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Friday, December 16, 2016

Review: Garmin Tempe Sensor

The Garmin Vivoactive HR has every sensor the Edge 800 or Fenix 3 HR has except for the temperature sensor. I'm sure some of it is cost cutting (though it's probably measured in the cents) but some of it is also practical: a device on your wrist is going to end up measuring your wrist's temperature, which hopefully is somewhere around 98.6F. That's not very useful, however!

The solution is the Garmin Tempe sensor. The device was actually created for the Fenix series of Garmin outdoor watches, since a temperature sensor really should be away from your body. It works and pairs with the Vivoactive with no problem, and if you plan to only record temperatures for your bike rides, you can just leave it on your bike (I stuff it into my handlebar bag) and then it's a "pair and forget" device. On my bike rides, it never takes longer than about a minute before the Vivoactive picks it up and it records the temperatures on nice graphs. It takes about 3 minutes for it to come down to ambient temperature from my indoor bike parking area, which is not an issue --- you can actually see in most cases that the indoor bike parking is colder than the ambient temperature, since on a cold day I tend to want to ride in sunny places.

If you want to take the device on a hike, the clip it comes in works on belt loops. Note that it doesn't actually work on belts. It's not big enough or long enough to go around a broad/tall belt, but it's just the right size to go on a belt loop and stay on all day even when switching from cycling to hiking and vice-versa. The tough part is to remember to take it off your pants before sticking the pants into the laundry!

The $25 question is whether the Garmin unit uses it to correct elevation/altitude data. I don't know, and have no easy way to figure it out short of taking it to the Alps and climbing a few marked passes with accurate elevation signs back to back. While I'm happy to do that, it'll take awhile for me to get to it. I know that on stable weather days, the Edge 800 (with the built in temperature sensor and barometer) is easily accurate within 5 meters. I'd love to see if the Vivoactive HR can also achieve that.

In a nice touch, the device uses the same battery (CR2032) as all other Garmin sensor units. That means you can expect long life and you only need to stock one type of backup batteries and it'll work with all your sensors.

In any case, it's cheap, light, easy to carry (and automatically pairs). It's unobtrusive in use. It's certainly not essential, but it's fun to go back and say, "Oh that's why it felt so cold!" Recommended.

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