Garmin pins hopes on new wave of wearables at CES 2015

Garmin has been producing wearable GPS devices for a few years now and it has a large existing range of smartwatches and fitness trackers for sporty outdoors types. At CES 2015, Garmin unveiled a new wave of wearables, offering hands-free navigation for outdoors enthusiasts and accurate tracking for fitness fanatics.

First up is the Garmin Epix, a rugged smartwatch capable of working as a standalone hands-free navigator. It boasts GPS and GLONASS support for accurate positioning, and there’s altimeter, barometer, and compass functionality built-in. Think of it as a standard handheld GPS device for your wrist, so there’s full support for track recording and navigation. You shouldn’t ever get lost with one of these.

The Epix has a square 1.4-inch color touchscreen, 8GB of storage, and it’s waterproof. It comes with maps preloaded and a 1-year subscription to BirdsEye Satellite Imagery.

It is a smartwatch as well. You can customize it and choose apps and widgets through Garmin’s Connect IQ platform. It can also be paired with your Android smartphone or iPhone for notifications and use with fitness tracking apps. It’s set to launch sometime in the first quarter of 2015, but it’s going to cost you at least $550.

Garmin Vivoactive
Garmin Vivoactive

Next is the Garmin Fenix 3, which is the latest release in Garmin’s “Smart Multisport GPS Watch” range. It’s designed to track everything from basic hiking to alpine skiing. We reviewed the Garmin Fenix 2 a while back and it impressed. The new version improves on its predecessor in subtle ways. It has the same accurate EXO antenna as the Epix and it also runs the Connect IQ platform, but it looks more like a traditional rugged watch with a round face.

Garmin offers the Fenix 3 in three styles: Silver, Gray, and Sapphire. It starts at $500, but you’ll have to shell out another $100 if you want that domed sapphire lens.

Backing away from the premium end of the market, Garmin is also offering the Vivoactive and the Vivofit 2.

The Vivoactive is a scaled down smartwatch that’s lightweight and retains GPS, but doesn’t offer the accuracy, extras, or build quality of the Epix or Fenix 3. You can still customize it and add apps with Connect IQ, and it’s capable of displaying notifications from your smartphone. It starts at a much more manageable $250.

Garmin Vivofit 2
Garmin Vivofit 2

The Vivofit 2 is an activity tracker. It’s designed to be worn 24/7 and it displays basics like calories burned, distance covered, and the time of day. It can also remind you to get up when you’ve been inactive too long. It pairs with your smartphone to upload data and you can set daily goals for activity. It starts at $130 and Garmin offers a wide choice of accessory bands to change up the look, including an all new range inspired by Jonathan Adler.

Garmin is making a strong play for the outdoors market with these smartwatches. As hands-free navigators with accurate GPS they look unbeatable, but the limitations of Garmin’s Connect IQ platform could curb their wider appeal.

We’ll bring you more details when we get a hands-on look.

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