A hike deep into the woods or unexplored territory is only fun if you know you can find your way back out. And to ensure that adventurers can safely get to or from their destinations without a pack weighed down with gadgets, Garmin's new epix watch straps a full GPS navigator to your wrist, complete with touchscreen controls, so your hands are always free.
Out of the box the epix includes a worldwide shaded relief basemap that can be navigated using swipes and gestures on the watch's 1.4-inch color touchscreen display. But with eight gigs of storage onboard, users can upload additional maps, including satellite imagery if they prefer to navigate with more recognizable imagery. Its omnidirectional built-in antenna works with both GPS and GLONASS satellites, but if the user is unable to get a signal due to their location, they can also get their bearings using the epix's built-in altimeter and three-axis electronic compass.
The watch is waterproof to a depth of 50 meters, so if you happen to find yourself misled by the GPS and completely underwater it will continue to work... mostly. And on a full charge you can expect it to run for about 24 hours with GPS tracking turned on, 50 hours with limited navigation functionality, and up to 16 weeks when used as a plain old watch. So you can also wear it as your daily timekeeper when you're not out exploring, without having to charge it every night.
As far as GPS navigators go the epix sounds like it has all the important functionality one would expect to find in a larger handheld unit, including waypoints, coordinate navigation, and progress logging which allows you to reverse your path and retrace your steps using a TracBack feature. But it also sounds like it has comprehensive fitness tracking functionality too, keeping tabs on distance, pace, speed, running cadence, calories burned, and even heart rate when paired with a monitor. And if that wasn't enough, the epix can even be connected to your smartphone for receiving text message, phone call, and email alerts letting you stay connected to the world even while you're trying to escape it.
So given all the functionality and hardware that Garmin has squeezed into the epix, it's not surprising that the base version will sell for a hefty $550 when it's available sometime in the first quarter of 2015. Even though it doesn't run Android Wear, on paper the epix sounds like one of the smartest watches you'll be able to buy in 2015, especially if your adventures take you off the beaten path and away from a reliable cellular signal. [Garmin]
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