garmin forerunner 245: finally a good medium

ooh what's in the box?
ooh what’s in the box?

A nondescript brown box arrived to my door recently. Whatever could be inside? Cut the tape and out pops my new Garmin Forerunner 245 Music.

garmin forerunner 245 music: my new toy fuelling my tech obsession
garmin forerunner 245 music: my new toy fuelling my tech obsession

a history of garmin watches

I have been a fan of Garmin watches since I purchased my first ever GPS watch many years ago. Usability, build quality, battery life are all really good. Garmin’s build and reliability is so solid that I’ve only had a handful of their watches. All new purchases were spurred on by my insatiable thirst for technology rather than having to replace the watch.

My first foray into the world of GPS watches was the Forerunner 405. This was followed by the Forerunner 620. The desire for wrist-based heart rate took over subsequently in the form of the Forerunner 235. Then the Forerunner 245 was launched with a ‘music’ option (i.e. add your songs, podcasts, sync with Spotify). It also introduced Garmin’s ‘run dynamics’ to this tier of watches – my purchase was inevitable.

features

The headline features (quoted from the Garmin website) sell the watch on:

  • Sync with music streaming services, such as Spotify® and Deezer, to easily store and play your favourite songs right from your watch
  • Evaluates your training status to indicate whether you would benefit from another session this week or have been overdoing it and need a rest day; offers additional performance monitoring features
  • Get free adaptive training plans from Garmin Coach, or create your own custom workouts on our Garmin Connect online fitness community
  • Provides advanced running dynamics, including ground contact time balance, stride length, vertical ratio and more
  • Safety and tracking features, such as built-in incident detection, make it easy to share your location
  • Customise with free watch faces, apps and more from our Connect IQ Store
  • Battery life: up to 7 days in smartwatch mode; up to 6 hours in GPS mode with music

There is also so much more. Wifi – a feature I only had on my higher end Forerunner 620 previously. Predefined activities now include treadmill and bike. If you’re a data fanatic, you know that this will save time while editing your activities on the Garmin Connect website. The Body Battery widget reports your level of depletion. I’m still getting my head around this to be honest. It also checks your rest periods, to see if you are recharged fully for the next day. It’s an interesting concept albeit of questionable worth. I certainly won’t be ringing in sick if my Garmin Forerunner 245 tells me I’m not at 100%. Time will tell if it is accurate or not.

I really like the design of the Forerunner 245. It’s not a really big face (diameter of ~42mm) and it’s not too thick either (~12mm). The display is uncluttered and occupies the entire face without any horizontal cropping like some others in the range. Some watches go crazy on face size and end up being too uncomfortable to wear as an everyday item. Make no mistake, this is a well-specced running watch. However, it is also a daily wearable and as such has to fit in with life.

in use

Sadly I’ve not yet been running very much with this new toy. If you’ve been following my recent posts you’ll understand why but I won’t go into detail here. I did get to complete a few easy miles on the treadmill while testing the music feature with my wireless earphones. It was perfect. For the past year I have been running with my earphones and a Sandisk Clip Sport Plus media player. The Sandisk is ideal on paper (waterproof to withstand running in the rain, light, small). However, the Bluetooth reception is appalling. I’m carrying a little more weight than I should be but I’m not exactly 10m wide. Yet, I still lose reception from one side of my body to the other at times when running. A fully uninterrupted playlist with good quality audio for my treadmill run was nothing short of joyous. It’s the little things!

the garmin forerunner 245 music with a quick view of your weekly mileage always in your face – move it! more miles!
the garmin forerunner 245 music with a quick view of your weekly mileage always in your face – move it! more miles!

I have worn the Garmin Forerunner 245 since it arrived, putting it to the primary test of a daily wearable, i.e. comfort. It passes with flying colours. I’m slightly fanatical about my watches. I generally never wear tech but this has worked its way into my life, contributing rather than just being. The smartwatch features are pervasive at this stage. Cheap knock-off manufacturers will provide you something capable of this for $20. It’s not something I ever thought I would like attached to my wrist but it just works. The sleep tracking feature is something I’m more interested in. I don’t sleep well, for prolonged periods, at times.

The watch has 5 distinct buttons, no rockers. I really like that Garmin have made these from metal rather than the plastic buttons on my old Forerunner 235. Again, it’s the little things that make something a bit nicer. The action of the buttons is a little different. That might sound strange and it is perhaps peculiar to me. Despite being right-handed, I wear my watch on my right wrist. Operating the buttons with my left hand has caused a lot of phantom presses whereby I think I’ve pressed fully but actually haven’t. It’s not a problem I’ve encountered previously with other wathes. The action is more cushioned and less clicky. Reaching the depth required to complete the press takes a while to learn.

overall

My use of the watch, other than as a daily activity tracker, has been sadly limited. However, I still got to go through all the menus and other than the physical activity of running, for which I trust Garmin’s GPS functions to track me accurately, I can appreciate just how well-specced this watch is. It’s rare for Garmin to throw this mix of features into the midrange but it’s probably inevitable also as they try to capture the activity tracker market and have bulked up the features of those non-runner wearables. Your traditional market quickly gets insistent that they get the new toys too. Looking forward to accumulating lots of long miles with this, possibly while listening to some good audio now that I don’t have to carry an extra device with me.

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