The world of fitness trackers is becoming more crowded every year as established manufacturers introduce new models to refresh their product line and new companies work to establish a foothold in this segment of the health and fitness industry. Garmin, who has made its name in GPS technology for vehicles over the past 20 years, also offers a line of fitness wearables that is worthy of its brand name.
The Garmin Vivosmart HR is an entry-level fitness tracker worn on your wrist that provides you with many of the features you would want to track your exercise and health activities. For those who want to track their daily steps, the Vivosmart HR keeps you informed through an always-on display that’s bright enough to see, even in sunlight.
Of course, there’s much more the Garmin Vivosmart HR activity tracker can do. Along with steps, it can track the distance you travel so you can record your mileage if you’re a runner, walker, biker or other type of athlete whose training takes you places. (Runners who are training for a particular race where time is vital may want to consider another Garmin device that has GPS technology to ensure greater accuracy of your mileage.)
The built-in barometric altimeter also allows you take the stairs in confidence that your efforts will be recorded. And the Vivosmart HR will show you how much calories you’ve burned along the way.
At the key to all of these types of exercises is your heart rate, and the Garmin Vivosmart HR does a fine job keep track of your beats throughout your workout and your day – without the need for a chest strap. The company uses technology it calls Garmin Elevate to track your heart rate via the tracker’s band when worn on your wrist.
But that’s not all the Garmin Vivosmart HR does. The device also has features of a smartphone that comes in handy for those exercising or on the go. You can receive alerts and notifications about calls, texts, emails, calendar events and even social media alerts. The Vivosmart HR also does its best to keep you active with a move bar and a vibration alert.
What good is all these statistics without a place to review them? The Vivosmart HR automatically syncs with Garmin Connect Mobile, a smartphone app that sorts, displays and shares your activities and progress (if you want) with the company’s free online community.
The App lets you monitor your progress against activity goals recommended by health organizations such as the American Heart Association, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
Out of the box, the Garmin Vivosmart HR comes with the tracker (regular or extra-large device, depending on your selection), a charging/data clip and documentation. The tracker’s touchscreen lens is acrylic while the strap is silicone. The regular size Vivosmart HR weighs only 29.6 grams while the extra large weighs 32 grams. The display size is 1-inch by 0.42-inch, with a resolution of 160×68 pixels.
- The Vivosmart HR is always on and ready to measure steps, distance, calories, heart rate, floors climbed, active minutes and intensity
- This tracker records and measures your heart rate during workouts
- The always-on display can be read in direct sunlight and is also backlit
- You can receive notifications such as calls, texts, emails and calendar alerts – just like a smartphone
- The device will keep you active through alarms and alerts that encourage you to move
- Play music on your connected mobile device, as well as on accessories such as the Garmin VIRB camera
- There is a find my phone function to help you locate your phone
- The device has up to five days of battery life per charge
- The Vivosmart HR syncs automatically to the Garmin Mobile App that can be downloaded to your smartphone
- Water resistant to 50 meters, you can take Garmin Vivosmart HR swimming
- The backlit is dim and may be hard to see
- The strap is not interchangeable
- There is a limited amount of options for the alarms
Excellent Heart Rate Monitoring
One of the best features in this Garmin Vivosmart HR review is the built-in, wrist-based heart rate monitor which eliminates the need for a chest strap. The device out of the box will monitor your heart rate every few minutes. When you’re ready to exercise, you simply tap the side button of the device, select your activity and the Vivosmart HR will convert to Activity Mode.
This shift means that Garmin’s Elevate heart rate technology will record your heart beat every few seconds to create a good picture of your heart rate during your activity. The tracker will also provide you with calories burned and will quantify the intensity of your fitness activities. Customers who have used the tracker say you don’t have to keep the wrist strap extremely tight for an accurate reading but recommend that you wear it above the wrist bone.
The device categories your heart rate by zones and pops up alerts when you reach certain heart rate levels. You can also share your heart rate with paired devices using ANT+ broadcasts. Another thing that the Vivosmart HR can do is also function as a heart rate strap on your wrist when you pair it with another compatible Garmin device. That’s flexibility!
What makes any fitness activity tracker great is its ability to take the statistics collected and turn them into useful and understandable data that can help motivate you and improve your health. The Vivosmart HR automatically syncs with the Garmin Mobile App that you can download to your smartphone.Once you’ve set up the Garmin Connect App, your device will sync with it throughout the day.
Garmin Connect is designed with a black background and colorful icons and displays. The “My Day” default section shows your steps, sleep time, active calories, activities, the number of remaining calories you’ll need to burn and food consumed that you’ve entered. Other tabs on Garmin Connect include a challenges section, a calendar and a news feed that you can tie into your social media networks.
Tap the “More” tab and you’ll see a list of other activities and settings to make your workouts that much more informative and fun. You can review your workouts, create courses, add the gear you use, such as running shows, view your health statistics and search for groups to join that have similar fitness interests as you do.
Furthermore, the Garmin Connect App works with the popular MyFitnessPal App, so you can link data from this app back to your Garmin Connect account. This allows you to compare calories consumed to total calories burned. Isn’t that one of the things that fitness trackers should do?
Top Features and Specs
- Smart activity tracker – the Vivosmart HR monitors your steps, calories, distance, floors climbed and activity intensity to provide you with the type of biometric feedback that can keep you motivated toward your health and fitness goals. Internally, the tracker can store up to seven timed activities and up to 14 days of activity tracking data.
- Garmin Elevate heart-rate technology –Garmin’s wrist-based heart rate tracker helps you reach and stay in your target heart rate by active monitoring when you’re working out. This feature provides you with heart rate zones and alerts ensure you know what’s going on with your pulse.
- Smartphone features–The Vivosmart HR can receive call, text and email alerts when connected to your smartphone. You can receive calendar event alerts as well as notifications from your social media networks. Also, you can control your music on your smartphone from your tracker. You can also control a VIRB action camera from your Vivosmart HR device.
- Motivational alerts – This fitness tracker will create vibration alerts when it senses you haven’t moved in a while. This is intended to remind you to stay active so that you can reach your activity goals.
What Customers are Saying
The Garmin Vivosmart HR activity tracker has a 3.9 out of 5 stars in customer reviews on Amazon.com. Many of the positive reviewers say the device is among the best heart rate fitness trackers available, especially for people who are new to tracking their workouts. “I absolutely LOVE this watch!” said one reviewer.
Another said praised the ease of which the tracker synced with his smartphone. “The touchscreen is super easy. I’ve never had a problem with it not reacting to my touch. In fact, when worn in the shower, the water hitting the screen can cause it to flip to the next screen. I almost wish it were a little less sensitive to touch.”
One customer, however, complained that the Vivosmart HR wasn’t as accurate with distance as other devices when tracking a run. Another said he was confused about how the phone notifications worked and could not feel the vibration alerts. A third complained about the battery life failing shortly after the new warranty period ended. Another recurring complaint was about software issues that made the device buggy after an update.
Nevertheless, a majority of users see the Vivosmart HR as a great tracker at a great price. “Overall, I’m super excited about this watch. I’m confident that it is accurate enough for me … and I love that I can see my stats throughout the day. I would definitely recommend this watch to anyone looking for a fitness tracker,” said one reviewer.
A few reviews directly compared the Garmin Vivosmart HR with the Fitbit Charge HR. They noted the better option was the Garmin for its heart rate sensor, notifications, price point and water resistance ability. Said one Amazon reviewer: “I just never felt comfortable doing anything around water with my Fitbit, and rather than occasional splashes of water, Fitbit doesn’t even recommend it themselves. Save yourself some money and get more features with Garmin as of now. You will not regret it.”
The Garmin Vivosmart HR offers a ton of features for an entry-level fitness tracker with a low price point. Garmin’s strong reputation in GPS devices has carried over to its extensive line of fitness trackers. The Vivosmart HR can hold its own against similarly priced competitors.
Along with tracking your steps, distance and calories, the Vivosmart HR can track stairs climbed, which is a great feature if you’re into cross-training or boot camps that include workouts on stairs. The tracker’s Elevate heart rate technology provides you with heart rate zones and alerts that help keep your training in focus. And when you’re not active, the Vivosmart HR will issue vibration alerts to remind you that it’s time to do so.
Another cool feature of this tracker is that it can serve as a sleep monitor so you can gauge how often you’re restless and how much total sleep you’re getting. The tracker’s smart notifications of calls, texts and emails is a handy feature to have when you’re exercising and want to glimpse who is trying to contact you. It even has a feature to help you find your connected smart phone in case you’ve misplaced it.
Overall, the Garmin Vivosmart HR provides the right amount of activity tracking features for its price. While it may not have GPS technology as some of the more advanced Garmin trackers, the Vivosmart HR represents an opportunity to introduce people to fitness tracking with a brand name that they are familiar with and can trust.
With a growing number of fitness trackers in the fitness industry, it is good to know that there are quality trackers available to help us get healthy and stay healthy. The Garmin Vivosmart HR is among the ones that I would recommend for first time users of fitness trackers.
- Sleek band is comfortable to wear all day, and the always-on display shows your stats, even in sunlight
- Displays steps, distance, calories, heart rate, floors climbed and activity intensity
- Receive text, call, email, calendar and social media alerts,Display type:sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)