I was never much of a watch person until I got a Suunto Core Extreme a few years ago. If you've been reading this blog for a long time, you'll be familiar with my thoughts on that; to summarize, I really liked it, but had a few reservations about the functioning of the altimeter/barometer, specifically that accurate altimeter readings require regular calibration of the current altitute, thus rendering its information somewhat irrelevant (especially in rapidly changing weather conditions).
Nonetheless, I enjoyed the Core for many years – until recently, in fact. Last year I started to develop a skin irritation when I wore the watch. I took it off for a week or two, cleaned it, and tried again, and the rash returned. Add to that the fact that the buttons have become increasingly unresponsive – getting to the menu screen takes a lot of sustained force on the buttons – and the end result is I eventually gave up wearing it.
In the intervening years since my purchase of the Core, things have moved onwards in the world of "wrist-top computers." GPS chips have reduced in size, and can now be easily fitted into watches. Suunto put one in their Ambit, and Garmin entered the fray with the Fenix.
Intrigued, I asked Garmin if I could test the second iteration of the Fenix, the cunningly titled Fenix 2. They agreed, and sent me one for testing. These are my notes.
I have to admit, I was initially a bit sceptical – mainly of the battery life. GPS, as with any antenna-based technology, uses more power. My Core battery lasted almost exactly a year. The Fenix 2 is advertised as lasting about 50 days in watch mode, and 50 hours with GPS activated. It's understandable, but significantly less. However, wanting to keep an open mind, I was curious as to how that would stand up in real world use.
The other reason for my interest was curiosity as to how it might complement my existing GPS, the Dakota 20. I use the Dakota to track my trips, and for occasional navigational assistance. The 2 AA batteries the Dakota uses last about 17 hours, or 1.5 to 2 days hiking. Theoretically, the Fenix 2 should last a lot longer, and might actually make me less inclined to mess around with a gadget while in the wild.
Another development I was particularly interested in relates to my observation about the Core and the altimeter/barometer issue. The Fenix 2 solves this problem by using the GPS to set altitude when active, ensuring that barometric readings are continually accurate. This is a much better solution, and should in theory largely solve the problem.
Upon unpacking the watch and playing around with it, it was immediately evident that there was a lot more fun to be had with the Fenix than finding out what the weather was. The GPS functioality facilitates tracking, marking waypoints, navigating, geocaching, proximity detection, tracing a route back, and all kinds of neat outdoor action.
For the record, I've had the Fenix 2 for testing for about a month, and will (sadly) have to return it. For this reason I have called this article a Test Review. It has been tested on the 10km or so I walk every day, mainly on the daily dog walks. It has also been tested on longer hikes, while geocacheing, and on an overnighter. Naturally, this timetable doesn't permit full testing of every function, but I've attempted to be as complete and rigourous as possible within the timeframe.
SIZE, DISPLAY AND BUILD
The Fenix 2 is a little on the large side. Compared to the Core, it's much chunkier (but then so is Suunto's Ambit). However, it's surprisingly light and comfortable (I weighed the Fenix 2 at 86g / 3 oz, comapred to the Core's 65g / 2.3oz). I've been wearing it without any discomfort all day long, and on the occaisions I've worn it at night, I've not noticed its presence.
The exterior build, from what I can tell, is predominantly plastic, with a metal base. The strap is silicon. The watch, built around a steel interior frame, feels very solid, which is good: the chunky profile does tend to attract knocks on door frames and other surfaces, but it has handled these well, and so far shows only very minor wear.
The glass face and display are very clear. I like the design of the display (font sizes etc) in particular: it is large and clear, using all the available space. The Core's display, by comparison, is quite small. The glass surface of the screen is very reflective (photographing it without reflections is quite tricky).
One of the differences between the original Fenix and Fenix 2 is the black LCD. While is it somewhat sexier than traditional LCDs, and the red backlight is definitely more Bond-esque, I noted over the years with the Core that I sometimes wished I had the old-fasioned grey-on-white screen. In some circumstaces it can be a little hard to read in bright light.
The battery is non removable, and charges via a USB dock.
Let's get to the meat on that bone of contention: what's the battery life like?
The battery is 500mAh, so it should be fairly quick to recharge in the field, with even the smallest solar rechargers. In all the time I've been using it, I've only once run it down to zero. In general use, the drain is very slow. I'd say the promised five weeks is a good guess if you're not using it for much else other than basic time-keeping and alti/baro sensors.
Turn GPS on, and the drain is a lot quicker. Garmin promise 50 hours, but to get this you need to turn on UltraTrac GPS for your activity, and reduce the tracking interval to 1 minute or longer. This significantly reduces the number of calls made to sateilites, thus extending battery life.
Any activity using Bluetooth will similarly significantly affect battery duration. While it's very cool to get all your phone notifications on the watch screen, it's a huge power guzzler, and will drain the battery within a few hours. I turned all Bluetooth functionality off.
Admittedly, as I was testing the watch, I needed to plug it in regularly to upload track data, or add waypoints etc. Whenever you do this, the watch begins charging – and it charges very quickly. I didn't find I had to intentionally charge it at any time: it just naturally happened whenver I was transferring data. Over extended use, this would probably change, and the real world longevity of the battery (discharge/recharge cycles) is an unknown factor at this point. However, if experience of other similar batteries is anything to go by, it will inevitably lose capacity over a number of years.
The menus are really easy to use. I got up to speed quickly without needing to look at the quickstart guide; they are logical and easy to understand. There quite are a few settings relating to uses which I'm not going to assess here (cadence and heart rate sensors, virtual running partners, recovery modes etc.), but with all its complexity, it's clear Garmin have put a lot of work into making an ostensibly mind-boggling piece of kit very easy to get to grips with.
There are a few hidden functions which are only revealed in the user guides: press and hold the left lower button to mark a waypoint from the main screen being the most useful for backpacking purposes. Compared to the Core, whose manual assumed biblical proportions, the simple quickstart guide, and the slightly more complete downloadable manual for the Fenix 2 are concise and easy to follow. In all honesty, I would have liked the full user guide to be a little more comprehensive.
The watch has been designed with different users in mind. A quick press of the START/STOP button brings a menu of avtivities (you can choose to hide activities that are less relevant to you).
TRACKING & ACTIVITES
The Fenix 2 has a veritable plethora of tracking modes, based around various activities: XC Ski, Ski-Board, Mountaineer, Hike, Navigate, Trail Run, Run, Bike, Swim, Workout, Indoor, Multisport, and Custom. There's something for everyone, and if you're disappointed Garmin didn't add Base Jumping or Wing Suit, you can always create your own custom activity. (I did inadvertently find the Jumpmaster function while writing this, so parachutists are all set to go!)
Each activity has pre-defined, but user-editable data pages and settings that have been optimised for that activity. You can easily create your own data sets so you can see at a glance whatever relevant information you choose; for example, I added latitude/longitude data, and barometric/altitude data to the Hiking set. There is a useful "Auto Pause" fiunction to stop tracking when you're taking a break which is handy (I often forget to turn the GPS off and waste battery).
Settings for activities are independent (that is, you can make different choices for each activity), which is a good and a bad thing. Some of the default tracking settings are a little over-generous. For example, Hiking, which I used almost exclusively, initially recorded far too many pings in the track log. The result of this increased GPS activity is of course an unneccessary draw on the battery. I changed the Hiking setting to Ultratrac, which allows you to choose how (in)frequently the watch records its position. I set it to 1 minute intervals – more than enough to record an adequate trail – and in theory this should increase the battery life to the claimed 50 hours.
However, during one hike, I wanted to test the navigation feature. So I switched from Hiking to Navigating. While Navigating, the watch also records a track log, which is good – but when I got home, I discovered the Navigation tracking setting was factory set to "Smart". Now, you'd think with a name like "Smart" that it would somehow intelligently assess what activity you are doing by polling the accelerometer and/or GPS to see how fast you are moving. I was surprised to find, then, that over a 2km section, Navigate mode tracked 800 points. Compare this to the 20 points recorded in Ultratrac mode that I set up for Hiking. According to the Garmin site, the Fenix 2 can store 10000 track points. During the 2km in Navigate mode, "Smart" recording had logged almost 10% of those available points. Thus, I think the default settings could be seriously reduced, or at least better optimised. The only other reason I could imagine so many points being recorded was if there were a problem with the accelerometer – a point I shall return to later.
When navigating, incidentally, the bearing is indicated around the edge of the screen. This is reliant upon detected movement: you need to be moving and keep the watch in front of your body, and then follow the indicator. It's important to have the watch in front of your body, because the indicator always points relative to foreward motion. This is harder to explain than to figure out - when you are using the function it soon becomes self-evident.
At the end of any activity, you simply press STOP and choose to save it, resume later, or delete. It's simple, efficient, and works very well. Again, full points to Garmin for logic and ease of use.
There are additional options within the within certain activities that are of use to the hiker. The Trackback feature allows you to retrace your steps. It's a little limited to following your exact steps, but I can see its usefulness in emergency situations.
I especially like the proximity alerts. When navigating to a waypoint, or when nearing a waypoint for which an alert has been activated, the watch vibrates. It's handy for letting you know when you are close to a trail direction change or near to some other point of interest. Similarly, an alert can be set for a particular elevation, which I can imagine is very useful in high mountain areas like the Rockies – set a warning for when you reach your acclimation elevation for that day.
There is also a simple Geocaching option under Navigate. I tried this out on a few caches near home, and it worked very well. This was, in fact, a good example of the Fenix 2 activating me to get outdoors. Having these activities readily available on your wrist entices you to actually do some of them, and encourages you to get outdoors. At the same time, I found the smallness of the device didn't get in the way of my enjoyment of nature: it's small enough not to be a constant distraction or technological irritant (something I can't say of my iPhone).
For the health conscious, when you set up the watch, you are promtped for your various body statistics. These are then used to calculate calories used during activities. Nice to have, particularly for more vigorous activities.
A minor gripe is that initial satelite acquisition could be a little faster. Maybe it is my location, but I often had to hang around for a few minutes waiting for it to get a fix. When switching on/off or between modes after this initial wait, acquisition was almost instant. Overnight, however, it seemed to lose the satelites again. Each new day required the initial wait. Perhaps Garmin could use something like TomTom's QuickFix technology, that remembers the satelites it last linked to, and connects a bit faster (or perhaps that tech is patented). Then again, it could just be bad luck in my location, and a result of having less satelite coverage.
EXTERNAL (ANT+) SENSORS
A wide range of external sensors are supported. Bikers will probably be interested in cadence monitors, but for the backpacker, the most useful one is most likely Garmin's tempe sensor.
The temperature sensor in the watch is only really effective if you take the watch off for 15 minutes, but the tempe sensor allows you to measure temperature wherever you put the sensor. Attach it to your backpack and you'll get accurate readings. I've not tried this, but I'd consider investing in one (they cost about €25), especially as the Dakota 20 has also now been updated to work with the tempe.
Altimeter-Barometer-Compass (ABC) functions are essentially the same as in pre-GPS watches such as the Core. The compass is a dual-axis (Garmin call it 3D) and can be read from any angle. I was very happy with its accuracy, and it gave me much more confidence than the unreliable one Suunto put in the Core. The Core's implemetation failed on me so many times, and was almost impossible to re-calibrate manually, it would have been foolish to rely upon it.
The Garmin Fenix 2, on the other hand, arrives with the compass pre-calibrated in the factory, and so far has given me accurate readings at any angle, all the time. It's one of the few examples of a digital compass that I've felt reasonably confident in.
Naturally, a good old fashioned plate compass can't be beaten and should always be used as the primary means of navigation, but for quick readings the Fenix 2 compass was very impressive.
Unfortunately, the opposite is true of the altimeter/barometer.
Alti-baro watches measure both altitude and barometric pressure using air pressure. To get accurate readings, the watches need to know either the current altitude, or be told the air pressure at sea level. The higher you go, the lower the air pressure.
Typically, it's much easier to calibrate for the correct altitude, as there are many ways to determine this (map, iPhone apps, GPS).
On the Fenix 2, altitude can be set (calibrated) either manually, or automatically via GPS during ativities. There are two options for calibrating via GPS during activities: at the start, or continuously. I found that generally, providing you are actually doing activities, the latter is better. Often when acquiring satelites, the initial altitude data is inaccurate, sometimes by a considerable amount. By allowing continuous calibration, the reading soon becomes more precise. A better option for hiking would be to calibrate it every hour or so.
I did find, entirely accidentally while taking the photos, that there are additional manual calibration options if you select NO when entering altitude: you are then given the option to set barometric pressure at sea level, or (again by selecting NO), set altitude to the last GPS reading. This is one of those quite useful additional features that the user guide completely fails to mention. An additional feature I'd like to see is a way of getting to the calibration setting more quickly than via the menus. A hot key, or context sensitive menu on the altimeter/barometer screen would save a lot of button pressing. Somthing similar to this exists on the map screen for zooming in/out. It would be nice to see a similar implementation for the alti/baro screens for quick calibration.
But the calibration methods are not the crux of the problem. The issue is that, once set – whether via GPS or manually – the altitude sensor does not appear to recognise lack of movement, which is odd because the watch has a build in accelerometer.
Here's what should happen (and this is how the Suunto Core works):
When you move, the watch should track altitude. As you move up and down hills, the air pressure changes, and the watch can calculate the altitude change from that. (Ideally, if you know you are walking along relatively flat ground, you should be able to set it to track barometric pressure instead, or the watch should somehow recognise this, as per the following paragraph.)
When you stop moving, it should switch to barometric pressure measurement, and lock the altitude at the measrement made when movement ceased. Then, because you are motionless, any changes in recorded air pressure must be barometric changes, and accurate data can be colected on weather patterns.
There is some area for miscalculation here: if you are moving and the watch is tracking altitude, and storm is approaching (or other change in air pressure caused by weather), then accuracy is affected because the altitude and barometric pressure readings are in conflict.
However, this is where the advantage of having GPS comes in: if you are tracking an activity, the GPS can then set the altitude, and barometric pressure can be accurately measured independently, while in motion or while stationary.
The problem with the Fenix 2 – and I hoped this was a problem with the accellerometer or a software bug as I found it hard to imagine Garmin would intentionally do this – is that when you stop, and remain in one place (say, camping overnight) the watch doesn't recognise the lack of movement, and continues to assign changes in air pressure to altitude changes as well as barometric changes.
By way of an example, I calibrated the altimeter manually to 87m, the altitude of my home, for three tests, on three separate days. After 12 hours on the first test, the altitude measured -14m. On the second, it measured 140m. On the third, 47m.
The consequence of this is that not only are altitude readings inaccurate (which is less important, as you know your altitude has not changed), but barometric pressure readings are incorrect, and thus you have no historically accurate overnight weather information to give you an indication of what the conditions are likely to be during the day.
A corollary of this problem is the lack of a storm warning. Whereas the other alerts are quite useful (i.e. proximity, as described earlier), a storm alarm is very useful in the field. When stationary, and with the watch measuring pressure changes, any rapid decline in air pressure would tigger an alarm. In Minnesota, this happened on several occasions, and sure enough, a few minutes after the watch alarm went off, the tornado sirens would sound – so you can see the relevance of this functionality in the field.
Indeed, without the altimeter/barometer working correctly, and with a lack of storm warning, there is not much point in having the alti-baro sensor.
This bothered me so much that I contacted Garmin and asked for comments before publishing this report. Here is their reply:
The non ‘auto-switch’ to a fixed barometer/altimeter when stationary for a given period of time is not a bug. This is how the product works.
The barometer and altimeter work in the following fashion:
Not in Activity = No GPS - Barometer Page - Fixed
Not in Activity = No GPS - Elevation Page - Variable
In Activity - Elevation and Barometer Pages - Variable (calibrate at start)
It is important, when GPS is on, to calibrate at the start and make sure it is a good calibration. One then needs to set calibration to 'continuous' if wanting to
track weather. In continuous we filter out elevation change to baro and only show pressure changes due to weather.
Therefore, we attempt to handle these situations. If someone is at rest for a significant period of time, it’s probably wise to turn GPS off anyway.
What this means, is that the barometer only really works while in an activity when the GPS is activated (and draining your battery). This is all well and good, but it's not at all useful. If you are in an activity, it's of course nice to get some indication of what the weather is doing, but frankly, most of the time you can see what the weather is doing because you are moving around in it.
To not have the barometer active when stationary is a serious flaw in the device. What is the point of tracking altitude when not in an activity? When you have stopped, altitude doesn't change, but weather does. To say "if someone is at rest it's probably wise to turn off GPS" is patently obvious: why would you leave an activity on while stationary? The watch would unnecessarily track a stationary GPS position, which would be an utterly pointless drain of the battery. It's a bizarre choice to dictate that you must run an activity and drain the limited battery with GPS calls just to track the changing weather conditions. Lock the altimeter when the accellerometer detects reduced movement, and the problem is solved.
UPDATE: By chance I was reading a review on DCRainmaker of the Garmin Tactix – the military version of the original Fenix, released between the Fenix and Fenix 2 – and noticed that the Tactix has some additional settings for the Barometer. Under Setup > Sensors > Altimeter > Baro. Plot are options for Variable, Fixed, and Ambient Pressure. This appears to suggest that the Tactix can operate as a viable barometer outside of GPS-active modes. One can only hope that this functionality is added to the Fenix 2 at some point...
It's a pity, because I feel this detracts from what would otherwise be a great device. I can only hope that someone at Garmin sees sense and that a more sensible logic will be applied in a future software update.
Talking of which...
SOFTWARE & FIRMWARE
One very good thing about Garmin is that they update the firmware of their devices regularly (and I mean really often). There were two or three updates to the Fenix 2 during testing, each adding functionality. My Dakota 20 also received an update in this period, adding new functionality (the tempe compatibility) to a device now five or six years old. This, I think, is excellent service on the part of Garmin. It's nice to know that your equipent will not be obsolete in one year. I consider the Dakota to be one of my better investments in this respect.
Typically, to get data onto and off of the Dakota and Fenix 2, I use BaseCamp – Garmin's GPS management and route-planning app. There are versions for desktops, and smartphones. There are a few annoying glitches in the Mac version that never seem to go away, and I'm aware some people don't like it, but honestly, I find it to be generally quite usable. Of course, it would be nice if the maps were a bit cheaper, especially for Europe. ;)
While BaseCamp is OK, it's not the only app available, and I often feel that Garmin software ecosystem is way too complicated. Here are the apps I currently have installed:
- Garmin Express
- Garmin Connect Mobile
- Garmin BaseCamp Mobile
So, BaseCamp is the core app that you use to create tracks and upload/download data. If there is an update to the device, it alerts you and launches WebUpdater (which, incidentally, always "has a problem communicating with your Dakota 20" but then manages to communicate just fine).
However you can also use Garmin Express to update firmware - in fact it's much nicer to do that. So why doesn't BaseCamp use that instead of the slightly old fashioned WebUpdater?
With BaseCamp you used to share tracks online at Garmin Connect (a kind of RunKeeper or Strava equivalent), but that got relegated to a hard-to-find menu item when they introduced Garmin Adventures (which you are now annoyingly prompted to create every time you connect a device with even the smallest most unadventurous trail).
But, Garmin Connect still exists. If you hunt, you can find it in the menus on BaseCamp, although trying to upload a track to is always results in failure for me, so you have to use Garmin Express, which can send to Connect but can't create Adventures. (Garmin Connect, incidentally, also has a weird bug where it continually tries to reinstall itself when restarting the Mac.)
Now, on top of that, you can install mobile versions of BaseCamp and Connect on your smartphone. Connect mobile can automatically upload tracks to Connect online. BaseCamp can broadcast a live track online for friends to follow, which is great but... ARGH! For the love of God, why is it so complicated?
As I was writing this, I noticed that the Garmin Connect website has undergone a considerable redesign, and now prompts the use of Garmin Express to sync and upload data. Perhaps this is a sign that the various different departments in Garmin are actually talking to each other, and trying to create a more coherent ecosystem for their devices. Personally, I'd prefer it if everything was kept simple: one app does it all and works properly. If I were head of software development, I'd roll it all into a leaner, faster BaseCamp. I'd also combine Connect and Adventures.
There are other alternatives: Strava plays fairly nicely with Garmin devices, and is a lot less hassle (though it completely cocks up track times at the moment, reducing a 4 hour hike to 4 minutes).
With all that said, creating routes and waypoints on BaseCamp, and transferring them to the Fenix 2 is a piece of cake. Drag and drop simplicity.
As mentioned, Bluetooth is unfortunately a bit of a battery hog, which is a pity. Theoretically, you can use the watch to read text messages, and other notifications from your smartphone. In practice, it's a bit all or nothing. There are settings to have Bluetooth on all the time (not a good idea), during activities/tracking (which is OK), not during activities (again, a battery drain for most people), or off, with manual sync. It's the syncing part that is the problem, and will bring us back to the joys of the confusing complementary PC/Mac-based apps.
With Bluetooth on, you can sync with Garmin BaseCamp Mobile (for live tracking on a map, and sharing live online), and Garmin Connect (for post-activity uploads). BUT, to sync with Garmin Connect, you really need Bluetooth to be on for a short window at the end of the activity, and a bit after it. If it is on during the activity, when you press STOP it turns off, so you can't sync. It if is on only when you are not in an activity, you get massive battery drain, and it still doesn't sync because the activity has been closed/ended.
So, the solution: turn off Bluetooth, and sync manually. That way you are in control, you know that it is actually working, you save battery power, and the process is faster. Maybe there is a better solution or firmware upgrade in the works, but for now, I found manual sync to be less troublesome.
Oddly, I couldn't sync via Bluetooth with the Mac. That would have been nice and convenient, but sadly it doesn't seem possible. I assume this is a limitation of the Bluetooth implementation.
I won't list everything, but there are a few functions that I consider useful for the hiker and backpacker:
Sun & Moon - The watch uses your GPS location to generate highly accurate sunrise/sunset, and moonsrise/moonset/moonphase info.
Hunt & Fish - Now I have my Tenkara rod, I'd be keen on taking advantage of this data, also GPS specific, that informs the best times for catching fish.
Project Waypoint - very useful for in-the-field navigation in poor visibility. Select a bearing and distance and navigate to that point.
IN COMBINATION WITH OTHER GEAR
One of the main reasons I wanted to test the Fenix 2 was to see how it compelmented the Dakota 20.
I do enjoy taking my Dakota on trips. I like that I can track where I've been, and turn to it in moments of confusion. It's not essential, and I can manage without it, but it's a reassuring tool, and doesn't impact my pack weight significantly. The downside is battery life: 17 hours is good for a day and a half's tracking, then I need to swap out batteries, which means I end up carrying a fair few batteries on longer trips.
The Fenix 2, however, should last for around 50 hours teacking once you set up Ultratrac and reduce the amount of pings recorded in the track log. This effectively means I should get about 4 days tracking out of it before it needs recharging. And I should be able to use a very small powerbank to recharge the 500mAh battery, probably a couple of times, achieveing a maximum of 12 days before I need to recharge the powerbank again. That's the equivalent of about 12 AA batteries for a similar amount of use on the Dakota.
I could then still take the Dakota, but only turn it on when I need to locate myself. I would consider this scenario beneficial because I would not be tempted to mess with the Dakota so much, and would consequenlty be a bit less in a digital environment, and more in the real environment.
That's the theory at least. Less time spent looking at a screen, or tempted to look at one, and more time looking at where I'm going! A better wilderness experience.
I haven't had the Fenix 2 long enough to test out this plan on a proper, multi-day hike, so at this point I can only say that I think the plan has some grounding in sound logic.
I like the idea, anyway.
I have enjoyed using the Fenix 2 very much. It's been nice to have a watch on my wrist again that doesn't start to irritate my skin, and especially nice to be able to track whatever I do at the touch of a button, without the need to intentionally carry a separate GPS like the Dakota 20.
Could I do all this on an smartphone? Yes, sort of – except my iPhone 5S has appalling battery life when using GPS (really, Apple, what were you thinking?) and would be next to useless on longer trips, beyond emergency use.
Interestingly, wearing the Fenix made me want to go out and do things more. I'm aware that an element of that is a result of having a new gadget, but then who cares? If a device makes you want to go and do stuff, and doesn't get in the way when you are doing it, that can't be a bad thing, can it? I mean, it even got me out and about on my bike a bit more.
I think that's another good thing about the Fenix 2: it doesn't get in the way. It's not a bulging thing in your pocket, or a phone that constantly reminds you of the presence of the rest of the world all the time. No, the Fenix 2 does what it does, tucked under your sleeve, out of sight and out of mind. I like that.
It's easy to use, easy to set up, and has a wealth of features that I probably won't use, but that tempt me into action. I kind of want to test them out for the fun of it. And that's the thing in the end: it's fun. And there's nothing wrong with fun.
There are a couple of nagatives, and unfortunately they are significant ones (at least for me, and my activity interests): the altimeter/barometer functionality (or failure of it) is the main issue, and needs to be addressed to make it more practically useful. I simply can't understand the logic Garmin have applied here, especially in an otherwise excellently conceived device.
The addition of a storm warning would be a smart, sensible, and potentially life saving addition. Battery life could always be improved more, and the Bluetooth chip could be a bit less power hungry. The profile of the watch could also go on a little bit of a diet: a few millimeters off the height would reduce the clunkiness.
All in all, with the exception of the barometer issue, I really liked using it. And to be honest, my left arm would give a lot to wear it a bit longer.