Garmin Forerunner 630 Shipping in Q4

My Life as a Runner > gadget > Garmin Forerunner 630 Shipping in Q4
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Garmin announced last week on October 21 that it would start shipping this highly anticipated Forerunner 630 (FR630) in Q4. Since this spring, I have been waiting for this GPS watch created for runners. In fact, I wrote this post about Garmin Forerunner 620 back in March. As much as I am excited about this product announcement, though, a laggard and cautious side of me is keeping me from placing an order. But that’s boring to talk about and I rather focus on the excitement and share it with anyone who wants to know. One disappointment, I have to say, is the fact that Garmin, or any other manufacturers for that matter, does not have the technology to track everything with a built-in optical heart rate monitor. I am talking about having to wear a heart rate monitor strap. Even Forerunner 235, which has Garmin’s own optical heart rate monitor built in, does require runners wear a heart rate monitor strap to get reading on advanced heart rate and physiological features, such as VO2 max, lactate threshold, recovery time estimates, stress score, performance condition and predicted race times, in addition to six running dynamics measurements, which are: Cadence, vertical oscillation, ground contact time, vertical ratio, stride length and left/right ground contact time balance (not sure all of these FR630 features are available for FR235).

There are already a few blog posts written about FR630 but none of them is comprehensive review. So, this post is purely based on my past experience with Garmin products that I am satisfied with and on the assumption that all the features work as advertised.

Running dynamics measurements and physiological features

What I am most excited about FR630 is the set of data points that my FR610 cannot track. I don’t even know if these measurements will be meaningful and useful in my training, but at least I am curious to know what my stats look like. At this point in my running life, I cannot see myself changing my running form radically, but if any of running dynamics data points suggest improvements in my running form to prevent injuries or improvements in running economy or efficiency, I want to know. I am also interested in stress score and recovery time estimates and how they differ from how I have been training. Will they improve quality of my training? I have no idea, but I am interested in what technology or science might say differently.

I suppose I will be able to see all these data points in Garmin Connect. What I don’t know is whether or how Strava can read and show them. With the set of data currently coming in from FR610, Strava activity page does not show any extra fields or graphs for the measurements FR630 will provide.

Connect IQ

So far it is hard to get excited about Connect IQ app store, because I have not seen any interesting apps for download. Watch face is the last thing I want to worry about, although I would be interested in trying if someone developed a better watch face. I read that Stress Score is actually an app. I look forward to seeing creative apps, like Stress Score.

Daily activities

Will I wear FR630 outside running? The FR630 tracks daily activities, such as steps, sleep, calories, etc.. I am interested in seeing data about my sleep pattern but have no idea what to do with it. Wearing the watch all day and all night will be something for me to get used to, because I really don’t like to wear accessaries on me.

Battery life

I really like the extended battery life. FR630 is expected to have 16 hours of battery with GPS on. I don’t know what FR610’s batter life is like. FR620 has 10 hours, so it must be a vast improvement over FR610.

So, buying or not?

These are the new features and improvements that I am looking forward to in FR630. Are they worth spending $450? Hard to say. Garmin will cut price of FR620 to get rid of inventory, and to some people, that’s the best part of FR630 launch. Knowing FR610 still being sold at around $200 now, that would be as low as I think FR620 would be priced at after FR630 becomes widely available for the holiday shopping season. Having read about customer complaints on FR620, I don’t know if I want to pay that much and take a risk of getting a lemon. I’d say I am 70% convinced that I would buy FR630 in the next couple of months.

    2 Comments
    • Thomas
      November 3, 2015

      I share your sentiment about the lack of built in heart rate monitor. However, after thinking about it, I’m beginning to believe that from a technical standpoint, the rest of the metrics that make the 630 shine above the lesser models (e.g., running dynamics) would be impossible to capture from a device worn on the wrist. Think about it! Those measurements are taken with accelerometers. There is no way – from my understanding of the technology – that you can capture some of those unless the measurement is taken from the torso.

      Yes – it would be nice to have HR without having to wear a strap. So if that is all you really want, save some money and buy the new 235

      • Koji Kawano
        November 3, 2015

        Thank you for your comment, Thomas. I am not kept up to today’s technologies when it comes to medical, physiological or biometric measurements, so I believe you! I am still not sold on FR630. My FR610 is working fine, and those new FR630 features seem only bells and whistles, definitely not must have for my training.

        Are you going to get one?

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