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Garmin Forerunner 645 Music: Garmin announces first GPS smartwatch with music playback

Price when reviewed : £400

Garmin finally adds a device capable of music playback to its smartwatch lineup, but what makes the Forerunner 645 Music so special?

Shockingly, Garmin has steered clear of a smartwatch with music playback capabilities. It’s certainly a strange revelation, given the firm is one of the big players in the fitness wearables market, and it seems like an obvious – and straightforward – step to success.

READ NEXT: The best announcements at CES 2018

And crucially, its competition already boasts such a much-needed feature. Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, Polar and TomTom have all let loose devices with music storage, so it’s high time Garmin threw its metaphorical hat into the ring. It’s a good job then, that the firm’s appropriately titled Forerunner 645 Music, announced at CES 2018, does just that.

Garmin Forerunner 645 Music: Everything you need to know

Garmin Forerunner 645 Music: UK price and release date

Alas, Garmin’s latest isn’t available in the UK quite yet, but is due to launch this quarter for £400. If you aren’t at all fussed about the music option, you can pick up a regular Forerunner 645 for £350.

For comparison that certainly seems like quite a lot, considering you can pick up an Apple Watch Series 3 for £329, and Polar’s V800 will set you back £389. Still, it’s not even close to the Garmin Fenix 5’s £500 price tag

Garmin Forerunner 645 Music: Specs and first impressions

Let’s get to that music functionality first. I certainly wouldn’t get too excited, because the feature is somewhat limited, as you can only transfer up to 500 songs directly from your PC, or store offline playlists with Deezer+. Sadly, there’s no Spotify or Apple Music integration at launch. Still, this is a feature the more limited Deezer+ subscriber base can take advantage of, at the very least.

Elsewhere, Garmin’s latest fitness wearable supports contactless payments via Garmin pay, so you can grab a quick coffee on the way to the gym, without having to take your cards with you. But, Garmin pay is yet to support UK banks or credit cards.

Fitness feature-wise, the Forerunner 645 comes with what Garmin calls “connected features” essentially, you can send texts and have the ability to invite your friends to follow you while you run, with a service called LiveTrack. You can also view social media updates and emails, although there is no cellular option, so you’ll have to be in range of your phone.

Still, that’s not to stop the Forerunner 645 being a thumping good runners’ watch. Built-in GLONASS and GPS allows you track how far, fast and where you’ve run and the watch also accommodates swimming, cycling and walking tracking.

You also have the option to view completed courses, or even re-race a previous activity. Additionally, when used in tandem with Garmin’s Running Dynamics Pod (£60) you can track extra metrics such as stride length, cadence and ground contact time.

Garmin Forerunner 645 music: Early verdict

Garmin may be a few years’ late to the party, but a sorely-needed music playback function in its latest Forerunner 645 fitness watch is a welcome and useful addition. It may be a tad limited, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

And as for fitness features, Garmin’s efforts – just like with GoPro and action cameras – are the definitive fitness wearable and thus, there’s little doubt that the Forerunner 645 won’t underperform. In fact, I can safely say this is shaping up to be the fitness wearable to beat in 2018.

Let’s see how Garmin’s Forerunner 645 Music performs in my review in the near future.

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