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Garmin's new chest strap actually works with sports bras

Garmin's new chest strap actually works with sports bras

While Garmin is known for its big, bulky fitness watches, it's taking a different approach for CES 2024. The theme of this year's announcements is to prioritize comfort and wearability with a chest strap that ultimately works with sports bras and a new look. As for the Lily 2, it is the smallest smartwatch.

$149.99 HRM-Fit solves a real problem with chest straps. If you need to wear a sports bra, regular chest straps can be uncomfortably tight because you have to hide the whole thing under your sports bra band, especially if you need more support. And while everyone's body is different, underboob sweat is a danger that can make removing standard chest straps unpleasant.

Instead, the HRM-Fit has a clip-on design that snaps onto the lower band and is meant to work with both medium- and high-support bras. Like other chest straps, this one will be compatible with Edge cycling computers and various fitness equipment. It is also capable of capturing heart rate data for a variety of activities, including running, cycling, strength training, high intensity interval training and more. The strap can also be paired with a Garmin smartwatch to provide running feedback and it can store workout data if you decide to remove the watch mid-workout.

The company also announced the $249.99 Lily 2, an update to its beautiful Lily hybrid analog smartwatch. Lily 2 retains the spirit of the original design but adds new features like sleep score, dance fitness activities, and contactless payments.

The original Lily smartwatch launched in 2021 and its main feature was that it was designed by women for women. (Although, at the time, I argued that gender-specific branding didn't need to be a good idea overall. I think that's still true with the Lily 2, even if that was Garmin's intention. ) It was a fashion-forward watch that included a hidden OLED display with patterned lenses and, most importantly, the smallest case size for a smartwatch. At 34mm, the Lily was downright small – even older Apple Watches started at 38mm, while most "small" smartwatches these days hover around the 40-42mm range. However, to achieve that size and design, Lily unfortunately made a lot of changes in terms of interface, features, and battery life.

It looks like this problem may be less with the Lily 2, which also comes in a slightly more attractive Lily 2 Classic edition. (The Classic is also more expensive, starting at $279.99, depending on which strap material you choose.) Design-wise, it's technically a little larger – 35mm instead of 34mm, but that's The difference is so small that you probably won't notice. Garmin spokesperson Natalie Miller says the original actually looked a little larger because the sides of the case were taller, while the Lily 2 is more sloped. It also introduces new colors and patterns on the lenses, and gets rid of the T-lug shape of the original for a more standard look. This should mean that swapping out straps will also be easier.

As far as features go, the Classic edition comes with Garmin Pay – something that the original edition didn't have. The Lily 2 series also gets a new sleep score metric, whereas previously, it was limited to more basic sleep tracking. The dance fitness activity will also include various styles such as Afrobeat, Bollywood, EDM, Hip-Hop and Zumba. The Lily 2 watches also have a battery life of about five days, but we'll have to see how it performs in testing, as I couldn't get anywhere near that with the original watch.

Finally, Garmin has a third update for all of its users: a refreshed Garmin Connect app. The new Connect app will have a more clearly organized approach. Instead of dumping information on every screen, Refresh will separate information into specific customizable sections. Today's "Activity" focuses on logged and upcoming workouts, and "In Focus" centers health and fitness metrics like body battery, sleep score, and training status. The “At a Glance” section focuses on stats (for example, VO2 Max, HRV status, etc.), and there will be separate sections for Garmin Coach training plans, social challenges, and any upcoming events like races or competitions. A beta version of the app will be available to some Garmin users today. The official rollout is planned for later this year.

The HRM-Fit is available now for $149.99. The Garmin Lily 2 series is also available now. The base model costs $249.99, while the Classic starts at $279.99.

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