Garmin Vivoactive HR – First Impressions

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When it comes to fitness, Garmin was never the name that jumped up at me as the company to go and look at their product range.

I have owned around 13 different fitness / wearable devices and reviewed most of them too. Click HERE to read some of the previous reviews from Pebble, Samsung, Fitbit, LG, Xiaomi, Huawei, Acer and more.

And then I had some private conversations on Twitter with @paulgarner. Paul and I were chatting about fitness devices and he explained I should take a look at some of the Garmin devices as they were way better than any Apple Watch or Fitbit.

So last weekend, I visited Cotswolds Outdoors. They stock a large range of Garmin watches and fitness devices. Also quite handy was the sales person had excellent product knowledge of the different devices. One of the Garmin watches is called the Tactix Bravo. This watch includes live altitude tracking. This is handy when jumping out of a plane so you can check you altitude on the fly. Apparently the military use this model. It also looked amazing. However, I had decided if I was going to get a watch as opposed to a fitness device, it would have to be the new Fenix 3 HR or Forerunner 735XT.

However, I didn’t want to leap in at £350 – £500 in cost with the Fenix 3 HR or 735XT, so I opted for the new Garmin Vivoactive HR which retails for £209. It comes in 2 strap sizes – medium or X-Large. I needed the X-Large. The X-Large strap is perfect and after wearing the Vivoactive HR for 12 hours (6 hours in the evening, 6 hours sleeping) I am impressed at just how comfortable it is.

So what is special about the Garmin Vivoactive HR? Garmin state the following –

– GPS is integrated
– Its a smart watch with a sunlight-readable colour and touchscreen display – always on display
– Built-in-GPS sport apps, running, cycling, golf, swimming and activity tracking
– Elevate wrist based heart rate gives you heart rate all day and night – no additional strap required
– Receive smart notifications and smart coaching on your Vivo Active HR from Garmin Connect, when paired with your phone
– Syncs with Garmin Connect app to upload activities.
– Rechargeable battery: 8 days (watch/activity tracking mode) or 13 hours (GPS mode)

After some extensive research I also discovered that the Garmin Connect app is one of the best I have seen. It also integrates with MyFitnessPal. The level of detail and data collected is fantastic. I will cover more of this off in the review. Setting up is a breeze. This is done using the touchscreen display. There are also 2 hardware buttons as well. The setup uses Bluetooth Low Energy. After pairing, a firmware update was downloaded and installed. And then it stopped syncing with my LG G5. Grrrr. I thought I was going insane as nothing I was doing would get the device to sync. It turns up Garmin had planned maintenance on their servers for an hour yesterday. All seems ok now.

I had a brief look at the Garmin Store. Here there are several downloadable options from watch faces, apps, widgets and a few other items. I did install a few intelligent and customisable watch faces, but so far have now decided to stick with the traditional digital clock face.

I have turned on notifications and received a few whatsapp messages. These were displayed in full. I need to explore this option in more depth.

So what made me pick this over other brands? It works in the swimming pool. You certainly can’t take an Apple Watch or Samsung Gear S2 in the swimming pool, let alone get live activity and heart rate tracking. The display is highly readable in sunlight. Only needs recharging weekly. If I use the GPS function, this might mean charging every 4 days. If I don’t need the GPS, the battery life is 8 days with tracking and heart rate in operation 24 hours a day for 8 days. It tracks so many different activities too e.g. running, skiing, cycling and more. I had read it was comfortable to wear.

To read more about the Garmin range click HERE.

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6 thoughts on “Garmin Vivoactive HR – First Impressions

  1. You need to look at the DC Rainmaker site. That’s the place to go for fitness gadget reviews – and you can take an Apple Watch swimming!!

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      1. I know what Apple say – but read the Rainmaker review of the Apple watch and you’ll he’s swam and dived with it. I do some Ironman races and I’ve used Garmins for years (currently Fenix 3HR) and a lot of the reason I find it so easy to ignore the Apple watch is because it is no good for swimming.

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  2. It’s noticeably big (was using an FR920 before). I bought it for the 24 HR tracking and RHR. I didn’t like the supplied wrist strap so I’ve changed that. Other than that no issues, seems to track HR well although I don’t use the elevate sensor when biking or running as reviews say it’s not great sometimes. I’ve loads of HR straps but tend to use a Scosche Rhythm wrist thing which is excellent

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