CES 2018: Garmin Forerunner 645 finally launches with integrated music

Wearables continue to evolve and many runners are looking to leave the phone behind. Garmin just announced its first watch that supports offline music so you get the best of a full GPS sports watch with music to motivate you.

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Image: Garmin

Readers know I prefer to run with a watch that supports offline music so I can leave my phone behind, but up until now I have had to select smartwatches over dedicated GPS sports watches, particularly in regards to a Garmin-branded device. Garmin finally launched a device that supports music in the form of the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music.

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I've been using the Garmin Fenix 3 HR for nearly two years and it provides a wealth of data, but the size is starting to wear on me and I am on the lookout for something smaller. I recently tested the Garmin Vivoactive 3 and would likely have pulled the trigger on one, but heard rumors that this Garmin Forerunner 645 was coming so decided to wait and my patience paid off.

The Garmin Forerunner 645 Music provides offline music support, Garmin Pay, 24/7 heart rate monitoring, performance monitoring tools, Connect IQ support for customized watch faces, widgets, data fields, and apps. It is available for $449.99 and if you don't want the music support you can get the Forerunner 645 for $399.99.

Music is the major new feature and the Forerunner 645 Music lets you store up to 500 songs, which will provide you with hours of playback to get through any half or full marathon. You can transfer music you own from a computer or download offline playlists from selected music streaming services, currently including iHeartRadio and Deezer. I look forward to testing out this capability in full detail so stay tuned for more thoughts on the music aspect.

Garmin Pay is nice to see since I have been known to swing by a convenience store on very long runs to grab a drink or snack to keep me going. Garmin Pay works through NFC contactless payment systems and supports a growing list of finanical institutions, currently including Bank of America, Capital One, US Bank, and more.

The Garmin Forerunner 645 Music is advertised to provide up to seven days of battery life in smartwatch mode and up to five hours in GPS mode with music. That is longer than my full marathon time and I plan to stick to half from now on so five hours seems to be about the right length of time. There is a trade-off to be made in size and battery life so I think this is a fair value.

The Forerunner 645 Music weighs 42 grams, by comparison my Fenix 3 HR is 86 grams, and has a stainless-steel bezel with always-on Garmin Chroma Display under chemically strengthened glass. I'm pleased to see it still uses the traditional five button Garmin design as I prefer physical button management while running rather than touchscreens that get wet and perform sporadically when I run in the Pacific Northwest. It will be available with a black or cerise (vivid pink) band options and the ability to easily swap out for other QuickFit 22 bands.