Garmin have been producing digital multi-sports watches since 2003 under the 'Forerunner' moniker.
The majority of the range now have GPS for tracking your workout atop a whole host of other sports related features (heart rate monitor-HRM, cadence recording foot pods, bicycle attachments etc). All of which can be uploaded to their online workout tracking site; Garmin Connect for analysis.
All of this comes in devices that aren't that much bigger than a regular wristwatch.
I used to use an old Android phone (San Francisco actually) and Endomondo from the Play Store for my running training. But since deciding to invest in a Forerunner 610 with HRM and footpod the amount of data a geek like me can pour over after a run is frightening. :)
This week Garmin have announced two new running watches; The Forerunner 620 and 220.
Both models build on the solid reputation of previous Garmin devices but the devices add functionality akin to some of the Smartwatches already out there. This got me thinking, why doesn't Garmin enter this market?
As you can see from the picture of the 620 and 220 they are very pretty devices, weighing just over 40g and barely larger than a conventional wristwatch. The display is 1-inch (180 x 180) and for the first time they feature colour.
Both devices follow their predecessor with regards to input. The 620 is the same as the 610 and has a touch screen and buttons, while the 220 copies the 210 and is controlled solely by buttons.
Connectivity wise the 620 has Bluetooth, WiFi and USB while the 220 drops WiFi. So if you take your phone out with you along with your 620/220, people can live track your run over the internet through Garmin Connect.... cool? Sadly, it appears the Bluetooth connection is iPhone 4S and above ONLY at the moment with Garmin assuring Android support is coming soon. I can only assume this is due the Bluetooth LE problems finally resolved in 4.3?
The non removable battery is lithium-ion with quoted life of 6 weeks in watch mode and upto 10 hours in training mode.
RRP on the 620 is £329 and the 220 at £219. Prices will vary for HRM packs and you probably find the units cheaper on Amazon upon release. Talking of release, Garmin currently only commit to 'Fall 2013', so it could be anytime soon?
Compare the specs of the two new models here on the Garmin Site.
This announcement from Garmin comes hot on the heels of TomTom who recently announced their first multi-sports and running watches.
So back to my original question, if Garmin can produce such great sports-focussed devices, why can't they bring this expertise to the Smartwatch market?
What would they need to add to compete with the Galaxy Gear, Pebble and Apple/Google Smartwatches of the future?
TomTom are new to the sports watch market but bring years of GPS device experience to the table. We may be focussed on Pebble, Samsung, Apple etc but who's to say it won't be someone like Garmin or TomTom that produce that killer Smartwatch?
Interesting times ahead?