The design of the Garmin Forerunner 245 leaves a lot to be desired.
I was initially optimistic about the updated design of the ForeRunner 45; however, when comparing the 245 to the 235 I noticed there wasn’t much that actually improved. The 245 looks cheaper because the material seems to be lower in quality, which is a letdown. The watch also has only black or white housing with the same sizing as the previous version.
The smaller screen with a higher resolution makes the watch a bit thicker in size, which makes it look more like a sports watch. The size is good, but it is a little thick for my liking. A thinner watch with a silver bezel around the screen would have given the watch a more sophisticated look. But I might just be nitpicking at this point.
While the functions are great, the watch is lacking in the looks department. It seems the creators focused on function over fashion.
Now to the hardware. The wristband is interchangeable, which is good and sets it apart from the 45. The material of the wristband is OK, but it seems a little cheap. Yet, the material fits well and serves its purpose of keeping the watch in place.
The screen, which is the most important part of the watch, can be adjusted and set as you like. The resolution is higher than the previous model and it is easy to read in all types of lighting. There are many different colors and screen settings that I will come back to later. Overall, the screen itself is of high quality and doesn’t scratch easily.
The backlight can be turned on and off manually or automatically, depending on your preference. I changed it to manual because the backlight was going on and off quite a bit. Turning the manual setting on helped keep the battery life strong and wasn’t distracting with the backlight constantly flashing.
The watch has five buttons, which indicate what they do while you are working with them. You can learn pretty quickly what the functions are while playing around with the watch.
As with other Garmin watches, you can start working out almost immediately after opening the box. The watch works similar to 45, 235, 645 etc. After I opened the box, I took it out for a run within 10 minutes of turning it on. During those 10 minutes, I configured the most important parameters. However, I do have some experience because I recently tested another Garmin, but it still shows how quick the watch is to set up.
Again, most of the functions I learned by using and playing with the watch after I finished my runs.
The sensor included in this watch are:
The charger cable easily connects to the back of the watch and is charged by USB or a regular plug.
The Forerunner 245 Music has five buttons and does NOT have a touchscreen.
As mentioned earlier, the buttons are simple to use so you can easily navigate the features of the watch. Since these are real buttons, it is not easy to hit them accidentally. The buttons really need to be pushed with purpose, which makes it better to adjust settings and to not lose your saved activities accidentally.
There are three buttons on the left and two on the right. These buttons are labeled so it is easy to see what the functions are.
Here is a quick overview of the buttons:
As I said before, you learn quickly what the buttons are for and how to use them once you start playing with them.
To start tracking an activity, press the upper right button to enter the activity menu. Choose an option and the watch will automatically connect to GPS. Not only does this watch have regular GPS, but it also has GPS+ Glonass or GPS + Galileo. Depending on what option you choose, the GPS will be more or less accurate.
The GPS signal picked up much quicker than the Forerunner 45 or Polar Ignite. The difference is the watch doesn’t tell you to wait until you have a GPS connection, it just tells you once the GPS is connected.
A nice feature is that four different data sets can be displayed on the screen during your run. You can adjust these easily to see basic information while running, such as heart rate, pace, distance, and time.
The scroll buttons allow you to easily move to other screens. This means that during your run you can switch to a different screen to see other displays, such as cadence, current time, calories burned, and average speed. It is like you have two screens with two other optional screens that only have the current time and heart rate. These can be changed to a different setting but the default setting is fine for me.
At 41 grams, the watch is lightweight and feels comfortable on your wrist. As mentioned earlier, the wristband looks low budget but it doesn’t rub or cause discomfort like other watches. Wristbands in the same category tend to be more rigid, so once you start running and sweating your forearm swells and it doesn’t feel good. But that is not the case with this watch.
The wrist heart rate sensor seems to be accurate and doesn’t lose information.
There are several options when it comes to notifications while running. You can choose a tone, buzz, or a combination of both. The watch can be adjusted for what notifications you want to hear or feel. Some options include when you hit a mile, laps, interval, and distance. Since this is the 245 Music, there is an audio option as well. If you have this setting enabled, you will get audio information on your runs, such as km time and distance.
The screen visibility is good even in bright sunlight. The numbers are easy to read and the screen lights up for the alerts you have set for various notifications settings. The background color can be adjusted as well.
Here is a brief overview of the settings during your run:
These settings are pretty easy to learn and I recommend trying out the watch to see how it works.
The training options by the Garmin Coach is an interesting option.
Garmin offers three distances for the training plan, which includes a 5k, 10K, or a half marathon. The training plan also has three timelines and three coaches who will help you complete your goal. After selecting your preference in the training plan, it is automatically uploaded to your watch the next time it syncs. The training program provides tips while using the app, which includes short informational movies and a coach who helps motivate you.
Finally, the watch offers an emergency option that alerts someone in case of an emergency. This feature only works when it is connected to your phone. There is also live tracking, but this only works when it is connected to your phone as well.
The first thing you need to do after opening the box is to download the Garmin Connect sports app to your phone. Another option is to connect the watch to your computer and use the online application to download the Garmin Connect sports app.
Once you get into the app, you will see a complete analysis of each activity. This analysis can be viewed on the watch as well, but the app provides more details and graphs. The graphs are pretty small to see on the watch itself and the information is only from the last four hours, so viewing your activity on the app provides a much better performance review.
The application can connect to a few other sports apps such as Strava or Apple Health. However, you cannot sync with Runtastic or Runkeeper. It surprised me that this function is limited to only four other applications.
The activities data syncs automatically over Bluetooth as soon as it is connected to your phone. Another great thing is the 245 also connects by WiFi, which makes syncing faster and smoother.
There is an option to choose whether or not you have the watch always connected to your phone. If you connect manually it saves on battery life. Otherwise, the watch is automatically connected to your phone during the day so you receive messages or easily view the weather forecast.
The Garmin Connect provides nice insights on the route, pace, time, heart rate, and cadence. It also shows where you achieved maximum speed, height, and use of energy. The watch indicates if the training has improved your aerobic or anaerobic fitness. If you have pushed it too far in your training, the watch will notify you. These details also show which route you ran.
Furthermore, the watch provides an overview of how many minutes you did intensive training so you can compare your average of these activities with other people in your age group.
Besides running, I used the Garmin Forerunner 245 for cycling and swimming. The cycling feature works basically the same as running. You can connect to other cycling devices by Bluetooth to measure your power output and cadence.
There are six pre-programmed activities in the Forerunner 245, which can be adjusted by using the web-based application. However, these cannot be adjusted on the app itself so that is inconvenient. Running and hiking cannot be unselected, but there are other options such as swimming, yoga, cross-training, and indoor cycling.
The activity tracker can be used to monitor heart rate, steps, calories, sleep, distance, and total activity time. All the information is gathered to calculate Body Battery, which gives you an indication of your energy balance. The app also takes a good look at your daily outcome and then provides you with praise or a recommendation on how to improve.
The app measures how much you sleep and how much of that sleep was deep, REM, or light sleep. It also tracks your movement while you sleep. When comparing to the Polar Ignite, the Ignite doesn’t say anything about the quality of sleep but gives you a good idea of how long you slept. The Forerunner 245 also has a feature where you can compare how much you sleep compared with other Garmin users.
The watch measures your stress level as well by combining activity and heart rate. However, for you to receive results for stress in the Body Battery, the heart rate options needs to be on. When your stress levels are high, the watch advises you to take a moment of rest. The amount of time for rest can be adjusted.
The watch shows small graphs from the last four hours of activity. These graphs are quite small but you can see your peak moments well. If you go to the Garmin Connect App, you will see more detailed information on your activity.
If you have friends using Garmin gear and the Garmin Connect app, you can connect with them to follow each other, compare, and challenge running distances.
The watch connects to your phone to enable notifications. Personally, I only see a few advantages for that since you need to have your phone with you to receive notifications.
The GPS, heart rate, cadence, etc. is very accurate. I expected these features to be off with bridges or tunnels, but I never had any issues.
There is no barometric altimeter, which surprised me. This means the watch doesn’t track elevation or stairs. The watch bases the elevation gain based on information in digital maps. There are so many other options on this watch so I expected barometric altimeter to be on there, but I was disappointed.
One issue I had with both the 245 and the 45 is when you put the automatic pause on a trail run or walk, the watch stops tracking elevation gain. Instead, it just shows horizontal movement that is close to zero. This means you can miss kilometers when running, which can be annoying.
Battery life is very good. The watch stays working up to 24 hours while in GPS mode and monitoring your heart rate. This is awesome! I used it for six days in a row in which I did four runs of about one hour each and still had a lot of battery life. Even if I listened to music during my runs the battery life stayed long. However, by the end of six days the battery was close to empty.
The 245 has an interesting function I have never seen on a sports watch before. It has a PulseOx sensor to measure the oxygen saturation in your blood. This feature is mostly used in hospitals, so the reason it is on this watch can be debated. For people living on sea level, the value should be close to 100%. Mine is normally 98%. At high altitude, the PulseOx shows lower values because of less oxygen. I am not sure if this has a real added value and it doesn’t do much for me.
Now onto the Music! I really like this feature because you don’t have to carry around a phone or MP3 player. The music application works a couple of different ways on this watch. You can connect the watch to your computer and upload the music you want. However, this seems to be outdated because more and more people like to stream Spotify or Deezer playlists. If you do want to stream music, the watch needs to be connected to WiFi. Streaming works fast and high quality, which is nice. When you sync a playlist, it will be downloaded to the watch so no need to be connected to wifi or to have your phone with you.
Routes can be uploaded to the Forerunner 245 and it will tell you which direction you have to run. The route will also bring you back to your starting position in a straight line or back the way you came. This comes in handy when you are traveling since you won’t lose your way and you don’t even have to take your phone with you for GPS. You can retrace your route depending on how far you have run and chose the best option. The map doesn’t show up but the watch indicates which direction you have to go.
Another interesting function of the 245 is the watch calculates your stress level based on a combination of information it collects during the day. This is called Body Battery. It is a good tool to help you recover as well. The Body Battery compares your activities during the day and advises you when to take a rest.
When the watch is connected to your phone it will show notifications like WhatsApp messages, emails, or calls. You can choose if you want to keep the message on the watch or delete it. The 245 shows emoticons, unlike the 45, because of the higher screen resolution.
Last but not least, you can go into the Garmin IQ store and download other faces for the watch. You can choose from watch faces or how you want the screen to look while you are training. This doesn’t always work, so my advice is to read each review first. The Garmin IQ store is also the place to download Deezer or Spotify applications.
An alternative to the Forerunner 245 is the former model Forerunner 235, which comes with fewer options but works well from a budget point of view. The same price range of the 245 is the Polar Vantage M.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active comes at a lower price with some of the same options. However, it is more of a smartwatch than a sports watch so it has fewer options for training and analyzing results. The Apple I watch in the 3 and 4 series functions similar to the Samsung Galaxy Active watch. Yet, they are more expensive and don’t function well as a sports watch.
Another watch that should be mentioned is the ForeRunner 645; which comes at a higher price but has more features like the barometric altimeter, contactless payment, data pages, and overall it looks more sophisticated. I just wish Garmin had made the 245 looks a little nicer.
There are lots of options in a higher price range but I couldn’t count these as alternatives because of the large price difference.
I have been using and testing the Garmin Forerunner 245 for more than six weeks and I really like it. The watch is easy to use and has many options. The Garmin Connect app offers value because you can analyze your workouts and receive detailed feedback.
The music and streaming options make the 245 a more modern watch. It syncs quicker than other watches because of the WiFi connectivity. The various training options are perfect for advanced runners as well. The information is shown directly on the screen, which is easy to adjust to your preferences.
Finally, the watch provides a good training overview of your progress. These indications are nice but they are also great if you work with a trainer. The progress provides insights of where you are and information on how to get where you want to be.
All the extra functions make the Forerunner 245 a complete sports watch and stand out among other watches in the same price range.
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