New GPS Watch: Garmin 235

I can’t believe that I’ve barely mentioned the fact that I got a new GPS watch last week!! I started running in the Spring of 2013, and ran for a year without a watch (just used my phone). I wanted to step it up, so in Spring of 2014, I bought the 310xt, and have been using it since then. It’s certainly older technology, which is why it looks like a giant brick on my wrist, but it’s a really great watch. It’s a triathlon watch, so it is fully waterproof (although it doesn’t really track well in the water with GPS…I typically just use the stopwatch). It also has modes for other sports such as cycling, which I use quite a bit.

See that giant computer on my wrist?!

The size of the watch actually didn’t bother me that much, although people always commented on it if I happened to wear it anywhere; this only happened if I had to go in somewhere like a gas station or a convenience store after a run. The main issue with the watch was that it had started freezing. It wasn’t doing it consistently, but once in awhile the screen would just freeze, and I would have no idea what my distance/time/pace was. This is fine for shorter runs, but now that I’m doing marathon training, I didn’t want to be 5 miles into a 16 mile run and have my watch freeze on me. Also, the watch was sometimes having issues communicating with the computer. Usually it worked perfectly, but once in awhile it refused to sync. None of these are huge issues, and I admit, they all first world problems to say the least, but I figured I’d keep my eye out for a good deal while continuing to use the watch I had.

I spent a lot of time on DC Rainmaker’s siteย reading about watches. If you do not already know about this site, it is the most complete resource about fitness technology. He reviews GPS watches, bike computers, cycling meters, etc, and does the most thorough reviews that I’ve ever seen. Plus, now that he’s been doing it for awhile, he has lots of comparison tools that are very useful for deciding which watch is best for you.

I decided that I wanted the Garmin Forerunner 235. I like the built-in HR monitor, which the 225 also has, although the 235 does continuous HR monitoring while the 225 does not. I also liked that you were given more information about your running such as cadence. The 235 (and 225) act as fitness trackers, so they count steps and monitor your sleep. The 235 also has smart notifications, but that wasn’t something that I cared about too much. Overall, I thought the 225 and the 235 were both good options, but I was strongly leaning towards the 235. I watched for it to go on sale for about a month, but that number on Amazon never budged.

Description and price on Amazon. I was guilty of checking on this daily to see if the price had dropped.

On Prime Day, the 225 went on sale for $175 (normally $250), so I went ahead and bought it. I thought maybe I could learn to love it (and if not, Amazon is the best for free returns). I got it the next day, and just wasn’t that excited about it. It was red and black (the only colors it comes in), and I’m not a huge fan of that color scheme. It was also very bulky. I didn’t even wear it the first day I got it, which should have been a sign that it wasn’t the right purchase for me.

The next day, I saw the 235 for $250 (normally $329). I took this as a sign and immediately purchased it and returned the 225. I bought it from a company in the UK, so it took a little over a week to get here, but the whole time I was extremely excited. It’s definitely a lot to spend for a GPS watch, but I knew that if I would wear it everyday as a fitness tracker, in addition to using it for runs, it would provide a good value to me.

I have only had it since last Monday, but so far, I absolutely love it. The face is almost the same diameter as the 225, but the watch feels much lighter and less bulky. I barely even notice it as I wear it throughout the day, and I love being able to see my HR whenever I want.

The left and top-right pictures don’t have the backlight on. The screen is very easy to see in all conditions with the light on

For running, the GPS is ready almost instantly, and the tracking has been perfect (although, I haven’t done any runs in tricky areas like heavy tree coverage or near tall buildings). I have been using the HR more than I ever used the strap I had with my 310xt. You can set the screen to see 4 different fields at once, which I like, and the screen is very easy to read. The only downfall so far is that the battery life isn’t great…depending on how much I run, I have to charge it every 3-4 days. This isn’t a big deal, I was just used to my Garmin Vivofit which only had to have a battery change about once a year! I have used it for cycling and several runs, but I feel like I need to spend a little more time with it before I give it a full review. So far, the status is that I love it and I am very excited that I decided to buy it!


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