Garmin Vivoactive HR Review – A Smartwatch With Heart
There are so many ways to, not only track, but also improve your fitness level these days. You can gain access to granular metrics of data, depending on the wearable tracker you are going to use. Anything works, from a basic £5 GPS tracker to some of the most sophisticated wearables like the Microsoft Band 2 or Fitbit Surge.
However, if you are serious about your fitness and interested in obtaining useful and actionable data, you have to forget about that free fitness gadget, received with your new pair of trainers, and invest a bit of money in a serious fitness tracker.
Garmin Vivoactive HR Review – Design And Specs
Starting with the design, the new Garmin Vivoactive HR reminds me a lot of the Fitbit Surge. Even though the Garmin Vivoactive HR is better looking than the Surge, the materials used are the same; rubber and inexpensive plastic. Not quite the coolest device that you’d wear 24/7 however, it is not that hard to ignore the lack of aesthetic thanks to the army of sensors Garmin managed to squeeze inside.
- Electronic compass
- Vibration sensor
- Optical Heart-Rate Sensor
On the top of all these sensors, the Garmin Vivoactive HR comes with 5 ATM waterproof protection, making this device ideal for tracking swimming sessions as well.
Garmin Vivoactive HR Review – Display
Garmin’s recent strategy to decrease the screen quality for longer battery life explains why the Vivoactive’s display features a low 205 x 148-pixel resolution. Nevertheless, Garmin Vivoactive HR is still one of the very few wearables boasting an always on display. However, if you want to turn it off and further save battery, you can activate the “always on” option from the menu. Once activated, you can turn on and off the screen with a swiping gesture, somehow similar to the wrist gesture in Android Wear.
I somehow like that Garmin Vivoactive HR comes with the always-on feature, giving us, the users the choice of using or not using it. To me, there is nothing more annoying on a wearable gadget than the rotating wrist motion when you just want to see what time it is.
The screen is easy to read, even in direct sunlight, and you can change the look of the “first screen” by selecting a new face from the five preloaded ones. But, if none of those matches your taste, you can always go online and download more from the Connect IQ store.
Garmin Vivoactive HR Review – Features And Tracking
If the design or the specs did not impress me much, the tracking capabilities of the new Vivoactive HR surely did. The Garmin Vivoactive HR is a power fitness tracker that can track any activities you can think of:
- Indoor/Outdoor running
- Indoor/Outdoor cycling
- Cross-country skiing
- Stand-up paddle-boarding
- Strength and cardio activities
Also, the built-in GLONASS/GPS sensor lets you map your runs and bike rides without the need of using a smartphone. However, I see that the Garmin Vivoactive HR does not let you add your songs to the onboard storage. So, if you want to listen to your favourite music playlist when you go running, you’ll have to bring your mobile with you.
As a software downside, the Garmin Vivoactive HR can auto-recognise your fitness session only for certain activities such as running, cycling, and elliptical training. For any other activities, you’ll have to make sure you start the tracking before the session starts. Also, you cannot add workouts later in the app, so make sure to launch the activity recording before entering the gym.
To track your workout you have to press the right button, right below the screen, and then tap on the display the activity you desire. Swiping up and down on the screen gives you access to extensive fitness stats. You can see your heart rate, the running pace, intervals, and much, much more. More than that, you can arrange them in any order you want and customise them per your needs.
Accessing your recorded data, at the end of your workout, is dead easy with the Garmin Vivoactive HR. Swiping the screen up lets you move through various data cards containing your activity for the day. From there, you can see the number of steps you’ve taken, distance travelled, floors climbed, intensity minutes, a weather report for the day and even an HR graph.
For example, the “intensity” card points out how much time you’ve performed intense activities. Or, how many more minutes you need to reach the recommended goal of 150 min of intense activity per week.
Garmin Vivoactive HR Review – Notifications
The Vivoactive HR is a complete fitness tracker and alongside the features mentioned above, Garmin’s latest tracker can also act as a central information hub when paired with your mobile phone. The tracker can notify you of any missed calls, text messages, calendar events and even WhatsApp messages.
More than that, the notification menu is quite smart when compared with the Android Wear OS for example. Here you have a notification drawer that allows you to go back and reread some of the previous notification cards if you missed them the first time.
Garmin Vivoactive HR Review – Software And App
The Garmin Connect app is quite thorough, making it a little overwhelming at a first glance. It might take you a few days to get used to the app’s layout, but once learned you’ll love the vast amount of data and the endless customization options you can play with.
The dashboard of the app has two circles at the top. One is for sleep, and the other one is for steps taken, completed by a small grid underneath showing active calories, the number of workouts recorded, intensity minutes and the floors climbed.
As one of Garmin’s premium devices, the Vivoactive HR has access to the Connect IQ store as well. It is a small app store within the Connect app from where you can download watch faces and a few third-party apps that you can pair and use with your tracker.
Garmin Vivoactive HR is one of the first fitness trackers to use Garmin’s new Move IQ automatic exercise recognition algorithm. There is no menu, card or face that lets you see the Move IQ captured data. Everything happens behind the scenes, and if you want to see the tracked data, you’ll have to pair your Garmin Vivoactive HR with the Connect app, available for both Android and iOS platforms.
Garmin Vivoactive HR Review – Battery Life
Garmin is the undisputable king of wearables when it comes to battery life, and the Vivoactive HR makes no exception from that rule. With the Vivoactive HR, you’ll have around five days of battery life, with all the features turned on.
It is not just the low-res, low brightness screen that boasts Garmin’s tracker battery life but also the low power consumption sensors inside and the automatic data recording that stops at the end of your fitness session.
Garmin Vivoactive HR Review – Conclusion
The Garmin Vivoactive HR is the best wearable for those who want an all-in-one fitness tracker, able to track their workouts in detail but also provide them with advanced smartwatch capabilities, such as the time, notifications, and so on.
Similar Read: Basis Peak Review – Intel’s Best Fitness Tracker
My only wish for this tracker is that the design was a little less bulky and maybe a bit more fashionable. Still, considering the number of smart sensors this tracker has, I must say that Garmin did an impressive job.
If your main activity is running, I would recommend you the Garmin Forerunner 235 instead as it might not track as many activities as the Vivoactive HR, but it comes with a larger screen, and it gives you more in-depth running stats. However, if you want a device capable of dealing with almost everything, then the Garmin Vivoactive HR is the one for you.
Garmin Vivoactive HR Review – Gallery
- Long lasting battery
- Tracks a vast range of activities
- Full of sensors
- Ugly design