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Garmin FR 70: In-Depth Review

Updated on October 26, 2012

Garmin FR70

The Forerunner 70 is the first of the Forerunner series not to contain a GPS. While this, in some peoples view, appears to defeat the purpose of the Forerunner series, it may still be a good tool for some people to use.

To compare to other Forerunner models

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When you open the box, you'll find inside: The watch, manuals, a premium HR strap (optional), a foot pod (a device about the size of a quarter) and an ANT+ USB Stick (for connecting your watch to the computer wirelessly).

The watch itself is has a much smaller width than all of the other watches in the forerunner series. It is also substantially thinner.

When you first turn on the watch (by holding down the mode button), you will be presented with a first time setup wizard. This will ask you your language, time, date, units, gender, age, weight, height and fitness class. Once you've answered the questions, you wait for a moment, and then your ready to run.

Because there is no GPS on the FR60, a foot pod is required. On first use, it is necessary to calibrate the watch. It then calculates a calibration factor which is used on future runs. To calibrate it, it is necessary to run a set distance (a running track is useful here) and tell your watch when you've run the specified distance.

But once calibrated, how accurate is the watch, and does it tstay accurate when weather changes and your stride adapts? Well the answer to both those questions is yes. A quick experiment involving comparing the watch to the 610 over an 8 mile run, showed that by the end of the 8 miles, it was less than 0.01 miles out.

While running, you can use 5 data screens with 3 data fields each. You can use a feature called auto scroll, to automatically move between pages as your running. You can also use the auto lap feature which allows you to automatically press the lap button at a certain time or distance without touching the watch.

Another feature on this watch is auto pause. It allow you to automatically pause recording when you stop (say at a traffic light or something) without having to pressing the start/stop button (which you can forget to resume). I'd recommend a pause pace of 20:00/mile, otherwise you'll get false positives.

One advantage of footpods is that they update far quicker than GPS, and so you can get a more accurate impression of speed. The back-light on the FR60 is, unlike some of the other forerunners, pretty dim. The time the back-light is on can be adjusted, to a maximum of 20 seconds (8 being default).

The virtual partner feature is also very useful. It allows you to create a virtual running partner who sticks to a constant speed. It then shows and tells you how far ahead or behind of him you are. When enabled, it has its own data screen and is compatible with auto scroll.

The FR70 can also be used with a bike, but this requires a bike speed/cadence sensor. Once configured, the bike mode works exactly the same as running mode. You can wear the watch on your wrist or you can buy a Garmin bike mount.

The FR70 also is usable underwater, and has enough waterproofing to be used in pools and sea diving. However, it can only be used as a stopwatch and cannot record distance.

It can also be used indoors such as on treadmills. It is compatible with ANT+ scales and Garmin connect. Overall this is a useful piece of kit, that is substantially cheaper than other forerunners, but still has great functionality.

Would you buy one?

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