Review : Garmin Fenix 2

10/21/2014 9:38:01 PM

The good folk at Garmin must have gathered around a table one day and decided to design a GPS running watch to rule them all. That is how the Garmin Fenix 2 was born.


This device not only tracks your runs, it also records workout statistics when you go swimming, cycling, hiking, climbing, skiing and even skydiving.

If you are a triathlete who needs to track everything at one go, you can add custom workouts and activities. You can use its navigation mode to assign waypoints on a map, so you can focus on hiking and enjoying the scenery, instead of having to refer to a physical map.

A built-in altimeter, barometer and compass provide relevant real-time information about your surroundings. GPS technology sets the time and date automatically, depending on your location.

When connected via Bluetooth to your smartphone (Apple iPhone 4S or later and selected Android models), it will alert you to incoming e-mail and text messages.

The Fenix 2 is water-resistant to a depth of 50m. Rugged and handsome, it is bound to attract admiring glances. The round watch face has a 70 x 70 pixel monochrome display. It has three buttons on the left and two buttons on the right.

Set it up outdoors, where you can receive GPS signals. It takes about 1min to secure a GPS fix. The watch will then show the current date and time on the default display.

Use the middle and bottom buttons on the left side to scroll up and down to select the activity. Press the top right button to start. This button also lets you access the activity you are engaging in.

Press the lower button on the right side to return to the default display of time and date.

The middle and bottom buttons on the left also function as toggles to the digital compass, barometer, altimeter and thermometer.

The readings seemed less precise than those from other devices which I reviewed recently. Still, the running and biking data collected varied by only by about 3 per cent from the distances covered. When I swam, the device counted the laps accurately, but I first had to key in the length of the swimming pool.

On the downside, neither the Garmin Connect app nor the website, where one syncs data, is intuitive. Both user interfaces need to be improved to make them more readable and user-friendly.

Despite its plethora of features, the Fenix 2 does not offer fitness-tracking functions, such as steps tracking or calories burned. It also lacks a built-in heart-rate monitor, which many comparable devices offer.

You could, of course, add a foot pod ($134) or buy the Fenix 2 with a heart-rate monitor ($579). However, this means extra cost.

Battery life was good when it was used with GPS activated. It was supposed to last 15 hours, but I did not run, hike or bike long enough to see it go flat in GPS mode.

However, when paired with a smartphone for displaying notifications, it ran flat in a day.


Price: $469

Water resistance: 50m

Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0, ANT+

Weight: 90.6g


Features: 4/5

Design: 4/5

Performance: 3/5

Value for money: 3/5

Battery life: 4/5

Overall: 4/5

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