Xmas List 2016 – running and multisport

OK a somewhat special post since a lot of you will be considering what to buy people (or yourselves) for Xmas* this year. This one is based around multisport and runners but a cycle one is coming.

High end multisport

At this end of the market we have various options. These are:
Polar v800 – This watch is well overdue a replacement. Following the release of the Suunto Spartan range it now looks very dated. It’s possible that Polar may have something to release at CES in January, but it doesn’t look likely we’ll get an announcement before xmas let alone actual shipping products.

Suunto Spartan – A brand new entrant into the market, replacing the Ambit 3 watch. This is a fairly safe bet if you are a Suunto fan, although much functionality is still in progress. Most believe Suunto will deliver quickly enough that it’s not a problem, but if you want a watch to use today this may not be the one. Hardware appears on par with Garmin so capability wise there’s no reason this won’t be a hit.

Suunto Ambit 3 – This has been replaced with the Spartan, but if you get a good deal and can live without the “latest and greatest” then it’s worth buying.

Garmin Fenix 3/3HR – While due for replacement, there is no competition with a better hardware or software right now. Certainly not in this price range. Garmin consistently deliver new features and functionality for this watch.

Garmin Fenix Chronos – Initially looking like a minor hardware change, it appears this is actually a fairly major overhaul internally, with a much faster chip. The screen remains the same, and new watch shell means that although a little better looking, a little smaller, it’s a lot more pricey. The features remain identical to Fenix 3 so currently this is just a cosmetic choice. That may change down the road though, and Garmin have left customers unsure of the future of both devices as a result. A Fenix 4 full refresh could kill the Chronos in as little as a year, while a Fenix 4 on the same Chronos platform could extend that life. It’s a nice watch though, and for those with the money certainly represents a nicer Fenix.

Garmin 920XT – While quite dated and due for replacement within the next year, the Forerunner 920XT has a much easier to read screen than Fenix. It’s more of a functional device rather than a fashion watch, and this makes it a good choice for athletes more worried about training data than features and looks. Firmware is considerably more stable, and this device does what it says on the tin. The Fenix, by contrast, has many new features and changes added which can be frustrating for those wanting a training tool only.

Garmin 735XT – While slightly lower in the range than Fenix, this device has all the features (except barometric altimeter) of its big brother. Being new this year it has a good lifespan ahead of it.

Expected – If you’re going to hold out, there’s only really a cheaper Chronos and the v800.next on their way, and we don’t know when they will hit shelves. CES is early January but personally I don’t think I’d hold off for either.


Mid-high end Runner

Polar M400 – The M400 is a very solid option for runners. Like its big brother the v800 it has a host of features for different sports, although stops short of being a true multisport triathlon device. This watch is getting on a little now, but with the introduction of M600 and M200 I just don’t see it getting a major update this year. More likely we’ll see this replaced mid-late 2017 with something very similar which includes optical HR.

Garmin – Who knows what is considered mid range here. I’m lumping these together so Garmin doesn’t own the page.
The FR735XT in theory sits in the runner category but is essentially a low end Fenix HR the FR735XT won’t be replaced soon.
The FR630 is just a year old but lacks optical HR, you’re safe here if optical HR isn’t your thing. It’s possible that a FR635 might emerge but it would seem a lot of effort for Garmin given how massive the range already is.
The FR235/FR230 are also a year old and have both OHR and plain versions. You’re safe as houses here and there are good deals around. These won’t be replaced in the near future.
VivoActive HR is also quite new so I wouldn’t expect a replacement there any time soon.

Expected – nothing really expected in this arena over the coming months.

Low-high end Runner, basic sports watch

So this is a little harsh because these are still great feature rich watches. Their defining feature is cheap but most can still do full workout planning stuff.
Polar M200 – Brand new watch from polar which is entering at the lower end of the market. If this meets your needs it’s a great option and won’t be replaced in 2017.
Garmin FR35 This is a new watch from Garmin and so won’t be replaced in the near future.
Garmin FR25 Out for about a year, I wouldn’t expect a replacement any time soon. The FR35 adds optical HR so there’s not much reason for this one to be updated.

Expected – nothing really expected in this arena over the coming months.

*For the record, I use Xmas as an agnostic way to refer to the holiday. Many people celebrate it outside of organised religion.

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