ive used fitbit a long time. ive always loved the data metrics on their site and how easy and clear the metrics were to understand. i think i really started tracking the progress in my runs around 2013, before all the smart watch stuff getting really popular i used a heart rate only device while training, a mio alpha. it wasnt even really training either because i didnt have a plan. i just went out and did stuff and tried to keep my heart rate in a specific zone. it helped stave off depression, keep health in check when going through some tough times in my head, and just generally helped focus and release and center on myself. ive become much more in tune with that lately. really setting goals, focusing on mental clarity, really focusing on the people, experiences, and things that matter to me. this year of 2023 has been a challenging one and i find myself focusing more on actual training and improving the statistics collected. when my beloved fitbit ionic started acting up i was quite disappointed.
there had been a recall which i didnt want to take advantage of but the backing of the ionic had finally failed and that was a component i couldnt fix. i had already replaced the screen, the battery, redid the sealing around the screen to waterproof it twice... this thing was a frankenstein device and it just kept working. what finally has made the device unusable was the plasic backing around the sensor on the wrist, something had caused an indent in the plastic that has lasted years and perforated the plastic enough to let moisture in; likely some dirt from all the yard work ive been doing lately. i had a rough start with the device not being able to sync with my phone and just not really working so its first 4 months of life it sat in a box but it really redeemed itself over the years. its sad to see it get packed away into a box to send off for the recall, but its well worth it. its curious to get attached to devices like this but when you have a routine and always have something there by your side, either inanimate or a sentient being, you get attached to that routine and familiarity. anyway, for the recall im getting a full refund for the device, 299$, as well as a nice 40% discount on up to 5 fitbit devices, a free band, and a free year of fitbit premium. so you'd think i was going to stay in the fitbit ecosystem right?
ive talked with a few people lately about garmin devices and they all seemed really interesting. the ionic seemed to still be working for me so i never bothered looking into them. a couple things did really catch my interest though, like the built in gear tracking, more in depth data metrics, outstanding battery life, all of which i was finding myself look for alternative applications that filled those gaps that fitbit was lacking in. as ive been training for a simple 5k race that i do almost every year the garmin forerunner 265 and 965 started popping up in searches and reviews and i started seeing that these devices are really for those that want ALL the data metrics and use them to improve on their own training. and then i saw the epix pro 2. nearly an entire month of battery life, virtually indestructible, hill training metrics... but that price tag tho... how can a device like this, with all these readings and stats still last such a long battery life? it doesnt seem real.
after seeing all of what these garmins could do i decided to give it a shot for a few runs, and if i didnt like it then i'll just shine it up and return it. well, that was unrealistic thinking. after just two days with this device, three runs and two other activities, ive created in my head that attachment to an inanimate object that i was typing about earlier.
this is for sure a massive device, its slightly larger than the ionic but... that battery life, its worth it. there are a ton of other features and things that ive been amazed with so far that i think ill post about as i get used to this new inanimate friend. a few points that ive been blown away with so far:
- the map - there is a fully interactive map on the device zoom in and out of, slide around and tap on locations to navigate to. it even has a nearby search for gas stations and places to eat for some reason. im probably more likely to pull my phone out of my pocket for that but clearly someone spent some time on this. you can also preload maps and course data on it. from that prelaoded course it will give you directional prompts while on your run in headset and beeps from the device itself letting you know theres a directional change coming up and a quick flick of your wrist it shows what direction is coming up
- battery life! did i mention that?
- morning report - this was a nice little surprise when i woke up the first day. it gives you a nice little summary of your day, the previous days health metrics, how well you slept, and your 'body battery' scale (which is kind of a metric for how reseted you are based on rest and activities through the day). it looks like you can customize it a bit, but once you dismiss it for the day you cant bring it back up.
- the battery life, how can users of smart watches stand to charge their devices every couple days?
- race prep information - i imported an upcoming 5k course map and on the watch theres a nice little reminder for the upcoming race. the "card" also shows you estimated metrics and weather forecast for the day and time of the race.
- three days in im still at 81% battery and this is after a full system update after charging to 100% after taking it out of the box. ive also been listening to music from the device while on my run activities.
- more detail for the race prep - this was a very interesting detail. after i imported that race map (which i drew in with the garmin web interface) i was able to selecte training recommendations for hitting my goal race time for average pace and final finish time. the race is a very elevation heavy course and i was able to move some sliders around to get recomendations on where i should train my pace to be on the flatter parts of the course so that the high elevation climbs are not so tough and i can stay on track with my goals.
- real time keyboard - this is a thing ive never seen before, but is likely on all the new fancy devices that i havent played with since ive been using the fitbit ionic for so long but, when i went to rename a profile on the device rather than scrolling through or tapping on letters it prompted me to enter text from my phone. so i went to my phone and it had popped up a notification which opened the garmin connect app with a text entry field and keyboard where i could type what i needed to and the text was displaying and being edited on the watch as i was typing them on the device. this just struck me as super cool.
i have the sense 2 from that recall arriving later today that im going to play around with and see how it compares to a lot of these things. i had thought i was just going to get the epix pro 2 to play around with for a couple runs and then return it because of the hefty price tag of around 1100$ after tax and shipping and all that fun, but so far this is turning out to be exactly what i wanted and needed the ionic to be in order to step up my training.
overall, this device is clearly for a user that is focused on serious training and improving their health metrics on anything from running to cycling, swimming, golfing, and beyond. it makes everything else, like the apple watch, fitbits, google wear os based devices, all look like and feel like a child's toy. the draw back though, youre going to be shelling out quite a few bills. i'm sure ill post some more about this device later as i get more familiar with all the capabilities that extend into the garmin web ui and training capabilities there, but this is probably enough gushing about this device and service for now.