Garmin Vivoactive HR
Activity Tracking Features9.0/10
Form Factor & Design7.0/10
Wrist heart rate9.0/10
- Wrist Heart Rate Monitor
- Built-in Sports Apps
- 24/7 Activity Tracking
- Smartphone Notifications
- Water Resistant
- Obvious sport watch design
- Not many colors on offer (color bands available)
- Competition from Fitbit
Garmin Vivoactive HR Review – Best GPS Smartwatch for Fitness Fans 2016
Are you into sports and looking for a smartwatch to track, monitor and review your activity on? If you regularly workout you could benefit from a watch to help you reach your fitness goals and improve your game.
Introducing the Vivoactive HR, the best Garmin GPS smartwatch for casual sport & fitness tracking 2016.
Garmin Vivoactive HR Review – one smartwatch to rule all sports
Welcome to an independent review of the Garmin Vivoactive HR. It’s the best GPS smartwatch for casual sports in the Garmin activity tracker range. Garmin is arguably the giant of GPS and has plenty of watches and wearables on offer, including the popular Forerunner range. These watches are predominantly used for running but some versions also contain multisport features. The latest Forerunner 735XT and Fenix 3 HR can be used for swimming, cycling, golf, paddle boarding, skiing and a plethora of other sports.
However, these watches are primarily aimed at higher end users, mainly due to price. That’s not to say you can’t buy one just to use it for running. These watches look great (especially the Fenix 3 HR) and you’ll be the envy of your fellow runners.
Recommended reading: Garmin Activity Tracker Comparison Chart
Vivoactive HR Ultimate Sports Apps and 24/7 Activity Tracking
Now enter the Vivoactive HR, a more affordable smartwatch option for the casual user. This device is ideal if you occasionally cycle, run, swim or even play a bit of golf on the side. As a stand-alone watch, it captures the basic data from all of these sports and activities, as well as how many steps you’ve taken during the day. It’s built-in activity tracker also measures calories burned and heart rate from the wrist (no chest strap required). If you use other Garmin devices, for example, an Edge bike computer, you can broadcast your heart rate in real-time to it direct from the Vivoactive HR.
Garmin Vivoactive HR Key Features:
- Wrist heart rate monitor
- Integrated GPS
- Built-in sports apps for running, cycling, golf, swimming and more
- Heart Rate data broadcast to other Garmin devices
- Floors climbed and intensity minutes
- Customization with Connect IQ
- Smartphone notifications
- Long battery life
- High-resolution touchscreen display
- Water resistant to 50 meters
- Free fitness tracker app
Into running? You will appreciate all the essential features for getting the most from your run. Garmin Vivoactive HR will track your run inside on the treadmill and outside. Alerts can be set for pace, interval training and more. Other essential features are pace and distance as well as automatic pause (if you stop for a breather) and automatic laps.
For cyclists, the preloaded cycling app measures essentials like time, speed, distance, and calories burned. Ideal for the daily commuter or leisurely weekend ride in the country.
Pool training? Garmin Vivoactive HR swimming app is very similar to features found in the older dedicated Garmin Swim watch. You can use Vivoactive HR to count strokes, stroke type and much more. Interval Count lets you pause for a breather and then resume your swimming. When you’ve finished your session upload to Garmin Connect for detailed stats and summary from your workout.
Recommended: Forerunner 735XT Multisport GPS Watch
Vivoactive HR Style & Design
All of the sports and activity apps can easily be selected from the touchscreen display of the Vivoactive, The watch is easily operated even with sweaty fingers and also has two large buttons for controls. Garmin has opted for longer battery life over display brightness. It has an impressive 8 days battery life and 13 hours in GPS mode during an activity. You should have no worries about usingGarmin Vivoactive HR for longer activities, like running your next marathon!
Garmin still hasn’t figured out a uniform way of recharging. All Garmin wearables use a form of charging clip which varies in design from watch to watch. Garmin Vivoactive HR is no different. You can either recharge with the clip via USB (comes in the box) by plugging into your desktop PC or use an AC mains adapter (sold separately).
Garmin Vivoactive HR is not the most aesthetically pleasing of watches. Ultimately it’s made from black plastic and is a square shape. Vivoactive HR is comfortable to wear and has an always on, sunlight-readable, color touchscreen display. The screen resolution has improved but is still not as good as the Apple Watch.
If you want a good looking and rugged Garmin watch buy the Fenix 3. That said, it’s the features that you’ll be buying Vivoactive HR for. It has quality hardware, GPS, altimeter, smartphone notifications, 1000’s of downloadable sports apps and widgets from Connect IQ, wrist heart rate and more.
Recommended: Garmin Fenix Chronos
Like many of Garmin’s sports watches, smartphone notifications come as standard. This means you can pair with a compatible Bluetooth smartphone and receive notifications from your phone on your Vivoactive display. Notifications include calls, texts, emails, social media alerts and more. You can also check weather information (handy before an outdoor workout) and control music on your phone. This is really useful if you run or cycle wth your phone, either strapped to your arm or in a pocket. You can stay connected to the world without pausing your activity.
3rd Party Apps and Customization with Connect IQ
Like Apple, Garmin has also been developing its own app store – Connect IQ. Users of more recent watches such as the Vivoactive can customize their device with new watch faces, data widgets, and custom apps such as weight lifting or other workouts. Budding developers can also try their hands at developing apps for Connect IQ.
Garmin Connect Free Fitness App
No smartwatch or activity tracker is complete without an app to accompany it. To really get the best from tracker it’s highly recommended to sync your device regularly so you can keep and eye on your progress and review your activity stats. Garmin Connect is available for free on all smartphone platforms, as well as desktop (PC and Mac). When setup it shows concise and easy-to-understand charts, graphs and you can even see where your workout has taken you on a map (running/cycling). Garmin Vivoactive HR wirelessly uploads at convenient times throughout the day, like when you’re in range of WiFi. Garmin Connect is one of the best free fitness apps available and is extremely detailed, and easy-to-use.
Recommended: Garmin Connect Fitness App
Garmin Vivoactive HR & FitBit Surge Comparison
This Garmin Vivoactive HR review would be complete without the obligatory FitBit comparison. Let’s take a look at some common features which both watches share. Both have the essential activity tracking features (steps, calories, distance, sleep, floors climbed and intensity minutes). They have integrated GPS, wrist-based heart rate, text and call notifications, music controls and a powerful mobile app. However, Vivoactive HR has some distinct advantages over the Fitbit Surge. Vivoactive is waterproof whereas Surge is only splash proof. This is vital for outdoor sports in all weathers, and more importantly, swimming. Vivoactive also has more smartphone notifications. Surge gets ahead only by awareness. They control the majority of the activity tracker market.
Garmin Vivoactive HR Customer Reviews
Read genuine Amazon customer reviews for Garmin’s best 2016 GPS smartwatch to learn more:
Garmin Vivoactive HR GPS Smartwatch Review Summary
Vivoactive HR is not designed for serious athletes. If you are really into sports then you could be better off with a dedicated device for each activity. You’re buying this smartwatch to help keep you active and to use occasionally for moderate sports. You need a watch that provides smartphone notifications as well as 24/7 activity tracking. You can also keep an eye on your heart rate without wearing a chest strap.
Where to Buy Vivoactive HR
You can use the shop links on this page to buy the Garmin Vivoactive HR. Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk have a range of Garmin activity trackers and GPS smartwatches, as well as other brands including FitBit, Mio, Jawbone, and others.