Garmin produces sports-inspired devices in different tastes and colors: watches, bracelets and fitness trackers. We came to test the Garmin Vivoactive HR smartwatch, which tracks the daily activity of its owner and measures his heartbeat, records GPS tracks, shows notifications from a smartphone and works with a sophisticated application for iOS and Android. At first glance, the set of functions is quite standard, but Garmin is constantly improving its smart watches, and the new product is probably worth a closer look.
Features of Garmin Vivoactive HR
- Screen: transflective TFT, 0.86″, 148x205
- Wireless interfaces: Bluetooth 4.0 LE, ANT+
- Sensors: heart rate, barometric altimeter.
- Protection: resistance 5 atm, up to 50 meters.
- Navigation: GPS, GLONASS
- Working time: up to 8 days
- Dimensions: 30.2x57x11.4 mm
- Weight: 47.6 grams
Packaging and equipment
The watch comes with a small adapter and charging cable, which can also be used to connect it to a computer’s USB port for data synchronization: suddenly, by an incredible coincidence, the owner of the Vivoactive HR does not have a smartphone.
The design of the device is extremely simple; it’s just right for athletes or connoisseurs of laconic design, but if you want to wear a fashionable, elegant accessory on your hand, it’s better to look at other models.
The “appearance” of the watch is 100% masculine; the girls I knew didn’t like it. However, if you choose a device based on functionality and periodically use it as special equipment, there will be no design issues.
The body of the case is made of black plastic, its matte finish does not get dirty or scratched, and there are no marks left on the surface.
The strap is also plastic and is attached to the watch so that, if necessary, it can be replaced with another one — they are produced in two sizes. The strap has a corrugated texture on the outside and is smooth on the inside; it does not rub during various activities.
The watch case is thick, with a heartbeat sensor protruding from the back side, and on the side there is a contact group for connecting the charger.
Under observation are two large mechanical buttons with a tight movement. The left one is responsible for turning on the backlight for 10 seconds, and the right one launches a menu with sports applications.
The watch is not heavy, sits comfortably on the hand and does not dangle, the strap with a large amount of water helps you choose the optimal length. The watch can be worn all the time, except that during active activities the wrist gets sweaty under the strap, as with all similar gadgets.
The display of the Vivoactive HR is small 0.8 inches with 148x205 pixels. The surface is tightly protected against scratches on glass with a good oleophobic coating. During operating hours, the light turns on when you turn your wrist or move your hand. To save battery, you can disable this feature and illuminate the screen manually by pressing the button.
The display of the device is touch-sensitive, with better sensitivity. Switching between applications and selecting all functions occurs with simple gestures and taps. Despite the slight differences, the watch does its job well and provides all the necessary information.
In standby mode, the display shows the time and activity bar. In addition to touch screen controls, you can navigate through the menu by pressing physical buttons. So, the right key selects the training mode: running, indoor running, cycling, golf, swimming, rowing, snowboarding, cardio, strength training, cycling or rowing machine. For clarity, you can assign one of dozens of color labels to the modes: this will make it easier to distinguish them.
Moving your finger up or down on the screen will switch between programs. By default, the following are available: daily energy consumption, stepper, active load time, last type of workout, weather, smartphone notifications, heart rate. The order of these windows and the programs themselves can be configured through the application on your smartphone.
The device in operation
The preview can be done either on the device or through the Garmin Connect smartphone app. You must indicate gender, weight and age. You can also calibrate your stride length while jogging to more accurately record data.
Garmin Connect works on smartphones running iOS and Android. There is also a web version for computers. In it you can create training plans, set routes for jogging and cycling. To prevent the watch from constantly vibrating on your hand when letters are sent in the mailbox or SMS shopping reports are received, unnecessary notifications can be turned off in the smartphone application.
The source sets the minimum daily activity, for example, 10,000 steps. In minimal walking areas, an activity bar is created, and as soon as the watch is made normally, notify it by vibration. If the day was very active, you can exceed the plan and immediately receive a reward for this achievement. Over time, the system “gets used” to its owner and sets new goals for him, gradually increasing the load.
In the application on your smartphone there is a list of “achievements” — the element of competition always motivates you to do something else to get a nice badge for a prize bank. At the same time, social networking capabilities have also been added to Garmin Connect. Here you can find new friends and compete with them, as well as share your workouts on Facebook or Twitter.
The new Move IQ feature automatically detects whether you’re biking, jogging, swimming, walking, elliptical or rowing. Its practical benefit for athletes lies in the fact that the application sets an additional load on the body.
The watch works around the clock and records everything possible: steps, distance, and at the same time the time of idleness. If you sit still for an hour, the device will vibrate, encouraging you to move your legs. For office workers who spend hours in front of a monitor, this is a small incentive to take a short break and walk a hundred meters.
In addition, the hours are called the so-called “high activity time” necessary to ensure the maintenance of the human body. By default, it is 150 minutes or five effective workouts per week. For a trained person, these are ridiculous numbers, but for a beer connoisseur in front of the TV on the couch, this is a real challenge. The figure is not pulled out of thin air, which is the preferred indicator of quality, so pay attention.
Using an accelerometer, the watch shows the distance traveled, and the altimeter shows the number of floors climbed. The device “understands” that a person is moving, rising higher, which means he is going in the direction.
The watch collects statistics on sleep cycles and displays them using graphs. In the morning they will vibrate on your hand, and with such an assistant it will, of course, be easier to wake up, but re-activating the functionality or several alarms would not hurt.
A built-in heart rate sensor called Elevate helps you monitor your progress during workouts. The sensor was developed by Garmin and is used in new models this year. The findings after using it are impressive compared to other Garmin watches: for maximum accurate results, a chest strap sensor is required — the watch makes a mistake. However, the difference in numbers is not at all critical for joggers; it is easier and more convenient to exercise without additional “body kit”.
Unlike more advanced models, the watch does not take into account VO2 Max and does not determine the recovery time of the body after runs. But if you do not play sports professionally, this is not of decisive importance.
While swimming, the watch shows the number of strokes, pace, time and even the type of strokes. The device also calculates SWOLF scores, an indicator based on the time and number of arm swings over the length of the pool.
The GPS receiver in the watch does not require connection to the phone and works independently, helping to determine parameters such as time, speed, distance and calories burned. When you turn it on for the first time, it is recommended to go outside and spend about fifteen minutes on the first level so that the system works more accurately with satellites. In winter, it’s fun to ski or snowboard with a watch. System: The device measures 3D speed using coordinate detection and distance data. At the same time, if the waiting lift does not move, the device automatically stops calculations. If that doesn’t impress you, the Garmin Vivoactive HR even helps you while playing golf by recommending your shot direction and displaying a counter.
Synchronization with smartphone
The bracelet shows notifications from any applications used on the smartphone: SMS reports on card purchases, comments in Telegram, Gmail letters and in incoming calls. When going out for a run with the accessory, you can stop only for important reasons, and include all unnecessary messages in the controller in advance so as not to interfere.
The watch can work in the remote control as a track switch while listening to music; it also enables the search function for a smartphone if you suddenly forgot where you turned it on and you can’t find it.
Garmin Vivoactive HR works perfectly with the Cyrillic alphabet, there will be no gibberish or strange characters in messages. Despite the fact that the complexity consists of emoticons, they come on the bracelet with a set of characters, and not with drawings, but this is not very critical. It is much more important that the screen is in a small device, so reading email or long messages from social networks will be inconvenient. Therefore, you need to treat this function with understanding: you will notify the bracelet about what is happening, but for comfortable work with mail or correspondence in the messenger you will have to take out your smartphone.
The watch has a Bluetooth 4.0 LE module with economical power consumption. In conjunction with the Apple iPhone 6 Plus, the Garmin Vivoactive HR worked stably. Receiving data on a smartphone, the watch displays weather information for the coming days. Even the watch firmware was updated wirelessly.
The GPS module works autonomously, during the watch you can go for a run or exercise independently without a smartphone. The display accuracy is high, the determination of coordinates is accurate, without errors.
To charge the Garmin bracelet, you need to use a special cable with a “clothespin” at the end; it takes 80 minutes to restore the charge.
The manufacturer claims that the device works in watch or activity tracker mode for up to eight days and works in GPS tracker mode for up to 13 hours. During tests with constant GPS operation, the sports accessory lasted almost 14 hours, and without navigation it lasted nine days. It’s rare that data when downloading turns out to be more than stated, but Garmin has just such a case. But nine is in lazy mode, when there are no runs with a “gluttonous” GPS, but if you turn it on, at least during training, you will have to charge the woman’s watch for 3–4 days.
With Garmin Vivoactive HR you can walk, run, play sports or just wake up in the morning with vibrations on your arm. Need daily activity statistics? Please, here are the results. Are you ready to conquer the trail and jog in nature or want to ride a bike? We turn on the GPS and we’re on our way. Everything is very simple and fast. The watch collects a lot of information and helps monitor its condition both through an application on a smartphone and on a computer.
A device with a sports bent will help during workouts, become an incentive for additional activity, or show notifications from a smartphone that works as a regular smartwatch. Garmin Vivoactive HR can do a lot and, like a real trainer, helps improve the level of training for both beginners and experienced athletes.
- the data on the screen is perfectly visible on a sunny day;
- built-in heart rate sensor works constantly;
- excellent autonomy;
- fast and intelligent GPS.
- overloaded Garmin Connect app interface;
- extremely unpretentious design.