April 17, 2013
- Rugged, waterproof design
- Built-in GPS
- Compatible with ANT+ sensors
- Does not auto-save
- Won't double as a traditional watch
The Magellan Switch is a rugged, waterproof watch for athletes that want to track their outdoor activities using GPS. It is also ANT+ compatible to even extend its data collection but while it works well at what it is meant to do, it lacks in some basic aspects that should be a given.
Magellan is typically known for their portable GPS navigational devices, but with the Switch, they move into the personal wrist-wear market. While it doesn't do a good job at telling time, it does do a great job at monitoring your location during your outdoor activity. Because it does have a slightly expensive price (around $180), it is crucial that the Switch does what it is meant to do and does it well.
The design of the Switch is basically the same as a giant watch. The face of the Switch is rather boxy and thick, but I suppose that is to be expected since it does contain an internal SirfSTAR IV GPS antenna. At first wear, the size does take some getting used to, especially if you typically don't wear a watch or wear a small watch. However after a few uses, we hardly noticed it during use.
Because the Switch is both shockproof and waterproof (up to 50 meters), it has a rubberized coating and buttons. The monitors have multiple functions depending on the menu on the screen, but it's relatively easy to use with only a little initial learning required. The 1.3-inch monochrome LCD display is easy to read, even in direct sunlight.
According to Magellan, the Switch has an 8-hour battery life, which limits you from using it as a regular watch. But even more limiting is that the current data and time, which is set by the GPS, is hidden under a menu. As a result, the Switch isn't really meant to replace a conventional watch the way that some have used the iPod Mini to do so. To recharge the Switch, just attach the included USB cradle to the back of the unit.
The internal GPS receiver is accurate to 3-5 meters (according to Magellan) and it monitors your latitude, longitude and altitude during use. As a result, it calculates your total distance covered, pace and lap averages. When you first turn on the Switch for the first time, you're asked for your sex, age, height and weight and from that, it will calculate your caloric burn as well as your heart rate activity (if paired with an optional ANT+ device).
The Switch comes pre-loaded with nine different activity profiles: walking, hiking, trail running, road running, road biking, mountain biking, criterium biking and swimming. There is also a tenth profile for triathlons. Each profile will then measure the data in a sport-appropriate manner and display it to you in a way that will coincide with your activity.
For users looking to monitor their heart rate during their exercise, the Switch is compatible with ANT+ monitoring devices. Aside from heart rate, there are other sensors for bicycle speed and cadence monitors.
If you connect the Switch to a PC or Mac computer, you can visit the Magellan Web site to upload your activity data to analyze and share with others (if you wish). You can also view your route on a Google Map as well as your lab summary and other useful health-related stats. We must say we were puzzled to find out that the Switch doesn't automatically save your activity log when you finish your route. To do so,you must manually save the data.