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We had never tried a Garmin fitness tracker before and so we thought we’d fill this void beginning with the newest Vivosmart HR (Check on Amazon.com), in its plus version which is the one equipped with GPS (Check on Amazon.com).
The package contains, in addition to the band, the charging cable which is a little short for my taste.
Design and fit
The Vivosmart HR+ is entirely made of plastic; rubberized on the band while the device itself is made of a sturdier one. It’s a rugged fitness tracker and as such it doesn’t care about finesse. This is also noticeable in the design, simple though perhaps a little awkward with its thickness that could be a little annoying in the winter when it can be troubling with the sleeves. It is well built and waterproof so you can wear it in the pool or under the shower.
Garmin’s bracelet, like all similar products, is not equipped with particularly noteworthy hardware. The GPS is precise and the lock usually occurs after 20 seconds outdoors. The heart rate sensor located on the underside of the device is also very good and has accurate readings. The vibration feature is solid, strong enough to always feel it.
The Garmin Vivosmart HR+ is equipped with a clear, 160×68px display. We were astounded by the excellent visibility both indoors and outdoors. During the day, in fact, it is perfectly readable even under direct sunlight, while in the evening, with a press of a button the back-illumination will let you see the display clearly (you can also customize this function to be always on). The screen is also touch and this fact along with the previous ones makes this Vivosmart HR+ one of the best devices out there.
Directly from the band, you can access a great number of information and a good number of options, with the touch screen that allows you to select and scroll through the menus. For example, you can easily start a workout session or browse the history of your heart rate measurements. With a press of the physical key, you can quickly switch from the Home screen to the settings. Among the settings you can navigate there are weather forecast, time, heart rate, step count, calories burned and minutes of activity. Also handy the fact that you can see all the notifications you get on your mobile phone right on the Vivosmart’s screen. These are only short text-based alerts, but it is all you need to decide if you want to reach for your mobile or not.
The app for your mobile device (Android, iOS, and Windows) opens up a world of options and data. The remark we have to make of this Garmin app is that there is so much information that you risk getting lost and not knowing how you got into a particular voice. In the Home screen, you can add (or eliminate) data tabs that display the steps of the day, sleeping time and all the other information related to your activity. The data gathered through the various sensors and the GPS is a lot and covers almost all the basic info a sportsman would like to have. It is a particularly interesting product for those who run, but everyone can get important information out of it. All the measurements were particularly accurate.
The application separates the different activities by type and date, and also allows you to share and confront everything with your friend and colleagues thanks to its social features. For the real athletes, there is also a mode that allows you to plan out your entire training regiment.
This is carried out through Garmin Connect and can be accessed through your browser. If the app seems “loaded”, it will take even more time to master the website with its many different features. However, you can easily create a homepage with the most important data tabs always at hand. Finally, you can integrate Garmin Connect with MyFitnessPal and allow your Vivosmart HR+ to become a good tool to understand if your diet is yielding the results you had been looking for.
The battery allows for more than 5 days of autonomy with a single charge, but all this depends on the use you will make of the built-in GPS. With the GPS always on, autonomy is just 8 hours. Most people charge their Vivosmart+ once every 3 days.
The Vivosmart HR+ is available online (Check on Amazon.com). This price places it in the top tier range for smart bands, which is justified by the fact that this is the only device with a built-in GPS.
The Garmin Vivosmart HR+ is probably the most complete fitness tracker for those who take their workout seriously. It is equipped with GPS and a very precise heart rate sensor. The software is very complete and provides a ton of data (even if it is difficult to find!). Its only real flaw is that is thicker than the competition and therefore less convenient to wear in some circumstances.