Garmin Forerunner 235: The Best Running Watch Yet

The Garmin Forerunner 235 takes everything that was great about its predecessor and packs it into a lighter and smaller package. It also adds new features, such as the capability to add third-party watch faces and apps. The Forerunner 235 as both a running watch and an all-day activity tracker, and can self-assuredly say this is the best GPS watch. The Forerunner 235 isn’t inexpensive, but if you’re serious about running and want a great wrist-worn partner, this is the one to get.

While it certainly has a sporty design, the Forerunner 235 looks less like a GPS watch and more like a traditional watch, especially when you change its face. The thinness and lightness of the Forerunner 235 were immediately obvious. Its previous watches, Garmin placed two buttons on the right side of the watch (back and start), and three on the left (backlight, up and down). Using those buttons along with an instinctive on-screen interface, you easily navigated from beginning to end the 235’s menus. There’s no need for a touch screen; I’ve found that touch screens don’t work well when my hands get covered with sweat. Even though it doesn’t track swimming, the Forerunner 235 is waterproof to depths of up to 165 feet.

The Forerunner 235’s display was not the most colorful, but it was simple to read in all but the dimmest light, and in that situation, its handy backlight provided all the enlightenment you needed. It was very easy to read outdoors, particularly in bright sunlight, thanks to its transflective display. The Forerunner 235 boasts some great advanced running features. These include some formerly found only on Garmin’s higher-end GPS watches, such as your VO2 max, an estimate of how much oxygen your body can procedure. The upper the number, the fit you are. The Forerunner 235 also has a recovery guide, which lets you know how long you should rest before your next arduous activity.

Similar to the Garmin vivoactive HR, the Garmin Forerunner 235 is about as close as a fitness device gets to being a true smart watch. You can receive text and call notifications from your smart phone but can’t reply if not you’re using an Android device. From the watch, you can also control music from your phone, in spite of of whether it’s Android or iOS. Garmin has a proto app store called Connect IQ, where you can locate a hundred or so watch faces, apps and widgets to download to the Forerunner 235. Most only take the information gathered by the watch and present it in dissimilar ways, but there are a few fun ones, such as a watch face that looks like the fluctuation capacitor’s digital readout from back to the Future.

In the leader board section, you can vie with friends to see who’s taken the most steps, while Calendar lets you view your fitness actions in a calendar view. News Feed shows your activities set in a list, but this was the least interesting view and felt superfluous. Clicking on the more icons brings up a huge menu where you can, again, dig deeper into stats for different activities, workouts and your connected procedure. Here, you can join to Garmin’s Connect IQ store to download apps, widgets and golf courses to the Forerunner 235.

Garmin says the Forerunner 235 will last 11 hours on a single charge in Training Mode (using GPS and the heart-rate monitor) and lasts up to nine days when it’s being used as a watch with activity tracking, notifications and the heart rate monitor. The Forerunner 235 picked up a GPS indicator faster than any device. Garmin continues to shrink the size of its charging connectors. Although it’s still proprietary, the small clip hooks strongly onto the side of the Forerunner 235, and charges it quickly via USB. Moderate to active runners will love what the Forerunner 235 has to present. It’s light, thin and easy to use that accurately tracks your location and heart rate while you’re running; and lets you modify its display.

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