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Today at the CES in Las Vegas, Garmin presented three new watches that have been added to the Fenix 3 range: the Garmin Fenix 3 premium, the Garmin Fenix 3 with a leather and nylon strap and the Garmin Fenix 3 HR. In all three cases, this is the version with a sapphire crystal. This was not the only thing they presented, as they also showed their Varia Vision cycling glasses.
I already tested the Garmin Fenix 3 on its, say, older firmware version. You can find here the proofOf the three models presented, the one that stands out the most is undoubtedly the new Fenix 3 HR, as it adds the Garmin Elevate sensor to the set, being the first high-end watch on the market to incorporate an optical pulse sensor. The other two models do not include the optical sensor, the only thing that varies from what we already know is the material of the straps or the aesthetics of the dial.
But I go into detail on each of them, so that you know what they offer and how they differ from the rest of the range.
New versions of Garmin Fenix 3
Garmin Fenix 3 HR
First and foremost in the presentation is the Garmin Fenix 3 HR. It is the same Fenix 3 sapphire you knew before, but on the back is the Garmin optical pulse sensor, called Elevate.
This sensor not only gives you pulse data during your workouts, but also adds all the specific features that revolve around the optical pulse sensor we've already seen in Forerunner 235.
This way, you will have constant pulse tracking at rest throughout the day that will be synchronized with Garmin Connect and the clock will track the daily minutes of intensity. I don't think the latter will be very useful for the average user type of the Fenix 3 (yes for the potential Vivosmart HR customer) but it is worth adding to the clock.
Obviously, adding the optical sensor will affect the watch's range somewhat, going from a maximum of 20 hours in activity with GPS use to 16 hours in the case of the version with an optical sensor. What you should be clear about is that to obtain race dynamics data, as well as other physiological data (which I'll tell you about a little later) you'll need an HRM-Run or HRM-Tri sensor. Also, as far as swimming is concerned, I'm waiting for confirmation from Garmin to see if the optical sensor will be activated in that sports profile, but after the tests carried out with the Vivosmart HR I doubt very much that they will, as the data I obtained was not at all reliable underwater.
Garmin Fenix 3 with leather and nylon strap
The Fenix 3 leather and nylon strap is a normal version of the Fenix 3 sapphire whose only novelty is that it includes two straps that can be quickly replaced. As you can imagine from the name, the straps are made of leather and nylon.
Both are easy to replace without having to use tools, allowing you to train with the nylon strap and when you have to go "dressed up" you can switch to the leather strap in seconds, without having to fear sweat or water ruining it.
Otherwise we're looking at a Fenix 3 with regular sapphire glass, without the Garmin Elevate pulse sensor.
Garmin Fenix 3 premium
Finally, the premium version reduces its weight thanks to the use of titanium in the bezel of the watch and in the armis, which in the version now sold is made of steel. Like the previous model this is the only difference, the software being the same in all of them, including all the new features you will see below.
New features in the firmware, which will also reach the rest of the range
The three watches presented today have new features in the firmware. These new features will also be included in the current Fenix 3 models (both the normal version and the different sapphire versions). If you have been following the weekly updates that I do in the web you could see the amount of new features that were being included in the beta version of the firmware. The reason was not other than to add it together with these models presented today and to launch the update to the rest of Fenix 3 that have been sold so far.
The Fenix 3 therefore receives all the new features that Garmin introduced with the Forerunner 630 just over a month ago, including advanced running dynamics, lactate testing, stress measurement and extended recovery status, which will no longer give you a generic "Recovery Status: Optimal", but will instead be a graph that appears on screen at the same time as before, but now detailing your recovery status. You'll be able to see what your performance might be like during that workout or race you're doing.
This data is provided through the variability of the pulse, so you need to wear the pulse sensor on your chest for data collection (even in the case of the Fenix 3 HR).
As for the new career metrics, you will now have this information
- Stride length: It doesn't need much explanation, just the length of each of your strides.
- Vertical Oscillation Ratio: Previously, the vertical oscillation was an absolute number as such, the usefulness of which was not very clear, mainly because it depends on many other factors, such as the height of the individual in question. Now the length of the stride will be taken into account to give a value more in line with reality and thus be able to assess whether our vertical movement is excessive and we are wasting energy in moving up and down, instead of moving forward.
- Ground contact balance: It will show the balance between left and right foot, that is, if your right foot spends more time in contact with the ground or vice versa, creating an unbalanced way of running, as if you were limping.
To have this information you need to be using one of the accelerometer pulse sensors, either of the two existing HRM-Run versions or the HRM-Tri. So, although in the case of the Fenix 3 HR you can have pulse data without wearing the sensor on your chest, it is essential that you use it to have all this data.
The calculation of the lactate threshold also requires the use of the sensor in the chest. Like all other values, such as VO2Max, this is an estimate and cannot replace a specific test with the appropriate equipment. The value it provides is the rate at which fatigue increases rapidly.
This threshold depends on the type of runner you are, and can be set around your pace for a ten kilometre run, although if you are a fairly trained runner your threshold can be set at a pace of 10-15 seconds per kilometre slower. This measurement can be obtained either automatically (where the watch detects the threshold after various training sessions of varying intensity) or by performing the specific test where you are guided step by step through the different stages.
For this test you will also need to have a pulse sensor in your chest (in this case it is not necessary to have the HRM-Run, the normal one works too), as it makes use of the pulse variability data.
Similarly, the stress level calculation also makes use of pulse variability to indicate whether your body is ready for high-intensity training and whether you have successfully recovered from past workouts.
Finally, new sport profiles have been added. Now you can use the Fenix 3 playing golf or paddle surfing. In these two new modes the clock will count the number of strokes, the ratio and the distance for each stroke to check your efficiency.
As far as the golf application is concerned, it is similar to what is offered at the VivoactiveYou will be able to download data from more than 40,000 golf courses all over the world and it will allow you to know both the distances to the flag and the par for each hole, to carry the score card and to know the distance of each stroke.
Availability and prices
The three new models will be available throughout the first quarter of 2016. There is no confirmation of their price in euros yet, but in dollars we are talking about $599.99 for the Fenix 3 HR and Fenix 3 leather, while the premium version will have an extra cost of $200 dollars for the use of titanium, staying at $799.99. The price in Europe will most likely be set at 599 euros and 799 euros respectively, although as the euro-dollar exchange rate is currently, nothing can be taken for granted until official confirmation.
The software update for the previous models of Fenix 3 will also arrive during this first quarter. It is already quite developed, because as I said before, if you have followed the weekly summaries you will have seen that they have been working on the beta version for at least two months and that it is currently quite polished.
And with that... thanks for reading!
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