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Image for article titled Garmin's New Epix Is an Absurdly Excellent Fitness Watch

Picture: Brent Rose/Gizmodo

I’ve been reviewing wearables for a stable decade now, and in that point, the Garmin Fenix line has emerged as the perfect multi-sport watch and exercise tracker. Yr after yr, the Fenix has managed to remain both just a little or rather a lot forward of the competitors, and once I heard the Fenix 7 was coming down the pipeline, I used to be certain it was going to be my new favourite health watch. Nevertheless it isn’t—the brand new Garmin Epix is.

The Epix is principally a Fenix 7 however with a shocking AMOLED display, which suggests you do must sacrifice some battery life. Apart from that, the 2 new watches are successfully equivalent. I examined each the Fenix 7 and the Epix (Sapphire editions for each), so we’ll get into the hair-splitting variations, however for now know that in nearly each means they’re the identical watch. It’s price noting that Garmin made a watch referred to as the Epix again in 2015 that was a bit clunky. It’s an odd alternative for the corporate to have revived that identify, fairly than calling it the Fenix 7 AMOLED version or one thing, however no matter. The Epix we’re speaking about right here could also be known as Gen 2, however since principally no person remembers the unique one we’re simply going to name it the Epix for this evaluation.

A Well being-Monitoring Machine

For these unfamiliar with the Fenix line, it’s principally Garmin’s “observe the whole lot” GPS sports activities watch. It may observe greater than 60 totally different sports activities and actions out of the field—the whole lot from operating to open water swimming to snowboarding to pickleball. In case your chosen exercise isn’t in that listing there’s an honest likelihood a third-party developer has made an app for it you could obtain from the Garmin Join retailer (a restricted model of which is now constructed into the watch, along with the total model in your cellphone).

The Fenix additionally excels on the 24/7 health-monitoring stuff we count on from Fitbits and different smartwatches. This consists of consistently monitoring your coronary heart charge, your steps, flooring climbed, stress ranges, Physique Battery (which measures restoration, much like Whoop), sleep, and even blood oxygen ranges. For operating and biking there’s a brand new real-time Stamina function, which principally reveals you the way a lot vitality the watch thinks you will have going right into a exercise, and it constantly updates as you go, principally exhibiting you the way a lot push you’ve nonetheless received left in you. You need to use this to attempt to preserve from over-extending (or under-extending) your self, a minimum of from a cardiovascular perspective (your joints might say in any other case).

Image for article titled Garmin's New Epix Is an Absurdly Excellent Fitness Watch

Picture: Brent Rose/Gizmodo

All the coronary heart rate-related metrics are tracked with Garmin’s new Elevate four sensor suite, which debuted final yr on the Venu 2 watch (which I didn’t significantly take care of). The suite is now encased in glass as a substitute of plastic, which ought to enhance sturdiness and preserve it correct over time. The Fenix now has 4 infrared sensors, up from two, to associate with the 2 inexperienced and one crimson LED lights. The crimson lights are for pulse oximetry, which I simply take a look at manually infrequently, however you may select to have it on all evening whilst you sleep (in case you’re anxious about issues like sleep apnea) or 24/7, however battery life will take successful. Usually, I discovered my coronary heart charge monitoring to be extraordinarily correct (in comparison with a Wahoo chest strap I wore, too), even throughout rigorous exercise, and the heart beat ox was proper in keeping with the medical-grade finger-clip gadget I personal.

Improved GPS

Whereas the entire Epix and Fenix watches can entry a number of international navigation satellite tv for pc techniques (GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellite tv for pc techniques), the Sapphire editions are among the many first watches to assist multi-band GNSS.

What this implies is that every of these satellites broadcast in a number of frequencies, and sometimes your watch solely picks up considered one of them. Multi-band signifies that your watch is selecting up a number of frequencies from every particular person satellite tv for pc, which in idea offers you the absolute best accuracy. In apply, I didn’t see an enormous quantity of distinction from the usual GNSS system, however I wasn’t mountaineering by way of any canyons or operating between skyscrapers. Multi-band can be a really new system and can proceed to enhance with time. I’ll say, nevertheless, that I discovered satellite tv for pc acquisition to be sooner than it’s on any sports activities watch I’ve examined earlier than. It’s not unusual for me to load up the run app, after which have to attend a minute for it to seek out satellites. With the Epix (and Fenix), it nearly at all times had me locked in and able to go in below 10 seconds.

Basic Design With an Unbelievable Show

Out in the actual world, the Epix is a pleasure to make use of. The 1.3-inch AMOLED show is vibrant and vibrant. I had zero issue studying it even in blinding daylight. It was simpler to learn than the Fenix 7 in all circumstances, however much more in order the solar set. The Fenix 7 has the basic transflective MIPS show (additionally 1.3-inches) with a backlight you may activate, and in comparison with different transflective watches it’s fairly good, however subsequent to the Epix it appears dim and bland. The Epix can show 65,000 colours. The Fenix 7 can show 64 (sure, 1,000x fewer). The Epix’s show is available in at 326 pixels per inch (ppi), versus simply 200 ppi on the Fenix 7. You may actually see the distinction if you’re maps. Trails on the Epix change into seen at decrease zoom ranges as a result of it has the pixel density to show these skinny traces.

Image for article titled Garmin's New Epix Is an Absurdly Excellent Fitness Watch

Picture: Brent Rose/Gizmodo

Each the Epix and the Fenix 7 now have touchscreens, that are a welcome addition. It makes the built-in, offline topographical maps (that are free) one million instances simpler to navigate. It’s additionally a lot simpler to enter in your PIN in case you’re utilizing Garmin Pay (the watches’ NFC cost system) or rapidly modify settings. On the similar time, the watches function the identical 5 buttons which have change into normal on the Fenix line, which is only a improbable implementation. For those who’re within the water or utilizing thick, snow-covered gloves, you don’t want to fret concerning the touchscreen (it’s disabled by default if you begin actions, although you may simply change that). You simply use the buttons and also you’re good to go. The beginning/cease button additionally now has a guard round it which does a fantastic job of eliminating unintended button presses— a difficulty with Garmin watches for years. It’s just a little factor, however it’s good.

The watches can all show notifications out of your cellphone, and in case you use Android you may even ship fast replies (some come pre-installed, however you may customise your personal) to textual content messages and such. Sadly Apple doesn’t permit third events to entry messages, so fast replies don’t work with iPhones, however I wouldn’t name {that a} dealbreaker. All the Epix and Fenix 7 variations have wifi, Garmin Pay, and music. When you’ve got saved mp3s you may simply switch them over, however it additionally helps playlists from Amazon Music and Spotify (paid model solely). I nearly at all times hearken to music once I run, and with the ability to simply pair my earbuds with my watch and go away my cellphone at dwelling has been very nice. If I need to seize a drink whereas I’m out, I can swing by a 7-11 or every other retailer that helps tap-to-pay, bump my watch in opposition to the display and get no matter I need. It’s fairly slick. The common variations of those watches have 16GB of onboard storage, whereas the Sapphire editions have 32GB (along with barely extra scratch resistant screens, titanium bezels, and once more, the multi-band GPS). The watches don’t have microphones, so voice instructions don’t work, and considerably surprisingly there are not any LTE model obtainable, regardless of that being an choice on a few of Garmin’s different watches.

The Deciding Issue: Battery Life

I preserve alluding to different variations of those watches, it should be famous that the Fenix 7 line has a ton of choices. Most clearly there’s the three sizes: the 42mm 7S, the 47mm 7, and the 51mm 7X. Additionally they are available in normal, Photo voltaic, and Sapphire Photo voltaic editions (besides the 7X which doesn’t have a normal model). The Epix simply is available in normal and Sapphire and is similar dimension because the 47mm Fenix 7. This provides the photo voltaic editions a definitive leg up in battery life, as you’d count on. The photo voltaic elements of the display have been expanded and made extra environment friendly from final yr’s Fenix 6 line, and in case you spend a good period of time outdoors on fairly vibrant days you’ll undoubtedly discover an enchancment.

And that brings us to the one (and it’s actually the one) purpose why you may want a Fenix 7 over an Epix: Battery life. The Epix will final six days in always-on mode (i.e. the show at all times a minimum of reveals the time of day, besides if you’re sleeping). That’s actually not unhealthy, particularly in case you evaluate it to the Apple Watch, which is able to hardly ever final two days. That being stated, in case you evaluate that to the Fenix 7’s 18 days, or the 7X’s 28 days, you may suppose twice, and that’s earlier than you consider potential photo voltaic charging, which might deliver the 7 as much as 22 days, and the 7X to a whopping 37 days. These are simply the numbers for traditional smartwatch mode (i.e. 24/7 well being monitoring, notifications, and so on.), however it doesn’t account for GPS actions, that are very taxing. Now, in case you change the Epix to gesture mode—the place the display stays off till you tilt your wrist to take a look at it—battery life will increase to 16 days in smartwatch mode, which is wildly good for a watch with an AMOLED show. Considerably, Garmin has actually improved this gesture. It didn’t work properly on the Venu 2, however it works nearly flawlessly on the Epix, and even a slight tilt would mild it up immediately.

Image for article titled Garmin's New Epix Is an Absurdly Excellent Fitness Watch

Picture: Brent Rose/Gizmodo

In common GPS mode you get 30 hours of monitoring on the Epix, which is superb… it’s simply not so good as the 57 hours you get from the 7 or 89 hours you get from the 7X (and that’s earlier than photo voltaic!), although, utilizing gesture mode on the Epix brings that quantity as much as 42 hours, which is nice. On the far excessive, in case you’re utilizing Max Battery GPS, you may squeeze 75 hours of monitoring out of the Epix, which is admittedly good, however you then evaluate it to 136 hours on the Fenix 7 (289 hours with photo voltaic) or 213 hours on the Fenix 7X (578 with photo voltaic!) and abruptly it feels kinda wimpy.

It begins to get fairly apples to oranges, and there are a ton of various modes to consider, however actually what it’s important to ask your self is: How are you going to make use of this watch? I personally am not attempting to do any ultra-distance races. I used to be in a position to observe two full days of snowboarding with the Epix, with loads of smartwatch use earlier than and after, and had loads of juice left over. I don’t thoughts utilizing the gesture mode, and so charging my look ahead to an hour as soon as each two weeks is improbable. If, nevertheless, you might be extra drawn to doing super-long treks that final weeks on finish (and also you gained’t be carrying a transportable charger), you then most likely need to go together with one of many Fenix 7 watches. The 7X additionally has an exterior LED flashlight. For me, although, that attractive display on the Epix is price having to cost extra usually.

The One Draw back: Software program

To be clear, the Epix just isn’t excellent, and far of that’s right down to the software program. Garmin’s UI has come a great distance, however there are nonetheless a number of components which can be utterly unintuitive. There isn’t a fantastic tutorial for the way to add music to the watch, and I discovered myself having to Google it. Identical with including HIIT and energy exercises to the watch (which have animations of every train). Your watch tells you do add them by way of the Garmin Join app, however it doesn’t take you to that a part of the app and even let you know the place in that app you’ll discover these settings. The app had some unusual connectivity points, too, which left me having to energy cycle my cellphone to get it to remain related with my watch. Infuriatingly, it nonetheless requires leaping by way of a bunch of not-at-all-obvious hoops to import routes (i.e. trails with waypoints you need to comply with whereas mountaineering, biking, or operating) onto your watch.

I’ve additionally been having a wierd subject the place the watch begins quickly connecting and disconnecting from my Google Pixel 6 Professional. When it does that it’ll nonetheless sync knowledge, however you may’t make any modifications to the watch within the Garmin Join app. Extra annoyingly, the watch vibrates each time it connects and disconnects. This morning it began randomly taking place at 6 a.m., which woke me up. Very annoying. This appears to be a brand new bug and I’ve requested Garmin for perception on what is perhaps happening. We’ll replace when we’ve some readability.

Price Shopping for?

These points apart, I’ve loved utilizing the Epix greater than I’ve every other sports activities watch, and by an enormous margin. Whereas snowboarding, I used to be in a position to zoom in and see the precise identify of a run I used to be on to I might inform my associates the place to satisfy me. Whereas mountaineering, I used a trackback function and was in a position to simply navigate again to the trailhead, with a transparent, colourful map exhibiting me the best way. It counted my waves whereas browsing. Whereas operating at nightfall I might see all of my stats as clear as day. I’ve discovered the Physique Battery function (which measures restoration) to be subjectively extra correct than Whoop’s Whoop Rating (and that’s actually all Whoop does!), and its sleep-tracking is healthier, too. It’s additionally low-profile sufficient that it doesn’t catch on my sleeves, and it appears so good I can put on it with completely something.

After all, it most actually isn’t low cost. The Epix begins at $900 for the usual version, and a cool $1,000 for the Sapphire. The Fenix 7 begins at $700 for the usual version of the 7 and 7S, then goes to $800 for the photo voltaic editions of the 7 and 7S and $900 for the 7X Photo voltaic, after which tops out at $900 for the Sapphire Photo voltaic 7 and 7S, and $1,000 for the Sapphire Photo voltaic 7X. Ouches throughout. There’s additionally the scale subject. Folks with smaller wrists might very properly choose the 7S, which makes the 7 and the Epix look fairly massive (although not as massive because the gargantuan 7X, which is able to catch on each sleeve and backpack strap you will have). In the end, all of those are nice watches and also you’ll very seemingly love whichever one you select, but when I needed to choose only one, it might completely be the Epix (ideally the Sapphire). A display that good on a watch that versatile makes it the perfect watch I’ve ever used.

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