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Garmin Forerunner 245 Music review: a runner’s best friend

Guardian Technology 28 May 2020 06:00
The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music is a really great running watch that tracks cycling, swimming and comprehensive health stats too. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Forerunner 245 is Garmin’s excellent performance running watch and sets a new benchmark against which the competition should be measured.

Two versions are available: one which can download music and one which cannot at a recommended retail price of £299.99 or £249.99 respectively. It came out in April 2019 to replace the popular Forerunner 235.

The Forerunner 245 resembles a round digital watch and is just 42.3mm wide, 12.2mm thick and 38.5g in weight, which by sports watch standards is tiny, comparing favourably with the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy Watch Active 2 and the Apple Watch Series 5. It takes standard universal 20mm watch bands and comes with an excellent traditional silicone strap that fits wrists between 127mm and 204mm in circumference: in other words most wrists.

The Garmin Forerunner 245
The body is made from hard, slightly textured plastic, with three metal buttons sticking out the left side and two more on the right. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

From the watch face you can also access a long list of customisable widgets using the up and down buttons, including smartphone notifications, calendar, the weather, health stats, stress levels, your heart rate, previous runs and many others.

Charging and syncing

The Forerunner 245 fully charges in two hours via a short snap-in USB cable that plugs into the back of the watch and can connect to Garmin’s desktop Express software on Windows or Mac.

The Forerunner 245 tracks lots of sports but excels for running with practically every feature you can think of, whether that’s on a treadmill, track, trail or road. The battery lasts up to 24 hours tracking with GPS, and just under six hours playing music.

You can get the watch to beep and vibrate when you’ve hit certain milestones, such as laps or distance, and speak things like your average pace every three minutes through Bluetooth headphones. You can also set a target based on distance, time or pace, which is extremely handy for running a 5K without a running track.

The Forerunner 245 does a good job of tracking most of the basic cycling stats similar to running (pace, distance, heart rate etc) and can be paired with various external sensors for speed and cadence, plus Garmin’s smart lights.

Both versions of the Forerunner 245 can control music playback on a smartphone, but only the Forerunner 245 Music can download tracks and play them without a phone, with a capacity for 3.5GB or 500 tracks.

Alongside health tracking, the Forerunner 245 has basic smartwatch features, vibrating when you get a text, notification or call on your phone. You can scroll through the text of a notification and clear it, reject a call and that sort of thing.

  • Syncing and updating the watch via wifi is much faster than via smartphone.

  • You can’t listen to music and sync via wifi at the same time.

  • Garmin and Beats headphones have a bug that breaks the on-earphone volume controls.

  • The watch can take a beating – I fell while running, landing on the watch and taking a bit out of the plastic but it was otherwise unaffected.

  • The Forerunner 245 doesn’t support Garmin Pay/mobile payments.

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