This year Garmin makes a return with the Vivoactive HR and this for sure looks promising over its predecessor Vivoactive . At the moment the current price is around 16,490 INR (Check Price in Amazon)
Going over the physical features; Garmin went with now a thicker and bigger build. When you do put this against one of the biggest competitors, again the Fitbit Surge the band on the Fitbit does feel smoother but while wearing the Garmin actually feels more comfortable out of the two. And the reason being the stiffness on the surge extends much further than the Vivoactive while the Garmin uses hinges to offer flexibility during wrist movements. And one of the biggest changes on the new watch; the physical band now stretches, perfect for those who do CrossFit, lift weights or any kind of push-pull movements where your wrist or forearm flexes.
Now regarding looks of Garmin vívoactive HR ,of course, this is subjective, Garmin sadly left that square Smartwatch design back but what you get is a bigger screen, easier to read numbers and a more narrow profile when you compare to the competition.
Now, testing Garmin vívoactive HR in direct sunlight and very bright situations, the screen is much more readable over the last year’s and the touch sensitivity feels improved as well. The screen is very much responsive. I do admit though in low-light situations it’s readable but it’s still dim. One way to alleviate this is by tapping on the front left physical button and the display lights up. The button on the right here brings up your activities that you can record offering; running, cycling, swimming and yes you can swim this band on here, golfing, walking, rowing and the list goes on with all the activities from the stock settings on the right side of your screen currently.
Now, rotating to the back, Garmin vívoactive HR is pretty straightforward with an optical heart rate sensor which I’ll discuss shortly but as you notice Garmin is using its own proprietary charging cable and this thing stays on ridiculously secure here. Now Garmin’s claiming up to eight days of use with the heart rate tracker on 24/7 and no use of the GPS. Running a total of four times here each a mile long to give you a gauge of how much this watch might last you and of course GPS on. My Vivoactive HR died in 5 days, 14 hours and roughly 30 minutes. If you’re running much further or more frequent than I am you might push the upper four-day or lower five-day range of use. Now, compared to other activity trackers here on the market it’s about average with most general bands lasting around five to six days, but keep in mind the Vivoactive HR does offer that much more features.
On the main page on the left-hand side you have your move bar in red. When you’re not up and moving for an hour the watch will vibrate and the biggest bar will show. For every additional 15 minutes that you are not active another smaller bar will be revealed all the way up to the top until you have two hours’ worth of indications. It’s a beneficial feature even when you don’t heed the advice right at that very moment but you do subconsciously throughout the day feel like someone is pushing you to be more active.
On the right are your basic battery level indicators; time and date on the bottom here. And if you don’t like the look Garmin from the factory does provide five different watch faces, easily accessible through the watch. Now, the resolution on some though isn’t the smoothest as you do see some jagged lines. Nonetheless, they do serve their purpose.
Now back on the original screen, of Garmin vívoactive HR if you swipe up you have your day’s info with steps, flights of stairs climbed and calories burned. Swiping up one more time offers your steps, distance and floors walked again but just in a more visual way. On the next screen Intensity Minutes for that week to show your more intense moments here like running or working out and not just walking and general movement. And moving up one more time is the last sport or recorded activity that you’ve done with your most used basic info here. Now, tapping on the screen does offer a very detailed breakdown of your workouts, nearly eliminating the need to pull out your phone if you need info right away.
Now, I’m backing out here, Garmin does offer a weather widget with the highs and lows and a percentage for precipitation. Tapping on this offers the next four hours of weather predictions and swiping up offers the next four days’. It’s very convenient not only for runners and bikers but if you work a lot outdoors this comes in very handy.
The second to last screen are notifications. The Vivoactive HR does display your incoming phone calls, missed phone calls, text messages in detail. That is not just a summary as some other bands on the market doesn’t show everything. Email also appears here along with your most social media apps like; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even Whatsapp is on here.
Now, moving on to the next and final screen here is your heart rate. Now, when you’re on the screen the top left will show what your heart rate is at that very moment. Now, when you’re on say the main page when your clock is displayed the baseline heart measurement is sampled once every 10 minutes. If the watch senses that you’re walking or moving around rather than sitting stationary the Vivoactive HR will sample your heart rate more often not at every 10 minutes. And on the watch itself, you can see your lowest heart rates and the highest during the last 4 hours and in the top right is your resting heart rate.
Now, regarding heart rate accuracy of Garmin vívoactive HR the charts are on your screens here and from my assessment that’s pretty accurate for a wrist-based heart rate tracker. Using my tried-and-true Polar H7 Chest Strap strap and compared to the Vivoactive HR it performs as well as most other activity bands with slight deviations here and there. With a consistent running pace the deviation is about 3 heartbeats at times. Again for a wrist-based heart rate tracker that isn’t too bad. However, during an interval run we do see bigger deviations or lagging performance when the heart rate climbs or descends fast. I’m going to put up a third chart here and another interval run as proof this had the most deviation up to 10 heartbeats per minute off from the chest strap itself. However on the positive side of things, if you’re okay with wearing HR chest straps an A.N.T+ model or ANT+ model will pair with the Vivoactive HR if you want more accurate readings. And one last thing, although you can wear this to swim as it’s rated at five atm the HR sensor does turn off while swimming. So that’s really everything on the physical side.
We’re going to take a look at the app here and this is highly beneficial for you guys to watch as I’m going to go into detail how about sleep performance and how all this data is collected and presented to you. Garmin Connect app available for Windows Phones, Android and IOS.
Going over the main home page you have steps with an auto goal that adjusts every day based on your previous day’s performance. A great feature that helps keep you striving for more. Now, tapping on the icon offers your day’s performance with distance, floors climbed, calories burned and oddly floors descending at times not equal to the floors climbed especially when I worked from home here and I don’t even have any uneven elevation changes. But going back to sleep, tapping on this review is a good bit of info with your daily night’s goals; with the total time slept, light sleep versus deep sleep and moments I’m awake. I do admit though oddly it’s not accurate. Now, I’m receiving these weird deviations in numbers, excessive amounts of sleep being recorded and as proof I’ve been wearing my underarmour band and on my other arm here for the past two months and you can see consistently I’m usually getting about seven hours of sleep but nowhere close to eight or more and of course I do mentally and physically take notice of what times I wake up. Now the Garmin, on the other hand, registered me as sleeping right before bed when I’m actually sitting up reading, checking email, watching Netflix etc and if I decide to lounge in bed in the morning it surprisingly thinks I’m still sleeping at times. Now if you do plan on buying this keep an eye on your sleep count to ensure it’s working on your end. My previous reviews on the Garmin Vivo Smart HR didn’t have this kind of issue.
But The main page is really self-explanatory with active calories burned, calories remaining to be consumed and this works if you do sync your Garmin Connect app with the food logger MyFitnessPal. Now moving down, intensity minutes are offered, how many activities you’ve done for that day, calories consumed and floors climbed.
Overall the app experience is still in my top three but the Jawbone and Fitbit apps still trump Garmin from my experience for their ease of use, the flow of their app in general and what information is displayed. And one big example here and this pertains specifically with Fitbit and Garmin; the app doesn’t reveal too much in regards to everyday heart health and although the band does a great job displaying resting heart rate and heart rate throughout the day it doesn’t show much on the app. You can click on timeline but it would have been nice to have some heart rate numbers indicated with some horizontal lines going across or an average heart rate for the day even. Just something other than these vertical lines going up and down.
Running data from Garmin vívoactive HR, on the other hand, does a great job with almost everything that you need as a runner. Now, keep in mind that the Vivoactive HR does include GPS and GLONASS on the watch here which has been highly accurate during runs. The information provided is very robust and the charts on the last page here does provide some insights into your performance.
In the end, I think it’s still worth consideration and an alternative over say Polar M400, the Fitbit Surge and the Fitbit Blaze. Is Garmin vívoactive HR the best? Not necessarily, but what features it does offer that works though; the physical feel, the number of sizes, basically the font sizes on the screen, the HR tracking all-day, the continuous screen that’s on 24/7, the analytical running data, not to mention you can submerge this underwater and you can hook this up with other Garmin accessories. Those unique features all of that I just listed right there do make this band stand out and a better option but that’s only if you’re going to use them.