Transcript from Steve's Video:
This is the Garmin Tri-Tronics Pro 550. Garmin has introduced their versions of the Tri-Tronics Pro line. Itís a continuation of what Tri-Tronics has been doing about the last decade with the G2, G2 EXP, and G3 collars. The Garmin Pro 550 is the top of the line, combining all of the features that weíve had in the Pro 500 plus a bunch of new things that make it a top of the line remote training collar.
New features on the Garmin Pro 550 include beacon lights, bark limiter built into the collar, a higher level of stim, giving us 21 total levels of continuous and momentary, plus vibration. Vibration is in addition to the tone that the Pro 500 already had, so now you have two different kinds of non-stimulation that you can use to communicate with your dog.
The Pro 550 is a 21 level collar that has both continuous and momentary stimulation. The way the 550 works is that you have two black buttons that are designed for your stimulation. When your dial is on Level 1, your lower black button is a low. Your upper black button is a medium. And then you press the two buttons together for a high. So, on Level 1, you have a low 1, a medium 1, and then a high 1. You then turn your dial to 2 and low 2, medium 2, high 2. What this is, this is a gradual increase in stimulation levels. And so, a high 1 is lower than a low 2. Thats where the 21 comes from. It is seven stimulation levels with a low, medium, and high of each. So it gradually increases up to the top level. So you can tune it in perfectly to what your dog needs for the right stimulation level, depending on what type of training you are doing and for the distraction level.
This is a very gradual increase. The advantage there is that youíre going to be able to just find that right level thatís going to make your dogÖhe will be able to feel it and understand it and respond but not overreact. And so, depending on your situation, you are going to be able to just tune into that exact level. Thatís the biggest advantage, in my opinion, of the 550, is that gradual increase allows you to just hone in on that perfect level for your dog.
Folks that are familiar with the Garmin tubes will see that there is just little difference in the Garmin tubes compared to the Tri-Tronics G3 tubes. Size and feel are identical. Little bit lighter because the lithium ion batteries. But the real beauty of the tubes is that they fit in your hand and they are easy to use without looking at the transmitter. In my opinion, thatís the most important thing about a remote training collar. I want to be able to raise stimulation levels, lower them, and never once have to look at the collar. I want to be able to use tone, change to a different dog, change kinds of stimulation, go back to continuous, never once have to look at it. Thatís the big advantage of the tube style transmitters.
Now letís take a look at the transmitter, go over the different parts. Youíve got your antenna. Youíve got your stimulation dial. The dial starts on a V and then goes Levels 1-7. On the front of your transmitter, you have your green button, which is tone. Then you have your toggle switch for Dogs 1, 2, and 3. So itís black, red, and blue. Your next toggle switch controls the different kinds of stimulation. You have momentary up and then continuous down. And then, in the middle, you have the A position, which the A position controls both your lights and it also controls the accessory beeper if you decide to add it. Then you have your two stimulation buttons. Your bottom button is low. Your upper button is medium. And then you press the two together for high.
Now letís take a look at the Pro 550 collar. The collar design is similar to what we have had, but it is smaller. It also uses a three-quarter inch collar strap, so on a smaller dog itís not going to look as big. Most of the systems nowadays have moved to three-quarter straps, and even with a large dog they are very normal. So weíve gotten used to them over time. It may seem a little different if you are used to one-inch straps, but Iíve been pleased with them overall.
On the collar you have your contact points. Contact points are removable. You can add the longer probes, which are included, or the short probes, which come with it. You have your indicator light on the front of the collar. And then you have your beacon lights on the front of the collar which are controlled from the transmitter, and your on/off switch.
On the back of the collar you have your charging point. This hooks up to the charging adapter. One of the differences is that theyíve added additional loops on the bottom of the collar so that it holds your strap in just a little tighter.
Letís take a look at one of the new features on the Pro 550, the beacon lights. Built into the collar are two lights on each side of the front here. On your transmitter you can turn them on. These are great for folks that are running dogs late in the evening. Theyíve been real popular with coon hunters that are running dogs at night. Great for a pet owner thatís walking their dog in the neighborhood at night.
Real simple to turn on. You can turn them on and off from the transmitter. Take your dial, put it on the A position, which is for the accessories. And then it doesnít matter what stim level you are on. Your two black buttons control the light. Your upper black button turns them on. Your lower button turns them off. This works at any distance that the collar can communicate with the transmitter. So, lights on, lights off. You are going to have a little bit of battery drain. So keep that in mind if you are using the beacon lights on a regular basis. But it is really not that substantial. If you are charging your collar on a regular basis, it should not be an issue. Really nice feature built in. This is something now that, in the past, you add to add to your collars. Now itís just a regular part of the collar. Itís just built into it.
Letís talk about the Pro 550 bark collar. You can take your 550 collar and you can turn it into a bark collar. It is not a remote activated bark collar in that the transmitter has nothing to do with the bark collar. You have to have your hands on the collar to turn it into a bark collar. For most of us thatís going to be great. There are not a lot of situations where you need a remote bark collar turned on. So this is just an added feature where you can take your collar and turn it into a bark collar.
Turning it into a bark collar is pretty simple. You are going to hold down the on/off switch and watch the light on the collar. It will go red to blue. When it turns blue, you lift off the button. Now it is in bark collar mode. Weíll take our transmitter here just to show that we are getting nothing, not stim, nothing. Transmitter does not work at all with the collar when it is in bark mode. You need to keep that in mind, because you donít want to put it on your dog when you are trying to use it as a remote collar in bark mode. Youíve got to take it out of bark mode. Pretty simple to take it out of bark mode. Hold the button down again. Light glows read, you release it. Cuts it off. When you cut it back on, now we are back into regular collar mode, and now weíve got control over stim from the transmitter.
The bark collar is the auto rise bark collar which Garmin is now using with all of their bark collars plus the bark collars that we have on the Delta units of the Delta Sport. Auto rise works for some people in some situations. There are certain situations where I recommend against it. So youíve gotta kinda understand your dogs and how they react to bark collars as to whether or not you are going to be happy with the auto rise feature.
What the auto rise does is it starts on the lowest level. When the dog barks, it corrects him on that level. If he barks again, then it increases the stimulation level. What it does is it gradually increases the level until it finds the right level for your dog to get him to stop barking. After it has reached that level, then it starts to gradually step levels down so that the level gets lowered. If he barks again, heís going to get a lower level. If he continues to bark, itís going to gradually increase.
The vast majority of my dogs work fine with this type of bark collar as far as one that gradually increase stimulation. But my really hard barking dogs, it is not an effective way to stop them from barking. What can happen with a dog that is just tough and takes a really high level of stim is that heís going to bark a bunch until he gets to that top level, and then heís going to back off for a little bit, let the collar lower stim, and heís going to start barking again. So if youíve got situations where you want a really high stim level immediately when the dog barks, this is not the right bark collar for you. If youíve got a dog that understands how bark collars work and is not really a major nuisance barker, this is going to work great for you and itís a nice feature. But if youíve got that tough dog that just requires a high stim level on a bark collar, this isnít the right one for you.
The Pro 550 is an expandable collar. What that means is you can buy it as a one dog system and then come back later and add a second or a third collar to it for a total of three dogs. To add the second collar, it comes with a red strap, your dog selector toggle switch. Black is the 1 Dog. Weíre going to go to the second dog, which is red. And then to sync up the two, you hold down your on/off button. Itís going to be green, blue, and then itís going to go to yellow. And then youíll hear a little sound. It beeps at you several times when itís on. You release the button and itís going to cut off. Now itís back on. And now weíve got stim. So weíve got Dog 1 in the black. And then weíve got Dog 2 in the red. And then, if you decide to add a third dog, you just come back with a blue collar and do the same thing.
Now that weíve got two collars synced up, letís look at the beacon lights again. The toggle switch is on A. Weíre on Dog 1. Upper light turns the beacon lights on. Now we move to Dog 2. Upper light turns the beacon lights on. Theyíre independent of each other, so if you want to turn off that dog but leave this dog on, you can do that. You can come back and turn that dog back on. Then you can turn that dog off. Go back, turn them both off.
The Pro 550 is a one-mile range collar. What that means is that the effective range of the system is one mile line of sight. One mile line of sight means that there is nothing between you and the dog. Most situations thatís not going to happen. So you are not going to get the maximum range all of the time. But youíve got to keep in mind that one mile is a long way. The majority of us, our dogs are never that far away from us. Having a collar that has a little more stimulation range than your average collar, itís a good thing. My birddogs tend to run 250-500 yards, depending on whatís going on. So having a collar like this allows me to stretch out. And itís powerful enough that it can get to a dog at that kind of distance quite easily. You will get the maximum range in certain situations, but youíve got to keep in mind thereís all sorts of things that are going to affect that radio signal.
The Pro 550 uses lithium ion batteries. Letís talk a little about charge time and runtime. Runtime on the 550 is listed as 80 hours on the transmitter and 60 hours on the collar. The 80 hours on the transmitter, thatís a hard number to determine, because it really is going to come down to how much you are pressing buttons. There is no off position on the transmitter, so when you are not pressing a button, itís not using any juice. Itís not one of those things where you are going to have to charge itÖYou can go weeks without charging the handheld. But when I am charging the collar, I tend to go on ahead and charge the handheld. That way I donít have to worry about it.
The collar is going to run for 60 hours on a complete charge. If you are using it heavily, that would be 8-10 hours a day, charging it once a week for most people is going to be fine. Whatís great about these batteries, though, is that you canít overcharge them. So if you want to charge it every time you use it, thatís fine. Itís not going to be a problem.
Now letís talk about the charger and how to put it together. Itís a traditional Garmin charger, so youíve got several parts to it. When it comes out of the box, youíve got to attach your 110 plug. This is the part that plugs into the wall. Weíll plug it over here into our multi-plug. Then youíve got a splitter. The splitter plugs in. And then for your collar, youíve got your adapter. So that plugs in here. So thatís all of that.
To connect to the collar, here is your charging point. This snaps on. The light is going to be red while itís charging. When itís finished it will turn green. And then, on the transmitter, this is something thatís new. Instead of having a cradle for it, you lift the mud flap on the back and you plug straight into it. Iím pretty happy about this change in the Pro units. There were two different cradles that came with the older models. The G2 had one style, and then when they went to the G3 it was a different style. Neither one of them was that good. You really donít have an issue here. This is pretty much the same design that weíve had on the Astro and the Alpha, and it is very typical of what Garmin does. Itís going to hold up great and itís going to be a lot easier to deal with than the cradles that weíve had in the past, so pretty pleased with that. Same thing here. You are going to have your red light while itís charging. And then when it is finished charging, it will glow green. They have the same trickle charge concepts that weíve had in the past, so you can leave them on the charger after theyíre done. Itís not going to be a problem. Thereís just no advantage to it. Once itís through charging, I recommend that you take it off the charger.
Letís talk about a few ways to carry your transmitter. A lot of people just like to carry them loose, which is fine. For years people stuck them in their back pocket. And thatís great, but itís a good way to lose your transmitter. And weíll be glad to sell you a replacement transmitter, but they are not cheap. So I recommend that you tether it to your body in some way. The design on these is so similar to what weíve had before that all of the old G3 transmitter holsters work with the new transmitter. This one, when you buy a system from us, you can buy this one for $1. Itís just a traditional four-way holster. Slide this in here real quick. Then it snaps over. This gives you a hand grip. You can also use it as a belt loop. Thereís a belt loop. It also comes with a strap so you can wear it over your shoulder; several different ways.
A lot of folks donít like to have a holster, which is fine. One of the newer things thatís been done is that they have added a spot for you to actually tie a lanyard onto the transmitter. Probably one of my biggest complaints about the G3 units was that there was no way to tether yourself to it. You couldnít tie a lanyard to it or a snap, anything. It just didnít have anywhere that was easy to connect to it. So now they put a lanyard attachment on it, which is great. Take you a lanyard here, slide it through. You can do this with almost anything thatís going to fit through it. Itís a nice big port, so itís going to hold. Iím not a giant fan of wearing them around your neck right this, but a lot of people are. Now youíve got a way to do it. Itís going to work with a vast majority of the lanyards out there.
Now letís look at one other thing. Garmin sells whatís called a lanyard karabiner. This is not included. Itís something extra that you can buy. Iíve been using them with an Alpha for a while and they are really neat. Iím very happy that you can use them now on the Pro 550ís. You take this strap. You slide it through. And you feed it back through here. Then you take your karabiner and there you go. Now youíve got this clip. What I will do with this is Iím going to attach this to my belt loop, and now Iíve got it where itís easy access. But when Iím through with it and just drop it, itís still going to be there. So, pretty happy about that. Thatís a nice new feature.
I couldnít be more happy with how this Pro 550 has turned out. Garmin took everything that was good about the Tri-Tronics Pro 500 and has added a bunch of stuff to it and drastically lowered the retail price. So you can get the best collar now for about $110 less than you could buy the Pro 500.