Garmin Answers the Call With Launch of Alpha 200i
By Mark Zepp, Garmin Regional Sales Manager
When I am at large hound events and updating software on Garmin products, I often hear people say, when referring to their Alpha® 100, “How could you possibly improve this product? It is the best thing ever invented for hunting dogs.”
Well, Garmin answered that question this month when it introduced in the United States the new Alpha® 200i.
I have been lucky to get to use one for several months now, and I can tell you it would be difficult to go back to using my Alpha 100.
How’s it better? What’s improved? Is it worth the extra money?
Here are some thoughts:
- The Alpha 200i has a larger screen (3.5” versus the 3” screen on the Alpha 100), but I think that sounds “misleading.” When you set them next to each other, the screen on the 200i looks much larger, at least half again the size of the Alpha 100, and it certainly seems like that while out in the woods.
The most important note here is not only is the screen larger, but it also is very bright and very readable on bright, sunny days. Most folks using an Alpha 100 on a sunny day sometimes find it challenging to read the screen. The Alpha 200i has a sunlight-readable capacitive touchscreen, which means the brighter the sunlight is outside, the brighter and easier it is for the hunter to clearly see and read it. For beaglers, squirrel and bird dog fanciers, running dog, big game, hog dog men or anyone using this during the daylight hours, this is a huge improvement.
- When you on turn the 200i, it is much easier to use or understand than the Alpha 100. Engineers call this “the user interface.”
Many hunters thought that all the options on the menu of the Alpha 100 could be confusing. There are fewer choices on the 200i, so icons like “Man Overboard,” while popular on marine products but not so practical for finding your dog, now don’t take up room on the menu page of your dog tracking device. The icons that were on the Alpha 100, which had nothing to do with tracking or training of your dogs are still available, but they are not on the main menu, making it easier for a hunter to read and navigate through the Alpha 200i.
The main purpose of Garmin’s Alpha product line is to easily keep track of and find your dog. The Alpha 200i does a better job of this than the Alpha 100 simply because it is easier and less confusing to use.
- The Alpha 200i is a much better training device, or e-collar.
I don’t think hound guys ever had too much of an issue using the Alpha 100 as an e-collar and training device because they predominantly used it for trash breaking and recall, using the tone butto. Trainers with several dogs, however, may have found it difficult to quickly switch from dog to dog, and bird dog men sometimes found it difficult to quickly change stim levels and stim types.
The 200i quickly changes stimulation types and makes it easier to quickly switch from dog to dog.
- The ability to download BirdsEye Satellite Imagery directly to the Alpha 200i makes it so easy to always be in charge of your navigation.
Virtually everybody who uses BirdsEye loves it, and it comes included on all HuntView Plus map purchases. I highly recommend HuntView for ease of use and the fact that, along with the satellite imagery, it gives you property boundaries and landowner names.
If you plan on downloading satellite imagery wirelessly direct to the device, you will still need to buy a microSD card, preferably 16GB to 32GB, depending upon the amount of land you want to download. It is much easier for customers to do this themselves on the Alpha 200i.
- If you hunt out west or in other areas of the country where there is little or no phone reception, or you or your children are traveling out of the country for any reason — even that once-a-year fishing trip to Canada for vacation — you can be confident in knowing that the Alpha 200i has Garmin’s inReach® technology*. I will write a separate article on inReach soon, but for now, know that it allows you to have two-way global communication with family or friends via text messaging. If there would be any type of emergency, you can also instantly send out an SOS or rescue signal informing emergency workers of your location. This is amazing technology.
There is a monthly fee to use the inReach feature.
- If you hunt with several different people or groups of people, which is common with deer, hog, bear, and lion hunters, the Alpha 200i is a dream come true.
Like the Alpha 100, the Alpha 200i allows you to track 20 dogs at a time, but the 200i handheld can store up to 100 different collars. This means every time you hunt with a different group you can simply change from one group to another. You no longer have to delete the collars from one group of hunting buddies and then take the time to add in additional collars.
- Those who competition hunt are going to love the new stopwatch feature on this product, too. It not only has a countdown feature, it also has four additional separate timers that can be used to keep time on the same of the other dogs in your cast or brace while at a Nite Hunt or field trial.
Over the coming months, I look forward to covering more commonly asked questions about this product. Thank you for reading.
Good hunting, friends!