Garmin do an amazing range of activity and sports tracking devices as well as a seemingly never ending array or navigation aids. What excites me with the latest batch is the fact they have covered not just the sports nuts, but also the casual wearer who would like to track their daily activity closer than they’ve previously done – enter the Garmin Vivosport.
There are enough trackers out there for the fact that it’s a wristband to not be a surprise to anyone. The fit is comfortable on big or small wrists with plenty of adjustability in the wrist band and is perfect for daily wear. The battery is said to have a capacity of up to 8 hours GPS time and 7 days “watch mode” which I’ve found is adequate for about 10 days of “normal” use but when you use the activity tracker the battery diminishes very quickly.
The screen is backlit, easy to read and displays the information you want to see at the time you want to see it. While the screen is customisable, you can scroll through from the default page displaying time, date and battery level to:
- Your steps for the day against your goal (which is also customisable)
- Your intensity minutes for the week
- Calories burnt for the day
- Notifications from your linked mobile device
- Heart rate
- Stress levels which from what I can tell is a basic blood pressure monitor
While it does not have the same high detail capabilities of an Android Wear device, it has the ability to view basic notifications such as incoming messages, email headers and the phone number of incoming calls.
There are a couple of options in terms of starting activity tracking: the first and simplest is to allow the Vivosport to detect when you’ve been active for more than a preset period. This can be as little as 5 minutes, or as high as 30 so you’ve got some flexibility in that.
The second is to manually trigger activities on the device: you can do this by long-pressing the screen and selecting the activity choosing between Walk, Run, Cycle, Aerobic Style Class, Weight Lifting or other activity. Some activities have the option of being logged as an inside or outside activity which enables the GPS tracking if you’re outside such as for running or cycling.
There are a number of other quick access one touch options on the Vivosport such as locking the screen, night mode (disables auto backlight and notifications), a timer, V02 Max which measures your aerobic fitness, heart rate monitoring and some simple connection options to your phone.
What it does well
What really, and I mean REALLY, impressed me was that in sessions with my trainer without me having to enter any data or “tell” it what I was doing the Vivosport detected what weights exercises I was doing and at about 90% accuracy.
Clearly a lot of design work has gone in here on the activity detection because (give or take a little) the distance detection on the indoor run was near enough match to the treadmills at the gym on several occasions too.
The app and experience
As an existing Garmin user, the app was really familiar to me and allowed me to delve straight into the particulars of the Vivosport. But for those who would be new to the high end activity tracker market, the app itself is (particularly since the recent makeover it had) quite brilliant. They’ve put everything you may want on the one screen: easy to access data to show you days activities, averages, friends’ data and your calendar.
The hardware aspect along with the ease of use for the app makes the whole experience very easy, user-friendly and honestly, very pleasant.
With the only real criticism of the device being the battery life being destroyed when you engage the GPS, there’s really not a lot to pick at. The wristband is very comfortable for all day use, the screen is easy to read (even for people with bad eyesight like myself), the activity detection is astoundingly accurate for such a small device and the app makes viewing and interpreting data very simple.
For anyone looking to get away from the low end activity trackers and into something more accurate, reliable and easy to use then this is a really smart step to make. The $299RRP may be a deterrent for some users, but having had multiple iterations of lower end devices I can honestly say you get what you pay for and this is worth the outlay.
What features are on your must have list when shopping for activity trackers?