The top tech giants are not just satisfied with making smartphones that can do just about anything from messaging to GPS navigating. The new focus now is wearables and that is a territory that Garmin knows all too well. In early January of 2014, Garmin announced the Vivofit fitness band and it was a hit despite the lack of features. It was a great tracker with long battery life and is waterproof too. Most of the tech companies are taking a smartwatch approach that focuses more on extending the smartphone interface to your wrist with fitness features taking the backend. Garmin never fails to make sure that the primary feature of many of its watches have something to do with fitness. With the Garmin Fenix 2, it is a lot more than just a timekeeper with fitness features.
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The design of the Fenix 2 sticks to the same rugged theme as most of Garmin’s other watches and it had better as it is the most dedicated fitness watch in Garmin’s wearable lineup. It looks big but it weighs just 3 ounces. For a watch like that, you could expect some pressure on your wrist but Garmin cleverly designed the rubber strap to be a bit thicker so the pressure is distributed to your wrist more evenly. Garmin also kept the spirit of the original Fenix intact so fans of the original design can rejoice here. However, the Garmin Fenix 2 has an altered button layout, which may require adjusting for those familiar with the first Fenix, but this revised layout makes a lot more sense. The Start/Stop button is now on the upper right corner while the Back/Lap button is on the bottom right. The Up and Down buttons were moved to the middle and lower left respectively while the Light button maintains its position on the upper left. Pressing the Light button will make the text turn deep red, which may not be the best approach for making the watch as bright as possible, but it makes the Fenix 2 a lot more pleasant to use at night.
One of the problems of the original Fenix was Garmin’s vague description on water resistance. Some users were afraid to swim with the watch or even take a shower even though Garmin officially claimed that the Fenix is water resistant at up to 50 meters. The Fenix 2 removes all of that doubt by slapping a 5 ATM rating. This is the kind of water rating that those into snorkeling and surface swimming will love. The Garmin Fenix 2 is the watch that is ready for high-speed watersport activities.
Many of Garmin’s watches possess a lot of GPS technologies and while the Fenix 2 features a high-sensitivity GPS radio and 3-axis compass with altimeter and barometer, the Garmin Fenix 2 is primarily a multisport watch. It combines the functionality of Garmin’s famous Forerunner watches with some of its other products. The original Fenix aimed for that versatility too but it fell short with the highly cluttered interface. Fortunately, the Fenix 2 is a lot more intuitive to use and with the direction buttons now on the left, navigating the UI feels more straightforward. The home screen features the time and you can get down and dirty with the watch’s features by pressing the red button on the upper right, which brings up a simple menu where you can select a sport. The list of sports and activities include various forms of skiing and snowboarding along with rock climbing, hiking biking, running and working out.
With Garmin still selling fitness watches dedicated to one activity, one might be worried that the features of the Fenix 2 are stretched out too thin. Make no mistake, the Garmin Fenix 2 is a very powerful watch that specializes in churning out tons of workout data. The advanced running metrics and swimming data can show all kinds of cool stats such as how many strokes you make per lap. Your cadence is monitored in real time and the GPS functionality helps track distance and has support for making breadcrumb trails. With the built-in altimeter, barometer and compass, you can check your bearings, get real-time elevation data and weather predictions. Bluetooth and ANT+ capabilities are onboard too although you cannot use them both simultaneously. The battery life lasts less than a half day but you can extend that by reducing the pinging frequency to satellites.
The Fenix 2 is one of those rare watches that can do so many things and actually do a lot of these things well. If you are engaged in all sorts of activities that stretch beyond running, you can go ahead and spend $399 on the Garmin Fenix 2 and not worry about other fitness watches and bands.