• Great design
• Fantastic battery life
• Always on display doesn’t drain the battery
• Comfortable to wear
• Unpredictable software
• Poor stair counting accuracy
• Limited insights into stats
I’ve been using the Garmin Vivosmart HR for a couple of months now, and all in all I’m left with mixed opinions. The design and hardware are pretty much unbeatable at this price point, it’s a great design, comfortable to wear, and includes almost everything you could need. It’s just a shame that the software side of things is a polar opposite.
As mentioned above, the hardware is great. It’s a very comfortable fitness band to wear, lightweight and relatively compact. The screen is always on, which means it can quite easily double up as your main watch, and the touch function works very well, letting users glance at their stats on the fly.
Double up with the fact that this thing is waterproof, rather than water resistant, then you’ve got yourself a winner. I really cannot, fault the hardware here, it’s the best I’ve used at this price point. The only thing it lacks is GPS, but really I can’t complain.
Despite having an always on display and 24-hour heart rate monitor, I consistently got between 5 and 7 days of battery life which is the most I’ve had from any fitness band or smart watch. This is a huge advantage as it meant my band just kept on going.
The sensors on the Vivosmart all seem reliable. My steps were always counted and my heart rate matched what I expected, averaging out to what I recorded on other devices. The only thing that seemed completely off was stairs! The VIvosmart very rarely records stairs climbed which is really disappointing.
Now here’s where the whole package comes undone. The application you can download to your phone is just downright unreliable. For some reason the entire thing relies on having access to Garmin’s servers, server which spend a lot of time not working. I’ve gone days at a a time with Garmin’s servers being down, which meant I couldn’t sync my watch up with the app and view my stats. This is a huge let down.
Apart from it’s unreliability the app and dashboard is pretty lacking. It’s very pretty and well designed, clearly focusing on touch input, but it doesn’t really do much with your stats. They just kind of sit there and let you figure out what it all means. Coming from the Microsoft band, this is a huge letdown. Microsoft Health shows off where you are performing vs others in your age and fitness bracket, giving you advice on how to improve certain statistics, Garmin however does nothing like this.
It’s not all doom and gloom with their software. As mentioned, it looks good and is easy to interact with. Also I love how it sets you goals depending on your current performance, keeping them realistic. If you’re struggling to hit 10k steps every day, the software will adjust your goal and gradually build up to something, keeping it achievable for the user. You can also override this and set your own objectives.
As I mentioned at the start, this is a real mixed bag. The hardware is amazing, and I found myself wishing that I could link this up with either Microsoft Health or the Fitbit app. Both company’s have interfaces and software that absolutely destroy Garmin’s, and that’s a real shame as Garmin has fantastic hardware in this product.
The sheer fact that Garmin’s servers seem unreliable is a clear indicator that they shouldn’t go for a cloud based approach, but they have, and that means there’s a huge risk your device will spend time offline. As I mentioned, there were more than a few occasions where my device spent three days at a time no longer working with the software due to this issue.
Would I recommend it? Yes, if the software worked properly, but it doesn’t, so I’d really recommend you look at something else. There are better packages out there for you. I myself have chosen to go for the Fitbit Charge HR, and so far I’m loving it!