OPINION: Why the Garmin Forerunner 25 announcement disappoints

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IMG_3394OPINION: Garmin’s announcement earlier this week on the new Forerunner 25 disappoints a little.

Unless I’m missing something the FR25 doesn’t really add much to the mix. Sure it’s going to create lots of “review space” from a select few leading reviewers and then a whole plethora of reviews that copy those or refer to the announced features.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m sure the Forerunner 25 is a great entry level watch.

It just doesn’t add that much that is new.

I don’t plan to review one. I only have so many minutes each month.

OK it was a new product announcement for a new month. Garmin are doing exceptionally well at announcing a new product each month (HRM-SWIM, Edge 25, Edge 520). Putting the competition to shame by a long way. That really is fantastically exciting. But…

I just hoped for something a bit more exciting. I had kinda hoped they would have optical HR on an entry-level watch, I guess. *IF* it did have optical HR at the announced price point then I would be lamenting Polar’s (M400) inability to match the Garmin. Maybe the economics don’t stack up?

But as it stands all the Forerunner 25 really has over the M400 is live tracking.

I’ll back track for a minute in my argument.

Live tracking is where you can send your exact real-time position to anyone in the world, including race spectators or your partner waiting for you to arrive back home and turn the shower on. It’s a bit rubbish when you first think about it on the grounds that “I’ll never use it”. But then you decide to use it just to try it out, secretly hoping that it doesn’t work. Then you play with it a bit more and sure enough, I hate to admit it, it soon becomes quite neat and clever and OCCASIONALLY of REAL use.

I was going to use livetracking (FR920XT) in the recent Prudential Ride London to meet a friend who was riding in a different wave but in the end we met on a hill and in any case we had decided against using live tracking because of potential battery drain issues to the smartphone and the need to use the mobile phone to get back home after the race.

So live tracking is OK really. But not a show stopper or ‘must-have’.

Looking at it another way though maybe the FR25 is setting a sensible benchmark for an entry-level watch?

Let’s get the price of a half-decent GPS+HR running watch regularly down to about GBP70/US$100 then all runners will have the real basics that they need to train with some degree of properlyness (yes that is a word).

Then above that price point we have watches that compete on their features. Let’s fact it, Garmin do pretty well there already.

Maybe the announcement was MEANT to be a bit BORING? Maybe summer is a quiet time. Maybe September the 1st is the big announcement date once school holidays are over. Maybe September will bring us optical HR on the FR620 aka FR625/FR630…that’s what I think is going to happen (based on no inside knowledge whatsoever I hasten to add).

NOW I’m excited.

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The only thing that disappoints me is two data fields per screen, I couldn’t care less about optical being built in as I have two scosche rhythm+’s. for that. Being a early adopter the first one is sometimes dead when you come to use it. The slightest touch will turn it on. The second unit has later firmware and takes a three second press to turn it on. Perhaps Mio’s licensing terms are better for partner companies than Valencells. What other reason can there be for the uptake of the Mio unit?