Wearables

Garmin's Forerunner 645 Music: Good running watch with music on the go

The Forerunner 645 Music is the first in Garmin's Forerunner GPS running watch series to have integrated music capability.

It has 4GB of storage for up to 500 songs, so you can leave your phone at home when you are out jogging and still listen to all your favourite music via Bluetooth headphones.

The watch also has Garmin Pay - Garmin's contactless payment solution - so you can also leave your wallet at home.

Unfortunately, Garmin Pay currently supports only OCBC credit cards, which I do not have and thus did not test this platform.

These features are notnew, with the likes of Apple Watch and Samsung Gear S3 already offering them.

As such, the Forerunner series needs something more to catch up with the competition. Plus, the series is not exactly known for its aesthetics.

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $669

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth and ANT+

    WATER RESISTANCE: 50m

    WEIGHT: 42g

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

But the 645 Music sports a much better-looking design.

It is the first Forerunner to feature a stainless-steel metal bezel, which makes it look elegant and suitable for all occasions.

It is also very lightweight. At times, I did not even feel I am wearing it.

Like previous Forerunners, there are three left and two right buttons to control the watch functions. Its round watch face is not a touchscreen display.

Despite having reviewed many Garmin GPS running watches, I am still not used to the button scheme - bottom two left buttons for toggling up and down, bottom right button for back, top right Start/ Stop button for selecting an option and top left button for backlight.

And having grown used to the touchscreen display of the smartwatches I wear regularly, I kept trying to swipe or tap on the display.

But in terms of its fitness monitoring performance, it is top-notch.

On my first run with it, the watch took only 10 seconds to lock onto GPS signals in the streets of my Housing Board estate.

Its distance tracking for runs was very accurate on my usual 5km jogging route, with a difference of only around 40m.

Daily-step readings showed a difference of only 2 per cent when compared with my calibrated Apple Watch Series 2.

The watch also tracks swims. But you have to first set the pool length - either 25m or 50m - before you start. It recorded one fewer lap in a 500m swim I did, over laps of 25m.

It accurately pin-pointed the time I went to bed and woke up, and recorded the amount of light and deep sleep I had.

The Forerunner 645 Music can last for five hours in GPS mode and up to a week in smartwatch mode, according to Garmin.

During the review, I found the watch's battery level dropping to 19 per cent after five days when connected to my iPhone X for notifications, during which I took it for a 5km run (while listening to music from the watch via a pair of Bluetooth headphones) and did a 500m swim. The results were not too bad.

There were some connection lags at times during music playback on my jogs.

But its biggest downer is its rather steep price of $669.

There is a non-music 645 version that is $70 cheaper. But this is still quite expensive when you can get an Apple Watch Series 3 for $498.

Not to mention, an Apple Watch still looks better.

• Verdict: Apart from being slightly expensive, the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music is a great running watch for fitness buffs who love to listen to music while working out.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2018, with the headline 'Good running watch with music on the go'. Print Edition | Subscribe