Garmin VivoSmart Review
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Today, all the rage and craze in the world of fitness is what is termed wearables. In short, wearables are wristband pieces with different types of technology incorporated into them to help you track various activities. The Garmin Vivosmart fits into the wearable category in that it fits like a wristband, tracks your activity, and also includes other productivity features such as synching up to your phone and letting you know who’s calling you as well as displaying text messages.
Garmin Vivosmart for Running
One of the most common questions I get about the Garmin Vivosmart is how well it works for running. While the Garmin Vivosmart is not specifically designed for running, it can track your footsteps and distance through a built in accelerometer. The accelerometer works by tracking your motion, so after 10 motions of going back and forth, it considers you as going out for a run. Once activated, it estimates your distance by your calculating the average stride length associated with the height you enter in when you setup your Vivosmart.
I’ve tested the Vivofit a number of times while running with a friend who was wearing a GPS running watch. When comparing distance accuracy between the Vivosmart and a GPS watch, the distance has been spot on 99% of the time and when the distance was off, it was off by .1 mile. This includes both long and short distances. While this wearable is fairly accurate, there is one challenge to tracking your distance. The challenge occurs if you happen to be running with the hand your wearing the Vivosmart on is stationary. This most commonly affects people running and pushing a stroller. Another common, but less runner focus is pushing a shopping cart. The easy way around this it to stash it in a pants or short pocket on your leg.
Heart Rate Tracking
If you want to track your heart rate during running or exercise with the Garmin Vivosmart, you can purchase the Vivosmart bundle which includes the heart rate monitor at the price of $200. The Garmin Vivosmart by itself retails for $170. I personally did not get a chance to test out the heart rate monitor with the Vivosmart, so I do not have information on how it connected.
Non-Active Related Features
As I mentioned above, the Garmin Vivosmart does not solely focus on running, cycling, etc. The Vivosmart is more lifestyle focused vs. hardcore athlete focused. The lifestyle features of the Vivosmart include; being able to read text messages, see who is calling you, and controlling the music on your phone. While I first thought these features would be extras that I wouldn’t use, I found they come in handy from time to time. I often leave my phone ringer on silent with no vibration which leads to me missing calls from time to time. As long as my phone is in bluetooth range (40ft or less) I get an alert on the Garmin Vivosmart letting me know I have a call and who’s calling. Note, you cannot answer phone calls through the Vivosmart. While you can’t answer phone calls, you can read entire text messages on the Vivosmart. For playing music, I have not found this feature all that helpful. My feeling is that if I want to listen to my music, I’ll push the play button on my phone. I also use Pandora when listening to music on my phone and music control feature does not work with Pandora or other app based music players.
Devices that work with Vivosmart
The Garmin Vivosmart works through Garmin Connect on both the iTunes and Android Platforms. To see the iTunes app info, click here. To see the Android version in Google Play, Click Here. The app is called Garmin Connect which I find to be visually pleasing and it gets the job done for viewing your information as long as it sync’s correctly. I tested the Garmin Vivosmart with both the iPhone 5 and a Samsung Galaxy 5. I found the device to work best with the iTunes app vs. the Android app as the Android app tends to disconnect bluetooth randomly and sometimes has trouble reconnecting. To see the most up-to-date firmware updates, visit the Garmin Updates and Downloads Page for the Vivosmart.
Keeping you Moving and Setting Goals
One of the main features in the Garmin Vivosmart wearable is setting goals and keeping you motivated. As more and more of us sit at a desk 8-10 hours a day with minimal movement, the Vivosmart is there to remind you to get moving. The first time I wore the Vivosmart, I was saddened to see how much I am not moving around during the day except for my daily activities such as running, biking, skiing, etc. Unfortunately, most people in the U.S. can’t tell their boss they need to get up and break away from work because their wristband told them to. I do have to admit, it’s nice to have the reminder.
When setting up the Garmin Connect app, you have the ability to setup personal goals that are in line with your exercise levels. These goals are associated with how many steps you are taking on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. I find that if you’re on a schedule for running, biking, going to the gym, this feature is less important as you typically get your steps in one big activity vs. gradually throughout the day. If you’re not the super active type, this is a nice feature to have to track your daily progress.
Tracking your Sleep
As someone who does’t sleep all that great, the sleep movement chart was very interesting to me. To set this up, you enter in the time you go to sleep and wake up. For example, you can set it to go to sleep at 10PM and wake up at 6AM. This will assume you are going to bed and waking up during these times. You can also adjust or override these times by manually changing your sleep time for the day in Garmin Connect. In addition, you can tap the sleep icon before you go to bed and when you wake up to let the Vivosmart know when you’re going to bed and waking up. After reviewing your movement during your sleep time, you can see if there are any patterns for when you don’t sleep as well and adjust as necessary.
I wear my Garmin Vivosmart 24/7 with exception to when I am charging it. This means I wear it while showering once or twice a day, washing my hands, and playing in the snow. I’ve never had an issue with the Garmin Vivosmart and water.
The battery life of the Garmin Vivosmart last up to 7 days. After using this wearable for a couple months, I found this to be spot on and is fairly convenient. To charge the device, it comes with a charge cord that you attach to the device. The total charge time takes around one hour, so you don’t have to keep it off your wrist for too long.
When deciding to purchase the Garmin Vivosmart, you have to make sure you’re buying it for the right reasons. If you’re thinking that it will replace your GPS watch, please don’t be mistaken, it won’t. If you’re looking for fitness band to help you with motivation, track your steps and distance, and provide some nice to have features such as seeing who’s calling you or reading text messages, the Garmin Vivosmart is an excellent option. The Garmin Vivosmart retails for $170 and $200 for the heart rate monitor package. If you happen to only want the fitness features, the Garmin Vivofit is a good option at $130. To see our review of the Vivofit, visit the review here.
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