15.6.2021 | 11 MIN
Watches, smartwatches in particular, differ in many ways and knowing them can be quite a challenge. Some have that extra sensor, different controls and choosing something that will fit your requirements takes hours of intensive studying. So what is the goal of this article? To save you those hours and in the shortest possible time help you find out what you do want from your Garmin smart device and what you don't need at all.
Some people want to know everything about their heart rate, some people want maps, others want to pay with the watch and listen to music, but for some people it is enough to know the number of steps they take during the day. As with everything, people are different and so are requirements... And what do you want? Whether you know exactly what you want or this is your first contact with a smart device, hopefully, this article will help you. Now let's do this.
If your goal is to get up from the couch and start moving, you do not necessarily need accurate measurements of sports activities as it should be enough for you to know the number of steps you take. Then a smart band with a pedometer could be the right match for you. But if you take sport seriously and you really want to understand your body a little more, heart rate can tell you a lot and it can help you to get your training a bit further.
Did you know that a low resting heart rate is associated with longevity? The heart is literally our engine and the way it is burdened says much more about our body than any other organ.
For example, athletes can have a resting heart rate below 40 beats per minute. This means that their heart is strong enough that a small number of beats are enough for it to get blood throughout the body. This way the heart does not wear out so much and will probably be able to work for a long time. So if your heart beats, for example, one hundred times per minute, it is a good indicator that it's wearing out unnecessarily and maybe you should do something about it.
Heart rate is most commonly used to determine aerobic and anaerobic exercise. An aerobic exercise is associated with a low heart rate. Your body gets enough oxygen, your muscles won't stiffen so quickly, you will mainly burn fats (ideal for weight loss) and you will not feel completely destroyed after training. An anaerobic exercise is the opposite of the aerobic one. The heart works at a high frequency, the body burns sugars and a large amount of lactic acid is formed, which causes the muscles to stiffen and fatigue to start faster.
For begginers, I would definitely recommend training under aerobic exercise. Your body will get used to the movement and gradually you will be able to run faster and longer without feeling tired. Unnecessarily, high heart rate is the most common beginner's mistake and it should be monitored. With a lower heart rate you will enjoy the exercise more, you will be able to run again the next day and it will be beneficial for your body. And that's important.
If your answer is similar to this, Garmin VívoFit 4 smart band may be the right choice for you. VívoFit 4 is a Garmin's lowest price band and it offers basics such as the number of steps taken, setting daily goals and sleep monitoring. Due to its small size and weight (26 g), you will hardly feel it on your hand, and thanks to the one-year battery life, it will be almost completely worry-free.
You take your training seriously and want to know more about your body. The lowest priced choice from Garmin is VívoSmart 4 smart band. Nice price, heart rate sensor, estimated VO2Max value and pulse oximeter (measures blood oxygenation). Additionally, it is very light (17 g) and boast with a week long battery life (the watch does not have a battery like the band mentioned before, but a rechargeable battery).
In the range of smartwatches, I would recommend Garmin Forerunner 45, which is the least inexpensive among the newer models and, unlike VívoSmart 4, has an integrated GPS sensor for accurate route recording. Functionally, however, it is even more equipped, an example of it is the virtual trainer Garmin Coach, which will guide your training based on your condition. This watch is also manufactured in a smaller Forerunner 45S version designed for smaller wrists. If this model didn't appeal to you, don't worry, because vast majority of Garmin devices have a heart rate sensor.
More than about pros and cons, this question is about you. If you use the smartwatch primarily during the day in the office, the touch screen will probably not limit you in any way, and I would not be scared to say that in the "times of touch screens" it will be more comfortable and faster for you. But advanced or elite athlete would probably never buy a watch with touch screen.
The touch screen might have a problem with control when your hand is sweaty, or in the rain, cold or when you wear gloves. The buttons are a certainty. Whatever the weather is like and you have a wet hand, the button there will always be 100% ready to complete the task. The same applies for when you are moving. It is harder to use a touch screen when you are running. Finding a button is just easier. Recreational athletes are exposed to such problems very rarely, but advanced and elite athletes regularly.
When choosing a way to control the watch, the most important thing is to think about conditions in which you will use the watch most often.
If you are more attracted to touch screen control, I would definitely recommend Garmin's most popular sports tester with a touch screen – VívoActive 4. Transflective LCD display (permanently lit, high readability in direct sunlight), contactless payment and music player. That sounds good, doesn't it?
An alternative is Garmin Venu, which has the same features and offers AMOLED display. In comparation to the transflective LCD display, AMOLED turns off and lights up with a movement and does not have good readability in direct sunlight, but again offers a nicer, contrasting and vivid colored display.
Whether it's because you're an advanced athlete or just don't want a touch screen, I have good news for you. Garmin strongly prefers this type of control too, so you'll find buttons on most models, from Forerunner 45, Forerunner 245, to flagships like Fenix 6 and Forerunner 945. My personal favorite must be this September's Garmin Forerunner 745. Why? It has a low weight, contactless payment, a music player and perhaps the most accurate route measurement in the Garmin series so far.
Paradoxically, this question should rather be: "Do I have a phone on me all the time?". Many Garmin devices support music players and streaming services (Spotify, Deezer and others), but for someone who always carry a phone, it's honestly completely useless. A lot of users don't even know they can control the music played on their phone with the watch. I am, on the contrary, the type of a person who likes run without a phone and enjoy music in my ears. If you feel the same way, I would definitely recommend the music player.
Whether it's because you're not listening to music or you just need to control the music on your phone, the Forerunner 45 model I have already mentioned, which is Garmin's inexpensive modern sports tester, may be a good choice. I would also like to bring attention to a little more equipped Forerunner 245, with a better quality display, longer battery life and a pulse oximeter (measures blood oxygenation).
The range of watches with a music player is really wide. It is offered by Forerunner 245, which has a Music version. When considering the price, the most inexpensive model is Garmin VívoActive 4. This piece has been on the market for three years, but its popularity has not dropped by an inch so far.
Editor of Běhej Srdcem said: Garmin Forerunner 45 and Forerunner 245 are the ideal golden mean and for when you take sport at least a little seriously. With a price tag below 280 EUR for the music version, you get so much music that you won't be able to play all of it doing your longest training. For us, Garmin Forerunner 245 in the Music version is definitely a hidden tip from the editors.
This is similar as with the music player. If you have your phone or wallet on your person all the time, it is pretty much useless for you. If you are a person who likes to go out "empty handed", it might be very practical.
However, I must point out that this is one of the functions that you will get used to quickly. There is no need to look for a phone or wallet, you just simply reach it with your hand and all is paid for.
Yes, the counter-argument could be that it is dangerous. But I have to oppose. For he first time you pay during the day, the watch requires a four-digit code. The next time you pay that day, it will no longer want the code. Which can seem dangerous, but... Even if you remove the watch for just a few seconds, the watch will automatically recognize it and request the code again the next time you pay.
Contactless payment is utilized in models from the VívoActive, Venu, VívoMove 3 Style lines, higher Forerunner models and all the newer Fenix models. The lowest priced piece, that has a contactless payment, is September's square Garmin Venu SQ. Version without music costs less than 200 EUR, the music version is more expensive but still very pleasant.
Yes, answearing this question is not entirely adequate, but let's try it. Are you a curious person who is constantly exploring new places, roads and who must have a constant overview of the location on a detailed map directly from his wrist? If your answear is yes, topographic maps in your watch is something for you. On a wrist of a person who just occasionally looks at the map while hiking or uses a navigation from time to timw, the watch with this equipment is quite useless. Phone, or a less expensive Garmin watches with simple arrow navigation shoud be enough for you.
Arrow navigation is the simplest type of navigation. Topographic maps, on the other hand, are the absolute top of navigation functions in smartwatches. As a golden mean, there is also point-topoint navigation, where the individual paths are displayed at least roughly. In the quality of the navigation to price ratio, the clear winner is Garmin Instinct with a simpler route display, military resistance standard and a price under 240 EUR. We have already covered the navigation functions of this device in a Garmin Instinct detailed review.
Detailed topographic maps are offered in watches with a higher price. It is the Fenix 5X model, every model from the Fenix 5 Plus series and the sixth generation of the Fenix line in PRO and Sapphire version. I would definitely recommend the Garmin Forerunner 945 model, which has no competition in the category with a price tag below 600 EUR and a two-week battery life.
Editor of Běhej Srdcem said: If you care about the price and you don't want to buy the best device, then this one is for you. It is not without a reason, Garmin Forerunner is considered as a plastic Fenix. You will appreciate the map materials when running or cycling, but also on skis.
To get a better summary, I include a table with all the models and functions mentioned in the article.
|HR||Control||Display||Music player||NFC||Topographic maps||Barometer||Battery life||Price (October 2020)|
|Garmin VívoFit 4||NO||a button||tr. LCD||NO||NO||NO||NO||up to 1 year||70,40 €|
|Garmin VívoSmart 4||YES||TOUCH SCREEN||OLED||NO||NO||NO||YES||up to 7 days||97,99 €|
|Garmin Forerunner 45||YES||BUTTONS||tr. LCD||NO||NO||NO||NO||up to 7 days||169,00 €|
|Garmin Venu SQ||YES||TOUCH SCREEN||LCD||NO||YES||NO||NO||up to 6 days||179,00 €|
|Garmin VívoActive 3||YES||TOUCH SCREEN||tr. LCD||YES||YES||NO||YES||up to 7 days||204.40 €|
|Garmin Instinct||YES||BUTTONS||tr. LCD||NO||NO||NO||YES||up to 14 days||235,73 €|
|Garmin VívoActive 4||YES||TOUCH SCREEN||tr. LCD||YES||YES||NO||YES||up to 8 days||from 255,41 €|
|Garmin Venu SQ Music||YES||TOUCH SCREEN||tr. LCD||YES||YES||NO||NO||up to 6 days||209,00 €|
|Garmin Forerunner 245||YES||BUTTONS||tr. LCD||NO||NO||NO||NO||up to 7 days||279,00 €|
|Garmin VívoMove 3 Style||YES||TOUCH SCREEN||AMOLED||NO||YES||NO||YES||up to 5 days||from 309,00 €|
|Garmin Forerunnner 245 Music||YES||BUTTONS||tr. LCD||NO||NO||NO||NO||up to 7 days||299,00 €|
|Garmin Venu||YES||TOUCH SCREEN||AMOLED||YES||YES||NO||YES||up to 5 days||from 329,00 €|
|Garmin Forerunner 745||YES||BUTTONS||tr. LCD||YES||YES||NO||YES||up to 7 days||419,00 €|
|Garmin Forerunner 945||YES||BUTTONS||tr. LCD||YES||YES||YES||YES||up to 14 days||590,00 €|
|Garmin Fenix 6X Solar||YES||BUTTONS||tr. LCD||YES||YES||YES||YES||up to 24 days||879,00 €|
* HR stands for optical heart rate sensor
If you are interested in the sixth generation of the Fenix series, I would recommend reading a detailed review of Fenix 6. This line contains so many versions (including price variants) Garmin should have a teaching classes for that.
This whole article is strictly based on rationality. What do I need a what I do not need. From time to time, we can not be amazed enough how many costumers come to our store with a simple assignment, that they just want the best outdoor watch. Rationality aside. Just the best. That is when the Garmin Fenix 6X Solar line comes up.
And why do I think rationality goes aside? Honestly, this model has so many tweaks, that that there are only a handful of people who would use its full potential. But it's simply Garmin's flagship. Heart rate sensor, button control, music player, contactless payments, topographic maps and a titanium bezel, elegant design and batteries with a lifespan of over 3 weeks. You want it? You got it.
Editor of Běhej Srdcem said: What to say about Garmin Fenix 6X? Maybe that it is simply just Crème de la Crème. Longest battery life, best display, most functions.