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Garmin Forerunner 245 Music review: New features, better price, few sacrifices

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music review: New features, better price, few sacrifices

Valentina Palladino

Runners have a lot to be excited about when it comes to Garmin’s revamped family of Forerunner smartwatches. Now starting at $199, the Forerunner family contains six devices that should serve all levels of runner—from novice to expert. The $299 Forerunner 245 and 245 Music sit right in the middle of the lineup, taking design elements from the friendlier Vivoactive series and capabilities from the higher-end Forerunner devices and mashing them up to make a mid-range device that will likely appeal to many athletes. Its price and feature set also prep the Forerunner 245 Music to compete with the Apple Watch and Fitbit’s Ionic.

But even if Garmin somewhat simplified the Forerunner family in its latest update, picking the best device for your needs and budget still takes a bit of deciphering. By nature of it sitting in the middle, the Forerunner 245 duo begs to be the default option for most runners—but key features that it lacks may push some consumers to the more expensive $449 Forerunner 645. We tested out the Forerunner 245 Music to see how well it stands up to the Forerunner 645 Music and where users need to make sacrifices to have the new smartwatch work for them.

Compared to the Forerunner 645

Before we dive into the new features brought over to the Forerunner 245 Music from other Garmin wearables, let’s talk about what the device cannot do. Garmin omitted a few things to widen the gap between this new device and the Forerunner 645 duo (regular and Music), and the most glaring omission is that of the barometric altimeter. The Forerunner 645 devices have it, but the Forerunner 245 devices do not—that means the new devices cannot track stairs climbed or measure elevation as accurately while hiking.

Forgoing an altimeter in a $299 device is baffling to say the least. I was frustrated when Fitbit left it out of the $169 Versa Lite, and I’m equally frustrated to see it left out of the Forerunner 245 Music. Considering more affordable Garmin wearables include this sensor, leaving it off the Forerunner 245 Music’s spec sheet doesn’t make sense from a user’s perspective.

But I can understand the decision from Garmin’s perspective—the Forerunner series is geared toward runners, not users who are simply looking for an all-day and all-night health-tracking device. (If that’s what you want, Garmin has many devices that aren’t nearly as expensive as any Forerunner watch). While Forerunners can do most everything a Vivoactive wearable can do, it has specific features that only runners and other athletes who run will demand.

A barometric altimeter speaks to frequent hikers and runners who train on hilly or other non-flat trails. It becomes even more vital for those types of users than the same sensor would be for someone who just wants to track the number of floors they climbed at the office on any given day. For that reason, those users may be willing to pay more for it in a device like the Forerunner 645 Music. That being said, I still feel that a $299 runner’s watch shouldn’t omit such a basic sensor.

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