Small and quick disclaimer before this post begins; I will try my best not to turn this into a rant, but I offer no promises…
I suppose I should not be too surprised, given that technology is advancing constantly, but the rate at which Garmin are releasing new watches is alarming, first of all for the customers who buy those watches but, in the long term, potentially for themselves.
Before moving on to my own grievance, we can look at the Vivoactive 3. Quite a smart looking watch from their Vivo range, which concentrates more on activity tracking than it does on specific sports. That being said, it still does sports well. Although it doesn’t have duathlon/triathlon modes, I had the original Vivoactive and it was a watch that did the basics well. Anyway, not much longer than 6 months after the release of the Vivoactive 3 did Garmin release the Vivoactive 3 music. Aesthetically different and with the added feature of on-board music storage and playback. The questions then, how do those who bought the original 3 not that long ago feel about the release of the new product? Will anyone still buy the original version, or have Garmin effectively discontinued it by bringing out an ‘improved version’ that costs a mere £20 more?
Moving on to Garmin’s flagship model, the Fenix. The Fenix 5 was released in April 2017 and has been criticised industry wide since. I believe this is more to do with the price and the expectation that comes with having to spend so much money on a GPS sports device. Criticisms include poor connectivity and ropey GPS signal to name the major ones.
Just over a year after spending north of £600 on my Fenix 5X then, Garmin have now released the Fenix 5 plus series. This is an improvement on the original 5 series, supposedly fixing the above issues along with adding Garmin Pay and, again, music storage and playback. There are other improvements too, which I won’t list here, but if you’ve already spent a small fortune on an original 5 (like me) you’re unlikely to be too pleased with the release of the plus variant (like me).
It’s not about wanting the latest model, it’s not about wanting the latest technology, it’s about not wanting to spend so much money on a piece of equipment, only to be told a year later that it’s not actually that reliable at certain things and here’s a fix. Oh, but you need to spend another £750 (!) on the fixed, sorry upgraded, device. I guess it would be too much to ask of a company such as Garmin to provide all original 5 buyers with an equivalent plus version FOC?
For the watch that I use for running, I wanted maps, and that left me very few options (realistically, just the one) on what I could get. I’ve been more than happy with my F5X purchase. It’s a great watch and does everything I need it to. I certainly won’t be ‘upgrading,’ although what I’ve described above is very frustrating. It’s a question for future too. With devices arriving on to the market thick and fast, when is it a good time to purchase, with the question of when will an improvement arrive burning in the back of your mind?