Tag Archives: compare

Garmin’s Ruggedized ‘Instinct’ Is Now Available In 3 More Cute Colors.

by Anura Guruge

Click to ENLARGE.

Click to access my January 2019 review.

Garmin Instinct might very well be the right watch for YOU, if Adrenaline plays a major role in YOUR lifestyle.

I already reviewed it in detail a few months ago. So, I am not going to rehash that.

Just wanted to make sure you knew about the new colors. The yellow and bright blue are certainly eye-catching. I do like the yellow.

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by Anura Guruge

Is The Ruggedized ‘Garmin Instinct’ The Right Activity-Tracker For You?

by Anura Guruge

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Amazon listing.

Garmin Instinct might very well be the right watch for YOU, if Adrenaline plays a major role in YOUR lifestyle.

The Garmin Instinct is a distinctive, semi-high-end, affordable sport/smart watch.

It is designed to withstand a lot of physical and climatic abuse. It complies to U.S. military standard 810G (MIL-STD-810). Hence, it is meant to cope with substantial amounts of: impact shock, vibration, temperature fluctuations, air/water pressure variation, surface contamination etc. It also has a 10 ATM (i.e., 100-meter depth) water rating, and includes open water swimming as one of the 30+ sport activities it can track.

It is basically combat-ready when it comes to wrist-wearables!

If adventure, risk, rough-and-tumble, adrenaline and fitness are part of your lifestyle, the Instinct could very well be the right Garmin watch for you – irrespective of gender.

With the Instinct, Garmin is trying to thread a very fine needle amongst its ever-increasing portfolio of feature-rich sport/smart watches. Cut to the chase, the visually-distinctive, dual-dial Instinct slots in above the Garmin Vivoactive 3 and below the Garmin Fenix 5. Its competitive US $299 (MSRP) reflects this.

Hence, why I refer to it as affordable and semi-high-end. Garmin had to be careful here because it does market a tactical (i.e., a toughened) version of the Fenix 5X – the US $650 (MSRP) ‘tactix Charlie’. It appears that it Garmin was successful in this, and hit the desired sweet-spot smack-on.

Click to ENLARGE. Amazon listing.

The Major Pros-and-Cons

Major Pros

1.   Ruggedized to withstand above average levels of shock & stress.

2.   Exceptional navigational capabilities, with GPS, GLONASS & Galileo support, including ‘TrackBack’, breadcrumb trails on courses (downloaded from Garmin Connect), 3-axis compass, support for ‘Garmin Explore’, and one-button, immediate-access to GPS coordinates, altitude and compass.

3.   Wrist-based optical heart rate monitoring.

4.   Sleep monitoring with REM & Deep Sleep analysis.

5.   Support for over 30 outdoor sport activities including: hiking, climbing, snowboarding, skiing, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking etc.

6.   Smart notifications (with limited TXT responses when paired to an Android phone), live tracking and GroupTrack.

7.   10 ATM water rating with support for monitoring open water swimming.

8.   Sunrise/Sunset times.

9.   Distinctive, easy-to-read, sunlight-visible monochrome display with button-driven access (appropriate for a tactical watch such as this).

10.   Better battery life on par with the Fenix 5 and as such better than that of a Vivoactive 3.

Major Cons

1.   Not customizable with downloadable watch faces, widgets, data fields and APPs – i.e., it is not supported by Garmin Connect IQ.

2.   No maps.

3.   No VO2 Max nor training metrics.

4.   No gyroscope despite support for open water swimming.

5.    Does not support golf.

6.   No on-board music, though you can control music on your phone with a supplied widget.

7.   No Garmin Pay.

8.   Smaller, lower-resolution display.

Lack Of Connect IQ Support In Perspective

This, ironically, has become the most talked about aspect of the Instinct. It is incongruous, but it is definitely not as bad as it first looks. It is actually a non-issue in the end.

The Instinct does come pre-loaded with twelve highly-customizable watch faces plus the standard widget repertoire found on a Vivoactive 3, e.g., ABC (altimeter/barometer/compass), Calendar, Alt. time zone, heart rate, weather, My day, last sport, sunrise/sunset etc. And as with a Vivoactive 3 or Fenix 5 you can customize your widget loop, i.e., the order in which they appear (or not). So, in reality you will not be stuck with one fixed watch face and no widgets.

The issue here is the inability to avail oneself to third-party watch faces and widgets. To be fair to Garmin, many of the watch faces, widgets and APPs currently available on Connect IQ might not have worked on the Instinct given its unique dual-dial display. This makes sense. That said, one should not expect that Garmin might activate IQ support at a later date, with a new version of firmware. If you are considering getting an Instinct it is best to assume that this watch is meant to operate outside of IQ.

The Instinct, however, has unstinted support on both Garmin Connect and Garmin Explore. So, it is a smartwatch on par with the Vivoactive 3, and, furthermore, you do have the ability to create and download your desired trails to the watch. So, it is definitely a connected, smartwatch. Do not lose sight of that.

If You Need A Tactical Watch

It is an open secret that with the Instinct Garmin is trying to muscle into the Casio ‘G-Shock’ watch market. The dual-dial watch face, akin to that pioneered by Casio on their original ‘G’-watches of the 1980s, was a telling clue.

Casio still markets an impressive array of daunting-looking G-Shock watches – but they, even at the $750 high-end, lack fitness/sleep, sport and smart features. So, with an Instinct you get a toned-down ‘G-shock’ with semi-high-end Garmin functionality. That is basically the deal: a Casio G-Shock with quite a bit of Fenix 5 capability. That is quite the combination. Quite the hybrid.

Garmin has a short promotional video for the Instinct (above). It features a motorbike-riding fireman who gallantly fights an active forest fire. It shows him clearing away smoldering trees, oblivious to the heat and smoke, using an ax and chainsaw — woodchips flying everywhere, and coating his sweaty wrists. The camera lingers on the Instinct as he bears down on the burning logs with the trusty chainsaw. This to illustrate that the Instinct can cope with vibration, heat, smoke and shock with undue equanimity. If you can relate to such a scenario (and there is also a female firefighter in the video), then the Instinct is the watch for you. As I said in the title: ‘if adrenalin figures in your lifestyle’.

Given its target market, and competitive price-point, some of the ‘major cons’ listed above become irrelevant! This is meant to be a rugged, practical work watch – not a dress watch for the boardroom or a ballroom. That also explains the omission of golf. Once you appreciate that, everything about the Instinct makes perfect sense.

The Bottom Line

Think of the Instinct as an affordable, ruggedized (MIL-STD-810) semi-Fenix 5. The navigational and sport capabilities of a Fenix 5, in a toughened, distinctive case at a price point similar to that of a Vivoactive 3. The Impact is indubitably feature-rich, and the lack of Connect IQ support is by no means a showstopper.

The key words that distinguish the Impact are: durability, navigation, 10 ATM, heart rate, sleep, fitness, distinctiveness, notifications and price. Mull those over as a part of your decision-making process. It is a capable, compelling Garmin watch at a competitive price – a Casio G-Shock with trademark Garmin features.

When it comes to Garmin wearables we are, of late, blessed with choice. There appears to be a compelling Garmin for every price point, every stylistic choice and every need. In this context, the Instinct is the affordable, ruggedized tactical watch that will always try to get you home despite the physical and atmospheric abuse it has undergone. A $300 Garmin for the Indiana Jones and his lady sidekick.

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by Anura Guruge

Deciding Between The New Polar Vantage V & The Venerable Garmin Fenix 5.

by Anura Guruge

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‘Polar Vantage V’ & ‘Garmin Fenix 5 Plus’ Side-By-Side On My Wrist.

Price-wise they are $50 apart at Amazon (today), the new Polar Vantage V at $500 and the Garmin Fenix 5 at $450. [The Fenix 5 Plus is more expensive.]

In November 2018, when the Polar Vantage V came out, I was lucky enough to be given one to evaluate. I kept it for two weeks and wore it, ’24×7′ (bar charging time) for 11-days straight. Since I own a Garmin Fenix 5 Plus, and upgraded to that from a Garmin Fenix 5, I am pretty qualified to compare the two.

I have to say I was excited to get the Polar Vantage V. The early promotional matter made it very compelling. I was fairly convinced that I was going to ‘buy’ the evaluation unit and keep it.

The Polar Vantage V, with its bright, multicolor, touchscreen, 4-field display, is the perfect training watch. It really enhanced my running experience. I could see my heart rate, color-coded, at a glance, relative to its expected range – along with my pace, distance and time. Then using the up/down buttons I could quickly get altitude, ‘power’, heart rate data as well as the time-of-day. At the end of an activity (in my case a run), I was treated to a chock-a-block ‘training summary’ which included: distance, calories, heart rate zones, cardio load, pace/speed, speed zones, altitude change, power zones, cadence, etc. etc. It was like having a training COMPUTER on your wrist. And all of this on the watch – independent of the phone or computer APP.

It was pretty awesome. A level of (shareable) training data unmatched by any other watch I have used and I am no stranger to high-end Garmins, Fitbits and Samsungs.

As a sport watch the Polar Vantage V, in my experience, is in a new, crème de la crème, class of its own. Its GPS and heart rate data is consistent with what I have seen with my other high-end GPS watches – though its overall ‘step count’ appears to be about 20% too generous (probably because you can’t customize your actual stride length). That said, if you are a serious, dedicated athlete training for competitions, marathons, triathlons, Ironman or the Olympics, this very well might be the perfect watch for you.

The Polar Vantage V has two very different personalities – a ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ watch!

When in training-mode it is superlative. Probably peerless. THE watch to have. Period.

But, when in pre-training mode, i.e., when you are not training, it is a pretty pedestrian watch! In pre-training mode it is a pretty basic, uninspiring watch that does not tell you much. That is the rub. Hence, the need for very careful consideration. When not in training-mode it is a very boring watch!

That Polar does not call it a ‘smart watch’ is no accidental, oversight. The Vantage V is not a smart watch even by 2017 standards – let alone those of 2018 or 2019.

In pre-training mode it is insipid! There are no customizable, third-party watch faces with ‘bells-and-whistles’, nor widgets or APPs. There is no ‘ABC’ (i.e., altitude, barometer, compass), weather, sunrise/sunset, temperature, calendar or smart notifications from your phone. And I won’t even mention maps, music or credit/debit card payments. Oh, it also does not count/report floors climbed (i.e., altitude changes) when in pre-training mode.

While it does measure sleep time, there is no analysis in terms of whether it was REM or Deep. That is frustrating since I am used to getting that from Garmin and Fitbit. It is possible that Polar might add this ‘deep analysis’, at a later date, with a firmware update.

I thought about this long and hard.

On a scale of 1-to-10 determine the role and importance of training/fitness in your life. If you rate training/fitness at 7.5 or less, the Polar Vantage V might not be the right watch for you. If on the other hand, training/fitness figures as an 8.5 or above, definitely think about getting the V V. It would be a marriage made in heaven.

Another way to approach this is to determine your ‘training’ vs. ‘pre-training’ ratio, in terms of waking hours. If the ratio is greater than 50:50, in favor of training, the Polar V V very well could be the watch of your dreams. If on the other hand, training only accounts for 20%, or less, of your waking hours, you might want to consider a different watch — i.e., the all-round Garmin Fenix 5 (Plus).

The Polar Vantage V is possibly the ultimate sport watch currently on the market for pro athletes. Therein, however, lies the rub. If you are not a pro athlete this might be overkill for you. Get the Fenix 5 instead and you will be very happy.

So, the choice is straightforward. If training/fitness is a dominant feature of your life check out the Polar. On the other hand your life is more balanced wear a Fenix 5 with PRIDE.

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by Anura Guruge

Very Helpful YouTube Video Comparing The Brand New Sony a6500 With Its Two Predecessors The a63000 & a6000.

by Anura Guruge

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by Anura Guruge

It Is Amazing That Amazon Does Not Offer A Side-by-Side Product Comparison Feature.

by Anura Guruge


Click to ENLARGE and study. An Amazon provided, un-customizable, pre-determined product range, comparison chart.

Don’t all of you yell at me at once claiming that Amazon does. What they do have, on JUST some products, are comparison charts like that shown above. They are NOT customizable. You can’t, as far as I can see, ADD your chosen products to compare.

Yes, I fully appreciate (as an ex-programmer and a still active Web designer) that given Amazon’s bold, flowing, full-page product layouts it would be difficult to incorporate an easy-to-use compare feature. But I am SURE that Amazon has the expertise inhouse to come up with a workable solution.

Yes, I know that there are a couple of 3rd party options BUT the last thing I want is another company having access to all of my shopping habits and searches. No thank you. 

Funnily enough, despite all the shopping I do on Amazon, I had not really missed this ‘compare’ functionality till recently. Part of it being that I just open multiple Amazon tabs, across my two monitors, when I want to look at two products side-by-side. Obviously that works well BUT it is limited to two products. Ironically I started to miss this feature when trying to compare cameras. And that is what is strange. I use at least 3 very good camera resources, DPreview and Snapsort in the main, that provide very capable side-by-side comparison features. In this case, i.e., my most recent quest, the thing I wanted to compare most was PRICES. The DPreview etc. comparisons are not good at price comparison because they quote the cheapest price seen on the Web without too many caveats (e.g., that it might be an International version camera). And to make it even more ironic I was looking at two cameras from the same manufacturer, Fuji, the old X-E2 and the soon to be available (Feb. 16) X-E2s. There is a crazy anomaly here. The newer camera, which has a FEW new options (not going to be available on the old X-E2 DESPITE the February 4 Firmware refresh), from everything I see is going to be $100 CHEAPER. That doesn’t make sense. Somebody has to start discounting the older X-E2. That is what I was hoping to see. 

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by Anura Guruge