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Garmin Vivosmart Hr Review

The Garmin Vivosmart HR.
Price:   $150 List | $76.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Waterproof, tons of trackable activities, great reminders to be active
Cons:  Poor heart rate monitoring, bulky, difficulty syncing with the app
Bottom line:  A good choice for someone who wants a tracker that can weather the outdoors and doesn't want to pay for a built-in GPS
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Garmin

Our Verdict

The Garmin Vivosmart Hr is a decent fitness tracker, essentially the same model as our Top Pick award winner, without the built-in GPS. This model did well across the board, having a particularly nice display. This model is a good pick if you are interested in a wider variety of activities besides walking or running, and you value a lower profile design and don't care about the added benefits of GPS in the device itself.


RELATED REVIEW: Best Fitness Trackers and Activity Monitors of 2017


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
David Wise and Austin Palmer

Last Updated:
Wednesday
January 11, 2017

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The Vivosmart Hr scores well across the board, but there are other similarly priced models that scored substantially better.

Performance Comparison


The Vivosmart HR is almost identical to our Top Pick for Outdoor Activities award winner  minus the built-in GPS.
The Vivosmart HR is almost identical to our Top Pick for Outdoor Activities award winner, minus the built-in GPS.

Fitness Impact


The Vivosmart Hr scored above average when we assessed its fitness impact capabilities, earning a 6 out of 10. This model lost a few points, as it seemed exceptionally eager to count false steps based on random arm movements, as did most of the Garmin trackers. This model did a very good job of accurately counting steps when actually walking. We manually counted steps over a mile long walk, and compared it with the tracker's count multiple times, with the Vivosmart Hr averaging only about a 0.6% discrepancy.

The Vivosmart HR showing that you have almost reached your daily goal!
The Vivosmart HR showing that you have almost reached your daily goal!

For tracking other activities, this band will record the duration, as well as max and average heart rate. You can choose between run, walk, cardio, or other for activities to track, and this model does track how many flights of stairs you have climbed.

This model has a good set of features in the app to compare with the community, but the app, Garmin Connect, has received very low ratings due to some syncing and connectivity problems. You can sign up to compete and challenge your friends in various activities, as well as allowing you to opt in to weekly challenges with people in your step ranges. You can connect with Facebook to look for friends.

Health Impact


This tracker continued its slightly above average performance into this metric, earning another 6 out of 10. This model does track heart rate, but we found that is was significantly off of the chest-strap heart rate monitor we compared it to. This model consistently recorded low, averaging 51 bpm off throughout our trials.

The Vivosmart HR was off by a decent amount when it came to monitoring heart rate  especially when at an elevated level.
The Vivosmart HR was off by a decent amount when it came to monitoring heart rate, especially when at an elevated level.

This model's app didn't have much in the way of aiding you in dieting or monitoring calorie intake, requiring you to use a third-party app, MyFitnessPal. We did check how this model did at estimating rMr, and found that it overestimated it when compared to the result of a generic calculation based on our tester's physical attributes.

This model is one of the best at reminding you to move when you have been inactive for too long, with a move bar that will increase in length the longer you have been sedentary, and take proportionally longer periods of activity to clear it. This band has a vibration alarm to gently wake you and leave your partner undisturbed. It will also automatically track your sleep, but can be a little bulky on your wrist.

Ease of Use


As in the previous metrics, the Vivosmart Hr earned a 6 out of 10 in our assessment of how easy it was to use. This fitness tracker has a claimed battery life of up to 5 days, and uses a specific charger.

We liked that the dedicated charger snapped into place on the Vivosmart HR  making it difficult to accidentally disconnect.
We liked that the dedicated charger snapped into place on the Vivosmart HR, making it difficult to accidentally disconnect.

This model seems prone to having connectivity issues when syncing with the phone, but did alright when it worked, taking up to 10 seconds. The Garmin Connect app felt solidly overwhelming and unintuitive at first, but felt a little more comfortable after using it for a few weeks.

Current progress towards your daily goal  displayed on the Garmin app.
Current progress towards your daily goal, displayed on the Garmin app.

We did appreciate that this model is waterproof to 5 ATM, making it suitable for swimming or paddling, and was easy to put on.

Ergonomics


Unsurprisingly, the Vivosmart Hr scored a 6 out of 10 when it came to ergonomics. This model rated highly in visual aesthetics among our panel of testers, simple enough to match with anything. It also always displays the time, allowing it to be a decent substitute for a watch.

Both Garmin Vivosmart models were easy to use and easy to put on.
Both Garmin Vivosmart models were easy to use and easy to put on.

This model is relatively comfortable to wear, but we found it to have somewhat of an obtrusive profile. This made it prone to getting snagged when doing commonplace tasks like putting on a backpack or a light jacket. Think a tube of chapstick on your wrist.

Display


Bucking the trend, the Vivosmart Hr earned a 7 out of 10 in this metric. The display was clear and easy to read, with a strong enough backlight to read in strong daylight. We did like that the tracker was immediately responsive to a button press to wake up. The Vivosmart Hr has call and text notifications, as well as any other notification that would typically show up on your phone.

A handful of notifications can be displayed on the Vivosmart HR.
A handful of notifications can be displayed on the Vivosmart HR.

Value


This model is priced in the middle of all the models we tested, and scored roughly in the middle. It would be an alright value on sale, but nothing amazing.

Conclusion


The Vivosmart Hr is an average fitness tracker that does basic activity tracking at a reasonable price. This model has the added benefit of being waterproof, for those that do more water-based activities, and want to track while they do it. Unfortunately, this model has no dedicated swim features to match its waterproofness, but it can still measure the duration and your heart rate like any other activity.
David Wise and Austin Palmer

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