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The Garmin Forerunner 610 is the only watch I wear for both running and as a casual watch since 2011. I did not think Garmin could improve on that but today they proved me wrong. The new Garmin Forerunner 620 leapfrog the competition and much more. Some of the new features available on the 620 straddles into fitness & activity trackers, an emerging category in the digital health industry (see our Fitness Devices & Activity Trackers Comparison Matrix). Also announced today is the Garmin Forerunner 220, a more affordable version with buttons for navigation rather than a touchscreen and less analysis features.

Beyond distance, pace, and heart rate, the new Forerunner 620 now acts as Advocate, Analyst, Motivator, Planner, and Trainer. Powerful features on the 620 include:

  • Live Track – Both 220 and 620 allow others to see where you are during a training run (or race). As long as you’re carrying a smartphone and using the Garmin Connect™ Mobile app, 620 can use that phone’s signal to convey your position to family, fans, and coaches, wherever they are in the world.
  • VO2 Max – Using a proprietary algorithm from Firstbeat, 620 melds heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV) and running speed in order to estimate the maximum volume of oxygen you use per minute. The higher the number, the better you are able to recover from effort, even while you’re doing it.
  • Ground Contact Time – When paired with HRM-Run, 620 measures how much time, during the running motion, your foot is on the ground rather than in flight. Ground contact time is measured in milliseconds.
  • Recovery Timer – When paired with HRM-Run, the 620 lets you know how much time you need to recover from your workouts through a count-down timer. Recovery time varies based on level of fitness and intensity of workout.
  • Vertical Oscillation – 620 can measure, in centimeters, how much bounce is in your running motion over time. Measurement is taken at the chest with the HRM-Run.
  • Cadence – 620 can measure how many steps you take per minute with both feet, right and left.
  • Accelerometer – Both 220 and 620 can measure speed and distance when GPS is unavailable, for example, indoors. With 620, accelerometer is also capable of calculating cadence when foot pod or HRM are not available.

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You no longer need to pay for a lab test to accurately obtain your VO2 Max. You no longer need time lapse night photography and lights to analyze your vertical bounce. You no longer need to go to an expensive lab to measure your ground contact time. Finally, you no longer need to manually count your cadence. Investing in a Garmin Forerunner 620 is a no-brainer if the device deliver as published. It’s like a mobile running lab on your wrist.

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We are really excited about what the Garmin Forerunner 620 can measure and analyze from both a runner and a coach standpoint. A runner can self-analyze, train and compete better. A coach can analyze, validate, and help a runner improve and prevent injury. This might be the holy grail of running accessories and Garmin nailed it! We are looking forward to doing a full review of the 620 once units are available in the next few weeks.

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Here’s the full press release:

OLATHE, Kan./September 16, 2013/Business Wire — Garmin International Inc., a unit of Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ: GRMN), the global leader in satellite navigation, today announced the Forerunner 620 and Forerunner 220 GPS running watches – two of the lightest, thinnest, most advanced offerings for runners from Garmin, and the next best thing to having a personal running coach. The Forerunner 620 offers advanced features like recovery advisor, race predictor and VO2 max estimate to help runners train smarter and achieve new race goals. When used with the NEW HRM-Run™ monitor, the 620 also provides feedback on running form. For indoor training, like on a treadmill, the 620 and 220’s built-in accelerometer tracks distance and pace, so runners don’t need a separate sensor. Both models boast Garmin’s unique one-inch Chroma™ color display to easily interpret data.To see the Forerunner 620 and 220 in action, go to www.garmin.com/ForerunnerCoach.

“Whether running indoors or out, Forerunner 620 and 220 will change the way runners look at training,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin vice president of worldwide sales. “Advanced features in the 620 such as recovery advisor, VO2 max estimate, race predictor and stats on running economy, combined with connected features and training plan options found in both the 620 and 220, make these watches must haves for runners of all levels. To keep runners motivated the watches also notice if runners hit any personal records on that run, like their fastest mile, 5k, 10k, half or full marathon or their longest run to date.”

Regardless of a runner’s experience, motivation, or how far or fast they go, they likely want to know how they can improve and objectively measure their fitness. Forerunner 620 does just that by estimating runners’ VO2 max, which is a good indicator of athletic capability. Previously, the only way to accurately obtain VO2 max was by paying for a lab test. When used with a heart rate monitor, the 620 incorporates several pieces of data, like running speed, beats per minute and heart rate variability, into an advanced algorithm to estimate runners’ VO2 max. The number itself indicates the maximum volume of oxygen a runner can consume per minute, per kilogram of body weight at their max performance. Theoretically, the more oxygen runners can use during high-level exercise, the more energy they can produce. A color gauge on the watch display shows how a runner’s VO2 max data compares to other individuals of their gender and age range. Based on the VO2 max estimate, the 620 can predict a runner’s race time for several distances. This can give runners a time target for their next race, assuming they’ve completed proper training.

When wearing HRM-Run, Forerunner 620’s NEW recovery advisor and recovery check take the guesswork out when it comes to planning recovery time between hard workouts. Just like a coach, it learns the runner and their physiology based on heart rate data, so it factors this against their last workout and then shows how much time before they are fully recovered and ready for their next hard running workout. Color-coding on the high-resolution Chroma display gauge makes it easy to interpret — green, of course, means they are good to go. When runners see red on the display and a recovery time of more than 3 days, they might consider taking a rest day or just doing a light recovery run. HRM-Run also has an accelerometer in the module that measures torso movement in order to calculate 3 different running metrics:

  • Cadence — the number of steps per minute. It displays the total steps (right and left combined)
  • Vertical oscillation — the bounce in runners’ running motion. It displays the vertical motion of a runners’ torso, measured in centimeters.
  • Ground contact time — the amount of time in each step that you spend on the ground while running, measured in milliseconds.

“The Forerunner 620 is a watch that runners have been waiting for”, said Dr. Jack Daniels, famed running coach, author and exercise physiologist. “Being able to monitor runners’ running dynamics and receive real-time feedback in a watch is a huge step in running innovation.”

Thanks to their Bluetooth®Smart wireless upload capabilities, Forerunner 620 and 220 can send runners’ run data to the Garmin online community, Garmin Connect™, without being connected to a computer. It can transfer the data through the Garmin Connect Mobile app on their compatible smartphone. Additional connected features include live tracking, which allows runners’ friends and fans to follow along and see their stats in real-time. Runners must have their phone paired with their 620 or 220 throughout the run to use the LiveTrack feature. Victories, goals achieved and successes can be shared on runners’ social media sites by posting updates through the Garmin Connect Mobile app. And, for real-time coaching as they run, both the 620 and 220 are compatible with free training plans at Garmin Connect. Runners can also set up their Forerunner 620 to work with one or more Wi-Fi hot spots, such as their home and office networks, to automatically sync with Garmin Connect when in range. Syncing with Garmin Connect on a regular basis not only ensures the upload of runners’ data, it also sends the next seven days worth of satellite data, to Forerunner 620 and 220, to ensure the fastest possible satellite acquisition— no more standing and waiting, and seeing runners with their wrists to the sky while waiting for a signal.

With the growing popularity of the run/walk training method in the distance running community (example: a runner runs for five minutes, walks for one minute and repeats for the duration of the course), Garmin has included a run/walk alert. This alert allows Forerunner 620 and 220’s other features, such as, Auto Lap and Auto Pause, to remain active during a run/walk session.

Both Forerunner 620 and 220 are water-resistant to 50m and can stand up to much more than rain, sweat and splashes. The Forerunner 620 has a touchscreen display responsive enough that it can be operated with running gloves, while the 220 is operated with easy to push buttons. Both models have rechargeable batteries lasting up to six weeks in watch mode and up to 10 hours in training mode.

Forerunner 620 is available in blue/black and white/orange, while Forerunner 220 is available in black/red and white/violet and are expected to ship fall 2013 and have suggested retail prices of $399.99/$449.99 (HRM-Run Bundle) and $249.99/$299.99 (Heart Rate Bundle) respectively. Forerunner 620 and Forerunner 220 are the latest solutions from Garmin’s expanding fitness segment, which focuses on developing technologies and innovations to enhance users’ lives and promotes healthy and active lifestyles.  Whether it’s running, cycling, or other athletic pursuits, Garmin fitness devices are becoming essential tools for athletes both amateur and elite.  For more about features, pricing and availability, as well as information about Garmin’s other fitness products and services, go to www.garmin.com/intosportswww.garmin.blogs.com and http://twitter.com/garmin.

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