Garmin 735 XT
$600 When it comes to GPS watches and computers, Garmin rules the roost these days. That’s all for good reason – the Garmin family of computers routinely offers amongst the best features and functions. The 735 XT lives up to that claim, offering an incredible amount of functionality in a small form factor. It is incredibly light and the round face with its colour touch screen provides an incredible amount of information and data in a small space.
The 735 XT will especially be a hit for those who don’t like to wear a chest strap because it has an optical HR monitor that is built into the back of the watch. As long as you keep the watch strap on quite tight it works very well. The optical HR monitor allows you to monitor your HR at any time, making the watch much more than just a training watch – it also serves as a full-fledged fitness monitor that that will gauge your daily activity and stress levels. You can pair the watch with a HR monitor strap, which is worth doing as you can gather quite a bit more data including running dynamics (ground contact time balance, stride length, vertical ratio, etc.) and underwater heart rate info for swimming. The watch will also provide VO2 max estimates, lactate threshold, race prediction and advice on recovery.
The 735 XT comes with a 60-day free trial to Strava Premium, which will give you live feedback on Strava segments while you’re cycling or running. Through Livetrack the watch can also let your family and friends track your location in real time while you’re riding or running. In keeping with the “smartwatch” theme you can even download different watch faces so you can customize the watch to fit your style.
Thanks to the Garmin Connect software, the 735 XT also serves as a smartwatch so you can get notifications from your phone on the watch while you’re running or riding and you can even control your music from the watch, too.
It is a sign of just how far Garmin has brought this category that it’s not until this point that I am even mentioning some of the basic features you’ll find in the 735 XT that make it a great training tool. What’s amazing about the 735 XT is that it packs all the features from the much larger 920 XT into a much smaller package. The GPS picks up its satellite connection quickly (which is always a welcome feature when you have a group of runners or cyclists waiting to get started) and provides extremely accurate speed and distance data. You’re always just a few clicks away from getting started on pretty much any workout – of course you’ve got swim, bike and run workouts covered, along with multisport races and workouts. You’re not just limited to those – XC skiing, cardio, indoor cycling are just a few of the other workouts that can be tracked quite easily.
As mentioned earlier you get added running data by springing for the HR strap and, as long as you have a compatible ANT+ power meter you can get all your power data, too. In terms of battery life, the 735 XT is supposed to get 14 hours of use with GPS and the optical HR and up to 11 days in watch mode. We found those numbers to be fairly accurate, making the 735 XT a near-perfect wrist-based addition to your training arsenal. How could it be better? Well, you won’t quite get through a 17-hour fulldistance race with GPS and HR enabled. Other than that, we can’t think of much.