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Garmin announces three new GPS sport watches and an updated smartphone application

Garmin continues to improve its GPS running watches with bigger color displays, more data collection, and smartwatch notifications.

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(Image: Garmin)

Garmin is a leader in GPS sport watches and today announced three new devices for runners. I reviewed the Garmin Forerunner 225 this summer and these three new devices offer some smartwatch capability and more.

Garmin Forerunner 230 and 235

Like the Garmin Forerunner 225, the new Garmin Forerunner 235 includes an integrated heart rate monitor. However, the FR 235 has been improved with new Garmin Elevate technology. Garmin Elevate provides heart rate and zone information on the display as runners train.

The Forerunner 230 is similar to the 235, except that it does not include an integrated heart rate monitor. You can track your heart rate through an external ANT+ chest or wrist strap.

These new form factor devices also include the Connect IQ smartwatch platform that I previously tested out on the Garmin Vivoactive.

A new 44 percent larger, sunlight-readable display in full color is used on these new sport watches. You can connect your smartphone and receive notifications for calls, text, and email alerts while also managing your connected smartphone's music controls.

The FR 230 provides up to 16 hours of battery in training mode and 5 weeks in watch mode with activity tracking and notifications enabled. The FR 235 gets 11 hours in training and up to nine day in tracking. The Forerunner 230 will be available for $249.99 while the Forerunner 235 will be priced at $329.99. There are several available colors with availability coming in the fourth quarter.

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(Image: Garmin)

Garmin Forerunner 630

The Garmin 600 series is the top-of-the line GPS sport watch for the runner that wants to track every bit of information possible. The FR 630 improves over the FR 620 by including more running dynamics and adding physiological measurements for body awareness. It is also a Connect IQ device with smartwatch functionality.

According to the press release, the following are the new metrics provided on the Forerunner 630:

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(Image: Garmin)
  • Stride Length: Measures the length of a runner's stride in real time.
  • Ground Contact Time Balance: Measures a runner's ground contact symmetry, which some runners have found to correlate with injuries or strength imbalances.
  • Vertical Ratio: The cost-benefit ratio of vertical oscillation to stride length, serving as one indicator of a runner's efficiency.
  • Lactate Threshold: Estimates the level of effort at which fatigue rapidly increases in terms of a runner's heart rate and pace.
  • Stress Score: Measures heart rate variability to make an assessment of a user's overall level of stress.
  • Performance Condition: Provides a real-time fitness-level measurement relative to a runner's average baseline, which indicates performance readiness for the day's workout or race.

If you are a serious runner who wants to find ways to improve your performance, then this sport watch looks like a winner. There is no integrated heart rate monitor, but support for ANT+ straps is included.

One thing I loved about my MOTOACTV was the ability to return from a run and have the watch upload all my data automatically to the server via WiFi. The Forerunner 630 does the same thing by updating your data to Garmin Connect when you are back in range of your WiFi hotspot.

The FR 630 lasts for up to 16 hours while running and four weeks in daily activity mode. It will sell for $399.99 in the fourth quarter with a $50 heart rate bundle available as well.

Garmin Connect Mobile update

Garmin also launched an updated application for your iPhone or Android smartphone. The app interface was improved and more customization options are provided. You can also now share and compete with other Garmin Connect users, which is something I always found motivating when I used a Fitbit.