Not too long ago, we all witnessed a surge in the fitness bands that were solely based on fitness proposition and were limited to track the steps. As people get conscious about what they eat, the numbers of calories they have burned by strolling in the office, their sleeping patterns and heart rate, fitness bands also get a makeover. Garmin, the leading GPS maker, brings you its latest smartwear device, Garmin Vivofit fitness band that enables you to optimize your fitness schedule and manage your weight in the best way possible.

While most fitness bands are a half-hearted approach to a smartwatch and become reduced to neither a good fitness band or nor a smartwatch, Garmin Vivofit is a fresh approach that is happy being limited to the former category only. In this era of digital wellness, the segment of smartwear devices is hot and every other day, you have companies that launch the smartwear wrist devices to help you keep track and monitor your health. When it comes to Garmin, we are talking about its legacy, expertise and experience that have the capability to set the benchmark in the arena of smartwatch. With one SKU with heart rate monitor up its sleeves, Garmin Vivofit competes with the likes of Fitbit and Nike FuelBand and how does it fare, let us figure out!

Know About Garmin Vivoactive

Looks of Garmin Vivofit:

Do not expect Garmin Vivofit to stand out in terms of looks and aesthetics as it does not. For most of the part it is a simple band made of rubber.   The band can be divided into two parts, the actual tracker and the plastic strap. The strap lends a very plastic-y and cheap feel to the band but makes up for it in terms of durability that will withstand the most of ruffled part when you are sweating out. However, this plastic strap can cause mild itchiness when it becomes wet or catches moisture. So, take it off before heading to the shower. The strap is also flexible and stretches in accordance with the wrist size. So, it will hang in there irrespective of your wrist size.

The design is also very unimaginative and not something to write home about. In front of Jawbone UP3, it looks very basic. The fitness band utilizes a notch-and-clasp mechanism and does not look that pretty while sitting on the wrist. It is sturdy and does not exude any premium feel that most likely would scare off the segment that wears a fitness band as an accessory too.

However, do not get disheartened as the strap does not have to do anything with the actual tracker of Garmin Vivofit fitness band and Garmin is giving you plenty of colors to choose from. The band has two size options, large and small that is not much of choice, to be honest.

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Let us now come to the star attraction of the Vivofit that undoubtedly is its tracker. The curved tracker is half inches wide, two inches long and has 1 x 0.39 topside screen. The display is in gold and red. The always-on LCD that is strikingly similar to a basic watch. As the display is always on you do not have to wake up the screen too. There is no backlight that can make reading notifications quite troublesome to read in poor lighting. The four screws hold the entire system of band together. Garmin Vivofit has no USB port and physcial ports. The 2 x CR1632 battery is removable and as per company’s claims, these are enough to last for a year. So, yes, there is no need to charge the device as well and no need of a charging port. On the connectivity front, you have ANT+ and Bluetooth 4.0. Since Vivofit does away with most of advanced configurations, it is waterproof to up to 50 meters. Those who swim to stay fit can use it without giving it a second thought.

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As we mentioned earlier, Garmin is the leading GPS maker but it is a surprise that Vivofit does not have feature GPS. Doing away with GPS does shoot up the battery life and keeps the price in check but left you with the feeling that there could be more to it but was not.

It is essentially a fitness tracker and not a sports watch. The bundled offering from Vivofit comes with a heart rate monitor strap and both models feature ANT+ USB adaptor to connect the device to your computer.

Software of Garmin Vivofit:

Garmin Vivofit utilizes the rehashed and severely remodeled version of Garmin’s signature platform, Connect. Android and Apple users can use the Connect app to link it to their smartphones. Setting up the software is also easy and it sits on your mobile quite neatly. If you are a new user, you may need to sign up first by answering a few simple questions concerning your age, your gender, height and weight. After that, you can pair the device and use the ‘sync all’ option. The dashboard presents you with a vivid detail of your fitness regime that comprises sleep pattern, steps taken, connections with friends registered and activities. You can also show off your badge or reports to the friend.

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Vivofit can be used as standalone model and you can choose not to sign up for Connect but this can reduce the capability of exercise platform drastically, actually limiting it to just tracking of the number of steps taken daily and nothing more. Connect enhances the functionality of the platform exponentially as you can store and see the data in one place. You can also import the data of activities stored on other devices to the Vivofit via Connect. If you want to stay motivated, you can generate reports of heart rate and other activities in general upon logging-in.

In Action:

Vivofit does not just tell you time but also politely alerts you if you have been inactive for a while. The sedentary alert is also a prominent feature in FuelBand that nudges you to “win the hour” and in Jawbone Up that vibrates when it detects inactivity for a certain period but Vivofit’s alert feature is more amazing as its vehemently red bar stays on the display until you move yourself enough to replace it. When it detects no activity for about one hour, it starts alerting you and follows it up after every 15 minutes for the span of 2 hours in total. It is quite a practical approach and less-intruding too. It also pushes you to move that is a good thing when you are into mindless eating, watching TV for endless hours or doing a desk job for long hours.

If it is on your wrist, it is packing in digital wellness and awareness both. So, if you want to make the most of it, you can. Connect app can be used to navigate through the seven screens of information and remove the ones you do not need. The information related to the activities can be played on a loop by pushing on the side button in a particular order that is steps covered, goals to be achieved, distance covered, calories burnt, time, date and heartbeat rate.

It also guides you about calorie consumption. Based on it, you can control your food intake and set the weight-loss goal. Garmin Vivofit has been accurate with distance tracking vis-à-vis GPS watches of several brands.

Talking about the other SKU with heart rate monitor, all you need is to do is to put the band and start the heart screen to enable the device to listen to the HRM signal that the band will display it in terms of BPM, intensity zone and the beginning of training activity.

Starting off with the goal of completing 5000 steps on the first day, it adjusts the count steps in accordance with your physical capability. If, for instance, you were not able to complete 5000 steps the first day, it will reduce the target for you. If you complete it, it will push you to achieve more by increasing the target.

What Garmin Vivofit does not have?

Despite it being a fitness band, designed for runners and fitness trainers, it does not have a stopwatch. It is not a smartwatch either. Since it features always-on screen and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, the company could have thrown in some smartphone alert notifications. But apparently, Garmin has decided to limit it as a fitness band and wants it users explore its benefits like that only.

Garmin Vivofit may not be as cool as the other smartwatches or fitness bands available in the market but thanks to the accurate tracking, reports, durability and amazing battery life, it may be able to attract the fitness enthusiasts and fence-sitters too to some extent.

Price of Garmin Vivofit

The competition is very intense in this segment and Vivofit is expected to have a hard time in this category to attract users’ attention as well as earn revenue.   Priced at $129.99, it faces tough competition from Fitbit Surge and Jawbone Up3 in this segment.

As I wrap up this extensive review on Garmin Vivofit, let me tell you once more that it is essentially an active tracker and nothing more. If you are looking for fitness band that requires little to no interaction or you are looking for a device that could push you to achieve your fitness goals, this is it! Awesome battery life and waterproof features as well as durability are added advantages to it. The strap and plain Jane features could be a spoilsport for many as well as the no-backlight option but if you could just overlook the aesthetics, this could be the fitness band you are looking for.


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