by Geir Mjosund 01/04/2016
Garmin FR 235 is an update of the Forerunner 225, Garmin’s first watch with pulse measurement on the wrist, launched in 2015. While FR 225 had sensor from MioAlpha and worked fine with that sensor, the update FR 235 is Garmin’s first model with a newly developed sensor.
Garmin FR 235 – the best GPS watch with pulse measurement
All the major manufacturers of fitness watches have over the past couple of years launched pulse measurement on the wrist as an alternative to heart rate monitor strapped to the chest. The measurement takes place by means of an optical sensor that measures blood flow in the large veins above the wrist. Most have spent Mio Alpha’s sensor, ie an external producer. In late autumn of 2015 Tomtom came with its first watch with a customized sensor, which worked very well.
With the FR 235 Garmin is also on track with its own sensor. The sensor has become a bit bigger than on the Garmin FR 225. This makes it easier to hit the vein as it reads the blood flow.
Like with the Garmin FR 630 the FR 235 also got a larger screen, which fills more of the watch front than before and this gives more space in the data fields and it is easier to read the screen when you’re out for a run. The FR 235 is not a touch screen watch, you use the buttons to navigate. Menus are easily recognizable if you are used to a Garmin watch before, but it’s also easy to learn for those who are new to Garmin watches.
On the exercise bit the FR 235 is a nice upgrade from the FR 225. The watch do not have so many advanced features like the top models, but the most important things are very good. GPS finds satellites quickly and measure speed and distance. The watch can track data from both GPS and GLONASS satellites, so coverage is absolutely on par with the best multisport watches.
The activity meter on the Garmin FR 235 is the best I’ve seen on a multisport watch, by that I mean a GPS heart rate monitor with accelerometer. As the watch has an optical sensor, it can measure the pulse 24/7. As in many other watches you get the number of steps a day measured against a daily goal – plus Inactivity. In addition, you get a graph on the watch showing a pulse curve during the last four hours, with information on current, highest and lowest pulse.
The watch is so light and comfortable on the arm that it was no problem to sleep with it at night, and it measured stable throughout the night every time.
With continuous pulse measurement the battery capacity is slightly low. I wore smart alerts with continuous heart rate monitoring – plus daily training sessions – so I had to charge it at an average of every 3 days.
Beyond simple and very good training features and a terrific activity measures the FR 235 also gives you alerts/notifications from your smartphone. You can choose how you want the notifications, if you want them during training and in watch mode. You can also choose to, for example, just to get call alerts when exercising, but not Facebook notifications or things that are less important to you.
The Garmin FR 235 is an great update. Pulse measurement on the wrist is something many want and Garmin’s new sensor works great. The FR 235 has all the features a regular exerciser needs. In addition, you get a very good activity meter. In my opinion this is the best GPS watch with pulse measurement on the wrist for regular exercisers.
Weight: 42 grams
Battery: 16 h / 5 weeks (no gps)