26 February 2015

Garmin forerunner 220 everyday review and impression after one year of usage.

Honest warnings:
This review was written by person who running for relaxing, 'losing weight' ,endurance and health reasons.
I am not expert , 'expert' or blogger who knows anything about sport science ,nutrition and etc.

This review is about my  personal experience with Garmin Forerunner 220  for outdoor running  with extra information about general impression and how looks my opinion after 1 year of usage.

VOCABULARY:

GPS - stands for Global Postioning System
HRM stands for Heart Rate Monitor and it is used to measure


STORY:

Story, why I needed to buy this watch?
One way to be inspiring to run is to see statistics. I like statistics . It is exciting to see  progress you doing over time.

I was student and spending fortune for this watch was not a option . I decided to use application on Android  device.I have done some research  and Runkeeper was a  solution for my problem.
 It "works" on Android, so i can use it and listen music at the same time .Perfect. Well ,unfortunately Runkeeper was one of the worst programs that I used in my life for long time.  Normally ,you will just use other apps like most people did ,but  I am software developer and I decided to carry on use this application , because using Runkeeper teaches me few things:

  1. Write software  that will NOT ruin people's passion.
  2. Test your application (at least basic functionality)
  3. Interact with customers,if they make effort to make feedback .. respond it .
  4. If you fix bug ,fix it rather than make things worse.

One of reason why I stopped  running is because Runkeeper ruined my stats due constant crashes .
I can write a lot about  how shitty Runkeeper  app for Android. However, I must mention 2 great things about Runkeeper. Their website is awesome and for long time it was one of the best for this kind of applications. Simple,Easy to use and gives lots of useful stuff. Second one is Runkeeper for  iPhone is much better.
Anyway. It is about Garmin Forerunner 220 not how crap is Runkeeper.

I moved to London and I start  miss running, but I knew that using Runkeeper and British weather will ruin my passion to run again.  Another problems was that I broke 2 smartphones during running and I didn't want broke my 3rd phone,so  I decided buy a watch to restore my passion to running.

I have done  research about which watch I want.

My requirement were simple:
  • Watch must hold ~10 hours  using GPS (to be able to walk marathon)
  • It must have HRM
  • Accurate
  • have a decent website where I can see all stats and/or  be compatible with Runkeeper website
After read many reviews ,check prices and so on I spent fortune and I bought Garmin forerunner 220

If you want know specification.Look here:
https://buy.garmin.com/en-GB/GB/wearables/wearables/forerunner-220/prod129397.html


FIRST IMPRESSION:

It came  in small package. In the box you will get Watch, Heart rate Monitor, Cable for charging and data exchange and some papers with bla bla bla. Watch looks like toy'ish and bit fragile . You can feel a weight of watch (It weights ... 40g  ),but it doesn't make you hand feel tired over time (at least for rather unfit big man)  .


DISPLAY and UI:

It has a colourful screen.
Colours are  abit washout for me but that's all bad things what you can say about display.
From User experience point of view data displayed on screen during run, in menu and etc. are easy to understand and find. Everything seems to be well organised.
It is always easy to read data on screen  despite weather condition (and at night, thanks to good backlight)  and watch is highly-configurable  ,so you can choose what to display during activity. (You can configure 2 screens with 3 type of data (per screen) of your choice  + heart rate + clock
You can manually switch between screens during running or set auto-scroll which will switch screen periodically.

 
BATTERY LIFE:

According to specification battery is enough for 10hr  active use (GPS/HRM)  ,so It will be enough for walk Marathon. I didn't get 10h but I was close.
In watch mode works up to  6 weeks and that seems to be more-less true as  I used as watch once for 2 days and device used 5% of the battery.
If you using actively ,you will charge this Watch every week which is great result. It charges itself in about 1 hour on charger.


FEATURES:
  • Watch is designed to measure your activity and display various data to you . It does very well  . Data is very accurate (However indoor measurements are less accurate according to many reviews but I didn't check this in details as  I don't do indoor exercises).
  • Most feature are very useful and there is no junk-gadgets features.. My favourite extra features are
    • Run/Walk alert  (you can set how long  you want run  and how long you want walk )
    • General alerting features that you are below/above limit like for heart rate,pace and etc.
    • Keep information about my personal best (Sadly , I  messed-up with results I saved accidentally an activity that I wanted to delete it (As after long walk I took tube ,so my personal best belong to Metropolitan Line at the moment :( ... good news is that you can delete them but you cannot undo them .. until you sync data with website (as you can dismiss new records).
  • It has a nice summary screen after activity is finished.
  • Backlight works very well, so there is no problem with see data at night.
  • I miss feature to choose what type of activity it is (like run,walk).
  • It is waterproof ,which I tested by accident.(It stays in hot water in bath for 40 minutes).

ACCESSORIES for watch

HEART RATE MONITOR

I bought watch with heart rate monitor and my impression is  ... IT IS AWESOME!.
I expected it will be interesting accessory ,but it is much better and  very useful in many occasions .For example: it helps you, when your targets are like  lose weight or improve endurance , improve calories burn accuracy and keep you on track ( to ensure that you run with consistent  pace ,in specific heart rate range and etc.). It adds a lot  to your running experience and my recommendation is if you buy this watch buy with Heart Rate Monitor. It's worth money.


FOOT PAD

You need buy separately  and It cost £60! It allows you to run indoor or use with devices that doesn't have accelerometer.  Garmin forerunner 220 has Accelerometer.

I bought Foot Pad because I though it works like pedometer and it measure steps... but It doesn't do that. (Conclusion? Don't buy things at 2am when you are sleepy).

Do you need it ? No*. It's not worth 60'ish quids. Seriously . 20? yes, but not 60 pounds. (in 2014).

* I must admit that Foot pad improves  accuracy for indoors  exercises BUT  I didn't test this in details. From what I read online about this watch Footpad is must-have accessory for indoors users as internal accelerometer is so-so . I use watch for outdoor walks/run only,so for me , it was a waste of  money as Accelerometer calculates distance enough well when GPS is not available (which happens in forest and city,when you are surrounded by tall buildings).


SOFTWARE

I am really impressed with Garmin Software.
I registered on Garmin's website. and  download software.
Installation went smoothly.
Synchronization between watch and website works perfectly.
It has a one of the best update system for both software and firmware.
Why? It is Simple (process) , Easy (it explains what will happen and explain what  changes are in new version).


EVERYDAY USE AND  GENERAL IMPRESSION
  • Finding satellites is very quick as watch pre-cached satellite data for about week,so it takes 5-30 seconds to be able to use Satellite and that's great result for GPS. 
  • GPS accuracy is very high.
  • Watch always works and I never had any problem with bugs or glitches.
  • Despite Watch's shell looks like made from cheap plastic it is quite resistant to damage (although I didn't have proper crash)
  • It sad ,that you are unable to choose activity type (So if you want use for cycling , walking,  climbing and swimming... you will need set this manually on website after activity is done,which I found annoying).
  • I charge battery on this watch once per week (as weekly , I use it for 5 hours for walking and 2 hours for running  + some random activities + I use this watch  on daily basics without switching off) and I am very happy with result
  • There are 2 things which I haven't try yet.
    • Bluetooth Smart Live Tracking 
    • Workouts.
Overall .I am very happy with this watch.It does all what you expect and it does well.

AFTER ONE YEAR

  • It still works. I use this watch all the time. I like to use it as normal watch .
  • I never had any problem with Watch.
  • I have some  minor problems with HRM from time to time recently ,but I haven't investigate root of cause.
  • I  still charge watch  once  per week (if I don't do long distance walks)  or twice per week,which suggest that battery quality and performance are very good.
  • It doesn't have any sign of disintegration or wear-out (including battery!).

CONCLUSIONS

It is awesome watch.It is worth to buy it,  even if is s a bit expensive.
I am very happy with Garmin Forerunner 220  as it meets almost all my requirements (except ability to measure walk).
If you buy it, I suggest to buy in bundle with HRM.
That's all.

This review focused on my personal experience , everyday use and how it looks after one year of usage. Best professional review that I found on internet was written by DC RAINMAKER and can be found here: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2013/11/garmin-forerunner-depth-review.html (It was a review that convinced me to buy this watch).

I hope,you enjoyed this quick review