THE GOOD The Forerunner 15 has both a GPS and a pedometer. It also includes an always-on display with a backlight, long battery life, a waterproof design, and is compatible with wireless heart-rate monitors.
THE BAD The lack of Bluetooth makes syncing to your computer and mobile device a real nightmare. The design isn’t all that fashionable and may be a bit bulky for some work environments.
THE BOTTOM LINE Its lack of Bluetooth notwithstanding, the affordable Garmin Forerunner 15 is otherwise a great health tracking wristwatch for runners.
Garmin Forerunner 15 Large, Black/Blue
Activity Tracking - Count your steps, calories and distance throughout the day. The inactivity indicator motivates you to move whenyou've been sitting too long; Long Battery Life - Up to 8 hours of ...Made by: Garmin, Available: In stock
Four pins on the back of the watch connect to a special dock that in turn connects to your computer. You will be required to download a special program, known as Garmin Express, on your Mac or PC to sync your data to the Garmin Connect website and mobile app (available on iOS and Android), and to also check for any firmware updates.
With a lot of activity trackers lasting only a few days, battery life on the Forerunner 15 is quite good. As mentioned above, the watch will last a whopping five weeks when using it solely as an activity tracker. The Forerunner 15 will last 8 hours with the GPS enabled, which is long enough for most people to finish a marathon. A small battery indicator on the left side of the display lets you know how much juice is left in the watch.
I found with a mix of light running (about 30 minutes a couple of times a week) and normal activity tracking, I was required to charge the Forerunner 15 roughly every two weeks. I occasionally charged it more frequently because the watch was already resting in the charging dock for syncing purposes.
As a rule of thumb, I tried to sync the watch with my computer at least once a week. Runs and daily step counts are stored on the Forerunner 15 for up to seven days, at which point the oldest workout will be replaced with a newer one. The watch also stores personal records, such as fastest mile, fastest 5K, longest run, etc., and will notify you after you set a new record.
There is a Run/Walk feature that can be used for interval training. You can set how long you would like to run and how long you would like to walk, and, when enabled, the watch will alert you for when it’s time to switch between the two. This is useful feature for new runners that can’t continuously run for long amounts of time. More experienced runners can also utilize the feature when doing interval workouts.
A Virtual Pacer feature allows you to set a specific pace you would like to keep during a run. When you are faster or slower than the designated pace by 5 or more seconds, the Forerunner 15 will alert you to either slow down or speed up. A similar feature, called HR Alert, will notify you when you are above or below your set heart rate.
Perhaps the most useful feature is the watch’s Auto Pause and Auto Lap features. One of the pains of running in a city is having to deal with traffic lights. I find myself constantly having to stop my watch as I wait for the light to change and forgetting to resume it. The Auto Pause feature will automatically pause your workout when you stop running and will resume it when you start back up again. The Auto Lap feature will alert you when you reach a new mile and will include your average pace.
Similar to the Vivofit, the Forerunner 15 reminds you when you are being lazy with a “Move” alert. The watch will beep ever-so-slightly when you haven’t walked at least 200 steps in the past hour. It’s a nice reminder to get up and live a little for those of us who like to relax on the couch all Sunday. For some reason, however, the watch will alert you to “Move!” even if you have exceeded your daily step goal.
Despite having vibrations and an alarm, the watch doesn’t include a silent alarm feature like the one found in Fitbits.
Garmin Forerunner 15 : Tracking
As an activity tracker, the Forerunner 15 is relatively straightforward. An accelerometer is used to detect how many steps you take, the relative distance you travel, and an estimate of the calories you burn. The Forerunner 15 also includes step goals that automatically adjust based on your previous days performance. All of this information is shown on the watch’s 55×32-pixel display, along with the time and date.
Acquiring a GPS signal takes roughly 30 seconds depending on your location. When testing the Forerunner 15 in midtown Manhattan, it took a little longer (sometimes up to 3 minutes) to find my location, compared to when I used it in rural New Hampshire.
Once the signal is acquired you’re ready to go. You can toggle through three different screens while in GPS mode: workout time and distance, pace and calories, or actual time and date. Unlike other Garmin models where the screens automatically rotate, you are forced to press the down button on the Forerunner 15 to cycle through. There are three options to choose from when ending a workout: resume the run, save it to the watch, or discard it.
Steps and distance tracking (sans the GPS) were relatively accurate. When walking on a treadmill for a mile, the Forerunner 15 was only off by 0.07 miles. With the GPS enabled, I compared the distance results to those on the website MapMyRun. As was the case with the finding my location, the watch performed better when I wasn’t running in a city. The results were only off by 0.09 miles, however, which is pretty good as far as GPS running watches go.
For those who opt for the heart rate, it’s the same model that Garmin has been using for years. It’s accurate, straightforward, and just works. In fact, it’s the same model that I use when testing other heart-rate monitors, such as those on theLifeTrak Zone C410, Samsung Gear Fit, and Galaxy S5.
Garmin Forerunner 15 : Garmin Connect
There are two pieces of software that are required to view your workout data from the Forerunner 15. The first is called Garmin Express, which, as I mentioned above, is used to check for firmware updates and sync your data to Garmin’s website and mobile app. The Garmin Express software is available for free for both Windows and Mac users.
The next thing you will need is Garmin Connect, the company’s cloud service for viewing, analyzing, and sharing your personal workout data. Garmin Connect can be accessed through either the free iOS or Android app, or through the company’s website. From here you can view detailed information about your past activities, create training plans and running courses, change your device settings, view your achievements and personal records, and connect with other Garmin users, among other things. The Connect app can also be linked with MyFitnessPal to track the food you eat and the amount of calories you take in.
Oddly enough, there is an option in Garmin Connect to manually input the time you went to bed and the time you woke up. You will then be presented with a rather messy chart that shows your movements during the hours you inputted. It appears the Forerunner 15 supports some form of sleep tracking to an extent, but it’s rather clumsy in its current form. Hopefully this is something Garmin will address in a future software update.
With GPS, activity tracking, a waterproof design, and support for more than 20 languages, the Forerunner 15 is one of the best watches for casual runners, or those interested in becoming a casual runner. The design isn’t all that fashionable and it may be a bit bulky for some work environments. If GPS isn’t an important feature for you, than the Forerunner 15 isn’t for you. I would recommend checking out its cousin, the more stylish Garmin Vivofit.
Despite the lack of Bluetooth, the Forerunner 15 excels in almost everything you look for when buying an activity tracker or affordable running watch. It’s accurate, it’s waterproof, it supports heart-rate monitors, and it has very good battery life.
The Garmin Forerunner 15 is available now for $170 (£140 in the UK, AU$200 in Australia) without the heart-rate monitor or for $200 (£170, AU$250) with it.
Activity Tracking - Count your steps, calories and distance throughout the day. The inactivity indicator motivates you to move whenyou've been sitting too long; Long Battery Life - Up to 8 hours of ...
0.6 x 1.8 x 2.2 inches
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1 Lithium ion batteries required. (included)
55 x 32