Product Review – Garmin Fenix 3 Timepiece

!USE Fenix3_HR_0840.11by William Crockett

What a device! In this fast paced, fast changing world where everyone is putting an emphasis on keeping moving, staying active and staying connected, the Fenix 3 from Garmin is a new wearable, smart device designed to aid with all three of those.

This is wearable technology – and one of the first timepieces to combine advanced smartwatch capabilities with leading-edge GPS sport tracking technology, making it the perfect fusion of style and function.

No doubt we’ve all heard of the Apple Watch? Well this is rather similar in terms of specs, except this Garmin watch is aimed at the fitness enthusiasts amongst us. The Fenix 3 is GPS enabled to track your activities. Whether it be running, cycling, multi-sport or hiking, it is designed to be the ultimate companion.

I was fortunate enough to ‘play’ with the Fenix 3 for almost two weeks for this evaluation  and loved it!

The Fenix 3 has a large display, yet is comfortable to wear; definitely not too heavy. Weighty and big, bulky watches can become uncomfortable.

The Fenix 3 uses ANT+ as a medium to connect with sensors such as heart rate monitors and various other running and cycling sensors that use the technology. Coupling the Fenix 3s GPS capabilities with these sensors opens up a new level of reporting to the user through the data fields on the watch and for analysis after your session – all on the Garmin Connect app or website.

In addition to ANT+, the Fenix 3 has Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity for syncing data with your smartphone and your Garmin Connect profile in the Cloud. As a Data Analyst, I get quite excited by the huge amount of data that is available for analysis. The ability to track your training and progress is unrivalled by any other fitness tracker that I’ve seen.

For day to day usage, the Fenix 3 acts as an activity tracker, logging your steps, calories burned and distance walked. It also reminds you to ‘move’ when it detects that you’ve been still for too long!

Using the Bluetooth connectivity, the Fenix 3 acts as a notification centre for your smart phone. Any push notification you receive (text, e-mail, Facebook, calendars, reminders and more) are displayed on the watch for quick reference. You’re also able to view weather information and control your music.

The Garmin Connect site and dashboard is another great feature of owning a Garmin product. One is able to map out running or cycles routes with their on-line mapping tool. The tool calculates the distance and will also predict the time it will take you based on your previous data or by you inputting an average pace. One can then sync this route with your Fenix 3 for use in real life.

The smartphone app is not required to have a perfectly functioning Fenix 3, it’s merely there to add value to it. Garmin has developed its own App Store for apps, widgets, data fields and even watch faces for its devices, the Fenix 3 being one of these products. This store is still in its infancy; however, as it grows the watch will become even more useful and interactive.

For the developers out there, apps are coded using a new language called ‘Monkey C’. Garmin has a full guide on-line to help you learn this, and a huge repository of code. The SDK is also available, with an emulator.

Upon reflection, when I had to box the Fenix 3 up for dispatch back to Garmin, I seriously didn’t want to let it go as I’ve really enjoyed the training session tracking, the activity tracking and all the analysis associated with this data. While there are many ‘smart’ watches out there, I don’t think any really stack up to the Fenix 3 when it comes to sports tracking and usage.

The App Store really does complement the Fenix 3, and I have no doubt that as more users develop apps, data fields and widgets this ‘wearable technology’ will become more of a day-to-day tool than primarily an activity tracker and sports watch.

Oh, and it tells the time too!

Information from Garmin Southern Africa. www.garmin.co.za