Passionate running streaks through trails, back-breaking workout sessions at the gym or simply splashing through the pool to grind towards that extra lap, all have one thing in common – adrenaline rush. More often than not, adrenaline junkies aim to test and push their mental and physical endurance to the limits.
Fitness freaks and professional athletes tend to closely monitor their performance, and tie it up with indicators like lap timings and heart rates. Navigation aids are considered and required by many, an essential feature of outdoor sports and fitness activities these days.
What better way to measure personal performance than a computing engine taking care of heart rates, timing and navigation aids while sitting neatly and elegantly at the top of your wrist? Look no further, Garmin’s Vivoactive HR goes the extra mile in ensuring you get all the statistics you need.
- More than 14 sports profiles
- Outdoor mapping via GPS navigation
- Smartphone notifications
- Remarkable battery life (13 hours of GPS tracking)
- Underwater heart rate monitoring not possible due to optical HR sensor
- Average display
- Bluetooth connection buggy at times
GARMIN VIVOACTIVE HR
Garmin’s Vivoactive HR is a simple, but well-concerted effort to bring power to fitness and sports enthusiasts in its mid-range priced wearable category. Ever since its launch in 2016, it has taken a seat amongst the best sellers in sports watch category and continues to make its mark with encouraging reviews.
Vivoactive HR has managed to the design as simple as its previous edition. Though it’s a tad bland and large, it still is an improvement over its predecessor. It may appear boring to some, but others may love it for its simplicity merely to avoid the bling factor prevalent in many sports wearables in the market today. It really depends on personal preferences to evaluate the ergonomics of the watch, but overall, it seems passable.
At approximately 47g, an elegant plastic body, shock and water resistant at 50m, Vivoactive HR makes for a fairly decent exterior.
The colored display is pretty average at 205 x 148 pixels, but, as per many users, is still pretty readable. It seems the ordinary display is a trade-off in favor of improved battery time, which is logical, given user preference of increased battery life and activity logs, over lively displays. The touch screen gets the job done, and users seem satisfied with its responsiveness.
One of the most brilliant and worth noticing factors is the outstanding battery performance of Vivoactive HR. At almost 8 days/13 hours with GPS, it easily surpasses its main competitor, the Fitbit Surge, which clocks at 5 days/10 hours with GPS.
Features & Performance (8/10)
- Heart Rate Monitoring
- Smart Notifications
- Navigation (GPS & GLONASS)
- Music Control
Vivoactive HR is a powerhouse in terms of features and functionality. From sports to fitness tracking to personalized coaching regimes, the Vivoactive HR is a bundle of surprises. The features are not just limited to sport and fitness undertakings but extend into the smartphone domain. Notifications, music control and data syncing all add to its versatility.
From casual running to fitness undertakings, the Garmin Vivoactive provides a complete sports suite for a whole range of sporting activities. Its one-fits-all approach implies its usage is for more than 14 sports profiles like biking, swimming, skiing, golfing and much more. There is a whole range of apps that can be utilized using the Connect IQ to download hundreds of fitness apps.
Its HR sensor is housed below the dial and monitors heart rates using an optical sensor. The only drawback of this sensor is that being optical in nature, it won’t measure heart rates under water. Other than that, the Vivoactive HR immaculately logs steps, heart rates, including rest rates, calorie counts, distance and pace; the standard bells and whistles for any runner, swimmer or sports enthusiast in general. Provision of built-in accelerometer makes it equally good for indoor training. Summary for workouts sessions or for the entire day is neatly displayed.
It also boasts GLONASS alongside GPS to provide better fidelity tracking signals, which gives it a lead over both Fitbit and Polar M600. Other standard features like barometric altimeter and compass function quite flawlessly.
The Garmin Connect app also offers a fair experience in terms of activity tracking. Activity stats are auto-synced and available for online sharing and interaction. But the defining new feature of this app is the ‘Insights from Garmin Connect’ which acts a personal coach, assisting and providing motivation. This is achieved through smart computations, and by defining and setting personal goals to beat own records.
While the Vivoactive HR and Fitbit Surge are on the same scale in terms of these functionalities, the Insights app gives the Vivoactive HR an edge over its competitor in terms of creativity and user motivation.
Phone pairing provides the user with a multitude of options like music control on phone, phone locator and real-time tracking of workouts for friends and family. It also displays a whole range of smart notifications from call alerts, SMS and social media updates to weather widgets. The Bluetooth connection has been reported to be a bit erratic at times, though.
Garmin’s Auto Lap and Auto Pause features lift the burden of record keeping off the user and lets the watch keep tabs on strict training regimes.
Another attractive feature offered by Garmin is the ‘intensity minutes’ log which lets you define your moderate or vigorous workout sessions after which the watch does the time keeping every time your physical activity crosses over into these domains.
The Vivoactive HR also offers activity tracking ‘move bar’ feature that provides reminders of physical inactivity in accordance with preset times. This is a great motivating cum fitness regime for sedentary lifestyles we have usually become accustomed to. It works by filling up the move bar during periods of inactivity and sounds alerts once the slack time is up.
Resting heart rates can also be viewed for up to 4 weeks which is a good way of monitoring one’s health.
The Bottom Line
All in all, Vivoactive HR takes the lead over, both, Fitbit Surge and the Polar M600. Although Surge competes head to head with Vivoactive HR in terms of features, performance and price, it is the latter that shines in terms of long battery life, a multitude of sports tracking profiles, smart options and better navigation.
The Garmin Vivoactive HR, on its part could do better by removing slight quirks pertaining to Bluetooth connections and adding more features specific to requirements of professional athletes. Other than that, it is bang for the buck and perfect for casual users, fitness freaks and athletes in the making alike!