Product review: Garmin Forerunner 50


A few weeks ago I upgraded my old heart rate monitor and bought Garmin’s most basic HRM, the Forerunner 50


First impressions were good. The screen is clear, the watch and chest-strap fit well, the watch buttons are big enough, and it’s pretty easy to get used to the functions after a flick through the manual.

The Forerunner 50 also comes with a USB stick so you can upload saved sessions to your Garmin account and chew over the data. I found myself stumbling around the Garmin websites on a few occasions, so I’ve tried to figure out why. I ran into problems trying to download the software required for pairing my USB stick and watch on a new machine.

Software download

I log in to ‘myGarmin’, then click ‘Downloads’ – and it says I have no downloads available for my product. Confused, and after heading down several other dead-ends, I return to ‘View your registered products’, and click on ‘Forerunner 50′, which I have already registered. I hit-and-hope on a link that says ‘Accessories’. Now I’m on a shop page, but I see there are some Quick Links on the right, one of which is ‘Garmin Connect’. Is this what I’m looking for?

Yes. I’m pinged over to, and a new page called ‘myConnect’, where I can easily navigate to download the Garmin ANT Agent software. Why can’t I do this directly from myGarmin via a self-contained admin area? It seems that from Garmin’s point of view, there are different types of download – software downloads for upgrades and add-ons, and software downloads for pairing – but from my point of view, I want all downloads in the same place, clearly flagged from a central ‘myWhatever’ page.

Once downloaded, the ANT Agent software makes pairing the computer and the device, and uploading saved workouts, very simple. I was very pleasantly surprised to discover it worked with Mac / Safari, and I really like the myConnect dashboard interface – it makes me want to upgrade my hardware to use more data (e.g. distance / speed, and maps).


The Garmin myConnect 'workout details' page.

The whole experience is very good overall. The Forerunner 50 is excellent value, and I feel good about buying in to the Garmin technology. A few aspects of the online interface are a bit frustrating, and I think these could be improved if the different zones of Garmin’s web environment were better integrated.

Update 5-4-09

After a couple of months’ regular use I’m still a fan of this HRM. Couple of points worth mentioning though:

  • Memory: I tend to go on long rides, and this model’s memory gets full after about 6-7hrs. In order to avoid the ‘lo-mem’ warning that flashes up and obscures the time readout in Train mode, it’s best to clear all saved workouts. Even then, ‘lo-mem’ pops up on rides over 6hrs. Poor.
  • The stop-start button can be depressed by accident when descending, due to contact with the back of the hand.

One Response to “Product review: Garmin Forerunner 50”

  1. Legs, Feeling No Pressure » Stock Hill May 3rd, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    […] isn’t it. Naturally, what I want to do is display my heart rate graph – if my Forerunner 50 had the functionality, I’d want to embed a map. Not just the stats, basically. At any rate […]

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