Transcript from Steve's Video:
Let's take a look at the Garmin Alpha MINI TT15 collar. The MINI TT15 is the newest collar designed for use with the Garmin Alpha Track and Train GPS system. The MINI collar was designed for your extremely small dogs. It'll go down to a 9.5 in. neck and fit comfortably, so that you can get good e-collar contact. That's important with a training collar, unlike a tracking collar which can be a little lose on the dogs neck. With a training collar you've got to have skin contact with your probes, and so the collar's got to go down small enough.
This is your big collar; this is a regular TT15, this is a MINI TT15, and what we were running into is first off you can see this is the smallest both of these collars will go. So you've got a substantially smaller neck size here. But then you've also got, while it's not extreme, the weight difference is about 3 oz., and on a really small dog that can make a little bit of a difference. But the problem we were running into was that you couldn't get this down small enough to fit onto a small dog's neck especially the little beagles. That's the biggest thing we've run into. But it also makes a difference on some of your smaller bird dogs, some of your smaller squirrel dogs, your little bitty dogs, this is a lot for them to carry around. So Garmin developed the MINI collars. 9.5 in. neck is how small it'll go. It's not for everybody. I don't want people to go, "Hey it's a small collar, so I can put it on my giant dog." Right now I'm telling folks 9.5 in. to about 14 in. is what I'm going to recommend. You'll notice, this is your GPS antennae, and as you start to get out to the bigger necks, you're going to start to get this on the side of the dog's neck. Now, we've had that before on the older versions of the Astro, but we really prefer the GPS antenna be on top. You're going to get a lot better signal reception. So as you get up into the larger necks, this is what you end up with. So I'm going to say that 14 in. is the maximum. I recommend people go with this. That's going to cover a lot of them. Several of my bird dogs can comfortably wear this collar.
But the other problem that you run into with a dog with a larger neck, when you get all this on the side is you're going to start to get some rotation. And while that's not a gigantic deal, you'll probably still be able to get GPS reception. Notice what your antenna does. That's not good. So, small dog you actually get really good antennae placement. That's perfect. And so you want to use this on smaller dogs. With a smaller system there are two things that we are looking at. You're going to have less range, and you're going to have lower battery life. And in the GPS system that's not ideal, but for the really small dogs that's just sort of the nature of it.
Let's talk about battery life first. With a regular TT15 collar in the 2.5 second mode -- 24 hours runtime when it kicks into rescue mode. The MINI TT15 on battery life -- it's going to get about 16. You're talking 8 hours less. Now, 16 hours is a full day for everybody, so it's just a tradeoff that you really just have to come to terms with. I'm ok with it, but that kind of goes back to what I was talking about with the larger dog there's just not a big advantage to going with a small collar. I'd rather have the longer battery life. So if you have a dog 14 in. and above, I'm going to go with the bigger collar.
Range is going to be the other trade off. Garmin lists the MINI TT15 as having a maximum range of 4 miles. And they list the TT15 regular size collar as having a maximum range of 9 miles. I've always felt the 9 miles was pretty optimistic. I have never been able to get 9 miles out of the system. The most I've ever done with an external antenna is about 6-6.5 miles. So far all of our tests on the MINI collar, it has matched up exactly with the big collar. It's going toe-to-toe with the big collar, everything we have done. But I went back and talked to the engineers at Garmin to get an answer for that because I didn't understand why they were, in my opinion, underselling the MINI collars. What I was told is that in the 4 mile / 5 mile range and down this collar is going to work about the same. But when you get up into that longer range, when you get passed that 5 mile sort of range, that this one is going to drop off more than the larger collar. There just aren't a lot of situations where you're going to get that kind of range out of a GPS system, so right now I'm a little up in the air on what we're going to say range-wise on it. Garmin says this one is 4, this one is 9. So far, the most I’ve gotten so far with this collar is 4.5, but I haven't replicated the situation where I've gotten 6.5 miles yet, so we'll see. But so far range wise I'm pretty happy with it. So going back to it, if you've got a small dog this is perfect. If you've got a bigger dog, I would stick with the larger collar.
Everything else about them is pretty much the same. 2 new features: the MINI collars have a bark sensor, so that you can know when your dog is barking or baying and the TT15 has what's called a sleep mode. Sleep mode was designed to allow you to shut the collar down. The way it was presented to me was that if your dog is out, you can track him, but you can't get to him, and you're worried about your battery life running out, then you can activate sleep mode. The collar will quit transmitting, and you can come back in the morning and reactivate it. In my opinion that's a pretty bad idea. If you have a location on a dog, you need to get to him as fast as you can. So I can see where you can use sleep mode if you're going from hunting spot to hunting spot, and you want to power down your collar without actually having to cut it off, then sleep mode is valuable. I would not shut down a collar on a dog that I'm tracking and try to find the next day. Beyond that it works pretty much the same. It is compatible with all of the collars out there. You can run them together if you have big dogs and small dogs, and you want one of each, you can do that. You can still run it with the TT10s, and it also has the same feature where you can run it as a tracking only collar on the Garmin Astro.