Garmin Forerunner 645 Music review

Garmin Forerunner 645 Music review

OUR VERDICT

The Forerunner 645 Music is just a watch that may track a massive number of sports and look good while doing it. However, the headline music playback feature feels a little half-baked and the battery life isn’t as effective as we’ve experienced on other Garmin watches.

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FOR

  • Lovely design
  • Rapid GPS
  • Recent Spotify support

AGAINST

  • Poor battery life

The Garmin Forerunner 645 Music could be the watch that’s designed to repair the brand’s biggest flaw having its running trackers: the lack of entertainment.

If you’ve been exercising for just about any period of time, you’ll know that Garmin offers some of the greatest running watches around – but they’ve been largely functional, just showing you performance numbers.

But with the kind of the Apple Watch 3 and Samsung Gear Sport encroaching with this space, bringing both GPS tracking and the capability to stream music to a Bluetooth headset, Garmin needed seriously to catch up.

And finally, it’s begun that journey, adding in the ability to pay attention to tunes, audiobooks or podcasts on the go, in addition to being able to pay contactlessly from your own wrist through Garmin Pay (although that feature’s not supported by a wide array of banks yet). But this watch isn’t cheap…

Garmin Forerunner 645 Music price and release date

Here’s finished that’ll probably stop many inside their tracks: the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music costs £400 / $450 / AU$599 – which really is a lot for any type of running watch.

You can get a style without music for £350 / $400 / AU$549 but that really strips the device of its main USP.

While you’re paying for some impressive features, it is also worth noting that TomTom has been offering running watches with music playback capabilities for a long time, and for a lower price.

However, with these likely to be slowly coming off sale in the coming months, there’s an opportunity for Garmin to jump in. The Forerunner 645 Music has already been available, with the release date back February 2018.

Music

  • Spotify offline support recently added
  • Can put on MP3s and audiobooks from your own PC

Right, let’s get into the groove here – music is the primary reason Garmin fans will soon be buying this watch. And until recently, the knowledge has been disappointing for a working watch in 2018.

The Forerunner 645 Music got the proper bits to become a great little entertainer on the go: 4GB of internal storage should carry 500 songs with you, and relates to iHeartRadio and Deezer provides you with use of reams of tunes.

Then in October, Garmin added Spotify offline playlist support to some of its devices and the Forerunner 645 Music has been the latest to see some Spotify action.

You can load playlists from Spotify, then listen in their mind without your smartphone. It’s worth mentioning you’ll need a Spotify Premium account to transfer playlists and get offline support – in addition to a couple of Bluetooth headphones.

People that have a free account is only going to be able to browse their library.

If you’ve got a big music collection already, you may also put your personal MP3s on there, and if you’re still someone that’s got a vast digital music collection, you’ll be fine.

The downside comes whenever you discover what you’ve got to do to really have them on there – turn on your computer, open Garmin Express (which most won’t have ever done, given they’ll have only ever paired with the app) and then look for the songs on your own machine, before getting them sent to the watch.

 

While audiobooks and podcasts are supported, there’s no way that many people would bother putting them on the watch through the PC. It’s only so, so easier to hear them from the phone that we would prefer to just bring our handset with us – and to be honest, we feel exactly the same about listening to streamed music… it’s just so easier on the phone.

 

But should you choose decrease the route of putting music on your own Garmin Forerunner 645, the knowledge is fine. It’s nothing special, and precisely exactly like you’re used to on something just like the TomTom Runner or most smartwatches available on the market – choose from albums, playlists or shuffling all songs.

It’s quite tough to get accustomed to the nuances of the interface by moving up and down and pressing enter, but it’s understandable enough after having a while. The most important thing is being able to easily change your tracks while running, and that’s possible here.

If you intend to change album or playlist on the go it’s quite a few presses, but usually having an actual button is simpler than trying to do this with a touchscreen when sprinting around.

  • Design and screen
  • Lightweight design
  • Lovely look
  • Large screen

One of the most striking things about the Forerunner 645 Music is just how it’s designed – aside from a few of the hyper-expensive fashion-led Fenix models, oahu is the most attractive Garmin watch out there.

 

The impressive feature could be the metal rim round the edge of the 1.2-inch display – it not only protects the Gorilla Glass 3 that covers the display, but adds an even more industrial, yet stylish, check out the watch.

The other thing is that feels really light in the hand and on the wrist – at 42.2g it’s much lighter than the Garmin Forerunner 935, as an example, and puts it more consistent with the Forerunner 735XT.

 

That loss in weight is partly regarding the smaller battery though, and as you’ll see later that comes at a cost to the big event of the watch.

The strap is silicone and also pretty lightweight – it feels comfortable on the wrist, although people that have sensitive skin might need to swap it out. Thankfully you should use any 20mm strap here, because of the standard lugs.

The screen, like many Garmin running watches, is transflective technology, rendering it clear and bright generally in most scenarios when light is shining directly on it, meaning it catches even a little bit of photons pretty well to help you see what’s on the display.

If you’re at nighttime there’s an illuminating light, and Garmin has done pretty well with the accelerometer to make the watch illuminate whenever you raise your wrist – to do this on a function is pretty advanced.

 

The screen itself is very clear, and a had a good amount of sharpness. It’s not in exactly the same league as many modern smartwatches, granted, but it’s more than good enough in day to day use and we never were struggling to begin to see the numbers when from a run.

And really, that’s all that matters. The rounded display could make things a little congested when you’ve got four different items of data using one screen, but even then it’s easy to produce out what’s being shown.

The sole slight downside is that colors certainly are a little muted, but that’s the price covered the transflective technology.

  • Lots of fitness options
  • GPS is rapid

Swimming, yoga and paddle boarding on there too
Remove the (admittedly useful) gimmick of music playback and you’re still left with a Garmin sports tracking watch – and like the other members of this family, it’s excellent in this regard.

Once again eschewing the touchscreen, whatever you do with the Forerunner 645 is through the buttons round the watch , and it indicates it’s super easy to start, stop and flick through exercise data at any point.

When testing the Forerunner 645 in extremely cold weather, we did find that it struggled to grab our pulse, so if that’s going to become a regular for afterward you we suggest you choose chest strap.

This unlocks some more of the running dynamics that some might like, such as for instance ground contact time and vertical oscillation. Honestly, we rarely use this feature despite it being rather interesting to see your actual metrics, like which foot impacts harder each stride.

Unless you’re training very specifically and have an instructor, we’d say you can skip buying the center rate monitor or foot pod you’ll need to enable this.

 

Something you will require to with the Forerunner 645… the GPS is rapid to lock. Seriously, one of the greatest we’ve seen and even without having to be constantly connected to your smartphone.

If you’ve not had your phone synced for some time normally it takes a little longer (in a fresh accumulated area without any phone connection it took nearly two minutes, but the very next time was instant), so if you’re in a recognisable or open area we’re talking a few seconds before you’re off and running. It’s excellent.

You can also create interval sessions from the watch too, which can be nice if you’re in the mood for something a little more advanced – and you can find little beeps that count down when you’re about to move into another phase.

Sadly these don’t translate to audio in connected headphones, nevertheless, you do get your laptimes if you’ve got the feature enabled – on a twenty mile run it’s nice to have someone soothingly telling you your last mile time, though it will get a little confused and robotic.

If you want something a bit more technical in your workout, you can set a program directly from your own phone and sync it directly to the watch – perfect if you intend to do sprint repeats followed with a long haul, or switch between power and pace on the bike.

Running

The main thing we used the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music for during our testing is the running capabilities – and it’s pretty darn advantageous to them.

It’s not really a lot different in look or function to the Forerunner 935 or the Fenix 5X, with the ability to see your heart rate, distance, pace, time, averages of all the above and even the full time sunlight is going to rise and set.

In a nutshell, there’s almost no that can’t be shown with this watch when you’re running, and customising your screens as to the you want to see can be carried out in seconds, once we found just before you begin and realizing that we’d devote actual pace as opposed to average pace a data field.

The accuracy of the GPS was decent – perhaps only a little generous over a lengthier run, with two long runs of 18 and 20 miles showed us running 1% further compared to measured distance.

It’s not big deal, but in a workshop that 0.2 extra bit of a mile can be a bit disconcerting if you’re attempting to run to a certain pace, although we didn’t think it is a huge problem.

Over shorter distances it absolutely was fine, and treadmill running proved pretty accurate too – after your first session you’ll ‘teach’the watch how far you’ve gone and it’ll offer better distances form that.

Cycling

One of many nice things about Garmin watches is their compatibility – while there’s still too much reliance on Ant+ sensors (the old version of connectivity before Bluetooth), the actual fact both Bluetooth and Ant+ are supported means virtually any cycling accessory could be connected.

Which means power meters, turbo trainers, bike lights and even cameras could be operated from your own watch on the run, and that’s pretty easy given the large screen and simple-to-press buttons.

Similar to the running mode, there’s not too much to really say here other than it worked fine, the screen is bright and legible and having that audio feedback on a period is even better than on a work, as you can less easily go through the display when cycling along.

The heart rate monitor also stayed pretty true during our pedalling, reacting well to changes in effort and helping us push harder in the interval sessions we setup from the Forerunner 645.

 

Resistance training

 

This really is great that so many watch manufacturers are attempting to track gym efforts, and Garmin recently introduced exactly the same thing.

The theory is that the watch uses the accelerometer to learn the motion of every exercise, something called its ‘fitness envelope ‘, and then count how a lot of motions you’ve done.

You can then set how heavy the weight is afterwards, thus giving a precise way of measuring how hard you’ve worked.

It’s a nice idea….it doesn’t work. The rep counting is so frequently off unless you’re doing the motion very slowly and to the actual parameters each time, which many can’t manage nor want to do.

In order to preserve the fitness envelope Garmin recommends you do not go through the watch during the set, so the motion is consistent – so you can’t even check exactly how many reps you’ve done.

It’s also only a little irritating being forced to enter the weight utilizing the up / down keys each time, so ultimately we only stopped utilizing the feature.

The remainder timer on there’s decent though, enabling you to ensure you’re allowing enough time taken between each action – and you will see each element after.

You may also pre-prepare your workout on your own phone, coding in the actual exercise you want to do (and you can find loads listed on the Garmin database) and it’s nice to just plug in and go.

However, you’ll need to be quick to identify which exercise is coming up, since it doesn’t remain on the screen long and there’s no way to call it back up.

The Garmin Forerunner 645 Music is just any good for weight training if you’re willing to fix the number of reps and weight after each set – and it’s only too much hassle.

That said, it’s nice not to possess to carry your phone around to be controlled by music.

Other exercises

It’s rather impressive what other exercises the 645 Music can track, thanks to the accelerometer and altimeter being able to assess motion and elevation.

You can ski and snowboard, or swim in a pool and have the lengths and distance tracked. However, open water swimmingg isn’t allowed for reasons uknown, despite all the proper sensors being within, and inexplicably there’s no triathlon mode.

Considering the fact that last mode is merely being able to stitch together a swim, run and cycle into one activity, with transition timers between, it is extremely strange Garmin hasn’t added it in.

Paddle boarding, yoga, step / elliptical / rowing machines in the gym are all supported too – whilst not perfect thanks for some weird omissions listed above, the Forerunner 645 is generally an excellent sports tracker.

  • Battery life is poorer than other Garmin watches
  • Around 10% battery lost per hour

Here’s the biggest issue we’ve got with the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music: it’s got poor battery life for a watch using this brand, when its watches are often sterling at lasting.

Given it’s got exactly the same screen size and operating-system since the Forerunner 935, that may last for up to 10 days with daily activity, it’s maddening that the 645 can just only manage 3-4 days.

 

What’s weird is it’s not the GPS tracking that munches the battery, nor the music playback. It’s only generally use that the problems come, with it falling to 8% after 16 miles run and a Bluetooth link with a telephone over four days.

Even more stats: we charged the watch to 100%, and took it on a 20 mile training run with music playback the whole time.

 

By the finish of the run it absolutely was right down to 65%, after 154 minutes of running. That’s not really a bad stat at all, meaning even seven hour marathon runners should be able to track their race and have music the whole time. A great result.

But by a day later, we’d lost another 20% of the battery without any more GPS tracking or music playback… just having the center rate and step tracking on.

It means you can’t feel confident in always having battery ready for a work like you do with other watches in the Garmin range… and it’s a shame.

Garmin is quoting five hours battery life in GPS mode, which is really a lot shorter than many others in its watch line-up, so that it knows that this is going to be one of many poorer options in regards to holding charge.

If you’re going to exclusively use the Forerunner 645 for running with tunes, then you can certainly expect a decline of 10-12% every hour of running, dropping to around 6-8% if you’re not utilizing the Bluetooth streaming – with the same derive from cycling, as you’d expect.

So as only a running watch , it’s pretty good. But as a top-end all-day fitness tracker, since the Garmin watches often are, it’s quite poor.

  • Interface and activity tracking
  • Slow interface
  • Activity tracking is very good

 

One of the more irritating things about the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music is that the interface is truly, really slow at times.

We’re talking pressing a switch to start a run and waiting 2-3 seconds just for the screen to improve – even just going for a quick peek at your heartbeat by pressing the down button will have a second.

It’s quite a distance from the snappy interface of the Apple Watch 3, and seems quite poor for a watch of this cost.

However, what the Forerunner 645 Music does do well is fitness tracking – like the majority of the high-end Garmin watches.

Sleep, step, heartbeat and even stress tracking are all well presented on the watch , meaning you will find few devices that offer a more complete experience when it comes to showing your general fitness level.

 

The stress testing is among probably the most impressive, with the capacity to read your heartbeat variance (the difference in form of each heart beat) and from that discern your stress levels.

It is rather accurate, and provides great insight – like how when you’re on a long-haul flight you’ll have a higher level of background stress than if you’re just sitting quietly at work or at home, which explains why long flights are usually a lot more stressful.

 

That heartbeat variance may also pinpoint accurately your lactate threshold, meaning the Forerunner 645 can inform you with good accuracy when you’re going to start tiring in a race. It’s not just a new feature to Garmin watches, but it’s really advanced and useful.

There’s also the capacity to use the Forerunner 645 Music as a smartwatch, with the Bluetooth connection firing messages and phone calls to your wrist to help you respond or dismiss them accordingly.

 

If you’re using an Android smartphone you may even like certain social media marketing posts or archive email – while rudimentary, we didn’t find we really wanted far more from a linked screen on our wrist, making the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music one of many better smartwatches around.

Along with all that, you’ve got the Garmin Connect app, which not merely gives insight and advice on your fitness streaks (useful, if not just a little rudimentary) but additionally gives long-range talks about your fitness levels.

 

Being able to observe how your resting heartbeat has improved, observe how your daily stress level has moved or how well you’ve been sleeping is truly cool, and all covered pretty accurately.

It will be nice to see these details utilized in a more cohesive way, fusing all three together with your effort levels in a function to offer tailored information how far better exercise, but that will surely can be found in the future.

Out of this app you can also download new watch faces or ‘apps’from the ConnectIQ store, but these are little programs that put in a small amount of functionality to the mix and aren’t super professional in the direction they look – although you will get some nifty watch faces.

The Garmin Forerunner 645 Music is just a disappointing fitness watch in several ways. You can find lot of features on here that will allow it to be one of the finest running / sport-tracking watches around…but it misses out.

With a contactless payment up to speed, use of an incredible number of songs and a new stylish design, it will have leapt to the head of the Garmin pack as the poster child of the following generation of sports watches from the brand.

 

But instead it feels such as for instance a halfway house that doesn’t quite manage to sit well in either camp and is out-performed by other watches in the range.

Luckily the added Spotify offline playlist support has changed our views of the watch a reasonable bit, bringing us the long-promised music that will have already been baked in to the fitness watch from the start.

Who’s it for?

Those individuals that don’t like to operate alone but hate having a heavy phone strapped about their body – they’ll love the convenience here.

Also, if you’re buying smart fitness watch that looks good on the wrist, then you’ll probably like the metallic rim across the bright and visible screen… it certainly looks the part.

Additionally it is smaller and lightweight, so individuals with more delicate wrists would probably gravitate towards this watch.

Should I buy it?

When you yourself have Spotify, then it’s definitely worth it. In reality before Spotify support came along we were reluctant to recommend this fitness watch to anyone, nevertheless now it will likely attract those individuals who have reduced account and a complete host of playlists they’d like to be controlled by on-the-go.

But regardless of the added Spotify support, in a few ways it’s still very costly for what it gives, that is poorer battery life than other Garmin models.

The slow interface irks, and while the GPS lock is brilliant (seriously, we’re so impressed, as you can probably guess from the others of this review) there aren’t enough unique, redeeming top features of the 645, as all the good bits are available on other watches.

Competition

Not convinced by the Garmin Forerunner 645? Try these in your wrist instead.

 

The Garmin Forerunner 935 is roughly the same price as the 645 Music, but can track more activities, features a longer-lasting battery and more rugged casing.

In short, unless you’re desperate to possess music and a more stylish-looking watch in your wrist, we’d thoroughly recommend this model, as it does all the 645 does and more.

 

If you’re not obsessed about the 645 Music and don’t want to pay as much, then a 735XT is your next best bet.

It’s shorn of the music, doesn’t look as premium and lacks such things as strength tracking and stress monitoring, but it’s a slick and lightweight watch for less, and is brilliant for triathletes in particular.

 

The latest watch from Suunto packs a great heartbeat monitor, a smart route finder in the app and a clean and usable interface.

It’s much less fully-featured as the Garmin, but is more rugged and offers better navigation capabilities from the wrist too.

 

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Updated: July 17, 2019 — 6:41 pm

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