I haven’t worn a watch for years. When it came to monitoring my activities, I’ve been using bike computers for as long as I can remember. When Coros watches landed at Pushys Online, I was lucky enough to receive a Vertix in the Ice Breaker colourway for a user review, and I can honestly say, that I had no idea just how capable this unit would be when I first fastened it to my wrist.
- What is it? – GPS sports and adventure watch
- What has it got? – GPS, Bluetooth, ANT+, O2 and HR monitoring, Altimiter, Accelerometer, Compass, Gyroscope, Thermometer.
- Features – Waterproof to 150M, temperature range of -20 to 60C, 45 days of battery life.
- Cost – 1129.00
- Where can you get one? –Pushys Online
The Set-Up Process
My naive perception of the smartwatch market had the new name of Coros in an uphill battle to the likes of Garmin, Fitbit, Apple and Samsung. This was unfair of me as I haven’t worn even a basic watch for a long time now. However, Coros was quick to erode my prejudice as I began to set it up. With the watch in one hand, and the Coros phone app in the other, the setup was super simple. First you enter easy details about yourself like height, weight, and activity frequency. Then onto basic watch settings to finish with customisation. The companion app is a real treat. The vast features of the watch are understated by how easy it is to use in conjunction with the app to best align it to how you want to use it. The hardest part was picking which 5 of the 64 watch faces I wanted to have loaded into it! You can change the 5 in your quiver at anytime and cycle the background colours for a different feel right on the watch. The buttons have a positive tactile feel, scrolling knob is especially smooth, and the titanium face texture is stylish enough to go with a suit. It has a scratch-proof sapphire glass screen, 45 day regular use battery life that takes 2 hours to charge, and is waterproof rated to a depth of 150 meters. All these features are packed into a 54 gram total weight! I’m impressed…
Among these features, I was particularly interested in the HR and GPS accuracy of a wrist-mounted system. For the longest time now I have been using bike computers to record my data – most recently the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt. I was under the impression that watches weren’t as accurate with their inbuilt sensors and were restricted by the compact chassis they come in. The Vertix left me pleasantly surprised to the contrary. First up, Optical HR. Optical HR Systems work on a mouthful of a process called photoplethysmography. We’re just going to call that PPG. PPG gets heart rate data by emitting green light into your wrist. The light reflected off pulsing veins is then processed by a sensor in the backside of the watch to calculate your heart rate. This is an impressively compact alternative to wearing a chest strap heart rate monitor that are better aligned to calculate pulse from electronic signals.
The Heart Rate Sensor
Although the Optical HR in the Vertix is already on the back foot, I’m impressed to say it always got within 4 bpm of a chest strap reading only delayed by a few seconds or so (even at the high end of 180bpm +). In my week of wearing this though, I did notice on the lower side of the scale (<90bpm) it is calculated to be considerably higher than a chest strap monitor. When the watch had me in the 80s, my Wahoo TICKR said 60s. This is no discredit to the Vertix as it is limited by the system it is equipped with, but I know it is worthy of being a great on-the-mark-with-change heart rate monitor for daily tracking and exercise estimates for anyone. For those fitness nuts like me, you’ll be glad to know if you want a chest strap monitor without the bike computer you can hook it up to the Vertix via ANT+ in a matter of seconds. The connection doesn’t stop at chest strap monitors though. Throughout the week I had this watch tracking my indoor rides with my Garmin Cadence, Wahoo KICKR Core, and Wahoo TICKR all at once! Great just got better.
I was curious about the GPS tracking accuracy of the Coros unit versus a dedicated mounted bike computer. Therefore, I pitted my ELEMNT Bolt against the Vertix to track my Sunday morning ride.
I was hoping I wasn’t going to be subject to creating a time warp with two GPS systems on the go, they thankfully played nicely together. To compare the two, I was most interested in the tracked distance, elevation gain, and speed at particular points. The Coros tracked 450m more than the bike computer. Honestly, that could be put down to the auto-pause feature that got abused on my 1km hill repeats. The bike computer clocked a total elevation gain of 545m and a maximum speed of 59km/h. The Coros had me climbing 443m and a maximum speed of 60.7km/h. 1.7km/h for a wrist based watch is an acceptable variance flying under trees on a bike way. As for the elevation however, I actually found the ELEMNT Bolt wasn’t calculating the same elevation for the start of my repeats and put me down for more meters than I actually climbed! I’ll take it as a compliment, but the Coros had you on this round, Wahoo! Back to reality though, a direct comparison to these units is unjust as the Coros wrist watch is boxing a weight category below the Wahoo bike computer. It is just a great way to show how far sports watch technology has come and the features and relative accuracy that is ready to go in the wrist-mounted package. Coros has done everything to compliment the activity tracking watch market.
Activity tracking is the name of the game at Coros. There are many smartwatches out there to tell the time and more. The Apex, Pace and Vertix are more aligned as an athlete’s best friend, though. The Vertix will track you even when you’re not in a dedicated activity mode and give you calories burnt, heart rate, temperature, and steps along with its climber aligned metrics of temperature, air pressure change, elevation and even estimated blood oxygen saturation at altitude (wow!). These watches are for the mover, but even when you’re horizontal in bed, they’ll track your sleep with light sleep and deep sleep readings mixed in with ongoing heart rate to help calculate when you’ll be fully recovered for your next hit out.
If you’ve skipped to the end, this is what to read.
Pushys Online is all about connecting riders and multi-sport athletes the world over to the latest and best gear money can buy. After having this watch for a week, I am confident that Coros’ range sits among the top of the best value products available to anyone wanting to get more serious about their fitness. Whether you want to win a Hawaii Ironman, get better estimates about your body function throughout the day, or just hit some new fitness goals, Coros has got the tech to get you there. The reviewed Vertix comes across as a hardcore athlete’s watch but I was personally surprised at how the clean UI and smart accessibility combines into user-friendliness that can scale up or down to your goals. I feel like I didn’t even use it to its full potential in a whole week! I commend Coros for coming into a saturated sports watch market to deliver something that is truly inspired for athletes but doesn’t scare away the weekend warrior. When crunch time comes, you will be scaring yourself with what you can achieve with a Coros on your wrist!