Hands-on Gear Review

Garmin Vivosport Review

Price:   $200 List | $169.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Solid display, ergonomic
Cons:  A little pricey for its performance
Bottom line:  Finishing in the middle of the pack, the Garmin Vivosport failed to make much of an impact on us
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Heart Rate Monitor:  Yes
Altimeter (stair tracking):  Yes
Battery life:  up to 7 days; up to 8 hours with GPS
Manufacturer:   Garmin

Our Verdict

One of the newer, more affordable offerings from Garmin, we found the Vivosport to fall a little short in our tests. It is a little too pricey and doesn't really have any standout attributes. It has a great display and is very comfortable to wear, but isn't particularly easy to use and doesn't score much above average in terms of health or fitness impact.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
David Wise and Austin Palmer

Last Updated:
Tuesday
December 5, 2017

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The Vivosport finished right between the Garmin Vivoactive 3 and the Garmin Vivosmart HR. The Vivoactive 3 has a bit more in terms of fitness tracking capabilities, but this pseudo-smartwatch costs about a hundred bucks more. The Vivosmart HR is extremely similar to the Vivosport, but we found it to be slightly less ergonomic.

The Garmin Vivosport.
The Garmin Vivosport.

Performance Comparison


To find the best fitness tracker of them all, we bought the best and then evaluated and ranked the performance of the Vivosport and the rest of the products in the test. We scored each on its performance in five weighted rating metrics — Fitness Impact, Health Impact, Ease of Use, Display, and Ergonomics — with the results described below.

The Vivosport didn't stand out in fitness impact testing.
The Vivosport didn't stand out in fitness impact testing.
Fitness Impact is the most important of all and accounts for 30% of the final score for each tracker. The Vivosport did fairly well, meriting a 6 out of 10 for its overall performance when it came to fitness.

The Vivosport wasn't the most accurate model that we tested when it came to counting steps, averaging about 0.5% off of the true manual count on a mile-long walk. Unfortunately, this model does not estimate distance, losing it a few points.

The steps screen on the Vivosport.
The steps screen on the Vivosport.

This model did do a decent job at tracking a cycling workout, calculating the top and average speed, as well as the distance, duration, and elevation changes. It also will show your average and maximum heart rate.

It did about the same for tracking a workout and also has separate profiles for walking, running, stair stepper, weights, and cardio, as well as an "Other" profile for activities that don't fall under the above list. This model has a decent set of options to compare and compete with your friends and family — identical to the other Garmin models --

However, we found this model to be quite inaccurate when counting flights of stairs climbed, missing the majority of the ones that we climbed. The Vivosport only showed 3 sets of stairs climbed, out of the 10 that we did in our test.

Health Impact


Ranking second in terms of importance, our Health Impact metric accounts for 25% of the total score, with the Vivosport doing alright, earning a 6 out of 10 for its above average performance. We scored the accuracy of the heart rate monitor and sleep tracker, as well as how helpful the tracker is at aiding you in maintaining a diet and implementing positive lifestyle changes.

The Vivosport didn't score particularly well in our tests, varying from the chest strap control heart rate monitor by an average of 30 bpm when working out in our tests.

The heart rate tracking on the Vivosport was subpar when working out.
The heart rate tracking on the Vivosport was subpar when working out.

This model does estimate your calorie burn through RMR and working out, but it doesn't have any option to input calorie intake, requiring you to use a third-party app, like MyFitnessPal.

The Vivosport — like the other Garmin models — does have a movement bar that will build up the longer you have been stationary and remind you to get up and get moving. Finally, we found the sleep tracker to be reasonably accurate, matching up decently well with our testers' recollections of the evening. The Vivosport also has a vibration alarm to wake you, though it wasn't quite as strong as some of the other models.

The Vivosport has a touch interface only.
The Vivosport has a touch interface only.

Ease of Use


Comprising 20% of the total score, our Ease of Use metric came next in terms of importance. We compared the quality of the companion app and data syncing, as well as the ease of navigating the menus on the device and putting them on and off. We also evaluated the water resistance and battery life of each tracker. The Vivosport again delivered an alright performance, earning a 6 out of 10 for its efforts.

The Vivosport is about average in terms of battery life, lasting for up to 7 days with minimal use and 8 hours with the GPS active. This fitness band uses a proprietary charging cable and is water resistant to 5 ATM.

The Vivosport uses a proprietary charger.
The Vivosport uses a proprietary charger.

It syncs with the app, Garmin Connect, relatively quickly, sending a day's worth of data in about 5-15 seconds. The Connect app isn't our favorite, but it gets the job done — it can just be a little unintuitive and overwhelming at first, requiring a bit of an adjustment period before you get used to it.

The watch style fastener makes it easy to put on.
The watch style fastener makes it easy to put on.

It is also relatively easy to take this band on and off and it is quite easy and intuitive to navigate between menus on the device.

We felt the Vivosport was comfortable to wear and unobtrusive.
We felt the Vivosport was comfortable to wear and unobtrusive.

Ergonomics


For our Ergonomics metrics, worth 15% of the total score, we conducted three different tests: comfort, aesthetics, and profile design. The Vivosport did quite well, earning a 7 out of 10 for its performance.

The Vivosport is quite comfortable to wear — slightly more comfortable than the average tracker to wear for long periods of time. It is decently stylish, but is definitely sports-centered in terms of design with its completely rubberized body being much more at home in the gym than out on the town.

This product did earn points by having a slim profile, keeping it from catching when putting on a backpack or jacket.

The Vivosport has a strong display. It is easy to read in both dim and super bright light.
The Vivosport has a strong display. It is easy to read in both dim and super bright light.

Display


For the last metric of our test, we judged and scored the display of each wearable, as well as what is shown on it. The Vivosport finished out our review with an excellent showing, earning a 9 out of 10 for its performance.

The display is very visible and easy to read, in both bright and dim lighting conditions. The touchscreen is very responsive — much better than the Vivosmart 3 and most of the push notifications on your phone will be displayed on the Vivosport. These include text, call, or app.

The further displays from the home screen also show the steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, and active minutes undertaken so far in the day.

Value


The Vivosport scored in the middle of the pack, but has an above average list price, making it a poor value pick.

Conclusion


This middle-of-the-road fitness tracker is relatively uninspiring and failed to impress. It's a little on the pricey side and doesn't really stand out from the pack. It's a definite improvement over some of the previous Garmin models in terms of being a quality, everyday fitness tracker, but it still has plenty to do before it claims an award.

David Wise and Austin Palmer

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