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Reviews > Electronic Devices > Watches > Origo Rendezvous Peak > Test Report by Curt Peterson
Origo Rendezvous Peak Series Watch
Report Series by Curt Peterson
Initial Report - September 2009
Field Report - December 2009
Final Report - February 2010
Tester Background and Contact Information
Name: Curt Peterson
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight: 270 lb (122 kg)
Email address: curt<at>backpackgeartest<dot>org
Location: North Bend, Washington, USA
I live in the Cascade foothills, just 20 mi (32 km) from the Pacific Crest Trail via trails leading right from my backyard. My outdoor time in Washington is spent dayhiking, backpacking, climbing, fishing and skiing everywhere from the Olympic coast to rainforests to Cascade volcanoes to dry steppe. I played football in college and often evaluate products from a big guy perspective. My typical pack load ranges from 11 - 20 lbs (5-9 kg) and usually includes plenty of wet weather gear.
I've always been a fan of altimeter watches. When I'm on a known trail and losing the path is unlikely, I find that in the Cascades navigation can be very easily done with nothing more than a map and altimeter. Because most trails out here are either going up or down - there aren't many flat walks in the Cascades - a quick glance at the altimeter and then finding where that elevation contour intersects the trail gives a pretty accurate location. I've used this method enough over the past 15 years that I can typically figure out where I am on a trail within just a few seconds, often without the need to even stop moving. The entire system, of course, depends on an accurate altimeter. Quickly changing weather patterns can cause significant altimeter drift, so I've gone through a number of altimeter watches. I've used at least 5 different altimeter watches in this way and still have not found the perfect watch. I'm curious to see if the Origo Rendezvous Peak watch can allow me to use this method of finding my location in a clean, quick, accurate way and do it in a comfortable package that brings some other useful features along for the ride.
Part of Origo's AccuSense line, the Rendezvous Peak is a fully featured watch that brings more than just an altimeter to the feature list. Here's Origo's description with a full list of the watch's capabilities:
The Rendezvous Peak cycles through these features in a pretty fluid and predictable way. With only 4 buttons on the watch, remembering what each does is pretty simple. The one that gets the big workout is the bottom left: MODE. This button cycles through the different capabilities of the watch in sequence: TIME > COMPASS > BAROMETER > ALTIMETER > ALTIMETER DATA > CHRONOGRAPH > CHRONOGRAPH DATA > ALARM > TIMER > back to TIME.
Inside of each of these modes, the top left button usually adjusts or calibrates the main feature, the top right starts and stops and turns on and off various features in the respective modes, and the bottom right resets data. This is not an exhaustive list of exactly what the buttons do in each mode, but in general these are their primary functions. The buttons require a firm push to engage, but are not so stiff that they are difficult. After having used some watches with very mushy buttons, these are a pleasant change for the better.
One of my favorite aspects of the Rendezvous Peak is that there is a lot of information visible without going through the modes at all. On the "home" TIME screen, weather is visible (although tiny), temperature, date, time, battery remaining, and a visual seconds ring that works its way around the circumference of the display. It's great to have all that information available at a glance without touching a single button. The manual, which spells the name of the product incorrectly on the cover, is tiny and actually the first watch manual I would have no problem bringing with me on a trip.
On my initial uses, I've found a few strengths, a few quirks to the Rendezvous Peak, and a few concerns. For strengths, my first couple uses of the altimeter have shown it to be very accurate and easy to use. This is the feature that is most important to me, so I'm happy to see it seems to be a strong point of the watch. I also like the simple user interface and easy navigation. I don't want to have to read the manual to figure out how to use features and so far the limited stuff I've tried is pretty intuitive. The quirks are mostly regarding "comfort" aspects, so these can be chalked up as personal preferences. To me, the watch seems pretty bulky. The main part of the watch is pretty thick, but it's the band that makes it bulky. It's easily the most substantial and stiff watch band I've ever used. In fact, I find it difficult to wear because the curve is so built in and inflexible that it doesn't wrap around my big wrists comfortably. There is no hinging at the joint where the band meets the watch, so the curvature is fixed. I often attach altimeter watches to my sternum strap and this watch works well this way, but seeing how easily after market watch bands work with the Rendezvous Peak will be something I'll be sure and note in future tests. Another quirk is that the weather icons are extremely small - almost unusably small. The reverse display (black background with light numbers) is a refreshing change from the watch displays I've used in the past, but it is very dim in all but sunlight. The backlight is also pretty weak and I find myself having to put the watch pretty close to my face and looking at it from multiple angles to read the display. Most of the time I use the watch it will obviously be outdoors, so I'm not too concerned about it, but it is a little odd and I've never used a watch that was this difficult to easily read the display. My only concern at this early stage is with the battery life. It might be completely a non-issue, but the watch arrived dead as a doornail but with a spare battery in the box. I installed the new battery right away. This is easy to do as a user and this is very much appreciated after having some watches in the past that required a jeweler to swap it out or risk voiding the warranty. Big thanks to Origo for this! Within just a couple days, however, the battery icon was down to almost empty. Now, it's possible that this was not a new battery or that it had been sitting for a long time and wasn't fresh. Receiving a dead watch and having the first battery replacement drain quickly is not encouraging, however. I'll most definitely be installing a brand new battery and reporting on how the watch behaves with it.
I look forward to putting the Origo Rendezvous Peak through its paces over the next 4 months!
Initial Report Summary
The Origo Rendezvous Peak watch has seen pretty solid use during the past couple months. It was used on a car camping overnighter in September, a 5 day trip to the remote Enchantments area of the Cascades, and 4 day hikes. The car camping trip and the 5 day trip saw great weather. Night temperatures approached freezing, but other than that all was picture perfect. The day hikes have been a different story. As the weather changed and late fall arrived, the weather has been much uglier. All but one of the dayhikes has involved significant precipitation. One had a mix of snow and sleet. All have had temps just below or just above freezing. The mostly windy and wet miserable weather we've had in most of October and November have been good testing conditions, but not very pleasant!
I think the best way to organize the first part of the review is to cover the watch by function in the order they cycle through on the watch modes:
Testing grounds for the Origo's first trip
FIT: As I noted in the Initial Report, I find the band pretty annoying. I've used it almost exclusively on my pack's sternum strap. This has worked great and actually the super stiff band becomes an asset used this way. I can rotate it so the face is up and it's so stiff that it actually stays put. I need only glance down and I have all the info right there and don't even need to bring my wrist up to see things on the "home" screen. I will try to fit it with an after market band to see if it works better for me that way. It does not appear as though Origo offers any replacement band alternatives. It is as stiff as the day it arrived and has not softened or relaxed in the slightest.
BACKLIGHT: The backlit display is definitely best in bright light. It is still difficult to see clearly in half light or dim light. Direct light - natural or headlamp beam - works fine. The blue backlight does an adequate job of lighting up the display in darkness, but it is weaker than I'm used to and I need to hold it pretty close to my face to make out the details on the display.
BATTERY: My biggest concern from the Initial Report has proved to be a major issue. As I noted in the Initial Report, the battery that came in the Rendezvous Peak was completely dead. I swapped it out before my backpacking trip with a replacement that Origo had provided. This battery was not packaged but placed loosely in the watch box. I had no idea if it was brand new or not, but after just a couple weeks of use it was almost dead. A dayhike later, it too was completely dead. A couple weeks ago I got a brand new sealed Duracell battery and put it in the Rendezvous Peak. It was nice to finally see the battery meter at full! I went on a dayhike and by the time I reached the summit of a local cliff the battery was down to 1 or 2 segments (4 is full). I thought maybe it was the cold temperatures since cold can affect batteries, but even after returning home it stayed weak. This third battery has not completely died, but after only a couple weeks it appears to be on its last legs. Obviously something is wrong with the battery use as a few weeks is well below the expected life in this watch.
SENSOR: A new problem has emerged in the last month. Perhaps it's battery related, but the sensor seems to bonk out frequently. In fact, it's so bad now that it's a rare thing to have it working at all. When it happens I get no altimeter, no barometer, no compass, and no temperature. At first I thought it was a bad setting and I had changed something I wasn't supposed to. I went through the entire manual and adjusted every mode if needed. Nothing changed. Finally, I figured that maybe the sensor shuts down all but core functions as the battery dies. I replaced the battery but found the same thing. All sensor functions were dead. I was about to give up and go through the Origo warranty process when I took it on one last hike a week ago to further test the timer functions. On the summit, all of the sudden the "home" screen showed a temperature reading for the first time in quite awhile. I quickly checked the other functions and sure enough, the altimeter, barometer, and compass all worked. I let out a small cheer and, amazingly, the altimeter was actually pretty close despite going through a couple battery changes and multiple adjustments without being calibrated. I was very pleased and glad to see it working again. I then pulled out my phone to check some altimeter, gps, and map data to compare with the Rendezvous Peak and make some adjustments. By the time I got the phone fired up, all watch sensor data was gone again. Oh, the disappointment!
At this point the Rendezvous Peak is utterly unreliable. I'm on the 3rd battery and even with a fresh one can't get the information I need most. It's very difficult to imagine trusting this for anything remotely critical to my navigation or altimeter needs. I'm assuming it's a defective unit and will work with Origo to find out what's going on or if a replacement is needed. I'll report on this and more in the Long Term Report.
Field Report Summary
Long Term Report
Long Term Report
Shortly after the sensor on the Origo Rendezvous Peak failed again at the end of the Field Report, I began looking into the return process. I sent an e-mail to the address on the website and did not receive a reply. It's possible the e-mail was never received or I used the incorrect one. This was also in the midst of the holiday chaos in mid-December, so I expected to need a good dose of patience with the process from the outset. Suspecting my note hadn't made it to Origo, I tried again, this time checking and double-checking to make sure I had everything just right. A few days later I received a brief reply with a return authorization number and the address to where I should send the watch. When I went to package up the watch, the battery was now completely dead. That meant that it had indeed gone through 3 batteries in 3 months. Two of them were likely brand new, and one was absolutely new off-the-shelf as I purchased it myself in November. Obviously something was wrong with the watch. I packaged it with a letter outlining the issues and sent it off to Origo.
The return system does not verify receipt or offer updates or anything like that. Once I sent it in, there was no indication of what happens next, how long it would take, or questions about my use or problems I had. I simply had to wait.
About a month later, with no e-mail, letter, call or communication, a box arrived on my doorstep with what appears to be a brand new Rendezvous Peak inside. I'm confident it is not the same watch with repaired or replaced components. It seems to me to be a new watch altogether. The documentation included is simply an invoice. Most importantly, the watch was up and running and all sensors appear to be working perfectly.
So, in many ways I'm back to where I was at the beginning of this test. I have a watch here that needs to be put through its paces and tested in the real world. Obviously durability is my greatest concern. It seems to work perfectly right now, but trusting it is a little difficult after the past 4 months of testing. The big question for me is whether that was a fluke bad watch or this is a common problem. I would highly encourage readers to check out the other BackpackGearTest.org tester reviews at http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Electronic%20Devices/Watches/Origo%20Rendezvous%20Peak/ to get other views of how this watch has performed.
Although this review is coming to a close with this report, readers can expect an update in a couple months to comment on the durability of the Origo Rendezvous Peak watch. It certainly has a lot of potential and the altimeter really is top notch, but it must be reliable to use to make it into a permanent spot on my gear list.
My thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and Origo for the opportunity to test this watch!
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