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Review : Garmin Forerunner 15

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I was actually sent this as a mistake, expecting another package from Garmin for me this was posted out without checking the contents. I was pretty happy about the mistake to be honest. I have been looking for a watch to wear day to day and one that means if I forget my Garmin 910XT when I am traveling I can use for my training runs.

The FR15 is supplied as one of two purchase options, either with or without the heart rate strap. The appropriate USB charging dock and start guides are provided, with the USB dock doubling as both upload method and charging station. The watch is designed to be worn every day; it’s significantly smaller than the 405 model which many find too bulky for normal, daily use.

When in full GPS mode, the battery life is around 8 hours which amply covers most recreation runners’ long distance ambitions. In non-GPS mode, a charge lasts around 5 weeks and remaining battery time is displayed clearly on the front page, providing plenty of warning to recharge.

The FR15 has 2 distinct functions – GPS-enabled sports watch and activity tracker. In GPS mode it works well as an entry level running watch, providing key, run-based feedback information. Triathletes may also find the speed option appealing, since it enables use on the bike – for those on a budget this will function as a basic multi-sport device.

Set up and menu navigation are simple to follow out of the box – buttons are prominent and easy to use, the initial search for a GPS signal took less than 30 seconds, the HR strap pairs automatically and you’re ready to train almost immediately.

The multi-screen functionality isn’t new for Garmin and even with limited options for customisation the watch can show up to 3 different screens displaying variables of Time / Distance / Pace / Calories / HR. The split screen results in an uncluttered, easy-to-read display, although the ‘hour’ digit is reduced in size to prevent the minutes and seconds from downsizing, which at first glance can appear as if the clock has reset.

The activity tracker works without GPS and over a 24 hour period covers steps taken, estimated distance covered based on those steps, calories burnt and target calories achieved. As a simple pedometer it’s an expensive addition but when paired with the GPS data functionality, strikes a good balance for a runner.

The FR15 also has HR, pace and distance alerts, although triple alarms can become distracting and somewhat annoying. The lap function works with either default mile/km setting and can be used manually; again this was simple to set up in the menu options.

Increasingly popular with long distance triathlon racing and some marathoners is the run/walk option. After setting your preferred option for each, the watch will beep to remind you to take a recovery break. This is especially helpful a few hours into a long run when mental calculations become hard work.

Uploading workouts and daily activity data is performed using Garmin Express. Device set up is easy and intuitive and you can link your Garmin Connect account if you have one.

I found this a great watch to use daily, its light and functional at the same time, which for me means one less gadget to carry round. I am already on the lookout for my own to purchase as this has already gone back to Garmin for the original intended recipient to do their review, I guess that shows how much I like this watch.

Overall, the FR15 is a good entry-level GPS sports watch with simplicity being its greatest asset. The clear display and easy to navigate menus make this user friendly and coupled with a long battery life puts this towards the top of the pile among its peers.

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