Garmin Vivosmart evaluate: the place health band meets smartwatch

Garmin Vivosmart review: where fitness band meets smartwatch

There are health trackers and there are smartwatches, however there’s solely a small variety of units that try and be each. The Garmin Vivosmart is one such exception. It is a $one hundred seventy band that does every part you’d anticipate a health gadget to do: monitor your steps, energy burned, distance traveled and sleep. In a singular twist, although, it additionally has an OLED display displaying issues like emails, texts, Twitter and Fb notifications and incoming calls. In essence, it is a full-fledged health tracker that additionally acts like a full-fledged smartwatch. The query is, can it do each jobs properly?

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Garmin Vivosmart evaluation

seventy two



  • One of many few health bands that additionally acts as a smartwatch
  • Lengthy battery life
  • Adjusts your every day step objective based mostly on current exercise
  • The "transfer bar" is an efficient reminder to rise up and stroll round


  • Cannot delete or archive messages from the band; notifications aren’t actionable
  • Garmin Join health app nonetheless does not supply a lot in the best way of motivation
  • Could be uncomfortable to put on after lengthy durations of use
  • Scratches simply
  • Restricted smartphone compatibility


Garmin deserves reward for being one of many first corporations to develop a health band that does double-obligation as a smartwatch. That stated, the gadget suffers from some uncomfortable ergonomics and an app that gives little in the best way of motivation. In the meantime, the smartwatch-like notifications usually are not compelling sufficient to justify the Vivosmart’s comparatively excessive worth.


Garmin Vivosmart review: where fitness band meets smartwatch

The Vivosmart could be a mash-up between a health band and a smartwatch, however it undoubtedly does not appear to be one. No, this appears like a run-of-the-mill health tracker — only a plain rubber bracelet with a hidden show that solely lights up if you double-faucet it. The black mannequin I attempted is not what I might name trendy, nevertheless it’s plain sufficient that it blends in with most outfits. (There are 4 different shade decisions apart from black.) The truth is, the gadget is so minimalist that there is not even a charging port; only a set of charging pins on the band’s underbelly, which works with a proprietary cradle. The band does have some conspicuous measurement-holes, together with a metallic stamp bearing the Garmin emblem. I am going to admit I discover these particulars a bit of ugly, however more often than not they’re hidden on the underside of your wrist. All informed, the hardware does not name consideration to itself, and that is a very good factor.

It is also snug — to some extent. Because of the rounded edges and mushy end, I might put on it via lengthy days with out getting irritated. Even then, I might typically really feel it urgent into my wrist whereas I slept, which made me not need to use it for sleep monitoring anymore. Additionally, as I continued to put on the gadget, I greater than as soon as created a dent within the plastic — nonetheless unsure how I did that. On the brilliant aspect, exactly due to these measurement-holes I’ve the power to customise the match. It is also water resistant in as much as 50 meters of strain — a score generally known as “5 ATM.” In lay phrases, meaning it is appropriate not only for showering, but in addition for swimming and snorkeling. The one areas the place you may need to watch out are issues like browsing or another type of water sport the place you run the danger of wiping out. Individually, I used to be not solely capable of bathe with the band on, however I additionally continued to get notifications whereas submerged in a scorching tub — a reassuring signal that the system had sustained no injury.

Lastly, a word on battery life. The gadget lasts for as much as seven days of runtime, in response to Garmin’s web site. I by no means tried to push it fairly that far, however I can attest to some very strong energy administration. After two and a half days of use, for instance, I used to be nonetheless displaying a half-full battery icon, and that was after a gentle stream of notifications every day adopted by sleep monitoring at night time.

Getting began

Garmin Vivosmart review: where fitness band meets smartwatch

The Vivosmart and I did not get off to a clean begin, however that is as a result of I am not excellent at studying, apparently. As of this writing, the gadget is suitable with solely a handful of Android and iOS units, together with the HTC One M7 and M8; Samsung Galaxy Notice II and III; Samsung GS3, GS4, GS5 and GS4 Lively; Sony Xperia Z2; and the LG Flex, randomly sufficient. In the meantime, it’s going to work with each iPhone going again to the 4s, together with the fifth-gen iPod contact and each iPad going again to the iPad three. Technically, all of that is written in high-quality print on the underside of the field, and on Garmin’s web site, although I failed to note that, and I am guessing some buyers will too.

So, I used to be in for a impolite awakening when I discovered that the Vivosmart wouldn’t sync with the unique Moto X, a tool I had bought solely 10 months earlier. What’s worse, as a result of the Garmin Join app was designed for use with many different Garmin units (sports activities watches, for instance), I used to be nonetheless capable of finding the app within the Google Play retailer and sign up with my present Garmin account. It wasn’t till late within the setup course of, once I tried to sync with the telephone, that I knew I had an issue.

Anyway, let’s assume you heed my warning and begin off with a suitable gadget. As soon as I switched to an previous Galaxy S3, I had no drawback pairing the 2 units and syncing my stats from the Vivosmart to the handset. It is easy to place the band into pairing mode, and you will obtain prompts in your telephone when it is time to arrange notifications (simply say sure, you need to make the Vivosmart a trusted system). Lastly, should you’re new to Garmin, creating a brand new account is a cinch; simply sort in a password and enter a number of key particulars, like your peak and weight, and then you definitely’re good to go.

In use

Garmin Vivosmart review: where fitness band meets smartwatch

As talked about, the band has a hidden OLED show, which solely lights up if you double-faucet it. Even after testing the gadget for a number of weeks, there are nonetheless occasions once I do not efficiently interact the show on my first attempt. In any case, when you activate it, simply begin swiping left to cycle via your numerous stats, together with steps taken, distance traveled and energy burned. What’s good is that Garmin adjusts your day by day step objective each day, relying on how lively you’ve got been lately. And don’t be concerned, the modifications there are all the time gradual — one 10-mile run will not have an enormous an impact in your step goal for the subsequent day.

Along with that, Garmin’s specialty is one thing referred to as the Transfer bar, a line that seems on the display after you’ve got been inactive for an hour. At the moment, you will really feel a mild vibration in your wrist, with an onscreen instruction to “transfer!” And there the bar will keep till you rise up and stroll round for no less than two minutes. Now, you’ll be able to all the time swipe away from the Transfer bar and take a look at one thing else, just like the time. Personally, although, I’ve all the time discovered this function efficient. The Transfer bar may be quiet, nevertheless it’s insistent.

Among the many icons you will see as you are biking by way of is a textual content bubble. That is truly the hub the place you will discover all your notifications, together with emails, textual content messages, missed calls, Fb posts, Twitter messages, et cetera. For those who like, you possibly can go into Garmin’s app settings and add much more purposes which may not have been set by default (you possibly can disconnect apps at any time too). At this level I ought to come clear and say I really feel ambivalent concerning the notifications function. To be truthful, that is how I really feel about smartwatches typically. On the one hand, there have been occasions when it was enormously helpful to have the ability to look down at my wrist and see an incoming e mail — once I was in a movie show or a gathering, and thought it might be impolite to tug out my cellphone. Additionally, if the e-mail is from somebody I am really excited to listen to from (my greatest pal, for example), I typically see the message sooner if I am sporting a smartwatch.

Garmin Vivosmart review: where fitness band meets smartwatch

However, you possibly can’t learn various strains of an e-mail, and you may’t delete or archive it whenever you’re accomplished, as you’ll be able to on an Android Put on watch. The band additionally buzzes each time I delete a message on one other gadget, as if to alert me that my unread-e mail rely has modified. (Thanks?) Sure sorts of notifications, corresponding to Twitter DMs, are sometimes sluggish to clear, even after I learn them on a special system. And naturally, you will have the identical drawback as with different smartwatches, which is that the system buzzes no matter whether or not you get an e mail from mother or Groupon; there isn’t any strategy to filter out the non-essential stuff. On the brilliant aspect, Garmin took a wise strategy to social networking: The band will buzz if somebody writes in your wall or sends you a direct message, however not if somebody likes your submit, or feedback in a gaggle you comply with. Fortunately, no matter your tolerance, you’ll be able to flip off notifications at any time by going into the system settings.

To that finish, simply lengthy-press the band if you wish to discover settings like Bluetooth, guide syncing, battery life, date and time, train mode and sleep mode. Moreover, the band has music playback controls, in addition to a setting permitting you to ring your telephone, in case you are having hassle discovering it.

Cellular app

Garmin Vivosmart review: where fitness band meets smartwatch

Up to now I’ve principally been speaking about stuff you are able to do on the band itself. However it’s value looking on the Garmin Join app as nicely, nevertheless crude it might be. I say “crude” as a result of it is somewhat ugly, and in addition does not present fairly as a lot element as apps for competing health trackers. If you open the app, you will see numerous “widgets,” or playing cards for issues like calorie burn, step rely and sleep high quality. Needless to say this is identical app Garmin makes use of with its sports activities watches, so in case you already personal a Forerunner, you will see stats out of your numerous exercises too, together with private data (quickest 10K, et cetera). What I do not like concerning the app — apart from its bland design — is that you aren’t getting extra info at a look. You must dig into every particular person card to see issues like your sleep high quality.

Talking of the type, the sleep monitoring right here is both inaccurate, primitive, or perhaps a bit of little bit of each. In contrast to different trackers from corporations like Foundation and Jawbone, Garmin does not offer you a sleep rating. You possibly can’t even inform how a lot mild or REM sleep you bought. There’s a sleep graph displaying your motion all through the night time, however I do not discover that notably useful — even when I might inform the distinction between a pee break and slightly tossing and turning, how would that profit me?

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Garmin Vivosmart screenshots

Apart from the shortage of element, not one of the info saved right here is actually actionable. Which is to say, whereas Garmin may monitor my vitals, it does not do something to assist me develop higher habits. Whereas Jawbone and Foundation permit you to join challenges, with rewards for following via, Garmin does not react by some means if I exceed or fall in need of my step aim. It additionally does not supply any ideas for dwelling a more healthy life, the best way different trackers do. Jawbone, for example, warned me that if I do not get an excellent night time’s sleep, I am that a lot likelier to crave carbs the subsequent day; since then, I have been extra self-aware of that. To be truthful, Garmin’s app does have a social element, however as a result of it is not as common as, say, Fitbit, you may wrestle to seek out somebody you already know in your leaderboard. Even then, Garmin does not make it straightforward to seek out individuals you realize from inside the software. With the Vivosmart, then, I felt motivated to satisfy my step objective, however in any other case by no means had a purpose for amassing all this knowledge.

The competitors

Garmin Vivosmart review: where fitness band meets smartwatch

I’ve already thrown round names like Jawbone, Fitbit and Foundation, nevertheless it’s value stepping again for a minute and breaking down what every of those competing health trackers has to supply. Beginning with Jawbone, the corporate simply introduced a brand new flagship tracker, the $one hundred eighty Up3, which is aware of whenever you’ve began a exercise with out you getting into any particular mode. It additionally offers extra detailed sleep analytics than earlier fashions. That stated, it isn’t on sale but (set to reach by the top of the yr), so if you’d like one thing now, you’d should accept the $one hundred thirty Up24. I say, “settle,” however that was already certainly one of our favourite health trackers, because of its trendy design and have-wealthy app. Particularly, I am a fan of the software program’s intuitive UI, useful wellness ideas and sensible meals logging. Actually, with an app that good, Jawbone belongs in your shortlist no matter which mannequin you get.

As for Fitbit, the corporate spent a lot of 2014 with no flagship health tracker, after recalling the Drive as a consequence of pores and skin-irritation points. A disgrace, since we in any other case appreciated the Drive for its understated design, lengthy battery life and useful OLED show, just like the one on the Vivosmart. In any case, Fitbit lately unveiled three new health trackers, with the $one hundred thirty Cost being the direct alternative to the Drive. All informed, it gives the identical function set and is pretty comparable in design besides, you realize, it should not give anybody a rash. Additionally like the unique Pressure, it exhibits incoming calls on the display, however it’s in any other case not a smartwatch the best way the Vivosmart is. As a result of the Cost was simply introduced, we’ve not had an opportunity to check it, and thus cannot vouch for its efficiency. That stated, we’re inspired by a few of the enhancements Fitbit has made to its app. Whereas meals logging was as soon as a sore level, for example, the meals database has gotten fairly a bit greater, and there is lastly a bar code scanner too. Hooray!

Garmin Vivosmart review: where fitness band meets smartwatch

Then there’s Foundation. Chances are you’ll not have heard of this firm, however it is best to: It was bought by Intel earlier this yr, and it occurs to supply probably the most refined function set we have seen. Because of a bevy of sensors that monitor motion, sweat output, warmth dissipation, blood movement and coronary heart price, the brand new $200 Peak band can inform whenever you’re sleeping or exercising with out you having to enter a particular mode. For that purpose, it is probably the most low-upkeep tracker I’ve tried but (full assessment coming quickly). As I stated earlier than, too, I additionally like how the app allows you to choose in to challenges, which encourage a more healthy way of life. Moreover, it adjusts your weekly objectives based mostly in your current exercise. The commerce-off is that even now that Foundation is on its second-gen tracker, it nonetheless hasn’t gotten the cling of design. In reality, the Peak seems extra like a smartwatch than a health band, what with its vast band and 1.25-inch touchscreen. That is nice in the event you like smartwatches, however it does not actually act like one — not but, anyway. The gadget will ultimately use the display to point out you incoming calls, texts, emails and different notifications, however that may come as a part of a future software program replace.

Till the Peak will get that replace, although, there are literally only a few health bands that additionally play the a part of a smartwatch. Razer is engaged on a health band referred to as the Nabu that does principally the identical factor because the Garmin Vivosmart, however it’s not out but. In the meantime, there are many smartwatches that do a half-assed job of monitoring health, which is to say they monitor your steps, distance and energy (however not essentially your sleep high quality). Most new watches even have a coronary heart price monitor, although in our expertise, the monitoring there was much less correct than a devoted gadget, or perhaps a extra well being-centric band. Meaning proper now, there is not a health band that does a wonderful job as a smartwatch, and there undoubtedly is not a smartwatch that does equally properly at health monitoring.


Garmin Vivosmart review: where fitness band meets smartwatch

Going into this evaluate, I already knew that Garmin is best at making sports activities watches than health trackers. Once I examined the Forerunner 15, a operating watch with step-counting thrown in, I got here away with the identical conclusion as I did right here: that the app does not supply sufficient in the best way of motivation. In that occasion, although, it wasn’t an enormous deal; step counting was simply the cherry on prime of an already wonderful product. However on this case, the Vivosmart is a health tracker first, with smartwatch notifications being the cherry-on-prime function. That is an issue, as a result of Garmin’s health app is just not strong sufficient to hold the expertise. In the meantime, the hardware will get scuffed up simply, and is not very snug to sleep in. Lastly, there’s the worth: At $one hundred seventy it is forty bucks pricier than Jawbone’s and Fitbit’s choices. And sadly, these smartwatch-like notifications aren’t helpful sufficient to justify the distinction.

All that stated, I recognize what Garmin was making an attempt to do right here. There’s going to quickly come some extent when sporting each a health band and a smartwatch will probably be an unacceptable compromise. Even now, I am unsure it is a smart answer. I am ready for a wearable that is trendy, shows notifications and, on the similar time, accommodates all the identical refined sensors as the perfect health trackers. The Vivosmart is not it, however I am pleased to maintain ready.

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<a href=””> Garmin Vivosmart </a>

  • Key specs
  • <a href=”” title=”Garmin Vivosmart critiques” goal=”_blank”> Evaluations 2 </a>
  • Costs
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  • Sort Watch-fashion
  • Monitoring metrics Movement / steps, Distance, Energy, Sleep
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  • Introduced 2014-09-04

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9.5common consumer score
  • Sturdiness 9
  • Portability 10
  • Ease of use 9
  • Design and type issue 10

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