Garmin Forerunner 45 - worth buying or paying extra? Review

PLN 790 - that's the price you have to pay for one of the cheapest sports watches currently on offer by Garmin. The only question is whether it is worth it, because maybe for a small extra fee we would get something better?

To make it clear, let's start by determining position 45 in the price hierarchy in the Garmin offer, and then, as a bonus, let Forerunner 45 several rivals from other brands.

In the case of Garmin, it looks something like this, but I limit the list to models with GPS:

  • Garmin Vivosport (about PLN 400, premiere in 2017) - you can still buy it at ridiculous prices in some stores. In my opinion a very underrated product. It offers very basic functions, but it is tiny, it has GPS and a built-in heart rate monitor.
  • Garmin Forerunner 35 (approx. PLN 450, premiere in 2016) - predecessor 45. Not very beautiful, little watch , with a black and white screen, but most of the necessary functions
  • Garmin Forerunner 45 (approx. PLN 800) - here we are with the equipment being tested
  • Garmin Vivoactive 3 (just over PLN 800) - much more watch- like look, nice screen, a few problems, including a lack of buttons. Supports Garmin Coach.
  • Garmin Forerunner 735XT (about 900 PLN) - for some reason I can't be overly convinced by this device. But if anyone needs tri equipment, it is currently the cheapest Garmin model with this function.
  • Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music (about PLN 1000) - the same as VA3, but with support for music services. Review here .
  • Garmin Instinct (about PLN 1100) - specific, but very interesting equipment. Review here .
  • Garmin Forerunner 245 (approx. PLN 1200) - shelf higher than Forerunner 45, with lots of additional statistics and more. Review here .

Quite a long and complicated list, but you can limit it a bit. If I were thinking about 45 myself, I would consider mainly 245 and Vivoactive 3. The price difference between 45 and 245 is really big - PLN 400 surcharge is half (!) Of the price of 45. Or nice running shoes. Or anything else.

And who, apart from Garmin, competes with 45?

  • Polar Ignite (about 860 PLN in a cheaper version) - very good price, impressive possibilities, training functions and training analysis, but I definitely didn't like the touch screen. Review here .
  • Huawei Watch GT 2 (about PLN 900) - I tested this watch in its first installment and it was a surprisingly interesting proposition, although rather for beginners. Plus, the fact that training data could not be shared with external services was difficult to survive. First generation review here .
  • Apple Watch Series 3 (from PLN 999) - I can already see a crowd of torches and forks coming to my house because I dared to add an Apple Watch to compare with Garmin. But what to do - AW is also a pretty decent sports watch, and above all - a brilliant smart watch. Series 4 review here .

Probably you can exchange for a long time, but that's probably enough to have an idea of ​​what 45 is cheaper from. And as far as.

Now you can go to the right review, focusing on what Forerunner 45 has and what it lacks in relation to the more expensive models from the Garmin offer.

Is: GPS (and GLONASS and Galileo)

Let's put it differently - Forerunner 45 has exactly the same location module as most current Garmin watches (and most devices on the market). So it should not surprise anyone that the accuracy of measurements is almost identical, even if you compare the most expensive Forerunner (945) and the cheapest (45).

For example, here one selected, not very long run.

The difference over a distance of about 7.3 km was less than 40 m.

Of course, if we look very closely at the GPS data record, we can see that in some places the 945 was doing a little better, hitting the road more effectively, or at least its map equivalent. This can be seen in both the above graphic and the following.

And this inaccuracy is usually around the subway, maybe two. If we slightly zoom out the map with the recording, usually with three devices recording the same trail, we will get something like this:

Is it perfect? No, but I have not yet seen a watch that would record the trace absolutely flawlessly. Is it good enough that I regretted running 45 and 945, without loss of distance or speed? Yes. And a bonus question: can tall buildings negatively affect signal reception? Unfortunately yes.

Interestingly, the iPhone XS Max apparently shared the idea of ​​Forerunner 45 as to where I am right now. Garmin 945 chose its own path. Which was consistent with reality? To be honest, none - I ran for most of this episode in the middle of the street ...

Is: heart rate sensor (and support for external sensors)

But I immediately point out - there is a catch here. First, it's based on the fact that Bluetooth sensors are not supported. None. Not and now.

The second is that the list of supported sensors is quite limited and includes heart rate sensors, footpod sensors, as well as speed and cadence sensors. The end. Nothing else.

Which does not change the fact that most buyers will still use the built-in optical sensor and reach for the external strip only when the oHRM in 45 proves to be insufficient for them. And this may not happen, because it is just quite fine (as in other Garminy, because it is the same sensor ...).

Here is an example of a short, calm run, with 45, 945 and Polar OH1 + wristband:

And standard - this chart may look a little scary at first glance when it comes to differences in indications, but let's look at a hole around 24 minutes, for example:

The difference between 945 and 45 (which is to be expected) is just over 1 BPM. OH1 + did not agree with this, but in this case it was 2-3 BPM. Acceptable all the time.

However, I don't remember what happened around 29 minutes, but apparently I decided to speed up and slow down a few times. And here an interesting thing - if the increase in heart rate all devices registered more or less the same, so 45 - despite the strongly stepped chart - coped with the first rest better than 945, which actually missed it.

With the other three, all test equipment did well, although 45 added 2 BPMs here and there. But let me remind you - these are 2 BPM for about 150 BMP. A little over 1 percent difference.

Ok, it was easy, let's get to something more interesting, i.e. intervals. Unfortunately, due to the current situation - performed on a treadmill, which speeds up to 14 km / h, so before I could jump on a higher heart rate, the training is almost over. But the graph is.

An additional relish - in this case 945 is connected to HRM Run, i.e. a dedicated chest strap.

Impressions? At first glance, the charts coincide almost perfectly, although at warm-up 45 he needed a moment to determine that the additional 5 BPM he had calculated was not true.

Then came the series of seven one-minute sprints (yeah, 14 km / h sprints):

Differences? 2-3 BMP, while maintaining the correct shape of the chart and the correct reading of the moments of increase and decrease in pulse. As a curiosity I will add that HRM Run currently costs about 350 PLN, while Polar OH1 + - 259 PLN. That is, respectively 43 percent. and 31 percent prices of the WHOLE Forerunner 45.

Then came the time for six sprints of 1.5 minutes:

And here are two things. First of all - in the middle something went wrong HRM Run, because it definitely underestimated the heart rate, and then quickly returned to providing the correct information. Secondly - in the fourth sprint something in turn went not quite as it should be in case 45 and did not quite catch the hill , which was perfectly caught by the other equipment.

The difference between indications 45 and 945 and OH1 Plus was ... about 3 BPM. I still think it passed the test.

There are: buttons and a simple menu

In my opinion, the biggest advantage of 45 over, for example, Vivoactive 3. For some time my wife wore the watch and explaining to her how everything works, it took me maybe 5 minutes. There is a standard, garmin 5 buttons with clearly described functions, it is a simple to pain menu (so simple that there is not even animation between screens ...). If we want to start running, we simply press the Start and ride button several times. It can't be done much easier.

Not to mention the fact that using a watch with gloves (in winter) or with hands wet with sweat (now) will definitely be easier at 45 than VA3. Privately, I don't even consider the option that my next watch will not be operated with full physical buttons.

PS. If anyone asks - yes, you can change the clock faces, including those from the Connect IQ store. However, you cannot upload applications from the same store, just like widgets or data fields. We have what is on the watch factory, which is all you need (including weather forecasts, notifications, alarm clock, stopwatch, etc.).

Is: support for training plans, exercises and Garmin Coach

At the same time it is about training and running exercises - we will not play other 45. However, when it comes to running training, we have a full range of possibilities. It does not differ in any noticeable way from what we find, for example, on 45 or 945. It is not so, that e.g. for 45 only training plans are available. "I would like to run 5 km." Half marathon at 4:27 min / km? Relax, you can train for this and on 45 with the Garmin Coach. And if we have our training plan - we can easily paste it into Garmin Connect and upload to 45.

A big plus, because it makes 45 is not only a watch to record training, but also can be our virtual trainer.

Of course, Forerunner 45 also calculates our VO2 max. In the run options, you can also set automatic pauses and automatic laps, and set alerts (e.g. for pace, distance, time, etc.). The built-in accelerometer allows you to monitor cadence while running without external sensors.

And, if it was important for someone, 45 supports issuing voice messages to our headphones (e.g. with a lap summary), but of course requires a connected phone - we will not connect it directly to the headphones.

Is: accident detection and emergency call (and Live Track)

I admit - I've never used these options, but I always have them on just in case . What are they for? They allow you to detect a possible accident on a bike or while running and automatically send a call for help (actually the right message with our location) to the indicated contacts. We can also do it manually.

However, I regularly use Live Track - mainly so that my family knows not to disturb me while running or cycling. On the other hand - during trips to the mountains I activate this function for my own safety. Just in case.

It is: small and comfortable (and waterproof)

There are two options to choose from and both are really small - 45 (42 × 42 × 11.4 mm, 36 g) and 45S (39.5 × 39.5 × 11.4 mm, 32 g). I dealt with the bigger one and it seemed surprisingly small and light to me - even compared to the quite compact 945. Also after putting his wife on a small hand, he did not seem to be an amazing compass , besides my wife, asked if she would prefer 45S, answered that this one is just right.

It is a pity that 45 does not support quick replacement of straps, but I understand why this is so - each of these straps costs about PLN 200, and it's 1/4 of the value of the whole watch ...

Is: monitoring of daily activities

In addition to steps and all-day heart rate (with alerts at too low and too high), we also have, among others sleep, stress and body battery statistics. Information about the number of floors climbed - due to the lack of a barometer - of course, we will not know.

There is: a very practical display

I will not write that it is nice, because it has nothing to do with being nice, mainly due to the resolution of 208x208 pixels and typical bluish blacks. But when it comes to its usefulness in sports conditions, it is exemplary. In dark places, the backlight is most adequate. In the sharp sunlight, we still see everything we want from every possible angle.

This should be the screen in a sports watch, but ... let it have a slightly higher resolution, please, because it looks a little sore from looking. I would not mind if it were a little bigger, the more that we are dealing with a giant frame and the display (1.04 ") is rather mic.

There is: a very good battery

13 hours in GPS mode and 7 days in watch mode. The latter one is not able to accurately confirm (although without charging 45 should withstand these few nice days), but as for the first - full agreement. Although it is enough for me to watch without charging in GPS mode lasts 6-7 hours.

There are: various sport modes

But you have to stop your enthusiasm - there are not many of them. By default we have running, treadmill running, bike, walk and cardio. From Garmin Connect, we can also add running on a treadmill under a roof, cycling under a roof, walking under a roof, an elliptical machine, a stepper, yoga and more.

And that would be enough. Thanks to this, we can go on to discuss what was missing in 45 compared to, for example, 245 or more expensive models.

What was missing

As a first example, of course, I will give functions related to the summary and analysis of training. For example, this is the summary of training from 945 and without HRM Run belt fastened (then the data would not fit on one screenshot):

And this is what data from 45 looks like:

So all the key information is there, but no add-ons. There is no evaluation of training effect, no hydration data (ok, it is not so important), all data defined by Garmin as Training Status (load, load differentiation, etc.), lack of race simulator (with our estimated times for specific distances) , the rest calculator is missing and so on and so forth. Although now, listing these items, I wonder if they really are so necessary for life.

The watch itself also lacks a number of functions, and some deficiencies are quite surprising. For example, there is no option to resume training later, which can be useful if during the race we decide to eat dinner in a roadside eatery (well, it happens). Of course, there are no functions related to navigation, even in the simplest version. There is no question of playing music (but we can control this from the phone), as well as payments. Segments? Of course, forget it. Swimming? Unfortunately none. Running dynamics? Under no circumstances. Virtual Pacer? There is no. And now a curiosity - in 35 there are.

There is also no option to choose the frequency of data recording - hence the steps on the heart rate graph, or minor differences in GPS recording. While in 245 we can choose whether the recording is to be made in the Smart mode (automatic selection of sampling intervals) or 1-second mode, there is no option to change the Smart mode here. Ba, in general this option is removed from the menu.

You can also tinker even deeper. For example 45 has the option of setting automatic laps, but the lap can only have 1 km - this value cannot be changed manually. Automatic pause? Only after stopping, while on more expensive devices you can define your own speed below which the watch will stop recording.

The configuration of the data displayed during training doesn't appeal to me a bit either. There are no extensive fields or graphic elements like in 945. Instead, we have a choice of 1, 2 or 3 data fields, one below the other (you can see in the paragraph about the display), without any description. So we have to learn what is what and where it is displayed, otherwise we will have to guess whether it is the current 150 heart rate or cadence. Fact - when switching to a given screen, descriptions are displayed for a moment, but they disappear quite quickly. In addition, I once had an old Forerunner 305, which allowed greater flexibility when it comes to organizing parameters on the screen ...

The list of deficiencies can be closed by the lack of strength profile, which I do not understand, on the list of available sport modes, which means that we can not even take advantage of the strength training offered in Garmin Connect, rip our own, or also count repetitions during free strength training. A small lack, but one could not divide these series and models by force.

Worth it or not?

By default, as is the case with Garmin devices, it's complicated. The more that Garmin quite skillfully complicates his portfolio himself.

However, this does not change one thing - if someone just wants to run (including training plans, manual workouts or Garmin Coach), Forerunner 45 has everything you need. It is light and small, it is conveniently operated with buttons, it will efficiently lead us through training (and withstand a marathon or two on one charge), and then show all the basic data that we can expect. So if someone is looking for a simple sports watch and mainly runs (although the bike is also an option), then it will be well spent 800 PLN.

On the other hand, if someone expects something more from the watch - both in terms of sport and smart matters, the surcharge may already make sense. For example, Forerunner 245 already supports running dynamics, swimming, pulse oximeter, training effect, training status, training load, applications from the Connect IQ Store, has more sport modes and is available in a version with music (although it is clearly more expensive). Plus a lot of details that were missing in 45, and which are difficult to list easily (ok, I just don't have 245 at hand).

Add to this the fact that many people want their sports watch to be as functional today as possible outside of training - so it would be good if it offered payments, and even better - if it offered music. You won't find it in 45, even for an extra charge. We must either change to the Vivoactive series (fewer buttons - brrr) or Forerunner 245 Music (no Garmin Pay), 645 (no Garmin Pay, no music), 645 Music (both), or 945. So standard - we start with the watch for PLN 800, and then suddenly it turns out that in total it would be best to spend PLN 2,800.

So in order not to distract you unnecessarily, I will come back to the first conclusion - if you are just looking for a sports watch, mainly for running, and all the additional functions mentioned in this text are not worth the extra fees - you can easily order Forerunner 45. You should not be disappointed.



Garmin Forerunner 45 - worth buying or paying extra? Review

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