Fitness is the new obsession that hardware manufacturers wish to capitalise on with wearables for counting steps and measuring sleep to watches meant for hardcore marathon runners. After Fitbit, Jawbone, and others, now Garmin has entered the Indian market. The Garmin Forerunner 735XT is its premium watch meant for sports such as swimming, cycling, hiking, running, etc., and comes with GPS. It has a heart-beat rate sensor, and will show notifications from your phone. The watch carries a steep price tag of R42,990.
So is the Garmin Forerunner 735XT the watch to buy if you take your fitness seriously? Here’s what I thought after using this for nearly a month or so. It is a big watch thanks to the 44 mm case and we got the black and grey watch. But lack of elegance is not a problem here. This watch is for those who look to push their fitness regimes, and want to do a lot more with their smart wearables.
The Forerunner 735XT has quite a few buttons on it; three on the left hand side which includes the power on/off, and the up and down buttons below it. On the right hand side you have the back button at the bottom (also used to start a new lap) and the play button on the top, that you need to press before you start an activity. If you don’t press the button, it won’t start recording the data.
What is good?
Setting up the watch is complicated. It took me some time to get the right date on this device as the unit I got still had data from the previous user. The GPS means you can automatically set time and date on this or just do it manually in the settings.
What I liked about the watch is that it is feature rich and I could use with the two sports I am currently into: swimming and cycling. I have been asked to be more physically active, and these are two activities I love doing. In fact, I’d say thanks to the need to test out the Forerunner, I swam with more dedication each day, and even managed to increase my daily lengths from a measly 8 to 20.
On the cycling front, I found the watch to be highly accurate, and it even charts out the exact path you would have taken thanks to the GPS feature. The good thing about having a watch like this is that it gives exact data on some key variables. The distance, calories burnt and yes, the heart rate are all highlighted and you can do an in-depth analysis of your cycling sessions.
If you are like me and are getting on a cycle after years, it’s like your body won’t take to the ride so easily, and there are moments when you just want to give up and lie down. Having a watch will tell you when to slow down so that you don’t burn out too quickly. The watch can also record the speed at which you are cycling. If you are training to join bigger cycling groups, all of this data is crucial as it will help you know exactly where you need to improve and what your average speed is.
On the few days where I wore the watch to bed, it got the sleep time and wake up time right, and the app also shows your deep sleep versus light sleep data as well.
What is not so good?
When it came to measuring the distance in a swim, the Forerunner 735XT was nearly always 100 or 150 metres ahead. In one session, it even clocked a 1 km distance for under 20 minutes, even though I had barely done five lengths in the pool. I am still not sure what caused this random jump in numbers; as someone who counts each length I complete I found it a bit frustrating that the watch would show 100 metres as the distance when I was nowhere close to the number. And yes, wearing the watch super-tight while swimming isn’t a comfortable experience either.
The watch itself can be confusing at times. There are quite a few screens you can set up in the swimming mode itself, and there were times when I would try to discard data and it just would not happen. Figuring out each and every single setting can take quite a while, and at times the amount of data thrown at you is just way too much and too complicated.
The Garmin Forerunner 735XT is meant for those who are into multi-sports, who are already spending big bucks on their fitness. If you are looking to get into a sport that requires a lot more endurance and willpower, multi-sport watches are the way to go. The Garmin Forerunner 735XT is one of the more premium options you can consider in that range.
Estimated street price: R42,990