Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Garmin Alpha 100

When Garmin announced its acquisition of Tri-Tronics last summer, I figured it was only a matter of time before the technologies were combined into a single unit.  No, I haven't been secretly testing one.  Yes, I wish I had.  So consider this an unofficial preview and not a review.

Garmin Alpha 100

I've owned Tri-Tronics products for years and never had a bad experience.  I still have the original Sportsman model I bought 18 years ago, screw-in stimulation plugs and all, and it works just fine although it does draw the occasional snicker.  Kinda like pulling out a bag phone to make a call.  Currently I run a Sport Combo (really enjoy being able to adjust the stim level from the transmitter without changing plugs) and it's been just what a tool like this is supposed to be - reliable, easy to use, and unobtrusive.  I'm not a pro trainer or other power user, just a guy who needs to reinforce certain behavior in his dog and steer him away from occasional trouble.

I've never owned a Garmin product but their reputation is solid and extends far beyond the basic GPS.  My brother-in-law is the head of sales and marketing for an aircraft manufacturer that offers Garmin's avionics package as an option and says it's very popular among their customers and a thing of beauty to use.  Appealing to me is that every Garmin unit I've ever seen is more advanced than its predecessor.  Not just a slimmer shape or sleeker buttons, but more capability. A commitment to innovation and progress, while a bumpy road at times, generally leads to better products in the long run.

Put these two names together and there's every reason to expect a high-end piece of equipment. No surprise, there a quite a few slick features beyond combining two units into one, an advance that shouldn't be overlooked.  A dog's neck is only so long and stacking collars is never the height of practicality.

Garmin Alpha 100

Geofence is a user-definable range that alerts when the dog gets near an area where you don't want him to go.  I can think of about 200 situations right off the bat where this would come in handy.






Garmin Alpha 100


Bird's Eye imagery is something I find more useful than topos at times.  Landmarks are easier to identify (as long as the landscape hasn't changed since the sat photo was taken) and when in unfamiliar territory it's a lot easier to spot potential man-made hazards.





The claim is that the screen is glove-friendly which, if true in a practical sense, is a great feature.  There's a lot more to the package such as the ability to track 20 dogs, all your friends, their dogs and other stuff I'd never use but that someone probably will. Simply put, the thing is loaded.

For you guys north of the border, I couldn't find anything regarding usability in Canada. I'm sure an email to Garmin would answer the question but I'm lacking the energy to do such a thing in this heat.

I can't speak for every dog owner or handler but from what I see, this looks like it meets every expectation implied by the merger.  My only regret is that given the price ($799 retail), it may be a while before I get to drive one.

Ed:  Over at the Man's Best Friend Blog, Chad Love has a preview that dives a little deeper into some of the features.

12 comments:

  1. This looks like a great unit...except for the price tag. Garmin products are solid. I see this in my future. I didn't know they had acquired Tri-Tronics, thanks for the heads up.

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    Replies
    1. It's easy to make the argument that the price is far less than what you have invested in a good bird dog, but $800 is still a lotta coin.

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  2. I used the Garmin GPS collar last year on my dog and it gave me peace of mind knowing I could find her if she hit the trail and vanished. I read on a forum where someone located their dog inside a barn trapped tight into some structure with the dog on the verge of heat stroke. The author said he'd have never found his dog without the collar.

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    Replies
    1. No question it's good for peace of mind. I'd be there are dozens of stories like the one you read, situations where the dog would have died or certainly been lost were it not for a tracking collar. If they could only figure out real-time tracking through AVID chips..

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  3. It's not the $800 that troubles me. It's the extra $300 per dog collar. I couldn't resist though. I've been limping along with my old Upland Special waiting for the new supper outfit. Hopefully it arrives in three weeks. should really add a new dimension to my hunting, or at least i hope it does.

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  4. Got it last Thursday. Mailed it back to Cabela's today. Just not the right tool for me. Hard to communicate with more than one dog. Back to the Upland Special I guess.

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  5. A lot of adjustments, but no adjustment for the sensitivity "on point" which is different for each dog. It also lacks the adjustment of the time to send the handheld status on point. I hope that garmin can allow this with a new release
    I hope it is just the translation
    Moltissime regolazioni,ma manca la regolazione per la sensibilità della ferma che è diversa per ogni cane. Manca anche la regolazione del tempo per l'invio al palmare dello stato on point. Spero che la garmin possa consentire questo con una nuova release

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  6. Hi there!

    I heard a lot of advantages of using Tritonics collars. However, since there are lots of them, what model is best for those beginners.

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    1. Depends on whether you want to track your dog or just need an electronic training collar. As a beginner, any in the Sportsman series would be just fine and would not break your budget, but these don't have the GPS tracking capability. They have a new line under the Garmin name called the Delta that I'm not familiar. Price is very low on these as well and they may be the replacement line for the Sportsman series.

      Only the Astro and Alpha lines have GPS tracking, and naturally they're a bit more of an investment.

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  7. Est-il possible de le traduire en Français?

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    Replies
    1. Oui, sans doute le moyen le plus simple est d'utiliser Google Translate. Surlignez le texte intégral de ce message et cliquez à droite copie appuyez sur Ctrl-C. Aller à translate.google.com et coller dans la case de gauche. Cliquez Anglais-dessus de la case de gauche et français au-dessus de la boîte à droite et vous devriez voir la traduction complète dans la case de droite.

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