The Fitness Tracker business is booming, based on the stats for the last two (2) years as compiled by the analyst IDC in Analyst IDC logs Wearables Profitable in Q1 2015 Fitness Tracker Business.
But very few of these fitness trackers can boast having built-in GPS and still be able to achieve five (5) weeks of battery life in activity tracking mode or eight (8) hours with active GPS.
That honour goes to the Garmin Forerunner 15, which is an upgrade of the Forerunner 10 that already had GPS with their Vivocity Activity tracker.
The Garmin Forerunner 15 – A Wristwatch that’s supplemented with a Heart Rate tracker
The Garmin Forerunner 15 is a unisex fitness tracker that comes in two (2) basic versions:
- US$200 Garmin Forerunner 15 with Heart Rate Monitor
- US$170 Garmin Forerunner 15 without Heart Rate Monitor
Both come in a variety of colours and wrist straps:
- Black with Blue accents
- Red with Black accents
- Teal with White accents
- Violet with White accents
- Black with Green accents
The pricing of those two (2) variants is significant, as the addition of the Heart Rate tracker that’s just as regular pulse counter LED apparently makes it heavier. The Garmin Forerunner 15 with Heart Rate Monitor weighs 43 g whereas the Garmin Forerunner 15 with Heart Rate Monitor weighs 36 g.
Despite these subtle internal differences and the external aesthetics, both models look like really ugly, large Digital sports watches used by divers. It sports a 55×32 LCD pixel display and making use of a traditional wrist strap instead of a proprietary design.
That’s great for active users, as it means interchangeability, better blending with your wardrobe and easier replaceability should it watch strap break from a lot of strenuous activity.
It even has the four (4) buttons of a typical sports watch with the following functions:
- Blue Button, upper right – Activate the GPS and begin running mode
- Black Button, lower right – Scrolls menus for pace, distance, workout time, running history and watch settings
- Black Button, upper left – Press once to enable/disable backlight; long press to power down watch
- Black button, lower left – Back key and Scrolls menus for steps, goals, distance and the date
The Garmin Forerunner 15’s GPS, optional Heart Rate Monitor and great battery life hint at an activity tracker that’s more suited for the pro-athlete than the casual gym rats or fitness fan who only exercise at the gym. It comes in twenty (20) languages and is waterproof for up to fifty (50) meters but strangely enough has no Bluetooth.
The Garmin Forerunner 15 – No Bluetooth and Manual synching a deal breaker
So no Bluetooth pairing is possible with this device, not even for transferring data; that you’ll have to do by direct connection to your Windows PC or Mac and downloading the Garmin Express software. This synchs your fitness activity data to Garmin’s website and mobile app.
You’ll then have to get Garmin Connect, their cloud service to be able to access that fitness data, plan training and running routines, view your achievements and personal records and brag to your other Garmin users about your achievements.
The Connect App also links to the MyFitnessPal can help you to track your calories based on your food intake. When you re-synch your Garmin Forerunner 15, combined with the Heart Rate sensor, it allows you to know how many calories you burn during your exercise routines.
It also has options to manually track sleep activity, but its cumbersome charts and the lack of Bluetooth makes this feature a last resort especially if you’re tired, depending on what you do in bed. So tracking sexual performance is out of the question.
So what are the activity tracking feature that the make the Garmin Forerunner 15 worth US$200 of your hard-earned money.
Garmin Forerunner 15 Feature – Motivation for the Fitness Procrastinator
Garmin Forerunner 15 has several activity features that are guaranteed to keep the serial procrastinator on his exercise regiment:
- Virtual Pacer
- Auto Pause
- Auto Lap
Joggers who want to vary their routine between walking and running will like the Run/Walk feature. It basically sets a timer and reminds you when you walk time begins and ends and when run time begins and ends. This is great for pro-athletes who want to vary their exercise in intervals involving the two to build endurance.
The Virtual Pacer is like having someone keep track of how slow or fast you’re running and then holler at you with a bull horn to put some pep in your step. The Garmin Forerunner 15 with the Heart Rate sensor has a HR Alert feature to remind you if your level of activity isn’t getting your heart pumping to burn those calories.
City slickers in Caribbean cities from Trinidad to St. Lucia, Bahamas, Dominican Republic and Jamaica will love the Auto Pause and Auto Lap features. The Auto Lap feature is there to alert you when you’ve run a new mile and also gives you a readout of your average pace. Great for Marathon runners and even casual joggers to help you meet that all important exercise goal.
The Auto Pause detects when you have to stop at a traffic light and stops the watch on the other features during your workout. This is so that you stopping doesn’t count against your time and make it appear as if you’re slacking off, causing the Virtual Pacer or HR Alert feature to falsely reminds you to keep moving.
It’s worth mentioning here that the Garmin Forerunner 15 has a Move Alert feature. This works outside of your regular exercise regimen to remind to stay active if it detects you haven’t walked at least two hundred (200) steps in the past hour.
The idea is apparently to keep you active, as activity keeps you in a positive frame of mind and benefits you psychologically even if you’ve already achieved your walk/run goals with the help of the Run/Walk and Virtual Pacer.
Garmin Forerunner 15 as a Wristwatch – No Silent Alarm and Longer battery life sans GPS
You may have noticed that the Garmin Forerunner 15 uses GPS to track distance, which is unnecessary as the device has a built in pedometer that’s based on time. You can simply disable the GPS mode and enable the Timer Mode, which is much more convenient than waiting thirty (30) seconds for the Garmin Forerunner 15 to lock on to a GPS signal.
You’ll lose the ability to track pace and distance accurately while extending your battery life from eight (8) hours to five (5) days. However you can compensate for this by purchasing foot pod accessory that attaches to your shoe, but it requires active running to calibrate it before your treadmill based exercises.
When in the Timer Mode, the Garmin Forerunner 15 has no silent alarm. No problem as far as I’m concerned; I’ll just add it to my list of alarms that I have to turn off that basically ensure that I awake on time.
US$200 Garmin Forerunner 15 – Long Battery life makes it a Great buy for Fitness Fanatics
So with these features is the US$200 Garmin Forerunner 15 for you? It’s ugly and won’t mesh well with your clothes, bulging conspicuously under your long sleeved shirts at the office.
If you love Garmin’s fitness trackers and you can do without the GPS, then the Garmin Vivofit with heart-rate tracking is a more fashion-conscious option for the casual fitness fan. If you’re a gym rat or a pro-athlete, you might dislike the lack of Bluetooth, as to me that’s a deal-breaker.
But with almost five (5) weeks of battery life in activity tracking mode or eight (8) hours with active GPS, a fact worth repeating, at US$200, the Garmin Forerunner 15 stands head and shoulders above similarly designed fitness trackers.
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