Garmin Vivoactive HR preview : The complete training solution

Garmin has unleashed a new version of its popular and impressive Vivoactive called Vivoactive HR because, you guessed it, this one records heart rate.

The Vivoactive HR uses a wrist worn, light-based heart rate monitor to track beats per minute for a more complete training partner.

This new addition to the Garmin line-up means a GPS enabled, heart rate toting, smartwatch that’s able to offer notifications from a connected phone. It pretty much does it all.

So is it worth the £210/$315 price? We went hands-on to find out.

There’s no denying it, for something that crams in so much tech the GarminVivoacative HR is certainly discreet. The comfortable rubber band, which comes in varying colour options, is designed to be comfortable and able to withstand the rigours of sweaty training, but while still looking good.

The main screen-toting unit blends into the strap for a seamless fit. It certainly looks sporty rather than premium but it’s good looking and compact enough so that it could be worn day and night with no worries.

The display is high resolution, colour and built for easy viewing in sunlight. The pictures really don’t do it justice. It’s impressively clear for something that must be built to save a lot of battery life.

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Smart training sensors

The Vivoactive HR does it all. Not only is it an activity tracker for things like daily steps, calories and sleep but it’s also a fully functioning GPS sports watch.

According to Garmin the Vivoactive HR is able to offer a full eight days of battery life on a charge with activity tracking using heart rate monitoring and smart notifications enabled. When it comes to tracking sport using GPS that will drop to 13 hours of use. Considering the size of the unit this isn’t too bad at all and should be enough for all but the most extreme of ultra athletes.

Thanks to motion sensors, GPS and heart rate monitoring the Vivoactive HR can fully track the likes of running, cycling, swimming plus golfing and even skiing or paddle boarding. Thanks to a barometric alitmeter it’ll track altitude too, ideal for skiing and snowboarding then. And should you be training indoor, at the gym, the accelerometer will take car of measure your metrics there.

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Connectivity and software

As a day to day watch the Vivoactive HR is small enough to slip under a sleeve without any hassle. Despite the form it’s crammed full of functions beyond activity and sports tracking. For a start you can control your music on a connected smartphone using the wearable.

When connected to a smartphone notifications will be pushed through to the watch for the likes of calls, messages, social media alert and emails. This will come up on the screen and will also give you a nudge using a vibration. This also means it can be used as an alarm without making a noise, ideal when waking up next to someone.

For those with a Virb camera the Vivoactive HR can control that also. And should you misplace your phone there’s a Find My Phone function too.

While the screen on the device isn’t massive all your data is automatically uploaded to Garmin Connect meaning it can be viewed via the app or online from anywhere. Some people find Connect a little messy but all your data is there and once you get the hang of it you can see it at a glance for easy tracking of goals.

For golfers the inbuilt system is impressive offering a digital scorecard, pin pointer, yardage to layups, general yardage and shot distance measurements.

Connect IQ is Garmin’s app store which has plenty of extras to offer specific tools as well as fun new screens. Plus there’s the promise of new software coming in the future.

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First Impressions

The Garmin Vivoactive HR really is a one-stop shop for all things tracking and notification related.

The design might be basic and built for the rugged but that’s both charming and functional. It’s made for wearing everyday without discomfort, simple.

We’re still amazed this much tech, and such a good battery life, can be crammed into such a compact wearable. When you consider this is just a little more than £200/$300 it really does make for a very attractive all rounder indeed.


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