Garmin's Forerunner range has been at the, erm, forefront of the multi-sport watch world since 2003, but with more choice than ever in the world of fitness and health tracking, competition is intense. The new Forerunner 735 XT wades into battle loaded to the gills with enough tech to satisfy even the most discerning multi-sport users, who no longer need to wear a chest strap to track their heart rate.
On the outside, the Forerunner 735 XT looks similar to the Forerunner 235 that launched earlier this year, but it's got plenty of new tricks under its skin. Just like the 235, the 735 XT is fitted with an optical sensor that works around the clock to track your heart rate without a strap.
If you want to track more advanced metrics like stride length, ground contact time, balance and vertical ratio, you're able to pair the watch with a regular chest strap.
On top of its regular heart rate capabilities, the 735 XT is compatible with Garmin's power-monitoring Vector pedals and the full range of Varia cycling accessories, meaning you could use it on the bike rather than buying a separate watch and cycling computer.
As a multi sport watch, the Forerunner 735 XT can also handle cross-country skiing, hiking, paddle sports like kayaking and canoeing and strength training. Users are able to toggle between sports using a button, or leave the watch in automatic multisport mode to track more generic parameters like heart rate and calories burned.
All of these metrics are one thing, but there's no substitute for grit and determination when it comes to improving your performance. In recognition of this, Garmin's latest watch will calculate your "Suffer Score." Using Strava software, Suffer Score uses your heart rate zones to work out how hard you're working in comparison to your peak.
Although Strava says the system is designed to measure how intense your training is, we can see plenty of middle-aged triathletes trying to one-up each other with a slightly higher Suffer Score than their mates.
To combat the rising number of health and sleep tracking wristbands and watches, the Forerunner 735 XT will hook up to the Garmin Connect app, which tracks your step counts, sleep patterns, and lets you share results with other friends who have the same application. On the smartwatch side of things, you're able to receive notifications from phone calls, texts, emails, calendar updates and social media alerts.
Where the Garmin shades some smartwatches is in the battery stakes. Although it will only survive 14 hours in full training mode, the Forerunner is expected to return 11 days of battery life in everyday watch mode.
Pricing starts at US$449.99 for the watch alone, before jumping to $499.99 for a run bundle, which includes a physical heart rate strap designed for running. Stumping up $599.99 will get you the watch, along with heart rate straps designed specifically for swimming and triathlon.
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