Garmin Vivosmart Review

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Jwolf
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Garmin Vivosmart Review

Postby Jwolf » Wed May 27, 2015 11:21 am

This is a quick review of the Garmin Vivosmart that I have been using for a few weeks now. If you want a more detailed review I would recommend DC Rainmaker's blog: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2014/09/vivo ... acker.html (also some more good pics)

ETA: Price is $189 without the HRM.

Image

I have been thinking of getting a daily activity tracker for a while. Some of the newer Garmin sports watches have daily activity monitoring built in, and I was starting to feel envious. They also have Bluetooth data transfer (to transfer workout data directly to Garmin Connect when you are done with a workout) as well as "smart notifications" on the watch (notifications from your Android or Apple cell phone when paired with Bluetooth). My Garmin 910xt multisport watch is great, but it doesn't have these new fancy features. It also can't normally be worn as a daily watch. I had looked into upgrading to either the 920xt, the Vivoactive watch, or the Fenix 3 which incorporate the daily activity tracking, smart notifications, and data transfer into a multisport watch, but my 910xt still works well-- so instead I decided to look into getting an activity tracking band. A few friends have the Garmin Vivofit (the earlier version of Garmin's activity band), but I saw that the newer one, the Vivosmart, also had smart notifications. So I read some more about that and decided to get it. I also looked into various Fitbits, but decided I liked the idea of having all my data together in Garmin Connect (daily steps tracking as well as the workouts from my other watch).

I am really happy with it. In general as an step tracker it has motivated me to stay more active on days I don't run, as well as keeping active every day at times I am not working out. The step counting seems very accurate. It doesn't registers steps from arm movements or shaking it-- only from actual steps. It also monitors sleep, and you can use it for recording workouts as well. It uses the built-in accelerometer to convert steps to distance, and you can manually set your stride length to make this more accurate. One drawback is that it won't pair with your phone's GPS to make distances more accurate during outdoor workouts. Interestingly it will pair with ANT+ devices like heart rate monitors and speed/cadence sensors (for bike workouts). I don't normally take advantage of these features, as I use my 910xt for actual workouts, but it could be handy for treadmill or other gym workouts with the HRM. But it won't record laps-- so for that the 910xt or some phone apps I have are more functional.

You can also use it to control your music from your phone (but very primitively). And of course, the smart notifications. You will get a little vibration on the band for every notification that is configured as a notification on your phone, and you get a longer vibration when the phone is actually ringing. This is a really fun feature. You can't hear the vibration unless it is touching something hard and solid like a table -- when it's just on your wrist you can only feel it. You can also always turn off these notifications by unpairing the Bluetooth if you don't want to be bothered. This is cool for when I have my phone somewhere in the house or in my bag, or when I'm carrying it in my flipbelt on a run. But one drawback is that it's hard to read the screen in the sun.

On the band you can see daily steps, Calories, notifications, time, and some other screens-- you can configure which ones you can see. Since it pairs with your phone via Bluetooth, you can always see the data there during the day (although sometimes this takes a few minutes to update-- Garmin servers are sometimes finicky). You can also transfer data via the charging/data cable. The Calories data is only Calories burned during the day, but is handy when paired with something like MyFitnessPal which you can set up in Garmin Connect (not sure what other Calorie tracking apps can send data to Garmin Connect).

The battery supposedly lasts 7-10 days, but I must use it a lot and only get 4-5 days. It will last longer if you turn the screen brightness down and don't look at it so much. :) It recharges pretty quickly and I usually do it at night. That means I lose sleep-tracking function for that night, but I find that's the least useful part of it for me anyway.

Bottom line-- I really like it. It has a nice look to it, and I love tracking my daily steps and activity. It has definitely kept me motivated to get in those 10,000 steps every day, which is more challenging on days I don't run. I also really like the notifications. I've never had a daily activity tracker so I can't really compare to things like FitBit or others. It is kind of funny when I go for a run and end up wearing three things on my wrists-- this band, my regular Garmin, and my HRM-- eventually I want to get one watch that has everything in one unit with all the functionality I need.

Anything I missed or if you have any other questions, let me know. :)
Last edited by Jwolf on Wed May 27, 2015 11:36 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Garmin Vivosmart Review

Postby HCcD » Wed May 27, 2015 11:27 am

Garmin's all-purpose product would be the new Garmin Active watch ... About $329 and $369 w/HR, if I recall ??

One of my running buddies just bought one to replace his forerunner and loves the idea that he only needs this one gadget to cover everything ...

Image
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Re: Garmin Vivosmart Review

Postby Jwolf » Wed May 27, 2015 11:31 am

HCcD wrote:Garmin's all-purpose product would be the new Garmin Active watch ... About $329 and $369 w/HR, if I recall ??

One of my running buddies just bought one to replace his forerunner and loves the idea that he only needs this one gadget to cover everything ...

Image



Yes, I mentioned that above too and I was thinking about it. There are some issues with it, other than the price, that turned me off, though.

1) I don't like the look of it at all and wouldn't like wearing it as a daily watch.
2) For swimming it lacks some of the advanced features of the other multisport watches, so I wouldn't want to get it to replace my 910xt. If I'm going ot replace the 910xt, I want the "drill mode" that the newer watches have.
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Re: Garmin Vivosmart Review

Postby HCcD » Wed May 27, 2015 11:36 am

Jwolf wrote:
HCcD wrote:Garmin's all-purpose product would be the new Garmin Active watch ... About $329 and $369 w/HR, if I recall ??

One of my running buddies just bought one to replace his forerunner and loves the idea that he only needs this one gadget to cover everything ...

Image



Yes, I mentioned that above too and I was thinking about it. There are some issues with it, other than the price, that turned me off, though.

1) I don't like the look of it at all and wouldn't like wearing it as a daily watch.
2) For swimming it lacks some of the advanced features of the other multisport watches, so I wouldn't want to get it to replace my 910xt. If I'm going ot replace the 910xt, I want the "drill mode" that the newer watches have.


I was looking at the Apple Smart Watch .. they have several models and styles and different configurations and price point from around $459 up to $700 range, if I recall ??

While talking to the Garmin rep at the ORW Expo, he basiscally suggested your observations, Jen ... As an All Purpose Watch, not a bad thing .. but, if you wanted a more specific gadget for swimming, running, biking, multi-sports, etc, then the Garmin Edge and/or Garmin Forerunner models may be better suited ......
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Re: Garmin Vivosmart Review

Postby Jwolf » Wed May 27, 2015 11:41 am

HCcD wrote:While talking to the Garmin rep at the ORW Expo, he basiscally suggested your observations, Jen ... As an All Purpose Watch, not a bad thing .. but, if you wanted a more specific gadget for swimming, running, biking, multi-sports, etc, then the Garmin Edge and/or Garmin Forerunner models may be better suited ......


I decided for me that I'd rather wait until one of the higher end watches does everything I want, rather than settle for the Vivoactive which wasn't quite what I wanted (and is kind of ugly) Now that Garmin is going to incorporate the wrist-based HRM I'm glad I waited. In the meantime, I wanted something I could wear every day.

On the other hand, the Apple Watch is REALLY nice looking, but lacks much of the functionality for workouts that the advanced Garmins have. No swimming metrics, uses only the phone apps for GPS which I know are inferior. So it also wouldn't replace my existing Garmin. Yet. :)
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Re: Garmin Vivosmart Review

Postby HCcD » Wed May 27, 2015 11:46 am

Jwolf wrote:
HCcD wrote:While talking to the Garmin rep at the ORW Expo, he basiscally suggested your observations, Jen ... As an All Purpose Watch, not a bad thing .. but, if you wanted a more specific gadget for swimming, running, biking, multi-sports, etc, then the Garmin Edge and/or Garmin Forerunner models may be better suited ......


I decided for me that I'd rather wait until one of the higher end watches does everything I want, rather than settle for the Vivoactive which wasn't quite what I wanted (and is kind of ugly) Now that Garmin is going to incorporate the wrist-based HRM I'm glad I waited. In the meantime, I wanted something I could wear every day.

On the other hand, the Apple Watch is REALLY nice looking, but lacks much of the functionality for workouts that the advanced Garmins have. No swimming metrics, uses only the phone apps for GPS which I know are inferior. So it also wouldn't replace my existing Garmin. Yet. :)


In that case, buy one of those Endless Pools for swimming, a Computrainer for Cycling and a club quality treadmill for running, and you won't need to wear any watches, etc for your training metrics and just be able to stay at home for all your triathlon training ... Ha !! :) :P :shifty:
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Re: Garmin Vivosmart Review

Postby Jwolf » Wed May 27, 2015 11:50 am

HCcD wrote:
Jwolf wrote:
HCcD wrote:While talking to the Garmin rep at the ORW Expo, he basiscally suggested your observations, Jen ... As an All Purpose Watch, not a bad thing .. but, if you wanted a more specific gadget for swimming, running, biking, multi-sports, etc, then the Garmin Edge and/or Garmin Forerunner models may be better suited ......


I decided for me that I'd rather wait until one of the higher end watches does everything I want, rather than settle for the Vivoactive which wasn't quite what I wanted (and is kind of ugly) Now that Garmin is going to incorporate the wrist-based HRM I'm glad I waited. In the meantime, I wanted something I could wear every day.

On the other hand, the Apple Watch is REALLY nice looking, but lacks much of the functionality for workouts that the advanced Garmins have. No swimming metrics, uses only the phone apps for GPS which I know are inferior. So it also wouldn't replace my existing Garmin. Yet. :)


In that case, buy one of those Endless Pools for swimming, a Computrainer for Cycling and a club quality treadmill for running, and you won't need to wear any watches, etc for your training metrics and just be able to stay at home for all your triathlon training ... Ha !! :) :P :shifty:


You've just described my dream home gym. :) Of course, I'd still want to track everything, so I'd want the fancy top-of-the-line Garmin, too. ;)
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Re: Garmin Vivosmart Review

Postby Engmomma » Wed May 27, 2015 12:10 pm

Thanks for the review. I have been thinking of getting the one with the HRM because I was hoping it would give me a sense of what I am getting out of my bootcamp and PT sessions. I was hoping that paired with the HRM I could gauge at least if I had a hard workout or not so hard.

I know I am an all day sitter when I am work which is slowly killing me. Also thinking it would help get me outta my chair.

I am somewhat afraid it will be a short term novelty item but for $250 I have spent more money on stupider things. :D

I was also thinking of the big garmin watch cause it has the golf function but it is kinda big for me. I don't wear a watch so I figure it will be annoying.

I may have to pull the trigger and try one.
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Re: Garmin Vivosmart Review

Postby trixiee » Wed May 27, 2015 12:20 pm

Jwolf wrote:
HCcD wrote:Garmin's all-purpose product would be the new Garmin Active watch ... About $329 and $369 w/HR, if I recall ??

One of my running buddies just bought one to replace his forerunner and loves the idea that he only needs this one gadget to cover everything ...

Image



Yes, I mentioned that above too and I was thinking about it. There are some issues with it, other than the price, that turned me off, though.

1) I don't like the look of it at all and wouldn't like wearing it as a daily watch.
2) For swimming it lacks some of the advanced features of the other multisport watches, so I wouldn't want to get it to replace my 910xt. If I'm going ot replace the 910xt, I want the "drill mode" that the newer watches have.


Yes, agree. It's way too big for my wrist.

I may have to try the Vivosmart... I no longer have a running watch at all.
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Garmin Vivosmart Review

Postby Jwolf » Wed May 27, 2015 12:43 pm

Engmomma wrote:Thanks for the review. I have been thinking of getting the one with the HRM because I was hoping it would give me a sense of what I am getting out of my bootcamp and PT sessions. I was hoping that paired with the HRM I could gauge at least if I had a hard workout or not so hard.

I know I am an all day sitter when I am work which is slowly killing me. Also thinking it would help get me outta my chair.

I am somewhat afraid it will be a short term novelty item but for $250 I have spent more money on stupider things. :D

I was also thinking of the big garmin watch cause it has the golf function but it is kinda big for me. I don't wear a watch so I figure it will be annoying.

I may have to pull the trigger and try one.


If you already have a Garmin HRM (or any ANT+ one) you can pair it with this.

Or if you don't already have a HRM, as an alternative you may want to look at the Mio Alpha activity band that has the HRM built in. If that had been around when I bought my Mio Link HRM I would have gotten that instead. Either way I love having the optical HRM on my wrist.
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Re: Garmin Vivosmart Review

Postby Engmomma » Wed May 27, 2015 1:54 pm

I have seen reviews that say the optical isn't as accurate when you work out. I tend to have a high heart rate which worries me about the optical one.

The guy at Best Buy was useless. I can read the same reviews online that you just pulled up. :roll:

Good to get some other feedback.
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Re: Garmin Vivosmart Review

Postby HCcD » Wed May 27, 2015 2:21 pm

Not sure if this has been mentioned or not, but when you are wearing your HR Monitor and / or once you have started and continues to sustain an activity, it will start tracking it as a separate activity and reported as such when downloading to Garmin Connect ...
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Re: Garmin Vivosmart Review

Postby Jwolf » Wed May 27, 2015 2:42 pm

Engmomma wrote:I have seen reviews that say the optical isn't as accurate when you work out. I tend to have a high heart rate which worries me about the optical one.

The guy at Best Buy was useless. I can read the same reviews online that you just pulled up. :roll:

Good to get some other feedback.



I love mine and it tracks heart rate just fine as long as you find a good place on your wrist and make sure you seal out any outside light. There is an older technology that doesn't work as well when your heart rate goes up, but the technology that Mio uses is superior. (not that the apple watch uses BOTH sensors-- the older one when you are just walking around and the newer Mio-type one when you are working out).

Occasionally it will lose my HR if it isn't adjusted properly on my wrist, but overall it's WAY more reliable than the chest strap.

ETA: It's the Mio Fuse which has the daily activity tracking functionality-- the Mio Alpha I THINK is more of a run/workout watch but might also work for you. DC Rainmaker has reviewed both. http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2014/12/fuse ... eview.html

Mine is the Mio Link which is just the HRM.
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Re: Garmin Vivosmart Review

Postby DonnaRigs » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:26 pm

I love mine. I love that is it discreet and replaced my watch :)
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