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Garmin Forerunner 620 review

Riyad Emeran
30 Jul 2014
Garmin Forerunner 620 on wrist
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
293
inc VAT

Expensive, but this watch has everything the serious runner could want

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Specifications

Pedometer: Yes, Heart-rate monitor: Yes, Display: Yes (180x180 LCD), Battery life: 6 days

The Garmin Forerunner 620 is the flagship running watch from a company that has taken fitness technology to a new level over the past few years. While many serious runners will be wondering what Garmin can possibly have improved over the already excellent Forerunner 610, they’ll find that the FR 620 has quite a few new and innovative features in its substantial arsenal.

Make no mistake, this is a watch aimed at runners who want and need copious amounts of data to track and improve their performance. If you have to ask what some of the features packed into the FR 620 do, then you’re probably not the target buyer. This is a serious piece of sports technology designed to give athletes the kind of insight that would have previously required a sports laboratory and a team of technicians.

Read our 15 best gifts for fitness fanatics list here

Garmin Forerunner 620 weight

The first thing you’ll notice when you pickup the FR 620 is its weight – despite looking quite substantial, this watch is incredibly light. At only 43g the Forerunner 620 is significantly lighter than the competition, with the TomTom Runner Cardio weighing 63g by comparison. The FR 620 is also very comfortable to wear – the strap is perforated along its entire length to ensure that your wrist doesn’t get too sweaty, and there are enough buckle holes to suit any wrist size.

Like most sports watches, the FR 620 can be purchased with or without a heart rate monitor, and if you’re an existing Garmin user you might be tempted to use the ANT+ HRM you already have and save yourself some cash. In most instances that would be a smart move, but not this time, because the heart rate monitor that ships with the FR 620 is a bit special.

At first glance you’ll notice that the heart rate monitor bundled with the FR 620 has an icon of a runner on the front of it, so that you can easily differentiate it from any other Garmin HRMs you might have knocking around. But it’s what’s inside the HRM that’s important. As well as the usual electrocardiographic tech that’s built into a heart rate monitor, Garmin has also managed to squeeze in an accelerometer. This means that when you’ve got it strapped to your chest, not only is it measuring your heart rate, but your movement too.

Garmin Forerunner 620 running dynamics

That accelerometer is the basis for one of the new features built into the Forerunner 620 – Running Dynamics. While most running watches will provide roughly the same data, Garmin has raised the bar once more and provided the kind a data and insight into your training that you simply can’t get elsewhere. So what does Running Dynamics do? Put simply, Running Dynamics gives you new metrics by which to monitor and improve your form. While anyone can run, that doesn’t mean that everyone runs efficiently, and the three metrics that Running Dynamics measures can help you improve your efficiency and ultimately your performance.

Thanks to that clever HRM the Forerunner 620 will track your running cadence (how many strides you take per minute), your ground contact time (how long in milliseconds that you spend on the ground per stride), and your vertical oscillation (how high you rise with each stride). A cadence of around 180 strides per minute is generally considered to be optimum, so measuring your cadence while you run gives you a clear idea of how close or far away you are from that ideal. It will also make you realise just how difficult it is to increase your cadence at first, but for the most part it’s worth the effort. Often a low running cadence can indicate over-striding, which can cause all kinds of niggles and injuries, so it’s well worth getting this right.

Vertical oscillation is also useful to keep tabs on, since all that vertical movement takes effort, effort that could be used to propel you forward rather than upward. Likewise, the longer your foot spends on the ground with each stride, the longer you’re not going forward. What Running Dynamics does, is arm you with new insight on your form, and gives you the chance to improve your efficiency and potentially see performance results.

Garmin Forerunner 620 VO2 Max

 Another new feature that will appeal to serious runners is the ability to measure your VO2 Max. If you don’t know what VO2 Max is, then the Forerunner 620 probably isn’t the right watch for you, but we’ll explain anyway. VO2 Max is your body’s maximum oxygen intake while it’s undergoing physical exertion. Put simply, your VO2 Max is a numeric representation of your aerobic fitness and, despite the fact that the FR 620 is only really estimating your VO2 Max, it’s another useful measurement by which to judge your progress over time.

The Forerunner doesn’t just give you a figure though; it also gives you estimates on your potential performance based on that figure. So, the FR 620 will give you estimated times for 5k, 10k half marathon and marathon distances, although we found that these estimates were a little optimistic.

Garmin Forerunner 620 Connectivity

The Forerunner 620 comes with a compact docking cradle. The cradle is magnetised, so as soon as you place the watch near it, the two snap together and the contacts on the watch will connect to those on the cradle. It’s a neat system and allows the watch to lay flat on the desk while it’s charging and syncing, but as with any proprietary charging system, it means you won’t be able to charge the watch without it.

While the FR 620 will sync with your computer using the USB docking cable, there are far easier and cleverer ways to get your data uploaded to the Garmin Connect online portal. Thanks to its integrated Bluetooth, the FR 620 can pair with your smartphone and happily synchronise its data with the Garmin Connect app. This Bluetooth connection also brings with it another stand out feature – LiveTrack.

LiveTrack allows you to share your runs with friends and training partners in real-time. You can share your LiveTrack sessions with a list of email recipients, your Twitter followers or Facebook friends. The Garmin Connect app will send out a message with a link – clicking that link will allow any recipients to watch your progress on a map as you run.

You don’t need to pair the FR 620 to your phone to sync wirelessly though, since this watch also supports Wi-Fi. Once you’ve entered your Wi-Fi network details using the Garmin Express app on your computer and synchronised the FR 620 using the USB cable, you can perform any future syncs with the touch of a button. The bottom right button on the Forerunner 620 is labelled Connect, and pressing this button will initiate a Wi-Fi synchronisation as long as you’re within range of your Wi-Fi network. Transferring your data post-run has never been so easy!