With such a crowded market in the activity tracker world, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing between different features, form factors and price points.
Whilst Fitbit is undoubtably the biggest player in the world of wearables, increasing competition has seen many competitors snapping at its heels. Garmin is one such rival, and over the past few years it has steadily improved its range of wearables to become a serious challenger to Fitbit’s dominance.
At a glance
The Garmin VivoSmart HR+ is a heart-rate enabled activity and sleep tracker that offers smart-watch like notifications, GPS and auto-activity switching. In terms of competing products, the added GPS functionality pits the HR+ against higher-priced rival like the Microsoft Band, Fitbit Blaze and Garmin’s own VivoActive HR.
Design and Ergonomics
Winner of Fitness Tracker of The Year at the 2016 Wareable Tech Awards, the VivoSmart HR+ shares the same form-factor as its predecessor the VivoSmart HR. It has a 160 x 68 px monochrome display which is fully touch enabled. It comes in ubiquitous black, plus blue or purple options should you wish to flaunt a little colour.
The traditional watch buckle strap ensures the wearable stays securely fixed on your wrist in even the most demanding activities. With a strong pedigree in building fitness watches for professional athletes, the HR+ has a durable plastic and rubber body, and whilst not the slimmest of trackers, it’s solidly constructed and boasts a high build quality.
The VivoSmart HR+ is also water resistant up to 5ATM (50 meters) so you can wear it in the shower or swimming, although it won’t track your heart-rate in the pool.
There are two sizes available; regular has a strap circumference of 136-192 mm or, if you’ve got larger wrists you can supersize to the X-large model which measures 180-224 mm.
Battery life is an impressive 5 days continuous use without GPS, or 8 hours with GPS tracking switched on.
In terms of monitoring the VivoSmart HR+ can measure your steps, sleep, calories burned, distance, heart rate, elevation and duration of ‘intense’ activity. A newly added feature is Garmin’s MoveIQ software which automatically detects your mode of exercise.
Sensor wise, there’s a 3-axis accelerometer for movement detecting, Garmin’s Elevate optical heart-rate sensor for 24/7 HR monitoring, an altimeter for measuring elevation, and GPS capabilities. The addition of GPS to the VivoSmart HR+ makes it a viable alternative for runners who want to combine the convenience of a wristband wearable with Garmin’s solid GPS tracking features.
The HR+ is also able to display a range of notifications from your smartphone including texts, calls, emails and social media as well as a range of third party alerts and controls for iOS and Android apps. This pitches theVivoSmart HR+in the hybrid smartwatch category, suitable for those who want to stay ‘connected’ but don’t want to go the whole hog dow the Apple Watch route.
Sleep tracking, like exercise is tracked automatically. The VivoSmart HR+ gives you a breakdown of both light and deep sleep, as well as sleep duration, time awake, and number of wake episodes.
Like other Garmin trackers, the VivoSmart HR+ sync to the Garmin Connect app and ecosystem. The app provides a wealth of different screens detailed all of your activity and sleep metrics.
If you’re an iOS user, Garmin Connect Mobile will also automatically sync with Apple Health. Depending on what options you have enabled, Apple Health can receive a wealth of data from the VivoSmart HR+ including heart-rate, sleep analysis, steps, workouts and flights climbed.