The new smartwatch from Garmin perfectly fuses tracking sporting activities with the same functions of your smart phone.
Garmin was originally founded in 1983 to produce GPS devices of various sizes and capabilities. Since then, it’s grown to include handheld and laptop devices, as well as fitness watches, featuring its innovative GPS technologies.
Its first line of fitness watches was known as the Forerunner, and has borne 20 distinct styles. Now, comes Garmin’s first smartwatch, the Garmin Vivoactive. It has all the features you expect with a sports watch, combined with the same smart technology you get from your smart phone.
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Everything you need to know
Features of the Garmin Vivoactive: Stats and tracking
For the athlete (or the sportily inclined), the Garmin Vivoactive has an array of appealing features useful for just about any sport:
Features of the Garmin Vivoactive: Navigation
Features of the Garmin Vivoactive: Innovation and Design
There are also these features of the watch design to take into account:
- Battery life. While Garmin claims that the battery will last up to three weeks, or ten hours of GPS use, the average wearer reports that the watch needs to be charged weekly.
- Waterproof. The Vivoactive is waterproof to 5ATM or 50 metres deep, so swimming and taking a shower with it on will not be a problem.
- Readability. The lighting of the watch has been designed to make it easy to read – even in direct sunlight.
- Colours. The watch by itself comes in black or white, but you can switch out the bands with five other distinct colours.
- Price. You can purchase the watch directly from Garmin for $339.
The Garmin Vivoactive is the perfect fusion of sports watch and smartwatch. The features are useful and accurate, while the at-the-wrist notifications mean you’ll still remain socially active while on-the-go.
If you’re constantly on the go, transitioning from formal attire to gym clothes on the regular, the Garmin Vivoactive might just be for you. Its unassuming touchscreen and rubber wristband are smooth enough that they don’t catch your cuffs or sleeves when changing clothes, but sleek and stylish enough that it will make a nice addition to any outfit. It’s a smart fitness tracker that’s made to be worn throughout the day and into the night like a traditional watch.
So, it’s a good thing the Vivoactive has an ‘always-on’ display, making it easy to glance at your watch whenever you want to check the time, your steps or distance travelled. Its transflective screen becomes illuminated by sun and artificial light, though it’s not always easy to read, it does wonders for the battery by only activating the backlight at night. T
he Vivoactive is Garmin’s answer to fitness trackers like the Jawbone Up3 and Fitbit Surge, and while it looks quite bland at first glance, its design trumps both of the aforementioned devices. It’s not just how the Vivoactive looks (although that is quite important for some), it’s about what the Vivoactive can do– the answer is a lot.
Reinforcing the idea of an ‘all-day’ wearable is the Vivoactive’s 5 ATM water-resistant rating. Though many devices claim to be 5 ATM ‘water resistant’, none really specify that it’s alright to submerge the device. With Garmin Vivoactive, however, you totally can. If you pop to the pool for a few laps after work, the Vivoactive will even track your swimming routine.
Through the swimming app (accessible from the home screen) you can change pool length and track a few different metrics, like total time and distance.
ATM is short for atmosphere. Most smart watches and fitness trackers have an ATM rating that lets you know how deep the device can be submerged. 1 ATM represents around 10 metres below the surface of the ocean.
|Water Resistant Rating||Good For||Bad For|
|3 ATM (30 m)|
|5 ATM (50 m)|
|10 ATM (100 m)||N/A.|
Another feature that isn’t common amongst other trackers of the same price tier is cycling tracking. Also accessible from the homescreen, the cycling app has two different modes: indoor and outdoor. When switched to indoor cycling, the GPS feature is switched off and speed and distance is measured using the ANT+ sensors (this does wonders for battery life).
You can even pair the Vivoactive with a cycling sensor through the ‘Sensors’ menu if you want speed and cadence displayed on the device. Everything else you’d expect to find in a fitness tracker is also there, including running and walking tracking, and they all work exceptionally (particularly the running tracker), but it’s the Smartwatch features we’d like to touch on next.
In certain respects, the Garmin Vivoactive surpasses even its more expensive siblings, like the Fenix3. Garmin have long experimented with smartwatch features like notifications and alerts, but they’ve really pushed the bar with the Vivoactive. It has all the staples of a smartwatch, like accepting/rejecting calls, glancing at social media notifications and viewing text messages, but it’s the widgets and find my phone feature that stand out.
Find my phone can be launched quickly from the home screen. With one tap, your smartphone will begin to ring wherever it may be (this works even if the phone is on silent–very helpful), saving you the time you’d otherwise spend flipping cushion and turning pockets inside out. There are a few minor bugs and issues with some of the apps, namely the music controls. For example, it’s only compatible with the music app on iPhone (no third-party apps, like Spotify) and is generally buggy when operating (random apps sometimes open up etc.)
Ease of use
At first glance, the Garmin Vivoactive’s display might be a bit much to take in, but that’s because there really so much you can do with this device. With the amount of options available on the Vivoactive, it’s hard to get lost and navigation is smooth and intuitive.
Most cosmetic and widget tweaks will be done through Garmin’s new app, Connect IQ. It’s essentially the App Store for you Garmin and through it you’ll be able to swap watch faces, download and install widgets and apps and change data fields for workout routines.
It’s user friendly and definitely the optimum way to organise your fancy new fitness tracker, but it is still in its early stages, so there’s not a whole lot available there.
The final word
The Garmin Vivoactive is by far one of the most impressive fitness trackers on the market. Garmin have succeeded where so many others have failed before them and have created a smartwatch/fitness tracker hybrid that you actually want to wear.
It’s sleek design doesn't sacrifice functionality, and just about the only thing missing is the heart rate monitor (a HR band comes bundled with the premium version of the Vivoactive).