At CES 2015, Garmin revealed the epix: the company’s first wearable that included the same satellite navigation capabilities as its handheld units. As smartwatches go, the epix was one of the largest and bulkiest wearables you could strap to your wrist, but two years later, Garmin has finally packed similar functionality into its Fēnix smartwatch.
A follow-up to the Fēnix 3, which also debuted at CES 2015, given the popularity of these smartwatches in the Asia-Pacific market, Garmin opted to skip a version four of the timepiece given that number translates to ‘death’ in Chinese. And that’s the last thing you want associated with a wearable designed to help you improve your health and fitness.
Three versions of the new Fēnix 5 are being made available when the wearable hits the market in the first quarter of 2017, including the Fēnix 5S designed with a smaller footprint for smaller wrists (or “female adventurers” as Garmin puts it) and the standard Fēnix 5 model. For $600 (or $700 if you opt for a version with durable Sapphire glass on the face) they’ll both feature all of the same robust fitness tracking capabilities as previous versions of the Fēnix 5, including optical heart rate tracking so you don’t need to wear a chest strap, basic smartwatch capabilities like call, text, and email notifications, and environmental sensors like a compass and altimeter.
Downloadable apps allow users to find the perfect tool for performance tracking in their sport of choice, and even activities that see the wearable submerged to depths of up to 100 meters. If you’re looking for a smartwatch that can survive anything, the Fēnix line should be the first wearable you consider.
But if you want to leave your smartphone, tablet, and even sat-nav unit at home when you head out into the wilderness, without getting lost, you’ll want to spring for the $700 Fēnix 5X.
Measuring 51-millimeters, it’s the largest of the new wearables, but for the size, the Fēnix 5X comes pre-loaded with topographical maps of the US and uses both GPS and GLONASS satellite signals to provide route mapping, current location, and even suggested routes if you only have a certain amount of time for your adventure.
Like the satellite navigation system in your car, the Fēnix 5X provides guidance cues for upcoming turns and waypoints so you don’t have to constantly stare at the map on its compact screen. And the wearable even provides points-of-interest suggestions if your latest adventure has you playing the tourist, instead of an extreme athlete.
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