It's a watch, how good could it be? Well it's designed to take a beating... and I have given it one.

The first thing you can see about this watch is its display, it's inverted compared to "traditional" digital watches, since it is transparent on black, rather than black on transparent. This is to increase the range of lighting conditions that you can see the watch face, and it works quite well. From my experience when you have the watch face facing you, it can be seen even in very hostile conditions which are well beyond the conditions that traditional watches have. The watch is a lot more consistent in viewing when you have strong light landing on a part of the face, and the other part of the face in shadow. This also means that you only need the backlight at very low level for it to be seen in low to no light conditions, I only have mine at 20% duty cycle, and is is just as visible as it is in daylight.

The second thing you can see is the Bluetooth symbol in the top centre. This watch is a somewhat smart watch. It has all the standard watch features like GPS (With automatic Timezone, and Time Sync. But is incredibly slow to get a lock.), Barometer, Compass, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Alarms to name a few. It also has a few of the premium features like Bluetooth, ANT+, USB connectivity, onboard storage, maps, data logging.

The third thing you can see is that it looks a lot like the Garmin D2, Garmin Fenix 2 and Garmin Quantix. That is because they are functionally the same, and only have different aesthetic features. They even share the same USB Clamp!



And as you can expect, it can peer with your phone, and display notifications, and on Android at least, it can even unlock your phone when it is near by. It also can use your phone to sync your watch up to Garmin Connect, but there is very little purpose to that since Garmin has a $5,000 USD charge to just access the Garmin Connect API. Garmin Connect is a really good idea, but really poor implementation.



And it's not even a badly designed site, it is in many places more better than Fitbit. It just that some of the data that is best interpreted in a visualisation is not able to be visualised, and that $5,000 USD entry fee to the API, well, just serves as a huge barrier to third parties to actually provide usable data to people to meet their needs, using data fusion.

The second more annoying thing of Garmin Connect is what it takes as data, it takes FIT files, where as by default the watch outputs GPX files whenever the GPS is enabled due to their more efficient nature. This means that to put it on Connect, you have to transfer it off the device to your computer in Basecamp, then have your computer convert it to a FIT file to upload to Garmin Connect. The mobile app, and Desktop app doesn't do this automatically, when they are syncing the device.

Build Quality


The initial build quality is not terribly great, as you can see in the top image, there is a pair of dents in the top right of the bezel, that was done in the factory, as they painted over it. Other than that it is quite well built. With easily accessible screws to replace the strap if it ever breaks (Garmin even ships replacement screws with every replacement strap!)

Design Faults


The largest design issue I have is its clamp.


A small issue I have is that gunk gathers up in the the pins on the back.

This here lies my only big problem with this device. Its clamp is quite badly designed. It's very hard to put it on correctly, and very easy to make it look like it is fully clamped, when it isn't. And the only way to make sure it is clamped is by trying to remove the clamp without actuating the latch. Which I recommend people do before trying an firmware update.
Another issue that the clamp has, is that the primary button, that can be used when in the clamp to do almost every option, is covered by the latch, and you can very easily push the clamp off if it is not properly off.

The only other issue I have is that the internal storage is only 100 megabytes... So it can't store a huge amount of the maps that it can use to navigate. Although that could be trivially fixed by allowing users to define a area around a Route or Waypoint to automatically merge with the maps on the device. To compound the size issue it's SLOW! Saving an 64KB track onto the internal storage takes a very long time, in the order of seconds!

Design brilliance


You know when you are complaining about a clamp that doesn't clamp easily, and a storage issue that could be fixed by an update to the required companion application, that this watch has done something very right.

And this watch has done a lot of things right.

The largest way this watch has done things right is through its shear strength. I try to treat my watches nicely, but all of my past watches have came to very violent ends. Almost all of them failed at their strongest part! This watch has been through more hell than any other, and it hasn't even got a scratch. I've accidentally hit almost every thing with it, steel pipe, walls, textured concrete pillars. Not. even. a. scratch.

And it doesn't stop there. Every single feature of the physical watch is so incredibly well implemented that it floors me. You can step off a plane anywhere in the world, and to set your watch to the new timezone, all you need to do is turn on the GPS and get a location. The watch will automatically change it's timezone (Including Daylight Savings settings), and even sync the time.

Even the user interface is amazing. Want to save a waypoint? Press and hold the big button, and it will save one (After getting a GPS lock). Want to see GPS strength information, recorded distance, recorded time and battery status? Press and hold the back button. The main menu is very easy to navigate even though it only has 4 buttons to use. Constantly access a menu? You can reorder the menu items to suit your usage, I would recommend moving up the GPS tools to be near the top since a large amount of it's features are in that menu item. Although you can't insert menu items to toggle the wireless functionalities which is a bummer.

And being able to turn off the backlight while it is in its timed cycle, is the most amazing features I have seen. Most of the time I only look at the backlit screen for a fraction of a second tops so it doesn't make sense to have it running for several seconds. Not even that you can even change the intensity of the backlight!
If I had to give this an subjective score I would give it a 9 of 10.
This watch has defied all odds. And makes me question the need for anything else. Sure it's not perfect, and at the price point it is at, I really don't expect perfection, I only expect excellence.

And this watch nails it. For an reasonably smart watch, 5 weeks battery is reasonable. Sure the GPS is incredibly slow, but once you have a lock, you really only lose it if it is physically impossible to maintain. Dense bush? High Rise buildings? This watch will still have a lock.

You need a watch to take a beating and don't mind sacrificing some "smart" features and style? This is the watch for you.

The companion software on the other hand. There is no reason why it is so badly designed. Or the $5000 USD API Licence!