Garmin Vivosmart HR+ was released just six months after the release of the original Vivosmart HR. As a wearable technology leader, Garmin takes on every fitness tracker brand pretty hard. If you have ever used any fitness band from the brand you will know why Garmin fitness trackers are some of the best devices on the market.
The original Vivosmart HR was criticized for lack of GPS. For a fitness device that is designed for the hardcore runners, use of the accelerometer for tracking distance is not a reliable option. Finally, Garmin upgraded the original version and now we have the new Vivosmart HR+ with GPS. If you have been using Fitbit bands, then you will find this fitness tracker to be a massive improvement in almost every segment. With inbuilt GPS and 24/7 automatic optical HR monitor, the Vivosmart HR+ has every feature to be the best fitness tracker on the market. But how exactly it performs on our benchmark lets find out.
The Good and The Bad of Garmin Vivosmart HR+
Waterproof rugged design
Heart rate monitor
5-day battery life
Excellent activity and sports tracking
Traditional watch clasp
No dedicated mode for swimming or cycling
No HR chest strap support
Features of Garmin Vivosmart HR+
Very first impress of the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ is its design and we must say it’s a huge improvement over the original gear. Available in three color variations-black, imperial purple and force blue, you can wear this fitness band to your work or parties and it won’t look out of style.
The body is a bit thick as compared to the likes of Jawbone UP3 and Fitbit Charge 2, but the large display makes up for this flaw. You can easily read your data without straining your eyes. For men it won’t be a problem to wear the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ all the time, but for women we advice, if you don’t like chunky watches then you should consider its big size. Day-to-day wearability is a problem if you have small wrists.
The monochromatic display screen has resolutions of 160 x 68 pixel and fully touch enabled. We understand that resolution of the screen is low, but we bet you will have no problem in reading the data. The screen might not be eye-catching, but it does its job well. Also the backlight and sharpness is a lot improved compared to the previous Vivoactive HR.
Screen controls are easy to use. With a swipe on the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ home screen you can look at your heart rate, which is presented in graph form, see weather updates, access notifications and tap on them to get a full view and see your daily health data like stairs climbed, calories burned, active minutes and distance travelled. Music controls are also available on the home screen. We were reluctant to give Garmin Vivosmart HR+ a thought for data readability due to small screen size. However, to our surprise the design is excellent that makes the data easy to read on the intuitive screen.
Water resistance is another design factor that makes the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ a worthwhile consideration as a quality fitness mode. It is waterproof to 50 metres, so you can take it swimming without a concern.
Activity tracking is the stronghold of the Vivosmart HR+, followed by GPS tracking and smart notifications. Garmin has upgraded the original fitness tracker to be more useful to average people.
Step tracking is the first feature in the activity tracking suite. Garmin has ensured that the Vivosmart HR+ keeps you moving. This is why the fitness tracker picks a moveable goal for you which is achievable as well as challenging for you. The step tracker is highly accurate and ensures you take the necessary number of steps daily. Also, if you are not satisfied with the goal picked by the fitness tracker you can set it on your own goal from the app.
Optical heart rate tracking keeps tab in your ticker all-day. Based on the data collected after 24/7 heart rate tracking it measures your resting heart rate, which is a reliable indicator of your well being. You can see this data live on your Vivosmart HR+ screen or on the Garmin Connect app.
Sleep tracking is entirely automatic and the data pulled by the Garmin Connect app is very insightful. The fitness tracker app recommends ideal sleeping time based on your preferred bedtime and how long you sleep. The sleep tracker is accurate and counts in the sleep interruptions as well. We were satisfied with the sleep tracking data we got but if you expect this data to be like Jawbone’s or Withings’ then you will be disappointed.
The Move Bar on the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ is a boon for those who remain inactive for long. This feature is nothing new or exclusive to this fitness tracker, but it works a lot better than other fitness bands. The Move Bar builds up on the device’s home screen and once it is filled you are prompted to move. We believe Garmin intentionally designed the Move Bar to build on the home screen to psychologically force us to move.
Garmin, however, did messed on one quality of the Move Bar-the activity it responds to. Interestingly the Move Bar recognizes no other activity than purposeful walking for two minutes. Whether you play basketball for a few minutes or stand for an hour, the Move Bar won’t clear except only for a few minutes of walking.
GPS enabled Garmin Vivosmart HR+ gives you the freedom to leave your smartphone at home and yet remain connected along your runs. This the a major upgrade over the previous version of the fitness tracker.
All you have to do is to choose RUN from the activity menu and the Vivosmart HR+ will start tracking your pace, time, distance and calories. But not all these metrics are displayed at once you have to swipe between them.
We can gladly and confidently claim that the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ is a solid runners’ fitness tracker.
Absence of multi-sport mode is somewhat disappointing as this fitness tracker is one of the high-end ones. There are only three sports modes-running (you can turn off the GPS for indoor running), cardio and other. The cardio and other modes are open accounts that can be customized for your different exercises and GPS option is available for both.
You can track the data for sport activities like swimming, cycling or yoga, customizing the open workout option but the problem is the data returned is generic. In other fitness trackers at the same price there are dedicated modes for sports activities like cycling and swimming. Benefit of a dedicated mode is we get specialist metrics, which helps improving performance.
Every fitness tracker is deemed to have an accurate heart rate monitor these days. Garmin uses Elevate sensor in most of its devices and the Vivosmart HR+ has the same. Problem with this sensor is it enables almost accurate heart rate monitor at a steady pace, but when the intensity is increased data gets murkier. We were disappointed to see how poor the heart rate tracker performs during high intensity training. The Vivosmart HR+ can be paired with other Garmin devices to broadcast your heart rate.
If you think you can make up for this inaccuracy by syncing the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ with an HR chest strap, then you will be highly disappointed to know that this tracker doesn’t support chest strap. As a runners’ device, the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ is unarguably one of the best fitness trackers on the market, but as an ultimate training tool, it is a fail.
Garmin Vivosmart HR+: Notifications
Garmin is one of the best and most reliable ecosystems and you will find the same in the Vivosmart HR+. once you pair it with your phone, it will alert you about every notification you receive-calls, texts, email or anything else. As a notification system the Vivosmart HR+ stands equal to Apple Watch and Android Wear smartwatches.
Messages are often full but lengthy ones can be read at a tap. You can rest assured not to miss any of the messages of notifications. As for emails, the notification is smarty able to give you an idea whether to read the mail or not.
Scroll through the main menu and you can access the last three notifications at any time.
Garmin Vivosmart HR+: App
Garmin Connect app software is one of the most comprehensive ones on the market. Like every other Garmin device, the Vivosmart HR+ also syncs with the app to feed in the data. Connectivity is never an issue for as the app supports both Android and iOS platforms and it also works with the PC through its web portal. This means you won’t need a particular smartphone OS to use the Garmin Vivosmart HR+.
You can review the performance graph and activity chart in the Garmin connect. The first thing you will notice when you open the app is the snapshots. These snapshots have your stat like workout leaderboard, calendar of workouts and heart rate graph. You will take time to grow into the app, but once you are familiar with its functionality, you will realize how powerful Garmin Connect is, at keeping records of your data. To get even better insights from your data, we recommend to use the web portal that offers a suite of powerful tools like training schedules, workout plans and progress-goal tracking.
Finding particular option to an information in Garmin connect can be confusing at times with the lack of guidance.
We have reviewed many fitness trackers over the years, but the innovation you see in Garmin products are rare. Same goes with the battery life. The Vivosmart HR+ has a battery life of 6 days that too with full notifications.
No other fitness tracker can offer such longevity after offering so many features.
Reasons to Choose Garmin Vivosmart HR+
With Garmin Vivosmart HR+ you cannot go wrong. Tech gurus and users are equally pleased with the features and performance of this fitness tracker. Here are the main reasons why you should consider the Vivosmart HR+ over others:
A reason enough to be considered, the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ comes with an inbuilt GPS which extends it functionality over other accelerometer based fitness trackers. You can run for miles, leaving your smartphone at home. GPS tracker is highly accurate and can also be used outside the running mode.
Don’t worry about missing any important notification when you are not carrying your phone around. The Vivosmart HR+ is powered by the failsafe Garmin Connect ecosystem that informs you about calls, texts, social media notifications and emails. You can read the full message with a single tap or swipe.
Fitness trackers always struggle to balance between features and battery life. Team Garmin has done a really nice job at providing this fitness tracker with a six days battery life even when all the notifications and features are running.
Excellent app software
Garmin connect is known in the industry to be one of the best apps. It is compatible with most platforms on both mobile and PC. You won’t need a smartphone to make the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ work as it can share data with the app’s web portal. There are a host of other tools available for users on the web portal.
The Garmin Vivosmart HR+ is one of the fitness trackers that you can wear at home to take to your office. With bright display, GPS and heart rate monitor it is a true runners’ fitness band. It might be bulkier than the other fitness trackers in the market and not for all wrists, but if you are looking for a fitness tracker that is accurate and full of features, the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ is a worthwhile consideration.