I have had Garmin Forerunner 225 wearable / smart watch now about one year. This is my experience on that device.
Forerunner have basically three operations it does un addition to showing time: Gps, heart beat rate measurement, and movement sensing.
The last one is not so important to me. Except that it is sometimes nice to see how much steps I have done in a day. The same sensors are also used to guess if I am sleeping or not, and how deeply. Which means that watching tv can be registered as sleeping.
Measuring the heart beat rate can be useful. Especially if one likes to improve the physical condition, the most demanding is to keep the beat rate low enough
I have learned a good rule-of-thumb: If you can easily talk without being exhausted, the exercise is good. But still even then it is nice check afterward if the beat rate was in a good level.
Measuring the heart beat rate works quite well. It is based on the optical measurement. Green light illuminates the skin, and the variations in the reflection are measured.
However, in some cases there seems to be some problems. The beat rate can suddenly drop or jump. I have checked that there is not such sudden changes in my pulse. So, probably some problem when measuring. And because the shown result must be some average value, the inaccurate values will be seen a bit longer time period.
To me the gps has become the most valuable property. I like to check afterward what was my route. The position is accurate enough. But there seems to be some challenges when determining the altitude.
In gps that measuring is not very accurate, so the device has an option to use “smart” correction algorithm. However, in some cases after the “correction”, the altitude can be even 100m wrong. That’s a lot!
Forerunner can be connected to Garmin Connect cloud services. For that I use my mobile phone. The connection between the mobile and the watch is via Bluetooth. With my Sony Xperia it works mostly well. With my Lumia 950 I have had problems several times.
In Garmin Connect app I can sychronize data and inspect that. For every event I can inspect all data. Even make overlaying graphs like in the figure below where both heart beat rate (“syke”) and the altitude (“korkeus”) is presented.
Gps data is presented in maps that are not useful to me. But I can export the route as a gpx file, and import it to another map like those in “Maastokartat” app.
One minor issue is that one can not download gpx file from Garmin Connect mobile app but one needs to visit the online service. Fortunately the web site works somehow well also with the mobile device.
Below is one route I walked at Koli. The route is recorded with Forerunner, and the exported to Maastokartat in my Lumia 950.
Garmin Connect mobile has also a feature “smart notifications.” Which means that one should be able to achieve notifications from the mobile phone (incoming calls, messages, etc) into Garmin device. But this is not working. It is always a bit frustrating to see some feature, enable those, and find that it is not working.
The main drawback in Forerunner is the battery. If one records an exercise or a route, the battery lasts less than ten hours. For a one-day hiking it is often enough, but not for longer ones.
For longer routes the most practical feature is then that I can see the time. Of course, that is also very valuable.
If you have any suggestions for wearables that can be valuable also for longer trips, just leave a comment below!