I have to admit I hadn’t planned on writing a review of the new Garmin Vivoactive HR but so many people have asked me my thoughts I decided to write a mini review. I’ve had the watch for a month now and overall I’m very happy with it. Like all new items of technology there are a few issues with the watch but for me this is a huge step up from Fitbit’s Surge (I had to send that back twice due to poor battery life). I charged the watch up to 100% on day of receipt and a week later the watch was showing 39% left – incredible considering I used it for runs utilising GPS and swimming sessions.
In fact battery life is incredible. I can go 10 days without fear of the battery giving up the ghost, I think it might have been as low as 25% and I charged it up so 12 days battery life isn’t out of the question. This beats Fitbit’s Surge hands down in my opinion where I was lucky to get 4 or 5 days.
The size is good and comfortable on the arm. Although it is completely waterproof I do take it off for showers just to give my arm a small rest (not that it’s needed!) a lot smaller than the Surge. Design is great and using IQ you can upload numerous watch faces to make it look different day on day or hour on hour!
Apps are good and I’m sure more will come soon but the best fun I’ve had with it this week is the weather app. Predicting rain in 69 minutes garnered a laugh from colleagues and when it did rain they were all impressed! I do have a couple of issues with the watch however. The screen isn’t bright indoors and you have to get the angle right to read the information clearly so this needs to be improved. The screen is trans reflective which means it uses the ambient light and because of this it will sometimes appear dim particularly indoors. Garmin have now updated the system software to Version 2.40 and you can increase the backlight to level 9 and that has definitely helped.
When I first had the watch – probably for the first week or so – automatic recognition of activities wasn’t working for me. However the watch now recognises the activities and they show up in your calendar.
I have completed 3 swimming sessions with it and the tests have been great. The screen swipes worked effortlessly in and out of the water, the wet screen causing no problems at all. In fact I saw no lag or difficulty in using the watch wet. The Vivoactive HR measures strokes and swim distance and you can also have laps so you know if you’ve had a break or not. If you are using indoors then make sure you go to settings and select the size of your pool, a number of people have commented unusual distances but selecting the correct pool length is key for indoor swimming.
As you can use the watch both indoors (treadmill) and out calibrating the watch is important. When I first had the watch I ran on the treadmill without calibrating and the results were terrible but I discovered my error and following a couple of runs outdoors and the initial 15 minute calibrating walk the treadmill results have improved. The GPS appears to be very accurate, quite often you find when analysing the maps that the tracking doesn’t quite run down the street on the map but on the runs I’ve done, including intricate and small road runs the gps has handles it perfectly.
So far so good, thoroughly enjoying this watch – certainly the best wearable I’ve owned.
For those looking for a guide on what size band to order please find the measurements below. The regular band (the one I have) has a lot of give and I have 7 holes left over so plenty of room for scope!
Regular Band for a wrist circumference between 5.39 –7.68” / 137–195 mm
X-Large Band for a wrist circumference between 6.38–8.86” / 162–225 mm
There are four coloured replacement bands available and once I manage to actually get my hands on one or two I’ll report back on how easy they are to replace, how much they cost and the colours available. I’m struggling to find them available in the UK at the moment, no one wants to sell them! Not good!!