The Garmin Epix story
Garmin lauched the Fenix 3 and the Epix at the same time. The Epix was the top of the line; everything the Fenix 3 had, but with navigation and maps in color. That was in early 2015.
The Fenix 3 received bug fixes and new functionality with every update, while the Epix was almost never updated and still has lots of bugs. What happened?
Nobody knows. But it probably went something like this fictional tale:
Four brilliant developers are heavily immersed in several new projects and dealing with bug fixes for many old products. It’s all a lot of hard work, but it’s fun stuff they’re working on.
And then, suddenly, breaking their intense concentration, the door flies open.
“Guys, gals, meet Mr. Fast and Mrs. More from Marketing. It’s something of real priority, it is this epic product, the top of the line, and the campaign will launch next week, you just have to make it happen!”
“But.. we’re already working on new products X, Y and Z, those will also launch next week..”
“You are the best and you know it. You’ll get it done. Just slap together some modules from X and Z, and, oh, Mr. Fast here would like a touchscreen just as on his phone, so you have put one in too”, says Mrs. More; “simply use the PCB from Y and add more RAM for the color maps and perhaps stick a faster processor in it”.
“A touchscreen? On a hiking watch? That will never..”
“Wait until you see my Uberpoint presentation!”, Mr. Fast yells enthusiastically, “it’s going to be the killer watch of the century. And don’t forget to put in the activity tracking with the steps and the calories and all that, borrow that from the midrange activitytrackers. And the triathlon stuff you can copy straight off the Z watch.”
“Don’t think in problems, think in solutions!” Mrs. More says cheerfully. “Good luck!”
And now the ultra short review.
It has maps, in color! Pre-installed maps, and you can put OpenStreetmaps on it. Go here: Garmin.OpenStreetMap.nl.
You can display any of your own tracks on the map (as you could on the Fenix and Fenix2). Ideal for those tiny trails that are not even in OpenStreetmap. And also for having the best route through a city available without having to take out your phone.
Comparing screens with 3 rows of data between Fenix 3 and Epix: the Epix is quite a bit easier to read.
It is surprisingly comfortable to wear, despite the bulky looks. It feels robust. It is robust. Scratches only add character.
I haven’t made it crash, hang or reboot. Given the amount of experimenting I typically do, that is amazing. But to be fair, I’ve only had it for four days.
Only has CIQ 1.2. Severely limits the apps that can be developed for it. Basically means that nobody will develop for it anymore. On the other hand: it works with old Connect Mobile 3.4, the last version of Connect Mobile that allows you to switch off uploading your data to the cloud.
Wearing an Epix to the office is a statement. It says: “I don’t want to sit here watching Uberpoint presentations, I want to go hiking in the mountains!”
The touchscreen can unlock itself and rearrange the complete configuration of your watch without you noticing anything until it is too late. This issue has been fixed by a an update in February 2017, version 3.40.
The altitude is displayed correctly – but incorrectly recorded in FIT files.
It is riddled with small bugs and loads of stuff never got implemented (different waypoint icons? Go back to the 2012 Fenix for that).
The activity tracking only counts steps and records sleep: no stairs, Intensity Minutes et cetera.
No second-generation running dynamics (although many runners don’t really use them for training purposes)
Not checked yet, but not much chance that stored heartrate from a HRM-Swim or HRM-Tri can be used on the Epix. This works!
The altimeter drifts more than on the Fenix 3, but less than on a Fenix 2.
The list of bad things is longer than the list of good things, but that’s just text on a website. Websites are part of a far away abstract world, when you’re out there in the great outdoors with no phone and no idea where you are.
When counting steps is trivial, looks are unimportant and usability is crucial: this is a great reliable outdoors companion.
Added comment, July 2017: If you are tempted by the Fenix 5X because it has maps, but don’t want to spend 750 Euros for a new watch, by all means, consider an Epix – they are sold new for fair prices and used ones are even cheaper.