One works for a year without recharging, the second for three weeks, but it is also a smart watch with GPS. Both with always-on display.

Why is Garmin good?

Garmin has become famous for its satellite navigation solutions, including both mapping software and hardware-based GPS systems for many areas of human activity. You will find professional solutions of the company in the air, at sea and on land. In the latter case, we are talking about a huge number of ordinary consumer cars, where its navigation equipment is used.

He also has a strong grip on the electronic sports accessories market. Have you thought about activity trackers that are trendy these days, but for some reason you can’t remember this company among those that are now heard, such as Fitbit or Jawbone? The fact is that Garmin was already working in this area, when activity trackers did not even exist in theory. Sports history began in 2003 with the release of professional watches Forerunner 101/201.

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Sports watch Garmin Forerunner 301 comes from 2004

Even then, they measured heart rate, running speed, distance, time, height and pace. Naturally, over the years, its products have only become cooler, and now the assortment includes real sports computers, such as Fenix ​​3made in the form of a wrist watch. And Garmin is not known only to ordinary people. Athletes and citizens who are fond of running and other sports activities know the company very well. But recently, it has begun to actively explore the mass market too.

Where could I buy: with a 10% discount at Madrobots.ru
10% discount code: GARMIN10 (by the way, the code is valid for all Garmin gadgets)
Saving: about 15$
What else: trusted store, one year warranty

Given the company’s experience in sports electronics, I was expecting something unique from their activity tracker. vivofit 2 and the first smart watch vivoactive. Well, the expectations were justified. Now let’s talk about gadgets in more detail. I’ll start with what is simpler.

Garmin vivofit 2. Forget the power outlet

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At first glance, this seems to be a simple pedometer, like most modern activity trackers. But if you take a closer look, work with the device, study its capabilities, then you understand that Garmin has been spinning in the field of sports electronics for 12 years for a reason.

The vivofit 2 has two clearly visible cool features that distinguish it from competitors:

  • autonomy;
  • display.

The tracker works for more than a year (!) without replacing batteries (two button-cell batteries CR1632). His display always active, perfectly distinguishable in bright sunlight and, in principle, in almost any conditions, even in complete darkness. In the latter case, a 2-second backlight comes to the rescue, activated by clicking on the only multifunctional button on the right.

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The bracelet is removable, the kit includes a model of size “S” and “L”, the latter fits me comfortably and with a margin (girth of the brush is 18 cm). Pay attention to how you insert the device into the bracelet so that the pin inside is exactly opposite the flat area shown in the first photo on the right

And also at vivofit 2 there are a lot of less noticeable, but very useful features that are revealed during the operation of the device. I’ll tell you about everything in order.

The tracker is well protected from water

Accessory withstands pressure in 5 atm. This does not mean that you can dive to a depth of 50 meters with a bracelet, but swimming with it in the pool or wearing it in the shower is easy.

It has a great strap with a secure latch

It is made of a rather rigid polymer, but it does not exert excessive pressure on the hand and, most importantly, did not cause an allergic skin reaction, itching, redness, and other troubles that I sometimes encountered when using other trackers. As for the latch, it is swivel – it fixes the belt very securely, so losing the bracelet is simply unrealistic.

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If red dots are visible, the clasp is open; if not, it is closed.

By the way, there is a whole host of multi-colored straps to choose from, which also distinguishes the accessory from competitors:

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Can sync with iOS, Android, Mac and PC

Unlike most mobile-only competitors, vivofit 2 comes with USB module ANT+ and can be synchronized with a computer (download software here). Through it, the firmware is updated, configured and data is sent to the proprietary service. Garmin Connect with a very user-friendly web interface. And if you run activity timer (Activity Timer) during a workout, then the service will automatically recognize what you were doing (running, cycling, swimming, etc.) and adjust the calorie consumption accordingly.

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The tracker is compatible with ANT+ chest heart rate monitors and supports heart rate zones

The most effective training with a heart rate monitor, and chest models are considered the most reliable. Buy any ANT+ compatible one and a simple activity tracker turns into a serious training tool that allows you to effectively control the load during any training, whether it be cardio or weight training. If you do not know what this is about, be sure to read this article:

  • Why do you need a heart rate monitor in sports
  • All information about the work of the heart during training will then be available in the proprietary mobile application Garmin Connect Mobile [скачать из App Store или Google Play] on your smartphone, or on the web interface if you only sync vivofit 2 via a computer. By the way, in any case, they will get into the web interface, including through the mobile client.

    There is a squeaker

    The tracker is able to give signals to notify about the exit from a certain heart rate zone or to remind you that it would be time to move your ass and leave a chair or sofa, stretch, walk, do exercises. There is even a cool thing here, called the “arrow of shame” – such a red one, from above:

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    My sitting still is justified by the fact that I was just connecting the tracker with a Mac through a proprietary application and a complete ANT + module

    It gradually fills up if you sit still for a very long time, but as soon as you actively move for several minutes, the arrow will disappear. It seems to be a simple thing, but it makes you move, which is useful.

    Tracks your activity 24/7 and gently nudges you towards a more active lifestyle

    Garmin vivofit 2 no need to charge, the batteries last more than a year, which means that activity tracking occurs constantly. At night, you can also leave the bracelet on if you want to find out about the quality of your sleep (how long you slept in general, how actively you moved in your sleep, when and how much deep and light sleep you had).

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    So, the accessory evaluates daily activity and over time begins to offer interesting goals – go a little more than usual, go for a run, get around a friend from the circle of friends in Garmin Connect in daily activity (yes, this is a whole social network). For completing tasks, badges are issued, a kind of medals. It seems to be a trifle, but such gamification (that is, the use of game mechanics) really works. Even receiving a virtual medal gives positive emotions, which means it will make you move more, for the sake of replenishing the collection, albeit virtual, but still trophies.

    Finally, I will briefly talk about the principles of working with vivofit 2 and general impressions. There is only one button responsible for activating the backlight and switching operating modes:

    • Brief click – the backlight will work (not visible during the day, but in the dark it is enough to read the data from the display and not go blind).
    • Press and hold to switch screens and modes: clock, date, activity timer, number of steps taken and calories burned, how many kilometers covered, sleep mode, synchronization and creating a new pair. Once the desired mode or screen is selected, simply release the button.
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    During the day, the bracelet synchronizes with the mobile application itself from time to time, but you can also do this in the way mentioned above. In addition, it tries to automatically determine when the user went to bed (for this, the usual time for going to bed and the approximate time of sleep are set), but it is possible to activate sleep tracking manually. I recommend the second method, and let the automation be a last resort, if you just forgot to press the button before going to bed.

    As for working with a branded application and service, everything is simple: you register for free (everything is standard – mail, password, physical data, age) and use it. It is possible to interact with Apple Health (“Health”) and synchronize with MyFitnessPall to adjust the nutrition for calories depending on physical activity.

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    Naturally, I took care of the issue of the accuracy of counting steps. Garmin vivofit 2compared to the Apple Watch, which is highly accurate using the smartphone’s GPS. At the end of the day, the difference turned out to be more than a kilometer — the tracker counted more smart watches:

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    But here the problem is that I did not correct the step length, and this can be done without any problems through the Garmin mobile client. True, you will first need to enter data on the number of steps taken on a certain segment of the path. You can use a treadmill for this. So I recommend that you figure out the length of your step before you start actively using the accessory.

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    Does the tracker have disadvantages? Yes there is. It lacks vibration, or at least a louder signal, to be able to use the vivofit 2 as an alarm clock. Otherwise, there are no complaints.

    The issue price in EU is on average 100 $in the USA – $130. But you can find cheaper by 20 dollars.

    • Buy Garmin vivofit at Madrobots.ru!

    Garmin vivoactive. The Swiss Army Knife of Sports Trackers

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    Yes yes exactly sports, and not as it is customary to call modern devices of this kind – an activity tracker. Besides the fact that Garmin vivoactive can act as a simple pedometer, which most of its competitors are, it is also fully charged for sports, which is due to both the built-in GPS module and the company’s vast experience in this area. But let’s first take a closer look at the device itself before moving on to its functionality.

    Feeling

    When you first meet vivoactive, you are surprised by its dimensions, especially in comparison with modern sports computers in watch format. Compact, thin (only 8 mm), neat. But inside there is a vibration motor, a GPS / GLONASS module, a fairly powerful battery (3 weeks in pedometer / smart watch mode, 10 hours – training using GPS), a color and always active backlit display. The gadget turned out to be even thinner than the Apple Watch, although a little larger in width and height:

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    You can choose from a black and white model, as well as up to a dozen multi-colored silicone straps (optional) and a pair of leather straps (black and white). I got a white version with a white silicone strap. It is soft, not easily soiled, with a notch on the reverse side, a fixing ring and a protrusion at the end. It fits well and comfortably on the hand, the length is sufficient (there is a margin even with my large hands), accidental unfastening is completely excluded, it does not cause skin irritation.

    The watch is water resistant to the same level as vivofit 2, i.e. it can withstand pressure in 5 atm – you can go with them to the shower and swim. Moreover, there is an appropriate mode for swimming in the pool, but we’ll talk about this a little later. At the moment, it is more important to mention charging the accessory, since, unlike the mentioned tracker, it needs to be connected to the mains from time to time. For this, the set includes a special magnetic cradleand on vivo active – four contacts on the reverse side. Through it, and a USB connection, the device is synchronized with a computer. All software for PC, Mac, iOS and Android is exactly the same as that of vivofit 2 – it’s convenient. It is in principle used for all Garmin trackers and sports computers.

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    To control the accessory, two hardware buttons on the edges, two touch buttons at the bottom of the front panel and a touch screen are used. Power button on the left side is responsible for activating the backlight, turning the clock on and off. On the left side there is a key to call the menu with applications and settings. It is also used to start and stop workouts. Among the touch buttons, one is responsible for returning to the previous menu (as in Android), the second is for calling additional options in the current menu. For example, switching to sleep mode on the activity widget or deleting unnecessary notifications.

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    smart chips

    Since I mentioned notifications, it’s worth discussing smart gadget functionality. Connection and synchronization to the computer is carried out through the included USB cradle, which was mentioned above, and the Garmin Express application. But it’s more convenient to synchronize it through a smartphone and a client. Garmin Connect Mobile [скачать из App Store или Google Play]. Through it, the creation of a Bluetooth pair is carried out, as shown in the photo above.

    In smart watch mode Garmin vivo active allow you to find your smartphone (the signal on the phone is remotely activated) and display absolutely all notifications from the phone, including mail, text messages, WhatsApp, tweets, in general – everything without restrictions, which is impressive. The same Basis Peak and Fitbit Surge in this regard are very limited against the background of the hero of the review. But Garmin is only trying its hand at smartwatches and this is far from the main feature of the novelty.

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    It is also worth noting that notifications are not annoying, they announce themselves with a slight vibration, and if you do not react, then after 10 seconds they disappear from the main screen, moving to the notification widget, where you can then easily view all the missed events. Here, only one moment is annoying, if there are a dozen such events, you have to spend time clearing the menu, since each notification is removed separately. You cannot clear the list with a single click. On the other hand, as practice shows, it rarely turns out to be too long. During the testing of the device, there were usually 2-3 notifications hanging there. The rest responded immediately.

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    Switching between smart watch widgets is done by swiping left or right. You can change their sequence as you wish through the settings in Garmin Connect Mobile. Install/uninstall here additional dials (I chose BigTime for myself), widgets and applications through the Conect IQ branded store.

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    The BigTime watch face, it seems to me, is the most convenient of the third-party

    Standard widgets include alerts, weather, a calendar, a simple remote control for controlling your smartphone player, and an activity tracker. There is not a lot of additional software in Conect IQ, but there are also cool toys and all sorts of useful things, like a stopwatch. Somehow it all resembles the Pebble ecosystem, which is a compliment for Garmin vivo active. The device performs its functions as a smart watch perfectly, while it is also a powerful sports tracker. I will also add that all system parameters, including profile data and units of measurement, can be configured directly on the watch. Binding to the mobile application is minimal.

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    There is also a silent vibrating alarm clock, however, it is ordinary. That is, it wakes up exactly at the time set, and not depending on the phase of sleep. You can set up to three different alarms and choose their frequency: once, on weekdays, on weekends, or set the alarm sequence yourself.

    In general, there are no particular complaints about the smart functionality of the device. It may well replace the same Pebble and almost any other smart watch, if they only need notifications on the wrist. Actually, this is the main functionality of such devices, no matter what marketers invent. Playing games on your wrist, taking notes, or some other more complex stuff is simply inconvenient, which was clearly shown by the long experience of using the Apple Watch. The only thing missing in vivo active as in a smart watch, these are the ability to answer a call or make a quick response to a text message. But smart functionality is not the core of the gadget. So, given its specifics, it copes with its additional tasks perfectly well and can easily replace the same Pebble for iOS owners.

    Sport is everything

    In addition to the fact that vivoactive is a very functional smart watch with the ability to install third-party software, watch faces and other goodies, the gadget is also a cool sports tracker. It is sports, and not just an activity tracker. In this regard, the novelty can easily beat any modern smart watch and most of the newly-minted activity trackers, especially if you purchase an accessory in the package.Premium” along with an ANT+ heart rate sensor. Or you can use any other compatible one, not only a heart rate monitor, but also other sensors with ANT + support.

    As for work vivo active as a regular activity tracker, then everything is standard here: it counts the number of steps, calories burned, monitors the quality of sleep, and all this is shown on graphs in a proprietary mobile application or in the Garmin Connect web interface.

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    4 hours of sleep is very little, but it just so happened that on a trip you need to have time to work and see the sights. I won’t get enough sleep now, but then I’ll sleep peacefully at home.

    By the way, the gadget is very sensitive to shaking and all kinds of hand movements in the pedometer mode. So even lying on the couch and actively waving your arms while, for example, watching a tense sports match, you can “work up” a couple of hundred meters. On the other hand, the accessory tracks quite accurately, but are you really moving in space? The fact is that there is also a red “shame arrow” described in the vivofit 2 section, which appears if you sit still for too long. It is worth walking a little, so to speak, moving the rolls, as the arrow will disappear.

    But once you activate any GPS-enabled workout in vivoactive, the device becomes a very accurate device for measuring distance covered and a host of other parameters. If you also adjust the individual step length, then in general you will achieve maximum accuracy. Although, as practice has shown, this is not necessary when working with GPS. For example, I tested the device in Walk mode and compared it to the Apple Watch, which also uses GPS, but takes location data from the iPhone. (Do not pay attention to the fact that in 30 minutes I covered only a kilometer – it was a walk around Tbilisi in the evening with a look at the local beauties.)

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    As you can see, everything is accurate, plus the route and a lot of additional information are displayed in the mobile application.

    It is also interesting to use Garmin vivoactive to save the routes of your adventures during all sorts of excursions. Then it’s fun to study the detailed information about the route. For example, I saved a trip from the ice peak Kazbek to Tbilisi and this is what happened:

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    But all this is pampering against the backdrop of the real sports capabilities of the accessory and the huge amount of data that it collects in active mode. Heart rate, running pace, altitude, heart rate zone tracking – and that’s just running. We decided to swim – the watch will take into account the stroke rate, the number of strokes per circle, and calculate the efficiency of the swim (SWOLF). While cycling, you can connect an additional sensor to take into account the power of pedaling (important for analysis and high efficiency of training), and this is already the territory of professional equipment that costs fabulous money. For fans of golf, there is also a lot of useful stuff here, including almost all world maps of famous fields for this game.

    Garmin does not provide a proprietary application for weight training, but there is a good third-party program Gym Timerwhich measures the pulse during the exercise, activity time and allows you to quickly set the rest intervals between sets.

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    Against this background, the attempts of market newcomers to turn their activity trackers into full-fledged sports accessories look ridiculous. Garmin vivoactive is tearing them apart, which is not surprising, given the vast experience of the company.

    Smart watch plus full-fledged sports tracker

    This is where the uniqueness lies. Garmin vivo activethat this gadget is both a functional smart watch and a powerful sports tracker, focused on several types of activity at once. Without compromise.

    I have no serious complaints about the operation of the device. Unless there were difficulties with the first synchronization of physical activity, but the reason was the previous tester of the device, who simply did not reset its settings. A hard reset helped.

    Yes, there aren’t as many third-party apps as there are on the Pebble, Apple Watch, or Android Wear devices, but the main ones are there and work well.

    In addition, unlike many specialized wrist sports devices, as well as some smart watches, Garmin vivoactive looks good and even elegant:

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    Roma Yuryev with Garmin vivoactive against the backdrop of the Caucasus Mountains

    The average price of a device in EU is 230 $in the USA – $250. Is this accessory worth the money? Compared to the price of specialized sports instruments and even many smart watches, it is definitely worth it.

    Moreover, it can be purchased from 10 percent discountlike other devices from Garmin!

    Just enter this code when placing an order on Madrobots.ru: GARMIN10

    • Exercise smartly with Garmin vivoactive!