Review: Garmin Instinct Esports Edition

7

Good

One of Garmin’s more popular outdoor watches, the Garmin Instinct recently received an addition to the lineup in the form of the Garmin Instinct Esports Edition. It has all the regular features of the original Instinct but has an added feature that allows a user to stream their stats like Heart-rate and stress level to a PC, which can be added to an overlay on a live stream.

Outdoor watch for an indoor activity

The Garmin Instinct is known for its rugged and durable design that just screams outdoor adventures, and there’s no difference for the Esports Edition. From what I can gather, it’s not quite as rugged as the other Instinct watches available, but will still do just fine should you turn off the PC and venture outside for a bit. The watch is water-resistant up to 10m, so keeping it on while you shower shouldn’t pose any problems for it. It also sports an impressive battery life, with it advertised at around 14 days in Smartwatch mode. In reality though, I only managed around 10 days with one charge, but that is still pretty impressive.

The standard features that you can expect from a smartwatch are present here, with HR tracking, an impressive GPS and of course step counts. The Instinct Esports also does a fair enough job of sleep tracking, though I feel my Samsung Galaxy Watch 46mm does a better job at that.  You can also receive and view notifications for your phone, and even answer your phone using the watch. Overall, my initial impressions of the watch were pretty good, but in reality, I struggled to use it effectively.

The biggest issue for me was the watch controls in everyday use. The Instinct doesn’t feature touch screen controls, which is understandable, but also something to get used to. Instead, you navigate the watch using the five buttons, three on the left side of the frame and the other two on the right. Each of the buttons has two options or menus reachable either by a press or a long press. The menus work fine and navigating to where you want to go once you get a hang of it isn’t too bad, but the issue for me was which buttons are used for the navigation. When scrolling through menus, you use the middle and bottom buttons on the left side to go up and down, and the top right button to select and bottom right to go back. The design makes sense, and I can’t see any other way, but it felt awkward to me and I struggled to get used to it.

Showing those beats

The biggest feature of the Instinct Esports is the ability to broadcast your HR to your streaming using the Garmin STR3AMUP! overlay. This is done by connecting the watch to your gaming rig or streaming device via Bluetooth. You can then add an overlay into your live stream that shows your HR or stress level to your audience. It’s obviously geared towards competitive play (it’s in the name), but it can also make for an interesting stream when doing stuff like horror games. It’s a pretty nifty feature, but it’s not perfect.

First off, my gaming PC, like so many out there, doesn’t have a Bluetooth radio built-in, so a dongle, adapter or card should be acquired if you want to you this feature and your motherboard isn’t equipped with it. Also, the instructions weren’t that clear, but you need to add the device using the Windows Bluetooth device settings in order for it to pick up in the STR3AMUP! software. Once I it got going, it works pretty well, giving you an overlay that you can include into your streaming software such as OBS. I tested the HR broadcast using a laptop that is not used for gaming, so couldn’t test it while playing, but the STR3AMUP! software works well enough and getting it incorporated into OBS was easy enough.

Are there better options?

The Garmin Instinct Esports Edition is a solid watch, but I’m not completely sold on it. The rugged outdoor design looks cool, but it’s not really suited for the indoor activity that this watch is for. I also feel the broadcasting is a bit of a gimmick, and unless you really want the feature for your streams or Esports experience. Even then, I feel it can be added as a feature to other Garmin watches in the future.

The Instinct Esports Edition is decently priced for a smartwatch, especially in the Garmin range, but I also feel that you can get much better options from competitive brands that offer much better functionality and experience. The broadcasting is a neat feature, but not enough to warrant a full recommendation for it. If you really want a rugged, outdoor watch with smartwatch functionality, then maybe the other watching in the Garmin Instinct range might be worth a look.

Good

  • Rugged design and build quality | Impressive battery life | HR Broadcasting is pretty neat

Bad

  • Awkward menu navigation | Instructions for setting up broadcasting isn't that clear | Main feature feels a bit like a gimmick

Summary

The Garmin Instinct Esports Edition, like all other Garmin watches, is extremely well built, looks cool and is functional. It sports an impressive battery life, and steps and sleep tracking is on point. The STR3AMUP! broadcasting and overlay it offers is also a neat feature. I do however feel it is a bit of a gimmick that some might use a bit and never again. There are a select few that might find value in the feature, but for everyone else, there are potentially better options available.
7

Good

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