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Garmin’s newly announced Forerunner 35 is a runner’s delight

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I’m obsessed with technology. And after seeing the tip of the weighing scale move towards making obtuse angles, I have taken a liking towards getting fitter. So, now, whenever I hear about a new device that promises to help my fitness, I go bananas. I’ve already owned a few (starting with the Mi Band, through the original Pebble, Jawbone’s UP Move and to my current fitness tracking set-up, the Moov Now and Apple Watch) and am always on the lookout for new and exciting wearables to talk about and try out.

Though wearable tech is still in its nascent stages, one area in which it works really well and has made big strides over the last couple of years is tracking running (or any cardio-based activities, for that matter). Wrist-based running companions have gotten better and more importantly, cheaper, every year and this has culminated in Garmin, one of the leaders in the wearables space, announcing what I believe is one of the best wearables to buy this year, the Forerunner 35 running watch.

Garmin has been around and doing technology for running well before the wearables wave hit us and they know what they are doing. Dismissed as being an option for only professional runners, Garmin had been steadily making strides and churning out one great wearable after another for average joes like you and me. Their latest, the Forerunner 35, a successor to the Forerunner 25 – the entry-level running watch option in Garmin’s lineup (which retails at INR 11,590 right now), improves upon all aspects of its predecessor and creates a product which makes me feel that runners (even serious ones) shouldn’t spend a dime more than what the Forerunner 35 will retail at when it hits store shelves.

Instead of talking about specs, let’s look at the Forerunner 35 backwards. What does a good running companion wearable need to do? Be comfortable to put on, give detailed and reliable metrics, pack in GPS to track runs without a phone, have a heart-rate sensor built-in and most importantly, be affordable. The Forerunner 35 does all this and then some. In addition to having GPS and heart-rate sensing on board at entry-level cost, it tracks daily activity and sleep activity along with what I feel is the best implementation of those reminders to stand up and move around every hour (Garmin’s move bar which fills up when you are sitting and you have to move around to empty it). Add to that Garmin’s Connect ecosystem with its huge community of runners from across the world and an app and website that bake in all the metrics and training plans that you can possibly think of. And when you factor in that it is sleeker, has a better screen and lasts longer than its predecessor, I can’t think of a reason to shell out more than what it costs for any other running watch (well, maybe if you want it to look better. But, hey, running watches aren’t bought for their looks as much as they are for their features. Plus I like the geeky looks of running watches. That’s why I always liked those Casios over other watches since I was little).

The only other wearable that I’d consider over the Forerunner 35 is Samsung’s Gear Fit 2 which retails at around INR 13,500. It packs all of the Forerunner’s features (including GPS and HR monitoring) in a better-looking package. But then, Samsung’s S Health app doesn’t really compare with Garmin’s Connect when it comes to features, metrics, training plans and community and Garmin has more experience with wearables, especially for running. Also, the Gear Fit 2 doesn’t work with iPhones yet.

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