Garmin Fenix 3 HR: Right on track


  • TECH
  • Sunday, 21 Aug 2016

The Fenix 3 HR is a very large watch that’s ideal for those with medium to large wrists. On a tiny wrist it looks even larger, as seen here.

The Fenix 3 HR uses a variety of sensors to track a very wide range of indoor and outdoor activities.

The Fenix 3 HR is the latest in a string of ruggedised smart wearables that tracks a variety of outdoor ­activities, including running, ­swimming and trekking.

There’s no two ways about it – the Fenix 3 HR is a big watch so it’ll look fine on anybody with medium to large wrists. I have the wrist of an adolescent teen, so putting on the Fenix 3 HR makes me look like I am overcompensating for something.

The wearable, which is water resistant up to 100m, is made of a combination of plastic and stainless steel with sapphire crystal protecting the face. In short, this watch is built like a tank and feels like it.

The next thing that you’ll notice is the Fenix 3 HR’s full colour display – it’s actually a “transflective” screen similar to some early Microsoft Pocket PC devices, which means it can easily be read even in bright sunlight.

2 Different watch faces are available for the Garmin Fenix 3 HR, from digital faces to analogue ones.
Different watch faces are available for the Garmin Fenix 3 HR, from digital faces to analogue ones.

The downside is that in low-light situations you need to turn on the built-in backlight which makes the colour look a little washed out.

The other advantage of a transflective screen is that it is power ­efficient. I managed to use the Fenix 3 HR for up to two weeks before it needed a recharge – I think a little less colour fidelity is an acceptable compromise in this case.

GPS use will, of course, greatly reduce battery life to about a week or so if you turn it on to track your sporting activities every day.

The watch comes with a charging cradle but the cable terminates in a proprietary connector. It works well but the proprietary nature means that it can’t be used with any other device except the Fenix 3 HR.

The proprietary charging cradle for the Fenix 3 HR works well, but also means that youre in trouble if you lose of break it.
The proprietary charging cradle for the Fenix 3 HR works well, but also means that you're in trouble if you lose of break it.

However, you can still ­synchronise information without the cradle – the Fenix 3 HR comes with Bluetooth and WiFi so you can sync with your smartphone or PC wirelessly.

Sensor overload

One of the first things you’ll notice about the Fenix 3 HR is that it doesn’t have a touchscreen so ­navigating the menu is done via the five side ­buttons.

I’m just so used to touchscreens that for the first few times I used the Fenix 3 HR I tapped and swiped on the screen before remembering that it would do no good.

Nevertheless once you get used to it, the Fenix 3 HR interface is actually easy to understand and navigate.

1 The charge cradle clips on to the bottom of the watch quite securely.
The charge cradle clips onto the bottom of the watch quite securely.

Garmin has packed in a lot of ­sensors into the wearable – apart from heart rate monitor, motion ­s­­ensor and GPS, you also get ­altimeter, barometer, temperature and a digital compass.

It also has a number of built-in digital and analogue watch faces which you can further customise by making it display more information.

Not satisfied with the built in faces? You can go online to the Garmin site and download more.

Once you pair the watch with your iOS or Android device, the Fenix 3 HR can even be used to control music playback on your smartphone and show notifications for incoming messages.

One downside is that the watch doesn’t run Android Wear so you can only install apps made ­specifically for the Fenix 3 HR’s ­proprietary operating system.

Stay active

As mentioned earlier, it can track a lot of activities – it can track skiing, climbing, open water swimming and something called SUP (stand up ­paddle boarding) in addition to ­running and walking.

This smart wearable tracks many different sports and activities, both indoors and outdoors.
This smart wearable tracks many different sports and activities, both indoors and outdoors.

I compared the heart rate monitor with another smartwatch and I have to say both provide heart rate ­readings which are very close to each other.

I can’t say which is more accurate but I can attest that both provided very similar readings when it comes to tracking heart rate.

Since it has a GPS chipset built-in you can also use the Fenix 3 HR as a simple navigation device – you can’t see maps on it but you can load courses which you’ve plotted out on the Garmin Connect website.

Conclusion

The Fenix 3 HR is a great wearable with loads of features – even after a couple of weeks of use I keep finding new things that it does.

For example, I found out that I can view graphs of my heart rate or activities by pressing the enter ­button on the respective screen.

3 The optical heart rate monitor integrated into the Fenix 3 HR produces consistent results.
The optical heart rate monitor integrated into the Fenix 3 HR produces consistent results.

It’s not cheap however – at RM2,650, it’s certainly priced higher than most outdoor activity trackers and smartwatches.

Other than the price, the other caveat is that you really need to have wrists big enough to carry it off.

Pros: Tracks lots of activities as it has a lot of sensors; excellent battery life; built to last.  

Cons: It’s big so it’s only suitable for those with big wrists.

Fenix 3 HR
(Garmin)
Smart wearable
Display: 1.2in (218 x 218 pixels) colour LCD
Specifications: GPS, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, WiFi, altimeter, barometer, temperature sensor
Other features: Water resistant up to 100m
Dimensions (W x D x H): 51.5 x 51.5 x 16mm
Weight: 86.1g
Website: www.aeco.com.my
Price: RM2,650 (inclusive of GST)
Rating: 4 stars
Review unit courtesy of Aeco Technologies (M) Sdn Bhd, (03) 9285-8062 


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