The Magellan Switch and Switch Up are two new devices that have brought the company into the fitness market.
The Magellan Switch (shown above) is a sportswatch only, while the Switch Up can be detached from the watch band and used on a bike mount. UPDATE: Apparently the Switch can be detached too, but you have to buy the bike mount separately. I tugged and tugged on the one I tested, and it may be that they are just stiff the first few times you try to separate them. The Switch Up certainly seemed easier to do after the first few times. My bad for not verifying. Both devices are available with and without heart-rate monitor straps.
The Switch Up also adds a barometric altimeter for improved tracking of elevation gains, vibrating alerts, and a thermometer to capture outdoor temperatures.
Long-time GPS Tracklog readers probably know that I’m more into the navigation side of GPS than I am fitness tracking. So much so that I shy away from reviewing fitness devices (though I am looking for other folks who might want to review them). That, combined with recent knee surgery, means that this isn’t going to be as comprehensive as my hands on auto and handheld GPS reviews.
Magellan Switch and Switch Up hardware
Below you can see the two models side-by-side, with the Switch Up on the left and Switch on the right.
I installed the bike mount (shown below) on my top tube, since there is no room left on my handlebars. Installation is very easy, using the included bands, which just stretch around the tube or handlebars. While the Switch Up detaches from it’s wristband easily (once you get the hang of it) it’s a little more problematic with the bike mount, due to those stretchy bands; you’re trying it pull it off, but the base gives. Still, after a few times I had it mastered pretty well and didn’t find it to be a significant issue.
Magellan Switch and Switch Up interface
Magellan Switch and Switch Up functionality
I had little trouble learning to use the products. The one thing I’d like to see them fix is that it doesn’t auto-save an activity upon powering down. You don’t lose it; it just appends the next activity to it. This means you need to press and hold the enter button and select Save & Reset before shutting it off. The only other complaint I have is that it seemed to briefly lose satellites occasionally (just for a second or so) and at other times seemed slow to lock.
Magellan Active web app
Of course now that you’ve gathered all that data, you want to be able to hold onto it and analyze it, right? That’s what the new Magellan Active website is for. It allows you to upload activities and view various stats associated with your runs, rides and what have you. Uploading activities is very easy. You just connect your device to the supplied data cable, hit the Upload button and you’re taken to a screen like the one below. One nice touch on the following screen is the ability to download satellite data, to speed acquisition for the next week or so. This option should be pre-selected; it’s easy to forget to check the box for it. A couple of things I didn’t like was the lack of aerial imagery or topo maps; the latter is a real bummer for trail runners and mountain bikers.
Here is a sample activity for the Switch and Switch Up, along with a Garmin Connect posting of the same mountain bike ride using the GPSMAP62s. As you can see, there is some variation between the models, more so in elevation gain, which should have been around 750-800′. That is understandable for the Switch, since it lacks a barometric altimeter. The Switch Up (which registered 1148′ of gain) should have been closer, and it consistently overestimated elevation gain by a similar factor in my testing.
I will add that this is one of the tougher things for GPS manufacturers to nail, and they are literally at the mercy of the weather in trying to use barometric data to estimate elevation gain. Regardless, I hope that this can be improved upon with future firmware updates.
Magellan Switch series pros
- Relatively straightforward interface
- Magellan Active website for logging activities
- Can be used with bike mount
Magellan Switch series cons
- Occasionally slow to lock onto satellites
- No topo maps or aerial photos on Magellan Active website
- Switch Up barometric altimeter consistently overestimated elevation gain
More Magellan Switch and Switch Up reviews
- DC Rainmaker has posted a thorough Magellan Switch Up review
- CNet gives a 4 out of 5 star rating in their Magellan Switch series review
- CleverTraining.com reviews the Switch and Switch Up
- Gear Junkie tests the Magellan Switch
- Feed the Habit reviews the Magellan Switch
- MacWorld reviews the Magellan Switch Up
- Gear Diary calls the Switch “full-featured yet flawed“
- Upadowna reviews the Switch
- PC World Australia gives a 2-1/2 out of 5 star rating in their SwitchUp review
- Priyo1973 reviews the SwitchUp
- Marathon MTB looks at the Magellan SwitchUp
- Trail Runner Nation reviews the Switch Up
I’ll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some…
Other Magellan Switch and Switch Up resources
- The Magellan Switch and Switch Up owners manual
- The official Magellan Switch and Switch Up web pages
- How to use auto-lap
- A nice video intro to the Switch Up (and here is one for the Switch):