Garmin Forerunner 225 Review

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Nearly identical to the Forerunner 220, the Garmin Forerunner 225 sports one small monumental change: a wrist-strap heart rate monitor.

No longer does tracking heart rate require a chest strap. Instead the Forerunner 225 uses an optical light sensor built into the underside of the watch. It’s similar to what’s found on the Apple Watch and various Fitbits with one big exception: better accuracy while working out.

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Still, it’s important to note that a wrist-based heart rate monitor won’t be as accurate as a chest strap. The 225 is great for determining exertion level (which really is enough for most runners). But if you are looking for the highest level of accuracy stick with a chest strap.

Some people with tattoos or darker skin have experienced problems with the heart rate sensor. The technology works by shining a light through your skin to determine how fast your blood is pumping. Dark skin or tattoos interfere with this in some cases – but it’s by no means universal and varies from person to person.

Ambient light is also the 225’s enemy. It’s important to wear the watch fairly tight on your wrist. To help, Garmin created a new silicon wrist strap that keeps it snug, but comfortable. Garmin also added a rubber O-ring around the sensor to prevent light leaks. That being said, the watch is still fairly large. For those with smaller wrists, the unit may not function properly or be uncomfortable to wear.

 

Enough with the HRM. Garmin added a few additional features not available on the Forerunner 220. One is activity tracking – counting steps, creating daily step count goals, plus “get off your butt” reminders – making it suitable for all-day wear.

Garmin also incorporated a new way to track heart rate with a color coded gauge: blue bars indicate an easy or resting heart rate; green is aerobic threshold, and orange is max-effort exertion. This makes it easier to monitor exertion level when working out.

We should also point out some of the 225’s other features shared with the Forerunner 220:

  • A color display
  • Vibration alerts
  • Remembering personal records
  • Advanced and interval workouts (creating detailed workouts on the watch, for example: 10 minute warm-up, 4 mile run at 8:00 min/mile pace, 10 minute cool-down)

Another nice feature of the 225 and 220 is its built-in accelerometer. This allows the watch to calculate cadence as well as pace and distance on a treadmill without the need of a foot pod.

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Like any GPS watch, there are some weaknesses. Most glaring – and this is a problem with the 220 – is its battery. It lasts for 7-10 hours in activity mode. This isn’t terrible, but it does mean fairly frequent recharging. The Forerunner 225 is also designed primarily for running. So while it’s waterproof, it lacks the swim metrics and other features used by triathletes and other non-runners.

Having worn this watch on my average-sized wrists, I found the Forerunner 225 to be comfortable and accurate as a heart-rate monitor. I wouldn’t be surprised if Garmin begins incorporating this feature in its other GPS watches.


PROS:

  • Wrist-strap heart rate monitor – no more chest strap!
  • Activity tracking combined with advanced running features
  • Can track cadence and indoor pace/distance without a foot pod

CONS:

  • Average battery-life
  • No non-running features such as swim metrics or activity switching

WHO SHOULD BUY THIS WATCH
Runners

Any runner looking for a heart rate monitor without a chest strap. It’s also great for more advanced runners who want to program workouts or download training plans onto the watch.

Cyclists

It’s fine for casual cyclists who want a way to track basic data, but avoid the 225 for more serious rides or triathlon training.

Swimmers

The watch IS water-proof to 50 meters; however, it can only track time in the water, nothing else.

FEATURES

Hardware

Battery-life: up to 10 hours exercise mode; 4 weeks watch mode (no GPS)

Water-proof to 50 meters

Color display

Data Tracking

Time, Distance, and Speed/Pace

Calories

Heart rate calculated calories

Workout History

200 hours

Remembers Personal Records

Alerts & General Features

Auto lap

Auto pause

Time/distance audible and vibration alerts

Activity Tracking (steps, goals, reminders)

Training Aids

Interval workouts

Customizable workouts

Virtual Pacer

Syncing

Downloads activities to your computer

Shares workouts on Facebook and Twitter (using Garmin Connect)

Syncs with smartphones

Accessories

Food pod

Other Functions

Time of day

Date

Alarms

Stopwatch