Over the past year, there has been an influx of fitness gadgets that integrate heart rate sensors and GPS technology, and a first for Garmin – the company now joins the bandwagon with the Forerunner 225. This latest GPS enabled fitness watch is a successor to the Forerunner 220, and does not need to be paired with a separate chest strap for onsite OHR (Optical Heart Rate) Sensors to fuel a plethora of BPM (beats per minute) based training features.
The Forerunner 225 is basically a heart rate monitor, running watch with GPS and an all day activity tracker all packed into one single and aesthetically appealing wrist device. The GPS technology integrated into the Forerunner 225 allows users to measure pace and distance when running outdoors, while the optical heart rate sensors located at the back of this fitness watch track beats per minute both whenever you choose to start measuring during the day and during workouts.
One of the pitfalls of similar wrist based heart rate monitors is inaccurate results, but the optical heart rate measurements of the Forerunner 225 were as close if not highly accurate. With the Forerunner 225, the GPS Giant steps it up a few notches with an onboard accelerometer for tracking all-day activities including calories burned, tracking distance travelled, measuring steps, and even measuring your sleep at night.
When GPS is unavailable, the accelerometer of the Forerunner 225 is still able to provide details of indoor distance tracking. This activity tracker watch will also alert you to get up and move after a period of inactivity with a vibrating alarm. The Garmin Forerunner 225 does not offer smartphone notifications, which is a good thing considering it allows you to make the most out of your training sessions.
What’s in the Box?
Highlights of the Garmin Forerunner 225
Design and Build
Measuring 48mm across, the Forerunner 225 retains much of the Forerunner family DNA with the same side button controls, color LCD display (not touchscreen) and round face as the Forerunner 620 and Forerunner 220. The Garmin Forerunner 225 can be ordered in just one color variant black with subtle flashes of red, which gives it a classy look that makes it look good when worn with a work suit as well clothing from the Ralph Lauren store.
Also, the Forerunner 225 arrives suited with the same silicon strap as the company’s other recent fitness watches, making it a joy to wear over longer periods. Although the Forerunner 225 is chunkier than its predecessors, it feels solid yet can still be worn all day long to the point where you can forget it’s even there. Weighing in at 54 grams, the 225 GPS watch is still impressively lightweight especially considering it is embedded with the latest Mio optical heart rate sensor.
The OHR is placed discreetly at the rear of the GPS watch, and in the middle of a distinct silicon ring that prevents inaccuracy of heart rate tracking. Apart from good looks and comfort, the 225 offers 7 to 10 hours of runtime when fully charged, and is even water resistant up 50 meters deep. Although the Forerunner loses its touchscreen display with its new version, the screen is surprisingly beautiful especially when you fire up the color coded heart rate zone training.
If you’re not a Garmin user, it will take some time getting used to the side button controls – 5 in total. On a brighter note, both the controls and menus are intuitive enough to learn without opening the user guide. Once you’ve got used to the Forerunner 225, it is easy to use with logical navigation between menus and an obvious back button.
Heart Rate Sensor – one of the noteworthy features of the FR225 is of course its integrated heart rate sensor, but this is no ordinary sensor! In fact, Garmin in its first attempt at a heart rate monitor enabled fitness watch decided to opt for top of the line sensors by MIO, one of the leading names in optical sensor technology that has launched products for esteemed brands including Adidas and TomTom. Another highlight of the FR225 heart rate sensor is that it works when you’re not running too, and allows you to get your current heart rate by simply scrolling to the HR display.
Activity Tracking – while the best feature of the Forerunner is undoubtedly its on-the-wrist activity tracking, the device allows you to do a lot more that just track your BPM. The FR225 is feature rich and includes some of the best features from Garmin’s existing running and fitness lineup. You can also program the FR22 to give you a vibration alert when you’ve been stationary for too long.
Pros of the Forerunner 225
Cons of the Forerunner 225
All in all, Garmin seems to have nailed it with the Forerunner 225 and hasn’t cut corners with regards to build quality and features. It offers great battery life even with the heart rate monitor on, and even adjusts your daily steps goal based on your recent activity. The FR225 will even remind you in the form of a vibration alert when you’ve been stationary for an extended period, and the integrated accelerometer allows you to track your indoor runs when you decide to take to a treadmill.
Using the Forerunner 225
The Forerunner 225 offers two modes of operation namely Standby and Sport, where when set to the latter will default switch on the GPS unless programmed otherwise. Simultaneously, the watch will attempt to acquire your heart rate using the integrated optical sensor, and once found will be indicated with an illuminated heart icon at the top. Upon pressing the start button to begin your run, the Forerunner 225 will use GPS to display your pace and distance, which along with other metrics can be displayed using any one of the customizable data pages.
By default, the heart rate pages will enable automatically when the heart rate sensor is activated and when the device is on your wrist. Apart from using the integrated optical sensor, the FR225 can be connected with an ANT+ heart rate strap, which is great if you’d like to mount the GPS watch on a bike mount and still retrieve heart rate data. The Garmin Forerunner 225 allows you to run on your own accord as well as execute a structured workout available through two options.
First, you can create a workout on the Gamin Connect app and then transfer it to the watch, which is ideal if your workout is a bit complex and involves multiple phases or goals. Second, you can use the Forerunner 225’s onboard interval feature to create interval workouts, which have a defined distance work effort, customizable warm up period, cool-down period and rest duration.
The integrated accelerometer of the FR225 allows you to track distance on a treadmill or within a tunnel and display pace within that period. One thing worth noting is that the FR225 is engineered as a running watch so it does not feature a cycling mode. However, you can switch the data view to display speed in MPH or KPH instead of pace, but regardless those activities will still be uploaded as running, which can be changed to cycling later on.
Saving the activity is easily done by using the start/stop button located at the top right corner of the unit to either pause or completely end the run. From there, simply hit save and view your data on the Garmin Connect mobile or desktop version. The Garmin Connect allows you to view all your past activities and even explore specific workouts. Additionally, the app allows you to view details about your heart rate, pace and cadence metrics.
2015 brings us a lot of cool gadgets and seems like it will be the most innovative year ever in Garmin’s products line. Lucky to be here and observe these revolutionary changes.
As for just introduced Forerunner 225, I already feel better thinking that there will be one less item to carry – the HRM strap.
Have you ever drove through the city to a park for a nice recharging run, just to find out at the destination that you left your HRM on the desk at the office? Well, with FR225 we won’t get into this kind of disappointment. Really excited to check this model out. Right now available for pre-order only. Expected to show up in the market in the second quarter of this year. Price: USD 299.99 (approximately 9,900 THB).
The heart rate is provided thanks to an optical sensor which can detect changes when the blood pumps through the wrist.
Up to date, there was practically only one worldwide known company, which provides fitness trackers with wrist-based heart rate monitoring system – Fibit:
But as the electronics still are – not perfect. I was very much tempted by checking this new gadget, but before purchase, I always like spending some time on reading reviews and investigating if that model would suit my needs. At that time I came across of an article reporting that the wristband on Fitbit was causing some allergy. You can read more on BBC: “Fitbit says new wearable device can cause skin rash“, and also defensive arguments on Engadget: “Fitbit says Charge skin issues aren’t caused by its materials “.
“After more than 10 years of developing GPS running watches we are very excited to team up with Mio to introduce our first device featuring wrist-based heart rate,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin vice president of worldwide sales.
“We are proud of our partnership with Garmin. When the leading brand in GPS teams up with a leading brand in wrist-based heart rate monitoring technology, it’s a win for athletes at all levels,” says Liz Dickinson, CEO of Mio Global. “More and more, athletes are recognizing the role that heart rate plays in their training intensity and efficacy, and it has become evident that heart rate is a must-have feature in wearable technology.”
I believe having the writs-based heart rate monitor system working in the way that satisfies nearly all users (there always will be somebody complaining), will require another few more years of researches, but can’t wait to see how accurate the FR225 can be. I would also be glad to make some comparison with the Fitbit series if required (let me know in comments).
Garmin Forerunner 225 on Amazon (currently does not ship to Thailand)