What Should I Buy – Garmin Alpha 100 or PRO 550 Plus?
Wе have analyzed for you what Garmin has made in its one of the newest PRO 550 Plus compared to a better well-known and more expensive Alpha 100 dog tracking and training system. In short, the main difference is in simple operation one-hand design of PRO 550 Plus in comparison with a more complicated Alpha 100. PRO 550 Plus keeps all robust training features from Garmin’s PRO series devices, and has got now also tracking capabilities. Alpha 100 is great with all its extra features. But it really depends on what you are looking for.
Good news – both handheld devices are compatible with the same dog collars TT 15, T 5, TT 15 mini & T 5 mini, so you can easily switch if you find PRO 550 Plus more handy, or vs, without any need to buy new dog devices. Or you can even use both.
So now let’s move on to the details and begin with technical differences.
How Does Garmin PRO 550 Plus Stand Against Alpha 100?
|Alpha 100||Pro 550 Plus|
|2.5 x 6.5 x 1.5”||2.1 x 8.2 x 1.8”|
|WEIGHT (with antenna & battery)|
|8.8 oz||7.8 oz|
|up to 20 hours life||up to 24 hours life|
|9 miles (with TT 15 & T5), 4 miles (with Mini)||2 miles|
|18 ( continuous and momentary stimulation, tone and vibration)||18 (continuous and momentary stimulation, tone and vibration)|
|Bio-metric altimeter, electronic compass||Direction shown on the display|
|DOGS OPERATED SIMULTENUOUSLY|
|Touchscreen||Digital Tracking Display|
|1.53″W x 2.55″H, 3″ diag|
|240 x 400 pixels resolution|
|ON DISPLAY At-a-GLANCE|
|your dogs moving or on-point, distance from the device, total distance traveled, speed and update rate||which direction and how far away the dogs are|
|2,5 sec – 2 min (slows down after 25 % of battery life)||2,5 sec|
|Yes. 4000 / 10,000 points, 200 saved tracks||x|
|Hunter-to-hunter position reporting with preset messaging capability||x|
|Preloaded TOPO Maps||x|
|Optional BirdsEye Satellite Imagery||x|
|Virtual boundaries on your map setup||x|
|Memory and history||x|
|Hunt and fish calendar||x|
|Sun and Moon information||x|
|Read verified customers reviews||Read verified customers reviews|
Handheld and Dog Device
|Garmin Alpha 100 Bundle||
Handheld and Dog Device
|Garmin PRO 550 Plus 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 PRO 550 Plus is simple to use, has a 3 dog limit, and is quicker for training purposes. You can operate it all day for training and not even look at it. At the same time, its shorter in range than the Alpha 100. Many hunters prefer the 550 for younger dogs that still need correction.
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. Some hunters its 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 polarized sunglasses. By the way, Garmin have improved this in it new Alpha 200i.
Garmin PRO 550 Plus
- 18 levels of momentary and continuous stimulation plus tone and vibration
- No-look handheld device
- Trains 1, 2 or 3 dogs with purchase of additional dog devices
Like the PRO 550, the Pro 550 Plus has an easy to navigate design for one-handed-no-load training. It includes momentary, continuous, vibration and tone training. It also has an auxiliary light feature that is visible from up to 100 yards. Yet, he Garmin’s proven GPS technology is incorporated in an easy-to-read digital tracking display at the bottom of the handheld device, giving you the ability to track up to three dogs out for two miles.
The PRO 550 design is very simple to use:
- The top green button operates the tone feature.
- The top toggle switch allows you to change between black, red and blue collars – or dogs 1, 2 and 3.
- Moving down the handheld – the second toggle operates the momentary and continuous stimulations, as well as the auxiliary light.
- The top mounted dial sets the intensity levels on the collar: 1 through 6, and the vibrate mode.
- The handheld provides 18 levels of stimulation, based on low, medium and high, set at each stimulation level.
As any dog trainer will tell you: “The less time you spend searching for your dog, the more time you can spend working with your dog”. The pro 550 plus gives you the confidence of knowing exactly where your dog is located by introducing a simple but incredibly accurate digital tracking display at the bottom of the handheld.
That digital display shows:
- the current dog selected
- whether your dog is moving or stopped
- the direction of your dog
- there’s north pointing arrow
- distance to your dog
- battery status of that dog’s collar
A GPS antenna on the dog device sends a signal to the handheld unit and updates every 2,5 seconds. This means, you’ll be able to know exactly where the dog is just by taking a glance at the handheld.
The PRO 550 Plus comes with one TT 15 dog device with one inch collar. What’s nice is that out of the box the TT 15 collar comes already paired to the handheld. If you have multiple dogs on the ground, you can easily add a second or third dog, using the additional TT 15 or T 5 only dog device. The unit is completely waterproof up to IPx7 and very durable. The PRO 550 Plus is also compatible with Garmin’s Fenix Watches and Garmin’s Drive Track series, so you can take your dog tracking to the next level.
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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For many hunters its a real question which tracking system to choose. As a matter of fact here everything depends on personal needs and preferences, and also the budget. If you train younger dogs, and not more than 3 at one time, and they need correction – PRO 550 Plus will be a better solution. Here you will benefit from the the ease and speed of switching between dogs and modes without even looking at the device. But if you hunt in tough terrains, with more dogs and other hunter, put safety as priority – do not even hesitate to choose Alpha 100. You will also benefit from other neat features as described above.