GARMIN’S GADGETS & GIZMOS

Garmin Vivosmart HR+ – quite a mouthful, accompanied by quite a high price tag. As with so many 21st century fitness gadgets, it sounds more like an obscure gizmo from Star Trek than an activity monitoring watch. But is it really worth the hype? Of course I had to put this latest addition to the Garmin ‘wearables’ family at the top of my Christmas list; once received (thanks Santa) I then put it through its paces in order to write this honest review (no freebies were issued in the publishing of this post!)


GPS TRACKER ♥♥♥

The major difference between the previous model and this one (the + in the name), is the installation of GPS software. This means that all activities tracked whilst wearing the device are accompanied by a neat map. Although, since this is the first model with activity tracking this advanced, there are a few technical glitches. By glitches I mean it takes what seems like an eternity to find satellite signal – not helpful when there’s only half an hour left of sunlight but you desperately need to train. I’ve timed it, and in total my Garmin Vivo can take anything up to 30 minutes to find signal, though this time can be significantly reduced if I’m outside. (Hello thorough outdoor warm-ups and ample time to kit out pre-route.) Whilst I highly value maps added to my Strava feed, next time Garmin, I’d suggest this feature be updated to get a full thumbs up.

HEART RATE MONITOR ♥♥♥♥♥

Moving on, the next swanky new feature is its ability to track heart rate throughout the day, with the touchscreen displaying both your current heart rate and an average resting heart rate tailored to you. If you swipe across, it also give you a very techie looking graph, providing your highest and lowest heart rate figures in the past four hours. I find this especially interesting after exercise, as I can see how long it took for my heart rate to reach ‘resting’, plus how hard I worked based on the percentage maximum heart rate. ‘But how accurate is the data?’ – a question I’m sure has been pondered many times. Going by my GCSE PE lessons, and the few times I’ve measured my heart rate by taking my pulse, it has so far been very accurate *sigh of relief* I also like the fact that it monitors 24/7, without the need of any additional straps that are often uncomfortable and fussy.

WATER-PROOFING ♥♥♥♥

The next selling point for the HR+ is its water-proofing: an obvious must for anyone training regularly, rain or shine. It means that you practically never have to take it off, except for charging. Whilst this can feel slightly like you’re wearing an offender’s electronic tagging device, not aided particularly by the design, you forget that you’re wearing it. I definitely enjoy the fact that the worry of getting it wet doesn’t exist. However I must admit that even though they claim the Vivo to be waterproof to 50 metres, I haven’t got the nerve to test it out any further than soaking it on a rather wet punting experience. But so far, no disasters. I’m happy.

SLEEP-TRACKING ♥♥♥♥

Lately, getting a good night’s sleep has been in the headlines as a must for a healthy body, myself even typing up a post on the science behind the snores for LYDSBERRYPIE. So obviously the Garmin tech-geniuses had to equip their latest Vivo with sleep-tracking ability. Whilst at first I questioned the idea of wearing a posh fitness watch while sleeping, it didn’t take long to get used to it (and realise it’s practically indestructible, even for someone who is occasionally caught sleep walking.) My new morning ritual has been to check the synced data on the Garmin Connect App, which provides an insightful graph of the quality of last night’s shut-eye. Like the watch, this app has such an abundance of settings, I suspect I’m yet to discover many of them. As for sleep, one graph unpacks periods of deep and light sleep, plus waking periods; the other graph displays the amount of movement throughout the night. I have found this to be extremely helpful for calculating optimum times for lights-out, and have noticed significant improvements in the quality of my sleep. It’s probably worth mentioning that there is evidence to suggest that all this is psychological. All I know  is my sleep awareness and sleep quality has hugely improved since wearing the Vivo through the night.

DESIGN: DAILY USE ♥♥♥♥

For daily use, the design isn’t quite as sleek as my skinny wrists can handle – “she can’t take it off else the prison will be on red-alert” has become a regular joke in our house. Being someone who deeply despises bulky tech, especially when exercising, I can just about handle this one. The layout is extremely customisable; settings allowing you to change minor details such as screen brightness and layout. Need to read stats in blinding sunlight? No problem. Want to check the time in the middle of the night? Simples. If Garmin can scale down the bulk, and maybe even offer a wider variety of colours beyond black, blue and purple, they’re onto a real winner (look out Apple Watch, there’s a new kid on the block). In addition, the watch without doubt hacks into your competitive side, their slogan being “Beat Yesterday, Every Day” is rather apt. Every day I’ll sprint up and down the stairs to increase my elevation, or take the long route to my next lesson in order to reach my daily step goal. Little reminders to stand up every hour are ingenious, especially in this day and age where ‘sitting is the new smoking’. As well as move alerts, it also links to your phone (as if I wasn’t using it most hours of the day anyway), feeding in all notifications. This has never let me down, and is really helpful when you need to check your texts but don’t have your phone to hand.

IT’S FOR YOU IF…

You’re looking for something to gather 24/7 insights into both daily actvity and other exercise through a no-fuss, simple gadget. For runners and hikers, this is a complete game changer, ditch the phone-strap; the Vivo is where it’s at.

AREAS I’M LOVING…

The heart rate monitor, sleep-tracking, step count and elevation all appear very accurate and are really helpful.

AREAS TO IMPROVE…

GPS satellite speed, music and weather controls (which I have not really covered, but so long as your phone has the Garmin Connect App open, you can control music and view the weather for the next week from the watch). All reviewers of the Vivo seems to comment on the price, and I guess I’m no exception – it’s certainly not the cheapest wearable gadget of its type; without testing the competition, I can’t comment on how the Vivo compares. Loyalty to the Garmin brand (my cycling family are keen Garmin users) was a deciding factor for me.

GARMIN THEMSELVES

I’m pleased you are loving your Vivosmart HR+, and thoroughly enjoyed reading your review.

In order to acquire a satellite in the quickest time, please follow the information below:

  • While connected to your Garmin Connect account, the device downloads several days of satellite data, allowing it to quickly locate satellite signals.

  • Take your device outside to an open area away from tall buildings and trees.
  • Remain stationary for a few minutes.

Ensuring you are outside should mean that the time taken to acquire satellites will be heavily reduced.


To summarise, I would say that the Vivo has been thoughtfully developed and built to last. I enjoy using it, and as with all modern tech, look forward to eventually upgrading to the next model, eager to see improvements and new features with this particular piece of wearable tech. Thank you Garmin!

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