Saturday, January 30, 2016

Upgrade to a Garmin 235 if you already have a 620, or just cheap out on a Vivosmart HR?

This question was posed on the latest version (Episode 32) of The DCR Podcast: is it worth upgrading to a 235 from a 620? Ray Maker thought it made sense to just buy a Vivosmart HR and use that with the 620 instead of upgrading. I usually see eye to eye with Ray, but on this one, unlike Ben Hobbs, I really don't think he's right here.

First off -- cost. 

The Vivosmart HR is $150. So in that sense, it is certainly cheaper than going out and buying a 235 for $329.  Is the 235 worth an extra $180?  

I would have thought a 620 in pretty good shape would have sold for close to $100 on eBay, but the market seems thin - I only saw one used device getting bid on - and it was only up to $30. So it isn't prudent at this point to expect the 620 retains a ton of value.

I think there's real value in the 235 over the 620 + Vivosmart HR. Here's my list:

- A better accelerometer for indoor treadmill running.  I find the 235 to nail it as well as a Garmin footpod (which retails for $70) when I run inside -- more accurate (closer to perceived pace and actual pace on treadmill display) than any other Garmin I've owned. My Vivosmart HR was unusually bad on this count - 20% off the actual count in miles. If you do a lot of treadmilling, this accuracy is a significant feature.  The pace and HR below are from a treadmill 5K.

- It looks more like a watch than a running watch.  The 620 watchface and color scheme weren't business friendly - I like a watch that isn't noticed as a running watch. The 235 is black, sleek, and is not noticeable as a running watch.  

- Garmin Connect IQ watch faces. There are some really functional and even approaching attractive free watch faces on the storefront (and a bunch of other widgets to play with). If you like gadgets and fiddling with this kind of thing, it's a lot of fun.

- One watch to rule them all. It's a lot better to have one device to charge and wear, rather than a band and a running watch - much more convenient.

So there you have it.  I'd say if you are a regular runner, it's a no-brainer - go upgrade. Welcome to 2016.

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