Garmin Vivosmart HR Activity Tracker
Last month my wife got me my first wearable as a birthday present – the new Garmin Vivosmart HR. It’s part fitness tracker, part smartwatch. She knows I love gadgets, and she knows I hate exercising, so this was a calculated message. “Here, happy birthday, now go to the gym you lazy bum.” It was cruel, but genius. Obviously I put it on.
The device is high quality. It’s sleek and looks good, but a bit bigger than I would like, and fits more snugly than I would prefer. The screen backlights well, the swipe action is great, and it’s easy to navigate. The vibrate function is also solid – you’ll know when your wrist wants your attention. Pairing it with the Garmin app is really simple too.
The Garmin app itself is a letdown. It’s pretty enough, but can be a little iffy to navigate through, and it doesn’t work as intuitively as we demand our apps do these days. Between the app and the band, it tracks accurately, though. Heart rate, steps, stairs, calories, your sleep. That’s all you want from a fitness tracker, right?
Well, here’s the only catch – Garmin assume you love to run. That’s what it’s geared towards – It has an in-built run quick-start mode, it automatically times laps, you name it. If I were part migrating wildebeest, this app would be the best ever. But I’m not. I hate running.
The first time I took my Vivosmart HR to the gym, I put in a solid 30 minutes on the bike, worked my butt off, pouring sweat… you get the picture. The band didn’t even realise I’d exercised. I cried for a bit first, and then had to manually add, via the app, the fact that I had actually exercised.
I told it I had used a bike, and I told it for how long, but that’s all it let me put in. It then works out how far I went, how many calories I burned, and so on. None of that was accurate though. I was just on the bike! I know how far I went and how much energy I used! The bike just told me! The app won’t let you input those things manually though, which is downright stupid.
A big plus for the band is its built-in “move” bar. Sitting down for extended periods is really bad (I even wrote a column about it in Stuff a few issues back). The Vivosmart HR knows this, and so for every hour you sit on your butt, it will remind you to get up and move around for a few minutes. Clearing the move bar will become your all-consuming goal, but it’s brilliant. Even the people around me now get involved.
The smart-watcheyness of Vivosmart HR is also great. It lets me read WhatsApp messages, see emails, see who’s calling, and lets me skip, pause and play through my music library.
The Vivosmart HR is great. I’m embarrassed to admit how easily I fell into having my active life gamified. And I keep wanting to run, skip and play, and do them better (except, perhaps, for the running part) and that’s a win for any fitness band.