Garmin Forerunner 735XT Review
- Lightest, most capable multisport watch on the global market (very comfortable, you’ll forget you have it on during your workouts)
- Addition of heart rate monitor makes Garmin’s focus on the triathlete and multisport community even better 24/7 heart rate monitoring makes this even more useful than just a multisport watch (athletes need sleep too)
- 5 ATM waterproof
- Mediocre display technology, but it gets the job done
- Plastic housing seems unworthy – much better, yet still cost-effective materials are available – a poor choice for the watch housing material
- No sapphire protective cover to protect such a great investment
VERDICT AND RATING
The Garmin Forerunner 735XT GPS and Multisport Watch is, bar none, the world’s ultimate GPS enabled smartwatch for triathletes as well as the spectrum of healthy body focused individuals from exercise and fitness buffs to amateur and professional athletes. This bad boy is the new international gold standard in its category. It’s the lightweight and athletically versatile computational Hercules of all smartwatches and sportswatches.If you fit anywhere along the spectrum of these athletic activity categories, there is just absolutely no current need to look anywhere else on this vast planetary expanse of blue, green and brown for a smartwatch that will cater to your every performance, fitness data tracking, indicator, graphing, and personal self-evaluation needs for goal setting, achievement, and continuous improvement.
As it is now, the Garmin Forerunner 735XT GPS and Multisport Watch earns a rating in this review of 9.0. If Garmin used a 400 x 400 pixel AMOLED display, offered a reasonable detachable mechanism to enable you to place it on a bike mount, committed to offering an even lighter weight, carbon fiber premium model, and integrated 3G or 4G wireless to enable you to call for on-the-run drone delivery electrolyte refreshments at your point of near exhaustion and when your lactate levels cross beyond the discomfort threshold, it would earn a 9.75, an almost perfect score.
I’m a tough rater, though. I’m holding out a 10 score for when this bad boy allows you to teleport your physical body and running shoes and/or bicycle or hiking gear to Kailua Bay or any of your other favorite Triathlon courses around the world.
Don’t laugh. That’s probably coming someday soon. If they can drone deliver pizza, you know someone’s going to create a drone delivery service for electrolytes. As a matter of fact, that would be a great promotional gimmick to raise awareness for the very next set of Triathlons! Ooops, I just gave away gratis two novel product enhancement ideas to Garmin. Oh well.
Let’s get you the official www.iwearthetech.com rating for the best-in-class Garmin Forerunner 735XT GPS and Multisport Watch.
The Garmin Forerunner 735XT GPS and Multisport Watch is THE triathlon watch on the planet right now. It’s the lighter weight brother of the Garmin Fenix 3 multisport training GPS watch, a slight step up from the Forerunner 235, and an upgrade from the 920XT sans altimeter.
The chief differences and upgrades the 735XT offers versus the Fenix 3 are the following:
- Housing is 25% smaller in diameter (so friendlier to women’s wrists)
• Display size is 0.7mm larger (31.1mm v 30.4mm)
• 18.5% fewer display pixels (215 x 180 v 218 x 218)
• 50% less weight (40.2g v 82g)
• 50m less ATM water rating (5ATM v 10ATM)
• Less battery life (14hrs in GPS training mode v 20hrs)
• Built-in optical heart-rate monitor
The built-in heart rate monitor, a key value add feature on the Garmin Forerunner 735XT allows you to do the majority of your training without the need for a chest strap heart monitor.
The Garmin 735XT has built-in athletic activities to supplement its running centric nature, including cycling, swimming, multisport, hiking, cross country skiing, strength training, paddle sports, and cardio work.At the push of a button, users can switch between sports. Alternatively, you can set the watch to a sort of cruise control of data collection where it will track generic multisport parameters like heart rate and calories burned.
This is the first Garmin device to come with the Strava Live Suffer Score app pre-installed so that it displays your suffering displays right on your wrist (you get a 60-day trial of Strava Premium when you buy the Garmin Forerunner 735XT GPS and Multisport Watch).
In a move that really showcases Garmin’s commitment to athletic excellence and its steely-eyed focus on its triathlete and high performance athletic user community, the Forerunner 735XT is also compatible with Garmin’s Varia Vector™ pedal-based power meter system and the full line of Garmin Varia™ cycling awareness accessories for more cycling capabilities.
During your workouts and during the day, the 735XT automatically syncs with the Garmin Connect IQ website, ecosystem, and community to give you the opportunity to leverage your sweat equity with workout data tracking sleep patter and trends analysis, online fitness challenges and competitions amongst friends, personal wellness insights for each user, and healthy living fitness tips from experts in the Garmin social media community.
And you don’t need to neglect the smartwatch aspect of life, as the Forerunner 735XT receives and displays notifications about phone calls, texts, emails, calendar updates and social media alerts to keep you connected.
We’ll summarize the best and the worst of the many performance topics of interest for the Garmin Forerunner 735XT GPS and Multisport Watch. First off, let’s review several of the essential features of this device, the heart rate monitor on your wrist and the GPS tracking capabilities.
HEART RATE MONITOR – Garmin’s ElevateTM wrist-based heart rate monitoring technology underneath the Forerunner 735XT allows you to forget that heart rate monitoring chest strap if you wish. However, if you want to access and leverage a sophisticated suite of advanced dynamic metrics like stride length, ground contact time, balance and vertical ratio, VO2 Max, Low Stress, and RHR (Resting Heart Rate), you can purchase the HRM-Run Chest Strap to give you advanced running dynamics data.
GPS & GLONASS – The internal GPS + GLONASS capable chipset and antenna of the Forerunner 735XT allows precise route tracking for the triathlete, runner, cycler, and hiker. For those times when you need to extend your battery life, the 735XT offers “UltraTrac” mode which turns off GPS position data intermittently in order to extend battery life.
Since its introduction, however, a number of users have reported experiencing artifacts and glitches related to the 735XT’s GPS-enabled route tracking and distance interval functions. And since the GPS feature of the Garmin Forerunner 735XT GPS and Multisport Watch is perhaps its newest and most central feature for triathletes and other users, let’s address the issue up front.
Certainly these users are surprised when their GPS track shows them running through and over 1 to 2 story tall buildings. While this user community feedback appears to be the minority of all use cases, and while it should be cause for Garmin to address the issue promptly, it may also simply be a result of the 9.25 meter inaccuracy possibilities inherent in the engineering design of the GPS satellite network. It may also be a result of multipath propagation where GPS signals bounce of structures and are diminished by signal noise from meteorological conditions or even tree cover.
RUNNING – As a running watch, the 735XT tracks outdoor and indoor running distance, routes (if outdoors), lap info, pace and speed, cadence.
- Pace and speed
- Vertical oscillation
- Ground contact times
- Stride length
- Vertical ratio
- GCT balance
CYCLING – The cycling data of the 735XT gives you cycling speed and cadence. However, if you’re game to leverage more data flow to really optimize your performance, the 735 XT is compatible with Garmin’s power-monitoring Vector pedals and with its portfolio of Varia cycling accessories. Fully kitted up on your wheels, you could eliminate the need for a lot of bike computer stuff.
And for those of you who don’t know about it yet, check out the real world application of a heads up display that Googlers totally missed, the Garmin Varia Vision™ In-sight Display. With its super easy, yet firm magnetic mount that attaches to your existing cycling sunglasses, the Varia Vision Insight Display provides you with fighter pilot style graphics and informational indicators of your speed, distance covered, cycle time, alerts for any incoming calls on the smartphone stowed in your bike pack or backpack, distance ahead and time ahead, navigation prompts, graphic cycling info such as your average trip speed, and even Varia Radar that displays cars gaining on your rear.
SWIMMING – For open water swimming, the Forerunner 735XT tracks distance, lap info, stroke count & rate, SWOLF (a score obtained by adding your strokes per length to the stroke duration), intervals, and structured workouts. And if you get the 735XT + HRM-Swim product bundle, you can track your heart rate underwater, which the 735XT natively cannot yet do. If you’re a beginning or experienced triathlete, the HRM-Swim is almost a must, considering the importance of tracking your heart during the very different exercise dynamics of swimming versus running.
TRIATHLON – The great thing about Garmin is that they have really thought through the hardware and software ecosystem and community that surrounds their constantly growing product line. Their commitment to the triathlon community is no different. If you’re in need of advanced running data such as cadence, stride length, ground contact time, ground contact balance, vertical oscillation, and vertical ratio, you can purchase and easily use the lightweight HRM-Tri Chest Strap that provides an expanded envelop of more precision running data as well as some open swim data. When you’re underwater, the HRM-Tri stores your heart rate data,
The Garmin Forerunner 735XT houses a Rechargeable lithium-ion battery that will last you approximately 14 hours in GPS training mode and some 11 days in watch mode.
The Forerunner 735XT is the slightly smaller version of the 925 watch housing. There are really only three substantive design issues to raise about the well designed multisport watch.
PLASTIC HOUSING – The plastic housing enables this watch to be less than half the weight of the Fenix 3, and that’s fantastic. However, it also means that this rather cheap looking plastic material is going to suffer scratches and scuffs that mar an otherwise world class device.
There are a number of advanced materials that would not break the bank for Garmin or its customers, yet make the housing of this watch even lighter, more durable, more scratch resistant, and much better looking.
A device this wonderful, this fantastically helpful to athletes the world over deserves a better house, a watch housing that can last an exercise & fitness buff, amateur or professional athlete for years of tough outdoor wear and tear without marks that diminish its value as a digital hand-me-down to an athlete’s cousin or niece or nephew or friend or even as a second hand good will item.
PROTECTIVE COVER – The 735XT is covered in Gorilla Glass 3. With all the wear and tear to which outdoor athletes are exposed, it would be a good marketing move for Garmin to offer an upgraded version that sports a much higher level of protection for the display via the use of sapphire crystal technology.
These should not be disposable electronics simply because you fall off your bike and scuff up the display so that it becomes a permanent bother. Sapphire crystal technology almost completely eliminates that in a smart multisport watch like this.
DISPLAY – The Garmin 735XT’s 31.1mm diameter display uses an adequate, though lackluster display technology that just gets the job done — no frills, no fuss, no problems.
For example, the very popular ActiFace watch face (Garmin Connect IQ’s most popular watch face) is about as close to a perfect athletic training user interface (UI) as you’re going to get.However, while ActiFace is as close to a UI nirvana experience for a professional or amateur triathlete’s training regimen, all of the watch faces that support the Garmin Forerunner 735XT GPS and Multisport Watch could be even so much more attractive and compelling if and when Garmin integrates 400 x 400 pixel AMOLED display technology into their smart sports watches.
With a 400 x 400 pixel display, this ActiFace watch face would be much easier to instantaneously read and use at any moment in your training regimen. It’s a question of the sheer number of widgets and indicators. The higher the number, the more useful the entire watch face can be, but the crowding out effect comes into play when so many figures and icons and indicators are pixel screaming for your attention. When display resolution is in the fair to middling area of all smartwatches, as it is for the Forerunner 735XT, watch faces jam packed with information indicators on a dozen different aspects of your training just don’t “pop” to the eye like they do with high resolution, high contrast AMOLED displays.
Perhaps the key addition to the Garmin Forerunner software feature set is the Strava Live Suffer Score. The Garmin Forerunner 735XT integrates the Strava Live Suffer Score right on your watch, a feature many users have been seeking from Garmin and Strava. Consider your request delivered.
Garmin’s online community, Garmin Connect IQ offers up some useful watch faces and apps for your Garmin Forerunne 735XT GPS and Multisport Watch.
POPULAR WATCH FACES – A key to the usefulness of any athletic performance-tracking smartwatch is in the user interface or UI, which is often now incorporated as just one element of the overall user experience or UX. As a matter of fact, the issue of UI watch faces is many times more important with sports watches than it is with the class of generic smartwatches such as the Apple Watch or the Samsung Gear S2 or Moto 360 Gen 2.
The overriding importance of the watch face for sports watches is due to the necessary intensity of use across multiple sports and exercise regimes. Garmin 735XT’s effective design considers an athlete or devoted exercise & fitness individual who is constantly checking dozens of various essential performance factors every day, even every hour, quite often every minute or less. One could actually argue that the availability of a healthy portfolio of watch faces is just as important a feature to the Garmin Forerunner 735XT GPS and Multisport Watch as are many of its other software components.
In this regard, Garmin and its user community at Garmin Connect IQ have not overwhelmed the entire smartwatch industry with their watch faces as has Apple and the emerging Android Wear cottage industry of artisan watch face development. They certainly have attained enviable status as the online ‘go to’ shop around the corner to get your athletic watch face fix.
Via Garmin Connect IQ, you can view a healthy bag of various watch faces and display widgets and indicator treats to creatively inform your casual, rigorous, amateur, or professional athletic training focus. Here are just a few ticklers to help jump start you to ‘get your watch face on.’
Ø ActiFace Version 4.3. This watch face offers 12/24 time and km/mi distance formats on the perimeter of the display, along with a dominant display of the current time just below a perfunctory date widget. Garmin has also included a battery life indicator, a Bluetooth on indicator, an extremely useful activity history graph for the past 7 days + today. This fitness functionality feature is listed in kCal and km or steps and sports a “goal reached” triangle indicator for every day in the 7+ day activity graph that you reached your goal, a maximum or sum of your average kCals and km/mi (or steps). Progress bars shaped as peripheral arc segments show daily goal progress and step count, some custom fields, some status and notification icons, and an inactivity indicator. Using the Garmin Connect Mobile or Garmin Express, The ActiFace can be configured with a number of other possible indictors such as sunrise/sunset times, week steps average and week distance average, altitude, and more.
Back To The Future Version v3. Get your Marty McFly on with this retro-futuristic data widget filled watch face. This is actually more advanced than the watches we saw in the classic movie, yet a curiously old fashioned retro turn back to the calculator style readouts of the 1980s and 90s. In case you’re stuck in the future, you can read out the time in hours and minutes as well as the day, month, day of the week, and the year that the alternate you were last doing your triathlon prep or fitness regimen. It also gives you a steps count, a steps goal reached indicator, and battery percentage level. This would be a complementary watch face for when you’re hitting the wall running to a Pink Floyd song or when you’re short on a little Air Supply or if you need to do a Van Halen Jump over a running obstacle.
Whatever watch faces suit you, you’ll have the veritable “plethora” of choices to put on a face that helps attract your eyes and your mind to track your data religiously.
POPULAR APPS Several highly popular watch faces available via the Garmin Connect IQ website are worthy of your notice when evaluating a purchase decision on the Forerunner 735XT. Here’s the short list:
Ø dwMap Version V2.0.0021. This super useful face for runners, cyclists, and hikers presents a simplified graphics map of your route with a red line path and start and finish teardrop flags. It’s a bit like looking at an old fashioned color golf scorecard graphics map of the layout the holes, with elementary blue, lime green, dark green, and café colors representing water and land, respectively. It’s simple stuff, but it works.
You can import routes from popular sites like Garmin Connect, Ride with GPS and MapMyRun or you can customize it by creating your own route with a visit to the online route planning creation app residing at the website of the creator of dwMap, dynamicWatch (http://is.gd/dywtch). With dwMap, you can view your route at four different zoom levels, take a quick update peek at your current position and direction, and consider your breadcrumbs trail.
Ø GPS Position Version 2.6-upd. For the hiker or GPS curious amongst you, this is a watch face that presents your precise GPS latitude and longitude coordinates, your heading in degrees (or radians), the altimeter readout in meters (or feet), your speed in m/s (or mph), and your Forerunner 735XT’s battery % level.Considering the GPS-centric nature of this smartwatch, it only seems appropriate that you have a GPS focused watch face at the tip of your finger, literally.
PRICE AND GENERAL AVAILABILITY
The Forerunner 735XT is generally available now for an MSRP of USD449.99.
The HRM-Run and HRM-Swim Chest Straps are available now at MSRP’s of USD99.99 for more accurate heart rate monitoring during running (HRM-Run Chest Strap) and swimming (HRM-Swim Chest Strap) and the HRM-Tri Chest Strap is available now at an MSRP of USD129.99 for heart rate monitoring during triathlon prep and competitions (HRM-Tri Chest Strap).
Check online for various product bundles that include the Forerunner 735XT and the Chest Strap that provides you with the focused precision data you need to improve your performances.
If you’re a serious triathlete, you could find another sports watch that might suite you, but you definitely will not find another one that provides the price-performance value of this bad boy. It’s got more bells and whistles than you’ll ever be able to use unless you truly are Hercules or an Olympic Decathlete.
With the Forerunner 735XT GPS and Multisport Watch, Garmin has further solidified its already considerable lead in the smart sports watch industry. Smart use of this incredible wrist machine can help you become the continuously improving, high performance athlete of your dreams.
John Del Favero
Don’t worry—there is a good selection of iPhone compatible smartwatches, and you might be surprised that they have excellent features and potentially better performance than the signature Apple Watch.
By now, like many techies, you must be bored of step counting and heart rate tracking. You expect more from your wearable tracking devices.
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