Garmin Venu 2 review: sports and style

Two categories of smartwatches and sports watches are leading the way in the great gadgets we attach to our wrists. Smartwatches are smoother and more every day, but battery life in general is terrible. Sports watches are stronger, last longer and sportier, but tend to be bigger, bulky and ugly. The Garmin Venu 2 is an attempt to close the gap between the two product categories. It’s not perfect, but it’s the closest so far. Verge Score 7.5 out of 10 Good Bright, clear display Attractive design Easy-to-use interface More than 10 days of battery life Bad information No onboard maps Supported fewer workout types compared to other Garmin watches Not as many smartwatch features as the Apple Watch Body Let’s start with There are two sizes to choose from. The standard Venu 2 is 45mm (1.77 inches) and the Venu 2S is 40mm (1.58 inches). Both watches cost $400 and are virtually identical, but the 2S has a slightly smaller screen (1.1 inches vs. 1.3 inches) and has a nominally shorter battery life. I thought the regular Venu 2 would suit me well, but those with smaller wrists should choose the S. Just in front of it, the watch has a bright and colorful OLED touch screen. It was crisp and clear, and I was able to read clearly even in direct sunlight while running. There are only two physical buttons on the right side of the watch. The top button is the activity start/stop button, long press will bring up a circle of shortcuts to settings and apps. The bottom button is the back button, but it also acts as a manual lap/set trigger and a long press takes you to the settings. The rest of the UI is navigated by touch and is not really annoying! It may sound low-level to delete, but the vast majority of smartwatch user interfaces are objectively horrendous. In contrast, Garmin is simple and intuitive. It borrows a lot from sports watches like the Fenix ​​6 and Enduro, including good widgets that provide ample information. Now all you have to do is navigate with the touch screen. The Venu 2 is sleeker and more understated than other watches from Garmin, such as the Fenix ​​6 on the right. The watch itself is understated and attractive. It’s low enough not to hang over your sleeves, and you can even wear it for formal occasions. Changing the strap is quick and easy. In addition to the typical athletic-focused straps, there are plenty of premium leather-type options. Fortunately, there’s more to the outdoors than it looks. Besides being water resistant to 5 bar (about 164 feet), it has basically all the sensors you want, including GPS and GLONASS for satellite positioning, a barometric altimeter for altitude, a compass for positioning, a gyroscope and accelerometer for tracking motion. . , thermometer, ambient light sensor, heart rate monitor and pulse oximeter. All of this works very well. The heart rate monitor and pulse oximeter represent the first use of Garmin’s new family of Elevate V4 sensors, which have upgraded infrared sensors (with more sensors) for better accuracy. It accurately tracked my runs and hikes, and the heart rate monitor was as accurate as the chest straps I wore (Wahoo Tickr, also excellent in my tests). In terms of smartwatches, the Venu 2 checks most of the box, but nothing particularly innovative. Displays notifications from your Android or iOS smartphone. If you’re using Android (I was testing with a trusted Google Pixel 5), you can quickly respond to text messages and other notifications (you can program a quick response through the app). Yes/No/“Call me back in a minute”. This works fine for text, but when I tried this with a gmail message, no reply was actually made, despite the watch face saying it was sent. Because it’s worth it, Apple prefers to buy an Apple Watch, so they don’t allow replies to text messages through third-party watches. If you have an Android phone, you can reply to incoming messages on Venu 2. The Venu 2 has an NFC radio and Garmin Pay so you can store your credit card information on the watch and pay with a tap when you don’t have your phone/wallet. It can also store music (with enough storage for up to 650 songs) and can be paired directly with Bluetooth earbuds. Setting up the watch with Spotify was a bit of a pain, but once done, I was able to quickly download the entire playlist and take out my phone. Most smartwatches have a battery life of around a day (2 days if you are conservative), but the Venu 2 boasts a battery life of 11 days (10 days for the Venu 2S) in smartwatch mode. Obviously, using GPS for activity tracking would be a good thing. And I’ve always mixed both and the battery didn’t last more than 8 days between charges, even though I logged all my GPS workouts. This is a big problem for 24/7 health tracking metrics. The Venu 2 has very detailed sleep tracking, including heart rate, breathing rate, and I really like the fact that I can take continuous measurements for over a week without having to worry about taking it off to recharge. It’s worth noting that there are some smartwatch features that the Venu 2 doesn’t have. This will be in stock for things like Apple Watches or Google’s Wear OS. There is no built-in voice assistant of any kind. In fact, there are no voice calls or voice commands as there are no microphones or speakers. There are many customizable watch faces to choose from and it can show upcoming calendar events, but you cannot add or edit events on the watch. Basically smart, but at a cost. Venu 2 can coach a variety of exercises. On the sports watch side, there are around 30 activities to choose from, including running, walking, hiking, pool swimming, strength training, snowboarding, skiing, and more, but this isn’t far from the most dedicated service. Sports watches including Garmin Enduro or Fenix ​​6. For example, there are no options for trail running, outdoor swimming, or surfing (some of the most common workouts), and there’s no good reason to. The Venu 2 has all the necessary sensors and has plenty of storage space for these little apps. Venu 2 doesn’t have a map nor a simple trackback feature for running and hiking to help you find your way back to the starting point. I missed it so much when I got lost in the run and eventually put a strain on my knee. I’m looking for my way back. It has a “return to start” feature, but with an arrow that tells you the distance to the starting position and points you in the right direction. In practice, it’s essentially useless. Arrows will often lead me to a dead end because they don’t mark the path you took. Often, even though the distance was constant, it pointed in the exact opposite direction from where I started. This makes you play colder/hotter as you try to find your way back. just bad Venu 2 doesn’t have onboard maps and the “back to start” breadcrumbs feature doesn’t work properly. These are big omissions from my book, and I think Garmin made these choices because they don’t want to erode sales of luxury sports watches. This watch can attract a lot more people if you just include more apps. For me, the lack of my favorite workout could break the deal, but it raises the question: Who is this watch really for? This includes things like treadmills, indoor rowing, yoga, Pilates, stair steppers and indoor climbing, but not kayaking or mountain biking. The watch also includes downloadable HIIT and strength training workouts that show you what to do with muscle maps, clever animations to guide you, automatic repeat counting, but no outdoor route finding or navigation. This watch seems to be aimed more at city dwellers than those who want to go out in the dirt. Garmin effectively confirms this by saying that the Venu 2 is designed for a more “active lifestyle” with adventure/outdoor customers in mind. If you look through your activity list and see that all your favorites are included, this watch can be a great workout companion. The smart features are great, the battery life is fantastic, and the activity tracking is very accurate. But if you like to work out in nature like me, it’s well worth paying the extra money for the Fenix ​​6. It’s really disappointing as this watch might be good for both or a better fit. For a lot more people if there are more activity options. I’ll update this review if Garmin gets a change of heart and a software update fixes it, but I won’t hold my breath, meticulously tracked. Brent Rose’s photo for The Verge


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