running technology

Forerunner 55 vs Pixel Watch: Initial Thoughts

A few days ago I laid out my technology woes, about how I think I incorrectly purchased a Pixel Watch. Well folks, since then I bought a Garmin Forerunner 55 and now I’m worried that my Pixel Watch is about to become a Pixel Paperweight. Here’s why:

The Forerunner is light. Way lighter than the Pixel, and oftentimes I don’t even realize it’s on my wrist. Note: This is kind of different now as I switched from wearing it on my left right to my right wrist — I’m not ambidextrous, per se, but I’m left handed with some things and right handed with others, so I’m trying out this placement to see if I like it better, but it also means that I’m far more aware of the watch now. Also, the Forerunner has a lot more air holes in the watch band than the Pixel. I know these are for sizing for large or small wrists, but I appreciate it way more than the Pixel band, which is mostly closed off and thus was irritating my wrist because that part of my skin couldn’t breathe as easily.

The Pixel Watch feels a lot like something that’s trying to constantly make its presence known. Its Tilt to Wake feature makes me think of some obsequious servant who is always there when you need them. With the Forerunner, it feels more like “You come to me if you need anything.” Which I guess I like? I’m realizing as I use it that I’m definitely an Elder Millennial, because a lot of aspects of this watch that I like are things that I’m familiar with.

Like, for example, the LED screen, as opposed to Pixel’s AMOLED. I know I should probably like the latter more, but honestly the LED screen of the Forerunner makes me feel like I’m playing a Tamagotchi game, except instead of a little dinosaur I have to feed at 7am sharp or else it’ll die1This is an example and something that I literally had to do in 7th grade, with my little t-rex tamagotchi. That lasted maybe two or three weeks., it’s me. I’m the Tamagotchi! And I do have to feed myself. Hell, the watch even prompts me to move and has a little “move bar” which starts to turn red if I don’t move. Fitbit does this too, but it’s much more of a pleasant, “You’re an adult” chime coupled with a graphic showing you how many steps you have left that hour. The Forerunner, at least with the watch face I’m using, just shouts “MOVE!” and then when I move enough it says “Move Bar Cleared!” which, I’m telling you, as a gamer, fills a niche in my soul I didn’t know I had.

I got the aqua band because you gotta have some color in your life, you know?

Speaking of watch faces, Garmin provides a bunch as do third parties. I got one that has a “kitchen sink” approach because I like data and I like all of it in one place. The Pixel has watch faces too, but again, they are more elegant and for business people. You can track steps and calories and such through the Fitbit app, but it takes a bit more swiping. It’s all very nice, honestly. Very 2023, very cool and sleek and rounded.

One thing on the Pixel I’m surprised I wasn’t a fan of is the crown on the side. This is a selling point of the watch, that you can press the crown and spin it to go through apps and such, but I really only used it for that and it felt more awkward than just making the whole thing a swipe function. Plus if I bent my hand back enough, which happens occasionally, it would press the crown which was annoying. (Obviously this only happens if you wear it on your left hand.) The Forerunner, meanwhile, has buttons on the side, and I appreciate the tactile aspect of it, which I think is another Elder Millennial thing. I often found when I was running or walking with the Pixel that it was swiping through the screens on Strava on its own and I’m not sure how. Brushing my sleeve or something? But that won’t happen with my Forerunner and I like that.

I think most of all, though, I like that Garmin has a wider array of statistics than Fitbit or Strava. Fitbit was sort of driving me nuts. It’s clearly designed for casual exercisers or people who don’t care as much about stats. Which is fine! Whatever gets you out of the house, right? But I like stats, I like seeing the data progress. I like that Garmin has a coach feature and suggested runs. I like that I can see how terrible my VO2 Max is. I’m not even quite sure what that is, but it’s not great! Garmin also has a better recovery system than Fitbit, which has a more general “Readiness Score,” which is helpful if you just need to know how hard to go the next day, but Garmin uses recovery to help suggest workouts, which I think is better. Fitbit has a bunch of exercise videos that you can watch and follow along with, but it’s not the same. Again, Fitbit is totally fine for a certain type of person, and ultimately I don’t think I’m that person.

The only thing so far that’s been weird with Garmin is the sleep mode, which thought I fell asleep at 9:30pm last night even though that’s just when I went to bed. (Yeah I went to bed early last night, deal with it.) It also said that I never woke in the middle of the night, which is absolutely not true. To be fair, Garmin’s own website says that their sleep profile is about 70% accurate. I think Fitbit was erring too much the other way though, saying I was awake for over an hour every night, which also cannot be true. If I had to choose, I’d rather err on me getting more sleep, because sleep is good.

So what do I do with my Pixel Watch? Well, hopefully I can sell it. That’s the most ideal option. But in lieu of that, it’ll probably sit collecting dust in my drawer, acting as a backup in case my Forerunner explodes or dies somehow. It is surreal to think that I am trading in my $400 watch for my $160 watch, but it’s true. I think overall, except with computer parts, if I can buy the thing for $200 or lower, I’ll go that route. I don’t need a super fancy smartwatch that has a bunch of apps on it, I need a watch that helps me get better at running. The end.

Also, I’m aware of the irony that I got this watch with the LED screen pretty much the day Garmin announced their AMOLED watch series. I don’t really care, because like I just said, I don’t want to pay more than $200 for non-computer electronics anymore, if I can help it.

Alright, that’s it. Time to get back into the swing of things. Parkrun #6 tomorrow!

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    This is an example and something that I literally had to do in 7th grade, with my little t-rex tamagotchi. That lasted maybe two or three weeks.