Garmin vívoactive HR GPS Smart Watch, Regular fit - Black
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- Regular fits wrist circumferences 5.39" to 7.68" (137 to 195 mm),GPS smartwatch with a sunlight-readable, high-resolution color touchscreen
- 24/7 HEART RATE MONITORING - Elevate wrist heart technology gives you heart rate all day and night without an additional strap,Heart rate is not available while swimming
- SMART NOTIFICATIONS - Set any notification from your mobile device to display when paired with a compatible smartphone
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From the manufacturer
Elevate heart rate technology
Using heart rate data, vívoactive HR provides calories burned information and quantifies the intensity of your fitness activities, providing better credit for your efforts.
GPS Smartwatch with Elevate Heart Rate
Play all the sports you love with even more heart. Elevate heart rate technology measures heart rate at the wrist, gauging your efforts without the need to wear a chest strap. Add life and style to your colour touchscreen device by downloading free custom watch faces, apps and more through the Connect IQ online store. It offers an 8 day battery life in watch mode, as well as being water resistant.
Built-in Sports Apps
There are lots of accessories that help you get more from sports, but phones aren’t one of them. With GPS-enabled running, biking, swimming, skiing, snowboarding, golf, rowing, paddle boarding and activity tracking right on your wrist, you can sweat all day with your phone safely tucked away.
Using its built-in accelerometer and GPS, vívoactive HR allows you to run both indoors and out.
Run, bike, swim, golf, ski and more with vivo active HR, the GPS smartwatch with Elevate wrist heart rate technology. Outside of your more active moments, its built-in activity tracker counts steps throughout the day and measures calories burned. The sunlight-readable, high-resolution touchscreen features smart notifications such as call, text, email, social media alerts and more. Customize your watch with more than 1,300 apps, watch face designs, data fields and widgets from our Connect IQ store. Battery charge lasts through all your activities with up to 8 days in watch/activity tracking mode (no GPS) or up to 13 hours using GPS.
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I did not order these from Amazon. My wife and I each got a Vivoactive HR, we ordered directly from Garmin. We have now had them for a week and I will update this review if need be. I use mine to track steps, biking and snowboarding next season. The built in altimeter was a big selling point. I have the previous Vivoactive. It does not have an altimeter. So you can use it to track ski/snowboard runs but it uses GPS flat speed and not your actual 3d speed. The new one can now do that. My wife uses hers for running.
I read a few reviews were people had issues with going out of range of their phone and then coming back in range and the watch not automatically re-connecting via Bluetooth to their phone. My wife and I spent some time testing that and we could not reproduce the same results. Our watches re-connected every time we came back in range of our phone.
We did not have any issues out of the box or connecting to the Garmin Connect App on our iPhones. Like the instructions state, pair the device directly through the Connect App. We both also used the Garmin Express desktop app during the initial charge to customize what apps and widgets are installed and in what order they appear as you swipe through the interface. I deleted all the apps I wouldn’t use, like indoor biking, rowing, Stand Up Paddle Boarding etc to make the screens easier to navigate. Like any Garmin device it is important to take the time to go through all the settings to tweak and customize it to what you want.
Let’s address the elephant in the room. The screen, which seems to be the cause of many of the 1 star reviews. I can understand how this can happen. All the marketing material show the screen bright and very readable. However this screen is designed for battery life and to be read out doors. When in direct light it is super bright and easy to read. However in low light without the backlight on it is hard to read. Straight out of the box the backlight is set to level 3, which is hard to see. My Vivoactive HR came out of the box with the new 2.4 update installed. So I was immediately able to navigate the settings menu to turn the backlight from level 3 to level 6 and it was plenty bright. It does go up to 9 and is VERY bright. My wife’s did not have the update. But during the first sync with her phone the update installed. Once you can adjust the backlight the screen is fine. We did not have any backlight bleed like some have mentioned. I think many of other reviewer’s issues are just their expectations were not met. This watch is purpose built to be an activity tracker with some Smartwatch functions built in. It isn’t an Apple Watch, but then again it has standalone GPS, altimeter, compass, heart rate and other sensors built in, and does not have to be charged every night.
Step and Activity Tracking:
Step tracking has been flawless for both of us. It is accurate, including counting floors. I tested in my house going from the first floor to the second floor and it seems to track just fine. Sometimes there was a delay between showing the floor counted, but it would show up. As for activity tracking, it has been outstanding. It is easy to start, stop and view data while tracking the activity. It also uploads to the Garmin Connect really fast. I can say the sync / upload on this Vivoactive is faster than the first gen. I have used it to track mountain biking and walking so far. My wife has used it to track running with no issues.
Here I feel is another elephant, sitting in the room eating peanuts. Let’s remember that this is optical HR. It shines a light on your wrist. It isn’t going to be 100% accurate. There are many factors. Placement, hair on your arm, heck even a mole where your band sits could cause issues. It isn’t going to work for strength training, weightlifting etc. My personal experience has been it is mostly accurate while not exercising. There were a few times where I could tell it wasn’t right, like saying my HR was at 85 when sitting. My RHR is about 58. But it only lasted for a min or too, and knowing what my HR should be I could call it what it was, an outlier. I wasn’t too worried about it. During activity tracking I had no issue and it seemed to stay accurate the whole time while on my mountain bike. It was great to be able see the correlation between steep technical climbs and the increase in my HR. There was a point on my ride where HR didn’t work so well, but that is because the watch moved a bit. That was my fault, I didn’t tighten it enough.
Look / Fit / Comfort:
I love the look of this one. My old Vivoactive looked clunky, unsophisticated and would not fit in well with business attire. The new one looks fine from the morning jog, to the afternoon meeting with clients. The new band is also an improvement. This one is more comfortable than the old one for sure. I can wear it all day just fine.
The battery lasted 6 days, with 3 GPS tracked activities. I have now turned off the heart rate monitor to save battery life. I don’t really care about 24 hour HR monitoring. I turn it on when I am going to track an activity, and turn it off after. That will probably improve battery life even more.
My wife and I love this watch and I gave it 5 stars. If I had to pick a flaw it would be that it has the same amount of screen real-estate as the old one but with more resolution and flipped into landscape. From the pictures I thought the screen would be bigger than the previous generation. I do like the new orientation and higher resolution. I would recommend this to anyone who lives an active lifestyle.
For anyone thinking about this, keep in mind that this is an activity tracker with some smart watch functionality. If you're thinking about this or something along the lines of a Gear S2 or Apple Watch, you are comparing the wrong products. If you want something to count steps, go with a Jawbone or FitBit, no need to spend $250 for a pedometer. This also isn't small. My wrists aren't large, but it looks fine on me and the size isn't an issue. If you wear dress shirts a lot (with sleeves down and buttoned), you might have a bit of an issue. I had to wear a suit last week, and it was tough to get the shirt cuff over the watch. Doing that daily would be a problem for me.
The watch faces are good, fairly limited, but good. Actiface is my favorite, it shows time, steps, battery life, date, sunrise/sunset time, calories burned, distance moved, max steps and cal for the week and it also has a graph showing calories and steps over the last 7 days. Great face to see a bevy of stats at a glance.
This was money well spent for me, I'm very active and this can keep up with everything I do and then some. The apps are limited, but again, this isn't a smart watch, it's a smart tracker for more athletic types of people. I love it, it was worth the 2+ months of waiting. I debated getting the Fenix 3 HR, but I'm not at that level of outdoor activity, so this was a perfect choice for me. The fact that it can go in the shower/pool/ocean without turning into a dead device makes this a no brainer in the price range.
I found out yesterday that, on a long trip, it will count steps in my car. I didn't have that problem with my wife's car. My UP24 did the same thing, so as with that, I will just take it off in the car.
HR tracking while lifting weights is not perfect, it's basically flipped: When lifting, HR goes down because blood flow is restricted, when I drop the weight, it goes up when normal flow returns. As with all wrist based, it's not perfect. For really detailed HR tracking, a chest strap is the best approach. I'm ok with how this works, but I will be getting a chest strap to get a more exact measure for weight training.
I have seen complaints about the size. Get a tape measure and you can easily see how big it will be on your wrist. Negative reviews based on size make no sense to me, it's clear how big it is. Cut a piece of paper or something to the size stated to see how big it will be on your wrist. It's not small, but it's also not as big as the Fenix 3. GPS, HR, touch screen, battery, all of these things need space for components. If you want something small, you'll need to sacrifice features. It can't be much smaller and still make sense to have a touch screen.
After 3 weeks, I'm totally sold on this still.
Update 6/28: 2 months in, I only wish I had this a year ago when I swimming daily. It's not perfect, but it's as close as it comes compared to others I have used. Stair counting could be better, I go up and down at least a dozen times a day (including basement stairs, maybe 2 dozen) and I rarely hit the 10 flight goal, not sure if that's a software or hardware problem, but that's really the only issue I have with it.