The Fenix 5 announcement certainly answers many questions but it raises new concerns and new, even more intriguing, questions.
I’ve had some relieved responders to this blog who are mightily pleased they held off with their Fenix purchase until the new Fenix 5 model arrived. By inference there must be others who are fuming about the expensive present they gave or received that is now ‘out-of-date’ in some way or other.
Luckily many sites will allow returns within a month or so of purchase.
Other commentators on tech and reviewers like me, I would argue, have a responsibility to you the buying public. We have to give genuine opinions and facts; you can then choose to ignore them, check them or believe them. All of that is about you having the best chance you can to make an informed decision when you buy something based on your research. Or, less seriously, just to be entertained in some way.
The fact is that it was bordering on obvious for anyone with a scintilla of industry knowledge that a new model Fenix was due now (4Jan), give or take 3 months. Indeed on 9th November there were specific leaks that pretty much confirmed what many people suspected.
Surely it is then disingenuous for retailers, reviewers and commentators to ignore or worse deny the product’s existence? Which some people did. Effectively so that retailers can clear out old stock that will soon fall in value. “Not wanting to cause waves” or “defending confidentiality” or “never commenting on leaked information” are not excuses that wash with me. If you say something and know the opposite is true…it’s a lie. Isn’t it?
The standard line will be to “buy what models and features are on sale now“. You can never be fully certain about the future and, of course, there is much truth in that. So you buy the Fenix 3 NOW because Christmas is coming and you need something that works NOW. BUT, and it’s a big BUT, not everyone is like that. Some buyers want the latest greatest device and if they have to wait a few months they will.
If you are told that there is nothing planned for this year (2016) and then something arrives on 4th Jan of the next year then, sure, no-one was lying but c’mon…you should be in politics if you support that behaviour.
Furthermore I suspect, but do not know at all, that the leaked information came from Garmin themselves. I base that on an historic inability to control their information supply chain. It seems like most of their major new product releases have been beset by pre-release leaks in one form or other – hence why some of us think they could be deliberate.
I’ve no idea which of the larger tech sites have access to this kind of new product information prior to release. I’m thinking of the likes of cnet.com – although clearly from the information they are posting today they are basing it on today’s press release and will be basing further posts on information they glean as they progress around CES in Las Vegas. So good for them, they seem to be putting consumers first in the sense that they are ‘batting with a straight bat’.
Often press releases can be released a few DAYS prior to release under embargo conditions – fair enough. A few days is trivial
Anyway, putting that all to one side, there is more fallout. Let’s move on to things that are probably of more interest to you all.
Bluetooth! What on earth is going on here! dcrainmaker tells us that the Fenix 5 will support Bluetooth SMART sensors. Well, HR sensors at any rate.
- I guess it’s a nice-to-have and might facilitate people moving from a non-ANT+ environment to a Garmin environment by not having to re-invest in sensors. Maybe, I’ll half-buy that one.
- It could also be for cyclists in a dual-device situation eg a Garmin watch or cycling computer and a smartphone that they are using for STRAVA. Obviously the lines are blurring there every month but many cyclists still love and use their Bluetooth-enabled smartphones, some with BTLE chest straps.
- A third line could be the sports scientisty type people – many of whom have labs full of Polar chest straps. They clearly aren’t going to replace 30 or so straps so Garmin now give them a new recording option. maybe.
- Perhaps it’s to allow confidentiality? It’s a bit harder to listen in on some bluetooth-broadcasted data.
- As DCR says, it might open up CIQ.
- Any other thoughts on WHY Garmin did this? Either way I like it!!
It looks like it will be chest straps first and then maybe speed &/or cadence sensors, with power meters being tricky. Although why anyone would want to convert a Bluetooth POWER signal to ANT+ escapes me. Must be a global market of about 5 people? Although perhaps another 5 people might have their ANT+ channel broken on the dual-band power meter. hmmm.
There’s also the me-too factor. Polar may well be introducing an ANT+ to Bluetooth bridging device (H7i strap) so that they can receive a converted signal from an ANT+ sensor (like 4iiii’s Viiiiva V100). I can really see why Polar would want to help people move from Garmin.
I still don’t see why Garmin strategically need to do this – dcrainmaker’s comment would be a strategic reason. my other reasons, above, would be more tactical. Maybe it’s just another feature that the hardware could actually have supported all along for many years? That would be the “Why not?” argument.
More fallout. BUGS
Complex new products from Garmin seem to be beset by bugs for 3-6 months (Check the forums for proof). That leaves 18 months of relatively hassle-free use until a replacement model is announced :-). This time it might be different. Sure the product will be monumentally complex BUT BUT BUT some of it will have been tried out with the Chronos and I am hoping that some of the code and lessons from the FENIX 3 will transfer over as-is. Let’s hope the Fenix 5 will be a pleasant surprise when it comes to bugs. If I’m spending GBP500 on one I REALLY expect VERY VERY few bugs. Ask Suunto about expectations for a £500 device.
Yet more fallout: POWER
I can’t see why running power support isn’t nativeon the watch when muscle oxygen data is. Muscle oxygen data really is only for the data driven athlete (BSX) or sports scientist (MOXY). Running power could be for very many athletes…runners and triathletes alike. Strange. Maybe Garmin are developing a product in that area or maybe it’s just hard to work out how to differentiate how to handle run-power from bike-power (you REALLY don’t want to mix the two)? There could be a significant global market for a running power meter over time. I love STRYD’s gen 1 and Gen 2 products in this area…recommended
Yet more fallout: DESTROYER
If the Fenix 5 is good it could well destroy the market for all directly competing products. Good for Garmin. Good for customers (short term). Bad for competitors. Bad for competition. Bad for choice. Bad for customers (long term). You would eventually have the choice of a good product or a cheaper much functionally inferior one from a competitor. Maybe. Then again a million features might have 10 that are useful for you.
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