Garmin vivosmart HR review

IMG_4334About a month ago, I purchased the new Garmin vivosmart HR activity tracker, now only available at Best Buy. I have used the Nike+ FuelBand for over two years now and while I like it okay, I was increasingly intrigued by the new activity trackers that also tracked heart rate like the FitBit Charge HR and the new Garmin vivosmart HR.

After reading some brief reviews, I decided on the Garmin vivosmart HR for a couple of reasons but primarily since I already run with the Garmin Forerunner 220, I wanted to stay on the Garmin platform and leverage the Garmin Connect app. I have a lot of friends on both FitBit and Garmin platforms so either would give the social challenges, though I do hear that FitBit’s app is more friendly for the social aspect.

IMG_4335As most reviews will show, there are many pros but also some cons. In the last month, I have been able to thoroughly test the functionality of the tracker and can offer my full review.

Key Features
–Flights of stairs
–Sleep analysis
–Distance walked/moved
–Average resting heart rate and current heart rate tracking through the new Garmin wrist-based technology
–Smart phone notifications via bluetooth such as alerts, weather, text messages, and ability to control your music
–Calories burned
–Number of minutes of intense workout

–I like the ability to customize the screen and what you’d like to display on the home screen. I have mine set to time and date and have yet to wear a watch in the last month except when I run.
–The heart rate seems fairly accurate especially when resting, The active heart rate also seems on point as well. It is a little slow to pick up the current heart rate if it is drastically changing (i.e. when cooling down from a run).
–The sleep analysis feature is neat. It doesn’t always know exactly when I go to bed (such as, when I am sitting on the couch watching TV, it sometimes thinks I’m sleeping) but it does come close and provides a good snapshot of how many deep sleep versus light sleep hours I have a night. I am starting to realize I am not in as much of a deep sleep as I previously thought.
–It is comfortable to sleep with. I have not had any issues with the band irritating my wrist. However, in order for the heart rate to be accurate, it is important to wear it snuggly above the wrist bone.
IMG_4336–Flights of stairs is also a nice tracker. I take the stairs a bit between floors at work and it’s usually fairly accurate about how many flights I’ve climbed in a day.
–Smart notifications are awesome! I have a blast controlling my music from my wrist, announcing what the weather is, and reading my text messages.
–The Garmin Connect app also allows you to edit your daily goals including steps or it can be dynamically based on what you did in earlier days.
–I have the imperial purple color and I really like how the color is so dark that you can’t tell if it is black or purple. When you’re up close you can see a hint of purple. This is great because the device can still be worn in a professional setting.
–Battery life is exactly as advertised. It lasts for about 5 days and I have worn it day and night. It also charges fairly fast.

IMG_4338–The tracker is a little big on the my wrist. The downside is really that it bulges out which gets in the way a little when you’re wearing long sleeves. It is still slightly less wide than the FitBit Charge HR though.
–The steps tracking seems a little off at least in comparison to the Nike+ FuelBand. The vivosmart HR seems to be more generous.
–The USB adapter is a little flimsy and doesn’t always catch to the device. I also dislike how all Garmin devices use a different adapter.
–The Garmin Connect app provides the bare minimum information and is not as interactive as perhaps the FitBit or other fitness applications.
–Occasionally, the vivosmart HR will not sync with Garmin Connect. This typically happens after I run. Garmin Connect can only connect with one Garmin device at a time so when I’m running, the watch takes precedence.
–It is now sold exclusively at Best Buy until January I believe. I was fortunate to have a coupon at Best Buy but this is a little inconvenient especially for those devout Amazon shoppers like myself.

IMG_4339In summary, I am very pleased so far with the Garmin vivosmart HR. It is a considerable upgrade from my Nike+ FuelBand. I understand that activity trackers are not 100% accurate so I am okay with that. I think that is extremely important to understand before purchasing any tracker. Nothing will be perfect and as long as you accept that and take the data learned as a baseline measurement, you will not be disappointed.

This has been a big technology month for me. I just also received the new Garmin Forerunner 235 in the mail, which also uses the same wrist-based heart rate tracking. Once I have the chance to take the watch out for a couple of runs, I will share my full review here.

In the meantime, if you have any questions at all about the Garmin vivosmart HR, feel free to leave me a comment. I’d love to hear about your opinions and thoughts about other activity trackers on the market.

6 thoughts on “Garmin vivosmart HR review

  1. Cindy, Thanks for the very helpful review. I’m about to pull the trigger on this and just wondered if you had any additional input now that it’s another month later? Are you still satisfied/pleased with your purchase?

    • Hi Chris,

      Glad to hear you’re considering the Vivosmart HR and reached out. I am still pleased. My comments from last month still stand and it’s been a great purchase so far. I enjoy the stats very much. The notifications are a tease though, I do wish I could reply to them from my wrist, so this purchase is making me consider the next generation of the Apple Watch more. There is an updated The Wirecutter review: that came out after my review that calls the Garmin Vivosmart HR the best fitness tracker.

      Keep me posted on what you do!


  2. Hi. Just wondering if you can tell me if calories burned are displayed on the screen during a workout? I like to set a workout calorie goal and keep going till it’s reached, but with the older model vivosmart I could only view that information on my phone after the workout when I synced it. Thanks 🙂

  3. Pingback: Garmin Forerunner 235 Review - cindyruns

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *