Garmin Alpha 300 vs. Alpha 200

Is the Alpha 300 that much better than the Alpha 200?

This is probably the most asked question we have been getting lately and while I am still figuring out the 300 and waiting for the new TT25 and T20 collars (covered in another post) to arrive to get some real feedback I figured it was worth putting out what I know so far.

-Screen Brightness

While the Alpha 200 screen never bothered me especially during daylight hunts but I can say the Alpha 300 has much better brightness and color depiction. This makes it easier to see the maps and not have everything blend together with dog tracks, maps, etc.

-Processing Speed

The Alpha 300 has a higher processing speed and cuts down a lot on the lag when scrolling or zoom changes on the map and changing between functions.

-Battery Life

Garmin list the Alpha 300 at 55 hours of battery life nearly triple of what I got out of the Alpha 200.

-USB-C Charger

One thing I disliked about the Alpha 200 was the Micro-USB charging port. It felt so fragile and you had to make sure the charger was inserted the right direction. The Alpha 300 now has a USB-C charger which to me is a much better design, doesn't have a up or down position and seems better constructed.

-Group Sharing and Channel View Scans

While someone hunting 1 dog at a time or by themselves may not find this useful it is a huge improvement for those that run with others, with multiple dogs or go to the hunts and are tired of the interference issues that seem to pop up at those events.

Group Sharing expands on what the 200 brought with the ability to create groups of dogs and turn on/off the tracking of those groups which made it great if you ran Beagles or Coyote Hounds with different groups of friends. Just add them once move them to a group and then you could turn them on when you were hunting with them or off when you were with someone else. Group Sharing allows you now to share the entire group of those collars with another Alpha 300 instead of having to have the person add each dog. I do not believe this feature will be available on the older devices.

Channel View Scan allows you to scan every channel (Dog ID) frequency and it will tell you what numbers have interference allowing you to select a channel without interference before you get that dreaded interference message after cutting the dog loose.

-Wireless update and collar controls

With the new TT25 and T20 collars coming out Garmin made it easier than ever to update the collars. Now once your handheld is connected to your network you will be able to connect the collars and they will automatically sync for updates while charging. Eliminating the need to plug them into the computer for updates.

The new collars also feature 7 different color led beacon lights that will be able to changed from the handheld during the hunt.

I have not confirmed yet if this feature will be available with the Alpha 200 or Alpha 10 but will once they arrive. While the collars themselves will work with the Astro 430 and Alpha 100 as well I do not believe these features will be available unless Garmin releases software updates for the older units which is unlikely.

-Birdseye and Mapping

One change from the Alpha 200 that I am still not 100% on board with is the mapping. You can certainly still run the Garmin Map Cards by putting the card in under the battery. However, in the past I just used the Birdseye Direct feature on the Alpha 200 and downloaded the imagery for the areas I hunted locally and it didn't cost me anything with the 200 (I still used Map Cards as well for other areas). Garmin has designed the Alpha 300 to utilize their Outdoor Maps+ platform. While it looks like it provides a lot more mapping solutions and is updated regularly, it does require a yearly subscription plan through Garmin. For those that don't want to pay the subscription Map Cards still work fine as well!

-Menu Options

The menus on the Alpha 300 are a lot easier to customize so you can have frequently used options on the same screen instead of having to navigate menus to find something quickly. The ability to drag and drop items like on your cell phone makes the Alpha 300 much more user friendly than the Alpha 200 series

-Conclusion

I have only been using the Alpha 300 around the shop a couple weeks and in the woods the past week or so but it definitely has impressed me over my 200. I am looking forward to getting the new collars so we can really put a good comparison out.

I can say that the Alpha 300 finally seems to address the issues with each previous model and should be around for the long haul. For those still running the Alpha 100 it make take a little getting used to but I think once you switch you will really like the Alpha 300.

The Alpha 200 is still available and cheaper than the 300 and has served me well since they came out. For the Alpha 100 guys unfortunately the time will come when you'll have to upgrade as I believe the Alpha 100 is going to be discontinued once the current stock is gone. At that time I would highly recommend the Alpha 300.

We don't stock the Alpha 100 but currently can still get them for those interested, we will continue to carry the Alpha 200 as well as the Alpha 10 and Alpha 300. Also, the reason we don't show the 200i and 300i versions on the website is because the i version just provides InReach capability and requires a subscription through Garmin. Since most of our customers don't utilize that feature we stock the standard version which saves the customer some money. For those wanting the i series we certainly can get those for you.

 

We will post another review once we get the new collars and have some time to experiment with them as well.

 

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