Fitness is the new obsession that many hardware manufacturers wish to capitalise on with from wearables for counting steps and measuring sleep to watches meant for hardcore marathon runners. After Fitbit, Jawbone, and others, another major player in this segment, Garmin, has also entered the Indian market.
Garmin’s fitness bands can track steps, sleep and even heart-rate. The Garmin Forerunner 735XT is their premium watch meant for sports like swimming, cycling, hiking, running etc. and comes with GPS. This one also carries a steep price tag of Rs 42,990. It also has a heart-rate sensor, and will show notifications from your phone.
So is the Garmin Forerunner 735XT the watch to buy if you take your fitness seriously? Here’s what I thought after using this for nearly a month or so.
Specifications: 1.23-inch diameter display with 215 x 180 pixels resolution | Size 44.5 x 44.5 x 11.9 mm| 5 ATM water-rating | GPS GLONASS | 40.2 g weight | Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
Price: Rs 42,990
Garmin Forerunner 735XT
Multi-sport watches are never about their looks; Garmin Forerunner 735XT is no exception. It is a big watch thanks to the 44mm case and we got the black and grey watch. But lack of elegance is not a problem here. This watch is for those who look to push their fitness regimes, and want to do a lot more with their smart wearables. However, the big size means it is not ideal to sleep with, especially if you wish to track your sleep cycle.
The Forerunner 735XT has quite a few buttons on it; three on the left hand side which includes the power on/off, and the up and down buttons below it. On the right hand side you have the back button at the bottom (also used to start a new lap) and the play button on the top, that you need to press before you start an activity. If you don’t press the button, it won’t start recording the data.
It can be a bit confusing figuring out how to set up the watch and the number of buttons doesn’t make it easy, but you do get the hang of it eventually. The watch comes with its own special charger as well, and make sure you’re carrying that around in case the battery is running low on this.
Garmin has its own Connect app for this watch, where you can see the data in detail. There are a number of tabs from Activity (includes all your Sports) Health Stats, which has Sleep, Heart Rate data, etc. There’s also a social network called MyFitnessPal in case you wish to compete with friends, but I didn’t try that in the app.
Setting up the watch is complicated. It took me some time to get the right date on this device as the unit I got still had data from an earlier user. The GPS means you have the option of automatically set time and date on this or just do it manually in the settings.
What I liked about the watch is that it is feature rich and I could use with the two sports I’m currently into: swimming and cycling. I’ve been asked to be more physically active, and these are two activities I love doing. In fact, I’d say thanks to the need to test out the Forerunner, I swam more dedicatedly each day, and even managed to increase my daily lengths from a measly 8 to 20.
On the cycling front, I found the watch to be highly accurate, and it even charts out the exact path you would have taken thanks to the GPS feature. The good thing about having a watch like this is that it gives exact data on some key variables. The distance, calories burnt, and yes heart-rate are all highlighted and you can do an in-depth analysis of your cycling session or sessions.
If you’re like me and getting on a cycle after years, it’s like your body won’t take to the ride so easily, and there are moments when you just want to give up and lie down. Though having a watch will tell you when to slow down so that you don’t burnout even before you start. The watch can also record the speed at which you’re cycling. If you training to join bigger cycling groups all of this data is crucial as it will help you know exactly where you need to improve and what you’re average speed is.
The watch is also accurate when it comes to steps count, and less likely to show a sudden jump compared to some of the cheaper options you might get. It will prompt you to move as well if you’re been stationary for too long. In fact it even told me to move after I had walked all day, which I thought was bit much.
Sleep is the other activity where I found it to be quite accurate. On the few days where I wore the watch to bed, it got the sleep time and wake-up time right, and the app also shows your deep sleep vs light sleep data as well.
Swimming was one activity for which I took the watch quite regularly since I do this everyday without fail. And the watch can automatically detect your stroke, show you your SWOLF rate (aka swimming efficiency which includes time taken to do one length plus the total number of strokes in that). What it didn’t do accurately at all times was get the distance right and I’m not sure sure why. I will discuss more of that in the next segment of the review.
The battery on this watch also impressed me. I wore it daily, took it swimming nearly every day and even with less than 20 per cent it never died on me. It easily lasts a week with daily notifications coming in from my smartphone as well.
What’s not so good?
When it came to measuring the distance in a swim, the Forerunner 735XT was nearly always 100 or 150 metres ahead. In one session, it even clocked at 1 km distance for under 20 minutes, even though I’d barely done five lengths in the pool. I had entered the pool data as 25 metres, but there were times when the watch would show 75, even if I had just done one length.
I’m still not sure what caused this random jump in numbers; as someone who counts each length I complete I found it a bit frustrating that the watch would show 100 metres as the distance when I was nowhere close to the number. And yes wearing the watch super-tight while swimming isn’t a comfortable experience either.
The watch itself can be confusing at times. There are quite a few screens you can set up in the swimming mode itself, and there were times when I would try to discard data and it just would not happen. Figuring out each and every single setting can take quite a while, and at times the amount of data thrown at you is just way too much and too complicated.
Plus at the end of the day this is an expensive watch, costing Rs 42,990. TomTom is also offering pretty good multi-sport watches in the market at half the price, so Garmin might seem very expensive to many.
The Garmin Forerunner 735XT is meant for those who are into multi-sports, who are already spending big bucks on their fitness. Except the problem with fitness is that people might be okay spending on their gear like shoes or a cycle, but not always on a wearable. If you’re looking to get into a sport that requires a lot more endurance and will-power, multisport watches are the way to go. The Garmin Forerunner 735XT is one of the more premium options you can consider in that range.