When it comes to proper sports watches Garmin is the primary brand that springs to mind. But with so many fitness-tracking devices out there exploring different designs, Garmin's bulky devices have arguably slipped down the ranks.
The Garmin Forerunner 735XT cuts the bulk; this GPS multi-sports watch is akin to a slimmed-down 920XT minus the altimeter, or similar to the Fenix3 but with a built-in optical heart-rate monitor included.
And that heart-rate monitor is a key feature of the 735XT. Almost the moment we put the watch on those trio of green lights to the rear picked up our pulse (a rather excessive 78bpm in all the excitement!) and kept monitoring it in real-time. We really don't like wearing a chest strap, so this feature is great to find - or you can use an optional chest strap instead if you prefer.
We're not sure this Forerunner's pink and blue finish is exactly to our tastes (don't believe this finish will make it to the UK), but it's certainly a standout design for a sports watch. The main unit is rather plasticky, though, but that's in-keeping with resistance to those sweat-fulled workouts. Plus it's waterproof to 50-metres, should you want to go for a swim.
That's another benefit of the Forerunner 735XT: it's designed for triathletes, so running, cycling and swimming are well catered for. Well, mostly: the lack of an altimeter is an oddity here, because there's no accurate elevation recording. Shame.
To wear the Forerunner 735XT's band is really comfy and it has lots of adjustment holes to ensure a snug fit whatever size your wrist. It needs to be snug to ensure that heart-rate monitor works, but that rubberised quality ensures it doesn't feel tight.
The five buttons to the outer edge are large enough to make easy adjustments, although we find the "back" button's position to the lower right feels like you're reaching overthe watch face a lot. Instinctively we kept using this button to attempt selections, when it does the very opposite of that.
Dig into the 735XT's menus and there are stacks of measurement options, well displayed on that mono screen. Heart rate, steps, calories, time, distance, pace, including graph views of the last week's workouts, IQ apps and "Stress Score" (just like the Forerunner 630 model).
Overall the Garmin Forerunner 735XT looks and feels like a neat GPS multi-sport solution. Shame there's no altimeter, and that smaller scale means battery life won't be as long-standing as the 920XT and some competitors.
Its £360 price tag isn't budget, but there's plenty on offer. Or drop £450 with the HRM-Tri bundled in, which can measure your heart-rate even when underwater.