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Curmudgeon's Corner: Timely Advice

Looking for a new smart watch?

by Lou Nunez

I bought my Fitbit Blaze at the 2016 New York City Marathon Expo. It went to the great tracker in the sky on New Year’s Eve eve. After a few failed attempts to suffuse worth into the Fitbit’s silicon soul, the search began in earnest. I wanted something that would track distance via GPS, heart rate, sleep, and steps, with battery life an important consideration. I did not want to spend a lot of money. The search quickly narrowed to two leading candidates. The Coros Pace 2 and the Garmin Forerunner 45. While they are virtually identical in features, there were some differences.

On the plus side for the Coros:

· From various reviews, the Coros is more accurate measuring around a track, even asking you what lane you’re in.

· The Coros has incredible battery life – 20 days normal use, and 30 hours of continuous GPS use.

· With the nylon watch band it weighs only 29 grams, essentially an ounce.

· It has a barometric altimeter, so it can count stairs.

· It has a built-in compass.

On the negative side for the Coros.

· There are few retailers stocking this, so it has to be bought online. I like to get a feel for the watch before purchasing, and see the numerals as they would appear in real life - not magnified on a computer screen.

· There is also no web interface for the Coros. It’s either check your cell phone or use third party web apps.

On the plus side for the Garmin

· Incidence Alert

· “Stress” Tracking

· “Body Battery” alert

· Comes in two sizes, 39mm and 42mm. The watch face is the same size, only the bezel is smaller on the 45S.

· Garmin Connect web interface.

On the negative side for the Garmin:

· The battery “may” last up to 7 days in smartwatch mode, and 13 hours in GPS mode.

· No bariometric altimeter, so no stairs.

They’re very similar. When I was looking, the Garmin was on sale for $149 and the Coros at the regular price of $199. You may be wondering what they look like?

Again, they’re very similar.

Ultimately, I went with the Garmin because for $50 less it did everything I wanted. As to the battery, I don’t want to be interrupted with a text, or an Instagram notification when I’m out there. I want to be like the captain of a ship in the 18thCentury. After the first few days, I went into the phone’s Bluetooth settings and turned off notifications from the phone to the smartwatch, including the automatic backlight on. After 4 days, it was still at 50% charge, with just over 2 hours cumulative GPS time. The “general rule of thumb” is that after 500 cycles, you will lose 20% of the battery’s charge capacity. You can also expect 500 to 2000 charge cycles before the battery says “Watt? Ohm! Resistance is Futile!” and stops taking a charge. Assuming the minimum 500 cycles, and charging once every 4 days, that works out to about 5.5 years. Bluetooth functionality between the watch and smartphone is only good up to a distance of 10 meters or roughly 30 feet. Beyond that, you will lose connectivity and may have to go into your phone’s settings to reconnect, especially if your phone is locked.

The Garmin comes in different colors, but fear not, for replacement bands are available online in a multitude of colors for about $6. I already went and did to have a spare, and to change things up a bit every now and then. My suggestion is simple. Check out websites like for reviews about these types of watches, ask friends, and decide on what might work best for you.

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