Sports Tech

No chest-strap heart-rate monitor needed for Garmin's Forerunner 225

The Garmin Forerunner 225 has a wrist-based heart rate monitor. Its optical sensor measures your heart rate by shining light at your skin and measuring the amount of light returned.
The Garmin Forerunner 225 has a wrist-based heart rate monitor. Its optical sensor measures your heart rate by shining light at your skin and measuring the amount of light returned.PHOTO: GARMIN

The Forerunner 225 is Garmin's first Global Positioning System (GPS) running watch that measures heart rate from the wrist.

This is a departure from Garmin's other fitness watches which require users to wear a chest-strap heart-rate monitor during workouts.

The well-built Forerunner 225 has a round watch face and one-inch display with a resolution of 180 x 180 pixels.

Three left buttons and two right buttons let you handle the functions of the watch.

Those familiar with Garmin running watches should feel right at home, although new users may find navigating the menus confusing at first.

  • TECH SPECS

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    PRICE: $419

    WATER RESISTANCE: 50m

    WEIGHT: 54g

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The Forerunner 225 does not light up when you lift your wrist.

You have to press a button for display illumination.

The optical heart rate sensor is at the rear of the watch body.

It works by shining light at your skin and measuring the amount of light returned.

A rubber seal around the sensor helps to keep out light from the surroundings, which can affect measurements, but it does not affect the user's comfort.

Before using the watch, you have to connect it to a computer using its proprietary USB cable.

Then you need to sync it with the Garmin Express software. You will be prompted to enter your personal information like age, weight and height, which lets the watch derive your optimal heart rate.

To start a workout, press the top right button. I found it could lock on to a GPS signal in 10 seconds, even when I was surrounded by high-rise buildings.

During workouts, the watch's display shows the five different heart rate zones - warm-up, easy, aerobic, threshold and maximum - with different colour codings.

You can set the watch to vibrate and beep at regular intervals, such as every 1km, or when you hit your maximum heart rate zone.

To test the accuracy of the heart-rate monitor, I used my Wahoo Bluetooth chest-strap heart- rate monitor as a comparison.

The Forerunner 225 delivered readings that were lower by around five to six beats per minute, accurate enough for a wrist-based heart rate monitor.

This running watch doubles as a fitness tracker, as it can count steps and calories burned.

The fitness tracking aspects were fairly accurate, compared to my calibrated Apple Watch.

Readings from both devices differed by only 2 per cent. Unlike the Apple Watch, the Forerunner 225 will automatically adjust your daily step-count goal based on how you did the previous day.

Battery life is impressive.

If you use it just as a watch, it will last close to a month.

With GPS tracking turned on, it can go for 10 hours straight, enough for a marathon.

•Verdict: If you hate using a chest-strap heart-rate monitor during runs, the Garmin Forerunner 225 is the perfect running watch for you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2015, with the headline ' No chest-strap heart-rate monitor needed'. Print Edition | Subscribe