Does all the basics extremely well.
Sun Oct 11 2020
This is my first Garmin watch, which replaced my 5+ year old TomTom running watch and my 2 year old Samsung Galaxy Watch. As a regular runner, my primary intent with this was for running. And as far as that aspect goes, it's been fantastic. It fixes all of the major gripes I had with my old watches. The GPS acquires faster than my previous watches and is accurate throughout the run. The built-in run/walk alert timer is a vast improvement over my old watch's interval feature, the physical buttons are easier to use with sweaty hands than a touchscreen or capacitive touch display is, and having a designated backlight button is fantastic. The display is clear and easy to see, even in low light. The button layout and user interface aren't too tricky to get used to and are fairly intuitive after a couple of days of use. The heart rate monitoring is on par with what I've come to expect for wrist-based monitoring, the watch syncs fast and autonomously with the Garmin Connect smartphone app, and the battery life is phenomenal by comparison to other watches I've owned. I ran about 24 miles in the first week that I owned this watch, using GPS, heartrate monitoring, and a run/walk interval alert timer. With those 24 miles of running along with 7 full days and nights of consistent use, I still had about 25% battery left. I don't think that it's a stretch at all to say that I could get 9 or even 10 days out of this battery, and maybe even closer to 2 weeks if I wasn't using it for running 3-4 times a week.
As a smartwatch, it's actually been pretty darn good, although I am going to have to get used to being tethered to my phone via Bluetooth once more (my previous Samsung was a standalone 4G device). I haven't installed any additional apps or widgets so far, but those which came installed on the watch have worked well. The Bluetooth range is fairly impressive, and I can get notifications on my watch with my phone multiple rooms away. I can get anything from call, text and email notifications, to calendar reminders and various social media notifications if I so wish, although I've turned most of that off due to the constant buzzing.
As for some of the other gimmicky features, they are a bit more hit and miss. One feature that is kind of neat but I don't really put a lot of faith in is the body battery/stress feature. It supposedly tells you how your rest and activity charge/discharge your energy status, but as it doesn't take into account what you eat, one has to wonder how accurate it is. Also, I got the thing to bottom out at 5% after a 15 mile run one day, even though I felt fine, and it doesn't seem to go anywhere below that. The stress feature I think uses heart rate to estimate, but I've seen some suspicious looking values at unusual times on that particular chart. Sleep tracking seems a bit more reliable, as the time I'm asleep is pretty accurate, although I question how it claims to know what stage of sleep I'm in, when and for how long.
One of the features I was very much looking forward to was the pulse ox sensor. As a runner who has a tendency to turn blue in the lips after extremely long runs, I have been known to clip a dedicated pulse oximeter onto my finger post-run just to monitor myself for a bit afterwards. So I was more than willing to pay the $100 upcharge for the Forerunner 245 over the less expense Forerunner 45 (which offers mostly the same features otherwise) for the pulse ox sensor feature. Unfortunately, that particular feature seems to be mostly garbage, as every single reading I've ever gotten with this device was 95%. Laying in bed, 95%. Just ran 13 miles, 95%. I have absolutely no faith in this being an accurate sensor.
One other feature I was eager to try out was the pace alerts, as I figured this would give me a sort of virtual pacer during workouts and races when I didn't have a pace group to run with. I set a maximum and a minimum pace, and the watch did a good job of notifying me every 30 seconds that I was ahead of or behind my specified pace range. However, I was hoping that it would use an average pace rather than an instantaneous pace, because as I am a run/walk interval runner, I naturally run faster than my target pace, and I walk slower, so I'm apparently NEVER within my target range. As a result, that thing beeped at me EVERY 30 seconds throughout my entire run. Needless to say, I won't be using that feature very much!
I haven't tried out any other workout features so far, nor have I had any reason to test out the incident detection safety monitoring system (I guess I just haven't fallen on my face yet since I got the watch). There's a lot more that the watch says it will do, either on its own or by use of the Garmin Connect app, but I either haven't gotten around to trying them out yet, or won't be able to due to lack of interest or biological hardware (here's looking at you, menstrual cycle tracking!)
All in all, I am extremely happy with this watch, and it was definitely a good purchase. Other than being a bit disappointed in the pulse ox feature, I am very pleased overall. If you don't run with your phone and you like to listen to music on your workouts, spring for the music version of this watch. If you don't need music or if you carry your phone already, save yourself the $50 and get this one. Or... maybe just get the $200 Forerunner 45. I can't speak to the specifics of that one, but I can't imagine it's all that much different than this.