The Forerunner 165 series is the budget training watch Garmin needed

Compared to slightly the more advanced Forerunner 265, the trade-off is worth it.If you’re training for a race, few multi-sport watch brands do it like Garmin. But there are two things I don’t like about them. They are expensive, and the platform can be intimidating to newbies.

Have you seen its online store? For newbies, it can be hard to parse which of Garmin’s dozens of watches will let you master the basics without breaking your wallet. no longer. After spending the past few weeks shopping for the $299.99 Forerunner 165 Music, I’m convinced that this (or the $249.99 standard version) is the best choice for a Garmin watch.Three hundred smackeros doesn’t seem like a good deal until you look at Garmin’s flagship watch. These prices can range from $700 to over $1,000. Even mid-range watches, like the excellent Forerunner 265 series, retail for $450.

I love the Forerunner 265 series. The only thing I don’t like is the price. That’s what makes this particular watch so appealing. It’s almost a clone of the smaller 265S, but $150 to $200 cheaper. The only thing you’re really missing is a dual -frequency GPS and EKG for atrial fibrillation detection. \honestly. Put together, it’s hard to tell the difference between my 165 Music and my 265S. The buttons on the 265S are prettier.

Thankfully, my unit comes in a different color. Otherwise I don’t think I would be able to tell at a glance.As for performance, in 95% of my daily use, I didn’t notice any difference. Even without dual-frequency GPS, you can still get accurate outdoor activity tracking. I tested the 165 Music with both my phone and an Apple Watch Ultra 2, both of which have dual-frequency GPS. Both mapped and reported distances are within a tenth of a mile. If I were running in a challenging environment, like Manhattan’s Financial District, I might see more of a difference. That said, I ‘ve done a lot of running with multisport watches with and without dual-frequency GPS. While dual-frequency GPS is more accurate, it mainly benefits those who train in GPS blind spots.

If it wasn’t for you, you probably wouldn’t t notice. Heart rate data is also on par with my Ultra 2 and Polar H10 chest straps. Since I’m not at high risk for AFib, I never miss the EKG feature. (Even if I were, the EKG-driven AFib feature isn’t a diagnostic tool and would still require you to see a doctor.) Unless the condition runs in your family or you know you’re at risk, an EKG isn’t available to everyone feature required, especially since high/low heart rate notifications are still available.For activity profiles and fitness tracking metrics, you get the basics of a training watch. Garmin is generous with its definition of basic.

Are you going to go skiing or boxing? Won’t. More niche activities like triathlon, golf, mountain biking or team sports require a more expensive Forerunner or Garmin. But what if you usually stick to going to the gym, biking, running, swimming, hiking, playing tennis (or pickleball!), and the occasional yoga or Pilates class? you’re good . Of course, you’ll get more for your money – but this will give most people everything they need. On top of those few things, you get everything that makes a Garmin a Garmin: long battery life, durability, and tons of training data.

Even with the more power-hungry OLED display, the 165 Music lasted nearly a week on a charge with the always-on display enabled, and nearly 10 days with it turned off. The 165 Music survived my cat’s bites and is more than capable of dunking in the pool. You still have access to features like Garmin Coach, adaptive training plans, nap detection, sleep tracking, and body battery and morning reports. Fortunately, the redesigned Garmin Connect app organizes a lot of the information and makes it easier to navigate. Normally, I’d be giving a TED talk discussing why Garmin’s cluttered product line needs fewer watches. That said, the Forerunner 165 stands out because its price, feature set, and product design are all very consistent.

Garmin has been lacking a good training watch in the sub-$300 category, with most of its options being the likes of the Venu Sq 2 or Vivomove Trend — which are either aimed at casual users or people looking for a more stylish vibe.

This is a true training watch, both in terms of design and functionality.The only downside to the 165 series is that it clutters an already crowded Forerunner lineup. God knows Garmin has the Forerunner 55, 255, 265, 745, 955, 965, and a few other models that I missed. There are even other watch lines , such as the Instinct, that are very similar to the Forerunners. But amid all the clutter, the Forerunner 165 and 165 Music are my entry-level Garmin training watches of choice. This is great for newbies to the platform, as well as intermediate and advanced athletes who aren’t interested in the bells and whistles.
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