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Garmin's spendy Fenix Chronos is a tax on Golfers

Engadget Engadget 4/09/2016 James Trew
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I'm a fan of Garmin's Fenix smartwatches. I've been wearing the Fenix 3 for about a year, and, for me, it has a solid balance between battery life (two weeks), training tools, smart features and good old basic horological tasks. The only addition I'd like is all day heart-rate monitoring -- something added in the Fenix 3 HR. The Fenix line has never been cheap -- the 3 starts at $499, and the 3 HR, $599 -- but the new luxury Fenix Chronos will test most wallets, starting at $899. For that extra $300 you sure are getting a nice looking timepiece, but glance at the spec sheet, and you'll see some surprising downgrades. In their place are new Golf features that track your putts per round, greens and fairways hit plus average distance.

By far and away the biggest difference is the battery life. Both Fenix 3 models have a 300 mAh battery that's good for about two weeks' general use, or around 20 hours in GPS mode. The Fenix Chronos almost halves the battery life, with a 180 mAh cell, good for a week of general use or 13 hours of GPS tracking. A week is still manageable, but it means you might need to pack your charger for business travel or vacations. On the other hand, I gave the Fenix 3 full charge before two week-long back to back work trips, and I'm going to make it home with juice to spare.

Another feature that's not present in the Chronos is WiFi. You have two ways of wirelessly uploading all your runs/fitness tracking data on the Fenix 3. You can connect to the mobile app via Bluetooth, or punch in your home WiFi password, and the watch will do it automatically as you walk back through the door. Not so with the flashy Chronos.

It's a shame, too, as the Chronos really is a well-built timepiece. I'm comfortable with the rubber strap on my Fenix 3, but the leather or titanium hybrid both felt much more comfortable and like a "proper" watch. The titanium edition of Chronos in particular had me considering how much I really needed that battery and WiFi, but this beast costs almost twice the leather version at an eye-watering $1,500. I think I'll stick with the WiFi.

Gold isn't a cheap game to play, so it's possible that those drawn to the sport's tracking features are more than happy to peel off a few more bills for something that will work just as well with their business suit. This might make some sense if Garmin didn't already have seven Golf-friendly wearables (albeit none that look like a dress watch).

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