Garmin Vivoactive GPS smartwatch review: Track your fitness activities in detail with this comfortable smartwatch – Front page

Being able to track your daily activity level is the first step towards maintaining a healthy (or healthier) lifestyle. Gadgets like a simple Fitbit are a good entry point because they can measure steps in real time and allow you to set daily goals, which keeps you motivated to get moving. On the other end of the scale are GPS sports / smartwatches such as the Garmin Vivoactive, which not only provide a step counter but also more active tracking capabilities so you can push yourself a little harder. far and faster.

It’s a sports watch with built-in GPS tracking that can be used to record a multitude of activities, including walking, running, biking, swimming, and even golf, with measurements including steps (or steps). strokes for swimming), distance (including golf stroke distance), duration, pace, speed, lap time, height difference and calories burned. In conjunction with its available apps, you can keep track of your weight and meals, and you can even record how long you sleep and keep track of how you woke up. (The device can also automatically record sleep, although you have to start it right when you go to bed).

Physically, a flexible strap and light weight make the Vivoactive one of the most comfortable GPS smartwatches on the Australian market, and we believe even people who are not used to wearing watches will be able to wear this watch. connected without irritation. The watch itself measures approximately 35x38mm and has a touchscreen, two capacitive buttons (one to go back and one to display a menu) and two physical buttons on the side (for the backlight and for starting and stopping activities) .

When it comes to ease of use, its interface is quite simple to understand after a few days of playing, and it can be customized to suit your needs. Operations involve swiping left or right across the screen to view things like your step count, weather, notifications, calendar events, even media controls you can use to play, stop, and skip music on your phone. In June, Garmin will launch its Virb action camera, and this watch will also have controls for that.

Different styles of dials can be selected to give you a little or a lot of information at a glance, depending on your preference. When tracking activities, you can choose which metrics appear on up to three screens, with three metrics per screen. This means that you really need to sit down with the watch and figure out what you want with it before you venture out on your walk, jog, bike, or swim.

The main screen can be customized so that you can see more information at a glance.

Bluetooth is used to connect the watch to your smartphone, but the beauty of this watch is that you don’t always have to take your phone with you during your activities. When you start an activity and the GPS is turned on, all data is saved by the watch, and it will be uploaded to the Garmin Connect app the moment you sync the watch with the phone again. Of course, you miss out on receiving notifications and seeing weather information on your watch when you leave your phone behind, and you also can’t use its live tracking feature, which is neat if you want someone else. ‘one tracks the progress of your activity remotely. on their phone or computer.

Live tracking allows people to track your activity remotely.
Live tracking allows people to track your activity remotely.

Any activity you record can be viewed through the Garmin Connect app or through the Garmin Connect site on a computer. The app shows you information at a glance including distance and steps, and if you click on it you can browse data on other days as well. Via a web browser, a dashboard interface should be customized to show the information you value most. We think the app and web interface could be a bit clearer in this regard; it took us a while to figure out how to display the breakdown of the available information.

The Garmin Connect dashboard interface.
The Garmin Connect dashboard interface.
Display of a GPS tracked activity on the map via a web browser.
Display of a GPS tracked activity on the map via a web browser.

Read more: 5 reasons to jump on the smartwatch bandwagon

The Connect app displaying map, pace and lap data.
The Connect app displaying map, pace and lap data.

At the end of the activity, you can choose to save or delete it, so you have to be careful not to accidentally delete it, although you will get a delete confirmation screen. We think it should just log activities automatically once the activity is stopped; after all, you can just delete the ones you don’t want to keep later. Activity statistics can be viewed immediately on the watch. Once you’ve synced with the app, you can see your tracked activity on a map and press play to see changes in pace and elevation at different parts.

It is this type of granular information that can be beneficial if you are working out, although we believe it can also be useful if you are just getting serious about fitness and want more information about your daily performance. You can set different types of goals with this watch than with a device that only records steps and distance, such as identifying points on your route where you might want to walk or run faster, or maybe be keeping a more regular rhythm during your activities.

Using the watch while undertaking an activity is not that difficult, mainly because of the physical on / off button on the right side, and you only have to use the touchscreen when it comes time to record a activity, or if you want to scroll through metrics while your activity is recorded. In the dark, you can use the backlight to see the screen, while in the daytime it is perfectly visible.

The basic activity screen.
The basic activity screen.
Viewing details at the end of an activity.
Viewing details at the end of an activity.

The vibrations will notify you whenever you reach your step count, take a turn in an activity, or have been sitting too long (to remind you to get up and move). You’ll also get them for notifications and calendar events, of course.

Heart rate isn’t measured by the Vivoactive by default, but it does support Ant + for a monitoring accessory (it costs $ 379 with). As we reviewed this watch, Gamin announced that their Forerunner 225 GPS Running Watch will have a built-in optical sensor to monitor heart rate, and that it will be available in June 2015 for $ 389.

The drums in the watch would last about three weeks when the GPS is turned off. In our testing, we left the GPS on all the time. We tracked about three and a half hours of activity with it for seven days before the battery level hit 16% and had us worried that the watch would turn off on our next big activity. Charging time from 16% to 100% took just under two hours with a phone charger.

A USB cradle with a strong magnet is used for charging, and it can be plugged into a computer or your existing phone charger. If you leave other metallic objects near this cradle, like USB drives, for example, they might end up being attracted to it. Basically it was a good way to grab loose USB drives in our work bag.

A magnet is used to hold the smartwatch on its charger.  It is strong enough to attract nearby metallic objects.
A magnet is used to hold the smartwatch on its charger. It is strong enough to attract nearby metallic objects.

You should consider this GPS sports watch / smartwatch if you want to go from basic step counting devices to a full-fledged physical activity tracker. It does a lot more than just count steps, and to be fair, its step count isn’t as good as the Fitbit Ultra we use as a benchmark; the Garmin has consistently added at least a few hundred extra steps per day compared to the Fitbit Ultra. However, its ability to track distance and speed which can then be visualized on a map is magnificent.


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Richard V. Johnson

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