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The Upgrade

After quite a few years with my last one, I finally upgraded my Garmin Watch (strictly speaking, my wife did, it was a gift).  The old one still worked fine, but its battery life was really starting to suffer when using GPS.

My new one is a Forerunner 55 and I’ve been using it for a few months.  Some observations about it:

  • No touch screen (my old Garmin had one).  So far I don’t miss it – trying to tap the “save” button after a workout on the old watch was always hazardous since the “delete” button was right next to it.  The mechanical difference between swiping between different views and pushing a button is negligible.  It did take a bit to learn the new buttons, so maybe the new watch isn’t quite as intuitive, but I’ll take the trade.
  • Looks like a regular watch.  My last Garmin, although a huge improvement over the 205/305 I had before that, was square, which just looked a little odd.
  • Can wear it like a regular watch!  The battery life is good enough to wear it full time all week, while still supporting 1-2 hours a day of GPS usage when I run or ride.  
  • The light is bright enough to be useful in a dark room at night (you can’t read by it, but you can find your way to the bathroom and back).
  • The app integration is way more sophisticated – tracks (or estimates) a lot of things:
    • Sleep – total hours, and guesses for how much time you were awake, in rem sleep, deep sleep, etc.  I think the total hours is pretty accurate, hard to say on the others but I definitely have had nights where I was awake a long time and the app only said a few minutes (I tend to lie very still when awake in the middle of the night)
    • Heart rate – resting and max. The resting rate is especially interesting to me since it is an indirect measurement of overall fitness.  
    • Something called “body battery” – I haven’t really read up on what this means but it seems like some measure of how rested you are.  I don’t check it regularly but haven’t felt a strong correlation to how I feel physically so might put this in the category of “gimmick.”
    • Stress.  I don’t think this one is particularly accurate or useful. See “body battery.”
  • Another feature that is interesting is after a run (and maybe other activities) the watch gives an estimate of your VO2 max.  Not sure about accuracy, but it is interesting to see.  
  • The watch and app retain excellent integration with Strava.  Unfortunately Garmin and Strava have very different opinions at times about elevation gain – an example, yesterday’s run – Garmin thought over 1400 feet, Strava said less than 1200.

So, overall I’m very happy with the watch.  There are models with more features, but the Forerunner 55 does everything I want, plus a few things I didn’t know I wanted, plus a few things I’ll probably never use or pay much attention to.