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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I got so excited about the .img file installation proof-of-concept, I literally ran out to get the fenix at my local shop.
Umm, "Honey, about the credit card bill… remember all those times I saved $20 by changing my own oil?..."

After waiting what feels like a decade for useful ABCHR watch with GPS, now I have two!

I can't yet tell if the fenix & Ambit will be like my children and I'll keep both, or if they be like my other past watches and one of them will be on Craigslist in 6 months. I can tell it's going to come down to two factors

  1. How good is the fenix vs ambit tracks & sensor data in the real world of my hikes and jogs and vacation-wear?
  2. How good is the November Ambit update? I'm excited about that too.
  3. Is one of them better enough at one activity type or usage-model or the other to keep both?
(ok. 3 factors)

Anyway, back to the Trails "map" installation

************ WARNING: Do At Your Own Risk of turning your fenix into a paperweight ********************

  1. I copied the original gmapbmap.img from the fenix/Garmin folder to another folder on my PC for safe keeping.
  2. I used Garmin Map Install
  3. Selected the fenix.
  4. Message: "all my maps won't fit"
  5. So I chose just Washington and Oregon from Northwest Trails
  6. Installed it. Took about 2 minutes.
  7. It placed a second .img file in the Garmin directory of the fenix, called Northwest Trails.img
  8. I deleted the original gmapbmap.img
  9. I renamed the Northwest Trails.img to gmapbmap.img

Voila!
The original basemap .img file is about 558kB.
The new .img file is 4590kB. (about 1/4th of the fenix capacity) and has essentially every known trail in a 500mile by 300mile 2-state area.

Awesome!
Way way more useful to me than the Garmin Basemap.

This is super helpful to a hiker… so I'll have not just my planned route in the fenix, I'll see all the other intersecting trails, and can identify their names. In the watch. It's that extra bit of back-up and confidence, yep, I've had paper maps blow away, and yep, I've had dead batteries in my handheld. Never at the same time though. :). Plus I can impress my friends with 1-inch 70x70 pixel black&white trail maps. Priceless.

Here are images:
Northwest Trails overview in Basecamp - it has a bajillion trails. Make a donation, it's worth supporting.
NW Trail overview.jpg

Northwest Trails zoom-in in Basecamp. What you'd typically use to map/overlay your Route Waypoints.
Northwest Trail zoom.jpg

A place I've been: my existing Waypoints from Basecamp are in the fenix along with the NW Trails. (Key point = those are not GPS tracks, those are the network of trails from the .img file… aka the Background Map.
bluehole.JPG

An arbitrary trail crossing seen in the map mode of the fenix. Note the crosshairs.
Crossing Trails.JPG

In the Orange menu you can "Select Pt"
Select Point.JPG

And depending on what your crosshairs are pointing to… you get the underlying information (e.g. could be trail name, or POI details. In this case the Pacific Crest Trail.
Trail Label.JPG

(p.s. I like Demo Mode.)

Running
And I did go for an hour run with both the fenix and ambit. Both on 1sec tracks. Verdict = No verdict yet.
  • The HR graphs are identical.
  • Tracks on map are very similar. No wildly phubar points. SportTacks-computed distances are within 0.01miles. Ambit "in-watch"/summary distance is 1% shorter. And the truth is out there somewhere.
  • The elevation graphs match. (baro-based I presume)
    • However the Ascent/Descent in Details seems quite (2x) wrong in the fenix… maybe GPS-based?
  • "In-watch" real-time Paces matched pretty close, by GPS standards: e.g. +/- 10 seconds.
    • Fenix Current Pace is not really instantaneous, it's doing some default smoothing I guess. It lags the Ambit by a few seconds when coming to an abrupt stop. Like the jump stop my basketball coach taught me in high school.
  • Can't review the HR and speed summary in the fenix. Huh?
  • Trending to give a slight nod to the Ambit for Training, for me. But also have no doubt that the fenix + Garmin Connect will be more than fine for the 97%.

Oh, and one more thing:
No fenix Automatic mode switching between Altimeter ("Variable") and Barometer ("Fixed")? If true that'll be a bummer.
 

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or_watching
Nice thread!
I am still with doubts about Ambit or Fenix, and your answers to the three questions can help a lot.
This map issue is one point in favor of the Fenix, same way as possibility to handle gpx files and be able to manage it as a hard drive without any associated program. From what I red, it fits also better to smail wrist like mine
I find th Ambit looking better, but that's very personal, and I am afraid that the Suunto will have many more features upgrades than the Fenix, if we beleive on past behaviour of both brands, and this is what really keeps me doubting.
Any additional thoughts on this comparison will be very much appreciated

Thanks
 

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Very cool! Nice loading of the maps, I think that is great. Do you notice any speed issues with the fenix? I notice when placing a very large Ambit track on to the fenix that it takes a while to load it up, but seems to work fine. Does loading the large base map show any slowness at various places? Does the pan and zoom of the map seem usable?
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
or_watching
Nice thread!
I am still with doubts about Ambit or Fenix, and your answers to the three questions can help a lot.
This map issue is one point in favor of the Fenix, same way as possibility to handle gpx files and be able to manage it as a hard drive without any associated program. From what I red, it fits also better to smail wrist like mine
I find th Ambit looking better, but that's very personal, and I am afraid that the Suunto will have many more features upgrades than the Fenix, if we beleive on past behaviour of both brands, and this is what really keeps me doubting.
Any additional thoughts on this comparison will be very much appreciated

Thanks
Hi. Thanks.
There are many ways to slice/dice a recommendation. From the 20,000 meter viewpoint, they both seem great.
Here's my attempt at helping with a decision...

Reasons to have/buy...
AmbitfenixBothNeither
You want a simpler in-watch "menu experience"
You want ~every conceivable GPS/HR/Nav menu item and option in the watch, and you want it now.
You have $900
You want to see what Sunnto delivers in Sept/Nov, and promises for 2013.
You are willing to pay $100 premium - IMHO for the higher-touch post-sales support
Basecamp Route Planning and Review: You don't mind paying for Garmin maps and/or installing the free/donation-request maps.
You have a credit card and no self control
You want to see the 'final' verdicts on track quality, distance accuracy, ABC sensor data accuracy for both watches
You don't mind being tethered to an online PC for synching and Profile creation
You think Clouds should be where the rain is kept, not your data.
You are just a runner
You want the Training and Review features in the watch (HR/Speed/RecovTime)
You are mostly interested in Hiking/Climbing/Geocaching
You are just a biker
You'd rather have Recovery & Training Effect vs. Flashlight & Sight 'N Go
You'd rather have MOB and Anchor drag than Automatic Alti-Baro option and

You want your watch battery to last 1 year, not matter what.
You like the Suunto 'aesthetic' (looks, screen sharpness, and simpler menu system)
You are already in the Garmin world for maps, Basecamp, Garmin Connect, and you want the commonality between the fenix and your handheld.
You are a hiker happy with an ABC and a map.
Foot pod (Nov), FusedspeedVibration, Tempe, Bluetooth future, 1000 waypoints, Infinite Alarms





You like Suunto, and don't like GarminYou like Garmin, and don't like Suunto.
You like Suunto and Garmin
You don't like Suunto and don't like Garmin

So, maybe in short:
  • Ambit: a bit simpler + leans toward training
  • fenix: menu-palooza + as many features as a hiker's handheld with a 1-inch screen
  • Accuracy, bugs, data quality: needs a month or two for a real verdict

And loads of folks will just need to try them on and see how they feel. The watches aren't monstrous, but they aren't small.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Very cool! Nice loading of the maps, I think that is great. Do you notice any speed issues with the fenix? I notice when placing a very large Ambit track on to the fenix that it takes a while to load it up, but seems to work fine. Does loading the large base map show any slowness at various places? Does the pan and zoom of the map seem usable?
Hi.
Well, I did my first run as-bought. I got the Saving Track message which took a minute+, it seemed. Kinda of surprised me. I have GPS/FIT selected so maybe that adds time.
Since I put the Trail map on next, I don't really have much before/after comparison to make.
I do get the 'pending' icon (circle arrows) for a split-second pretty often - upon Orange button press. No idea if that's normal.

Pan/Zoom usable? Sure, it works... but the trails/tracks are just a pile of squiggles on top of more squiggles... so adding Trails is not for the general user, like a nice color topo map with an overlay is. In the woods, the basemap would present a nice clean (empty) background so you can see just your GPS tracks.

-edit -> After unplugging from the PC, the fenix 1st displays a screen saying "Loading Tracks, Waypoints, Routes" (or similar)... that can take several moments to a minute-ish. then it displays "Loading Maps". With my 5MB Trails loaded, that splash screen takes about 1-2 seconds.
 

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I see that 'pending' graphic as well when pressing the orange button. So, we'll call that normal, although I find it odd for displaying a menu...

How long was your run (time wise) and was it 1 sec sample data? The route I loaded from an Ambit track was over an hour at 1 sec, so loading it taking a while didn't surprise me. The xml file was over 700k, so maybe I should be impressed the fenix didn't explode on that. 30 sec to a minute of load time isn't so bad.
 

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************ WARNING: Do At Your Own Risk of turning your fenix into a paperweight ********************

  1. I copied the original gmapbmap.img from the fenix/Garmin folder to another folder on my PC for safe keeping.
  2. I used Garmin Map Install
  3. Selected the fenix.
  4. Message: "all my maps won't fit"
  5. So I chose just Washington and Oregon from Northwest Trails
  6. Installed it. Took about 2 minutes.
  7. It placed a second .img file in the Garmin directory of the fenix, called Northwest Trails.img
  8. I deleted the original gmapbmap.img
  9. I renamed the Northwest Trails.img to gmapbmap.img
Thanks for the tip,
I do the same on my fenix but
not the same way


  1. I copied the original gmapbmap.img from the fenix/Garmin folder to another folder on my PC for safe keeping.
  2. I used Garmin MapSource
  3. Selected an usb key.
  4. no message
  5. So I chose 3 map around my house
  6. Installed it. Took about 20 secondes.
  7. It placed a second .img file in the Garmin directory of the fenix, i kept the original name gmapsupp.img
  8. I kept both files the original gmapbmap.img and the new
  9. I reboot the fenix

At low zoom level it is the original map file wich is displayed,
and at high zoom level it is the new map with all details.



548591_345645345527390_182714195_n.jpg
 

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All the above does seem like good fun but, really, trying to squeeze this all on a low res screen that small is a bit...well....pointless?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hi.
Guilty re: the fun part.

But I'll stick to my 'mod' since a background of every known hiking trail squiggle within 200 miles of my house is less useless to me than the pre-installed Garmin basemap.
 

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I was quite surprised looking at this table, since actually in the first column I would have selected only the "you like suunto aesthetic" case. All the rest would be in the second column.
I liked a lot the "cloud" comment!!
Any way, since the Fenix is not yet in Spain, I bought the Ambit with the commitment that I could give it back after a try............and I will give it back (which does not prevent me from buying it again in a couple of months!)
First impressions that you might confirm/correct:
Can't modify the three screens in the time mode (time, barometer, compass)
Can't delete history tracks in the device (and even if you delete them in Movescount they remain in the device)
Waypoints have no altitude !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I did not find a data field "time of an exercise" (certainly my mistake!!) I found time of the day and time of a lap.
I don't like at all Movescount, starting by the detail that you have to type your email address to start, which in my case is long, very long!
You have to open the Moves one by one to delete them (I had a few ones some seconds long while playing with the Ambit), and don't like the graphs presenting the data (compared with what I know from Mapsource or Trainer software from the FR305, don't remember the exact name)
When synchronizing the Ambit with Moveslink it took about 2 minutes for a 1h30m excercise and three waypoints!! If it is linear you can kill yourself in longer exercises!
Can't create waypoints with Movescount, unless they are part of a route
.....Any way, those might seem details, but they bother me a lot.

I red Suunto could open the source code to allow users to develop their own features in November . Any news on that? Do you know what it exactly means?

On the contrary, the watch is very, very nice. The screen is perfect, the buttons feel great, and it fits quite good despite the GPS antenna.

I will keep reading you guys for a couple of months, and after November release, and with your additional comments on Fenix, I will take a decision
thanks



Hi. Thanks.
There are many ways to slice/dice a recommendation. From the 20,000 meter viewpoint, they both seem great.
Here's my attempt at helping with a decision...

Reasons to have/buy...

So, maybe in short:
  • Ambit: a bit simpler + leans toward training
  • fenix: menu-palooza + as many features as a hiker's handheld with a 1-inch screen
  • Accuracy, bugs, data quality: needs a month or two for a real verdict

And loads of folks will just need to try them on and see how they feel. The watches aren't monstrous, but they aren't small.
 

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great job or_watching. This is really useful! I can hardly wait to use something like that.

Regarding my quest for a tail run watch that can follow a track and alert me if I go off track, how does the fenix go?

Also on the FR 305 I guess you can see a graph with the altimetry of the recorded (or loaded, not sure) track. Can the fenix represent that also?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
great job or_watching. This is really useful! I can hardly wait to use something like that.

Regarding my quest for a tail run watch that can follow a track and alert me if I go off track, how does the fenix go?

Also on the FR 305 I guess you can see a graph with the altimetry of the recorded (or loaded, not sure) track. Can the fenix represent that also?
Hi.
Well, I haven't done a trail run or even a real hike yet. But here's an armchair assessment.
1. You can get your planned route and your track to show on the screen. (a Trail map background as I describe above is not Standard)
Nav map.JPG

2. There are several useful Nav menu items. This picture shows Distance to next waypoint, Distance "off course" (232 ft), and direction "to course" (23degrees_right).
(look at gaijin's menu spreadsheet for the full list)
Nav Fields.JPG

3. There are "Nav Arrival" Alerts (Vibration/tone) called "Tracks" "Routes" Waypoints" which I haven't used yet.
4. You can see a graph of your Elevation profile vs Time or Distance. Some of the elevation/ascent data seems whacked out right now by several reports... not sure about the in-watch graph.

For sure this watch's intent is to meet your trail runner needs. As for raw feature/menu list, I'm pretty sure it specs out the best on paper. But at $400, and with a few apparent hiccups right now, everyone has their own threshold if it actually does. And you might want to look closely at fredx's ultra run trail for some real-world 60-sec GPS-interval track performance.
 

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Hi.
Well, I haven't done a trail run or even a real hike yet. But here's an armchair assessment.
1. You can get your planned route and your track to show on the screen. (a Trail map background as I describe above is not Standard)
2. There are several useful Nav menu items. This picture shows Distance to next waypoint, Distance "off course" (232 ft), and direction "to course" (23degrees_right).
(look at gaijin's menu spreadsheet for the full list)
3. There are "Nav Arrival" Alerts (Vibration/tone) called "Tracks" "Routes" Waypoints" which I haven't used yet.
4. You can see a graph of your Elevation profile vs Time or Distance. Some of the elevation/ascent data seems whacked out right now by several reports... not sure about the in-watch graph.

For sure this watch's intent is to meet your trail runner needs. As for raw feature/menu list, I'm pretty sure it specs out the best on paper. But at $400, and with a few apparent hiccups right now, everyone has their own threshold if it actually does. And you might want to look closely at fredx's ultra run trail for some real-world 60-sec GPS-interval track performance.
Just out of curiosity, why is there a piece of tape on the right side of the bezel?

Is it already broken somehow?:think:
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
OK, where's the embarrassed smiley?

Not covering the sensor holes.
Just two little pieces there to keep the Ambit's buttons from 'scratching' this new $400 contraption when I had them side by side on my wrist while running the first day.
Kinda forgotten it's still there.

I didn't really think it'd do much... but I have this thing about tape.
 

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Haha, nice or_watching. Never underestimate other forum members speculating minds!

I experimented with the OpenStreetMap maps on the fenix this morning. There is a web site where you can grab tiles in .img format, with each tile being about 5M. If they are renamed they seem to be used, but all I am presently seeing is river detail. I'm not sure if this is because I am using the sailing profile or because the OSM maps aren't showing roads on the device (or for some other reason I haven't figured out yet.)

I just copied the .img file on to the device, without using garmin mapsource or basecamp to install them. It sounds like this ought to work, so I think I will try some other map files to see why roads don't display.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Haha, nice or_watching. Never underestimate other forum members speculating minds!

I experimented with the OpenStreetMap maps on the fenix this morning. There is a web site where you can grab tiles in .img format, with each tile being about 5M. If they are renamed they seem to be used, but all I am presently seeing is river detail. I'm not sure if this is because I am using the sailing profile or because the OSM maps aren't showing roads on the device (or for some other reason I haven't figured out yet.)
Hi.
(this comment isn't about installing OSM maps on the fenix itself, but is a tidbit about the maps generally in BaseCamp when used for route planning for the fenix.)
I have Routeable OSM street maps maps in Basecamp. When a route is created in Basecamp and transferred to the fenix the waypoint names created by BC/OSM are the street/intersection.
Those waypoint names then show up on the fenix route.

Kind of basic stuff, but thought I'd show it in action.
OSM Waypoint names.JPG

And here's examples of the waypoint names in BC when a Topo map is used to create the route.
BC Nav points.jpg
 

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I experimented some more with maps install on the fenix. It looks like the fenix only supports the extra map in gmapsupp.img. The way I found out was using MapInstall on a Mac. I downloaded some topo maps for Pennsylvania from GPSFileDepot and installed them. Then picked some small tiles to install to the fenix. MapInstall did the install, but installed a file called patopo11.img. The fenix did not seem to use it, showing no new map data as far as I could tell. However, when I renamed the new file to gmapsupp.img, the map would show up when I zoomed in on the fenix. Very neat.
 

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thanks for sharing all that quite inspiring, I'm an old bushwalker and now i have a fenix and its my first gps and so i don't know much about gps maps, image files, etc either for the fenix or for basecamp and garmin connect. when i go to garmin and try to load maps for the fenix for australia it tells me there are none available. It does not have an option to download maps for basecamp either only other gps devices. Could you suggest a way to learn about maps both garmin and other maps/images and up and downloading them?. I am hoping to use the fenix with my iphone and so was hoping to download maps into basecamp mobile and team them up with the fenix periodically.
i am fairly computer literate.
thanks again for your very interesting post
leon
 
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