Which watch is re­ally go­ing to help you beat your times and feel fit­ter?

Australian T3 - - STATE OF THE ART -

With its ex­ten­sive pedi­gree in nav­i­ga­tional de­vices, Garmin should be pretty good at track­ing… and it is. The 645 pro­vides bench­mark ac­cu­racy for GPS track­ing of runs and cy­cles, and crunches a lot of data based on your car­dio­vas­cu­lar ef­forts. It can sug­gest re­cov­ery times, es­ti­mate your VO2 Max, tell you how op­ti­mal your train­ing load is and much more.

For ac­tiv­ity track­ing – the en­try-level stuff Garmin has been be­hind on pre­vi­ously – it also ex­cels. Use­fully, the 645 counts and sets tar­gets for your ‘in­ten­sity min­utes’ – the amount of time spent do­ing some­thing more ex­ert­ing than walk­ing to the shops. And it’s at­trac­tive enough that you hap­pily wear it all day, from the of­fice to the (juice) bar.

The Ionic’s HR mon­i­tor can be a bit odd. It seems ac­cu­rate dur­ing in­tense ac­tiv­ity, but er­ratic at lower lev­els of ex­er­tion. For gen­eral track­ing and rest­ing/av­er­age heart-rate and work­outs in the higher car­dio/thresh­old/ in­tense zones, the watch is good. It’s just the area in be­tween where things go a bit zany. A fur­ther fail­ing of the Ionic is that al­though it shows your heart rate when you work out, it

The Ionic breaks your nights down into deep, light and REM sleep

doesn’t show what zone you’re in, so you have to re­mem­ber where each one be­gins or ends.

For op­ti­mal train­ing, you need rest and re­cov­ery, and the Ionic mon­i­tors not just your hours of sleep but also the qual­ity, ac­cord­ing to your heart rate ac­tiv­ity and move­ments. It then breaks your night down into deep, light and REM sleep, which is pretty ad­vanced.

Like Garmin, the Ap­ple Watch en­cour­ages you to meet a min­i­mum num­ber of min­utes of ex­er­cise each day (which could be vig­or­ous walk­ing or a work­out). In the Work­outs app, you get con­tin­u­ous heart-rate mon­i­tor­ing once you’ve told it you’re start­ing an ac­tiv­ity, though the wrist-based mon­i­tor­ing seemed less ac­cu­rate than the Garmin. Frus­trat­ingly, it took 2-3 min­utes to de­tect a HR strap pre-work­out for more ac­cu­rate track­ing, which eats into your ac­tiv­ity time. The GPS was also slower than the other watches.

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