Tuesday , October 16 2018 Ausdroid » Hardware » Garmin 645 Music — Australian Review

When it comes to activity tracking, in particular GPS hardware Garmin are the market leader and weapon of choice for professional as well as amatuer athletes. Their range of devices is wide and offers wearables, as well as mountable devices such as cycling GPS. The 645 Music is a Multi-sport device that offers wearable tracking capabilities as well as self contained music capabilities that minimises your need to carry items such as your phone when you’re out for a run or ride.

The Hardware

Let’s start with a look at the hardware itself. It fits in with so many of the other activity watches around, it has a digital face that presents as a watch and notification base until you enable the GPS, at which time you’ve got some really useful tracking which is contextual to the typical needs (and somewhat configurable) of the type of sport you’re undertaking at the time.

I’ve tried some watches in the past that are remarkably uncomfortable for various reasons, from the watch face size to poor strap design (one of which was in fact a Garmin device) and I’m happy to report that the 645 Music was comfortable straight out of the box – Though some people with smaller wrists may find the face a little uncomfortable.

It’s really important to note that the comfort is critically important if you’re going to use any of the recently introduced Garmin wearables to their full capability as they not only track daily activities and sports activities, but also your sleep and the quality of it.

The battery life is a notable increase on other models I’ve reviewed in the last couple of years, on paper they’re saying it’s

  • 7 days watch
  • 5 hours GPS with Music
  • 14 hours GPS with no music

In my testing they’ve under-promised and over-delivered, which is great for users. I was seeing 6 days of wear time between charges and averaging 1 hour with GPS and Music going, plus 4 hours of GPS only during the week.

The screen is excellent, in artificial light it’s really easy to read and having a backlight button means it won’t light up a room at night the same way a Wear OS watch would if it’s permanently on. It’s also really easy to read in bright sunlight, however – if you wear polarised lenses (being an LCD screen) it’s a little tough to see unless you get your viewing angle just right.

There’s plenty of data available to scroll through on the screens of the 645 Music. The main screen can be customised to your wants and needs, with any number of data points visible at the drop of a hat (more if you choose to download custom faces to your device similar to Wear OS).

While it’s something that can be customised, the scrolling data by default includes your heart rate, training status, tracking against your weekly goals, daily step count, music, notifications and weather. The data in the scrolling screens can be added, removed and customised as you wish so if you want more or less from it, that’s really simple to deliver through the Garmin App.

The Music

This is what the 645 Music is all about…

Music your way at your pace without the absolute reliance on another mobile device to drive it. You can control your phone music from the watch much like a WearOS device could. You just need to select the music source as your phone and use the on screen controls. Particularly useful if you’re on a Mountain Bike or long distance walk/run and your phone is in your backpack.

The other option is to sync some music to the watch, then pair some bluetooth headphones. Then you can set off on your outdoor adventures without the reliance on a mobile devices to listen.

A word of warning here: I found cheap Bluetooth headphones were patchy with their reception despite literally being at an arm length away. As soon as I switched to a higher quality pair of headphones, the reception was flawless and sound quality more than acceptable. Whether that’s an indication of the BT transmission capabilities of the watch, the reception capabilities of the headphones or a little of both, I don’t know – but well worth mentioning to avoid others getting caught.

The controls for either use are very simple – using the same up, down and select buttons as you do for other functions on the 645 Music you scroll through the functions for music

Activity Tracking

Much like the other recent Garmin devices we’ve reviewed, If you’re a generally active person and smash out a lot of steps on a daily basis and the automated start of activities is going to drive you crazy! Personally I choose to use the manual option of pressing the side button and selecting the activity I’m about to get stuck into, thankfully you can add your favourites to the quick access list to ensure you’re not scrolling through the huge list each time you want to find one.

The full activity list is huge and growing on the Garmin devices, many are simply movement based with others GPS based giving you options to complete Treadmill runs, indoor rides, pretty much anything you can think of if it’s movement based and good for you – Garmin can track it.

What it does well

I love the simplicity of the design but ability for the device to adapt to your needs in terms of the activity tracking. Its excellent at providing simple notifications and often, more discretely than a WearOS device because it doesn’t make any sound and the vibration is enough to feel, but unless in a very quiet room – not enough to hear.

Possibly not quite “sharp” enough in presentation to survive in a professional environment where every detail of presentation is scrutinised, but it’s VERY close so for most professionals, you’ll be great with this.

I’ve previously been extremely impressed with the accuracy of the activity detection on weight training and this is just as good. The issue still remains of having to remember to trigger the change of sets, but that’s my issue more than one with the hardware or software.

The App and experience

Having recently reviewed other Garmin devices and regularly using the app for my bike GPS, my thoughts on the app really haven’t changed for some time. It’s a great experience, particularly if you’re new to the high end activity tracker market, the app itself is quite brilliant. It’s easy to use, well thought out and has all the information in an easy to navigate and intuitive interface.

The hardware is great, when you combine it with the easy to use app – Garmin really do have a winning combination here. The fact they now have genuine contenders in the daily-wear watch realm as well as the simple activity trackers has made Garmin not just a competitor but a front runner with their product range wide enough to suit everyone and a user experience that is second to none.

Conclusion

The Garmin 645 Music continues the evolution of high level activity trackers to a daily wear device and a battery that doesn’t require charging every night meaning they can can track sleep far more accurately than other options.

The design of the watch makes is a perfectly comfortable device for all day and night that presents well for a casual or professional environment. The screen size is walking on the right side of a fine line being really easy to read, it will work well for people with smaller wrists or those who are of bigger build.

Where a device like this will fall short for some users is that it’s a notification output device, not an input device like WearOS. In comparison, the activity tracking is far more accurate than any of the WearOS devices I’ve tried over the years to date and their app brings insight into your physical life that you may not have had previously.

The RRP of AU$599 is pretty steep for a lot of users – keep your eyes out though, there are often sales on Garmin gear around the online retailers. Despite this, there’s so much to like and when you get into the Garmin range of devices – you get what you pay for.

What features of the 645 Music have caught your interest?

Phil Tann   Journalist

Phil is an Android enthusiast who spends most of his time reading up on U.S. Android news so he can get the low down on what could possibly hit Australian shores. Coming from a background in IT & T sales, he’s in the perfect position to give an educated view on hardware and software.

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Les Ran
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Les Ran

A good watch will have a digital assistant on board.

I want to bark at my watch while I jog, and get it to play different music tracks.

Really
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Really

A total waste of money for tracking steps or walking.

The heart rate experience amongst the 1/2 dozen users I know who have various versions of the Fenix 5 and various forerunners is that it can be a bit temperamental and inaccurate overall during running, cycling/mountain biking.

Other than that battery lasts 4 days plus design and comfort on Garmin’s is ace.

Matt
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Matt

I have owned the Forerunner 645 Music for the past 3 months and it continues to impress me. Prior to that I owned the Fitbit Ionic and the Fitbit Surge before that. For a semi serious or regular runner the Forerunner is fantastic. Always-on display means you can easily view your stats when running, unlike the Ionic which needed gesture to wake. The data and analysis side of the Garmin software is years ahead of Fitbit. Plus running features like Tracback and the ability to load a gpx file onto the watch and follow it on a new trail run… Read more »

John
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John

What widget do you use for music? Do you have to run with your phone? I thought I could forego my phone on runs and utilise the music function which it is supposed to be all about!!!

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