Wearables

Track your running, swimming and sleep

The Forerunner 245 is the successor to one of Garmin's most popular GPS running watches - the Forerunner 235, which was released two years ago.

The unit reviewed is the more expensive Forerunner 245 Music model, which can store up to 500 songs and allows you to load music playlists from music streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer, or transfer tracks from a computer.

Apart from this music function, the Forerunner 245 and Forerunner 245 Music are practically identical.

Unlike its predecessor, the 245 has a pulse oximeter that measures your oxygen saturation level, swim tracking and all-day stress tracking, a body battery function that indicates your energy level.

Like the 235, the 245 features all-day fitness tracking, sleep monitoring and GPS-tracked runs.

Still, the 245 lacks a barometric altimeter, so it cannot track how many flights of stairs you climb. It also does not have Garmin Pay contactless payment, which is found in higher-end Garmin running watches.

  • FOR

    • Sleeker design than its predecessor

    • Accurate tracking of runs and swims

    •  Relatively affordable


    AGAINST

    •  Cannot track flights of stairs climbed

    •  Menu interface confusing

    •  No Garmin Pay

  • SPECS

  • PRICE: $459 (Forerunner 245), $529 (Forerunner 245 Music, version tested)

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, ANT+ and Wi-Fi (Forerunner 245 Music only)

    WATER RESISTANCE: 50m

    WEIGHT: 38.5g


    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Looks-wise, the new Forerunner is more streamlined and sleek than its predecessor - its fibre-reinforced polymer bezel feels more premium. But it is still not sleek enough to wear to formal events.

However, the 245 improves on the 235 as it has a fully circular 1.2-inch display (240 x 240 pixels), compared with the 235's lowerresolution 1.23-inch display (215 x 180 pixels) with double "flat tyres" - a black space below and on top.

Unfortunately, the display is still not a touchscreen. The Forerunner 245 Music has the same five-button design of its predecessor, with three left buttons and two right buttons to control the watch's functions.

Those familiar with Garmin GPS running watches should feel right at home with this control scheme. But new users may find navigating menus confusing.

Even though I have reviewed many Garmin watches, I often mistakenly press the top left backlight button instead of one of the bottom left buttons to navigate up a menu.

Thankfully, the watch's fitness-monitoring performance is top-notch. On my first run with it, the watch took 38 seconds to lock on to GPS signals in my Housing Board estate. On subsequent runs, it took five seconds to get a GPS fix. By comparison, my Apple Watch Series 4 took three seconds to do this.

But the GPS-tracked distance for runs was accurate on my usual 5km jogging route, with a difference of only around 20m.

Daily steps readings showed a difference of around 6 per cent, compared with my calibrated Apple Watch - which is acceptable but not impressive.

For tracking pool swims, you have to first set the pool length before you start. In a 500m swim I did, the Forerunner recorded one less lap, while my Apple Watch was spot on.

But the Apple Watch cannot track sleep while the new Forerunner can. It accurately pinpointed the time I went to bed and woke up, and recorded the amount of light and deep sleep I had.

The Forerunner's battery life is rated at a week in smartwatch mode, up to a day in GPS mode and up to six hours in GPS mode while playing music, according to Garmin. While reviewing the watch, its battery level dropped to 10 per cent after five days of use, which included two 5km jogs and a 500m swim.

But while jogging and listening to music from the watch via a pair of Bluetooth headphones, I experienced some connection drops.

Because the standard Forerunner 245 is $70 cheaper than the music version and $140 cheaper than the lowest-priced Apple Watch Series 4, it may appeal to some users.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2019, with the headline 'Track your running, swimming and sleep'. Print Edition | Subscribe