CES 2018: We touch and feel Garmin’s new fitness tracker
Garmin’s most basic fitness tracker is back for a fourth edition, but the Vivofit 4 is far from a slouch in the tech department.
Garmin’s activity band features a year of battery life and an always-on screen, which makes it easy to keep tabs on your goals while simultaneously taking charging out of the equation.
While the Vivofit 4 was announced back in December, we got our first glimpse at CES 2018. Here are our first impressions.
The Vivofit 4 is a basic tracker and that’s fairly implicit from its design. A module held within a textured rubber band, it’s not winning any awards for fashion or design. In fact, it looks a little cheap. It’s available in a few colours, standard black, plum, black speckled and white all available in small and medium sizes, with just black available for small wrists.
There’s a tiny button on the front (troublesome for stubby fingers) that enables you to cycle through key stats: steps, calories, distance, standing hours. We were also surprised to see screens such as weather data, which suck in information from a paired smartphone; it’s welcome data, but there’s such little screen real estate to play with it can be a little hard to read. The display itself only has a resolution of 88 x 88 pixels, so you’re not getting a whole bunch of information on there – but it’s a good way to check your goal progress.
We spent a little time wearing the Vivofit 4, and the whole band is pretty small and discreet. If you’re someone who finds devices like the Fitbit Alta, with its long glossy screen a little too showy, the Vivofit 4 could be worth a look. It kind of blends in.
But the key thing here is battery life. The year of juice is provided by two SR43 batteries, which are replaceable. That means there’s no charging cable and no worries, which is fairly impressive given the quality of the always-on screen.
The tracking chops here are pretty basic, and it’s certainly a bit of a throwback. Steps, sleep and calories estimated from movement are the key metrics – and there’s no heart rate or advanced metrics to play with. Those are the preserve of the much more advanced Garmin Vivosmart 3.
You don’t have workout modes as much, but you will get credit from the arm movement of most sports – this is all from a feature known as MoveIQ. What’s more, the Garmin Vivofit 4 is pool friendly, so you can take it into the pool and have your session count towards your daily calories burned.
With a price of just $80, the Vivofit 4 is one of the key candidates for those looking for basic step tracking. With no charging and a screen to see your daily goals, it’s conceivable that anyone wearing the Vivofit need never access the Garmin app or fiddle with charging cables.
That’s certainly appealing to a certain demographic, who could benefit from learning about their fitness lifestyle, but are held back by a fear of the techier elements of fitness tracker ownership. The design is inoffensive, the stats are easy to understand and it’s available at a wallet friendly price.
Of course, fitness tracking as moved on a lot, and the focus is now more on the benefits of 24/7 heart rate tracking. But that requires education: there’s still people out there who can benefit from an awareness of how much they move, and a prompt to do it more. Trackers like the Vivofit 4 cater for that, and Garmin should be applauded for again making that simpler and more accessible than ever.