Gear preview: Coros Vertix – mountain muncher

For some people, Game of Thrones is an addiction where the next fix of intrigue can’t come soon enough. For others it’s all about – believe it or not – trail gear and the ‘what next’? We find our tech dude, Dr David Lipman, hanging anxiously in front of a screen – not to see the final GOT instalment – but to see what next from his latest obsession, wrist nav tech from Coros. *Disclosure: David is a member of the COROS Global ‘Advocate program’

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14 May 2019, 10am Los Angeles. I find myself in a hotel room, delaying my morning run, glued to a YouTube live feed awaiting the next big announcement from California-based tech company COROS Wearables. I was there in anticipation of some more information in what had been leaked in drips and drabs by various sources but was almost certainly the company’s newest watch. In a very ‘on-brand’ presentation over the next hour the company’s relatively short history in the GPS watch space is recounted, including input from some of the higher profile COROS athletes, Sally McRae and Tim Tollefson. 364 days prior the first offering from the brand, the PACE (see my review here) was released, whilst a few months back the APEX was received very well and subsequently used by Camille Herron to break the world 24hr record.

Finally, the moment arrived and the VERTIX was unveiled from its packaging (which is a gear box not unlike something a power tool may be found in). Minutes later I was certain this watch would be creating huge waves in the mountain sports world. I stress the phrase, mountain sports. The watch is clearly pitched at mountain athletes, with priority placed on durability (titanium construction with a sapphire glass) and performance in extreme temperatures (the watch itself but also usability for the wearer). To bolster these, the customary unbelievable battery life and lightweight that users have come to expect from COROS are again present.

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Perhaps the most interesting part of the watch was the addition of a pulse oximeter, previously only seen in the Garmin Fenix 5X Plus. In much the same way that COROS software provides training insights and advice using the watch hardware, the VERTIX will provide suggestions regarding altitude acclimatisation, using multiple pulse oximetry samples and trends to assist the users in an attempt to more appropriately acclimatise to altitude ascent.

Key Specs:

Size 48.74 x 48.74 x 16.75 mm
Weight 76g
Battery Life (GPS) 60h Full/150h Ultra
Battery Life (Regular use) 45 days
Charging Time 2 hours
Wireless Connectivity Bluetooth for phone, ANT+ for accessories
Sensors Optical Pulse Oximeter
Optical Heart Rate Monitor
Barometric Altimeter
Accelerometer
Compass
Gyroscope
Thermometer

(note all above are provided from the company)

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In a nod to the mountain sports focus of the watch, it has a working temperature of -20°C to 60°C and works down to -20°C with less than a 30% depreciation in battery performance VERTIX lasts for 21 hours in GPS mode under -30°C extreme testing. Whilst this is probably not particularly useful to the Australian and New Zealand, it speaks to the key market of the watch in my opinion. Likewise, it may lack some context, but suffice to say, this is market leading by quite a way.

In what clearly shows a significant amount of beta testing and feedback from testers, there are some really user-friendly touches I think warrant mentioning. The watch can be spun around so it can be worn on the opposite wrist if you please, without it impacting use of controls like the “digital knob”. Perhaps to aid this, or perhaps to allow better accesorisation, the watch strap has a quick release mechanism.

 

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Clearly released in competition to the Suunto 9 and Garmin Fenix range based on features and aesthetic, the VERTIX will at the very least provide a viable option in the category. With GPS accuracy that is at least on par if not surpassing the competitors and winning weight and battery life comparisons it is hard to see the VERTIX not being the market leader for anyone not concerned with brand loyalty or using a new company. That said, the VERTIX’s competitors do boast some more advanced features for instance music options, cardless payment options etc, which may be a decision point for some. Likewise, despite much planned in the way of sport modes, COROS as a brand has shown that it is following the example of many tech companies and releasing hardware with much planned for updating the firmware rather than releasing a more complete product. The only other question is whether the claims from the company are accurate and given their track record with the APEX and PACE we have no reason to doubt these.

COROS VERTIX Garmin FENIX 5X Plus Suunto 9 Baro
Build Titanium Steel Titanium
Regular Use 45 days Up to 20 days 7 days
GPS Battery 60h Full/150h Ultra Up to 32h Full/70h Ultra 25h Full/120h Ultra
Weight 76g 96g 76g
Waterproof 150m 100m 100m
Oximeter Yes Yes No
Cost $599-$699 (USD) $649.99-$799.99 (USD) $699 (USD)

Pre-orders are now being taken with delivery for June 4thin the USA.

Screen Shot 2019-05-16 at 1.24.09 pm*** In an interesting note that probably speaks volumes for both the infancy of the company and it’s focus, due to manufacturing numbers and subsequent cost reductions, they have dropped the price of the PACE by $100 (USD) and are allowing people who have bought a PACE already to claim credit back from their website. (NOTE I am unsure if this applies to buyers outside the USA)

Reviewer: Dr David Lipman is a podiatrist, exercise physiologist and medical doctor who doesn’t make it to trails as often as he’d like, drinks too much coffee and is a big believer in first principles and understanding the basics, in tech and training alike.

Contact him on Instagram @dlipman5 or via email dj_lipman@hotmail.com

Disclosure: David is a member of the COROS Global ‘Advocate program’


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