you might find yourself on race day.  To start, the quick list:

VO2Max Estimation: This utilizes information from the heart rate strap and heart rate variability (HRV) to determine a VO2Max estimation.  This is then displayed following each run.

Race Predictor: Race Predictor uses simple lookup tables to take your VO2Max combined with age/gender and determine ‘best possible’ race times.

Recovery Advisor: Recovery advisor gives you the estimated time until your next hard workout.  This counter is always available on the watch to see how much time is left.

Recovery Check: This status is provided about 6-10 minutes into the workout, and tells you how recovered you are from a previous workout.

Training Effect: Training Effect provides a score of a given workout and how impactful that workout was on your body.

All of these metrics depend on the heart rate strap, which is analyzing heart rate variation (HRV) data using algorithms by FirstBeat, a Finnish company that specializes in heart rate and calorie metrics.

The VO2Max piece is likely the piece that fascinates most athletes, primarily due to the ones-upsmanship game that people want to play on who has a higher VO2Max value.  Ultimately though, there’s actually little that you can do to influence this number, as it’s largely genetic.  And in that same vein, while an untrained person would see immediate and sharp increases in VO2Max over a short period, a well trained athlete won’t.  And in fact, the more that athlete trains – the less likely this number is to fluctuate.  Effectively, you plateau from a VO2Max standpoint.  After all, if you could keep training and increase the number – we’d see everyone with a VO2Max in the 90’s, or beyond.  Ultimately there are only a handful of people on this earth anywhere near that.

Garmin Fenix2 VO2Max

Which isn’t to say that your training or your race results will hit a plateau.  As there are many things that impact your race day results.  Looking at those results in the next feature – ‘Race Predictor’.  This feature does a very simple lookup of your VO2Max estimation and compares it to tables of records of people of the same age and gender, and then gives you the race estimates.  In reality, this should really be called “Race Potential”, which would line up with what it really is.  It does not take into account any training you’ve done from a mileage standpoint, nor a pace standpoint.  It’s purely based on the VO2Max value meshed with data from the Cooper Institute.

Garmin Fenix2 Race Predictor

Next we have the ‘Recovery Check’.  This check is done about 6-10 minutes into your run, and gives you feedback on how recovered you are, such as ‘Fair’.  Ultimately however though, I’ve only ever seen ‘Fair’ or ‘Good’.  In part, the challenge here is twofold.  First is the science of it.  For that, I think in general Garmin/FirstBeat probably have that figured out.  The second part is the delicacy of it.  Meaning that if you return a message such as ‘Terrible’, people get offended.  No really, they do.  I had people complain in the FR620 review because of seeing lower status on both the Recovery Check and VO2Max.  Personally, I put that in the category of “Life’s not fair”.

Garmin Fenix2 Recovery Level

Following along the recovery trail, we’ve got ’Recovery Advisor’.  This value is a post-workout value that lets you know how long you should wait until your next hard workout.  Now listen triathletes, read the previous sentence again.  Which parts did I put in italics (hint: hard workout).  Which isn’t to say that you can’t have a bike workout, or a swim workout, or even an easy running workout.  It’s simply focusing on running, because that’s the only thing that the Recovery Advisor tracks today.  It doesn’t take into account anything else.

Garmin Fenix2 Recovery Time

In general, I find that the Recovery Advisor is a bit cautious, but actually not too far off the mark for what my schedule would have in it recovery-wise.  Remember that your muscles only get stronger when you allow them recover, not when you workout hard every single day (go ahead, you can Google it).

Finally, we’ve got ‘Training Effect’.  Training Effect is designed to give you a rough estimate of how ‘impactful’ that workout was.  This helps you to structure an overall workout schedule with varying types of workouts that help to put in place a more cohesive training schedule.  You’ll see it listed as TE on your summary screen:

Garmin Fenix2 Summary Page

Below, the table of those levels, from the Fenix2 manual.  Note that these values take a few runs to calibrate, so don’t freak out if it says your 20-minute easy run was disastrously high.

Garmin Fenix2 Training Effect

Now, as I alluded to above – all of these features are run-specific, except training effect.  They aren’t included on any of the other sports profiles at this time – just like the FR620.  So keep that in mind from a training standpoint.  If you run 20 miles on Saturday, then go ride 112 miles on Sunday plus a swim in there somewhere, by time you get to Sunday evening, the unit is really only aware of the 20-mile run from a recovery standpoint.

Treadmill Usage:

Finally, the Fenix2 supports the ability to run indoors on a treadmill – either with or without a footpod.  In the case of without a footpod the unit will use its internal accelerometer to determine pace and cadence.  It does this by ‘learning’ your pace and cadence while outdoors on GPS runs.  It does this over time, across different pace ranges.  So it’s not a one size fits all approach.  Nor should you immediately open your Fenix box and go straight to a treadmill and expect accurate data.  The more miles you have outside, the better.

Thus, in order to really put it through its paces, I’ve been running for weeks outdoor across pace ranges from 4:30/mile up to about 10:00/mile (+ some at walking paces).  Hundreds of miles worth of data.  In order to keep things as consistent as possible, I was the only one who wore the watch, and I always wore it on the same wrist.  Thus, in theory, it’d be the most perfect data set possible.

So this week while in Mexico City I hit up the treadmill at the gym to test things out.  Like most of my treadmill tests, I find a simple pace ladder or pyramid the most effective way to test accuracy.  And thus, the results:

Garmin Fenix2 Treadmill Pace

Looking at the paces, I had done a ladder starting at 5:30/KM (~8:50/mile), and going down to 3:30/KM (~5:40/mile) every 60 seconds, in 15-second/KM increments.

Above, is the Fenix2 pace using the internal accelerometer, and below with a standard footpod.  In this case, you can see my increases in pace each minute (below), whereas above it’s a bit muddled.  It appears there’s some smoothing added, likely to filter out things like touching the treadmill. I actually consider this a good thing, so I’m not complaining too much there.

Garmin Footpod Treadmill Pace

The paces tracked very well in my ‘primary’ running zone (of about 6:30-7:30/mile), and tracked ‘fairly well’ outside of that, perhaps 5% off at the high/low end.  In this case, the Fenix2 internal pace seemed to top off at around 5:55/mile, so a bit off, but again, in the ballpark.

This is a vast improvement over what I’ve seen both in other Garmin products (FR620 at release) as well as even earlier versions of the Fenix on a treadmill.  In talking with them, they’ve spent a fair bit of time in this area.  The data looks rather clean.  It’s notable that while I didn’t do much with my left arm (where the unit was) as far as touching the treadmill, I did occasionally wipe sweat off without any impact to pace.  Also of note was that for this test I actually did NOT wear the HRM-RUN strap, so everything was inbox.

Ultimately, for pace on a treadmill, I’d give the unit a “B+” rating currently.  It’s not perfect, and does require a bit of outside running to fill in the pace tables for calibration, but it’s pretty close.  And quite a bit better than what I’ve seen previously, which I would have given more of a “D” rating.

Now, the next piece is cadence.  I had a look at this a few times recently with the Garmin FR220 and FR620, both of which can measure cadence internally.  With the Fenix2, like the FR620, it comes from one of three sources: The internal accelerometer in the watch, the accelerometer in the HRM-RUN, and a separate ANT+ footpod.

Each measurement place has minor pros and cons to it.  For example, on your wrist you’ll be prone to see small drops/spikes when you take a sip from a water bottle, or when you change the treadmill’s speed, as you’re impacting the motion detection there.

In my case, I’ve done a lot of comparison of data – and ultimately for cadence I see all three methods producing near identical results.  As I noted, the only variation I see is in a scenario without the HRM-RUN using just the internal accelerometer and doing something with your arms that impedes measurement.  But given that’s likely only a brief moment compared to your entire run, I’d really look to skip the footpod if your focus is cadence.

Swimming:

Garmin Fenix2 Swimming Pool

Probably the most significant addition to the Fenix2 is its ability to support swim tracking – both in a pool as well as in openwater.  The unit utilizes much of the same functionality as found within the Garmin FR910XT for swim tracking.  To enable swim mode, you’ll press the red button and go to Swim.  At which point, you’ll choose either Openwater or Pool.

Pool Usage:

Pool should be any pool, be it indoors or outdoors.  When in pool mode the unit uses internal accelerometers (not GPS) to determine your stroke and distance information.  It does this by knowing the pool length, and then measures each time you push off the wall at either end of the pool.  As such, inputting in the correct pool size is critical, which is why it’s the next question the unit will ask you:

Garmin Fenix2 Swimming Pool Size

The Fenix2 offers a few common pool sizes – like 25y/m, and 50m.  But it also allows you to create custom sizes.  Within this menu you can select any size between 18M/20Y and 150Y/M.

Garmin Fenix2 Swimming Pool Size Custom

With that set, it’s into the pool we go.  You’ll press the red button to start tracking.  Because the unit is using accelerometers, it’s important to keep activities strictly swim-focused while the unit is recording.  For example, if you stray to flirt with the life guards, pause the unit.  Especially if there’s a lot of arm flailing going on.  Same for jumping out and making a quick escape to the bathroom.

Garmin Fenix2 Swimming Pool Display Field

The unit has a number of swim related metrics it can display (see full listing in ‘Data Fields’ section later).  The core one most folks tend to use is swim pace, which is typically given in time: 100y or 100m depending on the pool length.  For example, you might have a pace of 1:30/100y.

Garmin Fenix2 Swimming Pool Display Field

In addition, the unit will track lengths (or straight distance, if you prefer), as well as time and splits.  In this case, a ‘lap’ is really more like an interval, as it’s the time since you last pressed the button ‘Lap’.

Garmin Fenix2 Swimming Pool Display Field

You can create these laps to separate out different chunks of the workout. For example, I would create a split/lap for my warm-up, and then another one for each segment of the workout (such as 10×100).  The lap button is used when you want to enter a rest break.  This will automatically create a rest on the unit visible later on Garmin Connect between the intervals:

Garmin Fenix2 Swimming Pool Charts

When on Garmin Connect, the unit will show your different sets, including paces for each one.  You can dive down into per-length splits if you want as well.  It’ll also attempt to identify the stroke.  In my case, I keep my stroke attempts to purely freestyle, so I can’t really comment on the accuracy of other stroke types.

 

Garmin Connect (as well as the unit) will also show metrics like SWOLF, which is literally derived from SWIM + GOLF, and assigns a score to the number of stokes for each length.  In my case, my pool is a bit messed up (dozen plus people per lane), so my SWOLF scores vary quite a bit depending on how many backstrokers I get stuck behind on any given length.

Garmin Fenix2 Swimming Pool Charts

Ultimately though I’m able to very easily and accurately track swimming with near 100% accuracy across many workouts.  The most important tip I can give on getting accurate results is to remember that everything the watch measures is based on motion.  Thus, making a crisp and firm push-off the wall each length is important (you can do either flip or open turns, it tracks both fine).  Additionally, stopping mid-length in the pool will confuse it.  Try and avoid that (seriously, people have e-mailed in to complain that other units don’t track their mid-pool stops).

Now, since my initial post exactly 30 days ago on the Fenix2, there’s been a lot of feedback around adding in the FR910XT’s ‘Swim Alerts’ (which enable alerts on things like time or distance while swimming), as well as adding in the Garmin Swim’s ‘Drill mode’.  I’m happy to report that the Fenix team has heard your feedback, and both will indeed be coming to the Fenix2.  Here’s a shot on a recent beta firmware showing the Swim Alert piece just starting to be coded in:

Garmin Fenix2 Swimming Pool Alert Mode

Finally, note that no Garmin watches support the creation of pre-defined workouts for swimming on Garmin Connect.  Meaning unlike running or cycling, you can’t create a workout on Garmin Connect and then transfer it to your unit to iterate through.

Openwater Usage:

Me exiting the water after freezing my ass off

Next, is openwater swimming (OWS).  This mode is for any outdoor body of water that’s not a pool.  For example, the ocean, a lake, or a river.  Generally speaking, the body of water should be non-frozen for a successful swim.

In this mode, the unit uses both the GPS as well as the accelerometer.  It uses the GPS portion to track distance, and uses the accelerometer to track stroke information.  It merges the two together for certain data fields.  In an openwater swim scenario, the GPS is constantly losing GPS signal each stroke (as it goes underwater) and then trying to regain it each stroke (above the water).  As such, the unit gets rather messy data to work with.  Data that might be off +/- 3-meters or 100-meters.  So instead of giving you a precise path, it gives more of an estimation.

Garmin Fenix2 Openwater Swimming

It looks at the general splatter of the direction of points and attempts to determine where you’re going and the distance associated with it.

While doing so, it’ll give you details such as pace and stroke rate as well as time and other common distance fields.  You can create laps if you’d like (such as at a buoy or turning point).

Garmin Fenix2 Openwater Swimming Pace Field

Because it’s still sorta winter in Europe, my time with openwater swim mode has been slightly limited.  I’ve had a couple of swims with the unit, but the most recent one has been a few weeks back in firmware.  Thus my testing is limited, and I’ve been told the algorithms have been further refined since then.

Garmin Fenix2 Openwater Swimming

Still, the results were generally positive.  For my tests I wore four units.  I used a Garmin FR910XT, Suunto Ambit 2, and then the Fenix2.  I then added a Garmin FR620 as a ‘reference’ distance onto a little swim buoy floating behind me.  This keeps the unit above the water at all times and records a perfect track of where I actually went to compare against the units on my wrist.

Garmin GPS Accuracy Testing while openwater swimming

Below, you can see the results of this:

Suunto Ambit2: .52mi
Garmin Fenix2: .68mi
Garmin FR910XT: .62mi
Garmin FR620 (REFERENCE): .58mi

Overall, the results are roughly about what I’d expect (sorry, it’s fuzzy, it looked much clearer in the camera lens when I came out of the water).

Garmin GPS Accuracy Testing while openwater swimming

In general, I look for about 10% error rate with openwater swim units, though at shorter distances it’s harder to assign a number as it usually starts to get closer the more you swim.  Sometimes it’s spot-on scary, but sometimes it’s a bit further away.  Thus, if using the unit on your wrist and then doing a race, don’t be upset when the distance don’t match.  In all likelihood, the swim course wasn’t measured correctly…and your unit didn’t measure it correctly on top of that.  It’s actually quite rare for most non-Ironman triathlon swim courses to be accurate.

When it comes to data afterwards on Garmin Connect, you’ll get maps of where you went (which are smoothed), as well as some basic information like stroke rate and distance/pace:

Garmin Fenix2 Openwater Swim Map

One strength of the Fenix unit is the much strengthened wrist strap.  I’ve often stated that I’d be hesitant to use some devices on the market in the swim start of a triathlon due to the band being somewhat fragile.  And ultimately, people have lost other units to the bottom due to such.  In the case of the Fenix2 however, I’d be reasonably impressed if you could snap it off.  The pins are beastly, and screwed in from both directions.  I think it would basically take getting run over by a boat to pull it off.  I suppose we’ll see by the end of the summer.

Cycling:

Garmin Fenix2 Cycling

The Fenix2 greatly extends the Fenix/Tactx cycling support, primarily in the area of power meter capabilities.  As part of adding full triathlon support, the cycling mode was further beefed up to include full ANT+ power meter compatibility, including the support of the latest left/right and related metrics for power meters from Garmin, ROTOR and others.

From a logistical standpoint, you can wear the Fenix2 either on your wrist, or on a bike mount for your bar.  Garmin sells a simple rubber one for $9 that fits the bill.  You can find a similar ones branded by other companies that all basically do the same thing.  For triathlon bikes, you can use a solution like the profile designs one seen here, or, some of the newer Barfly options (Universal Mount).

Garmin Fenix2 mounted to bike

When it comes to sensors, you can pair any ANT+ speed/cadence sensor, including both speed-only and cadence-only (as well as speed/cadence combo sensors).  This is done through the sensors menu:

Garmin Fenix2 Speed/Cadence Sensors

It’s in this area they you’ll define wheel size for usage either indoors or outdoors.  You’ll also see an option as to when to utilize the speed/cadence sensor.  This is somewhat interesting as this option isn’t found on most of the other Garmin cycling devices.

Garmin Fenix2 Speed/Cadence Sensors Settings

When it comes to power meter support, you can pair your ANT+ power via the sensors menu.

Garmin Fenix2 Power Meter Pairing

In doing so, you’ll also be able to set options including crank length (critical for Garmin Vector):

Garmin Fenix2 Power Meter Configuration

You can trigger calibration (zero offset) via this menu sub-area as well.

Within the power meter section you’ve also got the option to setup your power zones, as well as your FTP (Functional Threshold Power).  Setting the FTP on the device is critical to getting the same Training Peaks values on the device as you’ll get on Garmin Connect and Training Peaks.  For example, if I set my device to an FTP of 315w, but then I set Garmin Connect to 275w, I’ll see differences when I upload.

Garmin Fenix2 Power Meter Zone Setup

Speaking of which, the unit supports all of the power-meter driven Training Peaks values of TSS/NP/IF (Training Stress Score, Normalized Power, Intensity Factor):

Garmin Fenix2 Power Meter Data

When it comes to on-bike display, the unit allows you to select up to four fields to display concurrently on a single page.  And just about as many pages as you’d like.

Garmin Fenix2 Cycling Data Field Options

I cover all these later on in the ‘Data Fields’ section.  These data fields include the left/right power meters:

Garmin Fenix2 Left-Right Power Data

Indoors on a trainer, you can go into indoor mode for cycling, and thus disable the GPS and get speed/distance data from an ANT+ speed/cadence sensor:

Garmin Fenix2 Power Meter Data

Afterwards, on Garmin Connect, your data is available for you to view.  Or, you can take the .FIT file and upload it to any 3rd party site – such as Strava, Training Peaks, or Sport Tracks.

Garmin Fenix2 Power Meter Data Garmin Connect

Finally, it should be noted that the singular omission from the Fenix2 is the lack of bike profiles.  Meaning, you can’t have a road bike and a triathlon bike.  You’d have to re-pair the sensors for each one individually.  And unfortunately, there isn’t any mechanism to manually enter in the ANT+ ID’s like other Garmin Edge/Forerunner units.  So you’ll have to ensure no other cyclists are around when you make the switch and re-search for sensors.

Multisport Mode:

Garmin Fenix2 Multisport Mode

The core differentiator when it comes to a ‘multisport watch’ and a watch that happens to do multiple sports is the ability to have a multisport mode.  This is essentially a fancy term for ‘triathlon mode’, without making the duathletes feel insulted.  What it means though is that in a race (or training) you can seamlessly transition from Swim to Bike to Run (or, back to Swim) – all as a single cohesive activity.

The Fenix2, like the Garmin FR910XT/FR310XT/FR305, contains a multisport mode.  Within this mode you can take any of the different sport profiles (or your custom profiles) and mash together a multisport event.  Note however that at this time you cannot add a pool swim to multisport mode.

Garmin Fenix2 Multisport Mode Config

For example, the traditional swim/bike/run threesome:

Garmin Fenix2 Multisport Mode Enable Transitions

When in multisport mode, if you switch from swim to bike, then all your normal bike pages are displayed.  And then the same when you go from bike to run, then showing all your run pages.

You can specify whether or not to include transition times in this.  Note that as it stands today, upon uploading to Garmin Connect each of the sports are broken out individually into separate activities.

Garmin Fenix2 Multisport Mode Transitions

So the real benefit of using multisport mode is the quick transitions from sport to sport, and that it’ll show total time (such as in a race) from the first sport leg until that point.

Battery Life:

Of course, for many endurance athletes, the next question that follows is what does battery life look like.  The unit supports multiple battery modes.  At one end you’ve got 1-second recording with constant GPS on.  This is the mode that most athletes will want to be in, as it updates most frequently (every second).  This is especially true of anyone using a power meter, where 1-second data is critical for accurate analysis.

In 1-second mode (with GPS on and ANT+ sensors enabled), Garmin states about 16 hours with “good satellite reception”.

I’ve done two tests thus far that pushes the battery boundaries.  For both tests, I use the ANT+ simulator to simulate sensors being used.  In this case, I went with the ANT+ HR strap, but there’s no difference in battery consumption between one and multiple ANT+ sensors, it’s all the same.  Next, I completed two scenarios with the watch.  For the first, I placed the GPS inside, where I’ve got a GPS repeater hooked up outside a window.  It’s not super-great satellite, but it does the trick.

For this first test, I hit just over 15hrs of battery life (15:07:40).  The fact that I had less than ideal GPS coverage no doubt reduced my total time.  The unit automatically went into standby at 13% of battery.  The activity was saved, and I was able to resume it upon adding more battery.

Battery Life Test

For the second test, I put the GPS on top of my roof, and then connected a lanyard to it, as I was somewhat concerned the pigeons wouldn’t take it (seriously, these pigeons are vicious).  I changed though from using a HR simulator to the Tempe ANT+ accessory.  The reason for this was I was having some minor difficulties in ensuring clean ANT+ signal on the roof the entire time, which would adversely impact battery life.  I validated with Garmin that the battery burn profile between the Tempe ANT+ accessory (which I could leave next to the unit) and an ANT+ HR strap is identical from the Fenix2 standpoint.

Garmin Fenix2 Battery Life Test

For this test, I just left it up there all night long, and the battery lasted about the same – 15:00:10.  The unit automatically went into standby at 13% of battery.  The activity was saved, and I was able to resume it upon adding more battery.  For those curious, you’ll see a tiny shift in elevation as the pressure changes.  In my case – about 5ft in total.

image

So both of those modes are likely suitable for the vast majority of iron-distance athletes. If you need to increase battery-life for an Ironman to cover the maximum allotted time of 17hrs, you could reduce the GPS sampling rate for one of the sports.  I’d recommend lowering the rate for running, since the reality is that you’re walking the run if you’re finishing in 17-hours (simple math makes this a fact), and thus, it’s of less importance to have 100% up to the second data.  Though, you’d be losing any heart rate sensor data – since that isn’t enabled in UltraTrac mode.

Next, there’s the ultra-long battery mode, which gets the unit up to 55 hours of recording time.  In this mode, the unit samples GPS every 60-seconds.  This means that it only gets a GPS fix every minute, and records it then.  As such, this is not really ideal for running events, but is generally perfectly suitable for walking/hiking events.

Garmin Fenix2 UltraTrac options

To understand why this is the case, I’ve gone out and wore two Fenix units.  One with 60-second sampling, and one with 1-second sampling.  Then, I simply did a quick wander around the neighborhood and some of the curved little streets.  Here’s the results:

Garmin Fenix2 Sampling 1-second

Above, is normal GPS mode, which samples every second.  Whereas below is UltraTrac mode, which samples every 60-seconds on GPS by default.  Note this has nothing to do with recording rates.  It’s purely how often the GPS is enabled/polled.  You can configure UltraTrac for any polling interval you’d like – such as 20s, but how that impacts battery life isn’t fully clear.  However, be clear that in UltraTrac mode sensors are not enabled – so there is no ANT+ data.

In the normal mode above you can see my wanderings around the streets (and people/cars/busses).  However, below, you only see it picking up points every minute, cutting off entire sections of the route.  As a result, the distance was substantially less as well (.42mi vs .55mi).

Garmin Fenix UltraTrac

Finally, for those who really need even more battery – you can combine the Fenix2 with a portable battery charger, or solar charger.  This works with any device that simply provides a charge (but not a computer, which switches the modes).

Garmin Fenix2 Solar Battery

I’ve used both the little USB portable battery pack seen above, as well as the solar chargers sold by Garmin (made by PowerMonkey) at the end of the review.

Garmin Fenix2 Solar Battery

Note that you can indeed wear the unit while using the charging clip with the battery pack. One option would be to put the solar charger (or small USB charger) in a CamelBak/similar and then just run the cable down to your wrist. The other option (and probably what I’d do), would be to temporarily stick the watch + charger in my backpack for 45 minutes or so to let it charge. It’d still be running/recording, just would keep you from getting tangled in cables.

Custom Workout & Interval Support:

Garmin Fenix2 Workout Mode

The Fenix2 supports both the creation of custom workouts using a variety of parameters, as well as the use of simple interval workouts.

Starting with simple interval workouts, the Fenix2 can be setup on the fly from the watch itself to run you through a straight forward interval workout.  To do so, you’ll start from the Workout Menu, and then go into Intervals:

Garmin Fenix2 Interval Mode

From there you can simply start with the last interval workout you setup, or you can edit the workout. When you edit the workout you can define the work period (the part where you run hard), the rest period (the part where you lie on the ground gasping for breath), the repeats (how much pain), and then both a warm-up and cool-down.

Garmin Fenix2 Interval Config

For the work interval period, you can define it as either distance (miles/kilometers) or time, or, specify it simply as ‘open’, which means until you hit the lap button.

For the rest interval period, you’ve got the same options: Distance, time, and open.  The unit will combine the work + rest interval period together, and repeat them as many times as you’ve specified in the ‘repeat’ option.

Finally, for both warm-up and cool-down you can specify to turn it on or off.  There isn’t a pre-defined time with basic interval mode, it’s just until you hit the button again.

While in the workout the unit will walk you through each step and give you a countdown as you approach the next step.  It’ll automatically create laps for each segment of the workout, which can be reviewed later on Garmin Connect or any 3rd party app.

Next, we’ve got the much more advanced custom workout creation mode.  Within this mode, you can create an almost unlimited workout as far as complexity goes, with a slew of different steps and targets.  For example, you can specify cadence, pace, or heart rate targets, as well as durations including both time and distance.  Or, just until you’ve pressed the lap button to advance.

It’s easiest to create these workouts on Garmin Connect using a computer, and then transfer them to the watch using either your phone or a USB cable.  Here’s an example of a variation on an interval workout I created on Garmin Connect:

Garmin Connect Workout Creator

Once you’ve transferred the workout to the unit it’ll be available both on the unit as well as Garmin Connect forever.  So you can always come back and edit it later if need be.

Garmin Fenix2 Workout Selection

Note that you can’t edit the custom workouts on the unit itself, only from Garmin Connect.  But that’s reasonable, since it would be a bit of a mess to do so on the unit anyway.

Garmin Fenix2 Workout Targets

While in workout mode, the unit will walk you through each of the steps and the targets.  Now, at present there’s a bit of an odd bug where no matter what I define the step as (such as ‘Interval’ or ‘Rest’), it just spits it out as ‘Run’ on the screen.  Garmin is working on fixing this.  For my workout though, it still listed the targets (i.e. pace/cadence/HR), as well as times and distances.  Given I roughly knew the workout structure, I was able to easily figure out when I had to run, versus when I got to be lazy.

Note that workouts cannot be combined with multisport mode.

Finally, it’s worth noting that in addition to both interval mode as well as custom workouts, you can define basic ‘Alerts’ which are triggered when you hit certain criteria.  These alerts can be configured for any sport profile, based on the following attributes: Proximity, Distance, Time, Elevation, Navigational Arrival, Speed, Pace, Heart Rate, Cadence, and Battery.

Generally speaking, you can configure a minimum threshold, and a maximum threshold for most of the categories (such as heart rate).  The unit will beep and buzz when you go under/over those thresholds.

Mobile Connectivity (Live Tracking, Uploading, Text/E-mail Notifications, etc…):

Garmin Fenix2 Mobile Pairing

The Fenix2 builds slightly upon the mobile connectivity that was introduced in later beta firmware with the Fenix1 and Tactix units – which enables Bluetooth Smart connectivity to mobile devices for a variety of purposes.  This connectivity includes the ability to upload workouts, enable Live Tracking, as well as turn the Fenix2 into a smart watch with notifications from any phone app on your device.

As it stands today, mobile connectivity on the Fenix2 stems from three difference places:

Garmin Connect Mobile (App): Upload of completed workouts, download of scheduled workouts, Live Tracking, Transfer of courses
Garmin Basecamp (App): Creation of waypoints, viewing of tracks
Native OS notification functionality: Configuration of Fenix2 as a smart watch for notification alerts from any app (e-mail/text/phone/Instagram/etc…)

I’m going to briefly run through each one and the functionality.  Before that, it’s important to note that while the Fenix2 does contain Bluetooth connectivity, it requires a Bluetooth 4.0 or higher capable phone.  This is any iPhone 4S or higher, or any Android phone with Android operating system 4.3, as well as Bluetooth 4.0 on it.

When it comes to Bluetooth on the Fenix2, there’s a few modes you can configure it for.  These include leaving it on 24×7, enabling it only during an activity, enabling it only outside an activity, and enabling it briefly for sync only.  Because the Fenix2 wasn’t designed battery-wise for Bluetooth to remain on 24×7, you’ll likely want to focus on using it only to sync data, or for the period you’d want to use it for.  But more on that in a minute.

Garmin Connect Mobile:

Garmin Connect Mobile (GCM) is Garmin’s primary application for fitness focused devices to connect to phones, and integrate with Garmin Connect (the online site).  The app recently went through a bit of a refresh about a  month ago, which has increased the stability quite a bit after largely stagnating for a number months.

On the application itself, it’s roughly divided into four sections: Home, Community, Devices and LiveTrack.  Home is where you’ve got a bit of a dashboard into your overall Garmin Connect stats – dependent on which devices you’re using.  You can see some of these below:

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Next, there’s ‘Community’.  This is where you can look at people you follow and the most recent activities.  This is similar to how other social media communities work.  You can follow people, have them follow you, and restrict what they see.

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Then we’ve got ‘Devices’.  After we’ve paired up the Fenix2 to the phone, you’ll see it listed in the device settings.  It’s here we can also click on settings and configure whether to automatically upload completed activities to Garmin Connect.  Beyond this, there’s really not much more to configure specific to the Fenix2 itself:

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With that, let’s head over to ‘Live Tracking’.  This is where you can setup a live tracking session that allows others to follow your activity live.  This includes your location information, speed/pace information, as well as some basic splits.

When you setup a live tracking session, you can invite people who will receive a link to a site to track your activity.  Additionally, you can configure it to share on Facebook or Twitter.  Finally, you’ll see an option for ‘Extend Sharing’, this means that the ability to see your activity will last 24 hours, otherwise, it’ll end as soon as you end the activity. I recommend always setting this to ‘enabled’, otherwise your friends and family who joined late won’t be able to see anything.  Further, if you have a loved one following along they may become concerned when the page abruptly ends with no further information.

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Once you’ve configured your settings, you’ll go ahead and click ‘Start LiveTrack’, which will enable the session.  Note that this won’t actually start the activity.  It simply starts monitoring.  Folks can see a blue dot on a map of where you are, even before you start.  It’s at this point that the e-mail notifications/Tweets/Facebook posts go out.

After those have been sent, people can then click on the link which takes them to a page on Garmin’s site which shows them your current progress.

They can change from metric to statute, as well as zoom in on the map, switch it to satellite view and see some basic splits.

Note that in the case of the Fenix2/Tactix/Fenix1, you cannot concurrently stream ANT+ metrics like heart rate, power, or cycling cadence.  This because the chipset used in these watches does not allow both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart to be used at the same time.

Said differently: If you want to display/capture/record heart rate data (or any other ANT+ data sensor), you cannot enable Live Tracking of that session.  It’s one or the other.  It’s a physical hardware limitation that will not change with a software update.  Note that this is different from the Garmin FR220/FR620 & Edge 510/810, which do enable you to stream those metrics at the same time.

Once your activity is complete, you can save it on your watch and have it automatically transfer.  You do not need to enable Live Tracking to do so.  In fact, I rarely do, but I do use the upload functionality.  When you finish the activity you’ll see an option that says ‘Sync’.

When this option is selected, it’ll temporarily enable Bluetooth Smart on the watch and connect to your mobile phone to the Garmin Connect app to upload the workout.  This is perfect for folks (like me) who want to use ANT+ sensor data during a workout, but still want to briefly use Bluetooth Smart to upload the data afterwards via phone.

Garmin Fenix2 Mobile Sync

Now, the only catch here is that in my testing the upload process from the unit to the phone is incredibly slow.  For example, a 40 minute run (with HRM-RUN ANT+ data), it took approximately 20-30 minutes. [Note/Update: Other users are reporting much faster times, in the order of a minute or less, perhaps it's just me. Update 2: In the latest version, I've got my 2hr 30min run down to 8 minutes to upload...progress.]

In addition to uploading completed workouts, you can also transfer scheduled workouts to the Fenix2, as well as transfer pre-created courses.  Both of these must be created first on Garmin Connect – and then sent to the Fenix2 from the app.

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Lastly, by connecting to the Garmin Connect Mobile app, you’ll update the Fenix2’s satellite cache information, which allows it to quickly find satellites in a matter of seconds.

Garmin Basecamp:

Garmin Basecamp allows you to quickly create waypoints using online maps from your phone, and transfer those waypoints to the Fenix2 (or Fenix1/Tactix).  In addition, it allows you to look at tracks (saved courses) on your Fenix, as well as look at saved waypoints that have already been created on your unit.  Finally, it allows you to look at adventures from ‘Garmin Adventures’, which combine tracks (like hikes) with photos.

To start, you’ll need to kick your Fenix into Bluetooth enabled mode.  Then, you can search/scan from within the app to find the unit.  You’ll also want to sign into your Garmin Connect account, which enables you to save some items up to the ‘cloud’.

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Next, we’ll start with creation of an adhoc waypoint.  In this case I can choose to create a waypoint based on my exact location right now.  From there I can select an icon, choose a name, and also give it a description.  I can then push this immediately to the device, or save it for later use.

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I can also create a waypoint in another location – such as a few miles away, and repeat/do the same process there.

From the app I can pull up existing tracks on my device.  These are what Garmin Connect calls courses, and aren’t completed activities, but rather routes to follow.  Within this I can look at the track, zoom in, change the map type and even edit the name.  But I can’t edit the actual track itself.  It’s a look but don’t touch sort of thing.

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Finally, we’ve got Garmin Adventures.  This has been targeted at the hiking/outdoor segment, but allows you to combine a track/route with photos and other information for someone to follow.  Sorta like giving someone instructions with a photo book.  The app will automatically show you nearby Adventures, but you can also search other adventures.  You can pull up the photos from the adventure on the phone as well as any of the waypoints along the way.

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Once you’ve found an adventure you like, you can go ahead and transfer it to your device.  Once on the device, it’ll follow/navigate it like any other track (as discussed in the navigation section earlier).

Ultimately, the Garmin Adventures are ‘interesting’, but I’ve got the same complaint I did nearly two years ago: Why on earth isn’t it integrated into Garmin Connect?  It sits there like the bastard step child never really getting the attention it deserves.  I can only hope with the Garmin Connect overhaul there’s plans to pull it in, and integrate it.  In the mobile connected world, Garmin is leaving so much on the table here.  They could easily tie this into the phone app to allow folks to take photos, create an adventure and then send those to Garmin devices.  Tons of potential…none realized.

Smart Watch Mobile Notifications:

Finally, in addition to fitness focused functionality, you can configure the Fenix2 to display notifications from applications and OS services on your mobile device.  This includes everything from text message alerts, to e-mail alerts, to notifications that a friend has commented on a Facebook post.

You’ll simply pair the watch to your phone via the Bluetooth menu.  Once you’ve done that, you can enable the notifications prompt within the Fenix2:

Garmin Fenix2 Notifications

Apps then use the notification center to surface notifications to the Fenix2.  As noted before, this can be any application that you’ve enabled.  A notification can then trigger an audible alert, or a vibration alert.

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Garmin Fenix2 Twitter Alerts

The only challenge with this functionality is that the Fenix2 wasn’t really originally designed like a traditional low-power smart watch, from a Bluetooth notifications standpoint.  As such, the battery life here is about 24 hours in this mode.  So you’re basically charging it every day if you choose to leave Bluetooth enabled-on constantly.  For most folks, I’d recommend against this.

Android Notes: As of today, all of these functions in the mobile action are limited to iOS devices and do not yet work on Android.  Garmin is currently planning these to be enabled on Android devices in in a few different pieces:

- Garmin Connect Mobile Fitness Features: Live Track, EPO (Satellite Pre-Caching), Activity Upload, Course Download, Workout Download – ASAP, could be any day, or any week.

- Smart Watch Notifications: This is the notifications piece for things like text messages. This is slated for “Q2 2014”, so anytime between April and June.

- Basecamp functionality: You won’t likely see a specific separate Basecamp app on Android, but rather, see those features surface into an existing app.  Which, is something I’ve somewhat argued for, for some time.  The timeframe for this is also more Q2.

Garmin Connect Website:

As previously noted, Garmin Connect is Garmin’s activity tracking log and website.  It’s where all data from the Fenix2 ultimately gets funneled to.  While in the previous section I talked about the mobile uploads, I want to briefly talk about the new Garmin Express desktop app.  This app aims to quickly upload your completed workouts to Garmin Connect, as well as keep your device up to date.  The app had some initial first week teething pains back a few weeks ago, but seems largely functional when it comes to the Fenix2.

Garmin Fenix2 Charging

While the device is plugged in it’ll show you if you have any updates pending to install, as well as if any items were recently sync’d (or still to sync).  When the device isn’t plugged in, it’ll remind you to update the device – a way of ensuring the unit is kept up to date.

Garmin Express with Fenix2

It’s from here that you can associate it to your Garmin Connect account, look at how full the storage is, and also transfer additional languages to it.

Garmin Express with Fenix2 Languages

While Garmin Express takes care of the ‘dirty work’ of uploading the files to Garmin Connect, you can still easily access the raw .FIT or .GPX files should you wish to.  For example, if you wanted to upload them to Strava or Training Peaks.  These are accessible just like any other USB thumb drive’s data would be, via the ‘Activity’ folder under ‘Garmin’.  These files work with pretty much any 3rd party application out there without issue.

Garmin Fenix2 Fit Files

Now that we’ve got the data up to Garmin Connect, I’ll give you a super-quick rundown.  I say quick, because I’ve been sprinkling parts of it throughout the review already in the relevant sections.  Further, as it stands today Garmin is part-way through a large overhaul of the platform, so showing you how it looks today will likely literally change next week.  In any case, here goes.

To start, you’ve got your main dashboard.  This is where you can see an overview of various activities and connections you’ve made (like social networks).

Garmin Connect Dashboard

Then diving into a given activity you’ll get an overview of all your stats for that particular run/bike/hike/swim.  Along the left is summary information, whereas the right is graphs/charts, and maps.

Garmin Connect Run Detail

You can click on any given chart to expand it, which allows you to also snip certain sections to zoom in on.

Garmin Connect Run Detail Elevation

Down lower along the left you’ve got your laps/splits (either via auto-lap or via manual lap button pressing), as well as details from the Running Dynamics components.

Garmin Connect Run Detail Graphs

Finally, towards the bottom you’ll see the device that was used, along with the firmware, as well as whether or not elevation correction was turned on.  In the case of the Fenix2, it will rarely make sense to turn on elevation correction, since it comes from a barometric altimeter.  However, at the moment there’s a bug with GC2 that doesn’t enable you to turn it off (nor, does it enable you to turn it on for devices that should need it).  There’s also a visible bug in the temperature, which appears to be showing Celsius but with a Fahrenheit label (well, actually, a Fahrenheit label and a random question mark…so even it knows it’s confused).

Garmin Connect Run Detail Temp and GCT

Despite it’s bugginess in the current migration from GC1 to GC2, Garmin Connect generally does a good job at showing you the main stats on a run, ride, or swim.  You can change mapping platforms between Google and Bing, so that you can find and see maps that make the most sense for your area.  You can also export data from here, though I wouldn’t recommend doing that, as some of the data (such as Running Dynamics) isn’t included.  Rather, I’d take the raw file off of the Fenix2 instead.

Garmin VIRB integration:

Garmin Fenix2 and VIRB

The Fenix2 follows in the footsteps of the original Fenix and includes the ability to control the Garmin VIRB & VIRB Elite action cameras.  The Fenix controls the devices via ANT+, thus, the mode is not compatible with Bluetooth Smart enabled.  You can access the VIRB control via the Menu button, which allows you to search for a VIRB and control it.

Garmin Fenix2 and VIRB Control Photo

Note that you’ll need to set the VIRB to be remotely controlled.  Once you’ve done so, you’ll have to basic options from the Fenix2.  First is that you can take a photo.  To do so, you’ll simply tap the left hand down button, which triggers the camera about .5 to 1.0 seconds later.  The VIRB will follow any of the photo settings you’ve previously defined (i.e. burst mode, etc…).

You can also start and stop video recording from the Fenix2.  To do that, you’ll press the start (red) button.  Once the unit starts, it’ll display a counter showing you the recording time.  You’ll also see the camera light turn to red.

Garmin Fenix2 and VIRB Control Video

The feature is particularly handy on a bike, especially if you don’t have a Garmin Edge unit (which can also control the VIRB) to trigger the camera.  I only wish we’d see VIRB control also implemented on some of the other Garmin high-end running watches, such as the FR620.  It would only seem like an easy and logical move to increase adoption of the Garmin VIRB.

Ski-Board Mode:

Garmin Fenix2 Ski-Board Mode

The Fenix2 includes a new mode called ‘Ski-Board’, which automatically calculates and tracks skiing/snowboarding runs based on when you board a chairlift.

I previewed this when it first came out last year for the Fenix1 (and before it had a trendy name), but since then Garmin has been chugging away adding a number of features in this area.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to fit in a skiing trip in the last 6 or so weeks, thus, I haven’t had a chance to test it (but one reader did this weekend and noted it worked flawlessly).  Nonetheless, here’s the low-down on the core features, which is known as ‘Ski-Board’ mode in the menu.

Ski Mode Run Detection: Each time you get off the lift and start to ski, it’ll automatically create a new lap within the unit.  In addition, there is a run counter, which shows you how many runs you’ve completed.

3D Speed and Distance: As I covered in my post last year, this mode takes into account the horizontal and vertical components within the speed and distance calculations – basically accounting for the drop in vertical.

Ski Mode Auto Pause: This will automatically pause the time and distance of the track file when you are sitting on a ski lift.

Ski Pages Know When On Lift: While on the lift, the unit will automatically switch to showing you stats about your last run, rather than just stats about the chair lift.

Beyond these core features they’ve also added in more ski-specific data fields, such as total vertical drop and run-specific details around max speed, vertical drop, etc….

As you noticed at the very beginning of this post, the unit includes a fabric extender strap – which is specifically designed to fit over bulkier winter jackets, typically worn while skiing or snowboarding (unless you’re in Dubai of course).  Hopefully I’ll be able to sneak in a quick getaway at some point to get some skiing in, though, at the moment my travel schedule doesn’t look good for cold-weather locales.

Garmin Fenix2 Navigation

When the Fenix lineup was originally introduced nearly two summers ago, it was built as though it was a hiking/navigation watch, ideally suited for multi-day treks on non-paved terrain.  In fact, the team building the Fenix isn’t even part of the Fitness division at Garmin, but rather, part of the Outdoor division – which traditionally focuses on ruggedized handheld units.  Of course, over time the Fenix has grown to be more fitness-minded, adding in the swim/bike/run components we see now in the Fenix2.  But at its core, the Fenix2 hasn’t removed any of the navigation/hiking/trekking features that it started with or picked up along the way.

Waypoints/POI’s:

The Fenix enables you to navigate to predefined or ad-hoc waypoints, which are simply recorded locations.  When you navigate to a waypoint, the unit takes the most direct route – like the crow would fly (assuming the crow isn’t drunk).  It’s not like a car GPS that navigates based on known streets/trails (more on that in a bit).  This is just point to point.

You can create waypoints either offline (using a computer), or via your phone, or directly on the unit itself.  On the unit itself you can either program in coordinates, or if you’re staying at the spot you want to save for later reference, you can create that as a waypoint then.  To create waypoints using a computer you’ll use either Garmin Basecamp or Garmin MapSource.  To create waypoints using a phone, you’ll use Garmin Basecamp mobile.  I cover how the mobile piece works later in the mobile section.

Once you’ve placed the waypoint on the device you can pull it up via “Navigate | Waypoints”.  Or, if you want to navigate to a set of coordinates, then “Navigate | Coordinates”.

Garmin Fenix2 Navigation Waypoint Entry

Once you do this, you’ll see a list of saved waypoints that you can select.  After selecting a given point, you can pull up additional information about it as previously defined, or you can navigate to it.

Garmin Fenix2 Navigation Waypoint Selection

Garmin Fenix2 Navigation Waypoint Selection Details

When navigating to a waypoint you’ll be given a compass that you can use to follow the dots along the edge to the location.  Further, you can also engage the map as well (more on that in a bit).

Garmin Fenix2 Navigation Waypoint Map

Note that the compass in the unit is a magnetic compass, and thus would orient itself based on the direction it’s being held.  This is different from a digital compass, which requires you to actually make forward progress to determine the direction you’re going.

Routes:

In addition to navigating straight to a waypoint, you can also navigate along routes.  Routes are simply breadcrumb trails that you’ve loaded onto the device to follow.  Routes can be breadcrumb style, or a combination of direct-to-waypoint courses.  You can load these routes via a number of methods, from phone to a multitude of Garmin desktop-based apps.  For this section, I’m going to stick with the desktop app side of things.  However, down in the mobile section I talk more about those options there.

In order to create the routes, I generally use Garmin Connect (web site).  While I could use Garmin Basecamp (desktop app), or Garmin MapSource (desktop app), or 3rd party options, I find that Garmin Connect is the quickest and simplest.  Further, unlike Basecamp/Mapsource, I can use Google/Bing maps and satellite imagery, which makes it much easier.  While Garmin Connect is in a bit of a transition phase right now, you’re ultimately looking for the ‘Courses’ option, and then select to create a new course.

Garmin Fenix2 with GC Courses

Once you do that you can simply connect the dots, choosing to follow roads or not.  Obviously, if off-road on trails, you’ll probably not want to follow roads.

Garmin Connect Course Outline

Once you’re done, you’ll simply select to ‘Send to device’, and then select the Fenix2.  Alternatively, you could save the route/tracks (I’d do that anyway), and then transfer it from your phone directly – no USB required.  No matter which way you choose, once you get it on the device it’ll all look the same.  To access it, you’ll go to ‘Navigate’ and then choose the option to “Navigate | Tracks”, which enumerates up any courses sent to it from Garmin Connect.

Garmin Fenix2 Track Navigation

From there you can select one of the saved tracks.  When you do so, you’ll be brought to an overview page where you can get details on the track, including a map of where it is, as well as navigate to it.

Garmin Fenix2 Track Navigation

When you navigate along a given track you can customize different pages to show various navigational metrics, such as your ETA or distance remaining.

Garmin Fenix2 ETE

The map screen will show a dashed line for the route, which you can see below going upwards and then across the river:

Garmin Fenix2 Map Route

Meanwhile, on the compass, the two dots along the edge will indicate the direction of your next waypoint.  You’ll simply line these up with the marker at the top of the screen near the word ‘Garmin’ to head in the right direction.

Garmin Fenix2 Compass

Basic Maps

Finally, the Fenix2 retains the Fenix lineup’s ability to load a basic map onto it.  This feature was rarely (if ever) advertised, and even less information about how to accomplish it.  My goal here isn’t to provide a full technical overview of how to do so.  There are other, more capable, instruction sets out there already.  Rather, just to make you aware that you can do it.

The maps are available freely from 3rd party sources, though, you could technically load a paid map from Garmin.  Given the data quality though that the Fenix2 is able to present, I’m not 100% clear on the value of buying maps for the unit (versus using free ones).  At a high level, these are the steps to get the maps onto the Fenix2:

1) Install Garmin MapSource  application (PC)
2) Download applicable maps from free 3rd party site
3) Use 7-Zip (or similar tool) to unzip maps to a temporary directory (i.e. Desktop\Maps)
4) Open temporary directory, use Maps Installer (see Step #2 for instructions).
5) Open Garmin MapSource application
6) Zoom in, and select tile area of interest, click Transfer > Send to Device
7) On the Fenix2: Add the ‘Maps’ data page to your data fields, via settings menu

Again, these are the high level steps, and this isn’t meant to be a tutorial or troubleshooting locale for loading maps onto the Fenix2.  The Fenix2 has the same amount of space as the Fenix1, about 25MB. In general, map sizes are 1-3MB at these resolutions.  For my entire region (Paris) of a diameter of about 50-miles, it was about 1MB.

In any case, once loaded onto the Fenix2 you’ll be able to access them after adding the ‘Maps’ data page to any of your sport profiles.  Once done, the maps page will show up, with the Etch-a-Sketch style map visible:

IMG_0781

You can zoom in by briefly holding down the Menu button, which activates Zoom/Pan options.  In cases where you’re navigating a track, or, if you want to see where a waypoint is, you can display those on the map.

Ultimately, given the black and white display, and more importantly, the low-resolution of it, I find little usefulness in how it’s implemented today.  That said, down the road in a future generation I suspect they’ll eventually transition to a color display, which would ultimately provide more value.

Day to Day Watch Functionality:

IMG_0439

The Fenix2 can be used easily as a day to day watch.  With Bluetooth disabled, the watch can go weeks in non-GPS mode.

The unit’s home/default screen can be customized in a variety of styles to show different information, from the sunrise to moonrise, and from the day of week to the time of day in multiple formats.

Garmin Fenix2 Data Option

In addition, you can create multiple alarms.  Alarms can be one-time affairs, or recurring alarms.  In the case of recurring, you can configure it for daily or weekday alarms.

Garmin Fenix2 Alarms

When an alarm triggers, you can specify whether you want it to be ‘Tone only’, ‘Vibration only’, both, or message display only.

Garmin Fenix2 Timers

Finally, the unit also supports the timer function (simple start/stop, as well as reset, notification, and auto restart), a simple stopwatch function (including lap support).  Also in this menu area of the watch is the ability to configure alternate time zones.

Fenix2 Sensor Supportability:

Garmin Fenix2 Sensors

Below is a consolidated list of the different sensor types that the Fenix2 supports today.  I’ve covered virtually all of these sensor types in this first chunk elsewhere in the review.  But this just consolidates them a bit:

- Running Footpod (ANT+)
- Heart Rate strap & HRM-RUN strap (ANT+)
- Cycling Power Meter (ANT+)
- Speed/Cadence Combo, Speed-Only, Cadence-Only (all ANT+)
- Chirp Geocache Sensor (ANT+)
- Tempe Temperature Sensor (ANT+)

Now, while it does support all the above ANT+ accessories, there are a few things it doesn’t support on the sensors side.  The first is it doesn’t support Bluetooth Smart sensors (i.e. a Bluetooth Smart heart rate strap).  It also won’t support any non-ANT+ HR straps, such as ones from Polar or Nike.  And then there’s a few things on the ANT+ side it doesn’t support either, including both weight scales and gym equipment.  Given Garmin has moved away from supporting either of those in recent products, that’s probably not too much of a surprise.

To sum it up, the following are NOT supported on the Fenix2:

- Any Bluetooth Smart sensors (BLE)
- Weight Scales (ANT+)
- Gym Equipment (ANT+)
- Polar straps of any sort
- Nike/Nike+ straps of any sort

I don’t anticipate to see any of those sensors not currently supported, being supported in the future.  The one potential exception could be weight scale – merely because there’s still a small but vocal number of folks who have previously invested in ANT+ weight scales that request it often.

Data Fields, Pages, and Customization:

Garmin Fenix2 Data Customization

The Fenix2 offers a multitude of ways you can customize it, dependent primarily on which sport profiles you’re using.  Within the unit it contains a set of default sport profiles.  These profiles are as follows:

Profiles: XC Ski, Ski-Board, Mountaineer, Hike, Navigate, Trail Run, Run, Bike, Swim Open Water, Swim Pool, Workout (Interval or Custom), Indoor Run, Indoor Bike, Indoor Custom, Indoor Workout, Multisport

In addition to these profiles, you can create up to three custom profiles with a name of your choosing.  It could be called “Kayaking” or “Cowtipping”, totally up to you.

Each of these profiles in turn contains data pages.  These data pages contain data fields.  Each data page contains up to four pieces of information (fields).  You can have almost limitless data pages (no specific number was given, but the Fenix team has tested into the dozens of pages).

Here’s an example of a four-field page:

Garmin Fenix2 Data Pages - Four Fields

A three field page:

Garmin Fenix2 Data Pages - Three Fields

And a two and one field page:

Garmin Fenix2 Data Pages - Two Fields

Garmin Fenix2 Data Pages - One Field

Some pages can also have graphs, such as this:

Garmin Fenix2 Data Pages - Graphs

You can customize any of the sport profiles (in-box or custom) with any pages you’d like.  And in turn, any fields you’d like.  The following fields are available for you to select from (click to zoom):

image

Finally, there are a number of other areas that you can customize in the watch.  To cover all of them all would take pages upon pages.  But, here’s the most commonly requested items:

Sounds/Vibrations: Whether there are beeps/buzzes for everything from pressing buttons to notifications to alerts to the alarm clock.

Display: You can tweak how long the backlight stays on (and how bright it is), as well as the contrast.

Time Related: You can change how the default time page on the unit looks, as well as which format (i.e. 12hr or 24hr), as well as the date, or even if seconds are displayed on the default page.  Or whether sunrise/sunset times are displayed, or the date.  Tons of flexibility.  Finally, you can either go with automatic time zone, or override it to stay in a specific time zone.

Language: You can change the language to a slew of different languages.

Units: You can separately specify each how Distance, Pace/Speed, Elevation, Weight, Height, Depth, Temperature, Pressure, and Vertical Speed are displayed, with respect to metric or statute formats for each one.  For example, you could show distance in kilometers, but elevation in feet.

There’s many more little settings in there, from the GPS update mode, to alerts to data recording rate and whether distance and elevation is recorded in standard mode or 3D mode, to the method the compass displays degrees.  But the above covers the common requests.

Updating the Firmware:

Garmin Fenix2 Firmware Updates

The Fenix2 supports the ability to have its firmware updated.  This allows Garmin to both fix/address bugs, as well as introduce new features.

The Fenix team falls under the Outdoor division at Garmin, not the traditional Fitness division that devices like the Garmin Forerunner and Edge units come from.  Historically speaking looking at the first generation Fenix unit, the Fenix team has introduced a stunning number of updates and feature enhancements.  Even as recently as a week ago it was still getting new feature updates – for a product released nearly 2 years ago.  Hopefully that trend will continue with the Fenix2 and expansion of new features and bug fixes over time.

Updating the firmware can be done via Garmin Express, or Garmin Web Updater – both on a computer.  Additionally, the Garmin Connect Mobile app will also notify you of firmware updates to be installed.

Generally speaking the update process only takes 1-3 minutes, and is painless.  I haven’t seen a scenario yet in the last 4-5 weeks where I had to re-setup my settings or configuration.  All of that has been kept.

Bugs and Miscellaneous:

Garmin Fenix2 Bugs

As I’ve been doing on all reviews over the past year or so, I’ve been including a section on bugs and/or issues that I’ve seen within my timeframe using the unit.  Do remember that  a ‘bug’ is different than ‘by design’.  For example, the lack of a feature is something I highlight within a given section is considered ‘by design’, whereas something not really working right is considered a bug. In the case of the Fenix2, such bugs fall into one of two categories: The device, and the platform (app/site).

Looking at the device side of things, the Fenix team continues to be mind-bogglingly efficient at resolving anything and everything I see bug-wise.  Thus, after having the unit for well over a month now, any bug I’ve raised they’ve fixed.  They’ve also added many (almost every) feature/tweak that I’ve requested.  The vast majority of these feature requests were really requests coming from you (readers).

Now, there are a few areas that are potential grey-area bugs, where it’s likely a situation that they can’t do much about:

1) Phone upload times: This just takes a month of Sunday’s to transfer the file via Bluetooth to the phone.  I don’t think this is so much a bug, as just a case of ‘it is what it is’. Update: This has been improved dramatically in the months since my initial review.

2) Saving a workout: Same thing here as well, this takes forever.  In the grand scheme of life it’s not a big deal, but to wait a few minutes (or more) to simply save a workout can be a touch bit annoying. Update: This has been improved dramatically in the months since my initial review.

3) Swim does not show rest periods on Garmin Connect: This is part Fenix dependent, and part Garmin Connect dependent. Either way, it’s not showing the rest time (Added post-review).

Beyond that though, the device is really solid from what I’ve tested.  Note that it’s slightly challenging however in that the Fenix team has been iterating versions quite quickly – so re-checking every single item on firmware released as often as yesterday is impossible for me.

Next, we’ve got the app.  On the mobile app side, I’m just not seeing any issues functionality-wise there with respect to the Fenix2.  It simply works, from my use of the iOS app.  There’s the slowness piece on transfer I noted above, but beyond that – it all works.

Lastly, we’ve got Garmin Connect (the site).  I talked about this a fair bit last week in my Vivofit review.  As it stands right now, things are a bit of a mess in Garmin Connect.  They launched a new Garmin Connect interface about a month ago, and it’s still pretty rough.  In general, if you stay within the ‘classic’ mode, you’ll largely be fine.  And in due time this will sort itself out.  But for now, they need one of those 1990’s style ‘Under Construction’ blinky icons that web pages used to display.

Again, this doesn’t mean this is all the bugs out there.  These are just the ones I saw during my use.  As a single person I can’t possible test every possible feature in every possible combination to reproduce every possible scenario.  Sure, I’d love to – but companies have entire teams of testers and they still miss things.  So I do the best I can to note what I’ve seen above.  If you have bugs, please post them to the Garmin Forums, or report them to Garmin.  That’s the correct channel to get them fixed.

Comparison Tables:

Before we wrap things up I’ve put together the comparison charts of all the features of the Fenix2 and original Fenix, compared to the Garmin FR910XT, and Suunto Ambit 2 (closest competitors).  You can of course create your own comparison tables using this link with any of the products I’ve previously reviewed/looked at, such as adding in the new Polar V800, which is Polar’s upcoming tri watch.

Function/FeatureGarmin Fenix2Garmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated July 16th, 2014 @ 10:17 amNew Window
Price$399$299 (on sale)$319$399.00
Product Announcement DateFeb 20, 2014JUL 10, 2012APR 29, 2013OCT 4, 2011
Actual Availability/Shipping DateMarch 2014AUG 2012May 2013JAN-APR 2012
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYesYes
Data TransferUSB & Bluetooth SmartUSB & Bluetooth SmartUSBANT+ Wireless
WaterproofingYes - 50mYes - 50mYes - 100mYes - 50m
Battery Life50 Hours50 hours50 hours20 Hours
Recording Interval1S to Variable1s to variableVariable1s or Smart
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerYesYes (as of Feb 2014)YesNo
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatGoodGreatGreat
AlertsVibrate/Sound/VisualVibrate/Sound/VisualSound/VisualVibrate/Sound/Visual
Backlight GreatnessGreatGreatGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceNoNoYesNo
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)NoNoNoNo
ConnectivityGarmin Fenix2Garmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNoNoVia Wahoo Fitness Adapter
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingYesYesNoVia Wahoo Fitness Adapter
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)YesYesNoNo
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)YesYes (as of Feb 2014)NoNo
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoNoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNoNo
CyclingGarmin Fenix2Garmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Designed for cyclingYesYesYesYes
Power Meter CapableYesNoYesYes
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsYesN/AYesYes
Power Meter TSS/NP/IFYesN/ANoYes
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesYes (full support added Sept 2013)YesYes
RunningGarmin Fenix2Garmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Designed for runningYesYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)YesYesYes (internal accelerometer)Yes
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)YesNoNoNo
VO2Max EstimationYesNoYesNo
Race PredictorYesNoNoNo
Recovery AdvisorYesNoYesNo
Run/Walk ModeYes (Added June 13th, 2014)NoNoYes
SwimmingGarmin Fenix2Garmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Designed for swimmingYesNoYesYes
Openwater swimming modeYesN/AYesYes
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingYesN/AYesYes
Record HR underwaterNoNoNoNo
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YesN/AYesYes
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YesN/AYesYes
Indoor Drill ModeYesN/AYesNo
Indoor auto-pause featureNoN/ANoNo
Change pool sizeYesN/AYesYes
Indoor Min/Max Pool Lengths18m/20y to 150y/mN/A5m/y to 1,200m/y20m/22y to 100y/m
Ability to customize data fieldsYesN/AYesYes
Can change yards to metersYesN/AYesYes
Captures per length data - indoorsYesN/AYesYes
Indoor AlertsYesN/ANoYes
TriathlonGarmin Fenix2Garmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Designed for triathlonYesNoYesYes
Multisport modeYesN/AYesYes
WorkoutsGarmin Fenix2Garmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYes (As of Dec 6, 2013)NoYes
On-unit interval FeatureYesYes (As of Dec 6, 2013)BarelyYes
Training Calendar FunctionalityYes (Added June 13th, 2014)NoNoNo
FunctionsGarmin Fenix2Garmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Auto Start/StopYesYesYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureYesYesNoYes
Virtual Racer FeatureNoNoNoYes
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)NoNoNoNo
Day to day watch abilityYesYesYesNo
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataYesYesNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)YesYesNoNo
GeocachingYesYesNoNo
Weather Display (live data)NoNoNoNo
NavigateGarmin Fenix2Garmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)YesYesYesYes
Markers/Waypoint DirectionYesYesYesNo
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNoNoNo
Back to startYesYesYes (added Aug 30, 2013)Yes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNoNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitYesYesNoNo
SensorsGarmin Fenix2Garmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Altimeter TypeBarometricBarometricBarometric, GPS (FusedAlti)Barometric
Compass TypeMagneticMagneticMagneticGPS
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Footpod CapableYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Power Meter CapableYesNoYesYes
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoNoYes
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoNoYes
ANT+ Remote ControlYesYesNoNo
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNoNo
Di2 Shifting IntegrationNoNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoNoNoNo
Temp Recording (internal sensor)YesYesYesNo
Temp Recording (external sensor)YesYesNoNo
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsNoNoYesYes
SoftwareGarmin Fenix2Garmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
PC ApplicationBasecampBasecampMoveslink AgentGTC/ANT Agent
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectMovescountGarmin Connect
Phone AppiOS now, Android SoonGarmin Basecamp (iOS)Suunto MovescountGarmin Fit
Ability to Export SettingsNoYes (profiles XML)Yes (online)No
PurchaseGarmin Fenix2Garmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerGarmin Fenix2Garmin FenixSuunto Ambit2Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLink

The tables are updated dynamically and thus if/when things change that’s represented automatically in this section.  And again, remember you can create your own charts easily here with any product you’d like.

Which watch?

Garmin Fenix2 and FR910XT Comparison

Trying to decide which watch makes the most sense?  Well, there’s a lot of options on the market today, and almost all of them have a compromise in one way or another.  There actually isn’t yet the ‘perfect’ device in terms of taking advantage of all the technology advancements we’ve seen in the last 6-12 months.  Instead, the picture is still a bit fragmented.  That said, let’s look at the options in the same general price range:

Garmin FR910XT: Up until the Fenix2, this has been the most powerful triathlon watch on the market.  There’s no two ways about that.  The Fenix2 coming along snuggles up next to the Garmin FR910XT, but doesn’t actually blow it out of the water.  It adds areas like Bluetooth Connectivity – but at the cost of concurrent ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart (like the FR220/FR620).  It also adds/has integration with a slew of devices that the FR910XT doesn’t support (i.e. VIRB, Tempe, Chirp), as well as Ski-Board mode and navigation capabilities that far exceed the 910XT.  However, it does lack some smaller features currently, such as ANT+ weight scale integration.  For those with a FR910XT already, who are primarily using it just for swim/bike/run, I’d probably stick with the FR910XT.  However, if you wanted greater navigational features, Running Dynamics, or Bluetooth upload support – then I’d look more closely at the Fenix2.  Ultimately, there won’t be a direct FR910XT successor this triathlon season, so the options you see on the table now in this price range – are the options that are available for the season.

Polar V800: Polar launched the V800 back in January, with the unit set to hit retailers later this spring (looks like May at the moment).  The V800 is purely Bluetooth Smart only, so there’s no ANT+ support for folks with existing accessories/sensors.  The exact specifications of the unit in a triathlon configuration remain somewhat murky though.  Initial plans around swim functionality (lap tracking, etc…) have been pushed to “later in 2014”, and many of the planned phone and navigation features have suffered a similar fate.  The unit’s built-in 24/7 activity tracker is a huge market differentiator to other devices on the market, however, the implementation of the device remains to be seen.  At this point, I really can’t make a recommendation one way or another on the V800, simply because I don’t know yet what’s going to be included within the unit upon initial availability this spring (and my recent repeated asks have gone unanswered).  And ultimately, that makes a huge difference in determining whether it’s basically just a waterproof Polar RC3 with Bluetooth Support/Activity Tracker, or if it’s a major new competitor in the market.

Suunto Ambit 2/2S: Suunto makes what is today the most direct competitor to the Fenix/Fenix2.  Like the Fenix, the Ambit started off in the hiking/navigation realm, and like the Fenix2, it wandered into the triathlon scene with the Ambit 2/2s.  From a swim/bike/run standpoint, the Ambit 2/2S is a very capable unit for racing and training.  It contains the ability to load small ‘apps’ onto it, developed for the Ambit.  Though, it lacks any of the Bluetooth capabilities, thus mobile connectivity is out.  From a hiking standpoint, it contains many of the same core features as the Fenix2, though most would argue that the Fenix lineup has a greater breadth of features.  Whether or not you (or most) need some of those features like ‘Man Overboard’ or ‘Area Calculation’ is likely a valid question to ask.

Garmin FR620: Let’s be clear up front, the FR620 is not a triathlon watch, and it never will be.  It’s a runner’s watch – and that’s it.  A really darn good one, but, still, not a device aimed at either triathletes or a hikers.  It doesn’t contain a barometric altimeter, or any of the navigational capabilities of the Fenix2 (or FR910XT).  it does however allow you to concurrently utilize Bluetooth Smart and ANT+, which means you can do Live Tracking while still using ANT+ sensors.  And that in and of itself is a huge thing.  While the unit will gain a cycling mode with ANT+ speed/cadence sensor support later this spring as part of a firmware update, however, Garmin has confirmed the FR620 won’t be getting any navigation related features this spring.

TomTom Multisport: The TomTom unit is a good option, but it’s also not really in the same price range as what we’re talking about.  It also lacks all of the advanced features.  If you were to put together a detailed feature matrix (even beyond what I have in the comparison tables), you’d find that the TomTom unit has about 5-10% of the total features of the Fenix2.  Now, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good triathlon unit – as it is.  Rather, the TomTom unit isn’t a good navigational/hiking/ultra type unit – it simply isn’t targeted there.  And that’s perfectly fine.

Summary:

Garmin Fenix2 connected via Bluetooth Smart to phone

Make no doubt about it, I’m impressed with where the Garmin Fenix team has brought the Fenix over the last 2 years, culminating in the Fenix2.  Many triathletes have asked Garmin to make a watch that doesn’t look like a bulky computer on their wrist, but still does all the swim/bike/run goodness.  Now they (mostly) have that.  By the same token, understand that there are tradeoffs right now in what the Fenix2 offers, especially around Bluetooth Connectivity.

The industry is simply in a slightly awkward phase where there’s a lot of new technology integration partly implemented and coming, but getting it all in one single killer device seems to be a bit elusive.  When I look at ‘new technology integration’, I’m talking about integrated Bluetooth & ANT+ support (concurrently), integrated activity monitor/tracker (24×7), optical heart rate, and phone apps that not only simply pair to the device – but extend the functionality.  In many ways, for any device on the market today you’re going to have to make some sacrifices.

But at the end of the day, I feel it’s better to pick a device that fits 90% of the bill today, rather than wait a season or two for a device that does it all (or, does it all until you learn about some new ‘must-have’ feature).  After all, if the theory is that the device improves your training and thus your results (or simply brings joy), then waiting simply delays those training benefits.  Which isn’t to say you should or shouldn’t pick the Fenix2.  As the previous section outlined, there’s a lot of great devices on the market – all of them will help you train quite well.  It’s the details that differentiate them.  Hopefully, this post and its few thousand words on details helped illuminate those key device differences.

Found this review useful? Or just want a good deal? Here’s how:

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers exclusive benefits on all products purchased.  By joining the Clever Training VIP program you get a bunch of money-saving benefits, which you can read about here.  By doing so, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get to enjoy the significant partnership benefits that are just for DC Rainmaker readers. And, since this item is more than $75, you get free 3-day US shipping as well.

Garmin Fenix2 without HR strap
Garmin Fenix2 bundle with HRM-RUN heart rate strap (simply select from dropdown)

Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the Fenix2 or accessories (though, no discount). Or, anything else you pickup on Amazon helps support the site as well (socks, laundry detergent, cowbells). If you’re outside the US, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top.

As you’ve seen throughout the review there are numerous compatible accessories for the unit. I’ve consolidated them all into the below chart, with additional information (full posts) available on some of the accessories to the far right. Also, everything here is verified by me – so if it’s on the list, you’ll know it’ll work. And as you can see, I mix and match accessories based on compatibility – so if a compatible accessory is available at a lower price below, you can grab that instead.

AccessoryManufacturerStreet PriceAmazon LinkClever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programMore Info
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 2nd, 2014 @ 3:46 am
PowerTap G3 ANT+ Power Meter (Full Wheelset)CycleOps/PowerTap$999 (full wheelset)LinkLinkLink
PowerTap G3 ANT+ Power Meter (Hub)CycleOps/PowerTap$790 (hub only)LinkLinkLink
PowerTap Pro ANT+ Power Meter (Hub)CycleOps/PowerTap$899LinkLinkLink
Chirp External ANT+ Geocaching BeaconGarmin$22.00LinkN/ALink
Fenix Black-colored Replacement Band/StrapGarmin$18.00LinkLinkN/A
Fenix Charging/Download CableGarmin$25.00LinkLinkN/A
Fenix Leather Replacement Band/StrapGarmin$18.00LinkLinkN/A
Fenix Olive-colored Replacement Band/StrapGarmin$18.00LinkLinkN/A
Fenix Orange-colored Replacement Band/StrapGarmin$18.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Classic Plastic Strap) - HRM1Garmin$37.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM2Garmin$69.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM3Garmin$50.00LinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (with Running Dynamics) - HRM-RunGarmin$99.00LinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Replacement HR Strap (for HRM3/HRM-RUN - just the strap portion)Garmin$28.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin ANT+ Running Footpod (Mini)Garmin$45.00LinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Speed/Cadence Cycling Sensor (GSC-10)Garmin$35.00LinkLinkLink
Garmin Bike Mount Kit (for mounting any watch onto handlebars)Garmin$10.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin Solar Charging KitGarmin$71.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin Tempe External ANT+ Temperature SensorGarmin$29.00LinkLinkLink
Garmin VectorGarmin$1699LinkLinkLink
Power2Max ANT+ Power MeterPower2Max$970 (no cranks)N/AN/ALink
PowerCal ANT+ Estimated Power MeterPowerTap$99LinkLinkLink
SRAM Quarq Cinqo (Original) ANT+ Power MeterQuarq/SRAMDiscontinuedLinkN/ALink
SRAM Quarq Elsa & RED ANT+ Power MeterSRAM/Quarq$1,995 (with cranks)LinkLinkLink
SRAM Quarq Riken ANT+ Power MeterSRAM/Quarq$1,595 (with cranks)LinkLinkLink
Stages ANT+/Bluetooth Smart Power MeterStages Cycling$699N/AN/ALink

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible.

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2,545 Comments

  1. Hi All-

    Thanks for getting to the comments section! I've got just one tiny ask! Given these reviews are primarily used for folks trying to make decisions on the product, please try and keep the comments focused on functionality/features. These comments just aren't a good way to actively troubleshoot issues you may be having, and it makes it really challenging for folks to find answers to questions as the number of comments easily goes into the 1,000+ range. If you're having a technical issue, visiting the Garmin Forums or calling Garmin support is usually the fastest way to get resolution. Ultimately, Garmin doesn't monitor the comments here for issues, but does react to issues in support channels in terms of fixing them in the product.

    Thanks!
    -Ray

    Reply
    • ekutter replied

      Is there a specific Fenix Forum on the Garmin Forums that you are aware of? I haven't been able to find one? Other than Garmin support issues and contacting support, it doesn't seem like anywhere for users to discuss the Fenix.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      There is not quite yet one specifically for Fenix (though its being discussed). However, the Fenix team is and has been actually working through posts there behind the scenes to repro issues seen. Most Fenix-related posts are put in the general Running sub-forum.

      Reply
    • Jim replied

      Sorry simple question about the fenix 2. Have a 620 and find the vibration and audio alerts very noticeable, especially compared to the fenix1 and ambit 2. Can you comment on the loudness of the audio alert and the strength of the fenix 2 vibration in comparison please?

      Reply
    • Chris replied

      So to sum up:

      4 Data Fields per page (Garmin Added it - YEAH)
      Run/Walk (Has not been implemented yet)
      Inverted Display (Has not been implemented, but would be fantastic if they did)
      Bluetooth Sensor Support (Garmin doesn't want to add it)
      Bluetooth (live tracking) and Ant+ at the same time (NEVER GOING TO BE POSSIBLE)

      These seem to be the 5 recurring themes throughout the comments - glad to see they added the 4 data fields per page! Mine shows up Monday!!

      Thanks for the reviews!

      Reply
    • Mary Carson replied

      I am trying to decide between Tactix and Fenix2. Is the Tactix going to go out of production in favor of the Fenix2? The text/email sync is only available on the Fenix2 correct? Not the Tactix? I'm in K9 handler in Search & Rescue and the ability to receive texts from other searchers sounds like it could be particularly useful. Both units seem to fulfill these requirements: I need to keep track of search tracks & mark waypoints along the way. Have to be able to upload them later on. Since I have my hands full with the dogs [who have their own datalogger attached to their collar] it's generally tough for me to refer to a larger handheld GPS. I need to be able to see coordinates quickly and often navigate to a particular coordinate.

      Reply
    • Elmar replied

      Hi Ray
      Very good review! Thanx.
      I'd like to use the watch while training for an expedition. What I couldn't find out in your report and on the garmin website is the answer of the question: Can I always display the actual altitude while training? Or is the altimeter only for logging the hight as a parameter which is used in several functions? (e.g. average ascent)

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The text/e-mail notifications are available on the Fenix1/Tactix with the beta software (which will be released as production). As well as the Fexni2.

      Between the Tactix and the Fenix2, the core/major difference is whether or not you need Night Vision Goggle capabilities. If so, Tactix is your only choice. If not, I'd strongly suggest Fenix2.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yes, any of the fields you see displayed in the 'Data Fields' section can always be displayed/added.

      Reply
    • Joko16 replied

      Thanks for a great review. I pre-ordered my Fenix 2 through Clever Training and should get it tomorrow. Looking forward to it :)

      Reply
    • Albert replied

      Hi Ray,

      many thanks for your review, it is clearly the best one I've read about this product.
      Just one quick question: I'm competing in IRONMAN but also ultrarunning so, makes sense to buy F2 instead of 910XT? I'm currently using the Edge 705 and Forerunner 405 so just thinking what would be better for me.

      Many thanks

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Honestly, either watch is solid for tri's. There's some minor differences between the 910XT and the Fenix2, and I cover those a little bit in the 'Which watch?' section towards the end, which might help.

      Reply
    • Olu replied

      Albert, having used the 910xt for 2 Ironmans, if I had to make the decision today, I'd stick with the 910. It's been tested and proven. The bugs that exist are well known. After 2 days with the Fenix 2, and firmware 2.4, I don't trust it. At the moment it doesn't do many things better then the 910, but does many things worse. Hopefully many of these things will change, but I'm not selling my 910 anytime soon.

      Reply
    • Lark replied

      Can you use this a alternative to new fitness tracker Vivo ? How can you "Hack" it as a work around to prevent having to wear two devices all day?

      Reply
    • Russell Smedley replied

      Thanks again for a really in depth review! I'm caught between the Polar V800 and the Fenix2? I am very much into tri-athlons and am keen to know what would be the better option? I live in South Africa and not sure when they will be released here! However I am visiting the US in a months time so would purchase one of them when I'm there! Please help!!! Keep up the good work!

      Cheers

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Right now the V800 is trending towards May, not sure if that changes things. Upon release, it'll mostly be a bike/run unit - no swim tracking capabilities (distance/laps/etc...). It will do HR in the water however.

      I talk a lot about it in the comments of the V800 post, especially more recent comments.

      Reply
    • Joe McDowell replied

      I think the review is pretty accurate. I have been using my Fenix 2 for about a week and a half. A couple other things that I hvave noted are:

      1. You cannot do a workout in Live Track mode. Not necessarily a big deal, but if you are doing a long run that involves intervals and you wanted someone to be able to keep tabs on you, this feature would be nice.
      2. I have yet to actually see the recovery assessment. I don't think I have my notifications or alerts set wrong either. I think this would be something best viewed after the workout as you probably aren't going to look down and see that you didn't recover well and stop, but you might alter your plans in the future if you could review it later.
      3. A strong flip turn on the swim is not enough to generate a length during indoor swimming. As part of a warmup, I did a 500 where every other 100 was kick and it did not register the kick 100's.

      Other than those comments, I am very pleased with the watch. There is a great deal of improvement over the 910XT for triathletes in terms of data with the running dynamics and V02/Recovery inofrmation.The GPS is significantly faster. I am hopeful that they will eventually consider integrating a software update to allow similar activity data to what Polar is doing with the V800.

      Reply
    • Eric Mills replied

      I like the Fenix2 But I want to like it more. Had mine for about 2 weeks but already issues the Bluetoothe connectivity with my iPhone. it worked initially, but now is unable to sync with the phone, so is basically functionally a Fenix ("1") that cost $400. Spoke with Garmin cusstomer/tech support after a 25 minute wait on hold. There attitude is basically sorry, you must upload through a USB cable and we will probably get the issue resolved eventually through firmware updates. No option to exchange for new unit or to get refund on this one. I purchased it from heartratemonitorsusa.com and their policy is all warranty issues are handled by Garmin (should have used Amazon, I know). It's a pity because otherwise it seems like a useful, solid, well thought out unit. My Forerunner 620 is working flawlessly right now (although it always uploads via Wifi if available so I haven't noticed if it has bluetooth issues. So stuck with Fenix2. Still hoping Forerunner 620 might get upgraded with bike options at some point. decided to go with GoPro instead of buying the VIRB for upcoming race season.

      Reply
    • skyryen replied

      Hi Ray
      I enjoy reading your reviews and am basing my decision to buy the Fenix2 thanks to your recommendation.

      From the FR220 to the Suunto Ambit 2/S to the Tom tom Multisport Cardio, I will finally settle for the Fenix2.

      I'm wondering if I were to buy the Garmin Vivofit which comes with the Ant+ USB stick, will I also be able to upload stats from the Fenix2 directly to my laptop using that USB stick pls? Have you tried that?

      Thanks mate!

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, unfortunately it does not support wireless activity transfer via ANT+ to a PC.

      Reply
    • KenZ replied

      As of 11 May, I would say to serious endurance athletes: DO NOT BUY THIS WATCH.

      I've had it less than a month, and and had no fewer than eight unique and serious lockup or totally whacky failures with it. I will note that if I do an activity for an hour or two, no issues. It's when you 'push' the thing on a 4/5/6+ hour run that it fails in some manner more times than not. Here's an example of what you too can experience on a long run, which is what happened to me on my 100k trail race (running) yesterday:

      1. Around an hour and fifty minutes (1:50), the heart rate monitor and the footpod were lost. This is a common occurrence with this watch.
      2. About 30 min later, the entire watch locked up. While running (during the race, damnit), I pressed and held the light key to shut it off, then on again. When it came back on, the HR and footpod were reading again, and the elapsed race time seemed to be about right.
      3. The HR and footpod worked the rest of the race, but the next issue was so totally ridiculous that I'm still a bit in shock: when the elapsed time on the watch would get up to about 3:30, it would then drop down something around 2:15, and then continue to add time until the mid-three hour point, then, and I saw it with my own eyes, drop down to the low two hour point. It continued to do this cycle the entire 11 hours I was racing. I am seriously not making this up. I have pictures and video to prove it from the end of the race (because seriously, no one runs 100k/62 miles with 12k feet in elevation gain in under 5 hours), but that's what this ridiculous watch reported in the elapsed time field.
      4. The map page showed an arrow where I was, but... no track laid down. Nothing. Which kinda made it useless for navigating.

      Summary: $400 fitness GPS watch that cannot consistently report back on fitness, doesn't function as a GPS, and apparently can't even be relied on as a stopwatch. Ray, I love ya like a brother, but this watch is nowhere near reliable enough to be reviewed by you, much less released to the public.

      :

      Reply
    • Ted W replied

      I ran in 50 mile ultra yesterday with the F2. In the past I have had one full lockup and the same activity had lost HR before lockup. Another time I lost gps in moderate trees. I was NERVOUS going into the ultra. But it worked great. Actually it was my friends 910xt that lost a mule somewhere.

      True the f2 has some issues. But it worked great. No HRMrun drop and held GPS all 10hr 45min

      I dont own a footpod but why use it? When there are ant+ issues seems like a questionable choice unfortunately. Feel your pain though.

      FWIW I had 25% battery left after 10hr 45 min of us. Also I opted to use "run" profile rather than trail run

      Reply
    • Olu replied

      @KenZ
      My experience with the fenix 2 has not been as bad as yours but I wouldn't recommend the watch as the only training device in it's current state.

      I really like the idea of the fenix, but I'm not getting rid of my 910xt anytime soon. I wouldn't dare use the fenix for a race or during longer activities without a back up device.

      Reply
    • Andrea M. replied

      Thanks a lot for a great review. After reading these pages i bought the fenix2 and I'm quite happy.
      But now I have a BIG problem: during my last bike activity, something goes wrong with my speed and cadence sensor and, for 1 second, the fenix tought that my speed was 30.000Km/h. So now my odometer say me that for these season (my total was 300km) is 9400Km :(((
      I searched a lot into the garmin forums etc. but I can't find a way to set (or reset if it's impossibile set) the odometer. So, sorry if I try to ask you but you are my last chance!!
      Thanky very much
      Andrea

      Reply
    • DomiC replied

      What do you mean by odometer ? your total distance in Garmin Connect ?
      If it's the case, you can remove your session in GC, repair the FIT file, and upload once again your fixed FIT file in GC ...
      If you do not know how to fix the FIT file, share it ;)

      Reply
    • Andrea M. replied

      Thank you for the replay.
      For odometer I mean the field in distance category that you can set on the watch.
      I didn't sink with GC.
      thank you again!
      Andrea

      Reply
    • DomiC replied

      I haven't this functionality on my Fenix2 ???
      Where is it located ? Where we can set it ?

      Reply
    • Andrea M. replied

      Is simple
      when you customize an activity, add a page with the field odometer that you can find in distance category.
      No one have some idea on this issue?
      I think that odometer in cycling mode is a must and i thought to have on fenix2 the possibility to set different odometer for different bike like in edge800 or similar ...

      Reply
    • Jon replied

      I've had my fenix2 for about a month now and I like it. The only issue I've notice that folks should be aware of is the Notifications. It seems that if you use the garmin connect app on your phone to upload your workouts the notifications stop. I've reported this to garmin and I'm waiting for a response. Other than that the watch is awesome. I wish it could connect to my weight scale then I wouldn't need to keep my 310 around.

      Reply
    • Ian Blackburn replied

      "Bluetooth (live tracking) and Ant+ at the same time (NEVER GOING TO BE POSSIBLE)" - I am not so sure about this - technically it is correct, but there could be software workarounds for features like live tracking.

      The watch already switches automatically to bluetooth and disables Ant+ when you press Sync, so couldn't it do that periodically during an activity to update live track for example? I know it's not ideal and some data would be lost on either side and it may impact battery, but I for one would be keen to see it as an option

      Reply
    • Neal replied

      Have had the F2 for about a month. On two separate trail runs - first lost the HRM, then it froze up. On the second of the two the GPS readings I was getting were off the charts. 4:10min/miles., by mile 15 it was 10 miles off. I did a master reset, cleared out the data, thought it was "fixed" then lost the HRM today during track intervals; being a month old I'm pretty sure it's not the battery. Garmin CS has been poor to respond - giving me the standard "lets do a Master Reset" and I have "never heard of this watch doing this." Judging by comments of others it's actually pretty common. Going to hold out a little bit, see if there is truly a fix, otherwise will be returning it shortly and settle for a 910xt. I do appreciate the thorough review though, and understand you can't determine what's going to happen with each individual watch.

      Reply
    • Kevin replied

      Thanks for great thorough reviews.
      I've already got the Forerunner 910xt for my tri endeavors, and have been totally satisfied. But now looking for more an everyday watch that also has Nav/GPS functionality. I had been drawn to the Ambit lineup but based on your review of the Fenix2 was leaning to the Fenix, since I don't need the swim /bike functions, and like the idea of the flexibility and connectivity of the Fenix, especially the sync w/ smartphone stuff - plus wouldn't need a whole new support system required for the Suunto line (already use Garmin Connect for my 910xt, my wife's FR 410 and vivofit, and my in -car Nuvi GPS unit).

      So I scored a good deal on the Fenix - arrived yesterday. Out of the box, I was able to do a setup (clock/audible alerts/etc), then plugged in charger and walked away, only to come back 3 hrs later to find the charge percentage at 0%, and settings seem to be lost. Hit some buttons and then noticed frozen screen -- required holding the light button for 25 sec to reboot, etc.. but even on charger overnight, still at 0%.

      I know this forum is not for troubleshooting so my question is this -- Are you aware of Fenix battery issues that were mitigated with the Fenix2? In quick Google and Garmin forum searches there seem to be alot of battery drain or non-charging complaints with no clear resolution from Garmin.

      Better to buck up for the Fenix2 or chalki this up to one-off dud and replace w/ another Fenix -(and maintain my Garmin-only infrastructure) or just go for the Ambit and not worry about adding another set of charging/interface infrastructure......

      Thanks again

      Reply
    • Paul S replied

      If it were me, I'd just have the Fenix replaced. Sounds like you got one with a bad battery, or bad charging circuitry, or even a bad cable.

      As for the battery, I noticed after the 4.4. update on my Fenix that the battery indicator is showing more draining than before in watch mode. Possibly it's being more realistic now. I actually prefer it that way, since it's a reminder that I want to plug it in once a week to get a new satellite ephemeris from Garmin Express. My Fenix is a daily use GPS only when there's snow on the ground (I wear it as a watch all the time except when cycling), but I've had it through two winters now and the battery still seems fine. Last time I used it for real was a few weeks ago on a 3 hour mountain bike ride, and I didn't notice anything unusual about the drain.

      Reply
    • Lori Pacheco replied

      I recently purchased the Fenix2 for triathlon training based on your in depth review, and so far it has been great. I am curious about the lack of heart rate monitoring during swimming. Is that something that may be changed in the future via firmware update if requested or will it never be possible based on the constraints of the device?

      Thanks!

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The likely reason is that since no Garmin HR straps can transmit more than an inch or two underwater, they probably want to minimize support confusion by just disabling the mode.

      Reply
    • East replied

      Hi, Do you have any experiences or knowledge if the Fenix2+Heartratemonitor can be used on an elliptical cross trainer indoors, and still give correct data regarding distance, kadence, max heart rate etc.?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, it doesn't have any understanding of an elliptical machine. Heart rate related metrics will be fine though.

      Reply
    • KenZ replied

      Update 2 July 2014: Since my last post, I've had about 7 or more failures to include dropped tracks, dropped navigation routes, dropped sensors, and lockups, including my last race, a 100 miler. At the start of the race, I had the route loaded in the watch. I start navigate, and the entire watch freezes immediately at the start of the race. While racing, I shut it down, restart, try again, freezes again, shut it down, and then start it in Run mode since navigate isn't going to work. Run mode works until about 9.5 hours, when both the HR and the footpod get dropped. 10 minutes later, the entire watch locks up, so I give up and ditch it at the 50 mile turn around. Thanks Garmin. That was Fenix2 #2.

      I get home, and I have Fenix2 Unit #3 to try from Garmin. So, paranoid, I try to load my next upcoming race in Canada. Garmin Connect gives me an error when I try to load it into the watch. Garmin support is baffled, and tells me to drop it into the gpx folder in the watch. I do that, try that, and the watch literally shuts itself off when I push the Navigate button. They're in a huddle I guess, trying to figure out what to do, but I suppose they might have to send me unit #4?

      I get that Ray tests these 'extensively,' but that does not include putting them through multiple full endurance workouts of 5+ hours (note that in my last race it took over 9 hours for the Run mode to fail). That's not a criticism of the site, just that this review does not dig in deep enough to uncover the true issues with this POC watch. I know some people get unluckly, but 3 watches in a row? This is a Garmin issue, not a string of randomly faulty units.

      Reply
    • Ian Blackburn replied

      It's certainly a serious concern and one Garmin *have* to address in the next update.

      I had my watch lock up after 6 hrs cycling yesterday. I was using HRM, speed/cadence and Vector power connections. Didn't actually notice until an hour or so later by which time it was sort of pointless keeping the data (I had a Edge 810 along for the ride too, and was using the Fenix2 as a back-up - looks like it was the other way round!).

      The Fenix2 has the potential to really be a great watch but the worst thing it can do is not be reliable on long sessions.

      Garmin really have to address this.

      Reply
    • wizbang replied

      I was having lots of lock up problems after one of the major updates. I put it down to the version of software but I started thinking about how my 310XT updates behaved after updates.

      I remembered having to do a reset of all data after every update to minmise the chances of a lockup and other weird stuff.

      Since performing resets for the past two updates I haven't had any lockups. Mind you the longest event so far is 4.5hrs on these two updates. I do have a 6+ hr mtb ride coming up shortly and will report back if I get a lockup.
      Hope the info is helpfull

      Reply
    • KenZ replied

      6 July 2014. Fenix2 Unit #3 also a total failure. Yesterday's 3+ hour trail run, the elapsed time on the watch is a bit over 3 hours, and then.... it drops to 2:12. Seriously. The elapsed time just magically subtracts what turns out to be 51 minutes. When I pause the watch, it shows the correct time, but when running, the elapsed time is now off by 51 minutes. I have photos and video to prove it; you just can't make this crazy stuff up! This is also what happened to me (different amt subtracted) with Fenix2 Unit #1 during my 100k race last month. Garmin said that watch was defective. So now, fewer than 7 days with my Fenix2 #3, and I've had three independent, different failure types (lockup/inability to load and navigate a track, lockup on saving a workout, and the inability to actually work as a stopwatch). I guess I'll be returning this one and getting unit #4. Beyond ridiculous. $400 for a watch that can't keep reliable time.

      Reply
    • Jim replied

      Thanks for the input. While Ive been using NVGs for the majority of my like....that wont be the case very soon. Thanks, I appreciate the input.

      Jim

      Reply
    • Louis Duhamel replied

      Hi, I am 18 years old, and am about to take a Gap Year. I am an active person, but not often doing sports like running, swimming or cycling. I am more of an adventurer. I ski a lot (backcountry) (will be a ski instructor soon) and downhill mountain bike, I also like to scuba dive. I also do like to think of myself as an adventurer. I like to get lost in cities, and sometimes in the wilderness. So, for someone planning on "going into the wild", is this the watch I should be getting? Like if I took a walk in a forest or a city and got lost, will it be able to bring me back home? Can it tell me what speed I am going at whenever I want, if Im on a bus or something?... What about how deep I am? and the weather, can the watch predict sunset and sunrise, and notify me if a storm or rain is coming (like the ambit 2 or core by suunto).

      thanks

      Reply
    • Mirek_ replied

      Yes regarding the speed, bringing you home, sunset and sunrise. No to storm alarm and depth I think.
      Yes I enjoy it for hiking :)

      Reply
    • KenZ replied

      22 July 2014: more failures every week, multiple calls to Garmin support, and finally one of them simply admitted that they know they have intermittent lockup problems, sensor problems, etc. They said those are software issues and they don't know when they'll be fixed. They still can't replicate my issues of elapsed time subtracting random amounts, but I sent them the video to prove it and they're baffled (now happened on TWO separate units). And they confirmed that the Fenix2 can't successfully load a long track AS ADVERTISED (it totally locks the watch up on the Black Hills 100 course, and crashes the watch trying to load the FatDog 120). So, basically, it doesn't do as it says, and it's totally unreliable. And I've got the video proof of even the stopwatch not working correctly... Luckily, Clever Training agreed to take it back and refund my money, so I'm out for the two extra charge cables I bought on Amazon, but I got my $400 back. Again, if you're doing 1-2 hour events and training, you might not see a problem. Try doing a 4-6 hour run with two sensors every single week, and five or more 1.5 hour runs during the week, and I 100% promise you you won't make it two weeks without a major system crash, sensor drop, elapsed time errors, lockup, etc. Or try to load a long (100+mile) track and navigate it. I dare you... Bottom line: Garmin just lost me as a customer to Suunto.

      Reply
    • Ted W replied

      I log 50-60 miles per week. One is typically 20-30 miles. the rest are 7-10. Not breaking speed records, especially if on trails. so I have plenty of multiple hour runs per week. I dont have systemic crashes, and I've only had two GPS lockups, both the first runs after different firmware updates. I dont use multiple sensor however. And not sure it makes a difference but I only use the "run" profile, not even the trail run. I have added some of the trail run data pages to the run profile though. As for navigation, I haven't had the need. Thus far all my trail events have been well marked, so using navigation to find my way wasnt necessary.

      Reply
    • luis replied

      Hi!, your reviews are wonderful, and very complete, I just have a question, Its an expensive watch, I've been hearing lots of rumours about an upcoming new multisport watch, some people even call it the 920xt, and its something you can believe because recently garmin dropped the price for the 910xt, I'm wondering how long will it last?, if I buy this now I'll be very disapointed if a new triathlon garmin watch goes out, Im sure a new garmin will be mindblowing, what would you recommend, to get the fenix2 now, because those claims must be unreal or to wait for something you may already know about?, or would you recommend another watch,?, thanks!!

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Check out my 2014 summer recommendations post from a few weeks ago: link to dcrainmaker.com

      Within it, I talk in fairly specific detail about whether or not one should buy a watch right now for the triathlon market given current market trends/futures.

      Reply
    • Mirek_ replied

      910XT price drop wasn't because of 920XT but the Fenix 2 which does pretty much everything and more and the 910XT is no longer the flagship. And perhaps also because of the competition.
      I don't have any background info but I don't think it would be far from truth that they are working on a successor :) probably for the next season so it's up to you if you buy now or wait some months...

      Reply
    • Jeremy Hathaway replied

      Does the watch include auto pause features for lap swimming yet?

      Reply
  2. Rainer Joswig

    So it lacks the ability to connect to fitness equipment? I use the indoor rower Concept2 for training and it pairs nicely with my old and aging Garmin 310XT via ANT+. Is that functionality no longer be interesting? Anything planned in that direction?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Correct, both Fitness Equipment (via ANT+) and Weight Scale (via ANT+) are not in either unit. Garmin hasn't added support to any of their new units in the past 6-7 months, for them.

      Reply
  3. Right on time! Clever Training just shipped my Fenix2 bundle yesterday and I'm going to receive hopefully tomorrow.

    Reply
  4. Rudy

    So you have cadence displayed in Connect... mine have been blank since they upgraded the webapp :-/

    Reply
  5. Steve Knapp

    I thought cadence from the watch wasn't supported w/ the GPS. At least last I tried it wasn't on the Fenix1 Beta. Only in indoor treadmill mode. Did this get resolved?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It was resolved in the latest release.

      Reply
    • Monroe replied

      I was going to ask the same thing. I have the latest 4.14 Beta and it is still not showing cadence when using in outdoor mode. Not sure if there is something that needs set up differently, but I have a data page set up and it isn't showing, and isn't showing on GC.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Sorry, latest Fenix2 release. It'll get added back to the Fenix1 beta likely in the next update. It was only brought-up and fixed earlier this week.

      Reply
    • Monroe replied

      Thanks for that clarification. New Beta 4.15 came out and it is still not listed. It's not a huge deal for me, I just think it's odd that they would add it in indoor mode, but not outdoor mode.

      Reply
    • Steve Knapp replied

      Is there a setting? I used the F2 on a run (2.40) this morning, no cadence.

      It also lost my HRM until after a restart, wouldn't shut down, and gave a rather funky output after the restart, and lost the GPS signal for a good mile although still tracked pace/distance.

      Not exactly the right foot to start off on... :(

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      There's no setting, it should just work. I tested it in an interim build of 2.35 and it worked there without the HRM-RUN. With the HRM-RUN and 2.40 I got cadence.

      I'd give the unit a hard reset.

      Reply
    • Pete replied

      Hi Ray, thks for your super awesome review! How do you do a hard-reset?

      I'm having a similar HRM_RUN problem to Steve and a variation of this long searching bug link to youtube.com except the few times HRM connects, it displays BPM and then stops displaying for rest of run.

      Already did a couple of "normal" resets where all activities are brought to default values and it works the first couple of tries but then reverts back to not displaying! I'm already on v2.40, how soon can we expect before this is fixed? Couldn't get through support line.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Not sure which country you're in, but if in the US, it's early Sunday morning at Garmin, thus, they open tomorrow morning: link to garmin.com

      Reply
    • Pete replied

      Called them during the week at about 4pm but there was a long wait.

      Reply
    • Steve Knapp replied

      For the hard reset I followed this, it worked on the F2 as well.

      link to youtube.com

      Reply
    • Olu replied

      @Steve thanks for the link. I did this and it reset everything on the watch BUT left the history intact!

      Reply
    • Steve Knapp replied

      I think that's normal as the history are just files stored on the device. Garmin has an FAQ about that..

      link to support.garmin.com{60eb9630-b51f-11df-55a0-000000000000}

      Reply
  6. Anh

    can the display revert to Black font on White background like Suunto Ambit ? I like it and may upgrade from my Suunto Ambit 1, but I can't live with the display White on Black background.
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, it cannot.

      Reply
    • smachim replied

      Dealbreaker for me too.

      Reply
    • Anh replied

      Thanks Ray, I can't understand why Garmin decided not to include the option to invert the display. I will have to wait Suunto Ambit 3 or at least until Garmin upgrade the firmware to allow it.

      Reply
    • Monroe replied

      It is really odd that you can't, especially when it changes to black text on white background during swim mode.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      You'll notice when in that mode it's actually not the display, but rather a portion of it that's inverted.

      Reply
    • dan replied

      The Ambit 2 is a phenomenal device – don’t rule it out by any means. I’ve just downloaded the suite of Suunto Apps designed for the Ambit 2 R and they really have transformed my training experience. Adjustable Pyramids, increasing intensity intervals linked to PTE and HR Zone – I’ve been astonished at the device. When it gains cadence and on-watch improved log-book from the new update, as well as downloadable training schedules, it really, genuinely is the competitor to the Fenix 2 – with the option to invert the display :-)

      Hope that helps

      Dan

      Reply
    • Pete replied

      I agree as there are situations that black on white is not ideal, but if Garmin wants to be really genius about it they could resolve this by simply giving either a universal option or page option to display the reverse letters like it already does on "Press Start" and top/bottom areas of "Virtual Partner" page, as well as on some Swim pages where the whole page is inverted.

      This would definitely solve the inverted problem and help Fenix 2 better compete against the mighty Ambit. It would definitely help me give up my Ambit, as I miss that the most.

      Reply
    • KenZ replied

      After only a few days with the Fenix2... I so wish I'd gotten the Ambit2. The Fenix2, based on my experience, should have never been released to the general public in its current state. Got mine, updated to software 2.6, and couldn't even get through my first run before it dropped the sensors, then stopped updating GPS, then hard locked up. After a full reset, there must be some corrupted memory issue, as it's 98% full on memory with no activities.

      I'm glad others are liking theirs, but for $400, this thing is a POS. 30+ min holds for Garmin support don't help my opinion either. Bottom line: the Fenix2 is not ready for release. The Ambit2 has been out for a bit, and most of the major issues addressed. I'm basically a moron for buying this right at the start of this year's racing season. Just go read the issues and glitches and problems in the Garmin forums before you buy one. I wish I had.

      Reply
  7. Derek Paton

    Hi Ray,

    Great review as always! Any comments on GPS accuracy yet? A comparison between the F2 and the FR620 & 910XT would be good!

    Thanks,

    Derek

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hmm, yeah, I've gotta add that section in somewhere. I've got more data than I know what to do with. Mostly with the FR620/Fenix2/Suunto Ambit 2R all together. I'm seeing them as all within 1% or so on virtually all my runs, even through some tunnels. Really close across the board.

      Reply
    • Derek Paton replied

      Great stuff - thanks Ray. I'm not ready to give up my 910XT until I find something that has the same level of accuracy....I have high hopes that the F2 is more on par with the 910XT than the FR620 is!

      Reply
  8. Floris Van de Vijver

    Is the screen readable when your underwater (in a pool), compared to garmin swim? it seems to be difficult since the background is black or am i mistaking?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Underwater it's not quite as easy as the Garmin Swim. I found that if I stick with bigger fields underwater, I can still make it out (such as 2-data fields).

      Reply
    • Ibeti replied

      A question about this - in your pool photos the screen is indeed inverted (black text on white background) - does it do this for the pool mode or did you invert the colors in the photo to make it more readable?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It's when it's in a paused/rest state, so you can tell which mode you're in.

      Reply
    • Scott Buchanan replied

      Has the F2 killed the Swim? Will there (likely) be a Swim2?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The Swim is an odd duck in Garmin's lineup. I think we'll eventually see something there. Folks that use it love it, but marketing around it is slim.

      That said, if I were to head to the pool right now, I'd still use the Swim. I just like how thin it is. If they released a version with BT connectivity to auto-upload workouts, I'd pay for it. I'd really pay for it if they created one with swim workout functionality (like ride/run).

      Reply
    • Struan Lownie replied

      Is there actually some issue I'm not appreciating with providing this? Ive not seen it on any product so wondered.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The Swim doesn't have a BT chipset today, so that'd be a hardware change.

      As for the swim workout creation piece, it's not offered on any Garmin product, it's purely a software driven change.

      Reply
    • Steven Knapp replied

      The swim HW and UX is also really nice in my opinion.

      Reply
  9. empewu

    Super review. Strange thing with your BT upload time - it takes me max 1 min for 90 min run on Fenix 1 with newest beta firmware.

    Reply
  10. Eric M.

    Ray -

    You mention that the 620 is getting bike sensor compatibility this spring. It seems that the accelerometer means it has the technology necessary to also add swim tracking to it as well (assuming they update the firmware with the necessary screens and algorithms). Is this something that you think Garmin can do? Is it something you think they will do?

    It seems to me that would make the 620 THE tri watch.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi Eric-

      No, there's no chance of the FR620 getting swim mode, or multisport mode. Remember that different accelerometers have different capabilities. The most critical technical change made between the Fenix1 and Fenix2 was going to a different accelerometer to get accurate swim data. Yet, the previous accelerometer in the Fenix1 was sufficient for running data.

      Reply
  11. drattoc

    Interressante revue de la garmin fénix 2 et complete. On se croisera peut être sur les quais de Seine :).

    So,

    I've just baught it at the beginning of the week and try to aprehend all of it's functionality. It's a nice watch and hope that Garmin will keep up to date and enhance the watch.

    The small things that can be enhanced is the documentation of such an item. And how to use it or program it.
    Also you can still import the data into garmin training center (the old pc application). This feature is very nice because the programming of workout are much more simple in training center than in garmin connect.

    The only thing for now i missed from my old 310XT is the notion of calendar of workout in the watch. But till now and as a new toy i'm very pleased with it. I will see in the Paris Marathon how it will handle the job :)

    regards & thanks for this site.
    E.

    Reply
  12. Adzz

    Just to confirm, the Fenix 2 does not have the walk/run alert compared to the 910XT?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Correct, as of today, it doesn't.

      However, to date the Fenix team has added quite a few features to the unit since the Fenix2 announcement 30 days ago, based 100% on your feedback. So, if there are gaps, they're likely to listen to the most requested items.

      Reply
  13. Fabian Gruber

    Thanks for the Review! Just in time for my Fenix 2, should arrive any moment.

    Reply
  14. Jamie

    I have a 610 now but have just started trail running and ultras. I can't swim worth a lick but I do bike as much as I run(55-75 miles per week each) and defiantly like biking support but I do have an 810 also, so not super huge!
    Anyways, I need great battery life(15-20 hours), is this still too much need for battery life to even contemplate a Fenix? Should I wait for a 910xt update instead? My 610 isn't dying but for a few ultras, I will need to wear my watch for part of it until it dies, then use my 810 for the rest(it will should "speed" instead of "pace" but it works!).

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      One option for folks looking for a bit more battery life than the unit enables is to use a small USB charging block in your CamelBak. Thus, say about 10-12hrs into the event, clip the watch into the charging block in your bag for about 45 minutes. That'll give you plenty of charge to keep going.

      You can actually wear the charger on the watch easily with a cable to your bag, or, stick the whole kit in the bag. The clip is very secure, so no problems there.

      Reply
  15. Great review as always.

    I've had mine a few days and so far the only issue I have is that as a day to day watch the font for the day / date is just too small. I wear a +1 strength reading glasses (pretty much the weakest) and can't see these items at a glance. I suspect plenty of other folks over age 40 will have the same issue.

    Reply
    • Todd Baker replied

      It's a setting that can be changed although it is quite buried.

      Go to: Settings->general->time->time page->time layout. Then go up and down to see the options.

      I believe one of these will likely work for you as I found one to make my weak eyes happy.

      Reply
    • Steve Fines replied

      Thanks Todd,

      Going through the pages, while the size of the time changes, the day, date and month all stay in the same small font.

      Not a deal breaker as after a few days I think it is too big for me to wear as a regular watch anyway.

      Reply
    • Clint C replied

      I'm with you there Steve. I've had my F2 for about 2 wks now and love it but the font size and white on black background is infuriating!! My arms aren't long enough to read the sunrise/set times. Its a bummer getting old!! I really hope Garmin look at rectifying these issues ASAP.

      Also, thanks for an incredible review Ray, I have been reading them for years and this one finally convinced me to go ahead and buy one. It's added a whole different level to my training and planning. Cheers mate from Narrabeen NSW Australia....

      Reply
  16. Daniel

    Great review! Now that the fenix2 is out, I was just curious if you know if we're going to see an official firmware update for the fenix1 or if the last 4.14 beta is the closest we'll get?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The Fenix1 will get a production release of all the existing Fenix1 beta features. You won't see additional functionality beyond what's been announced/released thus far. For example, the Fenix1 won't get a swim/multisport/power meter mode, nor 4-data fields. But it will gain connectivity to Android once that's enabled- just like it got the iPhone piece. All of that will be brought to full production status with clean-up of bugs, etc...

      Except that by summer, you won't see any further major updates for the Fenix1.

      Reply
  17. Sebastian

    Nice review.

    Would also love to see more comparisons of GPS Data between devices and maybe even iPhone 5 since that is my primary GPS source of the moment.

    However, what is the equivalent of CleverTraining in Europe?
    Would really love to order one but can't seem to find solid release time for the watch in Europe/Germany.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I'll get the distance comparison shots all added in (I take them after every run). It was one of those things that I temporarily pulled out simply to get the review published (otherwise I'd just keep on adding new and interesting sections forever without ever actually publishing).

      Reply
  18. Mateusz

    Hi!
    incredible review :)
    I have just one question. Is it possible to use all navigation features while cycling? In other words, can I upload a route on Fenix2 an follow it, while still collecting all the data- cadence/speed?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yes, the easiest way is to go to Navigate and then setup your sensors from there (i.e. HR, SPD/CAD, etc...).

      Reply
    • Martin replied

      Actually you can't monitor cadence in navigation mode. There's a similar problem with running dynamics. See Chou Li's comment below.

      Reply
    • Pete replied

      The problem is having to add all the different activities pages from Hike, Bike, Trail Run, etc. where you'll be invariably be using navigation to follow courses/track back. They should have included navigation within each of the activities instead of a separate "Navigation activity" as it way more realistic to be navigating from the other activities like even XC Ski, otherwise, navigation will become to full of other activities' pages.

      I don't think they should even have a "Navigate" activity, it really needs to be an option withing all the activities as I'll be using RUN for city running where I use different pages, than TRAIL RUN pages, but I'll definitely need to navigate in both activities, and with the current setup, I'll have to bring all my pages from both RUN and TRAIL RUN into Navigate, and it starts getting messy.

      If they could just clean this up and fix the v2.40 bugs, I can see myself loving my Fenix 2, right now I'm feeling "lukewarm" like someone else said in the comments.

      Reply
    • Michal replied

      Hi Martin,
      I have found cadence available even for navigation mode - but just in basecamp software, not in Garmin Connect web.
      And I VERY AGREE. Navigation should be just an option for (nearly) all activities.
      To be honest, how does it recognize what type of 'activity' I am doing while navigating? It should need this info for calories calculation for example, right?

      Reply
  19. Eric M.

    Hey Ray -

    Just wanted to try again...

    I'm trying to decide between the Fenix 2 and the 620. I have a Fenix 2 on the way and a 620 in hand. I want a triathlon watch.

    If swimming is added to the 620 along with the biking you mentioned before, it seems as if the 620 would be the tri watch to have with the light weight, small profile, and concurrent BT/ANT connectivity.

    Is it worth holding out hope that they add swimming to the 620? Or should I sell the 620 and keep the Fenix 2 as my answer?

    Thanks!
    Eric

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Swimming will not be added to the FR620. Unfortunately, simple as that.

      For the FR620, the cycling mode is the very basic mode as seen on the FR610 - just supporting speed/cadence sensor, not support power meters or advanced functions.

      Reply
  20. Ted W

    Awesome review. I've placed my order via CT just now. Something you wrote in the pre-review and this review. You wrote "15:00:10. The unit automatically went into standby at 13% of battery". If a user had been running and ultra, and hit a 15hr mark and the unit hit 13% of battery. What does the unit "went into standby" really mean. Does it mean It stopped GPS. Stopped HRMrum and ANT+ sampling? What if an event was possibly 15.5 hours, and that 13% left was probablly enough just get you there. Can you exit standby mode to allow the watch to keep recording upto the point it just powers down? Hopefully despite low battery, you can resume recording and just continue until the battery is depleted (if you so choose)

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Sorry, standby means it basically shut off, but could be turned back on without GPS enabled. I'd have to do some poking to see if you could hit low threshold, turn back on the unit, continue recording. Keep in mind the the reason is does this is to protect the data though.

      Reply
  21. Stefan

    Hi Ray
    Did I understand correctly that you can not use "Smart Watch Mobile Notifications" while running with a Ant+ HR strap?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Correct.

      Reply
    • Stefan replied

      [insert here some bird names for Garmin Fenix2 conceptors]

      Thanks for the review and the quick answer!

      Reply
    • gasteropod replied

      I believe this is down to the chipset used. It can either do ant+ or bluetooth, but not both at the same time. I guess the 620 must have a different chipset since I do not think it has this limitation. So far Garmin have not come out with one killer watch. If they could combine everything from the 910XT, the Fenix2 and the 620 I'd be a happy bunny. Right now I juggle different watches depending on what I want to do. The Fenix 2 is pretty close, but not quite there for me.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Correct, it's a chipset limitation based on using (mostly) the same hardware that came in the existing Fenix. It's not a software one.

      Reply
  22. chris

    Thank you for the review! hopefully REI has it and use my 20% off!!! thanks again

    Reply
    • Scott Buchanan replied

      Nah! Read REI's 20% coupon small print.... they ALWAYS and specifically exclude Garmin and anything with GPS technology in it.

      Reply
    • tim replied

      REI 20% doesnt work for gps units :(

      Reply
    • Sean Lally replied

      But dividends do work. They just came out by the way.

      Reply
    • Denis replied

      REI gave me 20% off on Saturday 24 May after I read this review. Their mistake? I'm not complaining.

      Reply
  23. Martin

    Hi ray.fab review

    Does the recovery time add up 2 workouts the same day if I am still recovering from a previous workout or will it just reset and give me the recovery count down from the last workout

    Reply
  24. KenZ

    Hi Ray,

    Three tech questions:

    1. Does the start/stop button location ever cause problems when doing pushups? I ask this because my old FR50 was horrendous in any multi-exercise interval routing that involved pushups or down dog or the like: it would activate against the back of your hand. In fact, even reaching back for a water bottle in a waist belt would sometimes trigger it (!!!!!!). Thus, I was relieve with the FR60/70 moving the button to the LEFT side. And now... its on the right again.

    2. Following routes: how many "breadcrumb data points" can it take, and how does that compare to the Ambit2? My understanding is the Ambit2 is limited to 1,000 points, which makes it a little inaccurate for something like the Hardrock 100, or FatDog 120. This is a key point for me.

    3. HRV: can it do/take/report a resting HRV in the morning? Does it have that mode? Basically, if I put a HR strap on when I wake up, can I get an HRV value to assess my training/overtraining status in a repeatable fashion?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • KenZ replied

      Correction: start/stop on FR70 is on the face, but you know what I meant.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      1) Hmm, I don't do enough pushups to know. But you can just lock the buttons by holding down the upper left button for a few seconds and selecting lock.

      2) It's 1,000 waypoints, or 10,000 trackpoints. Which is all very different than GPS logging pieces.

      3) No, it does not do HRV/R-R recording at this point.

      Reply
  25. simon

    ..another HRV question - will this record r-r data like the 610/620 for use in firstbeat athlete ?

    Reply
  26. r4d4r

    Hi there, thank you for a great review.
    When cycling withou any meters, will it use the GPS to calculate your speed and dinstance?

    Reply
  27. J.Griffin

    Ray--

    Just wanted to add SUPER SUPER Awesome review as always!! You've seemed to have out done yourself. Not sure how you manage to do it all, but BIG THANKS!

    My F2 is due in tomorrow, looking forward to putting it to use. Feel like I made the right decision. I've Been very impressed with Garmin outdoor team response to revisions, I hope it continues.

    Here's to a great 2014 for all athletics/sport people!!

    ~JG.

    Reply
  28. Hi Ray,

    Love your work! First time poster but I always catch up on your site before buying new toys.

    Q: Can you "Send to Device" the satellite cache via the Garmin Connect web app? Or does it download automatically whenever I upload workouts to the site via USB?

    I'm on OSX currently using WebUpdater, Ant Agent, and Communicator Plug-In. Avoiding Express as long as possible. And Bluetooth transfers make me cry.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, there's not an option there that way on GC. Express isn't horrible at this point honestly. And worth it for the pre-cache.

      Reply
    • Christoph replied

      Carl, you can download the satellite-cache manually and put it on your watch. I do it with linux on my fenix1. It should work the same with OSX and fenix2
      (link to kluenter.de)

      Reply
    • Paul S replied

      Thanks! That worked nicely on OS X, which comes with curl.

      I can't understand why Express on OS X doesn't do that itself. Combing through the logs I see in ~/Library/Application Support/Garmin/Express/Logs, what I think is the relevant entry says

      2014-03-23 16.31.26 (GMT-04:00) | 64243 | I | Looking for GPSData assets...
      2014-03-23 16.31.26 (GMT-04:00) | 64243 | I | Skipping GPSData asset because output transfers are not allowed.

      Odd. I can't think of a reason why this is. It can't be OS X sandboxing, because Garmin Express came directly from Garmin, not the App Store. It can't be permissions, I checked that and I was able to install the file on the watch by hand. There isn't a forum for Express, so I can't just ask there.

      Reply
    • Paul S replied

      Christoph, I just went through the trouble of re-pairing my Fenix 1 with Garmin Connect so I could get the EPO.bin that Garmin serves up from it, and I think there's a slight problem with your script. Comparing the EPO.bin just placed on my watch by the Garmin Connect iOS app and the one I downloaded from the server using your curl, I think you need to pipe the output of the curl | tail -c +4, to get rid of the first three bytes returned by Garmin server. These three bytes are different from the EPO.bin on my Fenix. Get rid of those, and they agree for 2304 bytes. Then the same three bytes appear, followed by agreement for the rest of the EPO.bin on my Fenix, which is only 4298 bytes. So it looks as if the Garmin web server is putting three bytes in every 2304 bytes that shouldn't be there.

      I also wonder about the POST data a little. Mostly it seems to say Windows stuff, but there are some extra bytes. I wonder if they might be location data or something else useful that should be changed per user? (Mostly I wish Garmin would just fix OS X Express so I wouldn't have to mess around like this.)

      Reply
    • Paul S replied

      Express for OS X 3.1.3.0 is out, which fixes this problem. I ran it this afternoon, and it installed the same EPO.bin that I downloaded earlier today using the curl method with the extra bytes removed. That really helps; acquisition and lock is almost instantaneous now.

      Reply
  29. Claude

    Tks Ray! What do you think about Garmin's power pack? Bought one for a friend and looked well designed but not sure about solar charger though.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I've used it sparingly a bit (the solar one). Generally though, I use these little iGO USB chargers. It looks like the model I have, is not being made anymore (but can still be bought). But also looks like there's a new model now. In any case, I have the top one "iGO Charge Anywhere" for $16: link to amazon.com

      Reply
  30. Gunnar

    Ray,
    Wondering what comment Garmin had (if any) regarding your slow upload times to Garmin Connect Mobile?

    After some initial teething problems with my fenix2 regarding uploads to Garmin Connect mobile, I then found it to be less than one minute to upload an activity to the app (after installing firmware 2.4).

    Just curious.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      They were aware of it previously, and had made some tweaks that improved things, but not substantially. I haven't tried yet on yesterday's 2.40 with an activity yet.

      Reply
  31. Michael

    Thanks for the great reviews.

    One quick question about navigation, if you load a route from Garmin connect does it direct you along the entire route or just to a series of waypoints on the route, and if the latter how does it choose the way points?

    Reply
  32. Justin Gable

    Ray,

    Will the Bluetooth smart watch notifications be coming to the 620 in q2 2014?

    Reply
  33. Cole Duke

    Do you know of any plans for a dedicated bike mount kit? I currently have a 310XT and love the bike mount kit. I'd like to have something that could more easily transition from my wrist to the bike.

    Also, this site is the best. Thanks so much for the time and effort you put in. These reviews are the best out there, and nobody else is even in the same stratosphere.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      There are currently no plans for a quick-release kit. Personally, I think that's a bit of a mistake, since I suspect it'd be easy to actually create one, given the pin design. Further, it'd likely be the most secure quick release kit to date, given the stronger pins used in the Fenix over past Forerunner series units.

      And finally, they've got straps and accessories for all sorts of other silly colors/textures, so why not a multisport strap?

      Reply
    • Cole Duke replied

      I agree. While I like the quick release kit for the 310, it makes the watch sit really high on my wrist. They could make such a great one for this watch, and it would probably make it an easy buy for me.

      The changes from the Fenix to the Fenix2 make it very obvious that multisport is a big piece of their market, so why don't they take it the rest of the way and make it the ultimate multisport watch. It's a very cool watch, but just slightly disappointing that they didn't take it all the way.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      There's some concern from them around increasing the stack height, since a quick release kit would do exactly that (albeit slightly). So I can see that. But, I'd argue that if a user doesn't mind, that's all cool.

      After all, there's a chunk of the population that's more than willing to even wear the giganto FR910XT as a day to day watch....

      Reply
  34. Great review as always. So, as far as I can see, no HR tracking while swimming right? I will keep a good look at this anyway if the v800 dont deliver by august what they promissed.

    Thanks Ray! keep the good work here!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Correct, ANT+ (neither Bluetooth Smart) transmits underwater. It only goes about 1" or so. In the case of the V800, they're using analog to transmit.

      Reply
    • Well as i said so far v800 has this edge for me and it is important in my case. But what about 2 devices? Something like a polar loop with a H6 or H7 strap and a fenix2? I know the data would be separeted. Would this be a nice combo? (i have a friend who wants to sell me a polar loop and i got the strap already). Sigh, so many options....

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The Polar Loop doesn't capture the data underwater, since it only does Bluetooth Smart.

      Reply
  35. Martin

    Thanks for the great review! You've mentioned several ways to view the data via software, but what about from the device? The Forerunner line allows you to view totals from the device(weekly, monthly and so on) but does the Fenix have that capability? Sometimes I just want to know where I stand before heading out.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yes, there's a history menu and you can pull up essentially the same information as the Forerunner. however, not totals like Monthly/Weekly, but rather activity specific (such as total, lap, etc...0.

      Reply
  36. Bob

    Ray,
    Thanks for the informative review. Question about navigation: with the F2 can you see real-time on the watch a breadcrumb track as it is created, or only afterwards when it is downloaded? I mean a real-time track and not a pre-loaded one.
    thanks

    Reply
  37. Larry

    Great review. I am a runner and if I'm not torn up about the lack of concurrent BT smart and Ant+ functionality, what else makes the F620 a better watch for runners? I've seen reviews that the FR620 has issues maintaining satellite signals.

    Reply
    • gasteropod replied

      I have a Fenix1 and a 620 and use them for different things. The Fenix is kind of bulky as a runners watch and I love the light feel of the 620 and the touch screen for running. I'd have been in even more of a dilemma had the Fenix2 came out earlier but right now I think as a pure runner I would prefer the 620. I have not had any satellite issues with the 620, in fact it's been better than my Fenix. When I first got the fenix I was worried it was faulty as the tracks seemed a little off and I had some regular 5k runs showing up as about 4.8k, but things have settled down now so do not know if it was the GPS update, atmospheric conditions or what. Now if only they could bring out the 620 with maps and breadcrumb trails which I use for planning trail runs I'd be in heaven.

      Reply
    • Larry replied

      Thanks! Yeah accuracy would be an issue. They are the same price and the Fenix has a longer battery life, so I'm currently leaning that way. My FR610 has died plenty of times during longer runs.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yeah, honestly, accuracy is a wash for both units from what I'm seeing.

      If someone has any GPS device that they're seeing continual issues with on runs/rides, they should ring up support and get it swapped out. It's just not normal. Remember that for any consumer electronics device you're going to have bad units. Even at 1% of products units, that's still a number of bad units with folks posting complaints about them. If Garmin could hit 1% bad units, that'd be pretty impressive. Most consumer electronics companies are a fair bit higher than that.

      Reply
    • Larry replied

      follow-up question. Do you know if the FR610 will gain VO2 estimation and race predictor capability in the future?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, it will not. The FR610 has reached the end of it's time from a new functionality perspective.

      Reply
  38. James White

    Does the Fenix not support power balance for cycling, or is there a problem with the Vectors? Or alternatively a very impressive left leg drill?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It supports it. In fact, it's even in one of my photos. The data field is "BAL" for balance, seen in the data fields section.

      Reply
    • James White replied

      I was referring to the Garmin Connect screenshot you posted showing 100% left leg balance

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Nah, that was just a temporary Garmin Connect bug from the day I happened to upload that workout. It was subsequently fixed by GC.

      Reply
  39. regrunner

    Congratulations and thank you for this detailed test.
    J however have a question.
    Can I do an exercise, Running for example, while following a recorded course.
    J would like to redo portions of course my shopping with my cardio data, cadence, speed ..
    thank you

    Reply
  40. Marcelo Lima

    Ray,

    As you pointed out, the FR620 "does however allow you to concurrently utilize Bluetooth Smart and ANT+, which means you can do Live Tracking while still using ANT+ sensors".

    Other than that and the fancy touch screen, why would anyone opt for the FR620 if both watches cost the same?

    It seems to me that the Fenix offers so much more for the exact same value.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Aside from that (sorta big) limitation? Its a heck of a lot lighter and smaller. For me personally, I like the smaller feel.

      Reply
  41. Montana Steve

    Order in with Clever Training -- thanks for an awesome review!

    Going to try this vs. current 620 and see which I'll keep long run (no pun intended).

    Seems like this will do just about everything 620 does, plus adds iOS connection -- which I really want -- but at a bit of a weight penalty.

    Reply
  42. Matt

    Ray,

    Can we get photos of the girl's wrist with the F2 on?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yup, I'll get some added in.

      Reply
    • Matt replied

      Great thanks. I think my wrist is in between the size of yours and your girl's.

      Reply
    • Mary replied

      Thanks!! I'm always interested in what she thinks of new devices in terms of their size/weight.

      Reply
  43. J.Griffin

    Also might add, really like the recent added [JUMP TO:] side bar. Real handy!!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Finally! Someone noticed. :)

      Glad you like.

      Reply
    • J.Griffin replied

      Hehe, I noticed it the first time on my mobile device, as it kept sneaking off the left side a bit. Works well on a decent side monitor. I no longer have to FINDS, just click on the section.

      Reply
    • Hoss replied

      Exactly what I was going to comment on. I mean, in addition to your typically thorough and helpful product review. The Jump To sidebar is a terrific feature for those of us who read your reviews then want to reread certain sections.

      Reply
    • Alexander Han replied

      Nice new feature!

      Reply
  44. Awesome review. I didn't know anything was left in the tank after the "first look" :)

    Reply
  45. Mitz

    Hi can you show two time zones at the same time on the home screen in day to day watch mode?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yes, add in the 'Alternate Zone' function, then just press the up/down to change to the different home page option. So right now, I have both Paris and US East Coast time on mine (just for test).

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Actually, one minor clarification there. That mode I just mentioned, eventually the watch goes back to single time-zone mode (some sort of timeout). In that single time-zone mode it shows UTC if you'd like it to, but I don't actually see a way to specify a different timezone beyond UTC. :-/

      Reply
  46. Pierre

    While reading this ,as usual very good review, I was looking at the Garmin 620 review also.
    While I can use an edge 800 for the cycling part I´m wondering if the 620 can record the distance while swimming in open water.
    I assume that I can use the running mode and record the distance and time (didn´t see anything of this in the 620 review)?
    I don´t care about the swimming mode.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, the 620 is a runners watch, and does not support swimming. If you check out my FR220/FR620 reviews, one of them shows what it looks like trying to swim with it. You can certainly wear it on your wrist swimming, but the data is junk. If you put it on your swimcap, then it's all good.

      Reply
    • Pierre replied

      Thanks for the update..
      Must have missed that part in the review.
      Still use my 910Xt then :)

      Reply
  47. Jason

    I first want to thank you for such a GREAT website...I greatly appreciate the service you provide to us...with that being said...I've been researching via your website in regards to making the purchase of my first triathlon watch (the tri bug bit me hard after completing my first one last year). Now...with that being said...I'm really stuck being the 910XT and the FENIX2...and it only seems that I'm stuck because we are know that a new version of the 910XT is going to be released somewhere down the line...but we do not know when. My question to you...since the FENIX2 is also more of a an everyday watch...should I just get the FENIX2 and wait for the new version of the 910XT to be released...or...just get the 910XT. Also...would you recommend a GARMIN bike computer or the new WAHOO FITNESS one...I look forward to your advice...thank you again.

    PS...I will be making these purchases thru Clever Training...in my effort to support this website...thank you again.

    Regards,

    Jason

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      In general, if you want to train with a tri-specific unit this season, then go with what's on the market today.

      As for the cycling side, I like what Wahoo is doing in the RFLKT+ lineup, it's cool stuff. But, I personally prefer having a dedicated device at present. Obviously, there are pros and cons to each.

      Reply
  48. Eli

    Here's a potential bug that may be related to the F2, or may be a Garmin Connect bug. I raced a sprint distance tri with the F2 last weekend, and everything worked great with the watch. However, when I uploaded to Garmin Connect, it reduced my distances by a factor of 100. In other words, my swim was .75 meters, my bike was .12 miles, and my run was .03 miles. Did you, or is anyone else, having this issue? (Yes, I've done the firmware update).

    Thanks, as always for posting this fantastic review, Ray.

    Reply
    • Haroldo replied

      I wonder how you did this last weekend if the watch only came out this week? Not doubting. Just curious.

      Reply
  49. Thanks for responding to the barrage of questions Ray. You are a saint!

    I imagine the footpod works alongside—but separately from—the HRM-RUN/internal accelerometer combo.

    -- Is there a way to calibrate the footpod in-watch?
    -- Does it use a pace table for the footpod too, or just a calibration factor?
    -- Does it update the pace table for the strap/watch combo even while using the footpod (with GPS)?
    -- I imagine the protocol for cadence is: footpod > strap/watch combo?
    -- Is protocol for pace: GPS > footpod > strap/watch combo?

    Thanks again. Footpod is crucial for me during dog runs.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi Carl-

      "Is there a way to calibrate the footpod in-watch?"
      Yes, you can manually enter a distance for the footpod, or use GPS to calibrate it. Both are one-time calibration events.

      "Does it use a pace table for the footpod too, or just a calibration factor?"
      No, just calibration factor.

      "Does it update the pace table for the strap/watch combo even while using the footpod (with GPS)?"
      The pace table is always updated if GPS is being used. The footpod has no impact on this. Calibration of the footpod is required. It does not do this automatically.

      "I imagine the protocol for cadence is: footpod > strap/watch combo?"
      Run cadence hierarchy: HRM-Run, Footpod, WDR (Trail Running and Running modes only)

      "Is protocol for pace: GPS > footpod > strap/watch combo?"
      3D Speed (horizontal+vertical(If turned ON)), Footpod (if set to Always), WDR (Indoor Mode only), GPS, WDR (Outdoor Run mode), UltraTrac is always GPS…no hierarchy

      WDR is 'Wrist Dead Reckoning', which is the internal term Garmin uses for determining pace/distance without a footpod using the internal accelerometer data on the wrist.

      Reply
    • Steve replied

      So if I have the footpod and the HRM-Run, it won't even use the footpod for outdoor run? Based on what I'm seeing have the HRM-Run and the backup of WDR, maybe I should just sell my footpod?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, it'll use the footpod for an outdoor run:

      Footpod (if set to Always), WDR (Indoor Mode only), GPS, WDR (Outdoor Run mode)

      Reply
    • Steve replied

      Thank you! I don't know how you work, do this blog, answer questions and sleep, much appreciated!

      Reply
  50. Chris Thompson

    I'm all for multi-function. But, it took me a good while to figure out most of the ins and outs of my 910XT. This watch looks pretty daunting from a set up / operating standpoint.

    Reply
  51. Aben

    can you put a screen protector on it or because the screen is not flat you cannot?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Because of the slight non-flatness to it, it likely wouldn't work out well. That said, I've left the thing in the front pocket of my backpack constantly for 6 weeks, and it looks just as nice as the first day. The front pocket of said backpack is full of things that will scratch up anything willing.

      Reply
    • Brian Abaham replied

      I just installed a Zagg generic 36mm watch face screen protector... it fits perfectly, no bubbles...

      Reply
    • Ricky replied

      Does the black paint chip easily in your case?

      Reply
  52. Nangariel

    An excellent review - as usual!

    I understand there isn't the Training calendar function in the fenix 2, is there any chance Garmin will add it in a future update?
    Thanks.

    Reply
  53. Semi Ennafaa

    Hmm,

    I wonder if difference between Fenix and Fenix 2 is really just SW? Or HW was updated in some way (beside color design)?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      As noted in the review: "On the internal guts side, the unit received a slight change in the accelerometer to enable the swimming tracking scenarios, that wouldn’t have been fully possible with the same level of accuracy with the accelerometer that’s contained in the Fenix1/Tactix units."

      Reply
    • Tom replied

      I know the display has been hashed and rehashed a few times, but haven't seen the hardware specifically discussed...

      If you are saying the display is the same hardware as the Fenix, then it is only software preventing 'tradtional' (non-inverted) display, so Garmin could change if enough people requested?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Sorry, the display is physically different.

      As seen in the swimming section, Garmin can invert it, but the 'writable' portion of the screen doesn't take up the entire section below the glass. As you can see,it's a bit of a funky square's worth. So their concern is that if you went to inverted mode, it would look 'less appealing' because the screen doesn't extend to the corners of the glass (again, see the funky square inverted display in the swim section).

      Reply
    • Ed replied

      Ray, I do see it completely extended & fully inverted on the "Virtual Partner" page where both top/bottom parts include "writable" areas or are you referring to something else?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      When I look at the Virtual Partner mode, I see a bit of an octagon, versus pushing out to the edges in a fully circular manner.

      Reply
    • Ed replied

      You're absolutely right, Ray.

      That's what I meant, that even if they just push out the inverted display up to those octagonal edges, it should be enough to not have to turn on backlight under heavy shade which is what I'm having to do with Fenix2.

      If you happen to have both Fenix1 and Fenix2, you'll see for yourself what I mean when running under shade, as Fenix1 is totally visible without backlight, but not so for Fenix2.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Thanks. I agree that in dimmer light (I noted in the review, such as at dusk), it can be difficult to see until the unit's backlight is powerful enough to shine through (basically, when it becomes darker).

      Reply
  54. Chou Li

    Great review as always!

    Question, I just came back from a small run where I used the Navigate to follow a track I created with Garmin Connect, everything was great until I uploaded the log and found out that there is no Run Dynamics info recorded. Is that normal? Do I have to set it up so it records it?

    Btw messing up with the pages from navigate it doesn't show the Run Dynamics page, is that normal?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Assuming you had showed sensors as paired, and showed at least some data during the run (i.e. HR), it should have pulled through.

      Reply
    • Chou Li replied

      Got everything except Run Dynamics

      link to connect.garmin.com

      Weird

      Reply
    • Chou Li replied

      I checked again, looks like you can't add anything related to Run Dynamics in a Navigation page.

      Reply
  55. gian

    great review as usual! a question: i use always a footpod sdm4 for my workout. i use it with fenix2 and with a fenix1 and tactix. you wrote that when fenix2 lost gps it uses internal accelerometer... but if i have a footpod connected? it switches automatically from gps to sdm4 and then to gps again when signal is available after a tunnel for example? same for fenix1 too? thanks :)

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yes, all Garmin watches work that way with footpods (automatic fail-over).

      Reply
    • gian replied

      ok thanks, but i have to set in menu -> sensors -> footpod speed -> always
      correct?

      Reply
  56. Thomas

    Hi Ray,

    Awesome review!!! Two quick questions:

    1) "The unit will use GPS when outdoors to track your distance. In the event of a tunnel where GPS signal is lost, the unit will switch to using the internal accelerometer to measure distance and pace, and then upon exiting the tunnel it’ll switch back to GPS."

    In this scenario is there a way to manually force the watch to capture data using the foot-fod, instead of the internal sensor?

    2) Can you go to the compass screen and use it like a normal compass without using the"NAVIAGTE TO WAY POINT" function?

    Regards,

    Thomas

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      1) You can always capture data with a footpod instead.

      2) You can always pull open the compass, or add it as one of your data pages.

      Reply
  57. Paulo

    Isn't the ultratrac mode configurable to less than a minute? What would be the impact on that. Say 30 seconds 20 something battery hours.

    Reply
  58. goughy

    Hey DCR,

    Just thought I'd mention that in Australia, it appears there is a $100 difference between the basic watch version and the performance bundle with the hrm run included! For me, that means I'm just gonna stick with my still working hrm and save the money for now.

    Reply
  59. Daniel Gomez

    If you got the 310xt and garmin swim, is it worth the upgrade? I would love to have everything on one device and use it as an everyday watch. But I just don't know if I should wait out for next season possible 920 and possible new technology.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It depends on whether or not you find value in openwater swimming, or any of the mobile upload/connectivity options.

      Reply
  60. Kasper

    Is wireless data transfer to a computer using either ant+ or bluetooth smart possible?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, only USB upload to the computer, and Bluetooth upload to the Garmin Connect Mobile app on phones.

      Reply
  61. Daniel Sheeter

    Great review as always, DCR.

    Can you comment on how the tweaks to the display (white on black and slightly curved glass) have affected readability in full sunlight and dark conditions? Is it significantly easier to read than the Fenix1? Do you prefer the orange backlight to the white? Also, it seems as if the screen packs in slightly more information now. Did the resolution increase compared to the Fenix1?

    Macro picture of the glass taken by a reader - link to z.ckw.me
    I found that in the comments of the Fenix2 First Look, #933.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I don't find it bad in either direct sunlight or at night. A pain in the butt to take photos of? Absolutely. But for my eye? Nope.

      The one area that's a tiny bit harder is at dusk, before the backlight really kicks in.

      Same resolution as Fenix1.

      Reply
    • Daniel Sheeter replied

      So not really a significant improvment over the fenix 1 I take it. Which do you prefer?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I don't mind either display. I probably slightly prefer black text on a white background, but that's likely because I'm mentally programmed to have to photograph them all the time - so I'm skewed a bit.

      Reply
  62. goughy

    Forgot to add earlier. I'd love to see the autolap by position feature added. Most of my interval running/riding is done on some sort of circuit and love how autolap by position on my 310 just does it for me without having to think (I'm not big on thinking). Far from a dealbreaker for me though, hope to order mine in the next day or so!

    Reply
  63. Dr. D

    Ray - many thanks for another brilliant review.

    Q: Do the workout file get saved to your PC (like the 910XT does)?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      They remain on your Fenix2 unless deleted. You'd be able to keep a crapload of workouts on the unit. Roughly in the 130-150hrs range.

      Reply
    • Dr. D replied

      Thanks Ray - there is a Knighthood in the post :-)

      Reply
  64. Ted

    Fantastic review Ray!! I've been dying to see it since the teaser came out ;) I think I can safely say that we ALL sincerely appreciate the incredible time and effort you put into creating such amazing reviews and the ensuing onslaught of questions that you painstakingly follow up with afterward. From one athlete to another, thank you!

    Reply
  65. Gary

    Great review, im really torn. I require a Tri watch, i currently have a garmin swim, 810 and FR220 (which the wife has stolen). Im looking for a watch mainly for openwater swimming, and running.
    I use the Garmin Swim at present as sort of day watch. So the looks of the Fenix appeal to me. Also occasional off road trial running, again big tick for the Fenix. Camping trips etc etc
    My Question
    Any idea on what DESIGN the next 910xt replacement will be? Will it be similiar to what they have already or more like the Fenix2? Or will they copy something like the new Polar?
    How does the Fenix 2 feel in the water compared to 910xt, they are simliar weight but how does the shape effect the feel.? which feels bulkier?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The Fenix2 and FR910XT feel fairly similar to me, a touch bit bulkier than the Garmin Swim though obviously. But both of the larger units feel pretty similar.

      Reply
  66. Thanks a lot for that great review, Ray!

    Is it correct, that Garmin added the Jumpmaster-Mode for Parajumping with the new Firmware as in the Tactix?

    Reply
  67. Angus

    Awesome review Ray, thanks.

    I see that it wont let you have two bike sensors paired in memory (your example of TT and road bike). But will it let you have two Ant+ HR sensors setup (say a normal garmin one for running, and a SMART helmet one for cycling) such that you dont need to re-pair when using the other one?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, unfortunately there's actually no ANT+ unit on the market I'm aware of that allows you to pair/save multiple ANT+ heart rate straps. From Garmin or otherwise.

      Reply
    • Angus replied

      Thanks - not to worry. Still an awesome device.
      Bontrager Node bike computer will allow multiple HR straps (for data display, not recording), but that is the one place I dont need it since always have the same sensor!

      Reply
    • ifor replied

      No reason why it could not be done technically. I will allow up to 4 known sensors of any type in IpBike and have a couple of real HR straps plus a simulated one I can switch between without having to do anything in the app.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yeah, phone apps are different, and many store multiple straps (yours, Wahoo's, for example).

      For physical devices however, most companies don't want to do it, because it creates less of a reason for a husband/wife (or similar) to buy multiple devices.

      Reply
  68. Chilly

    DC Ray!

    Yeah man, thanks for the review! I would not be able to purchase without this site. I'm also impressed you met your girl at a running club. I've been to a few high school meets at GTown Prep (a coaching legend in MD too), and it's a sweet area.

    Anyway, as for the multi sport function - can I choose two activities (run and bike) for this?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Thanks! Yup, I'm lucky to have found her. :)

      For multisport, you can choose from 2 sports up to 5 sports. With or without transitions.

      Reply
    • Chilly replied

      Awesome, I appreciate the quick response.

      Reply
  69. Paulo

    Thanks for your review. As always it's great. Can you answer those 2 questions?
    Isn't there a way to set Ultratrac to less than 1 minute? 30 seconds or so?
    Is there an off track alert whem following a track?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  70. neil rosson

    Thanks for the in depth review. What are gps recording resolutions are available? Is it still the standard 1s 5s 60s?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      There are two GPS sampling modes:

      Normal: Constantly on, basically 1s
      UltraTrac: Polls every 60-seconds (60s), by default.

      You can configure the UltraTrac to a different value (such as every 20s), but how exactly that impacts battery life remains a bit murky. Once things die down I might try and do some testing on different sampling levels, but right now leaving a unit on the roof each day for 15hrs+ sorta kills my ability to actually use it (and answer questions).

      There are then two recording rate modes:

      1-second: Records data every 1-second
      Smart Recording: Records data every 4-7 seconds (sometimes more, sometimes less).

      The recording rate has zero impact on battery life (just storage space, which doesn't really matter here). First one, the GPS sampling rate, is what matters.

      This is a little different from the Suunto Ambit series, which has three options, adding an option for GPS sampling every 5s, which increases battery life more than the 1s option but less than the 60s option. So they make it simpler, but, at the cost of customization.

      I've just added a bit of wording to clarify that. Cheers!

      Reply
    • Paul S replied

      So that's different from Fenix 1? On the Fenix 1, Setup->Tracks gives you the choice of Method (Time or Distance or Auto) and choosing Time allows you to set whatever interval you want.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yeah, they've 'simplified' a lot of the menu's there. There's no longer a Setup > Tracks option.

      To that end, I agree with their changes. Once you start using the new UI on the Fenix2, it makes it really tough to go back to the Fenix1. I never liked the menu's on the Fenix1, as I found lots of oddities in the flow of things.

      In this case, you're setting that GPS Mode sampling on a per-activity basis (i.e. Running, Trail Running, Custom Profile, etc...). Which, sorta makes more sense when you think about it.

      Reply
    • Paul S replied

      Yeah, I remember getting sore fingers setting up my Fenix for the first time.

      But maybe Fenix 2 isn't the answer to "what happens if my Fenix falls off and gets eaten by a bear" any more. I used a custom interval just last week at DisneyWorld. After the first day getting a 10 Mb gpx for geotagging photographs, I cut the record interval back to 5 s, which was plenty good enough and saved a lot of space. This and the restriction on custom profiles (and can you get rid of profiles that you don't want?) is a little annoying.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No getting ride of unwanted profiles.

      While I can see the use case for more than 3-custom profiles, I'd really like to see a profile builder on Garmin Connect. If they could take whoever built the GC Workout Builder, and assign them to building a profile builder for not just Fenix, that'd be awesome (choosing data pages, fields, settings, etc...). Aside from the odd 20-step limitation in the workout builder, it otherwise is probably one of the most well executed things on Garmin Connect.

      Reply
    • Torstein replied

      You can hide profiles you doesn't use.
      Menu -> Settings -> Activity -> (Choose activity) -> In Menu -> Show/Hide.

      Hidden profiles won't show up in the list that appears when you press Start/Stop.

      Great review as always, by the way :)

      Reply
    • DomiC replied

      Firstly thanks for this great review !

      I have a question about Smart Recording ... I activated Smart Recording for both running and cycling activities. For cycling it works fine, data are stored in the range 1 to 10 seconds, but for running that remains always 1 second ... strange ...
      Have you observed the same behavior ?

      Thanks for your feedback

      DC

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I've largely just used 1-second recording. If you happen to have a power meter, it should also force 1s recording.

      That said, why specifically do you want Smart Recording over 1-second recording?

      Reply
    • DomiC replied

      Thanks for your reply.

      I don't know if that's true, but with Smart Recording, the data saving at the end of an activity seems to be faster ...
      Another thing why I want Smart Recording is when you export your TCX/GPX file, the file size is smaller. Sometimes third party website (where I upload my activities) doesn't support file size over 5Mb (and doesn't accept FIT file ...)

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      True, I could see that on the saving times. Bummer on not accepting .FIT files, I didn't think there were many fitness sites left that didn't.

      Reply
  71. Phil

    Ray, great review, as always.
    I have an odd question, but how many full charges do you think you could get from that power monkey? I spend weeks at a time in secluded areas and battery life is my priority.
    Best regards
    Phil.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It's solar...so...hopefully never ending. ;)

      Or did you mean something else?

      Reply
    • Phil replied

      Good answer.
      No I mean without the solar panel. We don't get a lot of sun in the uk.
      The power monkey is just a battery.

      Reply
    • Paul S replied

      Compare the capacity of the Fenix 2's battery (in the manual) with the capacity of the USB battery. That'll give you an idea of how many times you can charge the Fenix.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I see what you're asking. The Power Monkey is actually a brand (like Garmin), they make a lot of stuff (some solar, some battery). Thus, my confusion. Garmin simply re-brands one of their units.

      It's a 2200mAh battery in the solar variant of the unit. The Fenix2 has a 500mAh battery. Thus, in theory, about 4 times. Though, in general I'd plan for slightly less.

      Reply
    • Phil replied

      Great, thank you.

      Reply
  72. Daniel

    First of all, keep up the great work, not sure how I was making decisions about these types of devices before I came across your site. I have one question since this is will be my first watch of this type. I wear my watches backwards/opposite to what most people do (the watch face is on the inside of my wrist). Don't ask me why but it started when I was a kid and I'm too old to change. I don't think this should impact the way the watch works (re: accelerometer) - your thoughts?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Thanks!

      I haven't heard of anyone having any problems doing that with the FR220/FR620, nor with the Fenix1 during the beta phase of that functionality since December. So I think you're probably good there.

      Reply
    • Tim Grose replied

      Might be an issue with GPS reception however. The antenna would then be pointing more at the ground that the sky I would have thought...

      Reply
  73. Kent

    Thanks for the awesome reviews, well done. Do you know if the fenix2 will pair with the upcoming mio link for optical HR?

    Reply
  74. KingArt

    Finally got an update from clever training. I can't wait!

    ------------
    Thank you for your recent order for the new highly anticipated Garmin Fenix 2 Bundle. Pre-orders continue to come in as quickly as they are going out and we are working hard to fulfill all orders. At this time we have a shipment scheduled to arrive from Garmin early next week which will fulfill your current order. As soon as your order is packaged and ready to go we will email you with the tracking information for your convenience.

    As some of you may notice the availability status of this particular item will soon change to ‘Early to Mid April’. This DOES NOT affect your current order and will only affect any orders that come in after today. Thank you for your patience and we hope you enjoy your new product!

    Kind Regards,
    Clever Training Team

    Reply
  75. Harish Lakshman

    Ray - 20 to 30 minutes to sync a 40 minute run! Isn't that a deal breaker?! Does it take so much time for each and every sync or is it inconsistent? How long does it take on a 620? My Vivofit takes only 15 to 20 seconds to sync. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Asaf replied

      In general, my experience with the Fenix family is that the CPU is dead slow. Not only you wait eternity to save a workout in GPX format, but you also wait each time you load a course on the watch or just scroll between data pages... I'd love to love this awesome watch, but since it's the same hardware as the Fenix 1, I doubt much have changed in the processing speed department.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      They've made some good progress there actually, especially in the last few weeks. I'm seeing zero issues with data pages/changes, or with history once it's loaded (previously scrolling history was horrible). Saving is still slow, as noted in the post. And loading of a course is still sorta slow. But for mid-run activities, that's all instant.

      Reply
    • Olu replied

      Slow is an understatement. I usually don't view activities on the watch, but I just tried to look at a 10 mile run from this morning. It took 27 seconds to load up and another 15 seconds to get the details loaded. To view the same workout on the 910 would be instant and at most a few seconds. I can't imagine it's the CPU as it seems to be able to keep up with Powermeters and HRM in real time. Are they using a different algorithm then the Forerunner series?

      While I think this watch has potential to be better then the 910xt, those used to the Forerunner series should be warned about this.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      "While I think this watch has potential to be better then the 910xt, those used to the Forerunner series should be warned about this."

      That's why I wrote it in the review. ;)

      Reply
  76. lankytoreador

    Thanks for the review Ray. Did I see in the original Fenix review something about changing a setting to recording activities in both .fit and .gpx? What file type does the Fenix 2 record activities in - .fit or .gpx and can you pick either or both?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It records just .FIT files. I'm not seeing the option to do both in the menu in the current firmware (though, I could be missing it...).

      You can export out the .GPX from Garmin Connect

      Reply
  77. Pyry

    Hi,
    Did Garmin solve the soft heart rate strap problem they had ?
    (Your comment a time ago on rather using a Polar strap with the Garmin unit)
    Also, are you going to do the downhill tests more thoroughly with the Fenix2. I am really looking for the best solution for heavy downhill skiing.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • empewu replied

      From my personal experience (I have used both previous generations of Garmin straps and Polar strap with Garmin FR 220) the new HRM strap solves problems they had. Probably it is due to fact that it has 3 contacts, where the 3rd one is type of material/mesh one which stays wet even in dry/cold weather.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I'd agree. If using the HRM3 (for units made after July 2013), it's pretty solid. Occasionally I see some minor blips in the first few minutes of a workout, then it's fine. The only other time I sometimes see issues if it's hot and I'm sweating a lot and the sweat is 'pooling' below the strap. But I've found simply wiping the sweat instantly resolves it. This is fairly rare.

      The HRM3/HRM-RUN have the same base firmware these days (obviously, the HRM-RUN has the additional Running Dynamics pieces).

      Reply
  78. Shipper

    Hi Ray,
    Awesome site and love the new 'jump to' box!
    can you tell me if HRM-RUN is required to get the V02 max and Race Predictor results? I have a few of the old Premium HRM straps and am not really fussed if I get the 'ground contact' time etc. (I would also quite like the cadence feature but I'm a bit confused, is that 'on the watch' or also part of HRM-RUN?)

    as someone above mentioned the HRM-RUN bundle is $100 extra here in Oz ($600!!!) so if I can get away with what I have all the better!

    thanks, Shipper

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Cadence you'll get with an older strap, as with VO2Max/Race Predictor. You won't get Ground Contact Time or Vertical Oscillation though.

      Reply
  79. Kevin Wagoner

    I am so excited about this watch. I received mine last week (traded in 610) and had a bit of a hick-up over the weekend (15K event). Garmin support on Monday had me do a reset (Bottom Right and Top Left button) that has the watch working great. So far I've only taken the time to record a bike commute and a small lunch time run and I am really enjoying the watch (plus heart rate monitor). I'm looking forward to a swim tomorrow and a gravel ride in the Columbia River Gorge on the weekend. I'm also looking forward to trying out a track workout and exploring some of the outdoor adventure features. I love this watch so far.

    Reply
  80. Ray, regarding the Fenix2's performance on a treadmill without a footpod, you said, "This is a vast improvement over what I’ve seen both in other Garmin products (FR620 at release)..." In the comments of your FR620 review, you have noted that the FR620's indoor accuracy seems to have improved with firmware releases. Is it the same now as what you have experienced with the Fenix2? Or is the Fenix2 without the footpod more accurate than the FR620 without the footpod? They both seem to do OK within "normal" pace ranges but I'm specifically interested in faster-than-normal paces as I run a lot of treadmill interval workouts. Shedding the footpod would be liberating for me as I prefer to run barefoot - but not if I lose all accuracy during my work intervals.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I need to re-test the FR620 in that area. I did a bit of a test of it about 10 days ago or so, maybe a bit longer. In any case, it was definitely better.

      When I tested both side by side 10 days ago, the Fenix2 w/o the footpod was better than the FR620. But, I wasn't really focusing on the FR620 too much in that test, it was just sorta along the ride.

      On faster than normal, it wasn't that bad on the Fenix2 as noted, as that included my interval paces (5:45ish/mile). I didn't in this last test go much below it (i.e. 4:45-5:00/mile), simply because I was running out of time.

      Ultimately, I'm hoping to be able to get a treadmill soon that makes these tests much easier and more standardized/predictable/verifiable. The challenge right now is I do them on random hotel treadmills.

      Reply
    • Eric M. replied

      You talk about the fact it can function as a daily watch and the weight and do the roller pin pics, but does it pass the practical "Ray-Test"? Would you consider wearing this on a daily basis in a business environment? Does it fit under the cuff of a button down? Does the black, tactical look stand out less than the bright blue of the 620, or does the size make it look odd as a daily?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It does fit under a cuff, did it about a week ago using alerts that day. It fits a bit better, but ultimately I've learned that different cultures look at different watches different ways. What might be 'acceptable' in Europe might now in the US, or vice versa.

      Reply
    • J.Griffin replied

      Ray- you're spot on.

      I also fully believe a lot has to do with the environment you're contending with, ie. business casual dress should be no problem, but I would NOT dare dream of wearing any casual watch with a suit & tie, and most likely not a jacket & tie.

      Heck in the past I would have never dreamed of wearing a t-shirt to the office, except where it is fully condone. Which is the case for me nowadays, but then again I'm not of executive rank.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Indeed, fully depends on the environment. I was in a meeting on Tuesday with a bunch of executives in Mexico City, all of which were wearing suits/ties. The mix of watches spanned from cheap Casio watches to multi-thousand dollar gold watches. One person was wearing an older Polar unit. I wasn't wearing a watch, but did have Vivofit on below shirt.

      Without derailing too much...Personally, I don't much care what folks think of me based on watches. But others are more sensitive. For me, if they're making an opinion on me based on my watch and not what I'm saying/doing, then I've failed.

      Reply
    • J.Griffin replied

      Yes you're correct on people's opinions in most everyday situations. And the world is so much more casual these days.

      But if you were interviewing for an Exec VP position, you would dress accordingly be it Google, IBM or Wallstreet etc. And shoes & accessories sometimes does matters.

      You wouldn't show up at Garmin HQ, wearing a Polar watch would you?

      Reply
    • Thanks for all the work you do - not just the testing/comparisons but especially because you're still getting it done despite the challenges of, e.g. random hotel treadmills! Whenever I purchase next, it will definitely be with this site's code.

      Reply
  81. Don

    Great review! I got my F2 without the HR and hope to pair with a mio link. My first run was 3 miles. The cadence is reading about double or 300+. Is there any way to fix this? Also a temp calibration would be good as it reads 5-6 degrees high.

    Reply
    • Knut replied

      The temp reading too high is a function of the watch being influenced by your body temperature. Get the Tempe pod and clip it to your shoe or pack and you'll be all good.

      Reply
    • Paul S replied

      As long as you don't expect too much from a Tempe. Being small and dark, it's easily affected by the sun.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      On the cadence doubling, this is something that appears to have been introduced in just the last build, I noticed it as well last night and sent it over to the Fenix team. They're validating/fixing.

      Reply
  82. Robert

    So I did my first bike ride today with nothing but the Fenix 2 in bike mode and the hrm run strap and when I upload to garmin connect it shows a bike cadence (I have no bike sensors) is this a feature or a bug?

    Thanks
    Robert

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It's a bug, whether or not it's a Fenix bug or a GC bug is questionable. But given you've got cadence it's probably coming from the HRM-RUN, and thus means they're pulling in unnecessary data for that profile. Interestingly, I don't see that on my rides up till the weekend (haven't ridden outdoors since then due to travel).

      Reply
  83. Excellent detailed review. Thank you!

    So I'm moving from a 610 and I use Strava. Am I correct in understanding that the Fenix2 will not pair with an Ant Agent for file upload? It appears the only way to move files without the USB/charging cable is by using the mobile app?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Correct, or, use a 3rd party service as described in below post, which will take it as soon as it hits your phone (via Bluetooth) and push to Strava:

      link to dcrainmaker.com

      Reply
    • Olu replied

      I'm 24 hours and 3 workouts with the Fenix 2 and I've given up on the bluetooth uploading function. It's just easier to hook up the USB connection to the computer. It uploads the file to through Garmin express automatically (and within seconds) and I have the .fit file that I can upload to Strava and save for my own records.

      When(if) Garmin allows other platforms to sync directly with Garmin connect, I'll give I might give the bluetooth upload function a try.

      Reply
  84. Don in Baltimore

    "If you want to display/capture/record heart rate data (or any other ANT+ data sensor), you cannot enable Live Tracking of that session. It’s one or the other."

    This is a deal breaker for me.

    Everyday, I go for a run or a ride with my 620 or 810 and I send my wife my LiveTracking data. If I can't workout and send this to her, no need to get this device.

    This isn't b/c she watches me exercise, but it's a safety issue. Poor decision Garmin...

    Reply
    • Tony P replied

      Your smart phone has it's on tracking function , my wife uses this

      Reply
    • Adam replied

      Totally.

      On the one hand, pretty much everyone that buys a watch with this level of functionality is going to want to use ANT+ sensors with their workout, which basically makes the native LiveTracking feature completely redundant. Very annoying.

      But on the other hand, you're going to have your smart phone with you anyway so if it's purely for 'safety issues' then there's plenty of other live tracking platforms available. The last one I used was Google Latitude (which has since been discontinued) but there must be loads out there.

      Reply
    • Don in Baltimore replied

      Good point Adam!

      I used to use the Road ID app and had forgotten about it since getting my 810 & 620.

      The other issue with non-concurrent tech is the notifications.
      The best time to be able to see a text or email is during my run to see if it's something I have to deal with now.

      I love my Garmin stuff. It just really irks me when they go backwards on functionality. I have to keep my Edge 810 as it is now the only device the works with my very expensive Tanita scale! Sometimes I wonder if their development team uses their own stuff...

      Thanks for the reminder on the other apps!

      Don

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The core reason people prefer Garmin Live Tracking over 3rd party platforms is that it doesn't drain the phones battery because the phone doesn't use GPS. Rather, just data.

      The secondary reason people prefer Garmin Live Tracking is that the Garmin Live Tracking service is rather 'clean'. Most 3rd party options I've played with are clunky at best, and don't include a lot of running/cycling specific information (such as where you went, paces, etc...).

      Reply
    • Olu replied

      While this may be true for active tracking mechanisms, passive tracking mechanisms like Find Friends use a lot less battery power. If it's simply for safety reasons, then an app like Find Friends is more then adequate to know where your loved ones are.

      Reply
    • Steve replied

      Try teh free ROAD ID App, it has live tracking and is pretty cool.

      Reply
    • Max replied

      The non-concurrent issue is really sad, as Garmin obviously has the chipset (as used in the FR620) and as the 620 has a smaller form factor, I don't think it's a size problem either. Would be the deal for me if I could see who's trying to reach me without reaching for the phone whilst out on the bike as I have some days where I am on on-call standby duty.
      Sorry, just had to vent my disappointment...
      Anyway, Ray, we all here owe you big time for your work!

      Reply
  85. Anthony Anicete

    Tanita scale support? Is garmin developing their own scale?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      There's no ANT+ scale support (i.e. Tanita, Lifesource, etc...). Ultimately I think long term it would make sense to develop a scale, since others in the activity tracking are as well (Withings, FitBit). But I think they could have followed the same model of doing dual ANT+/BLE like the Vivofit, plus WiFi. Then, they could have tapped into the other Garmin units supporting it.

      Reply
  86. Jarek

    Excellent review ! Great job as usual !

    I'm the happy owner of the new Fenix2, since about 3 weeks.
    One comment related to transfer via bluetooth to GC throught mobile phone ( Iphone in my case ).
    I noticed the speed is related to the quality of internet connection you have at the moment.
    Much faster and stable when my Iphone is connected on wifi than when I'm in the woods with weak edge signal.

    Reply
    • Harish Lakshman replied

      Jarek - How long does it take to sync with a good wifi connection?

      Reply
    • empewu replied

      On Fenix 1 with newest beta firmware it takes less than 1 minute for 90 min run with HR data included, both on WiFi and 3g connections

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Good to see others are getting faster throughput. I'll try again on .40 and see if that improves the situation (I last tried earlier in the week on a beta variant of .40), on WiFi. All my workouts have been with ANT+ data of some sort.

      Reply
  87. Edouard

    HI Ray,

    Thanks for this great review.
    Did you get a chance to test the altimeter and the vertical speed accuracy / stability ?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I haven't had a chance to really dig into that, given lack of easily repeatable and verifiable hills here in Paris. I do however know that they made a change regarding the Vertical Speed stability in one of the firmware updates about a week ago (can't remember where exactly it surfaced version-wise), based on responses to comments seen on the forums and elsewhere.

      Reply
  88. Adam

    One feature of the Forerunner 620 that I thought was a good leap forward in connectivity was the ability to connect directly to Wifi and upload your activities automatically. I know some people have had issues with it, but when you see the limitations of doing it via a mobile device and Bluetooth, it seems a no-brainer to cut that out of the loop.

    I guess there's no chance of this being implemented on the fenix2 at a later date, I presume it just doesn't have the required hardware?

    Reply
  89. Markus

    Hi Ray, hi folks,

    I love this blog and allways inform here before buying any new staff.

    Does anyone of you recommend the PolarV800 instead of the Fenix2!?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I think there may be some cases where the V800 may make more sense than the Fenix2. But, as of today, anyone who states that is honestly making up stuff. The reason is simple: A final unit is 1-2 months away, and Polar is unwilling to clarify exactly what's in that unit at launch. Until they do that (and provide a firmware that corroborates that), I put them in the same category as a Kickstarter project.

      I'm really excited about what the V800 means for Polar long-term. I think they get it. But short-term I've become very skeptical in the past month or so based on lack of updates/information/direction.

      Reply
  90. Rodrigo Cordeiro

    Hi, Great Review.

    I already own a footpod, it is automaticaly calibrated by the Fenix 2 as the internal footpod is?
    Do I have any advantage in using the footpod outdoors?

    Thanks,

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The footpod needs to be calibrated separately (using GPS/Track/Treadmill). I just posted a comment a second ago that details it all. Search the page for "WDR" and you'll find all the details. Enjoy!

      Reply
    • KenZ replied

      I'd argue there's an advantage of the footpod outdoors: it's just more accurate for cadence, which is one of the most important feedback values on these devices in the first place. Plus, if you're low on battery, the footpod does a pretty decent job on distance anyway, so in those cases you can turn the GPS off.

      Reply
  91. rabbit

    How do you assess the readability of (3rd party) maps on the fenix 2? In my view significantly worse than on the fenix!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It's basically the same. Keep in mind, when looking at the maps in this post, I live in one of the most populated places on earth, with the most tiny roads of just about any place on earth. The photos were literally taken 100m from what is the official center of Paris. Thus, if you were out in the middle of nowhere, it'd likely be much easier to follow.

      Reply
  92. Hayley Winder

    In relation to the F2 tracking power, will this also work with indoor trainers (I have the Elite Qubo), or is it limited to the Garmin Vector pedals?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It'll work with any ANT+ power meter. So, for example, the Wahoo KICKR and PowerBeam Pro would work (as would something like TrainerRoad with ANT+ Power Relay). However, the Elite units don't broadcast open ANT+ power, but rather private. At least, that's the way the Elite Turbo Muin works. So it wouldn't work there.

      Reply
  93. David

    You mention no 920XT this season. Does Garmin plan on having one? Looks like the Fenix2 has all the upgrades currently available. Can't think of anymore functionality. A thinner less bulky watch would be nice but.

    Also I saw you are using the new Garmin web interface on your computer. Am I missing something? Mine garmin online is the older one. Don't see anywhere I can use the new on or beta Version.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The new web interface is available today or Vivofit users, but coming in the next 1-2 months (likely) for the remaining users. As it stands today, really on the Vivofit related items are upgraded, so things like course creation/etc, is all old-school.

      Reply
  94. panos

    So, no navigate back to start following a breadcrumb ? (i mean when you are out without following a predifined route)

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      You can do that at any time by taping the red button and selecting to track back.

      Reply
  95. Wim

    Hi Ray, great review, as usual. Just one remark:

    "From a logistical standpoint, you can wear the Fenix2 either on your wrist, or on a bike mount for your bar."

    You can take me for an expert on the matter when I say that cycling with such an expensive watch on your wrist is a really really bad idea and should only be considered if you're not going to crash... A few weeks ago, I was cycling with my forerunner 410 on my wrist when I lost control on a slippery road and fell right on my left side. Result: broken strap, scratched screen and two nasty fleshwounds from where the buttons of the watch tried to penetrate my hand. This kinda sucks...
    Though the good news is that I now have a better excuse to ditch the 410 and buy myself a fancy new 620 or this fenix2. :)

    Reply
  96. Michele Badiale

    Thanks Ray, great reading as usual :)
    I am as undecided as ever.
    Does the Fenix2 support Ant+ upload of the workouts (old forerunners' style)? 20-30 minutes for BT upload seems hardly worthy!
    I would also really like to know if the unit can pre fetch info on satellites from Ant+ or from the USB cable.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No ANT+ transfer of workouts to computer (though, you can still send things wirelessly between Fenix/Tactix units).

      You can fetch satellite info via USB.

      As for the 20-30 minutes, I'll re-try again today and see if that's improved at all for me. Some readers here are seeing much faster times than me (less than a minute).

      Reply
    • Steve replied

      Today I uploaded 2 runs, one was .9 miles and the other a 5k, so about 30 minutes of total data with all the new HRM-Run, Footpod, and Tempe metrics and it was done in maybe 1 min, was very happy with the BT upload time. I did it while driving home from a local 5k, was pumped to have it already loaded :-)

      Reply
  97. Basile

    Hi Ray, thanks for your, once again, awsome review.

    1°) With Ultratrack mode, couldn't Garmin complement GPS data with accelerometer data to provide more accurate distance ? Do you think this is something Garmin is working on?

    2°) What would be the Fenix 2 battery life in both livetrack and smartwatch (phone notifications on) mode ?

    3°) What is the impact of livetrack function on the iphone in terms of battery life. Any idea?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      HI Basile-

      On the UltraTrak mode, they could likely do something like that. Sorta like FusedSpeed on the Ambit's.

      On the other two, I know they're working on figuring out those numbers. I haven't done too many long-life battery tests beyond what I did, simply for logistical reasons. Each one takes 15hrs+ to do, and that means I basically can't use the unit for that timeframe, and thus it's hard to answer questions, etc... I ordered my unit today, and hopefully within a week or two I'll have another to do more playing there with.

      Reply
  98. Mimmo

    Two questions :
    1) It's possibile to create a custom activity where the GPS is disabled ?
    2) It's possibile to change the 4 pages that it shows when you click on up and down button in home (Altimeter, Barometer, Compass and Temperature) ?

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Rob Montgomery replied

      I created a "Walk" activity, and when I went to walk on a treadmill went to the "Indoor" activity and my walk category was available to choose. Hope that answers your question. I believe any activity you create can be found in "indoor" mode as well.

      Reply
    • Mimmo replied

      Hi Rob ! thank you for your answer. If I go to Menu > Settings > Activity I read all activities but not Indoor and also Custom, Custom 2 and Custom 3. How can I add new Walk activity ?

      Reply
    • Rob Montgomery replied

      Click on one of the Custom activities and change the name to whatever you want. Once you change the name and edit the settings for it, it should be available under the "indoor" section as well.

      Reply
    • Mimmo replied

      It's true !!! thanks Rob ! ;)

      and 2) It’s possibile to change the 4 pages that it shows when you click on up and down button in home (Altimeter, Barometer, Compass and Temperature) ?

      Reply
    • Fabian Gruber replied

      It seems you can only customize the items in the main menu (the one you get to when holding the menu button), Mimmo,

      Reply
  99. Kimberly

    I have a FR410 and use the footpod and HRM mainly to keep up with distance and calories burned while jogging outside or treadmill, biking, and while working out in the gym and it works fine for that but I would like one that also worked for swimming. My question about the Fenix2 is that while doing crossfit and weight lifting will the internal sensors will get confused by all the jumping, lifting, and bouncing around in the gym and then not be able to calculate treadmill miles correctly? Or would I still need to wear my footpod?
    I bike, swim, crossfit, and trying to become a better runner.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It'll use HR indoors, so you can use the unit indoors with GPS off just fine to get calorie data. Since there's no GPS data, it's not updating/tweaking the WDR calibration.

      Reply
    • Kimberly replied

      I usually just leave the GPS on because I may be running sprints outside between sets inside, I leave it off for treadmill or if I know I won't be going in and out.

      Reply
  100. Martin

    One drawback with the Fenix 2 is that navigation is only available as an "activity" in its own right. I'd like to be able to start and stop navigation while recording another activity (running, hiking, biking etc). That's the way it works on on my old Garmin handheld GPS and the Suunto Ambit. This would have multiple benefits:

    - It would conserve battery life on long backcountry trips where you don't need navigation all the time, but you want to record a track log for the entire trip

    - You'd be able to switch between multiple navigation destinations while recording a single activity

    - It would solve Chou Li's issue about not being able to navigate and monitor running dynamics at the same time

    Hopefully Garmin will address this in a new firmware release, since it's clearly not a hardware limitation.

    Reply
    • neil rosson replied

      So you couldn't for example check your heart rate pace distance & then be able to check navigation on another page? I'm sure I'm miss-understanding here.

      Reply
    • Pete replied

      Wow Martin, I thought I was the only one that noticed the huge limitations of having "Navigation as an activity on its own right" rather than having it simply available while recording other activities! To me, it just stands out like a sore thumb from the otherwise more intuitive activities.

      I guess only Suunto Ambit owners would pick up on this. This is becoming sort of a deal-breaker for me, I simply cannot stand it!

      Navigation needs to be liberated and made available to all activities! I would even go as far as including it in open water swimming in the event of a safety/MOB possibility.

      Reply
    • Paul S replied

      I've never navigated with my Fenix 1, but I was just playing around with the data pages, and the Navigation pages are settable independently for the two profiles I was playing with, my XC-ski profile and my Hiking profile. I'm curious now, and I'm going to navigate a hike soon just to see how it works. I've already created the route in BaseCamp and have sent it to my Fenix, where it looks right. So on Fenix 1, it looks as if Navigation is something you can do independently for each profile, but I won't be sure until I try it.

      So that brings up a question. Ray, when this thread dies down a little and you have a chance, could you tell us or speculate about why Garmin's Outdoor division was allowed to encroach on the Fitness division's turf? Will they be backing off on the changes and putting out a more pure outdoor wrist worn device in the future?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I don't expect them to back down on the fitness space. I think it's a good thing. Hopefully at some point it'll force Garmin to realize they have different strengths in different parts of the team, and to re-evaluate how those teams align. Further, it's driving a lot of good cross collaboration that we haven't seen before between Fitness and Outdoor.

      Also, knowing the Fenix team (the Outdoor team), they're a very competitive bunch. You can see that with the VIRB action camera, and their continual adds of features to both the camera and the software.

      Reply
    • Pete replied

      Hi Paul, it seems Fenix 2 navigation is the exact opposite of Fenix 1. If you've never used navigation you might want to play with it beforehand and then you'll get hooked like I did.

      I even use it for when I visit multiple clients in large unfamiliar cities and it's nice to discretely navigate from your watch. I've even walked clients to brand new restaurants and they're amazed that I know my way around their city better than they do!

      After being used to Ambit's smooth navigating, I was surprised Fenix 2 was kind of clunky and felt buggy. Hopefully, they can fix that.

      Reply
  101. Cody

    I think its note worthy for people deciding between a Fenix and a Fenix 2 that with the awesome dcrainmaker discount code the Fenix 2 is only $55 ($405 vs 350 for the bundle) more than the Fenix on clevertraining.com. It was the deciding factor for me to get all the extra features for $55 even though I don't swim often. I just ordered mine expecting it in mid April!

    Reply
  102. Haroldo

    Excellent review

    Thank you for the effort.

    Just purchased a new F2 through your amazon link.

    About indoor running.

    A couple of questions on how to get around the outdoor miles before going indoors.

    Will distance/pace accuracy improve if one is wearing a footpod instead of relying fully on the unit and HRM-RUN strap?

    I am asking because you said the F2 has to learn how and how fast you run in order to be a little more accurate for indoor running. For New England right now that will be tough. I mostly run indoors during the winter and was hopping to use it as soon as it got here (should be Tuesday). I read your FR320 review looking for the answer but either didn't see it or it wasn't there. I was wondering if you could help me with figuring a way out of the hundreds of outdoor miles running before using it indoors.

    Does the unit use the footpod for distance/pace/speed? Is it any more accurated then using the footpod with the FR305 or any other FR?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It will improve the accuracy assuming one calibrates it (either on a treadmill or track or outdoors). The footpod piece has long been very accurate once calibrated (see some of my past posts there).

      The accuracy with a footpod is the same across all Garmin watches (assuming calibrated). It's the same math coming from the same source.

      Reply
    • Haroldo replied

      Did you address this on any previous posts? could you provide me with the link?

      Reply
    • Haroldo replied

      on how to Calibrate the footpod more accurately.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The Fenix2 allows you to simply go outside and calibrate via GPS (one-off), or via treadmill. It's a menu system, cleaner than the FR620.

      Alternatively, see these:
      link to dcrainmaker.com
      link to dcrainmaker.com

      Reply
    • Torstein H replied

      I tried calibrating my footpod on the Fenix2 with GPS earlier this evening, but everytime i pressed 'Start' to start the calibration process the watch simply rebooted.

      Have you experienced that? I'm on firmware 2.40, and everything else seems to work as it should.

      Reply
  103. John Nash

    Hi Ray. Thanks for your useful reviews. I am at the point now to choose between 620 , Fenix2 and Polar V800 . Initially I was attracted by 620 but then I've made a little research on Garmin Forum and found out that a lot of people are complaining about it. What do you think , should I wait for release of Polar V800 before making a decision ? I plann to use if mainly for running and swimming.
    Can Fenix2 be used as a daily watch or is it too big ?
    Thanks !

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      RE: The Garmin Forums

      Remember, the only people that ever go to forums are people with issues. It's the same for Apple, Garmin, or your dishwasher company. Thus, the only thing you'll see are issues. No doubt those people are having issues, but it isn't everyone. There are plenty (the vast majority) of people that are fine. Remember, even with a 1% failure rate on units, that would mean that there's 500 people on 50,000 units that are unhappy (some of which don't want to call support for whatever reason). That's a lot of posts. Note that 1% would be considered rather impressive for a consumer electronic device.

      As for the V800, it won't have swim distance metrics upon release, if that sways your decision.

      Reply
    • John Nash replied

      Ok , thanks for reply. Indeed , from that point of view you are right.

      Than it remains only the thing with the daily usage of F2. Can it be used as a daily watch or it's a little to big ? I have seen the 910xt (way to big) and 620 (perfect from this point of view).

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I used it for a few days as a day watch, once you get used to the weight, you're good. Same as any heavy watch (including non-GPS ones). Personally, I prefer a lighter watch, but that's just me. And honestly, most of the time I don't even wear a watch day-to-day unless I'm testing something.

      Reply
    • Harmless Harm replied

      Excellent review Ray, doing outdoor swimming tests in Europe winter, wow what an dedication!

      My local retailer offers TomTom, Garmin and Polar.
      Guess what, in his shop Garmin has highest return rate (so percentage wise). Like myself shop owner is with his second 620... And since I am having issues with edge 510 as well, seems I again have hit another 1% piece, bad luck...
      Looks great, many features, but in my case low Quality Of Results (QOR).
      Business wise Garmin is doing great, why would they care on relative failure rates, we keep buying their stuff.

      Personally I do not understand questions on V800 comparison, to me V800 serves different market looking at features, whether all enabled at release or not. It seems more high-end device targeting a more professional audience. Hope the high-end features are addressed in upcoming review.
      That being sad, V800 is not available yet so it can't be used for upcoming season, maybe it could for events later this year. So as Ray advises, buy what is available.

      Reply
  104. Haroldo

    From previous posts I can tell you the FR620 will not be getting swim capability ever. So if you mainly use it for swimming I'd say you should be between F2 and V800.
    There's a nice session on which watch to choose. That should clarify some things between those two.
    Sorry, I know you asked for Ray. Just thought I could help

    Reply
  105. Mitch W

    Hi Ray,

    Totally detailed review. Don't know how you do it. Couple questions

    * What are the exclusive metrics to the HRM-Run? Do you need the HRM-Run to get the VO2 Max and race predictor metrics? (might save the $50 as the watch already monitors cadence)

    * If the recovery adviser only calculates running isn't it ultimately a little gimicky (at least for those of us who are not pure runners)? Do you think Garmin will ever be able to expand this function to be more holistic with firmware updates?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Exclusive to HRM-RUN: Ground Contact Time, Vertical Oscillation. Things like Recovery Advisory, etc... are with any HR strap.

      As for Recovery Advisor going beyond running, I'm pretty sure you'll see that. Whether that's now, summer, fall or next year...not sure. But ultimately that's the direction Garmin appears to be going in.

      Reply
  106. Hej Ray, thanks as always!
    One question: You mention, that the Fenix2 can use cadence-only bike sensors... will this be possible with the Fenix1 too? Would love to get the Bontrager cadence-only sensor to work with my Fenix1.
    Regards, Alex

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I don't expect to see Garmin add it to the Fenix1 at this point. But, ya never know.

      Reply
  107. lankytoreador

    Ray - how do you switch to a navigation task such as navigating to a city waypoint when you are already started within an activity such as a run? Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  108. BZ

    Can you explain the benefits of the Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ capabilities of the 620 in comparison to the F2? I'm not sure how important these are to have, but the F2 sounds like it has all of the 620 features and more otherwise. The weight of the 620 vs F2 is lighter and (possibly) better for running, as for some people the touch screen and data fields shown at once are too. To me the F2 screen looks like it would be easier to read during a run since it appears bolder and brighter than the 620.

    Basically, I have the 620 and like it, but I am very tempted by the F2 due to the running specific data features that were a big part of the 620 marketing (V02, etc.). I bought the watch at REI, which has a great exchange policy so I can exchange the 620 for the F2. Would that be a bad idea, or would I be gaining a better watch (minus the Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ part)?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Garmin FR620: You can have ANT+ enabled (heart rate, sensors, etc...) while concurrently Live Streaming data to your phone for broadcast via Bluetooth Smart.

      Fenix2: You can either have ANT+ enabled, or, Live Stream via Bluetooth Smart. Not both at once.

      Reply
    • Klaus replied

      Would it work to use i.e. the Mio.Link or another BT Smart heart rate strap to record heart rate and to live tracking contemporarily on the F2?

      Or is the BT Smart functionality in the F2 only to sync with Garmin Connect?

      Thx.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It's only to sync with Garmin Connect. It does not support sensors.

      Reply
  109. Olu

    Did my first swim with the Fenix 2 today. 3500 yards straight.
    The 910xt got 3500yds, the Fenix 2 got 3525yds (and called it mixed even though every lap was freestyle)

    I've owned the 405, 610, 910xt Forerunners and the 705, 800 Edge units. Each one was an upgrade from the previous unit and a joy to use from day one. Even the Vivofit has been a pleasant surprise. I'm holding out that the responsiveness of the Fenix software team will come to the rescue, but after 2 runs, 1 bike, and 1 swim the Fenix 2, has left me luke warm at best.

    Fenix: link to connect.garmin.com

    910xt: link to connect.garmin.com

    Reply
    • Pete replied

      Feeling the same way, the hrm-run has problems pairing even though it came already paired, navigating is not working well (keeps pointing opposite direction as my course involves returning back on same road), all my settings from trail run, hike and run are unusable, since I have to use navigate instead. Friends around me can upload their runs immediately from their apps, but as android user, I don't even have the option of even a 30 min long bluetooth upload, which believe it or not is still way preferable to me than waiting till I get home. All this is happening on latest v2.40 which I upgraded right after taking the watch out of the box. Fenix 2 just doesn't feel solid enough and beginning to think, I might have to consider V800. Although, it seems Fenix team is awesome and our only hope to sticking w Garmin, they seem like just a a handful of people trying to do the work of dozens more. Shame such a huge company is so short sighted and doesn't help their people much with the resources they need to get this watch in more solid shape. Have they heard of using contractors?

      Reply
  110. Mike A

    Ray,

    1. Can you only add cadence on the Running Dynamics page? I don’t care much for the VO or GCT, but I monitor my cadence during training to see when my form starts dropping, or when I’m starting to feel fatigued.
    2. How do you recalibrate training effect on the F2? I can't seem to figure it out on my 910XT, so it's become a pointless metric for me. For the last ~2 months, every workout I do (no matter how “easy”) has registered a 5.0 training effect, which would essentially imply that I’m significantly overtraining.

    Thanks,
    Mike

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      1) Yes, you can simply make a data page that's just cadence. Or, a page that happens to have cadence on it.

      2) There isn't a way to my knowledge to re-calibrate it. Beyond a hard reset.

      Reply
  111. Ivan Yague

    Hi Ray, just to confirm. The Fenix 2 has not a Tide information? That´s a preatty good information for outdoor swimmers, no?
    Thanks for the review...
    Best regards
    Ivan

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It does not.

      Honestly, for me, tide information is so easily pulled up on apps on phones that it's not really something I'd look to the watch for. Kinda like the weather, an app is really better there, since I wouldn't go to the beach, put on the watch and then look at the tides.

      Rather, I'd sit at home lying on the couch and ponder when might be a good time to swim and look at tides on my phone while watching American Idol. Roughly.

      Reply
    • Ivan Yague replied

      Thank you...

      Reply
  112. Jefe

    I know this is a bit off topic, but do you think they will also add the drill set to the 910?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, unfortunately. I've confirmed a few times along the way over the past 6-9 months. No plans for any future functionality updates to the FR910XT. You might see the odd bug-update or minor tweak, but nothing as far as new major functionality.

      Reply
  113. Leszek Nowak

    Hi Ray,

    I've red your great reviews of fenix2 and V800. I'm wondering if Garmin have any plans/thoughts to add vivofit functionality to any watch? Would it be technically possible for Fenix 2 since it has accelerometer already build in?

    Thanks,
    Leszek

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I've discussed it with them at length. From the discussions, the Fenix2 as designed from a hardware and battery profile standpoint would make for a poor activity tracker unfortunately.

      Reply
    • Harish Lakshman replied

      Would the same logic apply for 620 as well or can we hope to see that feature in a future 620 update?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Same logic applies to FR220/620.

      Reply
  114. Marcos Cortes

    Just received my yesterday from Clever and will enjoy testing my new toy this weekend in Florida.

    Reply
  115. Chris O'Brien

    So I'm one of the fence-sitters between FR620 and Fenix 2.

    I only run. Someday I may bike. I more of a floater than a swimmer.
    I run roads, local trails and National Park\ Vermont trails.
    ~ 20 mile distances at this point, but I'm working up to more so >8 hours battery would be swell.

    I currently use a 310XT with HRM and footpod.
    I also use iPhone5/Runkeeper. (with wahoo HRM)

    Right now 80% of the time I record all my running on the 310XT and upload to Garmin. Then using Bulk Uploader to feed into RunKeeper. I have tried SyncMetrics.com, but all the auto-feeds cause me lots of repeated entries. (Could probably correct that)

    Main reason for the 310XT is that I love the ability to follow courses uploaded to the 310XT (when it worked.) I really like the "Back To Start" feature.
    Main reason for Runkeeper is nice phone app, small social sharing circle, Integration with blog widgets and other things like withings, earndit.com

    My biggest annoyances with my current setup are:
    Runkeeper - no native Cadence data.
    Runkeeper - If I want heart rate, I have to use Wahoo HRM; If I use Wahoo HRM, no Heart Rate data on my wrist on my 310XT (Unless I go Ray Style and sport a bandelero of HRMs)
    Photos - If I record event with Garmin, cannot attach photos to RunKeeper after import

    Garmin - (currently) no Live streaming, so I use RunKeeper for livestreaming when racing. Then I have to do a dance to delete the runkeeper event and upload the garmin event with all the data.
    Garmin - ANT agent is less than stable on my Mavericks MacBookPro
    Garmin - 310XT is a "relic" and it seems the website functionality is actually getting worse with all the new improvements (like breaking course to device functionality)
    Garmin - 310XT is heavy.

    What I'm looking for:
    Either ditch the Blue HRM or ditch the ANT+ HRM.
    Have cadence data
    Have all my data feed into my phone "magically"
    Have the "Back to start" feature
    Have all my data (cadence, HRM, map, etc) live streaming.
    Ultimately, to not make decisions about what device I'm going to use for my run and still get everything recorded.

    With the Fenix 2 it would be:
    ANT+ footpod and HRM going into the phone.
    And then have RunKeeper doing live streaming using the cadence/HRM data. (It's my understanding that this last bit is where it breaks down)
    And then have RunKeeper doing live streaming with no cadence/HRM data
    Being able to find my way home using upload maps and the Back To Start feature

    With FR620
    No need for footpod (?)
    HRM+ feeding to watch
    watch feeding to phone (into Runkeeper? or only to Garmin app?)
    Have runkeep do live streaming (with Garmin data?)
    Not be able to find my way home unless my phone maps are able to tell me.

    It feels like the Fenix2 is the way to go.
    But looking back over this post, it looks pretty rambling and I haven't a clue what I'm talking about.

    Reply
    • nfkb replied

      hello !

      your cheapest solution is called Tapiriik !

      Keep your 310 XT-HRM-Footpod. The 310 XT is a very good device. I sold it to buy a 620 and i'm unhappy with my 620 (reset issue, wifi issue, accuracy issue)

      Then use tapiriik to sync between Runkeeper and Garmin Connect. I use it to sync between GC, Training Peaks, Runkeeper and Sporttracks.mobi without any problem

      The only problem is when you livestream (is it really often ?) you would'nt get your cadence.

      link to tapiriik.com

      With the Fenix 2 you cannot livestream and have HRM/Footpod at the same time. So buying a Fenix 2 is not a solution for you

      With a FR 620 you can livestream and have cadence and HR and then automatically sync your activity to RK. But as a non satisfied customer with the 620 i would not recommanding buying it, especially if you plan to do long mountain trail run. (i did some 8h+ with my 310 XT and i had a lot of battery left). And there is no back to start function in the 620.

      Reply
    • Chris O'Brien replied

      Thanks for the feedback nfkp!
      Unfortunate to hear that the 620 isn't working out for you.

      With regards to frequency of livestreaming... Probably 2 races a month and 3-4 long runs. Admittedly, live streaming isn't the deal breaker for me that it might be for some people, but for ~$500, it's hard to consider it as a compromise.
      Not having cadence in the live-stream wouldn't be a huge deal, but it would be a bigger problem if not recorded for the event.

      When it comes down to it, the HRM+ plus data is a nice set of bells and whistles, but as Ray says, very few are really sure what it means at this point. I don't need text messages on my wrist (Thankfully, I'm not *that* important.) I'll keep live streaming races from my phone and doing the delete dance afterwards.

      The 310XT has been very sturdy (the battery life and "back to start" in the mountains are invaluable) so I think I'm going to stick with it. Thanks for talking me out of the clouds.

      On to tapiriik

      Reply
  116. What is the visibility of the watch since the screen is opposite color scheme vs other digital watches? Is it hard to see in the day time?

    Reply
    • Steve replied

      I was worried about that. I only got my yesterday but so far I find it very easy to read.

      Reply
    • nfkb replied

      It's my first inverted display watch and i find it very clear to read in the day time

      Reply
    • Steve replied

      I'd also like to add that the backlight at night is awesome, very easy to read and very cool looking

      Reply
  117. Ric

    I paddle an ocean racing ski, and in paddling circles we always think in speed, not pace. I recently purchased a 620 and despite setting it to think in speed not pace it defaults to showing splits etc in pace still. likewise when i download i have to manually set each track to speed by altering the sport to paddling not running. Friends with the 910xt dont have this issue. Do you know if the Fenix2 can be set to always show speed and never pace?

    Reply
    • nfkb replied

      hello

      i think you can customize your personnal activities like you want, i'm trying to setup one this afternoon

      you can also have a look at the manual link to static.garmincdn.com

      Reply
    • nfkb replied

      yes you can setup an activity and show speed only if you want

      Reply
    • Dom replied

      The 620 is getting a cycling mode some time in the next few months. Cycling modes on Garmin devices tend to default to speed rather than pace, so putting it in bike mode would probably give you more useful results while you're paddling.

      Reply
  118. It confuses me about when to press the lap key when swimming.

    For example:
    For a set of 10x100 with 10 seconds of rest after each 100, do I press the lap button twice (before and after the set) or 20 times (before and after each 100)?

    I realize that when I used the former way, on Garmin Connect it includes my rest time between each 100 into my pace. The later way seems to produce meaningful results, but it gets tedious pressing the lap button, especially if we are doing some shorts distances sets such as 20*25 with rest.

    Am I missing something here?

    Reply
    • nfkb replied

      hello

      i've tried it at the swimming pool too and i get confused to with the lap button

      when i want to pause at the edge of the pool i press lap, then i rest and i press lap again when i start swimming again

      you put the watch in pause and you go out of the pause

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Correct. Use lap to start/end each set. Really only using the red button when it's all over. A bit different than other units.

      Reply
    • nfkb replied

      also a bit different that other modes in the same watch but it's ok i can understand that lap swimming in a sport where we do more pauses than in others

      Reply
    • Ethan Gui replied

      I'm new to swimming...
      When you say "Use lap to start/end each set", what about a set of 10 25 yards swims with 30 seconds reset between each length?

      In this case, do I press lap twice or 20 times?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      You'd press it each time you hit the wall and left the wall, since in your case you're stopping for 30 seconds.

      Reply
  119. miguel

    just got my fenix 2 today and i think i found another bug; when you have the Tempe and HRM on, and then stop the activity, it appears that you lose the internal temp provided by the fenix2 and you just get blank info for temp. also to turn off the temp sensor to regain the temp of the watch you have to then manually turn off bluetooth, then be near the Tempe sensor, and acquire it then turn it off, then re-enable bluetooth. kind of a pita...

    Reply
    • Steve replied

      I've noticed similar. If Tempe is set to on and Bluetooth is on it obviously doesn't stay connected to Tempe. However it also doesn't re-enable the internal temp either. I think if Tempe is not present or Bluetooth is on it should revert back to internal temp.

      Reply
    • Paul S replied

      The way it works on Fenix is that if you're telling it that you're using a Tempe, then you're responsible for seeing that the Tempe is in range. It won't use the internal sensor just because it can't detect the Tempe that you tell it you want to use. It'd be nice if it did, but it doesn't and apparently it doesn't on Fenix 2. (It'd also be nice if the VIRB remote screen on the Fenix and the Edge 800 would vanish if a VIRB isn't in range, but they don't.) If you tell it you want to use an HR belt, then HR will appear in your on demand sensor rotation even if you've hung up your HR belt for the day. Unfortunately, it does what you tell it to do, not what you want it to do.

      Reply
    • Steve replied

      Would it be the same for cadence and footpad? I have the footpad turned on. I guess since I have the watch I can test it :-). I'm going to guess if the footpad isn't present it'll default to HRM-RUN if there, and then the watch. They could do the same for Tempe, but I guess now I know and can adjust as needed.

      Reply
  120. Hi Ray,

    thanks a lot for this helpful review.

    I've bought the watch yesterday thanks to the good information you provide.

    As a skydiver I was happy to discover the Jumpaster mode in the watch. Seriously i'm not a hundred percent sure if i'm gonna use it but i find it fun :)

    I've been swimming with the watch without any distance issue. I'm just wondering how to look at the watch while lap swimming without smashing the lap counts with inappropriate movemements. Do you Garmin Swim or Fenix2 users have tips for this ?

    thanks

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      My tip for looking at the watch is just after the push from the wall, on the glide while underwater before you hit your first stroke. Simply twist your wrist slightly inward to see the display. It's always worked for me for the Swim, 910XT, and now Fenix2.

      Reply
    • nfkb replied

      thank you for your answer... you're really spendingso much time answering us, that's awesome !

      Reply
  121. Jim

    Repeated from above-----

    Sorry simple question about the fenix 2. Have a 620 and find the vibration and audio alerts very noticeable, especially compared to the fenix1 and ambit 2. Can you comment on the loudness of the audio alert and the strength of the fenix 2 vibration in comparison please?

    Reply
    • nfkb replied

      i try to workout today and i'll tell you

      Reply
    • nfkb replied

      hi ! i've done a short test for you !

      At first i had only one bip during a planned workout. Then i stopped the activity. I changed the settings and then i resumed the workout (nice feature)

      i switched the Alarms/Notifications to Ring+Vibrate in the settings and it was better

      The bips are shyer than on my 620. In my memories it's a little bit like the FR 305.
      There are several bips to warn you of the change of workout then you've got a last bip+vibrate

      I've done a too short interval training test to assess the alarms in the interval and the accelerometer was not calibrate so i can't evaluate the alarms (too high/too low) during the workout

      Garmin if you read this it would be better to have LOUDER bips with a pattern like in morse code to get ready for the next workout like short-short-long bip-then vibrate. Like the 620. LOUDER are important when you train in urban environments

      Reply
    • Jim replied

      Thanks for that. Sounds like it might suit. Will have to get one and try it out. Would prefer to have one device for both running and other activities rather than the split between the 620 and ambit 2.

      I imagine its the construction and waterproofing that makes it a bit quieter.

      Reply
  122. william mcintyre

    Thanks for the great review Ray.

    I am looking to get the Fenix 2 and travelling to the US next month on business. It seems cheaper over there and so considering getting it while im over there and bringing it back to the UK to use.

    Presume there will be no major issues with use, except for minor inconveniences such as plug socket?

    thanks

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Correct, no issues except plug socket. I've used the same unit in the last six weeks in: France, UK, Mexico, Spain, and probably some other countries I'm forgetting.

      Reply
    • Martin replied

      Actually the unit I bought in the US came with interchangeable plugs for the AC adapter - there was a UK-style (3-pin) and European style (2-pin) plug in addition to the US-style plug.

      Reply
  123. PC

    helle ray,
    thanks for your efforts and times dedicated to these reviews.

    Following your judgements, I've bought over years a Garmin Fr 410, then a 310 XT, then a Edge 800, a footposd, a GSC 10..

    Now I'm on the market for a Fenix 2, to replace my 310 XT.

    In your final review though, no mention of the jumpmaster fonction, nor any marine features.

    Can we consider it's the same as on the tactix, or are there any difference on these points between both devices?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi PC - check out the comparison tables in the review.

      Jump master is included, but tides are not.

      Reply
  124. ice

    I totally agree the TomTom Multisport is no match with this HighEnd Garmin
    Thus being the Multisport the ONLY smart watch from TomTom, they are keeping on adding more and more features. Besides the Garmin sportwatches in the same price tag will never have them....because.....these feature will be exclusively in the higher price models.
    Anyway I think this Tactix/Fenix are really a nice&fashion watch for everyday use (something you'll never say about the XT910...) so I was wondering if not using gps and training features...how long will the battery last?
    say 2 daily alarm clock, 15 backlight check a day, 2-3 compass check a day.
    Cause I want to compare to a Casio ProTrek (of course they have 30 years battery thanks to solar recharging...so thi i sno match, but 30-45 days would be enough....I'm not planning to get lost on any faraway island/desert....)
    thanks

    Reply
  125. Tim

    Does anyone know how to transfer personal records, VO2 max, and totals from Garmin Connect to fenix 2? I have attempted to do that by clicking on "Send to Device" on Garmin Connect to no avail. Garmin Connect tells me "No device found that supports Personal Records."

    Is fenix 2 not one of the supported devices for personal records?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Tim replied

      Moreover, when I attempted to "Send to Device" my personal information and training zones, I get the "There was an error sending your personal profiles to " message. (Yes, the error message ends at the word "to.")

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The Fenix2 doesn't support PR's.

      Reply
  126. Olu

    Here's my morning ride.

    Fenix: link to connect.garmin.com

    Edge 800: link to connect.garmin.com

    No cadence data uploaded while using laps. HR averages were also different then those from the Edge 800. Not only that, but those HR averages were different from what was displayed on the watch during the workout.

    Ray, are you having any problems with this watch? I've upgraded to 2.4. Maybe I've got a buggy unit. I'll try a full reset today and see what happens tomorrow.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I don't see cadence data displayed actually for either your Edge 800 or Fenix. I'd almost suggest actually you might have a GC issue going on. Try taking both files and uploading them to Strava or some other service to see if it shows there. Failing that, try a hard reset.

      Reply
    • Mikael Klingbjer replied

      I don’t see my cadence-data in GC ether, but it show up in SportsTracks.mobi if I upload the same file.

      I think it’s just a 'GC feature'

      Reply
    • Olu replied

      No not in the graph in the details section, but the numbers in the splits area I linked to. There you can see the difference in HR average in the splits as well. I see the same think in Training Peaks as well. I get the overall cadence for the entire workout, but each lap the cadence is '0"

      Reply
    • Olu replied

      Here's a picture of the issue.

      link to i1059.photobucket.com

      Reply
  127. Pete

    Is it just me or does anybody else feel Fenix 2 has a major design flaw by setting up a separate ALL inclusive "Navigate" activity?

    I'm finding myself having to add tons of pages for the other activities that I navigate with like Bike, Hike, Run, Trail Run, etc, plus I get penalized for choosing it as it gives me less options than normal activities.

    It just shouldn't even have a “Navigate” activity, It needs to be the reverse; Navigation should be included within each of the activities, as it's way more realistic to be navigating from other activities like even XC Ski.

    Plus, I don't care to see Altimeter page when navigating in RUN but would want it while navigating in HIKE, and don't want to see PACE while navigating in BIKE, etc.etc This current setup is frustrating me and it's just not working out for me, as I'm having to bring all my pages from both RUN and TRAIL RUN into Navigate, and it starts getting real messy.

    If they could just clean navigation up, fix v2.40 bugs, and give me Android uploading (even if it takes 30 minutes, as it's still better than waiting til I get home), then I can see myself loving my Fenix 2, as right now I’m feeling “lukewarm” like someone else said before.

    Reply
    • Pete replied

      On the plus side, all the other activities are nice and intuitive, excepting Navigate, as no one says Honey, I'm going out to Navigate!

      Instead, you go out to Run, Hike, etc., and then whilst doing that you may need to Navigate to get to someone's house (Waypoint) or follow a downloaded course (track). Anyone agree here?

      Reply
    • neil rosson replied

      I'm not sure why its so hard for companies to get these things right. It seems sometimes like they only have a vague idea of how people train & race.

      Reply
    • neil rosson replied

      Actually reading your second comment 'as no one says Honey, I’m going out to Navigate!' of course people do not say this, but people do plan navigation before an activity. If i'm going to run 30 miles over unknown trails it would be stupid not to.

      Reply
    • Pete replied

      Absolutely Neil, that's why I'd be already prepared with all my waypoints set up so that I can use them when I need to, like in Trail Run, Hike, etc.

      Reply
    • Martin replied

      My main concern with a dedicated "navigation" activity is battery life. Navigation consumes more power than just recording a track (the compass has to be turned on, and GPS UltraTrac mode isn't available when navigating). If I'm on a multi-day backcountry trip I don't want to put the watch in navigation mode all the time, because the batteries will only last 12-16 hours. That forces me to choose between (a) recording a continuous track but not using navigation and (b) using navigation now and again but not recording the entire trip.

      Reply
  128. Steve Knapp

    Odd things I notice missing from the Fenix1:

    - No unique HR zones for bike/run. Actually not sure if Fenix1 had that, but the forerunners do.
    - The alert for "n minutes to sunset" is in each activity menu. I assume it's only active when that activity is active.
    - When scrolling from the time page w/out an activity going you can see the compass, temp, etc.. but no HR
    - I need the backlight more with the 2's display than I did on the 1.

    The HR zones is an issue, but the other stuff is pretty minor.

    Reply
    • Pete replied

      There's also no Resting Heart Rate, isn't that needed for more accurate VO2max calculations?

      Reply
    • Steven Knapp replied

      Ray, any update/feedback on the HR zones per sport (bike/run)?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Nothing new recently. I'll loop back and see if anything has changed.

      Reply
  129. Mikael Klingbjer

    Hi!

    Great review as always!

    One reflection. I’ve just went for a run with my new Fenix 2 (s/w: 2.40), but the built-in (arm) running cadence seams a bit unstable, I don’t think that I have 260+ in average running cadence and near 500 in max-cadence :-)

    Anything you’ve noticed?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yeah, that bug popped in on 2.40 without the HRM-RUN. Garmin is aware (duplicating of cadence).

      Reply
    • Mikael Klingbjer replied

      Thanks for your quick response!

      Reply
  130. Received my F2 yesterday (thanks again to Ray and CleverTraining). I've had limited time to explore the functionality but I spent a couple hours playing with the settings and was able to get in a short run (with the HRM packaged with the Performance Bundle). Everything worked flawlessly, both with the watch itself and subsequent upload (via home computer). The watch even prompted a great father-son learning session as I explained GPS coordinates to my 7 year old, looked at maps, then explored the neighborhood recording coordinates in random places.

    Anyway, my initial impression is very positive. Keep in mind I still have the old Garmin Connect interface (not a Vivofit user... yet), but the data displayed as it should. GPS accuracy is spot on. Having set up the watch and preloaded maps and the 2.40 update, the watch took less than 10 seconds to acquire GPS on my first attempt out of the house. The flow of the menus was extremely easy (it probably helped that I'd read both Ray's preview and review more than once as well as the entire manual prior to actually receiving the device in the mail). There are sooo many features it a little overwhelming but I'm a fan. I may never use half of them (VIRB remote, Jumpmaster mode, Hunting & Fishing ?), but from what I've seen- just an initial impression and a brief run, it's a solid device.

    Now... it is BIG. It's thicker than my Motoactv and much thicker than the TomTom Multisport... that being said, I'm wearing it now and it's not that obvious from the face or at a casual glance... really just the thickness that's surprising. I tried it under a couple of dress shirts and it fit easily under one of them and too snugly under the cuff of the other. Despite the size, I'm really excited to have a watch that can do it all... just anxiously awaiting the BTLE upload ability for my Android devices!

    Reply
    • Pete replied

      Despite my complaining on some v2.40 bugs, I've been pretty impressed too, it's definitely solid on the most important stuff like gps accuracy, fast gps fix, battery and an excellent compass!

      I like that it's intuitive and reassuring in that it confirms hrm is connected and that it has satellite fix, so that you know it's all good to Go before you press Start. Looking forward to bug/navigating fixes and Android uploading, which would just seal the deal!

      Reply
  131. thomsk-

    Ray

    A couple of questions if I may:

    Does the watch automatically switch to energy saving/day to day watch or do you have to manually switch it over?
    A good thing about the 910xt is that you know that once you configure it at race start that it will remain in that mode, unlike my old 410 and 610 that would go into watch mode if left for too long. Nothing more annoying than getting set to press start and finding you are in watch mode!!!

    Also, what does the ring of digits surrounding the main screen actually do? Some pictures look like they may be seconds that count down?

    Great review though. I am 99% sure i'm going to order a Fenix 2 in the next few days. All that's really missing for me is vibration alerts for swimming. (which you say are coming in an update)
    I've been hoping for a unit that resembled a watch and performed day to day as a watch but still had the functionality of my 910xt. The Fenix 2 looks as close as i'm going to get this year.

    Reply
    • Pete replied

      Outer ring normally acts as an "analog seconds ticker" but it's a hidden genius feature that when in navigation mode, it points towards your course/destination without having to be on the map or compass page; this way you don't miss any of your pacing/fitness data and still know where to navigate to.

      Reply
    • thomsk- replied

      Pete,

      Ah I see, thanks for clarifying.

      Are you able to answer the other question, does the Fenix automatically switch to watch mode after a period of inactivity or does it have to be manually switched?

      Reply
    • nfkb replied

      yes the small blinking stuff is for seconds, the watch display has different options/way to show the time

      Reply
    • Olu replied

      Hello Thomsk
      Yes it appears that the Fenix 2 stays in 'ready to race' mode until you press start or back out to the clock. After an activity once you return to the clock the GPS shuts down.

      As a current 910xt owner (who's used it through training and racing 2 Ironmans), there are enough differences that I'm considering returning it. The things that I like over the 910, like the daily watch, faster GPS, and run dynamics aren't enough to outweigh the things I don't like at this point.

      Reply
    • Olu replied

      Scratch that, it did revert to clock mode sometime after 25 minutes.

      Reply
    • nfkb replied

      the fast GPS is clearly a big plus

      the watch (i find it cool) is a plus

      the running dynamics is a small plus (hmm.. cadence ok, but VO & GCT ?)

      what are the main drawbacks of the watch for you ? and congratulations for your achievements ! i'm dreaming of it !

      Reply
    • thomsk- replied

      Hi Olu

      Thanks for the reply. What are the main differences over the 910 that put you off?

      Reply
    • Olu replied

      thomsk, I don't want to re-iterate things that have been repeated, but post #437 has a bunch of my gripes. You can also search the page for my name to see some of the issues that I'm having.

      Reply
  132. Pete

    I didn't answer your other question as I'm not familiar with 910xt, but Fenix 2 seems to be smart/intuitive to know that when you stop an activity and are not using the ANT+ sensors it shuts them off, so that would be your "watch mode"

    Reply
  133. Nicolas

    Hi Ray, first of all I want to congratulate you for a great review.
    I'm a commercial pilot, i usually run on trails and I'm starting to get into cycling more. I'm more interested in the athlete functionality of the F2 than the aviation functionality of the D2. For what I have read you have the option to create three personal modes, I would like to know if you can make an aviation mode or download it to the Fenix 2, so it gives similar information as the aviation mode on the D2.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • nfkb replied

      hello,

      i've got the watch yesterday and i explored it a bit.

      I've got a PPL and i would also find useful to have a *backup* GPS in the watch.

      As far as i know there is no Aviation mode in the Fenix2. Maybe you can try to design a custom mode with the information you find the most interesting such as GS or Altitude.

      If you are interested in Navigating maybe it's doable to setup some points in basecamp and try to navigate but i don"t know how the navigate stuff will behave in the sky

      Reply
  134. Joe

    Any word if the fenix2 will sync with an ant+ Indoor cycle/spinning bike like the 610 does and if this is a feature that will be coming to the 620 when the cycling update is released?

    Reply
  135. Kristen

    How big is the watch on the ladies wrist? I am about the same size and worry it'll look monstrous on my wrist. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Pete replied

      Ray mentioned, he'll be posting a picture of the girl (his wife) wearing it.

      Reply
    • Steve replied

      It's not huge but likely large on the typical ladies wrist. It'd be ok for activities I'd say but not day to day. I have a fairly larger wrist and and now wearing it day to day and LOVE the BT notifications.

      Reply
  136. tony

    Thanks for the great reviews. After reading your initial review of the F2, which was pretty in-depth for a "first glimpse", I purchased the watch through CT (after clicking through your site).

    I think I've discovered a design flaw (or uncovered some serious mechanical problem solving skills on my part). I wanted to change to the fabric band, and have been unable to free up both of the screws that secure the watch band posts. If one of the screws was overtightened at the factory (or otherwise), the other screw loosens but the other won't. Since the screws counter rotate, there is no force that prevents the post from spinning freely.

    Other than using a pair of vise grips to attempt to secure the post, which probably will ruin the band, I don't know of a way to secure the post. I imagine that after some salt water exposure, this will become an even more difficult problem. As it is now, the watch is not usable to me and is headed back to CT. I have not seen anyone else with such an issue, is there an easy fix to this?

    I don't want to return the piece, but this flaw is kind of a deal killer for me. I am open to suggestions/solutions from the more mechanically inclined.

    Reply
    • Pete replied

      I just tried undoing the screws and it worked by simply following the picture in the menu packet that shows using both tools at once. Instead of wasting time in shipping it, why not take it to a jeweler, you probably turned it the opposite way and over-tightened it. Good luck.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Just as a heads up (here, or in general), you'll get quicker resolution going straight to Garmin for unit swap-outs. The reason is that if you have Garmin swap it out, they have units on hand to send to you (immediately, even doing cross-ships). Whereas, retailers will be backordered for most of the Fenix2 units.

      As for the pin issue, that's odd, I've never seen any complaints on the Fenix1/Tactix/D2/etc to date, which is identical. :-/

      Reply
    • Steve Knapp replied

      I've had where the pin in the band will spin a bit, just pinch it with your fingers and/or flip the band to the front to put some pressure on it.

      Reply
  137. José Marrero

    I am very interested in Pete´s experience with Fenix 2 when navigating a previously uploaded trail track. Can you please comment about it? And also, please, any comments about what you do not like that much at this point. I am about to buy a device, but still not sure which one. Thank you in advance for your words..

    Reply
    • Pete replied

      Hi Jose, the only watch navigation experience I have is from Suunto Ambit 2 which has a more logical navigation than the Fenix 2, like it allows you to pick any exercise and then no matter what you can then easily select navigate.

      Don't get me wrong, I'm actually impressed with Fenix 2 and many helpful features, I just feel the current navigation was designed by non-outdoor people, as you want to be able to easily navigate from just about any sport by simply selecting navigate, like the Ambit.

      Aside from the illogical navigation implementation, it seemed like Ambit is able to guide you better as Fenix2 signals a little too late for making turns, and when you're route includes doing a long U on the same trail, it tells you to go in the opposite direction, kind of strange. It feels kind of buggy and I've been spending time at Garmin forums and it's not a pretty sight, even support apologizing to users for not having enough people to take care of problems.

      Anyway, all the problems it has, I think are solvable and if they redo navigation and eliminate bugs, it would be way ahead of the Ambit 2.

      Reply
  138. Eric Lagstein

    Great, review, thanks Ray!

    How is the internal cadence? Do you find it pretty accurate?

    I'm buying the watch elsewhere because I get a good deal. Do you have a paypal or something else to send a small donation to thank you?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I talk about the internal cadence in the review a bit. I find it quite accurate. I've done some comparisons against footpod and other units on the market, and they track very well - within 1spm generally. I occasionally do cadence pyramid drills (running), so it's something I've been looking at.

      Reply
  139. Ilko

    Hi,

    Again, thanks for a great review. I have just had mine for two days now. After a first run, I noted that in Garmin Connect the running dynamics data uses color coding. I also see the same in your screenshots. Any idea what these colors mean? Is there a good or bad?

    Thanks!
    Ilko

    Reply
    • nfkb replied

      In your Garmin Connect Dashboard you can click on the question mark "?" next to "Running Dynamics" in the left column

      Reply
    • Ilko replied

      Thanks, I could have seen that :-). I was looking for something like that in the graph!

      Reply
  140. Ilko

    Oh, and another one: maybe more Garmin generic, but isn't there a tool that lets you set the watch in though software rather than via the watch menu itself?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • nfkb replied

      AFAIK there's no such option

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Correct. There used to be a few 3rd party options for creating the profile XML files for the original Fenix/Tactix, but with the simplified system you can no longer create those XML files.

      Reply
  141. Richard

    Just got the fenix2. Is there a trick to upload directly to trainingpeaks account via Garmin connect? Not by a home computer uploading some files. But a way to do it automatically via bluetooth or the smartphone?

    Reply
  142. Fabian Gruber

    I got my Fenix 2 from Clever Training on Thursday. I spend Friday setting it up and today took it for a first run.

    My experience: while the unit connected to Tempe and HRM it had problems to find satellites. After searching for one minute the unit went blank.
    I rebooted with the light button and switched WAAS off, afterwards the unit could connect within seconds and I went off for the run.

    After 1.5 km the unit suddenly switched into clock mode. I didnt lock the menu, so I thought I accidentally pressed the button. I went back into activity mode, the unit resumed the kilometer, but started the timer new. However, 2 minutes later the watch suddenly rebooted. I stopped, started the unit again and it went dead again soon afterwards. After that I could not restart the unit.

    I completed the run with the dead unit. Back home I connected the Unit to my pc, but no reaction. Also using the power adapter did not revive the unit.

    Battery was at 96% when i started the run, firmware was still at 2.2, as the webupdater yesterday refused to install 2.4 (file is corrupted).

    Did anybody have similar issues? Looks as if I got the lemon this time. :(

    Reply
    • r4d4r replied

      Did you manage to fix it?

      Reply
    • Fabian Gruber replied

      No, it's completely dead. No sign of life on either form of power supply.

      Messaged the guys of Clever Training, but as it happened 5 min before their weekend, I guess they won't get back to me before Monday. Looks like a painfully long return and replace process. Frustrating.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      That's the main reason I'd recommend contacting Garmin Support instead. If you call in Monday morning, they'll ship out a unit same day via what's called a "cross-ship", which means that you provide a credit card, and as long as you ship yours back they won't charge it (I think you've got 30-days to ship it back before they charge). They can also do a regular swap where you send yours in first and then they send out a new one to you once they receive yours.

      Generally speaking I just do a cross-ship when I need to. And, if you really want to you can pay for things like overnight shipping (but sometimes, if you're really friendly they'll usually upgrade the shipping for free).

      Finally, the challenge with going back to any retailer (Clever or otherwise), is that on backordered items they don't tend to have stock on hand to send you immediately, thus delaying things a bit.

      Just my two cents on how to get a replacement unit quickly...

      Reply
    • Fabian Gruber replied

      Thanks for the advice, Ray.

      Reply
    • Fabian Gruber replied

      Still waiting for my replacement unit, I did not get a shipment upgrade so the parcel will easily take 5 days and it took them 6 days to ship out the replacement after receiving my DOA unit. So still running with my Forerunner 405 currently.

      Reply
    • Fabian Gruber replied

      Received it after two weeks. So bad luck costed me 14.95 for express shipment of the defective unit to Garmin.

      Took the replacement out for the first runs and absolutely love it. Guess next project is to work on my style as my cadence is obviously far too low.

      Reply
  143. Chris

    The canvas strap that comes with the Fenix 2 is barely big enough to go around my wrist. The strap for the 405CX was more than big enough. I'm not overweight, so surprised it is so short - I can get about 1/2" overlap :-(

    Reply
    • Steve replied

      I don't have a small wrist and have no issue with it, It also comes with a band extender for outside jackets and such. Maybe you got a defective one?

      Reply
  144. goughy

    I'm wondering if dcr or someone could confirm something for me. On the garmin australia fb site, garmin responded to someones question saying that the fenix2 will connect with the speed/cadence cycling sensor but that it will only take cadence from the sensor and not speed and that there was no option to enter a wheel size?

    This contradicts what dcr wrote in his review, and I'd like to confirm that there is the option somewhere to enter a wheel size, that you can take speed from the sensor rather than gps (which his review seems to indicate since it says there's an option to select when it takes speed from the sensor rather than gps) and that speed will work fine with gps off on a trainer? Thx :)

    Reply
    • goughy replied

      Mostly, I just want to reply to that person with the correct info if garmin aust have got it wrong in their reply!

      Reply
    • Paul S replied

      In the beginning, the Fenix worked just as Garmin Australia described. You could pair with speed/cadence, but it only used cadence. But that changed. Here are the release notes for the current Fenix production firmware. You'll notice that at 3.30 -> 3.40 it says "Added full support for GSC 10 Speed/Cadence bike sensor to allow calibration and display speed (options found under Setup > ANT Sensor > Bike Spd/Cad, Setup > Fitness > Bike Speed)" and at 3.50 -> 3.70 it says "Added recording of distance with cadence sensor for indoor activities". So Fenix (that doesn't necessarily mean Fenix 2, but I think it does in this case) can use the speed part of the speed/cadence sensor. I haven't used my Fenix for cycling in a while, but as I recall, there is still no way of inputting the wheel size. You need to take a calibration ride before you try to use it indoors. If you're outdoors, it'll calibrate itself from the GPS just like an Edge, and then remember the wheel size it calculated.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      As Paul noted, they're wrong.

      He provided good backstory on when it changed on the Fenix1, and here's how it works on the Fenix2:

      1) Pair your sensor using Sensors > Bike Spd/Cad
      2) After pairing, scroll down to a new menu that will appear: Calibrate
      3) You have two options now: Auto or Manual
      4) Choose Manual
      5) Enter in wheelsize. Default is 2100mm

      As a general rule, when dealing with Garmin Australia support, assume they're wrong. For reasons that defy logic, they are repeatedly the most uninformed, incorrect, and painfully slow tech support group in the entire industry. I don't get it. The US Garmin support folks (and even Europe based ones) are great, very sharp folks. AUS Garmin...not so much.

      Reply
    • goughy replied

      Thank you both very much. I'll pass that onto the person in the fb thread. They clearly are a long way behind the ball over here! But we are a backwards country after all ;)
      So I'm assuming the 'auto' calibrate just works out the wheel size using gps like other units have in the past? Thanks guys.

      Reply
    • Paul S replied

      Yes, exactly.

      Reply
  145. Mickey

    Ray,

    Can you comment on how scratch resistant or prone the Fenix 2 watch is? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      From a scratch resistance standpoint, when not in an activity, the unit mostly sat in the front pocket of my backpack while travelling the last 6 weeks. In doing so, it's been subjected to all assortment of sharp barely-TSA approved objects. No scratches on it (almost all of the data field type shots were taken just 2-3 days before the review posted, so you can see the screen quality easily).

      Obviously, if you go and forcibly drag it across a concrete edge, I'm not sure what the result will be. But, I've whacked it accidentally on a few door/room corners thus far without issue.

      Reply
  146. I planned to use my fenix 2 to record a 13-hour bike ride today. Everything worked fine until roughly 6 hours into the ride. At first, I realized that it stopped the current recording and went back to the Time mode. When I pressed the Start/Stop button, it gave me the option to resume. When I chose resume, the device powered itself off and restarted. After the device was restarted, I again tried to resume the recording, but the device restarted itself again.

    I then chose Save instead of resume. It is worth mentioning, the save process took several minutes to complete. After so, I tried to start a new activity. However, when I chose start, the device powered itself off again.

    I've already emailed Garmin Support. I will provide update here when I hear back from them.

    Reply
    • Asaf replied

      It all comes down to the limited processor ability of the fenix hardware, that does not match its complex software.

      Reply
    • nfkb replied

      i've got the same feeling, it's strange to wait for the watch to save the workout, to display the datas at the end of a workout with a lot of laps...

      like on other watches i'd rather prefer to have a short summary of the workout and after that chose to see the details

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Fwiw, I saw that same mid-run restart on my long run yesterday. Took two attempts to get it back (which it did then resume for rest of run). I haven't seen that previously in 6 weeks worth. In general, in using it the last few days 2.40 seems a bit of a step back compared to some of the previous firmware versions. I'll get my data direct to the team so hopefully they can narrow it down.

      Reply
    • Ethan Gui replied

      Hey Ray,

      Let me know if you think it'll be helpful if you forward my device data over as well.

      I used both Edge 810 and Fenix 2 to record yesterday and 810 was able to finish recording the whole 13 hours while Fenix failed at 6+ hours.

      I hope this all results to a software issue.

      Reply
    • Ethan Gui replied

      It is worth pointing out that when I attempted to view the activity history on the watch it took minutes to load the activity. I hope this is not hardware related.

      Reply
  147. José Marrero

    Thanks for your comments, Pete.

    Reply
  148. David

    Hi Ray, do you think the Fenix 2 has a potential for a love-making mode? Seeing as the swimming mode can track strokes per minute in different styles (positions), the strap can monitor you HR and the watch itself can control the action camera I can't think why they have not implemented it yet... or have they?

    Thanks, David

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Fear not, you can use one of the three custom modes for such sporting activities. Albeit, the unit wouldn't recognize any other relevant techniques besides the breast-stroke.

      Reply
  149. Mimmo

    Ray you know if Garmin Team will rearrange the swimming pool menu so that the users not insert always the pool length (the menu is ok into garmin swim!) and if They could enter a storm warning? Thanks

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I've asked about storm alert. It's not something on the immediate radar. Unsure on swim menu.

      Reply
    • Mimmo replied

      Ok thank you

      Reply
  150. Hello !

    Here is small summary of the small drawbacks of the watch for me after 48h with it :

    Fenix 2 Optimization

    When Training :
    Louder Bips
    Specific pattern of bips when
    * too low
    * too high
    * in the right zone
    * end of the interval
    Show a shorter message when the watch alarm because of a to high or too low pace/HR/speed/power => TOO HIGH/TOO LOW instead of the long message you show now

    When in activity
    Autoscroll of the Pages ++++++ !!!

    Running/Cycling
    The non support of Personal Record looks like a marketing choice, that’s not cool when you see the huge amount of tools/features there’s already in the watch.

    Swimming
    Put the length of the pool in the settings instead of clicking on it each workout
    Alarms for time/distance/etc.

    Misc
    Possibility to put the « Sync » mode in the menu in the place we want like others menu via Settings/System/Menu (i want it at the end to stick with Settings instead of appearing first)
    Some translation issues
    Everything in metric if i set the watch in metric, I.e. the deviation in Navigate is in feet instead of meters, the interval alarm in running is in feet instead of meters, etc.
    With the last FW update the 4 items display is available but there’s a translation issue, the 4 items displays is always in english instead of your native language
    Garmin Base Camp is really painful to use, i’ve discovered it with the navigate fonction of the watch and it’s not friendly to use
    Bigger manual with several languages

    Reply
    • Mimmo replied

      You must write this to fenix@garmin.com

      Reply
    • Olu replied

      I already responded to you in the Garmin forums. Agree 100%. Without individualized tones (and louder ones), I'm always looking at the unit. Please send an email to Fenix team!

      Reply
  151. joubex

    Thanks again for this wonderful review. I just received my Fenix 2 last friday and I'm diving into the settings... I'm a bit perplexed with the notion of lifetime athlete from Garmin: sounds vague for me: What means intense training? Does this settings have a significant impact on the calculations of the watch?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Lifetime athlete is used purely in calorie determination aspects. Here's their definition:

      "Garmin fitness devices consider a lifetime athlete to be an individual who has trained intensely for many years, with the exception of minor injuries, and has a resting heart rate of 60 beats per minute or less.This information provides the device details about your frequency of exercise that it utilizes to determine calories burned."

      link to support.garmin.com

      Reply
  152. Tim

    You mentioned 1 second and 60 second tracking…am I correct in assuming that you were also alluding that you can pick anything in between? For instance, being able to track every 2 seconds would be great for those of us that run ultras.

    Reply
  153. Kay

    Hi Ray
    Thank you for the great review.
    I have a question regarding the Basecamp app, maybe you or somebody else might be able to answer: I'm missing the possibility to create waypoints by simply entering coordinates into the app rather than trying to find the right spot on a visual map (especially in areas with little reference, e.g. large forests).
    I know it can be done on the watch directly, but if I have a longer list of coordinates it might be handy to be able to do it through the app.
    Is Garmin planning on implelmenting this feature?
    Thanks

    Reply
  154. Hi All-

    Thanks for all the comments over the last few days. Given the rush of comments in the last 24 hours (100+), just a few reminders/requests.

    Support issues: Please, if something is not working, report it in the Garmin Forums (under Running/Fitness till a Fenix sub-forum is created). Or, open a case with Garmin so that it’s actually reported to the Fenix product group. Phone is generally best, as e-mail takes forever. You can find the appropriate Garmin support contact number for your country by just Googling: Garmin Support Countryname.

    Feature Requests: I’ve got no problem with feature requests here, I think it’s great. But, let’s try and keep the request posts/iterations to one per person. For example, on requests for a tweak to accessing the navigation menu – once you’ve stated your opinion in a post on the topic, let’s try and not repeat ones opinion.

    Troubleshooting: Sorta like support. This is really better served in a support forum.

    Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE comments. But, I’m also aware that with just 3 days in we’re at 400+ comments and these reviews last for years. Thus things that change quickly (like a troubleshooting item) might not be relevant 2 weeks from now, let alone 2 years from now. I know there are requests to have forums here, but at the moment I unfortunately can’t support the overhead of the forums and the expectations of involvement there.

    Finally, I’ll be consolidating all of the comments to date and sending the common major themes over to the Fenix team in the morning. So your voice is being heard!

    Thanks again for the comments, and for those who ordered via Amazon or Clever Training, your support!
    -Ray

    Reply
  155. Yonadav

    Any idea what the plan is for porting the three second countdown start option from Garmin Swim? I really like it :)

    Reply
  156. Fj

    Hi dc, hi all,
    On amazon most picures show red text on black background. Here i see white text... Can someone explain? Maybe i missed something?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Red text with backlight on (at night), white text during the day. Backlight during daylight has no impact, still white text.

      Reply
  157. J.Griffin

    I've also encountered issues with double high cadence, may have to upload from my FR305 for a while. I'm using both watches, to do comparisons.

    Currently have some mix feelings about the F2. Pros & Cons, of course the F2 is a pretty thick watch, but not nearly as bulky or oddly shape as the 305. While running the F2 is way more comfortable to wear. Wearing the F2 as a day-to-day is not an issue, I have both lighter & heavier watches.

    I'm nearsighted and wear contacts most of the time when I run. When I wear glasses I have no issue reading either watch. With contacts it's mixed, I can read 4 data items on the 305 in the day-time (not nighttime) w/ not too much problem, I don't believe that would be possible on the F2, 3 should be ok. I can't help but wonder if it is the font size or the inverted display. I would be nice to be able to switch back & forth to determine which works best. The back-light is great, way way better than the 305!! Have yet to experience it at night.

    Love having vibrate alerts, as I could never really hear the tones on the 305. Plus it was nice to easily see the 1-mile split times.

    Reply
  158. Tim

    Hi Ray,

    I may be a little stupid, but I do really having a hard time finding "workout menu" on the fenix2. Where it is? :/

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Tap the red button, and then scroll down through the sports to 'Workout'.

      Reply
  159. Ray, another great review. Keep it up.

    I've been using the Fenix2 now for about 10 days and comparing it to the Tactix.

    My short comparison follows:

    SCREEN: Tactix is easier to read. Green is easier to read contrast-wise than red.
    MENUS: Fenix2 is very much simplified. Kudos to the Garmin team for addressing the complexities of the prior version.
    BLUETOOTH: My "week long battery" (including workouts) is down to a full day with BT notifications turned to "always on". Surprisingly poor.

    I would love to have the Tactix green screen and the new simplified multi-sport menus. Can't have it all but nice to seem them simplifying. Not sure why they went to red. Even adjusting the contrast doesn't help - it's just a poor color for human eyes to read at night for contrast. Yes, I know that red is used to not destroy night vision but the green can do the same - it's bright white / blue that harms night vision, not red or green.

    Reply
  160. Burnnerman

    I have used the watch for 3 days. Ran hard on Friday, and it worked real well. It is nice to see cadence for a change.

    Just for curiosity I golfed with it the other day, just GPS tracking how far I walked. Would be awesome if they added a golf mode that tracked your swing, but that would just be fun.

    SWIM:
    I tried it in the pool today, and tested multiple strokes, I was very impressed at the factor that it picked up when I did the Breast Stroke, Freestyle, or Back Stroke. I had 2 freestyle intervals that showed mixed (showed lap as freestyle on GC), and realized those were the 2 laps that I dove off the starting block.

    Reply
  161. Thank you very much for an awesome and thorough review!

    Reply
  162. Craig Bracken

    Just got it today. I was thinking that the bundle with the HRM was not coming out yet, but they had it at REI so added bonus. I have only been setting it up, not used it yet. I say that the menu system is much better. Setup was easier. I am looking forward to the swim features. Below are a few comments/suggestions and questions.

    1) Navigation - As was already said, this is a big deal to me. I had the fenix and loved the navigation possibilities. I would navigate from road running, trail running, biking, and hiking. I would also start the activity without navigation when I knew where I was going. Once I got to where things got new, I would turn on the navigation. This sort of on-the-fly features was great. Garmin should work on this.
    2) Sorting of Activities - Old fenix you could sort everything. This got unwieldy at times, but I did like the ability to sort the activities. Not a big deal, but nice
    3) More custom settings - Not sure why they would limit the number to 3. Also not sure why you would be unable to delete unused activities. I don't see myself ever needing the climb setting
    4) Maps - I know how to change over the base map, but it is not possible without a computer. You can load several on, it would be a good feature to be able to switch between. As much space as maps take up, this would allow you to load several specific locations instead of one map covering more area but with a bunch of info you don't need.
    5) Connect for Android - Anyone know when this is coming out
    6) Using with 2 bikes - I have a CX and Road bike, each with its own speed/cadence sensor. I am assuming I will need to pair this each time I switch between? Any issues with it auto-recognizing the different wheel sizes?
    7) Pool Swim - I am assuming that GPS does not come on for this as it does not show up under indoor. Anyone know for sure?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      HI Craig-

      RE: questions

      5) "Soon" for the GCM piece, could be this week, next week, or next month. Garmin won't provide an exact timeframe. Previously it was stated within Q1 (March).

      6) Correct on re-pairing. With wheel sizes, as long as using GPS to calibrate it'll do it just fine

      7) Correct, GPS is not used for "pool swims" (regardless of indoor or outdoor), only for "openwater" swims.

      Reply
    • goughy replied

      It would be great to see them add up to 3 bike options, to do away with the repairing etc. You wouldn't think it would be that hard.
      Saying that, could you use the custom activities to create new bike profiles that could be paired with whatever bike sensors (cad/speed/power).

      Reply
    • Jase replied

      I'm hoping the developers at Garmin add the ability to hold more than 1 (hopefully 3) bike profiles. Roadie, Tri-bike and MTB.

      Until then, I'll hold out on buying this product...

      Reply
  163. I've combed through this entire review and the only thing that sticks in my mind? "It's a two-hand job". Still rolling.

    But insane, insanely great thorough review! This makes the purchase a lot less mysterious, even for someone who works in this field (Fleet Feet Raleigh).

    Reply
  164. Sean

    Hi Ray, any idea what the cold does to the battery life of garmin products? Tried to record a 3 hour xc ski today with my iphone but it died within sight of the parking lot on the way back. Conditions were about -10 Celsius but sometimes I ski in much colder conditions. Would this watch hold up?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The device's operating range is: from -20*C to 50*C (-4*F to 122*F), so you'd be good.

      Plus, with ski mode that's sorta the point (being in the cold). I've done full days skiing in the past with the Fenix1 without any issues.

      Reply
  165. Michael

    I have been using the fr910xt for 2 years. I really like the swimming profile. I bought the Fenix2 just the other day and could not wait to use it. So after the purchase I went for a run, then used it on a stair machine. Next I went swimming. I thought it was waterproof like my 910, but low and behold I was pressing buttons underwater and it had water infiltrate it. The Quick start manual states to avoid pressing buttons underwater, but it should state NEVER push a button underwater.

    Reply
    • nfkb replied

      hi

      sorry to read that :/ i've done two lap swimming workout this week without any problems. i've pushed the start button while underwater pushing against the wall.

      I'll take care not pushing too often the buttons !

      Reply
  166. Ric

    Michael's comment re waterproofing could be a deal breaker! Has anyone else experienced problems using the unit whilst wet?

    Reply
  167. Joachim

    Hello Ray.

    Which one is more comfortable to wear?
    Fenix 2 or Ambit 2?

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It's a wash. The Ambit2 has a bit of bulk to one side (bottom), whereas the Fenix2 distributes that all around. They ultimately feel basically the same to me (heavy).

      Reply
  168. cyrille

    Salut,

    Comme tu viens souvent en France, je te remercie donc pour cette excellente revue, en français.

    Reply
  169. Chris

    Hi Ray,

    just a few questions, hope you can help:

    - VO2MAX ESTIMATION - does it work even with Mio Link or is HRV data (chest belt) needed for this?

    - With Mio Link only Running Dynamics shouldn't work but Running cadence should. Right?

    - Could you post a picture from a generic running workout, when a new part is starting? I'm interested in the description.

    Thank you.
    Chris

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      1) VO2MAX Estimation: Technically it will work, but as you guessed, an HRV capable chest strap is required. While the Mio Link will send such data, it's basically junk data it's sending, so expect the results to vary.

      2) Correct.

      3) Sorry, not entirely clear. You mean, when you press the start button, or?

      Reply
    • Adam replied

      Hi ray,

      Sorry to ask another question.

      Just want to clarify as I'm quite excited about being freed from a chest strap but am intrigued about trying out recovery advisor and vo2 max with the f2.

      Will the mio link and f2 give recovery advice?

      Would you be planning to do a test of quality with a mio link and any extended features of the f2 like vo2 max?

      Sorry for the questions!

      Reply
    • nfkb replied

      hi

      i don't want to be rude but recovery and vo2max are not very useful to assess your training...

      recovery is too shy and monitoring working load is a long term process, not a run by run process... and it would be the most useful for triathletes with a heavy workload but it's not working for others sports...

      VO2max is just a figure. Your last personnal best is highly related to VO2 max and is enough to estimate your VO2 max via a timetable

      Reply
    • Chris replied

      sorry for being unclear! When I re-read it, it's still unclear for me ;)

      So programming a custom workout: e.g. there is an intervall, afterwards a rest, then a intervall and so on...
      It would be helpful to see a screenshot, what the f2 shows on display, when intervall is finished and the rest starts (I assume something like "walk for 2min"). And then for the next intervall the same (I assume: "run 800m in 3:20 min/km).

      The reason for asking is that I usually run some complex workouts (Daniels Running Formula) - and during an intervall I've not so much blood in the head to remember the next workout part. So I'm relying on the watch's description.

      Thanks for your reply!
      Chris

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I'll dig up some shots and include them (I just did a sweep earlier today and added new shots in, including ones on The Girl's wrist). I know I have a few from workout mode.

      In short, it shows you how long the step is, and the target for the step.

      As for HRV/RR with optical sensors, the challenge is across the board right now they simply can't do it, regardless of vendor. It's made worse by the fact that Dynastream actually requires it for ANT+ certification, so companies 'fake' the data, which Dynastream is OK with, because if they weren't it means companies might shift focus to BLE only. The challenge is there's no warning on the side of the watch that the unit has been paired to such a HRV-less HRV-capable HR monitor. Finally, there are some devices (such as the upcoming Dash), that on marketing specs claim to do HRV, but when you talk to them, they're just doing estimations based on hopeful values.

      Hopefully that makes some sense.

      Reply
  170. Anthony Tieuli

    Hi Ray,
    Battery life question. After about 6 hours of trail running (3 runs over 3 days with the "Trail Run" profile) I was surprised to get a "Low Battery" warning. I keep the bluetooth setting to "manual" and only activate it to sync. The only thing I can think of is that the HRM-RUN strap, with all of its extra metrics, may be to blame?

    Any thoughts?

    Reply