Garmin Fenix 5 – The FALLOUT post announcement. Leaks, Bluetooth, bugs and power

Garmin Fenix 5The 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 By inference there must be others who are fuming about the expensive present they gave or received that is now ‘out-of-date’ in some way or other.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.

Garmin Fenix 5xFurthermore 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 – 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!!
source: @dcrainmakerblog, source

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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6 thoughts on “Garmin Fenix 5 – The FALLOUT post announcement. Leaks, Bluetooth, bugs and power

  1. In the days before many of us had the internet at our fingers every minute of the day it was much more valid to say you were misled if you bought a product that was immediately superceded but not so much now. Even without leaks and rumours, it’s not difficult to find out roughly how long a product has been on sale and you’d have to conclude that the Fenix 3 is not a new product any more.
    Retailers have to do what they have to do to keep the lights on. If you’re saying they should inform customers that a new product is on the horizon then the only way they’d stay in business is not stocking any tech product more than about 3 months after it’s launch. Consumers already have the upper-hand, just many walk around in a daze and then complain when they trip over their own feet.

    1. Actually, the better point here is “WHY” this is a business practice in the first place. I’ve been on this earth for some time now and have worked in retail in the past. I know the end of a year bring steep discounts on said years products. Nominally, retailers know full well the new things from the companies they sell are coming right around the corner (some time is guess work, but we are creatures of habit and repetition). When those discounts come, the new year brings the next big thing.

      Does the average person see this cycle? Personal opinion here; the average consumer is clueless, they are coming to the store for the thing(s) they need at the moment and don’t think about if there is a better version around the corner. The thing they need (or want) is discounted and it’s the right time to buy it. We, the people that are in the loop, the people that keep our eyes to the blogs and to trends, we’re different.

      Like I said above, been around for awhile. I know there are deep cuts coming on most items at the end of the year. My take on it goes like this:

      I know full well said item is going to be obsolete in 1-3 months. Take 2016 model 4k T.V’s, which were cutting edge all through the year, went to the markdown bin right for the holidays, even the bleeding edge models. I have to ask myself: do I settle for the best of the bunch right now and save a ton of money? Or will the next big thing be worth the investment?

      With the new Fenix 5 line, I ask the same thing? Do I spend more for the newest model or stick with the current one. In my case, I bought a Fenix 3HR back in May 2016, so the choice of returning is not available (I didn’t buy it from REI, I wish I did). Just from the early information? No, the new Fenix 5 (any of them) offer ME anything I need or have to have the Fenix 3HR doesn’t already do. Couple this with my mistrust of everything Garmin makes (which, I will not include here. I might as well write my own Blog on that :P) and nothing about the release info has me excited. If anything, I am hoping either Polar or Sunnto have something stellar coming down the line so I can move onto a brand that I trust.

      So why do retailers do this? Honestly, the know the average consumer does not research anything, and they are the vast majority of people they serve. Should they inform you a new product is coming in a few weeks? Absolutely, especially since the consumer now sees the retailer in a good light and will come back and spend even more money on the new item. That long-term rapport building is long gone though. They’d rather make money now than more later. My advice to you is, inform yourself (which I think you do already), because they (the retailers in this case) will just take advantage of your ignorance.

      1. If as a retailer you have a stock of Fenix 3s and you tell customers to wait for January for a likely new model then surely you go out of business. What extra you might gain from selling the F5, you lose several times over in having a stock of F3s that you can no longer sell.

  2. I agree with all these comments. I am really disappointed that Polar does not appear to be going to announce the V800 replacement (who needs a smart shirt for triathlon? ?). Will I buy an F5? Well I’ll need to wait till the tech blogging community (here, DCR, Titanium Geek – by the way, thanks to you all for your not particularly well remunerated efforts!) tells me whether the GPS is sound, the OHR is really accurate for steady state AND activity and whether the maps justify wearing a desktop computer on your wrist…. Meanwhile Polar keep on improving the firmware on the V800 and it does pretty much everything I want aside from 24/7 heart rate tracking (I wear a Charge HR for that), sensible running power (aka Stryd) integration (the thing which is really driving me towards Garmin) and the ability to get instant pace from a footpod whilst total distance comes from the GPS (another Garmin plus). Solution? Secondhand Vivoactive (which has connect IQ) and I end up exactly where I want to be for about £50 at the additional cost of messy data and looking like an idiot wearing three wearables. So I will trot along (in zone 2), avidly reading all the latest news that is available to all and being misled by nobody but myself…..

    1. ty for your comments. like the solution !!
      polar shirt: somebody once told me that there were sports other than running, cycling and swimming but i’m not quite sure what they are or why anyone would develop products for them 🙂
      suunto has best stryd integration

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