• Garmin Move IQ

    Garmin’s smart tech is getting more and more intelligent with every new smartwatch release.

    The latest generation of Garmin watches, The Vivofit 3, Vivosmart HR and Vivoactive HR all now come loaded with Move IQ.

    Move IQ continuously monitors for periods of sustained activity and automatically detects common exercises such as walking, running, biking, swimming and elliptical training. These are downloaded to the app where they can be viewed in further detail.

    Time to Move - Garmin Move IQ

    Dan Bartel, Garmin vice president of worldwide sales said: “Exciting new developments like Move IQ offer a full package to people wanting to take a step toward a healthier lifestyle."

    The smart wellness insights provided by Garmin Move IQ provide cues to help users reach a personalised daily goal, set based around the previous day's activity, compared to other activity trackers which base this goal around recommended daily activity. This adjustment makes the goals unique and therefore more achievable for the user, encouraging and motivating them to do more.

    When a move goal is reached the user gets a shoutout as a motivational reward for their activity. Insights also show users how they are doing in comparison to others like them for extra motivation to beat their friends.

    As well as automatically recognising the activity the watch calculates active and intensity minutes. Active minutes are counted for all exercise sessions that provide at least 10 consecutive minutes of moderate to vigorous active motion.

    All the metrics collected by Move IQ can be checked on the mobile app Garmin Connect, which is available on both iOS and Android. The Garmin Connect app also enables smart coaching tailored to your needs and feedback for all your activities.
    Posted by Victoria Gardner
  • Caffeine and Sleep: Garmin Fenix 3 Sleep Tracking

    Man Taking A Caffeine Nap At His Desk With Coffee In Hand

    After listening to a Stuff You Should Know podcast, I thought I would try a change in my caffeine habits. 

    For sleep tracking, I currently use a Garmin Fenix 3. The Garmin Fenix 3 is a sports watch and activity tracker that does everything you need and more. From dedicated triathlon training to running, step counting, and of course for this test sleep tracking. A recent update from Garmin means you do not need to tell the watch when you go to sleep. It knows! 

    What's required for this test?

    Garmin Fenix 3

    Garmin Fenix 3

    Less Coffee

    And a lot less coffee

    Caffeine Before Sleep

    It takes a regular coffee or tea drinker to know just how tough it is to cut back on the caffeine intake. I thought it would be hard but it was surprisingly easy for me. So why the test? On the podcast, they reminded me that caffeine has a half-life of 6 hours, which means that after 6 hours you still have 50% of the effect in your system. So if you have a caffeinated drink at 3pm and one at 5pm then this is essentially the same as having a full coffee at around 10pm. You may fall asleep with no problems, but your deep sleep will be affected. 

    From Garmin you get a breakdown of deep and light sleep. Plus awake time, so in theory seeing if a 2 week test will make any difference will be fairly easy to measure. 

    Is Caffeine Affecting Your Sleep?

    From my reading on the NHS and various other reputable sites, caffeine may affect your sleep, but not for everyone as everyone's body treats caffeine differently. My results from Garmin in the two weeks leading up to the test were as follows:

    Date Deep Sleep Light Sleep % of Deep Sleep
    1/5/2016 2:40:00 5:08:00 34.19%
    1/6/2016 3:03:00 4:17:00 41.59%
    1/7/2016 2:33:00 4:43:00 35.09%
    1/8/2016 3:28:00 4:16:00 44.83%
    1/9/2016 3:19:00 3:32:00 48.42%
    1/10/2016 4:22:00 6:12:00 41.32%
    1/11/2016 2:33:00 5:21:00 32.28%
    1/12/2016 2:44:00 5:32:00 33.06%
    1/13/2016 2:39:00 5:36:00 32.12%
    1/14/2016 2:26:00 5:20:00 31.33%
    1/15/2016 2:05:00 5:57:00 25.93%
    1/16/2016 3:34:00 5:14:00 40.53%
    1/17/2016 2:38:00 5:26:00 32.64%
    1/18/2016 2:59:00 4:31:00 39.78%
    1/19/2016 2:37:00 4:39:00 36.01%
          36.61%

    The test kicked off with the following rules. Going from 10+ cups of tea and coffee per day up until about 5pm to just one in the morning first thing. No other caffeine. Without other people to compare my stats to, I am just looking for a blame why my deep sleep is just a little over half (but very broken up through the night). 

    So bring on two weeks of sleep tracking with just one cup in the morning.

    Date Deep Sleep Light Sleep % of Deep Sleep
    1/20/2016 2:30:00 4:51:00 34.01%
    1/21/2016 3:35:00 4:42:00 43.26%
    1/22/2016 2:41:00 5:46:00 31.76%
    1/23/2016 3:02:00 4:45:00 38.97%
    1/24/2016 2:31:00 5:10:00 32.75%
    1/25/2016 2:10:00 3:39:00 37.25%
    1/26/2016 2:47:00 5:14:00 34.72%
    1/27/2016 2:26:00 4:50:00 33.49%
    1/28/2016 4:12:00 3:47:00 52.61%
    1/29/2016 2:10:00 5:01:00 30.16%
    1/30/2016 3:14:00 3:50:00 45.75%
    1/31/2016 2:51:00 6:19:00 31.09%
    2/1/2016 2:05:00 5:28:00 27.59%
    2/2/2016 2:11:00 4:01:00 35.22%
          36.33%

    Conclusion.... No change at all! Well at least for me there is no change. 36% of my sleep is deep sleep (according to my trusted Garmin Fenix 3)

    Sleep Data from the Garmin Fenix 3

    From the Garmin Fenix 3 via your phone or their Garmin Connect online account you let the watch know your typical sleep times (most of us have some sort of routine) and the watch will record your sleep.

    Sleep Movement Garmin Fenix 3

    The graph above is the movement during sleep. Garmin will interpret this data into deep and light sleep and that looks like the following.

    Garmin Fenix 3 Light and Deep Sleep Comparison

    Typically activity trackers that monitor your sleep will flag up just how little sleep you have. Read up on sleep and how much you should get. Then you will realise it is important and the deep sleep is what counts. In the chart above deep sleep is represented by the dark navy bars and the light sleep the light blue. Pink is awake time.

    Posted by Daniel Puddick
  • Garmin Forerunner 225 Review

    Garmin Forerunner 225 Running Watch Review Sundried

    It’s easy to find the specs and to get an idea of what this watch can do. But what is it like to just take it out of the box and get going? It’s what I do with most new products; I seldom read the instructions and just like to work it out.

    I am a keen runner but have been having a bit of a break after a heavy season so this was the perfect opportunity to get back out on some runs. It was easy enough to work out what each button does and get the watch set up with my personal details (height, age, weight). Once this was done I was ready to take it out for a spin. My first run was a local (rainy) run and it was more than easy to get going. Having the main function button coloured red made things very user-friendly. The watch, however, looks like it should be a touch screen and it’s easy to forget it’s not, well until you get no response that is!

    I paired the watch with a Garmin foot pod with ease too. I always use one when I run and thought I may as well connect it up as a test.

    Run number one felt good. The watch is far lighter than it looks and the heart rate monitoring was close enough to what I typically record from a chest strap. The watch functionality is easy: start and stop using the red button and saving is easy when you’re finished.

    Garmin Forerunner 225 Review

    It was only until I tested the watch overseas I realised that I needed to use the instructions.

    The watch was fine in the water and as an activity monitor; it’s much better in that respect than an Apple Watch. There was no concern about its robustness or a fear of wearing it in the water. It’s a shame that it wouldn’t record swimming though (even though it’s not pitched for that anyway).

    It was when I went on my first run on holiday that I realised something may not be right and I decided to consult the instructions. Really simply the watch was taking longer to find the satellites but unlike the Garmin 910XT (which is my usual sports watch) I could not work out how to understand the satellite connectivity. It’s actually a really simple graphic that shows when you set the watch to run mode - I just had no idea!

    And because I had the watch connected to my foot pod the distance was still recorded. The only downside was I missed out on setting a record on a decent Strava segment - but never mind!

    As a running-only watch, it does a good job. I did eventually read the manual and get to grips with more of the functionality; my experience was pretty much as expected once I knew what I was doing. As an activity watch, the all-day tracking is a great feature. The watch is big but lightweight; it may not be for everyone but would suit a keen runner who also spends time being generally active. What the watch does not do is cater for multi-sports enthusiasts. So when committing to the Garmin 225 make sure you just want to record your runs!

    Garmin Forerunner 225 Colour Photo

    I actually preferred the activity tracking and robustness to the Apple Watch. It’s comfortable and I was far more comfortable wearing it on the beach, swimming, and as general day-to-day wear. The heart rate tracking is on par with the Apple Watch and is close enough to wearing a heart-rate monitor. It’s not going to be as accurate I’m sure, but is more than helpful for painting a picture around performance. And for that I’m happy! 

    Review by: Andy Puddick

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Garmin Edge 1030 Review

    Garmin Edge 1030 Bike Computer

    The Garmin Edge 1030 is the latest bike computer release by Garmin and offers new features which are very exciting to dedicated cyclists who have been wanting more from their Edge 1000 or 820. This review will look into the device in detail, offering perspective if you're looking to buy a bike computer for the first time or if you're wondering whether it's worth upgrading your current model.

    The first part of this review will be for the benefit of those who have never used a bike computer before and will spend more time covering the basics of the device. If you are already well versed in Garmin's products and just want to know how it differs from your current device, jump to the next section.

    What are the benefits of using a bike computer?

    If you're thinking of buying a bike computer, you're probably already a fairly competent cyclist, or perhaps you've only just got into the sport but have excelled at it quickly. Chances are you already have an activity tracker, fitness tracker, or smart watch as well and track your rides with that. Having a bike computer gives you more metrics and can also be used for navigation which will prove vital when cycling away from home.

    You'll be able to see the gradient of the hill you're climbing in real time and also how many metres to the top which can be motivational if you're struggling.

    Garmin Edge 1030 Bike Computer

    You can create courses on Garmin Connect and send them to your bike computer which takes the stress out of navigating while cycling and can also spark more creativity for taking new routes rather than just always following the same old roads.

    Garmin Edge 1030 Bike Computer Review Sundried

    When paired with other devices such as a chest strap heart rate monitor and power meter pedals, you'll be able to get a whole world of advanced metrics including average power, FTP, and VO2 max.

    What's in the box?

    When you buy your Garmin Edge 1030 bike computer, the main component you need is the device itself. You also get a charger cable which is USB so can plug into your computer/laptop and into a charging port. You also get the bracket and mount that the device sits on which screws on to your handlebars very easily. I did have to remove my bell for it to fit though so if you already have a busy set up with bells and reflectors etc you may have to make some sacrifices. There is also a user manual, but who reads that in reality?

    Setting up your new bike computer

    Even if you're not a techno-whizz, it should be fairly straight forward to set up your device. You will need a Garmin Connect account, but if you've made it this far it's probably safe to assume you already have one. You'll need to pair your phone which is done very easily by following on-screen instructions and is done with Bluetooth. If you want to send courses to your device, you'll also need to set up Garmin Express which is also done by following simple on-screen instructions from your computer or laptop. Once your route is sent to your device, you'll be able to follow it on your ride without any additional devices or sensors/accessories.

    Connect IQ is like the app store for Garmin devices. Anyone can create an app for it, in fact there's over 1,000 online now. You can download apps, widgets, clock faces and more to customise your device. 

    Is it worth replacing my current bike computer with the Edge 1030?

    The Edge 1030 has some really nifty new features which will come as a relief to those who use their bike computer a lot. There will always be features that a device doesn't have that you wish it did, and some of your prayers have been answered with this release.

    Enhanced Group Track and Live Track

    This is probably the most exciting new feature from the Edge 1030. A lot of cyclists find it a pain having to constantly stop to get out their phone to answer a call, or likewise having to stop if someone else on the ride needs to stop to get their phone out. With the Edge 1030 and enhanced Live Track, you can now respond to calls and texts with pre-canned messages. So if your partner texts, you can send a quick response of 'I'm nearly home' or reply to a call from the office saying 'Can't talk now, I'm riding.' 

    Garmin Live Track Group Message Text Call

    The other exciting new feature is enhanced Group Track. If you're connected to your buddies on Garmin Connect, you can tell the others in your ride that you've punctured without having to get your phone out. The message will only be sent within your group and will allow you to quickly and efficiently send a message out.

    Create Courses

    On the Navigation screen, you can drop pins and create a course wherever you are. Although this gives a lot of freedom, the accuracy can be a little off and I found that on a 35-mile route I created, there was 1-mile worth of extra little loops that my device had added in by a slip of the finger or just of its own accord. For instance, my Edge 1030 wanted me to turn right into a station car park and then come straight back out again instead of just cycling past. 

    Trendline Popularity Routing

    The final and most exciting feature of this release is new popularity routing. There are thousands of Garmin users all over the world creating routes and cycling their favourite trails and time trials. The experts at Garmin have taken this feature and put it to use on your device. New Trendline popularity routing uses billions of miles of ride data from Garmin Connect to provide riders with the best road, mountain or gravel routes that are collected from those most travelled by fellow cyclists. Using the improved and revamped Course Creator in Garmin Connect allows cyclists to generate even more bike-friendly routes based on popularity data.

    You can add which way you want to go (ie I want to go into the mountains or not). Popularity routing uses activity from other riders so you can use the best routes that other riders use, so when creating a course your device will send you the way that other cyclists go so you'll have a better route. This also means you can easily find local club rides. 

    Improved Features

    These are the features that you already find on other devices but have been improved for this release. 

    The Edge 1030 shows your training load, fitness, stress etc. visually rather than just metrically. For the Edge 1000, this was buried within a few different menus meaning it was a pain to find, but that's not the case for the 1030 because Garmin understand that people want to see these stats quickly before they ride. You can use your wrist-based heart rate monitor in broadcast mode to get enhanced data, but for stats like FTP you'll need a chest strap, which gives you more accuracy and data anyway. 

    Swipe down for more menus like on a smart phone. These are general device settings rather than user-profile specific, like battery life etc. From here, swipe across for text and call alerts and controls, weather etc. With everything on (GPS, data etc), the battery will last around 20 hours, making it more than capable at lasting for even the longest of rides.

    The pause/stop button has moved from the front of the screen to the bottom to make more space for a bigger screen. What I personally found was that this made it very fiddly and tricky to hit, for example while pausing at a half-way stop on a long ride. On the Edge 1000 the pause button is on the front which I think is a lot more user-friendly. 

    Verdict

    The Garmin Edge 1030 is a top-of-the-line bike computer and for good reason. The experts at Garmin live by their sport and test the devices to get the most for their users. This shows in the intricacy and innovation found in this device. Features that cyclists both amateur and elite will have been waiting for are finally here, meaning your ride can be more accurate and seamless than ever. I'd say it's worth upgrading your current device if you use a bike computer often and especially if you do a lot of long rides with a club or group. If you are a very casual rider, you'll probably be okay with an older model or even just with the basic stats given by a GPS tracking watch. 

    You can buy the Garmin Edge 1030 for £499.99 from the Garmin website or other retailers like Evans Cycles or Rutland Cycling. 

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Garmin Vivoactive Activity Tracking Review

    Garmin Vivoactive Activity Tracker Review Sundried

    The Garmin Vivoactive aims to be a winning combination of the Vivofit activity tracker and the Forerunner GPS watches.

    Design

    The Vivoactive watch features a small digital touch screen, with a 3.5cm square face and digital interactive display. It’s small enough to look stylish but big enough that the display can be read clearly, even under direct sunlight. It’s also lightweight weighing in at just 38g, which is light for a GPS watch. The silicone strap is interchangeable and can be swapped if you'd like to change up the look of your watch. As the watch isn’t a heart rate monitor, there’s no need to worry that a customised strap will affect your readings.

    Garmin Vivoactive Smart Watch Lifestyle Tracker

    Garmin Vivoactive Activity Tracking

    The watch is a touch screen with two small buttons either side, one for switching on and off and the other to begin sports activity tracking. One select of the right button will lead to your activity menu, for which there is plenty of choice. Previously Garmin has created good running watches or good activity trackers, the Vivoactive combines them both.

    Steps and Inactivity

    The activity screen displays your daily steps goal, which is calculated automatically. The goal is progressive, so the aim is to gently increase your steps each day, however if you fall short, the watch also regresses your steps to build you back up again and keep your goal achievable. 

    Along the bottom of the step counting screen there is a 'move bar'. This starts clear and then gradually turns red until the watch thinks you need to get up and move. Your first alert comes after just under an hour of inactivity and by the time you’ve reached the fifth bar, you really have been seated for too long. Simply getting up and walking around will clear your bar. Each inactivity alert strikes with a gentle vibration which is a useful tool to help prevent inactivity.

    Automatic sleep detection

    The Vivoactive automatically detects sleep, but this feature can also be triggered manually at any time by tapping your activity screen and selecting start sleep. There are a few things I’ve noticed with the Vivoactive's sleep detection feature. Firstly, when I go to bed without the watch, it thinks that being sat on my dressing table is a perfect night's sleep, and secondly, there is no sleep feedback on the watch itself so it’s hard to know whether it recognised the right time or not. Once opened in the Connect IQ application, users can discover the total duration of their sleep, differentiate between light and deep sleep, and also scroll through a breakdown of their movement.

    Running

    As a running partner, the Vivoactive has two training modes, one for indoor and one for outdoor running. Whilst the trainer lacks a heart rate sensor of its own, it can be linked easily with an external device to enhance the quantity of data feedback from your training. Unless you link with a heart rate monitor you don't get full credit for all the activity you've done. When you enter running mode, a small vibration will alert you when your GPS is ready to track your route. During the run, the screen displays distance, time, pace, lap distance, lap time, heart rate, heart rate zone and average heart rate. The info is easy to tap and scroll through on the move, although I found the screen too small to view my stats at arm's length.

    The indoor running mode brings about the same screen, without the GPS feedback. Users can set up alerts to monitor their heart rate zone or act as reminders throughout their run.

    Cycling

    The watch also has two cycling modes, indoors and outdoors. But again, the difference is only really the GPS settings. The watch itself doesn’t have a cadence measure, however you can connect external devices for a more rounded view of your performance. If you don’t pair any sensors when you're cycling indoors, the watch is basically just a stopwatch, although with sensors it can become so much more, reading speed, cadence, temperature and heart rate.

    Swimming

    The watch is 5 AMT waterproof, meaning you can take it to the pool concern free. Before you start swimming you can customise the length of your pool for accurate tracking and then you’re good to go. A tap of the right button starts your swim by sending a vibration through the watch, which lasts about 3 seconds. The watch reads your laps, distance, strokes and interval count in swim mode.

      Verdict

      Overall I found this was an activity tracker with potential. As a stand alone product, I feel the feedback though good, is quite basic and for more detailed feedback on your workout, you’d need multiple add-on products, such as a heart rate strap, foot pod, bike speed sensor and bike cadence sensor. If you have all of these already, the watch is the perfect tool to consolidate all your data on one easy-to-use device.

      Posted by Alexandra Parren