Thursday, 7 August 2014

Garmin FR620 Review of Cadence and Connectivity : Deo

As part of the collaboration between Garmin Malaysia and Team 2ndSkin, we were given the opportunity to test out one of Garmin's latest model in its running series, the FR620. While the detailed unboxing review of the watch has been done by team mate, Roy Yeow, which you can read here, a further review on the technical and functional aspects of the watch was done by Tri Stupe, which you can read here
So, I would like to review on a couple of FR620 functions that I like the most about this FR620 watch and other new generation of Garmin running watches.

1. Analysis of cadence 
One of things that is important for a runner is to analyze the cadence. Just like the rpm for a car, cadence (measured in stride per minute of simply spm) is a number of full cycles taken within a minute, by the pair of feet. As you need to clock more spm for better performance, higher spm will also helps to adjust a runner's form and technique (foot landing, arm swing, length of strides) and in turn may lead to fewer injuries. (note: I've written a blog entry on cadence which you can read here).

Cadence analysis feature
The beauty with FR620 is that you don't need to have an external footpod to pair with the watch to measure cadence. While additional gadget means additional weight and additional stuff to carry around, having the watch being able to track cadence on itself, is a cool thing about the watch. However, other running dynamic functions like vertical oscillation and ground contact times still require the usage of heart rate monitor, which I hope one day can also be stand alone just like cadence tracking.  

2. Connectivity to Garmin Connect mobile application.
After you have installed Garmin Connect mobile application in your mobile device/phone, you would be able to upload your activity/workout as soon as you've completed it, in a jiffy. This works really well especially when you are not anywhere near your computer of laptop when you need to transfer the activity/workout data via ANT+ sensor. You can do this in the gym while waiting for shower or waiting for the sweat to dry up or even while walking to the car park after each workout. And while you're having post-workout dinner or commuting in public transport on the way home, you can already view and analyze your workout data from your mobile device. 
Viewing your activity/workout right after you've done with it
The Garmin Connect mobile application gives you enough data to analyze on-the-go. It allows you to view summary of your workout including map, as well as the details of the workout such as splits, graphs for the pace, elevation, heart rate, cadence, etc. It also allows you to do simple editing on your workout like the title of the workout, activity type and notes/comments on the activity. 
Other details of your activity/workouts that can be viewed from Garmin Connect mobile application: 

Liking/commenting your friends' activities as well as replying to friends' comments are also made possible, just like facebook-ing. 
Friends' activities/workouts screen...
Another function that I think maybe interesting to use is the Live Track feature whereby we allow our connections in Garmin Connect to follow our activities in real time. For those who doesn't mind for their workout activities to be 'live-tracked', which is the main reason why I didn't use this feature, this should be a great feature. In addition, to use the feature, your phone is required to be around with you during your workout as the watch and the mobile app is connected via bluetooth. 

To me, as an amateur athlete who still holds a daytime job, all this connectivity function which you can access the data and information right from your mobile device, view/like/comment your friends' activities, allows this watch to be the go-to watch to be worn from dawn (the moment you wake up and get ready for work until dusk when you're all settled with your works, workouts, nightlife and just getting ready to hit the bed. 

The sleek and trendy design of the watch does not make it looks like any other sports watch. I've worn the watch to high level meetings in office (instead of wearing the a more formal chain strap analog watch) but it doesn't makes me feel awkward the way I would feel if I wear my other bulky, rubber-strap sports watch. In fact, I did receive praises from my colleagues admiring the design of the watch. And it is a good motivation for you to work out when your sports watch is already wrapped around your wrist than neatly placed in your gym back - it's like an obligation to work out when you look at the watch. 
Wearing FR620 indoor and during non-workout time (at one of the Team 2ndSkin Running Workshops)
I've worn it for my casual activities during weekend and I even wore it during my engagement day and still, it didn't feel like I was wearing a sports rubber watch, but more as casual watch. Only that the 'colored screen' or theme feature of the watch where you can choose different colors as your watch theme is either unnecessary or can be further improved by adding more 'colored' functions in the watch. And if you just use the watch as a normal watch (without activating GPS), the battery can last for more than two days without the needs to recharge.
...FR620 on my casual days too!
As FR620 is purposely designed and built to cater those into running (you can also use it for cycling but will have to edit the type of activity manually in Garmin Connect), those who are into multiple sports other than just running, FR620 may not be the ideal watch for you. But for runners, overall, FR620 serves the purpose of a running watch very well, marrying those technical features with the casual look and the social connectivity function which is the trend these days. 

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