Sunday, March 18, 2012

Magellan Switch and Switch Up announced

Magellan Switch seriesUPDATEHere is my Magellan Switch series review.

If you’ve been paying much attention to GPS market segments, you already know that fitness is the hottest and fastest growing category. That’s why TomTom, Motorola and today Magellan, have jumped in with both feet, smack into a market dominated by Garmin, which has a huge lead. As we surmised way back in October, Magellan is introducing their own sportswatch – actually two of them – the Magellan Switch and Switch Up.

Magellan SWitch frontDesigned primarily for runners, the Switch features nine customizable sport profiles, a high resolution display, eight hours of battery life, a high sensitivity GPS receiver, 50 meter water resistance, and compatibility with ANT+™ sensors.

The Switch Up adds a barometric altimeter, a thermometer to record outside temperature, vibration alerts, and a quick release mounting system for multi-sport athletes.

For endurance athletes, the company will offer an optional Battery Pack Extender that provides 16 hours of additional battery life, for a total of 24 hours.

This spring, Magellan promises a fitness website to upload and track your activities. But the Switch series format won’t be entirely proprietary, as they promise compatibility with MapMyFitness, TrainingPeaks, Strava, and other sites. An API is also planned.

Magellan Switch Up bike

The series is slated to be available this spring, with the Switch carrying an MSRP of $249.99 or $299.99 with heart rate monitor; the Switch Up with a multisport mounting kit will run $299.99 or $349.99 if you add the heart rate monitor.

The Garmin connection

There’s an interesting backstory here. Clark Weber, Senior Director of Fitness Products at Magellan, started a San Francisco Bay Area company in 2003 named MotionBased, which was an early fitness tracking website that was also a great place to download tracks of trails. Mike Maxson, now Magellan’s Senior Product and Marketing Manager, held a similar position at MotionBased. That company was acquired by Garmin in 2005 and morphed into Garmin Connect. Garmin closed the SF office in 2010 and the staff there apparently weren’t too thrilled about moving to Kansas, choosing instead to take their chances in the marketplace. I’m betting any non-compete clauses had long since expired and Magellan snapped them up. So there’s a very strong team behind the Switch series; let’s just hope that Mitac has given them the resources they need to deliver a great product.

Here’s the full news release on the Switch series.

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.

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