Garmin Forerunner 230 – Purple Strike Review

Garmin Forerunner 230 - Purple Strike Review

The Garmin Forerunner 230 has proven itself to be a highly reliable fitness watch. Even with extended use during physical exercise and sports activities, it still provides accurate measurements, a must for athletes who need reliable information about their performance.

But there’s always room for improvement in a fitness watch, and the Garmin Forerunner 230 isn’t an exception, especially in terms of its long-term performance.

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Features of the Garmin Forerunner 230 – Purple Strike

Utilitarian style and build

Keep in mind that the 230 is a fitness watch, and it looks and feels like one, from its sturdy band to its utilitarian display. This isn’t a stylish watch that you can wear on casual dates, on business meetings, and to formal events, not by a long shot.

But as a fitness watch, it has an attractive design, coupled with a user-friendly interface and a sturdy case, as well as 42mm watch face suitable for men.

We like the larger screen – it’s 42% larger than the Forerunner 220 – so we can easily see the information. The screen has a relatively clear and crisp quality to it, although, it isn’t the same as in the best smartwatches.

The information can be seen in bright and dim light conditions, too, but there are slight differences in the viewable quality.

Activity tracking capabilities

The 230 is a GPS watch and an activity tracker, although there are limitations to the latter capability. This is because activity tracking mostly involves counting steps, calories and distance, as well as recording movements, which can result in certain inaccuracies.

For example, when you link Garmin Connect and MyFitnessPal, a FitBit app, in tracking caloric expenditure, there will be inaccuracies in the number of calories burned. You may have to turn off your FitBit before riding your bike, when you want more accurate measurements.

There are also charts provided by the fitness watch, which can be used for tracking your fitness accomplishments over several months. You can monitor your steps over several days, weeks and months, so you can make appropriate changes to your exercise program.

We wish, though, that the Garmin Connect interface could be overhauled on the next Garmin fitness watch. The app is more suitable for weight loss enthusiasts and casual athletes than for serious athletes who want more reliable information in their hands.

Perhaps the company can make its own Garmin fit app, although, the Garmin Connect still has its uses.

Speaking of Garmin Connect, it allows for automatic uploads, as well as audio prompts, live tracking, and music controls, all of which enhance the fitness experience for its users. There are also smart notifications that allow its user to see incoming text messages, emails, and call alerts, even calendar reminders, from compatible smartphones.

While entire message threads can’t be seen from the watch, it’s still a nice feature, because it allows for connection to the world, yet, with more control over what should get your attention, while you’re outdoors.

We don’t like the sleep tracking feature, however, because it isn’t as accurate as we would like it to be. The watch records sitting on the couch as sleeping, and getting up to go to the bathroom during the night as waking up, for example.

This can adversely affect overall fitness tracking capability, although, it isn’t a deal-breaker for most people. Not to mention, that most fitness trackers have a similar flaw anyway.

Great GPS performance

The 230’s GPS functionality is quite impressive, due to its built-in GPS and GLONASS satellite receivers. As a rule of thumb, the more satellites that can be accessed by a fitness watch, the more accurate the positioning information provided.

This is a useful feature in areas where determining exact location is a must, such as in mountainous regions where the horizon’s exact position cannot be so easily determined. Besides, it’s always good to know where you are in the world, whether you’re in the urban jungle or in a rural country road.

The GPS picks up location within 5 seconds or so, and is a definite plus. If you used older GPS watches, you would agree that such quick pick-up capability contributes to a better fitness experience.

Good battery life

We like the 16 hours of continuous use when the 230’s activity tracking capabilities are used. While Garmin claims that the 230 has a 5-week battery life for the watch, notifications, and activity-tracking purposes, a 3.5-week battery life is more realistic.

But even at 3.5 weeks, this is still among the most impressive fitness watches we have tested, battery-wise.

Pros

  • Clear images in working light and normal daylight conditions; comes with backlight for dim light conditions
  • Long battery life
  • Lightweight watch with sturdy case
  • Great GPS performance
  • Good activity tracking features coupled with smart notifications and wireless sync

Cons

  • Minor bugs on the watch

Verdict

The Garmin Forerunner 230 is a basic fitness watch that provides relatively accurate readings as an activity-tracker and on GPS location. Although, there are a few minor limitations.

We recommend buying it if you’re looking for a running watch that can become part of your range of exercise tools, whether you’re indoors or outdoors.

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