What Should I Buy – Garmin Alpha 100 or Astro 430?
Do you have a big decision to make when it comes to which dog tracking system to buy? If so, you’re in luck, because we’re going to compare the Garmin Alpha 100 and Astro 430. Both of these systems are top-of-the-line options, but they do have their pros and cons. So, let’s take a closer look at each one and see which one is the best fit for your needs.
Actually, the key difference between Alpha 100 and Astro 430 is that Astro 430 is only a tracking system for sporting dogs and is perfect for challenging environments rather than GPS alone, while Alpha 100 is a multi-dog tracking GPS and remote training device in one. Thus with Alpha 100 you can also send signals to your dog and train it. Some hunters even say that Astro 430 is Alpha 100 without training. But of course there are some more distinctive features for each model. Let’s make a closer look at them,
How Does Garmin Astro 430 Stand Against Alpha 100?
|ALPHA 100||ASTRO 430|
|2.5 x 6.5 x 1.5”||2.4″ x 6.3″ x 1.4″|
|COLOR DISPLAY SIZE|
|1.53″W x 2.55″H, 3″ diag||1.43″ x 2.15″ (3.6 x 5.5 cm); 2.6″ diag|
|240 x 400 pixels||160 x 240 pixels|
|WEIGHT (with antenna & battery)|
|8.8 oz||9.2 oz|
|WATER PROTECTION RATING|
|10,000 points, 200 saved tracks||10,000 points, 200 saved tracks|
|18 training levels of continuous and momentary stimulation
Tone and vibration alerts
|HUNT METRICS DATA ANALISIS|
Handheld and Dog Device
|Garmin Alpha 100 Bundle||
Handheld and Dog Device
|Garmin Astro 430 Bundle||
Verified Users’ Feedback
We have tested both devices (Alpha 100 in the field) and had discussions with experienced hunters, with their real not-one-day experience in the field, forest, mountains and lakes. Some of them used both devices, some – only one, and they explain why in short.
Garmin Astro 430 is rather easy to use. You can operate it all day for tracking with the now available rechargeable batteries. At the same time, it is longer in range than the Alpha 100, appr. twice. Many hunters prefer Astro 430 for older dogs which don’t need any behaviour corrections.
Garmin Alpha 100 has some neat features and a lot more range. If you hunt private and need land ownership info it may be beneficial to get the Alpha 100 system. For some hunters it is useful to know how many hours their dogs ran, how many miles, how fast. They like that at the end of the day they can easily plot the day on a map on a big computer screen. This also helps to see the missed areas and can give an idea of how thoroughly the terrain was covered. GPS in the woods helps to instantly mark a covey, to show quickly how to get back to the car. Or even to advise how to get back to the car without working the same path. Alpha functions perfectly as a training device with one dog, but goes slow to switch between dogs. It has a much more sophisticated screen, but it’s hard to see what’s on it with if wearing polarised sunglasses. By the way, Garmin have improved this in it new Alpha 200i.
Here we would like to make stress on the most distinctive features we liked while testing the gadgets.
Garmin Astro 430
- High-sensitivity GPS satellite reception has the ability to track in more challenging environments than GPS alone
- Astro 430 can support unit-to-unit data transfer with a variety of compatible Garmin devices like Garmin Drive Track and Garmin Watches and many more
- Sophisticated Hunt Metrics data helps monitor your dog’s hunting patterns and behaviours to optimise your training opportunities
General Impression of Astro 430 and its new improvements
Speaking of the Astro 430, it is impossible to avoid a little comparison with Garmin Astro 320, since it is its direct forerunner. And it’s proper to say what features are improved on Astro 430.
- This is an orange housing that is more visible if you lose it.
- A brighter display that is better visible in the sun and in the dark, and in the woods, and in all other environments.
- The device is equipped with GLONASS, which means that earlier only the collars could track via GPS and GLONASS, and now this feature is available in the handheld itself.
- Based on the family of travel navigators GPSMAP 64, while the previous Astro generation used an element base of an older portable series GPSMAP 62.
- And they also added the ability to track Garmin Alpha 100 handheld, that is, Astro 430 can see the Garmin Alpha 100 on your screen and track it. That way you can see the dogs and see other hunting buddies who have Alpha 100. But Alpha 100 owners can’t see the Astro 430 because the Astro 430 doesn’t have a transmitter on it. It only has a radio receiver.
- Faster update rate – 2,5 sec, the same now as for Alpha 100.
- Now available rechargeable battery pack, sold separately.
- Location alerts as in the Alpha 100, so you can make a geofence if your dogs get out of that geofence, or if you have a boundary – set up a custom boundary, you can be alerted when the dog enters or leaves that.
Alpha without a training mode
Another important feature of the Astro 430 is the ability to track dog collars together with the Alpha 100. Recall that previously there was only a feature to use the T5/TT15 collars separately for Astro and Alpha trackers. In fact, this device offers all of the capabilities of a true Alpha, except for the dog training and tracking features of the trackers themselves.
Remote dog bark detection is a very important feature when hunting, as long as it works correctly, that is, without false alarms. The new version of the bark detection algorithm was until recently only available to Alpha 100 owners, but now Garmin Astro 430 owners can use it. The essence of the new HD BarkDetect algorithm is to adjust the sensitivity of the bark detection sensor. Even dogs of the same breed can bark with different intensity and volume levels.
Previously, all the parameters of the tracked dog could only be seen on the display of the handheld device. But the Garmin Astro 430 offers much more convenience when you’re out hunting. From now on, you can track your dog’s collar with a Fenix 3 watch and several other portable Garmin gadgets. You can clip the navigator itself to your belt or put it in your pocket and track your dog’s movements on your watch, which must be within 10 meters of the navigator itself. In fact, the smart watch will act as a mobile display for the Astro 430.
Garmin Alpha 100
- Measure each dog’s speed, distance and the direction being traveled
- Combines GPS dog tracking with Tri-Tronics® electronic dog training technology
- Helps you train and control your dogs to stop chasing unwanted game
Together with our German Shorthaired Pointer Freya, we have tested the Garmin Alpha 100 and despite bad weather tough bushy terrain, the device and its touch function have worked excellently.
The touch screen, which is the first of its kind, turned out to be user-friendly, so you can easily navigate through the menus. When it was snowy we wore thin leather gloves and the screen worked well even then. The ease of grip also gives a good first impression and the good ergonomics are important because you use the handheld so much out in the woods. Freya also seemed happy to wear the collar, Garmin T5, which we also took the opportunity to test. Something we both appreciated was that the antenna is smartly mounted in the collar, which means that the dog does not get stuck in grass and branches that lie on the ground.
The Garmin Alpha 100 updates every few seconds and there is also the option to configure so-called geofence areas. This means that you can avoid places and situations that can be dangerous for the dogs while hunting; such as busy roads or steep precipices. If they are near danger, it is much easier to locate them and bring back to safety.
Another function is the emergency light, which can be good, for example, when searching, or in other situations where the dogs still come close to roads. One more thing that is good from safety point of view is that hunters can also see where each of them is. Our personal impression it’s the biggest upgrade compared to its predecessors. The device comes with a rechargeable battery. But despite the low temperature, there was never any cause for concern. It turned out to be a powerful battery that was enough for the whole hunting day, and certainly more for that.
Tracking Dogs or Buddies
The system provides the opportunity to track up to 20 dogs or other hunters and through vibration and tone we were able to easily communicate with Freya during the hunting occasions. With Garmin Alpha 100 you also avoid paying for any subscription. Once you have bought the product, just go out into the woods to hunt. The overall impression is that it is a user-friendly and reliable dog guide that can really be recommended.
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No matter Astro 430 has a longer range than Alpha 100, it does not have the training mode to communicate with the collar. The Alpha 100 would be a much better choice for all the dog trainers, as Garmin Astro 430 is a tracking system only handheld device, and Garmin Alpha 100 is two-in-one track-and-train-system.
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