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Garmin Vivosmart HR Review

Garmin’s Vivosmart HR is the navigation company’s latest addition to its robust line-up of wearables. The Vivosmart HR is an intelligent tracker that’s minimalistically and yet beautifully-designed. With an on-board 24/7 continuous heart rate monitor armed under the display of the Vivosmart HR, and even more novel features such as using it as an EZ-Link device is incredibly useful and refreshing.

Design

The Vivosmart HR is designed in a minimalistic fashion, but yet appears quite aesthetically-pleasing. The Vivosmart HR comes with a silicone band that straps on like a regular digital watch. The band feels comfortable around the wrist so wearing it for long durations is perfectly find. This is important since it’s meant to be worn 24/7 for the heart rate monitor to be useful.

Within the wristband, you will find a tracker that has a display with adaptive brightness. Most fitness trackers don’t have this “adaptive brightness”, despite it being very essential for everyday use. Here’s why. You don’t want the tracker to have the same brightness under the hot Singaporean sun and in a dark room before bed. It would either but unreadable in the former situation or overly glaring in the latter.

The display also gives you the option of having a vertical or horizontal orientation depending on your preference.

Most of the device is navigated about by using the touch screen, but there is a physical button that lets you call up certain actions such as starting a workout or pairing your Vivosmart HR.

Last but not least, it’s worth noting that the Vivosmart HR+ is “water resistant” to 5ATM (around 50 metres), so you can use it in the pool, but it has no dedicated swimming mode.

Functions

As with all other fitness trackers, the Garmin Vivosmart HR counts your steps and thereby estimates your distance travelled. It uses these metrics along with your heart rate data that’s monitored continuously through the day to give you your calorie burned estimate.

The Vivosmart HR has good step tracking accuracy and estimates distance well with its algorithms, after having testing it on a treadmill and only have about a 5% error for a casual walk. The device even tracks the number of flights of stairs you climbed, which is certainly cool to know, and very useful in helping with calorie burn calculations.

However, the results I received on my overall calories burnt seemed a little too high to be true and based on metabolic rate calculations I’ve done, the number does indeed appear to be quite inflated.

On this note, if you remain inactive for long periods of time, the Vivosmart HR will buzz and remind you to start walking again so you don’t lead an overly sedentary life, which is what most of us metropolitans are guilty of.

Heart rate monitoring is carried out with an optical heart rate monitor, which gives decently accurate readings, but it is by no means the gold standard. Nevertheless, I found it to be quite accurate when measuring resting heart rates. For workouts, the readings were accurate most of the time, but there were odd times when it didn’t register a higher heart rate when doing cardiovascular activity.

It also measures your sleep quality, giving you metrics as to how much deep sleep, light sleep and time spent awake the previous night, which I believe is fairly accurate since it doesn’t just rely on movement sensors to conclude the above data, but utilising the heart rate variability algorithms as well.

The app summarizes all the data above very neatly in its Garmin Connect applications so you can set goals and track your fitness progress as the year passes by. These metrics can be analysed from a micro perspective to see how you performed throughout the day, or over the span of months to see long term changes.

The coolest part about the Garmin Vivosmart HR for us Singaporeans, is the ability ti use it as an EZLink device, so you can pay for your bus and train rides without even having to take out your wallet, and it works really well.

Verdict

I found the Garmin Vivosmart HR an absolute joy to use. It tracks nearly every metric with pinpoint accuracy, with the exception of calories burnt and feels really comfortable and intuitive to use. The Vivosmart HR isn’t just a useful addition into a fitness junkie’s arsenal, but anyone who wishes to embrace smart living and wearables, to quantify and simplify their lives. The device is slightly pricey at S$259, but premium trackers often come at a high cost anyway, so do consider getting the Vivosmart HR if you are willing to part with a little more money.

 

Zayne Seah
A tech geek going beyond specs.

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