Garmin Vivosmart HR Review
Activity Tracking Features10.0 /10
Workout Tracking10.0 /10
Smartwatch Features9.0 /10
Product Design8.0 /10
Ease of Use8.0 /10
- Built-in Wrist Heart Rate Monitor
- 24/7 Wearable
- Excellent fitness activity tracking features
- Simple & Easy To Use Display
- Smartphone Notifications
- Competition from Fitbit Charge
- Chunky design
Welcome to an independent review of the new Garmin Vivosmart HR (available to buy here) with wrist heart rate monitor. In this review, you’ll discover the facts about the best fitness tracker from one of the world leaders in GPS technology.
There is now an updated version of the Vivosmart HR which includes GPS for running: Garmin Vivosmart HR+ GPS Activity Tracker Review
Garmin have over 25 years experience in developing GPS technology and are now very serious about gaining market share in the fitness tracker market. They have already launched earlier versions of fitness trackers with the Vivofit 1 & 2, Vivoactive GPS smartwatch, and the first Vivosmart back in 2014 (buy cheaply here.
This Vivosmart HR review is independent of the Garmin company, we simply enjoy using Garmin products and writing about them for the benefit of others. We also make a small commission on any purchases made from Amazon (which in no way effects your purchase price).
Garmin Vivosmart HR Review – Best Fitness Tracker with Integrated Wrist Heart Rate Monitor
Garmin Vivosmart HR is the first fitness tracker with Garmin’s own optical heart rate monitor built-in. Garmin Elevate heart rate technology is also used in some Forerunner running watches. Vivosmart HR includes all the key features seen in its previous versions with updates. It includes step tracking, calories, distance, sleep monitoring, smartphone notifications, move bar and auto goals.
Vivosmart HR is the first activity tracker from Garmin with Elevate wrist heart rate technology that monitors your heart rate 24/7, offering more feedback on your daily activity, calories burned, workouts and sleep.
Garmin Vivosmart HR Review Key Features:
- Comfortable sleek band that can be worn 24/7
- Swim-proof / shower-proof / rain-proof
- Always on sunlight readable display
- Displays steps, distance, calories, heart rate, floors climbed (new) and activity intensity (new)
- Smartphone notifications including text, calls, email, calendar and social alerts
- Music controls when paried with Bluetooth smartphone
- Vibrating move bar alerts
- Use with new Garmin Connect fitness app
These features are all standard across a range of previous Garmin fitness trackers, but Garmin has now stepped up a gear to compete with the likes of the Fitbit Charge HR and the new Polar A360. The Vivosmart HR has more than the standard smart notifications and is a marriage between an activity tracker and your smartphone. Any notification from your mobile or tablet will be displayed on its screen including calls, text and social media alerts.
Official Garmin Vivosmart HR Activity Tracker Feature Video:
Garmin Vivosmart HR Design Review
The design of the Garmin Vivosmart HR isn’t outstanding but then it’s fitness tracker not a piece of jewelry. It has a 1 x 0.42-inch, 160×68 pixel touchscreen which sits at the top of the wrist with a single button control. Garmin has again improved the strap which is now more like a regular watch strap buckle with rectangular holes for the pin.
The Vivosmart HR band is made from silicone and is extremely flexible. Garmin offers 3 colors (Black, Imperial Purple, Midnight Blue) but unlike the Vivofit the bands themselves can’t be changed so choose your color wisely before buying. Vivosmart HR band has a watch type buckle, so you can easily tighten or loosen the band. If you’re using the optical heart rate you’ll want it fairly snug against your skin for a better reading.
The new Activity Intensity feature allows you to monitor your progress against aerobic activity goals.
Large Easy to Read Display
Garmin Vivosmart HR display is large and is easy to read even in direct sunlight. The blue backlight is a nice touch and can be configured in the redesigned Garmin Connect app to stay on permanently, only during activity or only when tapped.
The screen could be slightly brighter but that could be said about a range of other Garmin devices. The touchscreen display is easy to control with taps or swipes through the data and menu screens. Like all these gadgets it takes a while to know your way around but once you do it’s simple enough to navigate.
Thanks to the Vivosmart HR’s always on high-resolution display, you can review your progress against your fitness, and stay connected with a full suite of smart notifications while you’re on the go.
Garmin Vivoactive HR Review – Monitors Heart Rate without Using a Chest Strap
Chest strap heart rate monitors have been around for an age using tried and tested technology. Only recently are we seeing the development of optical sensors, capable of reading heart rate. These LED light sensors work by bouncing light through the skin enabling an electro-optical cell within the device to detect the pulsing volume of blood flow.
Garmin has previously used MIO heart rate technology in the Forerunner 225 but has now developed its own ‘Garmin Elevate’ used in the Vivoactive HR. Using heart rate the activity tracker provides calories burned and intelligently computes the intensity of your fitness activities. You can also pair the Vivosmart HR with other Bluetooth Garmin devices such as a Forerunner and use it as a heart rate monitor.
Garmin Vivosmart HR vs Fitbit Charge Activity Tracker
Common features include basic activity tracking metrics (steps, calories, distance, sleep) including floors climbed and activity intensity. They both also have wrist-based optical heart rate which you can use to monitor heart rate around the clock. Garmin Connect and the Fitbit Apps are robust and work across both Apple iPhone OS and Android, however the Fitbit app is also available on Windows. Fitbit Charge HR does still have some advantages over its new rival – form factor. Charge is thinner (10.5mm vs. 12.2mm) and lighter in comparison (26g vs 30g).
What’s in the Box
Garmin Vivosmart HR is available as large or small, use this handy measuring tool to work out which one is best for your wrists. It comes with the usual documentation quick start guide and charging cable. The charging cable isn’t universal and is again different to any other previous charging cables. It’s slightly fiddly to use as the Vivosmart snaps into it. Personally, we prefer the magnetic versions that come with Forerunner sports watches as the device easily snaps into place.
Wirelessly Sync with Garmin Connect To Review Your Data
Setting up the device is fairly painless through the Garmin Connect mobile application. One would assume that as you’re buying a fairly sophisticated piece of wearable tech you’ll also have a modern smartphone to accompany it. Simply visit the applicable app store (iPhone or Google Play) to download and create your free account. Once installed and an account set up follow on the onscreen instructions to pair via Bluetooth. The Vivosmart HR should sync automatically once paired but you can also manually sync by tapping the sync icon on the screen.
Wirelessly sync your Vivosmart HR activity tracker to the recently redesigned Garmin Connect mobile app
NEW! Garmin Connect 3.0
Like all modern wearables the app plays a big part of reviewing your data and the Vivosmart HR is no different. Garmin Connect 3.0 has recently undergone a much-needed refresh. Previous versions have been buggy and Garmin still suffer from outages but with this said the latest redesign is a big improvement. The app now has a modern and colorful design, with a new graphical interface that can be tailored based on individual interests.
The new interface and customization options make it easy for users to focus on their personal wellness goals and milestones, no matter what Garmin device they’re using or where they are on their journey to a healthier and more active lifestyle. With the revamped Garmin Connect Mobile, results have never looked better.
Garmin Vivosmart HR Pros:
- 24/7 wearable: Water-resistant to ATM5 (e.g. swim-proof/shower-proof/rain-proof).
- Track steps / calories / distance / sleep: Tracks your daily activity.
- Auto goal and Move bar Adjusts automatically to your daily activity level and alerts you when it’s time to move.
- Auto sync: Automatically syncs with your mobile device throughout the day.
- Smart notifications: Provides call, text, meeting, email and other notifications with vibration alerts.
- Smart capabilities: Any notification from your phone or tablet will come over; calls, text, social, etc. Plus control music directly from your wrist.
Garmin Vivosmart HR Review Summary
The latest activity tracker from Garmin is a serious contender for the best fitness tracker of 2015. Garmin has packed advanced features into this fitness band including smartphone notifications, optical heart rate monitoring and the new floors climbed and workout intensity.
The product design isn’t as sleek compared with the Fitbit Charge HR however Fitbit should be taking notice of this new rival. The redesign of the Garmin Connect app has shown that they are serious about increasing market share in the activity tracker market.
Vivosmart HR is a great purchase for fitness enthusiasts and the health conscious. If you’re serious about your fitness and tracking your gym workouts then this device is ideal. The new workout intensity features and wrist-based heart rate will give you detailed data on how hard you’ve worked in your sessions.
Garmin Vivosmart HR Customer Reviews
Read genuine Amazon customer reviews for Garmin’s best selling 2016 activity tracker: