Modernity is full of miracles: watches can be not only smart, but also sporty. The functions of a fitness tracker today are performed by many smartwatches, leaving data about the daily activity of its owner on his smartphone – models on watchOS and Android Wear immediately come to mind. But what if your soul requires movement and victory over yourself, and you want to turn it on with an emphatically sports gadget – both in functionality and in appearance?
We tested a specialized Garmin Forerunner 235 watch, similar in function to the 230 model, only with a heart rate sensor.
Garmin Forerunner 235 Specifications
- Screen: transflective TFT, 1.23″, 215×180
- Wireless interfaces: Bluetooth 4.0 LE, ANT+
- Sensors: heart rate
- Protection: resistance 5 atm, up to 50 meters.
- Navigation: GPS, GLONASS
- Dimensions: 45x45x11.7 mm
- Weight: 42 grams
Packaging and equipment
The watch is packaged in such a way that it can be seen through the transparent top of the box. Inside there is also accompanying documentation in a dozen languages and a charging cable.
The design of the watch is sporty, simple and functional. The gadget is made of matte plastic, on which there are no traces or fingerprints. No scratches appeared during the week of testing either.
The watch case is black with one of three options for an additional color, supported by the color of the strap: the black plastic kingdom is diluted with blue (cyan), gray or red (burgundy). Applying the test It turned out to be a black and red version. A perfectly thin border of color runs along the edge of the dial, the strap is equally black on the outside and red on the inside, with additional color visible through the holes. The most memorable option is with a blue color: on the strap on top, and not on the backing, as is the case with the other two.
On the top left of the case there is a “Backlight” button, usually a pair of “Up” and “Down”. Opposite them, at the bottom right is the Back button, and above is a bright colored button to start the training mode. On all the middle move buttons they work with a quiet scientist.
At the bottom of the case in the center there is a protruding section of the heart rate monitor, on the side there is a contact part of the cable for connecting the charger.
The watch weighs 42 grams and is almost not felt on your hand. It also deserves a silicone strap – soft and very comfortable. During training, his hand gets sweaty, but this is a common occurrence for materials of this kind without exception. Some Forerunner watch owners say they complain that the straps collect dust easily, but this hasn’t been confirmed in testing and may be an issue with longer wear.
The watch is quite large: on a man’s hand it looks normal, but on a graceful woman’s wrist it may seem magnificent. So, if you are interested in a gadget with a unisex design, it is still better to try it on in the store before buying.
As a result of a week of active use, no inconveniences or design flaws were noticed.
The watch has a 1.23-inch transflective TFT display with a resolution of 215×180 pixels. The backlight is automatically turned on by a button and helps to see information when there is not enough external lighting – it works for 10 seconds, after which it turns off. There is also a function to turn on the backlight with a rotary brush in your hands, but by default it is disabled in the display to save battery power.
The data on the screen is perfectly visible outdoors under the sun, the characters do not fade. The views and reviews for the device are quite sufficient; there are not the slightest complaints about the readability of the information. If some people think the numbers are too modest, it is worth remembering that the savings in battery life during these hours are not that great – is it worth the extra and, in general, unnecessary requirements?
The surface of the screen is tightly protected from scratches by glass with a high-quality oleophobic coating. No abrasions appeared during testing.
The display is divided into a zone; depending on the application and mode, it receives from one to four sectors with data. For example, while jogging, you can immediately measure your heart rate, remaining time, distance and average speed. The numbers are large, they can be seen very clearly, which is very important for runners who do not have time to closely look at the dial.
It’s convenient to control the watch, despite the lack of a familiar touch screen: the simple and clear menu is easy to navigate by operating the buttons. The main screen displays the owner’s time and brightness readings. By pressing the Up/Down button, you can navigate through the menu, viewing installed widgets. For example, check your heart rate data for the last four hours, compare creation and maximum. The watch also displayed scheduled events on the calendar, weather data, the number of missed messages on the paired smartphone and who they came from.
The watches are called “skins,” so depending on your mood, you can download them from the store’s apps and install a new watch face.
The device in operation
When connecting the watch to a smartphone on its screen, of course, you can customize the watch by connecting the watch to new features, for example, downloading an application with weather reports. But the watch works completely independently, and you can go for a run without a smartphone without fear of losing important data.
Before starting a workout or race, you need to press the top right colored button, indicated on the watch face by the symbol of a running man, and select the type of activity. The Forerunner 235 has several operating modes: jogging, indoor jogging (then GPS is turned on), cycling and free mode. Before training, you can select the data that will be displayed on the screen and set five goals for yourself: one, ten kilometers or even a half marathon or marathon (21 km and 42 km).
Of course, you can control the watch at arbitrary distances. Along arbitrary routes: the device has built-in GPS and GLONASS modules; they determine coordinates in 30–40 seconds, after which you can begin to conquer kilometers.
There is a function that determines the finishing time depending on the speed and distance, as well as the physical condition of the athlete. If you go too fast and your heart rate goes outside the selected range, the system will inform you that the indicators exceed the permissible values and you need to reduce your pace. And if you practice with your phone and headphones, you can even listen to voice messages about the time and lap number.
In addition to the built-in heart rate sensor, you can connect and connect to the watch a chest heart rate monitor, which is necessary in this example to obtain VO2 Max values - the rate of oxygen production in the body. This is interesting, first of all, to professional athletes, but according to the author’s experience, such a device is very useful for the effectiveness of regular training. Of course, most users are satisfied with the basic functions of the watch, but it is worth noting that the built-in heart rate monitor sometimes overestimates the heart rate or underestimates the need to start a run. If accurate heart rate readings are important, you may want to reconsider purchasing a chest heart rate monitor.
The watch monitors the activity of its owner throughout the day, and it also motivates you to tear yourself away from your chair and set up a small promenade in the office – you can’t just ignore its required vibration on the wrist. Since the activity tracker, the watch displays the number of steps per day and the distance traveled, as a result, you can even reward your physical activity with an “achievement.”
A regular smartwatch makes decisions with a minimum number of steps per day, and then after that as the activity bar turns on. The Garmin Forerunner 235 works differently: the watch monitors the user’s activity for some time, and then sets the pace accordingly. For example, at first the clock set the author’s goal at 12,000 steps per day, but then lowered it to 9,600 when data appeared on how to simply sit rather than live a lifestyle. Later, as mobility increased again, the solution adjusted the goal to encourage maintaining the new level of mobility. This seems logical: the system gives a real task, and does not require you to make circles in front of the entrance in the evening, when it was not possible to restore the daily norm – soon it rather discourages, rather than adds, the desire to pick up the advice of a “smart” gadget.
You don’t have to watch the clock before going to bed, and then it will show sleep statistics. Unfortunately, the Forerunner 235 does not have a smart alarm function that would wake the owner offline for his body for a time with the least stress. There is only the function of the simplest alarm clock; the clock notifies that it is time to turn on by vibration and squeaking.
And finally, music lovers will love that you can control the player on your phone for hours: change the volume, pause tracks – an excellent wrist remote.
To have portable electronics, additional software is very important, which will reveal the potential of the device and facilitate interaction with it. In the case of Garmin Forerunner, use the Garmin Connect application on your smartphone or the website of the same name – using a convenient web interface, you can create training programs for yourself, set routes for jogging and cycling.
The software is free and there is no need to purchase anything. The problems are divided into several categories, for each application a short description and rating from users is provided.
The smartphone application allows you to configure alerts that will or will not be sent to the watch, because there are quite a lot of them: incoming and missed calls, reminders, emails, messages from various instant messengers, and so on. The watch works correctly with notifications and displays Cyrillic text without encoding problems. You can’t answer calls with the watch – not only does it have a microphone, but it also doesn’t have a speaker, only the beeper works to send signals.
A very convenient mode is when all notifications are turned off for the duration of the shutdown – it helps in the evenings when you don’t want to read your work email after work. And of course, this is indispensable at night, if the smartphone receives messages around the clock, life on social networks is in full swing.
The low-power Bluetooth 4.0 LE module operates for an hour; it maintains a stable connection with the smartphone (during testing, we used a Garmin Forerunner paired with an iPhone 6 Plus).
If you don’t have a smartphone at hand or there are some reasons not to use it with your watch, you can transfer data from it to the Garmin server via your computer. You can also update the firmware on your watch this way.
During battery life, the watch is similar to the smartwatches of the world on Android Wear or watchOS. During a week of testing, the watch was not completely discharged. The manufacturer announced nine days of work or eleven hours in training mode, and showed that this is a real indicator.
To charge the watch, you need to connect a cable with a powerful “clothespin” at the end – the fastening does not look very aesthetically pleasing, but it is reliable and practical. In principle, the watch can be charged directly on your hand, but placing it close to a power outlet is not very convenient.
The Garmin Forerunner 235, unlike many smartwatches, lives just fine without a smartphone, although, of course, when paired with it or a PC, they reveal the maximum of their capabilities. Fans of the “I want it now and right away” rules will be pleased with the simple setup, which does not take much time, so they can start training right away.
The activity tracker, navigation, heart rate tracking, correct work with notifications from a smartphone, appearance and ease of wearing and control make a very pleasant impression. This doesn’t happen often, but when testing came to an end, I didn’t want to part with the watch.
- informative and energy-saving light;
- protection from water;
- notifications from a smartphone;
- convenient application.
- The pulse is not always accurately measured in early training.