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Garmin announced new models: Varia Vision and Fenix 3 HR

Last year fitness trend brought us wrist-based hear rate monitor to Garmin’s activity tracker vivosmart HR and GPS watch for running Forerunner 225. This year we are getting rather expected

Garmin Varia Vision

Garmin Varia Vision

improvement to Fenix series.  I’m saying “expected”, as after introducing built-in hear rate monitor for vivo and forerunner series, Fenix was next in line for this extra

feature.  What’s rather surprising is

Google Glass

Google Glass

Garmin’s Varia Vision (top picture on left).  It reminds me about other item of wearable technology – Google Glass (pic on right).  Varia Vision is a device which can be attached to practically any glasses and without taking your eyes off the road, allow you to read important information from some of the Garmin EDGE series and Varia (as of today, mid January: EDGE 1000, EDGE 520,   Varia). It also provides vibration alerts for texts/e-mails, directions and key cycling information. I guess getting used to vibration on your glasses requires some time, but it may be quite useful, considering that the alert will be easier to notice and without a need of constantly looking on your bike computer. The color display can provide up to 4 data fields, and consist of built-in ambient light sensor. Switching between the data fields is made through glove-friendly touch panel. It does sound interesting, doesn’t it?

As for Fenix 3 HR, it can be great for multisport athletes preparations.  I just wonder why there is a bundle option with Heart Rate Monitor available. Shouldn’t the HR (hear rate) feature help us to get rid of the extra accessory?

Can’t wait to hear some “first hand” experience. Perhaps you already use one of those. Let us know and leave a comment .

Comparing Fenix 3, Fenix 3 Sapphire and Fenix 3 HR:

Fenix 3Fenix 3
Sapphire
 Fenix 3 HR
 Multiple sport profiles
 Advanced running dynamics
 Physiological metrics
 Garmin Connect
 GPS navigation
 GLONASS
 Preloaded basemap
 ABC (altimeter, barometer, compass)
 Wireless CapabilitiesANT+, Bluetooth, Wifi®ANT+, Bluetooth, Wifi®ANT+, Bluetooth, Wifi®
 Water Rating110 ATM10 ATM10 ATM
 Battery20 hrs GPS
50 hrs UltraTrac
20 hrs GPS
50 hrs UltraTrac
20 hrs GPS
50 hrs UltraTrac
 Color display
 Connect IQ
EXO antenna
 Activity tracking2
 Advanced smart features3
 Virtual Racer software feature4
 Race predictor, recovery advisor & personal records
 Metronome (cadence training)
 Scratch-resistant sapphire lens
 Styles that include an additional bandMetal, Silver with Leather Band, Gray with Leather StrapHR
 Elevate wrist-based heart rate
1.  Buy on Amazon;1.  Buy on Amazon;1.  Buy on Amazon;

Buy Varia Vision on Amazon

Would you like to find out more: read my review on Fenix 3 (coming on 18th January) or Fenix 3 HR (pre-review coming this Friday – 15th January).

Review on Polar M400

GPS Watch Polar M400 Review

Polar M400Polar recently unveiled their latest watch – the M400, which is mostly designed to bridge the gap between GPS watches and activity trackers. For starters, the Polar M400 GPS watch is the mostly competitively priced device in its segment yet is able to deliver a superb performance in several areas. The M400 is Polar’s second GPS watch and includes a slew of features including tracking ability for calories burned and sleep, distance travelled and steps taken and even sleep tracking.

This Polar GPS watch can be ordered in white, black, blue and pink color variants, and can also be mated with a compatible chest based heart rate monitor. Compatible heart rate monitors can be non-Polar devices as long as they support Bluetooth LE technology (Low Energy) dubbed Bluetooth Smart. Take note that Garmin heart rate sensors cannot be paired with this Polar GPS watch for the fact that they use ANT + Technology and not Bluetooth Smart.

What’s in the Box?

  • Polar M400 GPS watch
  • USB cable
  • User Guides

Highlights of the Polar M400 GPS Watch

  • Activity tracking
  • Advanced GPS
  • Smart notifications
  • Polar flow
  • Individual targets
  • Heart rate training
  • Bluetooth Smart
  • Easy data transfer to MAC and Windows PC
  • Polar Flow mobile app

Design of the Polar GPS Running Watch

Polar M400Lightweight at just 56.6 grams and 11.5 mm thick, makes the M400 GPS watch much slimmer than other watches in its class. Its sits snuggly around your wrist with a rubber watch strap fastened by a robust security loop, and is extremely comfortable to wear even for longer periods. The rear of the Polar M400 GPS running watch is crafted of stainless steel and features a small rubber flap that shields a microUSB port, which is also a noteworthy feature of the M400 considering it doesn’t use a proprietary dock connector.

The package of the M400 Polar GPS watch includes a USB cable, which can be a smartphone adapter or computer for charging as well as transfer of data. Although the rubber flap protects the USB port from water seeping in, the USB port of the M400 Polar GPS running watch is internally waterproof as the watch itself, allowing you to take the plunge up to 30 meters, making it a great companion in the shower or while swimming.

Coming to the front of the M400 GPS watch, it is appointed with five buttons – three on the right and two on the left. The backlight can be activated by pressing the top left button, while the bottom left is the back and end button. Moving forward, scrolling can be done by pressing the top right button, while the middle is to select and start activities and the bottom right for scrolling down. That’s not all – some of the buttons of the Polar GPS watch also have secondary uses such as enabling a button lock by holding the top left button, syncing the watch by holding the bottom left button or scrolling through the many watch faces by pressing and holding down on the top right button.

The 128×128-pixel resolution black and white screen of the Polar M400 GPS watch is large, making it easy to see what’s going on when it’s charging, which is a feature other smaller fitness watches struggle with. Adding to this, the display of the M400 GPS fitness watch is a monochrome dot matrix style and is boasts an excellent backlight, making it easy to read even in some low visibility situations.

With regards to battery life, the Polar watch is simply outstanding with up to eight hours of use with the GPS turned on, making it good for two or three weeks worth of regular training regimes. And again to reiterate, one of the most powerful features of the Polar GPS watch is inarguably its simple charging capabilities thanks to the use of micro USB rather than charging and proprietary cradles that you often break or loose.

Key Features of the Polar M400 GPS Watch

Polar M400With a recent firmware update, the Polar M400 GPS watch is able to display notifications such as text and call alerts. New to the M400 is it Running Estimate option, which like the name suggests estimates how long it’ll take you to complete a run at the current pace you’re running. Next new feature of the M400 is PR (Personal Records/Bests) support, which lets you know each time you break a new PR for a set time/distance benchmark.

Additionally, the M400 GPS watch also comes with a “Back to Start” feature that will help you compass back to your start point, which is great if you’re lost and helps retrace your path. The screen of the M400allows you to view several key metrics such as fat burn percentage of calories, calories burned, start time, duration, average pace, max altitude, max pace, descent, ascent, best lap time, auto lap times and average lap time.

The internal storage of the Polar M400 running watch can alone store up to an astounding 30 hours of past run data, and this vital information can then be uploaded to Polar’s website and mobile app either by connecting your smartphone over Bluetooth or using your computer. Just like most activity trackers, the M40 will alert you when you’ve been idle for longer than an hour, and there’s also a sleep tracking feature that is activated automatically once you go to bed.

Calories burned, activity time and steps can be viewed by simply opening up the Activity menu. The Polar M400 GPS watch is highly customizable in that it offers four different watch faces to choose from, one with an analog face, a face with date, time and a daily activity progress bar, one with your name instead of the progress bar and a face with time in large numbers. Other features worth mentioning include an alarm that can be set to wake you up in the morning.

M400 Software & Support

The M400 can be easily synced with your mobile device by holding down the left square button, but you will need to get the FlowSync software in order to sync it from your PC to the Polar Flow website. Although you will mostly use the app, the Polar Flow website does offer additional features such as Relive, which displays information from your runs such as pace, time and distance and street view images on locations on your running path.

Nevertheless, both the website and mobile app will indicate how many hours you spent sitting, resting, standing, jogging and walking, They will also show you the map of your daily runs, calories burned distance travelled and of course your steps taken among others. The Polar Flow app even congratulates you when you achieve your active goals for the day, and can also be synced with Apple’s Health app, giving you another option to view your data.

Pros of the Polar M400 GPS Watch

  • Excellent battery life
  • Syncs wireless with your phone
  • Normal USB charging
  • Always on display with backlight
  • Waterproof up to 30 meters
  • Running time estimator

Cons of the M400 GPS Watch

  • No silent alarm or vibrations
  • A bit bigger design

Final Thoughts

The Polar GPS watch offers a powerful set of features, some that aren’t available even the best GPS watch in its segment. It charges with its USB port so there’s no worrying about proprietary charging cables or cradles. Among other metrics, it also provides information on your sleep patterns and daily activities, which can be viewed either on the mobile app or website. If you’re looking for a fitness watch that arrives with a plethora of features and one that won’t break the bank, the Polar M400 GPS running watch is definitely worth a second look.

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Fitbit Surge review

Fitbit Surge Review

Fitbit Surge

When shopping for a fitness tracker, you will be spoilt for choice considering the array of brands available. Fitbit however is one brand that is distinct from the competition, and its Surge fitness tracking watch is just one reason why! Fitbit – one of the first companies to create a smartphone-connected device has been creating different iterations of its original Fitbit Ultra smart pedometer, and its latest product the Surge comes in the form of a rather sophisticated device that basically does it all.

For starters, the Surge is not only able to track your sleep and every step you take, but also uses GPS technology to track outdoor activity, keep tabs on your heart rate with its onsite optical heart rate monitor and even alert you of incoming phone calls and messages in its vibrant touchscreen display. Apart from its glorious battery life, the Surge boasts all the features of other Fitbit products plus a myriad of other sports features and add to this a more aesthetically appealing and comfortable watch like design.

What’s in the Box?

  • Fitbit Surge
  • Wireless syncing dongle
  • User guides
  • Proprietary charging cables

Continue reading

Upcoming review on Fitbit Surge

GPS Fitness Watch with built-in Heart Rate

Review on Fitbit Surge coming next week. Stay tuned. Subscribe for updates (form below) or follow me on Twitter 

Fibit SurgeFeatures:

  • GPS Tracking
    See distance, pace and elevation climbed & review routes and split times
  • Long Battery Life
    Lasts longer than competing trackers with a battery life up to 7 days
  • PurePulse™ Heart Rate
    Get continuous, automatic, wrist-based heart rate & simplified heart rate zones
  • Notifications + Music
    See call & text notifications on display and control songs from your mobile playlist
  • All-Day Activity
    Track steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed & active minutes
  • Auto Sleep + Alarms
    Monitor your sleep automatically & set a silent alarm
  • Multi-Sport + SmartTrack™
    Track runs, rides & other workouts with multi-sport modes or automatically record them with SmartTrack
  • Wireless Syncing
    Sync stats wirelessly & automatically to leading smartphones and computers

Do you have any questions about Fitbit Surge? Comment below or send me e-mail.

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Garmin Forerunner 225 Review

Review on Garmin Forerunner 225

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?

  • Forerunner 225 device
  • User guides
  • Data/charging cable

Highlights of the Garmin Forerunner 225

  • Colorful graphical interface displays your zone and beats per minute
  • Onsite accelerometer records distance indoors
  • Tracks pace and heart rate, distance, calories all day and activity tracking
  • Automatic uploads to Garmin connect social media sharing and live tracking
  • Compatible with advanced workouts and free training plans offered by Garmin Connect

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

  • Easy to use heart rate tracking
  • Arrives in a great combination of colors
  • Fitted with MIO heart rate sensor
  • Long battery life between7 and 10 hours
  • Can be connected with Garmin Connect app

Cons of the Forerunner 225

  • Lacks smartphone notification
  • No micro USB charging

Final Thoughts

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.

Forerunner 225 with Wrist-Based Heart Rate coming to Thailand

We didn’t have to wait long to have the new model Forerunner 225 available in Thailand. We got a confirmation that this very first GPS Running Watch with Wrist-based Heart Rate from Garmin will be available from 9th July, 2015.

Garmin Forerunner 225 Price: 10,900 THB

Bundle: …..right, not needed; no more HRM strap required 😉

To pre-order visit EAGLE GPS, or send an e-mail.

Related articles: NEW! Forerunner 225 with wrist-based heart rate monitor

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NEW! Forerunner 225 with wrist-based heart rate monitor

Forerunner 225Garmin introduced new model called Forerunner 225, and it’s the very first Garmin with wrist-based heart rate monitor. Yes!

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 Forerunner 225this 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:

  1. Fibit Charge HR
  2. Fibit Surge

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).

Related links:

  1. Garmin Blog – introducing the Forerunner 225
  2. MioGlobal
  3. MioGlobal – Discover Heart Rate Training
  4. MioGlobal – Calculate Your Heart Rate Zones
  5. Garmin Forerunner 225 product page

Garmin Forerunner 225 on Amazon (currently does not ship to Thailand)


This model will be available in Thailand from 9th July 2015.

Garmin® quatix™ – first marine GPS watch

GARMIN’S FIRST MARINE GPS WATCH – QUATIX!

Garmin announced a new GPS watch, this time dedicated to mariners. It is expected to be available in the 1st quarter of 2013.

Some of the features:
1. Durable.
2. Waterproof up to 50 m.
3. Up to 6 weeks of battery life in watch mode and up to 16 hours in GPS mode.
4. Consists of sail racing tools.
4. ABC sensor which provides readings of a barometer, altimeter and 3-axis electronic compass (no motion is needed to read bearing).
5. Pivotal marine data.
6. Wireless connectivity to Garmin’s BlueChart Mobile and HomePort.

Related links: Garmin International, Garmin Newsroom, Garmin quatix,