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Garmin Forerunner 645 Music review: Better without the music

Music experience

Like on the Fitbit Ionic, Versa and Samsung Gear Sport, there are two ways to add tracks to the Garmin — via third-party music apps or local storage. For now, though, the Forerunner 645 Music supports only iHeartRadio, which has limited options for customizing your playlists.

The alternative is adding your own files to the watch’s 3.5GB of onboard storage, and this requires a lot more effort to finagle. You’ll first need to download Garmin’s desktop app (called Express), then connect your watch to your laptop (via USB). Express scans selected folders for music files, then lets you pick which ones to send to the Forerunner. This method is similar to Fitbit’s and can be tedious if your music library isn’t well organized.

To my surprise, on my first attempt, only two of the ten songs I picked made it to my wrist, and they were both .m4a files (the others were converted MP3s). That’s likely an error resulting from how I converted the songs, but it would have been nice if Garmin Express let me know that the tracks didn’t sync. The company says MP3 and AAC files are supported (.m4a is a type of AAC file).

With your songs loaded, you’ll need to pair your headphones. Connecting your cans for the first time is relatively simple. Scroll to the music player on the watch; it will then prompt you to pair your headphones. In three steps, I had my OnePlus Bullets Wireless connected. Strangely, because the Bullets were synced to my phone before that and I was streaming a YouTube video to my Chromecast, I somehow ended up controlling my TV with the Forerunner 645. Granted, this is a very specific scenario, but it’s a curious one nonetheless.

When the Forerunner 645 works like it’s supposed

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