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First look at Garmin’s new Vivosmart activity tracker


Today at IFA, the giant consumer-electronics focused show in Berlin, Garmin announced their latest activity monitor, the Vivosmart.  This unit builds upon the Vivofit that was released earlier this year with additional features and tighter smartphone integration.

I had a chance recently to play with the unit for a short bit of time, so I can offer some initial first thoughts.  Over the course of the fall I’ll pickup a unit and give it a more detailed review as usual.

For those in a bit of a hurry, here’s the core run down of the new things added above and beyond the existing Vivofit:

– Inclusion of a touch display
– Addition of cycling speed sensor support
– Addition of smartphone notifications (iOS and Android)
– Addition of ‘find my phone’ function
– Addition of Garmin VIRB action camera control
– Addition of phone music control
– Addition of vibration alerts

Now, all this functionality does come at a price – specifically, battery.  The unit gets reduced from a year’s worth of battery to about a week’s worth.  Which is pretty consistent with other bands in the industry that have similar displays and functionality.

With that brief introduction over, let’s dive into all the major new features.

The Touch Display, Waterproofing, Vibration alerts:

The most noticeable change from the existing Vivofit is the display.  The Vivosmart uses an OLED display that can be used to display just about anything textual or stick-man graphics that you can think of.


At the same time, said display is also a touch screen.  You’ll swipe left and right to change the display, and then can tap on a given icon on the display to select a given function.


The display is off, unless touched.  Additionally, if your raise your hand up as if you were going to look at the unit (like a watch), it’ll automatically turn on.

In addition to the display, the unit now contains the ability to generate vibration alerts.  These can be used for notifications, as well as configuring a sleep alarm.  This means you can now use the unit to be woken up from, without disturbing someone else.

Despite the OLED display, the unit is still waterproofed to 50 meters, so you don’t have to worry about killing it in the shower or the swimming pool.

Of course, such a screen isn’t without its downsides, most notably – battery.  As mentioned earlier, this drops the battery life of the unit from what was about 1-year on the Vivofit, down to about 7 days on the Vivosmart.  This puts it in the same ballpark as some of the other units in this class like the Fuelband and Polar Loop.


To charge it, you’ll use this included clamp charge that gives the Vivosmart a bit of a bear hug.


Smartphone Notifications, Music Control, Find your Phone:

Next, the Vivosmart, as the name implies, includes smartphone integration.  Previously, with Vivofit that was basically just limited to synchronizing your daily steps and other activities via Bluetooth Smart to your iOS or Android phone.

Now, that functionality on Vivosmart has been expanded significantly to act much like a smart watch.  To start, you can configure notifications from either iOS or Android.  The most common types of notifications would be that of text/e-mail messages, calls and calendar reminders.


You can scroll through these messages – even the contents of them – by swiping and tapping the display.


These notifications utilize the standard mechanisms on each platform, so they can be generated from anything from ‘standard’ stuff like missed calls and text messages, to more pressing issues like Angry Birds notifications.



And, unlike in the past, this functionality will be available from launch on both Android and iOS (previously Android lagged a bit).

Next, you’ve got the ability to find your phone.  You can tap a button on the unit, which will trigger the phone to ring.  At the same time, the band will show a little proximity bar graph of sorts, that shows you how far you are from the phone.


I played around with the find your phone feature a little bit and was fairly impressed with the little distance bar and the rough accuracy of it as I went further away from the phone.

Finally, we’ve got music control.  You can use the app to trigger basic start/stop and next/back track functions, as well as to adjust volume.


This functionality all uses the native platform controls, so it will effectively work with most applications that leverage that (for example, Spotify).

Addition of cycling sensor support:

While the existing Vivofit can connect to any ANT+ heart rate strap, the new Vivosmart can also connect to ANT+ cycling speed sensors.


The idea behind this is that folks who go out for a ride can get those activities more accurately recorded.  In this mode the unit will still generate an activity file just like before – but it’ll also include speed and distance (and be marked as cycling).  Previously if you went cycling with the product you just had a heart rate file.

Once paired, the unit will also show speed on the band itself.


(Update: Below section changed, after further clarification from different folks at Garmin.)

The unit will connect to both an ANT+ speed-only sensor, as well as an ANT+ speed/cadence combo sensor.  In the case of the combo sensor, it won’t use the cadence channel (won’t save/display it), but will still use the speed side of things.

Garmin VIRB support:


In what is probably the biggest surprise of the unit, Garmin has added the ability to control the VIRB action camera.  You’ll swipe to get to the VIRB menu, which then connects to the VIRB in the same manner as their remote control would (or some watches).

Once connected you’ll have two simple options.  To the right you can take a photo:


And to the left you can start recording a video:


To stop the recording, you’ll simply press the same video button again.  The whole thing worked quite well in my brief testing.

As usual, the data is recorded all within the VIRB, so there isn’t any additional dependencies on the Vivosmart.  And of course if you had a heart rate monitor paired, you’d pair that to the VIRB as well (since the strap can support multiple devices connecting to it).  The Vivosmart can control either the VIRB (regular) or VIRB Elite.

The Vivosmart Basics:

I recognize that some folks have never seen or heard of the original Vivofit, so just to recap very briefly in that department, the unit carries through all those existing features into the new Vivosmart.

For example, you still retain the inactivity bar graph.  It’s just no longer in red, but does display how long you’ve been inactive for.  Now though with the vibration alerts, it’ll also buzz you to get you moving.


The unit will still display calories burned, and is easily accessible by just swiping left or right on the display – just like before (except it was a button tap then).


Like every other activity monitor on earth, it’ll display the current number of steps, as well as your distance (i.e. miles).


It’ll show you steps remaining until your goal, but that’s now combined with your actual goal number as well.  On the Vivo series, the goal is dynamic and is changed each day depending on the previous few days of trending.


And the unit does include sleep tracking as well, though like the Vivofit that needs to be manually enabled/displayed when you go to sleep and wake up.


Finally, while in an activity (which is a separate mode to specifically track exercise) you’ll get both your current heart rate and your heart rate zone (as defined on Garmin Connect).  Previously the display showed the same, but it was all condensed together so sometimes a bit confusing.


That rounds up all the basics, of course, I’ll dive more into things down the road in a typical in-depth review.

Some initial thoughts:


Overall I think the feature set is pretty cool here.  I love the idea of adding the cycling speed sensor support, as that bridges that gap a bit for some people.  And the smartphone notifications seem well done, I’m glad they used the standard notification center there and didn’t do any limiting to specific functions/apps (i.e. just text messages).

The waterproofing to 50-meters is very solid, and is a rarity in the notification-connected world.  Most other devices that have flirted with notifications have far lower waterproofing levels.

Looking at the VIRB support, that’s definitely cool, but I wonder how much crossover there really is between people that buy the Vivosmart and people that buy the Garmin VIRB.  I would have thought adding VIRB support to the Garmin FR220 and FR620 would have netted a far bigger Venn diagram, and would be more likely to drive sales of both products.  So it’s not so much a knock on the Vivosmart’s inclusion of it, as it is the lack of support for it in the running products (outside of the Fenix line).


Of course, the new display does take a pretty big hit on the battery.  And while playing with it, I felt the display wasn’t super-crisp, almost a bit hazy.  I’m sure I’d get used to it, but it’s not that super-sharp screen on the Vivofit (even if it does have far more information).

Now I may come to not mind it – which is something I’ll touch on within my full in-depth review sometime this fall.

The Vivosmart will be available in about two weeks, exclusively at BestBuy.com until November.  Pricing is $169US without a heart rate monitor, and $199US with a heart rate monitor.  The unit will come in two sizes (the bands are not changeable like Vivofit), small and large.  And will come in five colors: Berry, blue, black, purple, and slate.  For clarity, I asked about the berry type. It’s a strawberry color with ‘undertones of pink’.  So…check.

Thanks for reading!  Feel free to drop any questions below and I’d be happy to try and get answers to them.

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  1. Wayne Gorton

    A cool feature I would like to see on the Vivosmart is a way to activate Siri, for when the phone is not close enough to touch but close enough to hear your voice. I regularly shout “Hey Siri” (iPhone in the study) while I’m in the lounge room…to settle an argument. This only works when the the iPhone in plugged into power, but there are plenty of times when it’s not plugged in and, like the locate feature, I could activate Siri to sort something out.

    Any insight on if this feature could be coming?


  2. Rob

    Hi Ray,
    Curious if you have heard anything from Garmin on Vivosmart enhancements. They have been very quiet.

  3. Doug F

    Hi Ray,

    I have been looking at both the Vivosmart and Polar M400 from an activity tracker point of view (my fitbit flex just died). Given that both are at the same pricepoint, from purely a activity tracker perspective what are the pros and cons comparing the two ?



    • From an activity tracker POV only, the Vivosmart is slightly better in that it can do smart alerts and the like. But, on the flip side, the M400 is far better as a single device in that it can do GPS tracking and the like.

      So, if you don’t want a GPS watch, go Vivosmart. If you do, then go M400. :)

  4. Bernardo

    Just gol my Vivosmart, very pleased with the look, the way it fit’s the notification and the simple interface.

    Very disappointed with the music control over IOS 8, because only control native app. Not spotify or pandora… Ray it would be very nice to have this… Do you see it coming?

    • I just went back for clarification on this. Apparently (according to Garmin) with iOS8 it’s now tied to the default music app for control over BLE, whereas Bluetooth legacy is permitted to access other apps. They noted until Apple changes that, they’re unable to change anything.

    • Bernardo

      hmmm and why my car radio is able to control it over BL… perhaps is not BLE… thanks Ray.. Hope It can be possible because it was one of the reason to get it…

    • Yeah, the car is Bluetooth classic.

  5. Marc Steingrand

    QuicK one

    I have seen the sync between gC and MFP is back but it still gives me double counting and when I do a strength workout just using the VS it still gives me two lines in MFP one for running and another for calorie adjustments

    My question how can I change this running to strength and how to avoid double counting looks like the best is leave the VS at home and use F2 but would love to have the VS 24/7.

    • Bernardo

      On MFP any activity recorded with the VS will look like Running or Bike, because is the way the VS recorded. VS no not have other “sport” option like the FX or other Devices. But the calories spend is ok and that what matters at the end. You can change on Garmin Connect, but it won’t change on MFP

      You can US VS 24/7. Do not recommend to record a workout with both devices.

      link to forums.garmin.com

    • Bernardo

      The calorie adjustment is for your walk during the day

    • Marc Steingrand

      Helo thanks for your answer but I still think that there is something wrong because ingot the adjustments only when I do a workout and they are mainly the same meaning the workout shows up with 808 calories and the adjustments with 785 calorias and it fies not makr sensrvthat i would have burned Nearly 4000 calorias
      Anu sugestion

    • Bernardo

      Marc, check out if the workout hour is the real one in Garmin Conect. I mean today I ran at 5:00 am and Garmin Connect says I ran yesterday at 23:00… in that case the calories are double. I think something is not working well on WC

    • Nigel Pond

      Sounds like a time zone issue.

  6. imtiyaz

    I want to make sure if the device has an SDK in which a third party application can read the data from the sensors and push notifications to the wrist.

    • No, the Vivosmart does not have an SDK. However, applications that support the standard mobile platform notification center can indeed get notifications to the unit.

  7. henry

    can it pair or be compatible or sync with a Withings app?

    • No, nothing except Withings products will connect to the Withings app directly.

      Indirectly via ‘the cloud’, there are a few partnerships with Withings – but it’s mostly Withings to 3rd parties, and not the other way around.

  8. JT Medrano

    Do you know if the Vivosmart can use /link to other HRMs like the Polar H7 or does it only work with a Garmin HRMs?


    • Paul S

      The manual is available here, so that’s one way to find out. I don’t have a Vivosmart, but if it’s like other Garmin devices, it will link with any ANT+ sensor whose profile (heart rate, speed/cadence) it knows about. It doesn’t have to be Garmin. But it does have to be ANT+; Bluetooth sensors won’t work.

  9. dienstfuchs

    Have you tested the vivosmart with the moto g? If so do you have a lot pairing issues?

  10. Amit Dewani

    I am using Vivosmart for the last 1 week, and my feel about the device is as follows –
    -The active calories in active calories report shows 2027 calories, while the active calories (Total calories – BMR) works out to 3292 in total calories report. There is a major mismatch in between 2 different reports on garmin connect.
    -The steps being calculated are about 1500 steps more than my usual steps.
    – sleep pattern shows lots of movement despite the fact that i have peaceful sleep.
    – the device will count 70-76 steps until I will wake up in the morning.
    -Calories are overcounted by 5000 calories a day. I can’t be burning so many calories in a day with a food intake of only 1535 calories.
    -The calories in / out report should logically take bmr into account while reducing from the intake of calories to give the correct picture.
    -Every time I complete my evening workout which is at 8:30 pm , the time and date recorded for the workout is usually the next day and I always have to edit this to current date.
    -The speed mentioned in my running activity on treadmill mentions a speed of 34 kmph. Under no circumstances a normal human can run at that speed, plus a treadmill has max speed of 19 kmph. And actually, I am running at a constant speed of 8-9 kmph.

    • Paul S

      It’s important to keep in mind how these things work. They can’t measure calories, and they can’t measure distance. All they measure is “steps”, but not really, because any impact that can trigger whatever algorithm they use will be counted as a “step”. (We’ll ignore the HRM connectivity that the Vivosmart has for the moment.) It does not measure your speed on the treadmill (your speed on a treadmill is technically zero because you’re not going anywhere), it just takes the number of steps per minute and multiplies by your stride length, which either you put in or it just guessed. So the reason your speed is too high is probably that your stride length is too long. (The only other thing it could be is that it’s multi counting “steps”, but that at least you can check by simply counting). Calories it probably gets by using a table that says that runners that run this fast burn this many calories. So the first step to try to fix your problem is to make sure your stride length is right.

      “Activity trackers” don’t and can’t track all activities. (I’m a cyclist and a cross country skier, and they’re useless to me). It’s always good to keep in mind how they “work” (they’re basically just accelerometers) and what their limitations are.

    • Amit Dewani

      Dear Paul,
      I appreciate your reply. So, what i would extract from your post is that the device can not calculate correctly the calories, distance or steps, which makes this device useless for a cost of $250 (price in my country). I do running, Elliptical, walking and strength training and this device is not suitable for any of these activities. or in other words, not worth at all. :)
      once again thanx for your insights.

    • Amit Dewani

      one more thing i would like to add is i noticed recently that it is calculating 2-3 steps per each step that i take. i monitored this for a 2 km walk that i did.

    • Bernardo

      Amit, did you make your profile configuración on Garmin Connecticut (age, Weight, hight). Because mine says I burn like 2000 cals eacha day. It would count you extra calories during your activities if you wear a Heart Rate device… I don’t have any of the problems you mention. For the time of the day been missing is miss configuration on your time zone in Garmin connect.

    • Paul S

      The basic problem is that being able to measure acceleration is far removed from the things we’d like to know. For me as a cyclist and skier I’m interested in distance/speed and elevation gain/loss with some interest in an estimate of the extra calories I burn (but a simple scale is a much better way to track weight loss/gain than trying to match calorie intake to output). An accelerometer can’t measure any of that. With the assistance of something that can periodically correct position/velocity they can be used as “dead reckoning” devices to get distance and speed, but “activity trackers” have no way to do that, so they try to measure “steps”. Garmin in fact realizes that problem, which I assume is why Vivosmart/fit can pair with sensors. The Withings Pulse that I used for about six months would treat a 30 mile road ride as if I were sitting on the couch. (It would count “steps” on a mountain bike ride, but those “steps” had nothing to do with what was actually going on.) At least a Vivo paired with an HRM would realize that something was going on, although it wouldn’t know what. A Vivosmart also paired with a speed/cadence sensor would begin to be able to do the job of an actual cycling GPS. Add that to the kind of table an Edge uses for calorie burn, and it might actually do a OK job, although it can’t say anything about altitude.

      Of the activities you mention, an activity tracker can probably do a decent job for a runner (as Ray’s tests seem to indicate) since the runners I see all seem to have pretty regular strides and you can calibrate the stride length. For walkers, there’s a difference between the steps I take to walk around the house and the steps I take walking the dog and the steps I take when I’m hiking alone in the mountains. An activity tracker would treat them all the same. My only experience is with the Pulse, which was belt mounted, but even on the wrist I wouldn’t think an activity tracker could do ellipticals very well, and weight work not at all. That’s the reason I abandoned the Pulse and will not replace it with anything; “activity trackers” tell me nothing useful. Of course, I have an Edge 800 and a Fenix, so I can measure the things I’m interested in already.

    • Amit Dewani

      Dear Bernardo, yes, i have configured my device with all minute details. my time zone is also set to the country i live in.

    • Amit Dewani

      Dear Paul,
      I agree that with my HRM paired with my vivosmart, i do get accurate results in terms of calories burnt and to an extent the distance also, which any HRM would do and that too by paying only $50 may be.
      As far as counting incorrect steps, i buy your point and will probably have to stop looking at the steps widget and also the extra calories associated with those steps.
      I would also appreciate if you can throw some light on following aspects –

      -The active calories in active calories report shows 2027 calories, while the active calories (Total calories – BMR) works out to 3292 in total calories report. There is a major mismatch in between 2 different reports on garmin connect.
      – sleep pattern shows lots of movement despite the fact that i have peaceful sleep.
      -Calories are overcounted by 5000 calories a day. I can’t be burning so many calories in a day with a food intake of only 1535 calories. i always wear my HRM during activities like running, strength training and elliptical.
      -The calories in / out report should logically take bmr into account while reducing from the intake of calories to give the correct picture.

      Thanx for your replies.

    • Bernardo

      Amit, there is a problem in Garmin Connect with the time of the workout when is sync. i.e. Today I ran at 5:00 am and Garmin Connect says I ran yesterday at 23:00… I used F2 for running, but GC is given extra burned calories for the run and for my walk (I used the VS during the run). In your case, if you use the treadmill (8:30pm) and recorded as an activity when you sync to GC it is syncing with the wrong time (let’s sat 2:00 pm) you are going to get the burned calories for the treadmill workout and the extra for walking the same distance. Because the system thing they are 2 different activities.

      I think there is a recent problem with Garmin Connect, and It is from last week because before that every thing was recorded an synced nicely.

    • Paul S

      First, I’m a physicist, not a physiologist, but from what I’ve read, no one has “peaceful sleep”. We all move around during certain phases of sleep, and that’s why accelerometers can be used to say something about sleep quality.

      So far as calories and these devices, my attitude can be summed up by the little stickers that were on the pinball machines I was fond of in my youth: “For entertainment purposes only”. I don’t believe any of them, but am willing to use them as a rough guideline. For example, today it was “warm” enough (for a very loose definition of the word) to do a road ride outdoors. So I went through my winter dressing ritual and headed out. Here are the calorie numbers from the various sites/software I use obtained from the data: Edge 800/Garmin Training Center/Garmin Connect/SportTracks (all use the summary number from the 800): 824, Strava (2nd number, after it’s had time to think about it): 654, RunKeeper: 916, RubiTrack 3: 1127, Ascent: 1141. If these were independent measurements so that they could be averaged and used as the basis for an estimate of the error, the error would be about 25%. But they’re not measurements, just estimates based on the single FIT file from the 800. What they tell me is that the underlying algorithms used to estimate calorie burn from heart rate and whatever other information (speed?) they might use aren’t very reliable. Which one would I like to believe? The highest one, of course. Which one would I use if I actually used these numbers? The lowest one. Even though it might also be an overestimate it’s more likely I’ve burned that much.

      It doesn’t surprise me that Garmin Connect has bugs, and you might want to contact Garmin support and let them know. 5000 calories does seem too high (but it’s not technically impossible) and if it bothers you, you might again want to contact Garmin support and see if they’ll swap out your device. Since you think it’s over counting steps, that might be the reason (without the HRM all it can do is multiply “steps” by some bogus “calories burned per step” number).

    • Amit Dewani

      Dear Paul,
      I think if i start taking the vivosmart as a entertainment device, then it might give me some relief, coz otherwise its only a piece of crap.
      Well, i have sent various emails to support team and have also got my device exchanged and the above review was only after all the due efforts put in.
      Well, i will wait for a suitable technology to come in future which will give me atleast near to accurate information and until then i will treat the vivosmart as an accessory.

    • Amit Dewani

      That is exactly what i think it is doing. seems like a major software overhaul required.

    • Bernardo

      Yes, other thing I noted is that on the right side of the activity name is a red clock, if you put you mouse I’ve it it says you change time zones, when you really didn’t.

      Is GC, because on Strava the info an time are correct.

  11. henry

    I currently am using Withings and am trying to decide whether to keep it and go with Viso. But I like all the apps that come with, I have the scale and the pulse,
    . But I love the features on Gamin. Would like to brand the.2
    Does Garman have a nice app?

    • They have similar core features. I feel like the data is presented better on the Withings app, and the sleep data is certainly better. If you have the scale already though, it makes complete sense to stay within the Withings ecosystem.

    • Frank

      Hi Henry, I have the Withings scale and a bunch of Garmin devices including the Vivofit and Vivosmart. My exposure to the Withings app is limited to support of the scale and I’m not impressed with that. The Garmin Connect apps aren’t great either but IMHO they are at least on a par with Withings.

      I get every thing to play together via MyFitnessPal which connects to both Withings and Garmin Connect. That way, Garmin knows what I eat and what I weigh. MFP knows what calories I burn through exercise. When it works (most of the time) it works well. The app I use at any point in time depends on what I want to know: Withings for weight and fat % history, MFP for calorie surplus/deficit, GC for what intentional exercise I have done and general level of activity/inactivity.

    • henry

      the dilemma I face is that the phone features are so attractive on the Garmin that its kind of hard to pass up, I would still keep the scale, which evals weight, heart rate, fat, room air qual, bmi, and then go with activity with viso, I just am unsure what I would be giving up with the pulse O/2 app wise that I will not get on the viso .

    • henry

      frank, it sounds like you are doing what I am speculating on doing, merging the two.

  12. Bernardo

    My battery is lasting only 2 days.

    Notification on
    1 Recorded activity (ie lift weight, TRX)
    Using it 24/7
    Display on when you lift you hand…

    Is this normal… The 7 battery days is with most feature off? I would expect 5-6 days…. But 2…

    • Sylvester Jakubowski

      I am on my second vivosmart and they both get 3 days 2 nights battery life with notifications on, HRM activities don’t seem to matter. I get 100’s of notifications a day though.

      Still can’t find anything comprable in the form factor and comfort, I wish the battery is better but it’s still the best device out there with the feature set.

      I got one for my fiance for Christmas, if she gets better battery life I will report back.

    • Frank

      Mine consistently lasts 5-6 days. I have it set up just like yours but only get a few dozen notifications daily and turn the Bluetooth off at night.

      Having said that, I had to send my VS back to Garmin recently (they think mine had a “bad” accelerometer) and put my Vivofit back on. Sure is nice not to have to worry about charging at all or to have to ap it or flick your wrist just right just to see what time it is.

      Speaking of the “bad” aceleramoter—it sounds like baloney to me—has anyone else had a treadmill experience like this: link to connect.garmin.com? The period with all of the drop-outs between 34 and 48 minutes was all non-stop treadmill activity and the best pace of 4:12 is definitely bogus.

  13. teddy el.

    Hi Ray,
    What is the details of small and large band in inches?

  14. Sylvester Jakubowski

    Woke up this morning to an update:

    Change History
    Changes made from version 2.60 to 2.80:
    Address issues where touch-screen can sometimes be temporarily unresponsive.
    Other minor improvements.

  15. doug

    Auto-updated to 2.8 this morning. Now failing to sync. Synced once but then hung. Shut down phone, re-paired but still won’t sync. Anybody else experiencing issues with the update? FYI – using Android/Droid Maxx

  16. Jason

    I’ve had the product for a few weeks and absolutely love it. Allowed me to dump my Pebble! :)

    Has anyone seen any published online teardowns of this product? Curious of the OLED display manufacturer.

  17. Nick

    Does anyone has re-pair issues with Xperia z3 compact?
    Mine needs re -pair every time that the connection breaks. :-(
    Any possible fix?

  18. Mikerl

    Will the Polar H7 work with the Vivosmart?

  19. Greg

    Connected to iPhone. Music doesn’t give me a volume control. Just a play, ff and rw??

  20. LT

    I just used my Vivosmart with a Scosche Rhythm+ to monitor my heart rate during a swim work out. I used a 920xt on the other wrist to capture the swim metrics. The only issue is both activities are showing on Garmin Connnect.

  21. Just as a quick heads up, Garmin has decided to put on sale the Vivosmart for just this week, cutting the base price to $149 ($20 off), and the bundle also by $20 to $179US. This is only valid until Saturday, January 3rd, 2015. Note that the usual DCR Clever Training VIP benefits DO still apply here!

  22. Paul Daly

    I got a Vivosmart for Chrimbo and a bike trainer as I dislike cycling here (Scotland) in the winter. I wanted the Vivosmart to assist me in improving my fitness noting when I’m in the fat burning zone primarily. I would like to pair the bike trainer up with a speed sensor and am happy to buy the Garmin one but will it also display a distance achieved on Garmin Connect?

    • Paul S

      You mean zero :-). I don’t have a Vivosmart, but there’s a way of setting the wheel circumference (2096 mm for 700×23, usually). Set that, and it should show you “speed” and “distance”.

      If you’ve never done it before, riding a trainer is not the same as riding on the road, especially in a place like Scotland with actual terrain, so “speed” and “distance” are not really the right way to look at your rides on the trainer. But I do it myself.

  23. Bernardo

    You need a speed sensor, do as Paul says, and yes it whill go to Garmin Commect.

  24. Rees

    Hi guys. I was looking to replace my old Jawbone Up that broke up (v2) by a new fitness tracker that can do something more. After 2 months of reading reviews, user comments, and especially Ray’s review (first look) i decided to buy VS. Of course i was attracted by smart watch notifications, and as a user of Garmin’s Edge and Connect platform this was my number one choice. I also checked other products like fitbit Surge, Basis Peak but seeing bad reviews i decided to buy VS. I bought in on friday so this is my initial foughts after 2 days of using:


    – No problem with established connection between iPhone 6 and VS. I paired it once at setup and that’s all. Also did soft upgrade to 2.80. Never been disconnected from the phone.

    – Smartwatch notifications: now i can read all TXT and call notifications on my wrist. That’s awesome for me. turned off emails. Great feature.

    – today i ran 11 km using Runkeeper on iPhone and VS with paired HR strap (bought noname strap with ANT+ it works flawlessly) . Differences between estimated distance by VS and Runkeeper are very small:
    Runkeeper: 11 KM, 57:51 time, Pace: 5:15, 829 calories
    Vivosmart: 10,33 KM, 1 h, Pace: 5:49, 668 Calores – with HR strap working.
    Interesting, especially pace and calories. But no to so huge difference as in earlier comments. Not bad for me as for device without gps.

    – battery is still almost full after 3 days. That’s awesome if you compare this to my old Up which now after 1,5 year of using would indicate 50% of battery.

    – Move bar. It motivates me to get up, really.

    – HRM connection. Its really easy to establish connection between strap and Vs. Works great.


    – no smart / multiple alarms. But i suppose it could be added in near future by soft upgrade.
    – first day i hade some strange calories math. But after i adjusted stride length (0,72) it seems to be good.
    – touch display is sometimes not waking up after double tap.
    – you have to manualy delete notifications from telephone otherwy you will still have it on the band.

    Overall i’m loving it. This is the band that i always wanted to have.

  25. Bernardo

    Ray.. I think I know the answer but I will ask any way… Are you making a full review do the Vivosmart ?

  26. Jye

    Do you know if you can have the activity changed to anything other than running? I’m specifically after swimming, paddling, surfing. I can see you can manually add to the app but that’s obviously pointless. It would be great if the app could allow the device to change activities and record appropriately.

    • Frank

      Jye, whenever you record an activity on the VS, it defaults to running when it records it. You can go in and edit the activity choosing any of 54 presets including all three of the ones you mention except you might have to replace surfing with Stand Up Paddleboarding or Windsurfing.

    • Angie

      Does it log yoga?

    • Frank

      Yoga is one one of the Activity names you can select from. You would be stuck with “Other”.

      Yoga involves very little “stepping” and therefore would be unlikely to register meaningful activity or caloric expenditure on its own. You could wear a heart rate sensor and—if your brand of yoga gets your heart rate up—get calorie credit for that.

      If you just want to keep track of when and for how long you yoga, record an activity every time you do it (with or without a heart rate monitor) and put Yoga in the description.

  27. Brian

    Ray – Do you have any information regarding the “break” in Garmins sync ability with MyFitnessPal? The break occurred back on 11/18 and has still not been fixed. I’ve disconnected GC from my MFP account and now cannot reconnect, as the “connect” link within MFP takes me to a dead GC screen. It’s frustrating and Garmin has so far been completely silent on it from what I’ve seen. I figured if anybody knew anything it would be you. Thanks!

    • Nigel Pond

      It has been working for me intermittently. I have a support ticket in with MFP – it’s a problem at their end I think. I doubt that we will see many comments from Ray while he is at CES this week.

    • Brian

      MFP is emphatically saying that the issue is on Garmin’s side from everything I have seen.

  28. Barbara

    I can not figure out what I am doing wrong or if this vivo smart is just not working. I selected time and running this morning after 20min on the treadmill I had done 0 steps and 0 time. I thought these things tracked your movement all day??

    • Frank

      Barbara, I cannot figure out what you are doing.

      First, if it is step counting you are after you do not have to do anything. Just put the thing on and go about your life. No matter how sedentary you are, it is difficult to go through a day without logging at least a few thousand steps.

      Second, if you want to make a record of intentional exercise (your treadmill activity) you double tap your display to light it up. Then you touch and hold to get the first alternate display and tap the running man to record ANY activity. A blinking heart and gauge face will come up. If your VS pairs with a heart rate monitor the heart will quit flashing. If it pairs with a speed and cadence sensor (cycling) the gauge face will quit flashing. You do not need to pair withe either to record an activity.Tap the right facing triangle to the right of the flashing icons to move to the next screen where you will see a back-up arrow, a timer, and a “play” button (vertical line and right facing triangle). Touch the play button to start the Activity. To end or pause the Activity, touch the play button again. You will be presented with three choices: Save (diskette), Resume (play arrow), and delete (trash can). Those choices should be self explanatory.

      When you save a walk or run on the Vivosmart, it does not present you with the number of steps associated with that activity. The Vivofit does this but not the Vivosmart. It will attempt to estimate your pace (not very accurate) and distance but no steps. Stupid but not unprecedented in Garmin land. My fenix2 with internal accelerometer, HRM-RUN and foot pod (three accelerometers in all) won’t give me steps. I can back into it by multiplying time by cadence but you won’t get cadence from the VS either. Nonetheless, your steps got counted and are in your total. They simply are not presented as being specifically associated with an Activity.

  29. Dave

    Hi Ray,

    I got a vivosmart for Christmas, but due to recent ACL surgery, I’m limited to the stationary bike for good exercise. Is there a way for me to track that activity on my vivosmart? If so, what would I need and where can I get it?

    Any information would be great.


  30. Frank

    Dave, I’ll defer to Ray if he has better information for you but I think you need a Garmin GSC 10 Speed/Cadence Bike Sensor (PN 010-10644-00 or the newer, more portable Bike Speed Sensor and Cadence Sensor (PN 010-12104-00). Either will work with the Vivosmart. Your challenge may be figuring out how to mount the sensors on your particular stationary bike.

    Another option is just to wear an Ant+ compatible Heart rate Sensor. You won’t get meaningful speed, distance, or cadence information but you will get a good estimate of your calorie burn.

    The best place to get any of these things is here: link to clevertraining.com.

  31. Jeff Elmer

    I am thinking about ordering a VS but want to understand how it will sync with my Garmin 620 that I use for running. How can I ensure it doesn’t double count my running? Thanks for the help.

    • Frank

      Jeff, Garmin did a beautiful job of this for a while. Their philosophy has been that if you use a VivoANYTHING with any “superior” Garmin device, the Vivo contribution to calorie expenditure counts will be entirely supplanted by the contribution from the intentional exercise oriented device (Forerunner, fenix, Edge, Swim).

      I can confirm that—in the late Summer and early Fall—this was working as intended. However, since Thanksgiving, the whole calorie thing has been a rolling train wreck. Even forgetting issues with MyFitnessPal syncing, I can’t figure out what they are doing even within GC. (See my last post here: link to forums.garmin.com)

      Since they had it right once, it would be reasonable to assume that they will get it right again but their performance over the last six weeks has been anything but confidence inspiring.

    • Bernardo

      Frank is right, also be aware of the time of the activity on Garmin connect when you sync you forerunner with your phone. Some issues with garment connect and time when you do it this way not whe sync over USB.

  32. Angie

    Does the vivosmart count jumping? As in jumping jax, jump rope, burpees, ect.?

  33. Andi326

    I bought the vivosmart one week ago. I have been fairly excited about it and like the features. Although was terribly disappointed this morning when I showed up at my workout class with my heartrate monitor working and went to turn on the workout function when it didn’t work because my phone was in the car. It seems to keep tracking of everything else when not in bluetooth range but not my workout? REALLy!. Anyway, unless there is a work around for this, it’s going back to the Garmin.

    • Bernardo

      Andi, to record and activity with HR, yo have to press the screen(when is already on) … when the icons change to a runner a moon and a kind of sun press the runner… VS will search for HR.. when HR is found press de record botton… at the end of the work press pause and a disk and a trash can icon will apear… press the disk to save the workout.. Next time toy sync it will go to GC as a run activity (this can be change on GC)… HR activity has nothing to do with Bluethoor connection.

      What I think you did was put the HR an look circle trough the screens… when you get to the hard (HR) it will show you current HR.. but It won’t record any activity until you make the above.

    • Frank

      Bernardo is right on. There is a slightly more comprehensive description of the activity recording process in post 599 above.

      Your Vivosmart does not rely on your smartphone for anything except a conduit for your activity data between your band and the cloud. Your HR sensor communicates directly with the band and—if it is a Garmin strap—not with your phone at all.

      Hope you get it going.

  34. Vitaliy

    Guys, need help to decide between vivosmart and fitbit charge HR. What would you choose and why?
    Thanks in advance

  35. Vitaliy

    Guys, need help to decide between vivosmart and fitbit charge HR. What would you choose and why?
    Thanks in advance.

  36. Vitaliy

    Guys, need help to decide between vivosmart and fitbit charge HR. What H one would you choose and why?
    Thanks in advance.

  37. Vitaliy

    Guys, need help to decide between vivosmart and fitbit charge HR. Which one would you choose and why?
    Thanks in advance.

  38. Sue

    Hi guys,
    I have just purchased the vivosmart and I am trying to work out the sleep app.
    What does the part were it say @21
    311 =

  39. Andrew Chalkley

    Hi everyone……does this one have any integration with the Tanita scales such as BC1000? We have FR60’s which are still good…..a Vivofit which also still delivers but no integration with scales that I’m aware of.

    Sort of hoping this one will do although Garmin seems a little lazy on the integration and convergence stuff on that side. Any one know if that’s included? many thanks inadvance

  40. Kara Van Allen

    I’m disabled so I walk with a walker, therefore it doesn’t count very many of my steps.
    And …..
    I’m not sure how to start tracking when I start the elliptical, rower, or any other of my exercise activities.
    Please help me use my vivosmart correctly
    Thank you

  41. Andrew Chalkley

    Also have the same problem Kara on Concept 2 rower…….I have yet to find any device that accurately measures rowing. The C2 itself does measure calories. Mind you I would love to be wrong on that. I use a rower and my other half uses an elliptical.

    Would also like to know any device that can measure this on both or either device. Thanks

  42. Kara Van Allen

    I did 5k on elliptical last week and for my whole time on it, it only counted maybe 100 steps. Frustrating.

  43. Amy Domangue

    is there a heart monitor that pairs with the Vivosmart that can be used while swimming? I swim 35 laps which equals 3500 yds but it only registers not even 1000 yds……..why???? I thought wearing a heart monitor would help to count my REAL YARDS that I swim!!! HELP!!! :-)))

  44. Carol

    I went to purchase a Vivosmart today and noticed there is a new one coming out, the Vivosmart HR, the sales person didn’t know anything about it, just that its new and is coming out soon. its a bit more expensive. Does any one know anything about this new one?? I didn’t buy the current one today, want some info on the new one coming out first!

  45. Orlando

    I swim and I have been using a Pebble. I am interested in more swim data and watch independence from my phone. What do you recommend Garmin Swim or Garmin Vivosmart? I have read both blogs.

    • Bernardo

      If you want swim metrics (like accurate distance, strokes, wolf etc) you will need the Garmin Swim. If you only want to control your time and some extra calories burn you can use Vivosmart, it will count strokes like steps (not being accurate on the distance), it will just give you activity time.

    • Orlando

      Thank you

    • Do you mean the Vivoactive? The Vivosmart doesn’t do swim tracking (at all as noted by others), whereas the Vivoactive does.

      When it comes to that – it’s just too early to know how well it’ll do in the pool.

    • Orlando

      Thanks for clarification. I was originally comparing the Vivosmart to the Swim. The Vivoactive reminds me of a Pebble watch that seems to operates primarily by apps and phone. I like my Pebble but many functions have to be done with my phone and not the watch. The Vivoactive looks to be similar. Maybe I will wait to see how the Vivoactive will function.

  46. Kim

    Does the VivoSmart have the ability to track calories burned during a specific
    Workout? Does it show that on the device
    As you are exercising? I like to be able to see how many calories I have burned during a workout. I am assuming you would need the separate HR monitor
    To track heart rate.

    I just got the FitBit Charge HR and it is extremely inaccurate (and going back)!!!!!

    • Frank

      Hi Kim. Yes and No and No and Yes.

      It will track your calorie burn associated with a specific “Activity” but will not show that on the band. It will show up associated with that Activity in Garmin Connect and GC Mobile but only after the Activity is completed and saved. It will show you a running total of daily calorie burn on the band so, if you are not afraid of a little lite mental math, you can track your exercise specific expenditure by watching the band.

      If your exercise consists only of walking and running, you can get by without a heart rate monitor. The VS knows when you are walking vs running and awards you a reasonable calorie expenditure estimate for each. Adding a heart rate monitor will result in better estimates but they will not be way different than the ones you would get without. For all other forms of exercise except cycling and swimming, the heart rate monitor is essential to getting reasonable calorie burn estimates. For cycling, you can use a speed sensor instead of or with a heart rate monitor. With swimming, you are just out of luck. You are not stepping and the HRM signal cannot get to the VS under water.

      I’ve heard that a lot about the Fitbit Charge HR and am not surprised. Seems that multi-day battery life is incompatible with accurate HR readings.

  47. Thoni suwardi

    I recently bought vivosmart, but i didnt get the vivo keeper in box.

    • Islander

      Thanks! just wanted to be sure before I purchased one that it would work out here where internet is only available in the house.

  48. Thoni suwardi

    I recently bought vivosmart, but i didnt get the vivo keeper in the box.

    • Frank

      Thoni, that is just a mistake. I got one of the very first Vivosmarts (before they even started shipping vivio keepers with the Vivofit) and it had one. Garmin recently replaced my original VS with a new one and the replacement had a keeper as well.

      You need the keeper. There is a very good chance you will lose your band without it.

    • PNW Islander

      I live in an area where internet and cell reception is poor (lots of dead zones) will this affect the band’s ability to track my activities?

    • Paul S

      Why would it? The Vivosmart itself does not have a cellular receiver, and it is not an appendage of your phone. It does not exchange data with your phone in real time. It can’t “track” activities if you mean by that that it provides a GPS map of your activities. If you want a device that can provide GPS track and also provide step counting there’s the Forerunner 15, the soon to be released Vivoactive, and the higher end Fenix 3, Forerunner 920XT, and the Epix from Garmin, and other companies sell similar devices.

    • Frank

      Let me provide another perspective. First, everything Paul S said is true but here is another way to look at it.

      The band itself does not need any cell phone or internet connectivity to do it’s basic job which is tracking your waking and sleeping activity. Having said that there are limits on the information you can get from the band. Specifically: Time / Date, Steps, Step Goal, Move Bar, Calories Burned, Distance, Bike Speed, and Heart Rate. It only gives you that information for the current moment of the current day though i is capable of storing several days worth of information at a time.

      If you want to look at history, sleep tracking, weight or any of the social stuff you need to interface with Garmin Connect on your smartphone or computer. Your phone communicates with the VS via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) so Internet access should not be required for that either but, in fact it is. If your phone does not have an active data connection, attempts to sync your band will result in a “Sync Failed Server Error” message. I believe that your phone is simply serving as a conduit to send the raw data from your band to GC in the cloud and that Garmin Connect Mobile gets its data from the Garmin Servers rather than from your band. As long as you get a data connection on your phone every so often this should not present a problem for you. The other way to sync is by plugging the band into its charging cable that is plugged into a web connected computer.

      I hope between Paul and I we have adequately answered your question.

    • PNW islander

      Thanks! just wanted to be sure before I purchased one that it would work out here. This will be my first activity tracker and I am really excited about all the features!

    • PNW islander

      Thanks! just wanted to be sure before I purchased one that it would work out here where internet is only available in the house.

    • Paul S

      Everything Frank says is true, too :-), but with some qualifications. The Vivosmart can track heart rate with the help of an external sensor (a HR chest belt or wrist band), and can track bike speed/cadence with the help of another external sensor (speed/cadence sensor). What it has internally is an accelerometer (to “step” count), an ANT+ transceiver (for the sensors), a Bluetooth transceiver (to connect to your phone), and some internal storage. All it can do on it’s own is to measure accelerations and record data. Garmin devices don’t ever pair with Bluetooth sensors.

      The whole “activity tracker” label is very misleading when just using the accelerometer, although that’s not Garmin’s fault, because they didn’t name the category. There are a large number of activities that an accelerometer based tracker just can’t do anything useful with without the external sensors, including all of the ones I do, road cycling (doesn’t see a thing), mountain biking (completely misinterprets what’s going on), cross country skiing (somewhere in between, but completely useless). (These impressions, by the way, were all formed in the roughly 6 months I used a Withings Pulse, which is belt mounted rather than wrist mounted like the Vivosmart. But where it’s mounted won’t change what it can do.) They’re adequate for tracking activities that actually involve steps. Not so much for any others. With Garmin’s “trackers” you at least get the option of using an HR sensor, which widens the activities it might track acceptably (basically anything aerobic). So whether it will be adequate for you will depend on what you do, and what you want out of it.

  49. Frank

    There have been some recent reports of inadvertent speed sensor pairing on the Garmin Forum. Some users are apparently picking up Ant+ stationary bikes (specifically Wattbikes). Others are having their outdoor runs reported as cycling and including brief spikes of speed which would be unlikely if not impossible on foot.

    My first question is how widespread is this phenomenon? It has never happened to me and I run on a lot of paths that are heavily used by cyclists. Perhaps it is because I don’t normally record my runs as activities on my VS.

    My second questions is, is there any way to prevent this? I experimented with turning off the heart rate and speed displays then recorded an activity while wearing a HRM and the HR data showed up in the activity. Logically, the same should apply to speed sensor data but I can’t do that experiment because my bike is 916 miles away.

  50. Daniel N

    DC nice Review as always, I just have one question….

    When doing an activity using the band paired with a heart rate monitor, would the screen stay on to show your heart rate and zone all the time? or do you have to wake it up by double tapping it to see your HR??

  51. Frank

    When you first begin an activity, the band is showing the activity screen which, when walking or running, consists of elapsed time and distance. I don’t remember what it shows when cycling—probably the same thing but it might show speed instead of distance.

    You can change the display to heart rate during an activity. As long as you have your VS set to default to the last screen shown, heart rate will keep coming up when you activate the display. You can do that either with a double tap or wrist flick. The latter method works well and can be set up to work all of the time or only when you are recording an Activity.

  52. Frank

    I recently stumbled across an odd issue with using an HRM with the Vivosmart. I always thought the pace graphs were just spikey because that was the best it could do. Then another user’s experience led me to run some quick experiments. This is what I discovered: Post 27 link to forums.garmin.com

  53. Jeremy

    Have you heard anything about the accuracy of the new vivosmart with HR? I am skeptical about the wrist HR monitors, and just returned the fitbit Surge that I bought because of the fact that it kept loosing the signal on the HR function. I am doing mostly cross training, circuit training, etc. I’ve used the polar ft80 in the past (which was great) and am looking for a replacement for it. Any help would be great! Thanks

  54. Marc steingrand

    A quick question since last update my VS has a problem on the screen coincidence? There are two lines missing so when it shows for example 18:00 h it shows 8:00 h so one is missing their is just a small dot.
    Not sure if hardware starts acting strange due to update or a glitch on hardware and needs to change the VS so,
    If I need to change it , I am living in Brazil but will be in the us for in one week for 12 days . Is garimg fast enough to change the VS in 12 days?
    And where or whom I have to contact?

    • Frank

      Every Garmin product I have bought in the last few years has been through at least one warranty replacement. From the time they get it, it can take anywhere between three days and two weeks to get it back. Perhaps, if you ask nicely and explain your circumstances, they will expedite your case. They have also offered to send me a new one the second they issue the return authorizatioin. In that case, they charge your card and then reverse the charge when they get your old one back.

      I have no idea how much your being in Brazil complicates things. Did you buy it there? Do you have to get your RMA from Garmin Brazil?

      BTW your unit is definitely broken. Might be time to start thinking outside of the box and start thinking inside of a big box instead.

    • If you brought in Brazil, then it’s easy to work with Garmin in Brazil. If however, you bought in the US, then you will be unable to work with Garmin Brazil directly. This is because the costs for Garmin (or any company) working in Brazil are so much higher than pretty much any company on the planet. Hence why prices are higher in Brazil (and why so many Brazilians buy goods in the US when on trips).

      The good news as Frank noted is that if in the US, Garmin is super quick to work with and will usually get things taken care of near immediately. Just ring them up (via phone, don’t wait via e-mail).

    • Marc steingrand

      Thanks for input will contact Garmin US and arrange change. As I stayed thinking outside was buying the F3 and epix but I am afraid they will not be delivered until I travel back 14/2….

  55. Marc steingrand

    Yes Ray that’s it I bought it in NY I am traveling frequently to the US not as you :-)

    I will contact Garmin in USA to arrange things
    I bought the F3 and the Epix and still hope to get it delivered to my NY address before the 14/2 do you think there might be a chance?

  56. Marc steingrand

    I bought them from clever training do you think there might be a chance that I can call them to as for Priority, due to my time constrains?
    Would make me very happy to bring my new toy back to Brazil…

    • They’d be able to help changing shipping type (i.e. to overnight), but wouldn’t be able to change the place in line unfortunately (wouldn’t be too fair to others).

  57. Ken

    First off, great review. I only recently discovered your blog and have so far found it very helpful.

    Second, I wanted to ask your thoughts about Vivosmart, particularly with the chest strap. I am comparing it to the Polar Loop. I went on a run with the Vivosmart and chest strap last week. Just a couple of miles at near max hr for me. When I got back and sync’d the device, I decided to review the stats in Garmin Connect. I noticed that Garmin still uses the generic caloric output calculation for my run even though I was wearing the chest strap. The numbers seemed really low. I did some basic math and came up with a much higher estimated caloric output figure. I then noticed that Garmin’s number was exactly the same as RunKeeper which was just using a generic algorithm and not figuring in heart rate. My Polar Loop, on the other hand gives numbers that come much closer to the estimated caloric output based on my age, height, weight, duration, and avg hr.

    These were the only 2 activity trackers I considered because they use a chest strap and are waterproof. It was a huge plus that the Vivosmart display would light up by just tilting my wrist to look at it while running. But I felt a bit of a letdown on looking at the numbers after my run. I posed a question to Garmin about their caloric output calculation but have yet to hear back. I wanted to know if you observed the same when using the Vivosmart? Am I being nitpicky? Thanks for all the great information you provide.

  58. Frank

    Hi Ken. I too have a Polar Loop but it’s been in a drawer for several months. I wore the Loop until I got a Force. The Force until I got a Vivofit and the Vivofit until I got a Vivosmart. I also have and Edge 705 and fenix 2 and have run and ridden with all of the Garmin products at once. Comparing them to each other, the Edge is way high, the Vivo’s are way low and the fenix is a little low. When I was concerned with such things, I used the 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities available here: link to docs.google.com and the Shapesense heart rate based calorie burn calculator available here: link to shapesense.com as the “authority” but even they do not agree. At the end of the day, it is a guess and if you are not eating way more or less than you are burning, you are barely moving the needle on your scale.

    Your vivosmart is using your heart rate. To test this theory, strap on your HRM and go do a strenuous strength training session or go for a cross country ski. You probably won’t get the calorie expenditure you deserve from your Vivo but you will get more than you would have gotten from a Fitbit Force.

  59. Frank

    Here is one example from a 40ish mile bike ride I did in October with all three devices aboard and feeding from the same speed and cadence sensor and two different HRMs.

    Edge 705——-2.38—–40.44—–2,587—–129—–15.4

    In this case, the highest and lowest estimates both came from Garmin devices and one was more than twice the other. The Vivosmart was actually the closest to the most broadly scientifically accepted SWAG which is the 2011 Compendium which also (maybe by happy accident) is closest to the Heart Rate Calorie Calculator.

    I found my Loop to be pretty liberal when comparing it to a Fitbit One, Vivofit, and FR405.

  60. Lars

    Hi DC, first of all thanks for great reviews. One of the first sites I check before rushing into the store to get new gear. Latest piece to seduce e was Ambit3.

    Then I have a question. Couldn’t find answer anywhere. How to setup tome manually in Vivosmart? Bouht the gdget to my wife but her Galaxy S2 is not supported and I just can’t set up the time. Please help me or next you need to start reviewing phones… ;)

  61. Frank

    Lars, I couldn’t believe it but I think you are right. Have you tried syncing it with your computer using the charging cable?

    Buy your wife an iPhone6 for Valentine’s day.

    • Frank

      Correction. There is a way. On one of the settings screens there is a clock face. Touch that and it allows you to toggle between mobile device and manual. If you choose manual you are allowed to set both time and date.

  62. Marko

    Hi, i have a really hard time to choose between Garmin vivosmart(with aditional HR band) and fitbit surge(which already have integrated HR). I really cant decide. What is your opinion DC Rainmaker ?
    I hear a lot about false reading of surge HR. Are this readings really so bad ?

    • diabetty

      salutations Marko . . I purchased the Fitbit Surge in hopes of finding a more accurate wrist HRM since straps annoy me . . after wearing it 24/7 for a month I was disappointed in the end . . Anytime my arm made a movement (brushing my hair, shaving the boys heads etc) it would count that movement as a step taken . . I took 756 steps in my sleep without leaving my bed . . also . . the heart rate monitor was no where near accurate . . I attached my heart rate monitor strap to my chest and used that heart rate monitor on one arm and the other arm was wearing the Fitbit Surge . . while the strap heart rate monitor said my heart rate was at 162 . . the Fitbit Surge said i was at 76 . . for some people that may not be an issue but for me it is since my heart rate runs higher than most at resting . . I am researching more products to find something that can be more accurate than the Fitbit Surge . . hope this helps

  63. Frank

    Marko, have you read this? link to dcrainmaker.com

    It has two sections on HR data: Continuous and Exercise. Works well sitting around. In Exercise not so much but you should read it yourself.

    BTW most people would be comparing the Vivosmart to the Charge HR neither of which have a GPS. You choice should probably be based on how you plan to us it. My personal preference is a minimalist activity tracker for daily activity and serious devices for intentional exercise preferably from the same ecosphere.

  64. Dennis D

    Garmin has a long history of quality and long lasting products. Fitbit, not so much. Get a warranty or wait for reviews to confirm they last more than a year.
    Garmin VS is smaller. That’s a big factor for some that don’t like to wear what looks like 2 watches because after all, these are made to wear all the time.
    Fitbit is best in industry for web site, syncing and partnering with other apps like MyFitnessPal and really working. Garmin VS has big problems in disconnecting bluetooth, partnering with other apps and never to connect again until repaired.
    So you have proven track record for dependability and Bluetooth problems vs history of product problems, great website and now issues syncing.
    I would recommend getting the Fitbit Charge HR, get the warranty and try it. You will save a big chunk of change (25%), have continuous heart rate and no worries for Bluetooth or Syncing to web site. What you loose are text message and call notifications. But, then how often do you leave your phone farther than 20 feet from you.
    Hope this helps.

  65. Frank

    I’m getting a solid week out of mine. Auto-Brightness Display. Auto-On Display. Notifications enabled. I do not always get a lot of warning before it dies and have taken to syncing/charging it before it needs it when I know I am going to be sitting in front of the compute for an hour or two.

  66. John Jones

    I was reading a lot of reviews in Amazon and even the Garmin forum itself stating they are having the following problems:

    Pedometer is not accurate at all. Small swings of the arm (such as getting out of bed) will make it could steps.
    Bluetooth disconnecting and requiring it be repaired in order to reconnect.
    Syncing sometimes works and a lot of times doesn’t.

    Would you be able to confirm if you started to experience any of these problems?

  67. Frank

    All of the wrist worn pedometers have individual quirks when it comes to counting steps. The Vivo’s love a good shower and hate a shopping cart. In general, they do a great job of counting steps. At least as good as ant of the others and I have had most of them. What it is really all about is did you move more today than yesterday and not did you take 9,252 or 9,333 steps yesterday.

    I’ve never had either of the other two problems you described. I believe there were problems with Android devices that were addressed in the latest firmware release. iOS has always been solid in these respects.

    Finally, remember that people with problems post. The 99% that are happy mostly don’t.

  68. Dennis D

    That is true, I wasn’t happy and I returned mine. I didn’t post. Obviously I am in the 1%, but now I’m not so sure.

  69. Dennis D

    I feel about the same. But now I have more time to exercise. From the period of Wed to Saturday that I used it, I spent many hours to reconnecting it to my Nexus phone. After the same morning routine of trying to get it to connect on a Saturday I decided it was too much trouble and decided to send it back. Satisfaction disparities between these comments and on Amazon exist. Your 99% doesn’t hold water for the reviews over on Amazon… well.. I feel a little better now.
    Thanks Frank… didn’t mean to offend, just saying and your advice is solid and glad it works for others here.

    • Kat

      Can I ask stupid question please? What do I miss when Bluetooth is not connected from time to time? I understand once it’s connected to the device again, the data will be accounted for? Or when it’s not connected to the device, it will not do counting steps etc…? Sorry if sounds stupid, it’s my first vivosmart day, and while around the house it does say a lot not connected to Bluetooth, or yeah, it’s connected again! Also, the display doesn’t light up when I raise my hand/arm – is it not working properly then??? Thanks a lot

    • Frank

      Kat. Not a stupid question at all. It is really pretty mysterious what is happening where most of the time. Your band is busy collecting data about your movement 24/7. This is true whether or not you have a Bluetooth connection and whether or not you are recording an Activity. I think it can hold about a week’s worth of your daily activity before it begins to overwrite its oldest memories with its newest. When you do have a Bluetooth connection, the band uses your mobile device to squirt all of its data since its last connection (sync) over your phone or tablet to Garmin’s cloud. Garmin processes this data pretty quickly (seconds) and sends it back to Garmin Connect Mobile on your mobile device so you can drown in self quantification.

      Where things get tricky is if you look at Garmin Connect on your computer or mobile device without having synced just beforehand. The information you will be looking at will only be valid as of the last sync. As an extreme example, if you synced at bedtime last night but not since, at noon today your band will show at least a few thousand steps and a thousand or more calories expended but GC’s web and mobile apps will show zip, zilch, nada, nothing—a bunch of zeros.

      With the Auto-On display, you have to enable it (I recommend Always On) in wither the mobile or Web app and then be sure to sync over either Bluetooth or the charging cable. It may take a little practice to master just the right flick of the wrist but I have found this to be pretty reliable.

  70. Dennis D

    Not connecting from time to time is not an issue, except that it’s annoying for the alert to say it’s connected again. My problem was that it would disconnect at night and not reconnect in the morning. That’s when I would have to spent the time to get it to reconnect.
    When you set it up for your left or right arm, when you lift your arm (and you might be able to hear it) a mechanical switch is made to turn on the display. You should try shaking it to see if the display comes on or tilting it. If that is not working you have a defective unit. I hate mechanical stuff as these can get stuck. Being 100% water and dust proof, it should work for a long time I should think if it does work initially. Call customer service.

  71. Simon Hickey

    Don’t buy a Garmin VivioSmart if you intent to use Insect Repellent!

    This is a warning to everyone out there that was thinking of buying a Garmin VivoSmart for hiking or wearing it where you need to use insect repellent.

    I was given a Vivosmart for my birthday, started using it religiously as I really loved the features that it provided.  Went hiking one weekend, sprayed Aeroguard (insect repellent) on myself, and found that at the surface of the Vivosmart band slightly discoloured later that day which did not come off with wiping it with a damp cloth.  A couple of months later one entire line of the OLED display was missing inside the unit.  I spoke to Garmin many times and they will not repair or replace the unit as they have decided that the insect repellent voided the warranty.

    I find it very hard to believe that the insect repellent has in fact damaged the OLED display or any of the components in the band as it clearly doesn’t look like the repellent has penetrated the plastic.

    Now I have a vivosmart that you can’t read due to the line missing on the OLED display and Garmin have washed their hands of me!

    • Frank

      Simon, I’m with you inasmuch as Vivos are for active people, active people are active outdoors, mosquitoes live outdoors, active outdoors people often use mosquito repellent. It is a clear case of intended use or implied warranty. See link to en.wikipedia.org

      When you say you have spoken to Garmin “many times” how many? Of course your prior exchanges are in your CRM record and today’s rep is unlikely to contradict yesterday’s. It is time to kick it up a notch and have some fun.

      Write a quick letter—yes on paper—stating your case and mail it off to:

      Andrew Etkind
      Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary
      Garmin International, Inc.
      1200 E. 151st St.
      Olathe, KS 66062-3426

      Bet you get a new band. Hopefully an apology too.

      Please let us know how it comes out :).

    • Simon Hickey

      Thanks for your reply Frank. I have all the emails from Garmin on this issue and it was even escalated to a manager for review. Appreciate the contact to send a letter to, does it matter that I am in Australia or do know of their Australian contact?

    • Frank

      I don’t know anything about Garmin’s Australia management team. I would mention your Australian domicile in the letter to make sure it gets routed to the right person. I’ve heard you guys have much stronger consumer protection laws than us Yanks.

      The whole thing with a paper letter is that they are so unusual these days that, in my experience, they are treated much more seriously than emails and don’t take hardly any longer to prepare. Too bad we have to kill a tree to make a point.

      I couldn’t find a name in Australia but this: link to google.com is their address and phone number. If you are nice, the poor souls that answer the phone can be very very helpful in putting you in touch with the right person. Where was the support team you ere talking to?

  72. Tigrlady

    I have a Garmin Edge 1000 which I use every time I ride my bicycle. I now also have a Vivosmart that I got for Valentines Day. Because I am a training ride leader on a bike club I often get phone calls or text messages from someone that needs help or messages from other TRLs. I like the capability of getting them on my Vivosmart but would rather receive them on my Edge but somehow the Vivosmart takes priority on Garmin Connect. Is there a way to easily turn off the bluetooh connectivity on the Vivosmart so that I can receive the notifications on my Edge?

  73. Frank

    Yes. In fact, you must choose one or the other. GC Mobile is not designed to serve both devices at once but the fix is easy. Before you turn your Edge on, turn the Bluetooth off on your Vivosmart. Double tap or wrist flick to light up. Swipe left twice or right once. The Bluetooth symbol will be the leftmost icon. Touch it and accept Turn Off. When you are doe with your ride. Just reverse the process.

    • Paul S

      Wouldn’t it simply be easier to leave the Vivosmart at home while riding? After all, it’s not going to record anything useful. Or won’t the Bluetooth connection switch automatically to the device that’s actually there?

    • Tigrlady

      I do leave the Vivosmart at home. The problem was that the Vivosmart would connect to my phone and I couldn’t connect then to the Edge when going out to ride.

    • Tigrlady

      For some reason swiping twice to the left or once to the right doesn’t take me to the bluetooth symbol. I can’t seem to find the symbol anywhere.

  74. Frank

    Tigrlady, I think you must have left out a step. After your display lights up, press and hold. That takes you to a whole new menu. The first screen at that level is go back arrow, running person, crescent moon and sun. Swipe right to left to get go back, notifications, find phone, and forced sync. One more right to left swipe will get you go back, Bluetooth, time setting, and information (firmware # and battery level).

    If you still cannot get it, I’ll make yo a movie :). Really I will. I want you to like your Vivosmart. I would not leave it at home. I only take mine off to charge. GC will not duplicate your riding calories.

    • Tigrlady

      Thank you so much I see it now! I don’t know why when I was swiping I couldn’t find it. I usually am pretty tech savvy. So far I really like it! I had the Garmin Forerunner 405CX before and the battery died (which I know is replaceable). It was huge and I really didn’t need the GPS capability anymore so after researching products (including your blog) I picked this. Not worried about the bold just happy I learned a little more about this device!!

  75. Frank

    Sorry for all of the bold text . Still learning my HTML. I really only wanted to highlight press and hold :).

  76. Michael Ayling

    I have had my vivosmart fora few days now. Yesterday I went for a jog wearing the vivosmart but recording the activity with my 920XT. While the activity was not duplicated, the step count was insofar as the vivosmart counted the steps in my run and syncing to My fitness pal deducted calories from both the run and the steps. I would have though that Garmin Connect could have been written to detect simultaneous step and activities from the same username and be set to have the activity override the step count. I’ll send them an email. Any ideas?

  77. Bernardo

    Check the time of your run, I mean some times when you sync the activities Garmin Connect set a different time than the real one. Let’s say you ran at 7:00 am and Garmin connect says you ran at 1:00 am.. So I will double the steps

    • Michael Ayling

      The time was correct. I think the solution is just not to wear the vívosmart while running or swimming. It ought not make much difference when cycling, except that Garmin Connect mobile can only connect to one second at a time (I think). Moreover, I want to see the smart notifications on the Forerunner 920XT while cycling so I know which texts and calls to stop and act on.

  78. Frank

    Are you using separate accounts for your two devices? If you are using one account for both of them (recommended) you are required to declare a single device as your activity tracker and that will become your sole step counter. You should not record Activities on both devices at once. First of all, it serves no real purpose. Secondly, it will screw up your numbers. I know because I do it all the time just to satisfy my curiosity on various subjects. If weight loss considerations ever trump intellectual curiosity, I will definitely quit recording activities on my Vivosmart.

    IMHO, the “right” way to do it is to wear your Vivo#### 24/7 and declare it as your activity tracker. Wear your more robust, bulky, power hungry devices for intentional exercise and record all of that exercise in Activities. Let GC sort it all out. It would also work perfectly well to wear your 920 or fenix 3 24/7 and skip the Vivo altogether but I wouldn’t do it because I like the sleep monitoring and probably wouldn’t sleep at all with a dinner plate lashed to my wrist :).

  79. Michael Ayling

    Hi Frank, same account. Yourt suggestion is exactly what I did. The activity/workout was recorded on the 920 and the activity tracking on the vivosmart (I did not set the vivosmart to workout mode – that would create two workouts), but when the calories were sent over to My Fitness Pal, both the step count and the run were deducted from the calory total, whereas only the run should have been. So if CG sorted it out, they didn’t send out the sorted values to MFP. Cheers.

  80. Matthias

    Hello Ray and folks,

    I have never worn an activity tracker strip, but I am curious: How capable is this one as a substitute to a regular GPS-watch. For example how exact is the measurement of the distance of a run? Is there a stopwatch feature or does it notice beginning and end of an workout automatically?

    Thx and best regards from germany,

  81. Frank

    Matthias, Distance measurement of both running and walking is as perfect as your calibration of step size for each presuming that you always run or walk at the same average pace and therefore the same average step size. There is a stopwatch feature which both counts the time of an Activity as well as telling Garmin Connect that you are engaged in some form of intentional exercise and want it recorded in Garmin Connect as such. If it detects a bicycle speed sensor, it will call it cycling. Otherwise it defaults to calling it a run but you can change that after uploading the activity if it was, in fact, not a run. The Vivosmart automatically detects when you are running vs. walking and will credit you with appropriate calories for each whether within or outside of an Activity. It will detect and use an HRM and or speed sensor whether you are recording an activity or not. It still has some flaws garmin has acknowledged and is working on. It often records super sonic cycling speeds and shows you a very messy pace graph if you wear a HRM while walking or running. These two things should be fixed very very soon. Its caloric expenditure estimates are usually way too low when wearing an HRM. Other than that, it is just about perfect. I wouldn’t have anything else for an activity tracker but then I also have an Edge and a fenix that cover my intentional exercise needs more perfectly.

    You are welcome and best regards from steamy Miami

    • Matthias

      Thank you Frank for the precise answer! I read it just in time you posted it, but now I am thinking about the device again. I am about to buy some new toys, but I am stuck between Polar and Garmin. I want to gather my data in the same ecosystem, so I have to decide which company I want to give my money the upcoming months: V800 and the Loop or 920xt/Vivoactive and the Vivosmart. So I come to the question: Would you – all of you – choose the vivosmart ober the loop?

      Best regards,

  82. Tiago Almeida

    Hi, this garmin vivosmart works on tracking steps playing tennis?

  83. Micah

    Hey Ray,

    Thanks for the helpfull post.

    I have a Timex Global Trainer which I use for running, and I just recently bought the Garmin Vivosmart to track my activity throughout the day. So since the Vivosmart connects to my heart rate monitor I decided to track my heartrate on both devices during my workout.

    I did 1 hour of Plyometric on a P90X video. The Vivosmart says I burned just 450 calories, but the Timex Global Trainer says I burned 750 during the workout.

    I was wondering about the difference between the two…. different calorie burn algorithims? Both devices were getting my heart rate from a Garmin G1 heart rate monitor…. so why did they interperet the data so differently…. I mean, 300 calories is quite a big jump.

    Just curious and wondering which one to believe.

    Thank so much. I appreciate it.


  84. Bernardo Alfaro S

    My VS got out of battery, I connected to de cable but It do not charge…. Since this morning it is dead… :( any one with the issue…? I already cleaned the contacts.. :S

  85. Tom G

    FYI: I am on my 4th Vivosmart since October. I love the watch, but it doesn’t seem to me it meets 50m water resistant spec. Taking it surface swimming broke the display. Rinsing it under the faucet has broken it.
    Garmin has been good about replacing them, but at $10 shipping and not getting to use it during the return period is frustrating.

    • Frank

      Yep. I am not so sure about the waterproof claim either. I wore my second Vivosmart while inspecting a sailboat bottom in the Gulf of Mexico last Monday. Under one hour. Less than 10′ deep.

      When I surfaced, it was stuck on and stuck on the steps screen. Being on all the time, it quickly died. When I got home I charged it fully. Then it was stuck on the time screen but turned its display off when idle. Seemed to be working correctly otherwise. Communicated with my phone and counted my steps—even gave me move alerts but the touchscreen capability was completely gone.

      It’s on its way back to Garmin. They seem to always have to send me two warranty replacements before I get something that works long term. It is a pain boxing these things up and sending them back not to mention the two weeks or so of going without while the process plays out.

      I wonder of Ray put this thing in his pressure tester.

    • Sylvester Jakubowski

      My first one died after too many pool sessions too…..

    • Frank

      Well, I repeated the hour under a sailboat drill on Friday and Vivosmart #3 came through with flying colors. Go figure.

  86. Ivan


    I am trying to understand if the vivosmart is a good option for my indoor training as well as a complementary tool for the TX910… (probably I should just upgrade to 920 ehehe ;))

    it seems to do the job, but I have a specific question:

    if I use Garmin Connect App, can I use both vivosmart and wireless headsets?

    not sure if two wireless connections will work at the same time (I guess they are both Bluetooth)…

    anyone tried? any comment?



  87. Larry

    I notice the sleep tracking on my VivoSmart has been automatic the last couple of nights. Has anyone else noticed this?

    • tom

      Hmmmm no.. Not me. That would be cool if it worked!

    • Sylvester Jakubowski

      My fiance reported this on her vivosmart recording 4h of sleep the other night without her tracking anything, I haven’t seen this myself.

    • Larry

      The last 3 nights have picked up my sleep automatically. I do have my general sleep and wake times set in GC. I am guessing it is looking for a reduction of activity around these set times.

  88. Sylvester Jakubowski

    Anyone have notifications totally broken in android recently? It keeps saying permission required for notifications but the setting is enabled in the smart notifications setting in the android system manager…

    Really annoying. LG G3 on 5.0. Notifications have sucked on the vivosmart since I moved to this LG G3. Worked great on a Nexus 5 and iPhone 4S. Now they don’t work at all.

  89. bb

    Do you have an in depth review of the vivosmart?

  90. calvin4000@me.com

    Thanks for the great review, Ray, I should read more of them before buying some new toys.

    Actually, I was using an Edge 810, a BT headset and a Microsoft Band, 3 BT connections were working fine on my iPhone 6

    I had the great idea to get a Vivosmart, to have all my datas centralised.

    Then, I realised that I CANNOT use the Edge 810 Livetrack AND the Vivosmart notifications at the same time, not because of BT or the iPhone, but because of the Garmin Connect App.

    I’ve to say it is very disappointing… now if I want to use Livetrack and still receive IOS notifications when I go for a MTB ride, as I usually keep my iPhone in my backpack… I have to wear my old Microsoft Band… (sic)

    Common Garmin, you could do better than that…. if you cannot have two BT connection in the same App… just create another App only for Vivosmart trackers…

    Waiting for an Apple Watch now.. :(

  91. Doug

    Hi Ray, I just got my wife a vivosmart about two weeks ago. Consistently it is showing a greater number of steps taken on her vivosmart than mine for the same actvitities. (Today we did the same walking side by side and at home her,s recorded just over 7,0000 and mine 4,800. I checked that both bands were set to the correct hand and orientation. It seems strange that there is such a difference between the two. Any clues ? Thanks Doug

    • KaityG

      You need to set the correct stride. Count your steps in a measured off area and enter those steps in the stride area online. That stride will be different for each person.

  92. Frank

    Hi Doug. Since your question was about steps and not distance, I’m afraid KaityG’s input is not exactly relevant. Two things have to be factored in here that are more or less generic. First, step size is generally directly related to height—the taller the walker, the longer each step and the fewer steps required to cover a given distance. Second, all other things being equal, women take slightly shorter steps than men. Both or these may be impacting the difference you are seeing. On top of all of these observations, different individuals can vary quite widely in step size even same height and same sex.

    You might want to try counting 100 steps in your head while walking and check to see if the band is under or over-reporting your steps.

  93. Patrick

    Hello all,

    I currently have a Fitbit Charge which I somewhat enjoy, coming off of a Fitbit Flex it is a far better device. But I am getting tired of having to take it off any time I get near water. I know some have had success with it being water resistant enough for them, but the display on mine fogs up even if I just wash my hands with it on. Fortunately, it hasn’t died yet, but I’ve been waiting for it to happen. Beyond that I’m happy with it other than I was hoping it would show text messages and other information like that.

    Has anyone made the jump from the Charge to the Vivosmart or otherwise owned or own both? I’m interested in the Vivosmart for it’s more rich notification display and most importantly, the more robust waterproofing, but I’m worried about the app being not as full featured as Fitbit’s and it also doesn’t link to the dieting app I use (Lose It!, I have emailed them and they gave the standard “we’re not planning it, but if more people ask we might!” boilerplate), which I think may be fine since Garmin links to iOS inbuilt health app which then can populate data to Lose It!. I’m just wondering if there’s anything I will miss or lose if I make the jump to the Vivosmart.


    • Konstantins Sablukovs


      I have exactly the same question here..

      I have compared Fitbit Web Control Panel and Garmin Connect, and I have to admit Garmin is crap compare to simple and advanced Fitbit. Even Garmin COnnect has all those additional bards to display they are useless.

      I did research on how to sync up Garmin with Fitbit, and guess what – VivotSmart cannot be synced. Just some info but not even Steps or Sleep.

      … as the plus for Garmin – Notifications, smaller factor, waterproof (!!!) and this is it really… without additional Apps and Sync it is pretty limited and unfinished device.

      Summary – to me those 3 benefits of Garmin I have outlined above not really worth of switching from user friendly Fitbit.

      Correct me if I am wrong :)


  94. Eric

    Hey great review. Thanks. When you say “the smartphone notifications… [use] the standard notification center there and didn’t do any limiting to specific functions/apps”, will it pick up all notifications like my Outlook appointments that are currently synched with my phone calender app? If so, how well is the connection maintained? if it doesn’t alert me to all my meetings it won’t do me any good. I have a Samsung S5. Thanks

  95. Tim

    Are there any issues with iPhone connectivity? How about any interface with they Garmin Edge units? Mostly I am interested in any updated info as I recently purchased a Garmin 1000. Thanks!

    • No interference with the Edge units, nor any iPhone issues (most issues, if left, tend to be on the Android side – primarily with older Android phones). Or with folks that haven’t updated their Vivosmart firmware in 6 months.

    • Frank

      Just curious if there is not a one at a time connectivity issue like there is with my VS and f2. I have to stop the blue tooth on my VS to use it on the f2 and vice versa. Not a big deal but just curious. At one point, I thought I was told by Garmin that this was a Garmin Connect Mobile limitation that they intended to address in some future update.

  96. Luca

    How to set properly the numbers of steps when walking and when running.Actually I cannot find an exact setting for these two datas. Thanks for your feed back.

    • Frank

      It seems to only work right on the Web app. The iOS mobile app (2.12.2) seems to only support walking stride length

      1. Log in to Garmin Connect.
      2. Click on the 3 bars in the upper left corner of the home page.
      3. Choose Devices.
      4. Click on Vivosmart
      5. Click on User Settings
      6. Scroll down to Custom Step Length
      7. Enter the appropriate values
      8. Scroll to the bottom of that page and click on Save
      9. Sync your band

  97. Scott

    Any news on when the Vivosmart 2 might be coming out? Will there be a better locking mechanism like the like the Vivofit 2 and a better screen? Thanks for the great information Ray. I look forward to your response.

  98. Tom

    Has the Vivosmart firmware already received an update for multiple alarms (as apparently the vivoactive has had)?

  99. Tim

    Can we expect an in-depth review or is this the in-depth review now? I just want to check I was not missing anything.

    Thanks Ray

    • Tim

      Any intended in-depth review or updates for the Vivosmart? I am pretty interested and looked for more of a review but did not see it. I am a recent Garmin 1000 owner and like the idea of some form of activity and sleep tracking tied to my Garmin data.

    • At this point, probably not unfortunately. Mostly because I’ve just got so many other devices backlogged and the last time I used the Vivosmart was a year ago.

    • Tim

      Cool, thanks Ray!..I was just curious.

  100. Gary Dorshimer

    Will the VS stay connected to Bluetooth while using my Wahoo Tickr X hrm Bluetooth? My Pebble watch will not work with the Wahoo and would like to find a watch that lets me monitor my hr, and control music while running.

  101. Kardassilaris Debbie

    The display on VS seems to be wearing out where parts of the text or icons are missing from the top and bottom. It’s only 9 months old. Is this covered under the standard warranty?

    • For the US/Canada, it’s 1 year, for Europe it’s 2 years. I don’t know elsewhere what the warranty policies are – but I don’t think anywhere it’s less than 1 year.

    • Brian

      I’m starting to have the same issue. Good thing it’s still under warranty but not sure how long they will have this model now that the Vivosmart HR was just released.

  102. Frank

    They warranty replaced my third Vivosmart for exactly this problem. They wanted me to jump through a bunch of stupid hoops. Instead, I sent then a picture of the display where the missing segments were obvious and they sent me a new one right away. I had only had that one for about 60 days before that started to happen. The 4th one was new as opposed to refurbished and it is still working fine. It will get a good submersion text when I do some work under the boat tomorrow. We will see :).

  103. Frank

    No Low Battery Notification.

    Vivosmart #4 is shutting down without warning. It may have carried this flaw since it was new. I often recharge it long before the battery dies when I know I will be in front of the computer for an hour or two. However, twice recently I have looked down and found it dead as a brick without the usual low battery warning. Mind you this was after 5+ days without a charge so I don’t think it is dramatically shortened battery life. Just a failure of the low battery warning to ever appear.

    I am currently checking the battery level three times per day and recording the result. At 3 days, it was still showing full. Now, at 88 hours post-charge, it is showing two-thirds full. I’ll follow-up with the final result of this little experiment by Saturday (November 14) by which time it should have died again with or without a low battery notification.

    Support tells be that the low battery notification is set to go off at 10% remaining power. That means that, if the thing runs out at the short end of its specified life (5 days) it should show up during at least a 12 hour window. It would be hard for most people to sleep through that. I am checking at 6:00, 13:00, and 21:00 so there should be no way for me to sleep through the alert.

    My GF’s UP2 gives her a remaining battery life estimate on it’s mobile app (not just when the battery is low) and sends her text messages when the charge is low. If GC mobile has something equivalent to this, I have not been able to find it.

  104. Blake

    Does the Vivosmart have the ability to create and set timers?

  105. Gypsi

    I have recently lost a wrist based fitness tracker because of a failure of the band. How is the band on the Vivosmart? Will it come off easily by accident?
    Since the loss of my fitness tracker, I have been trying to find one with a watch-style band. Is there are nonwatch-style band that would be as secure as a watch-style band?
    Thank you!
    Gypsi Luck.

  106. kpcski

    I believe that ALL of these problems come from Garmin trying hard to increase their ability to claim long battery life with the vivosmartHR. The want you to stop your BROADCAST … they want to sample your heart rate less frequently (as that uses battery too) … Well in trying to save battery life, Garmin is making the KEY AND DIFFERENTIATING ability to broadcast your heart rate to a Garmin EDGE, http://www.zwift.com, or whatever VERY COMPROMISED. Here is my latest note to Garmin support. The more who write, then the better chance that these issues are resolved via a firmware update that I would suggest:

    1. Includes the ability to LOCKSCREEN by either pressing the single action key twice or holding down on the screen for a period of time when in ACTIVITY TRACK or BROADCAST MODE

    2. NEVER decreases the heart rate sample frequency while in Activity nor BROADCAST mode

    3. Does not allow notification to disrupt heart rate sampling or broadcasting

    Here is my note …

    I love my Garmin Vivosmart HR in many ways, but one of the key reasons that I bought it was so that I could use it to BROADCAST my heart rate to my GarminEdge1000 will indoor cycling. Unfortunately, the vivosmart HR needs to be improved due to these issues:

    1. The device needs a LOCKSCREEN. You cannot expect people who are exercising not to bump their device with their sleeve, etc. When the screen is bumped or sometimes even seemingly when NOTHING has been done, the device asks you if you want to end the broadcast. When that question is asked, the BORADCAST has already stopped. If you answer NO, then the broadcast begins again, but only with a default heartrate of 72bpm. The device then takes quite a long time to properly read my heartrate and begin broadcasting proper numbers.

    2. When broadcasting, if a NOTIFICATION comes thru the device, it interrupts the broadcast and again, later, sets the device heartrate reading back to to that default 72bpm. This is of course very annoying. It should not be that each time we put on broadcast that we need to turn off notifications. That is very clunky. Also I believe that some notifications cannot be turned off, such a low battery and such? This is an obvious glitch.

    3. Finally at some stage during a broadcast, I assume in a effort for Garmin to try to extend battery life, the sample frequency of the heart rate measurements seems to decrease. Is this happening when the device’s gyroscope feels decreased movement? Well, if someone is indoor cycling. then arm movement is not indicative of the need to decrease sample size.

    BOTTOM LINE — Garmin, you must know that the BROADCAST mode of the vivosmartHR (which is THE big differentiator of this product versus your competitors) is quite flawed, by at least the above.

    Can you please make sure that our BROADCAST is not disrupted due to lacking lockscreen issues while broadcasting and that the same rate of heart rate remains high and constant ALL THE TIME while we are broadcasting?

    Let the user worry about the battery life management and turning off the broadcast. Please do not auto LOCKSCREEN and please do not change the sample frequesncy AUTOMATICALLY. And surely, pls do not have a default broadcast of 72bpm — instead FORCE the device to take a proper reading. The 72 default reading is an absolutely gigantic flaw.

    Thanks. Kevin

    • Frank

      Kevin, as a fitness device geek, I am in favor of every suggestion you have proposed. However, I think this is one of those cases where the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

      First, remember that the VSHR is first and foremost an activity tracker. Secondarily, it is a device for tracking your heart rate while engaging in intentional exercise. It’s ability to broadcast your heart rate comes in a distant and questionable third in the VSHR’s list of advertised HR based capabilities. If I were the VSHR product manager, I would have dumped this feature altogether in favor of pairing with an Ant+ HRM that would actually work during exercise (chest strap or optical).

      Second, in my personal experience and through reading countless reviews of these offerings, I have noticed an inverse relationship between optical HR devices’ battery life and their measurement fidelity. For example the Mio Link and Scosche Rhythm + do a good (but not great) job of measuring HR but have a battery life measured in hours. The VSHR, Fitbit Charge HR, and Apple Watch last all day or longer and do a poor or at least highly inconsistent job of measuring HR particularly when engaging in moderate to vigorous exercise.

      Third, optical HR monitors in general seem to work much better for some people than others. They seem to work particularly poorly on me. My Scosche does an acceptable job if I wear it on my forearm but has some crazy spikes and dropouts even there and even under a shirt. Plus the Velcro band is constantly letting go mid-activity. My Mio link (which seems to work for everyone else) had to go back. As you have probably guessed, I’ve got no problems with my chest straps. I think I am up to 10 of those now (5 Garmin, 3 Polar, 2 BTLE).

      Fourth—the Many. Four out of five purchasers of the VSHR will not own a premium, exercise specific, Garmin device like a Forerunner or Edge and don’t read this blog or participate in the Garmin user forum. For those, broadcast mode is pointless and, probably, incomprehensible. For me and the half of us that it works poorly for (because of poor measurement) we will stick with dedicated HRMs. The “Many” will doubtless often find a way to enter broadcast mode and/or lock their screens inadvertently resulting in an avalanche of support traffic and a generally poor reputation for the product.

      You would not ride a beach cruiser in the Tour de France so why are you using an activity tracker to monitor your heart rate during vigorous, intentional exercise? Instead, let’s get Garmin to support HRM pairing so I can quit wearing my fenix to the gym. Of course, that would amount to a tacit admission that their on-board HRM isn’t so great for everything. Probably not going to happen.

    • kpcski


      I understand your points. I however saw — maybe wrongly — that the VSHR could finally be the activity tracker AND sports hrm in one … After all, that is why Garmin DID include the ACTIVITY TIMING and HRM BROADCAST MODE in the device. That is what attracted me to the device. Someone is going to get this right and have a wearable that works for all day tracking and sport tracking … it may or may not be the VSHR. What I am encouraged by is that the request that I made should all be possible with a firmware update that:

      1. Creates a LOCKSCREEN or makes unintentional BROADCAST ending less frequent
      2. Does NOT SLOW SAMPLE rate due to movement inactivity

      Really … my requests are small and the COST will be battery time, but that BATTERY LIFE usage will be at the discretion of the user. I agree that some daily activity tracking users will never use the BROADCAST, so the decreased battery life will not impact them …

      BOTTOM LINE — GARMIN — PLEASE ALLOW ME TO WASTE MY BATTERY on THE VSHR if I want to do so to broadcast my heart rate accurately.

    • Frank

      Points well made. Even if my personal capillary topography apparently makes me a poor candidate for optical HR, they should make the VSHR work for most people in the applications for which it is marketed. If it worked well for intentional exercise (as advertised) it would obviously work much better with the enhancements you have suggested. The notification brain fart fix is a no-brainer.

      By the way, my VSHR does not always start at 72 when I first swipe to that screen. I have seen initial values as low as 52 and as high as 74 before it begins to take actual readings and settles on something that usually makes sense (if I am sitting still). I’ll try to pay attention to what it does after a notification during an activity

    • kpcski

      Thank you Frank.

  107. C cybulski

    vivosmart HR took some adjusting after the fitbit Charge HR because of the size difference and the simplicity of the fitbit charge. the ‘sweeping’ of screens and the ‘dull’ display. But a waterproof unit was important for me,

    I am still having an issue with the temperature display remaining in F degrees rather than C despite changing all the settings everywhere to Celsius..temp screen is a reall bonus screen to me with our extremely cold temps here. Overall I do really like the unit.

    • Frank

      I don’t know the answer to your units of measure problem but would like to point out that somehow kpcski and I ended up discussing the Vivosmart HR in the area intended for discussions about the original Vivosmart.

      Your VivosmartHR questions and observations would be better directed to here: link to dcrainmaker.com

      Having said that, I believe that the weather comes from your phone. Make sure that any weather apps there default to the units of measure you prefer. Someone on the Garmin user forum suggested “If you set your distance metrics to KM instead of Miles the device seems to assume you’re European (as opposed to USA) and you want your temp in Celcius (as opposed to Farenheit). Wierd but it works.”

  108. si global

    Hi Ray,
    Curious if you have heard anything from Garmin on Vivosmart enhancements. They have been very quiet.

  109. Irina

    I am sorry to say that after almost 10 months the display finally started to fade.
    I read on the Garmin forum about this known issue and I hoped it will not happen to mine but it did.
    Slowly, from the top and bottom lines the pixels are not lighting up anymore.
    When i bought this I didn’t read anywhere about this issue, but now it seems to be more and more often.

    I read that Garmin will switch your bracelet if you send it back to them, but the new one will have the same fate in some months. This is based on the other forum posts I’ve read.

    Probably will look into Vivosmart HR…

    • Carys

      I have this same issue, I’ve had 2 Vivosmarts and the same issue has occurred on both of them. I tried to send it back and get a replacement as the screen is becoming hard to read however they class it as “Cosmetic Damage” which isn’t covered by the warranty :(

  110. Jackie Higgins

    Is the Vivosmart HR compatible with a Samsung Galaxy 7 phone, it is not the edge phone,Thank You!

  111. Mark T.

    I have been a paid subscriber to DC Rainmaker for two years now need your help with my Garmin Vivosmart 4. I have tried contacting Garmin several times and their recommendations have been the standard: clean, update, its normal, it’s not the same as your chest heart rate monitor.

    My issue is that the heart readings from the Garmin Vivosmart 4 jumps or drops by two heart rate zones when compared to the Garmin (or Polar) chest rate monitor. And, the subsequent interpretations for stress and sleep data is also off.

    I have had to reset the Garmin Vivosmart 4 every 4/5 days to get reliable readings.

    I have not included a screen shot from Friday night, but it shows that, even after I fell asleep, the band was still recording my stress levels even though I was awake.

    I then reset the band at 5 am.

    During Saturday, I had normal activity and I exercised on my elliptical machine at 7 pm. Once again, during the elliptical machine workout, the heart readings were 2 zones higher than normal for the first 15 min and higher than the chest heart rate monitor that read normal heart rate of 120-128 bpm. After about 15 min of exercising, the heart rate of the Garmin Vivosmart 4 was within 5 bpm of the chest heart rate strap.

    From the sleep reading from Saturday night, with the same amount of sleep as the previous night, Friday night, with normal activity and stress level during the day.

    Is resetting the device every 4-5 days the only way to get reliable readings for the Vivosmart 4?

    I will try to send you an email with the screen shots as well and would greatly appreciate it if you could contact Garmin on my behalf.