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.

Garmin Vivoactive HR: master of sports


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.

Garmin Vivoactive HR: master of sports

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.

Garmin Vivoactive HR: master of sportsGarmin Vivoactive HR: master of sports

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.

Garmin Vivoactive HR: master of sports

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.

Garmin Vivoactive HR: master of sports

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.

Garmin Vivoactive HR: master of sports

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.

Garmin Vivoactive HR: master of sports

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.

Garmin Vivoactive HR: master of sportsGarmin Vivoactive HR: master of sports

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.

Garmin Vivoactive HR: master of sportsGarmin Vivoactive HR: master of sports

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.

Garmin Vivoactive HR: master of sports

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.

Garmin Vivoactive HR: master of sportsGarmin Vivoactive HR: master of sports

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.

Wireless connections

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.

Working hours

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.

Garmin Vivoactive HR: master of sports

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.