Apple Watch Review

img_4468It’s been a little over two months since I’ve had the Apple Watch and I’m one proud owner and cannot imagine not having it. I wouldn’t say the watch is something I cannot live without, which is how I feel about my iPhone or MacBook but certain features are extremely convenient.

I’ve worn the Apple Watch every day since I received it and have had the chance to customize the apps, alerts, and interface to my liking. I even wear both the Apple Watch and Garmin Forerunner 220 when I run (weird, yes, I know, but I will explain). I have the Apple Watch Sport Aluminum Case with Lavender Band, Rose Gold (38mm) that I purchased from Amazon since the pricing was less than buying it directly from Apple at the time before Apple’s recent price drop.

There are definitely pros and cons to the watch as many of the reviews have described but overall my experience has been very positive.


img_4471—Activity tracking (my favorite feature!) that shows move, exercise, and stand goals. The watch shows active calories, total steps, and miles. I have my watch set to remind me to stand every hour which has been extremely helpful when we flew to California and at work. The activity tracking goals can also be customized to your lifestyle.
—Heart rate monitoring (my second favorite feature) has been a very important statistic to me since becoming pregnant. This is the reason I wear both watches when I run. The Apple Watch on my right wrist tells me my heart rate and tracks my activity. The Garmin Forerunner 220 tracks GPS and distance for Garmin, RunningAhead, and my blog. There is a reason I don’t wear the Apple Watch exclusively for running which I will explain in the cons.
img_5107—The workout tracking feature is great on the watch. Not only can you track indoor/outdoor runs, you can also track walks and cycling (indoor and outdoor), elliptical, rower, stair stepper, and other. Most fitness trackers that I have seen does not allow for tracking of cycling, rowing, stair stepper, or elliptical workouts.
—Text message alerts and ability to reply with a short response or voice transcription message. I like that alerts can be fairly subtle from the watch. Instead of pulling out my phone in a meeting or out somewhere to read my messages, it’s easy to just flip my wrist up to read when I feel a vibration on my wrist.
—Ability to control music from watch.
—Ability to customize home screen of the watch. Mine includes activity tracking, heart rate, calendar, weather, battery life, Twitter, and Instagram feeds. It is also nice that you can customize your alerts and apps differently than your settings on the phone. On my iPhone, I prefer more alerts and on the watch, I have less.
—Range between watch and the iPhone is pretty far. I can get alerts on my watch between 4 floors at work. I leave my phone at my desk and if I am on another floor, I still have connectivity. This is a much further range than that of the Garmin vivosmart HR.
—Watch app is a great and easy to use. It uses the same Apple iOS interface and allows you to edit settings on the watch straight from the phone.
img_5104—Activity app on the iPhone is easy to use and tracks all of your activity history. It also displays all your achievements (i.e. stand, move, and exercise streaks or doubling/tripling your goals).
—Ability to send finger drawn pictures, emoticons, or heart beat to others who have the Apple Watch. While this isn’t a key feature for me, it is pretty neat to be able to do this.
—Wallet functionality is great for payments. I have been able to use the watch to pay for a handful of items and it has been incredibly cool! I just need to remember that I can do this as more merchants roll out Apple Pay.
—The different bands really allow for someone to turn the watch from casual every day wear to a running watch to a more high-end watch (though, I haven’t had a real need to buy a new band yet).


img_5106—Watch software updates take a long time. The watch update took over an hour to finish and then the watch froze and needed a force restart before it started working again.
—Battery life lasts about a day depending on your activity level. On a work day if I don’t use the watch to track a workout, I can get to about 40-50% battery left. However, if I track my workouts, then I can get to around 10-20% remaining. Even though I listed this as a con, it’s not as bad as expected. Modifications would likely need to be made to conserve battery if using it during a marathon or longer race.
—Needs to be paired with the iPhone. Given where the technology is now, this makes sense but it would be nice to see a watch one day that does not need to be paired to the phone all the time.
—No GPS tracking for running, walking, or running. This is one of the downsides of the watch that prevents it from being a running watch for me. I like being able to look at the routes on my outdoor runs and as a result, I cannot switch away from Garmin.
—Apps are slow and screen is too small for actual usage.
img_5105—No sleep tracking. I enjoyed seeing the statistics on my sleeping patterns on the Garmin vivosmart HR and unfortunately, this is not a feature of the watch (though I guess I wouldn’t really want to sleep with the watch on anyway).
—Lack of social aspect to the watch. Unlike FitBit, Garmin or other activity tracking devices, the Apple Watch and associated apps do not have the social network and encouragement.
—Wallet doesn’t work as well for scanning boarding passes. This is a very minor thing but I was very excited about using my watch to check into flights but unfortunately, the way the scanners are set up at the TSA counters and the positioning of the watch on my wrist, I wasn’t able to get this to work.

img_5108Overall, the watch functionality is very consistent and are nice to haves. The watch however replaces my need for the other non-smart watches I have. I can see why people would prefer multiple bands so they can change it up a bit. The watch also replaces the Garmin vivosmart HR that I purchased in December. While the price of the watch is higher than that of fitness trackers, it does offer more functionality than most fitness trackers that are also not watches. Likely if the Apple Watch continues to increase functionality, I don’t really see the need for an extra fitness tracker. Once I start training for a race again, I wonder though if I will actually end up wearing both watches on my runs – time will tell!

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.