Garmin Alpha 200i
Not Just for the Dogs
Recently, I linked up with some great folks over at Garmin and was convinced to test out their new Garmin Alpha 200i. They talked me into it, knowing that I didn’t run hounds but have a shed dog that loves to run. The testing then shifted to Colorado without the dog. What I found was incredibly useful for those that want a training, tracking, and mapping unit all in one.
Garmin Alpha 200i Details
Before we get this review started, I want to run through the details of the product.
Handheld Unit Description
Display Resolution: 282 X 470 pixels
Display Type: transflective, color TFT touchscreen
Weight: 9.9 oz.
Battery Type: Rechargeable Lithium-ion
Battery Life: Up to 20 hours; 15 hours with inReach technology enabled
Water Rating: IPX7
Interface: High-speed USB
Memory: 16 GB
Preloaded Maps: TopoActive
Ability to Add Maps: Yes
Automatic Routing: Yes
Tracks: Up to 20 dogs
Track log: 20,000 points, 250 saved gpx tracks, 300 saved fit activities
Stored contacts: 250 dogs w/ group management
Barometric altimeter: Yes
Livetrack: Yes, with Garmin Explore
Interactive SOS: Yes
Send and Receive text messages to sms and email: Yes
Exchange locations with other INREACH device: Yes
Virtual keyboard for custom messaging: Yes
Send waypoints to mapshare during trip: Yes
Send route selection to mapshare during trip: Yes
Important note: These specs were taken from the Garmin site. CLICK HERE
Like most advanced mapping and dog tracking/training tools, the Garmin Alpha 200i is larger than single-focus units like the InReach Mini.That is just the way it is. If we examine the capabilities of the units side-by-side the Alpha 200i spans hound work and explorer needs all in one.
The 3.5-inch display is great in the early morning hours when sleepy eyes are waking. If you have the brightness settings perfected for low-light hours the display won’t override your sight. The quick/hot buttons on the top of the displays are super easy to correct. I set mine up so the center, textured button was on vibrate, the left button at low, the right button I set as my panic button.
I also found navigating screens and set up a breeze.Everything about the handheld unit is intuitive and functional. For those that run smartphones, the Garmin Alpha 200i is just as easy to navigate as your favorite smartphone platform.
The TT 15 dog collar was great. I fretted over the bulkiness and if the GSP would have difficulty running through thick brush, but that wasn’t the case. The pup adjusted to the collar with zero issues. If you do worry about bulk on the collar Garmin offers smaller versions.
Antenna length was longer than I anticipated. When running the handheld unit with a heavy pack, I clipped the Garmin Alpha 200i on the waistbelt of the pack. With that much length, the Alpha 200i rode uncomfortably high.
Even if I eliminate the pack and run the handheld unit on a belt it still rides higher than I’d like. A lanyard would be a nice addition to the pack just as another way to transport the device, but with a weight of nearly 10 oz., I can see how that would dissuade folks from running it around their neck.
MAPPING AND TRACKING
Garmin does an excellent job downloading the necessary maps yet offering the opportunity to upload additional mapping services likeBaseMap. I prefer a different mapping service, but found the TopoActive map that Garmin uses adequate for western hunting or down in the southeast where I performed most of the testing.
The accuracy of the tracking and distance were perfect. I utilized this feature everyday to track both handler and dog. Both read within.002 of a mile between each reading. I didn’t have the ability to run multiple dogs on the unit or manage groups of hounds, but those would be excellent features for any hunters running a big group of dogs.
With regards to mapping, the only issue I found was false readings on whether the pup was treed or pointing. Most times when I’d receive an alert, he was moving slower than normal. I love the feature, but it seems I got more false reports than normal.
It all boils down to what is your intended use for the Alpha200i? If you are a die-hard trainer, competitor, hound runner, big cat hunter, or running multiple dogs, the Alpha 200i is for you. My GSP doesn’t range far enough to warrant such a unit. I utilize a Garmin Delta XC unit that runs unbelievably great. My wife loves it for her walks and keeping the GSP in line, and since it is smaller she can pack it away in her fanny pack while out. I enjoy it because it is dependable and rugged.
Whichever unit you select, Garmin runs true when it comes to your dog(s). It’s exciting to see how far we’ve come in dog tracking and location services. I can only imagine where they will take it from here. ~ KJ
Kevin Jarnagin (KJ) hails from Oklahoma but quickly established Louisiana roots after joining the Gun Talk team. KJ grew up as a big game hunter and often finds himself in a bass boat. Whether it’s making his way to British Columbia for elk or training with pistols, KJ always seems to find a gun in his hands and adventure on his mind.