• Amazon.com

Hands-on with the new Garmin Vivoactive GPS smartwatch, and the Garmin Vivofit2


Garmin has announced a metric crapton of products today, but it’s the Vivoactive that I’m probably most excited about.  Or, at least, it’s the device I feel has the most potential and the widest possible appeal.  But, perhaps I’m getting ahead of you a bit.

The Vivoactive is Garmin’s first true smartwatch – but unlike so many other entrants out there, this one will actually appeal to athletes.  To begin, it contains GPS.  And while that might sound obvious for athletic devices these days, it’s actually not that common on smart watches.  Nor is the 50m waterproofing that’s also found on the Vivoactive.  And in this case, they actually want you to swim with it – since it includes pool swim tracking.  Which is a derivative of the same swim tracking found in the Garmin Swim and other multisport GPS devices from Garmin.

But the Vivoactive isn’t the only thing released in the Vivo lineup today.  They also made some minor updates to the Vivofit, revamping it with the next version: Vivofit2.  These tweaks include vibration alerts and a backlight, as well as a host of colorful bands.  There are now more colored bands to choose from than devices I could possibly wear on either of my arms concurrently.

And finally, Garmin is starting rollout of Connect IQ today.  This begins first with watch faces and data fields (today), but will soon be expanded to full blown apps (soonish).  I’ll dive into this more a bit later in the week in a separate post.  But Connect IQ is targeted at the Garmin Epix GPS watch, Vivoactive GPS watch, Fenix3 GPS watch, and the previously announced FR920XT GPS watch.

(Note: Garmin has also announced other products today including the Garmin Epix watch and the Garmin Fenix3.)

The Vivoactive:


First up is the Vivoactive, this is Garmin’s new ultra-slim smartwatch.  Think of it as part traditional smartwatch, part activity tracker, and part fitness GPS watch – all rolled into one.  Oh, with a side of golfing added in for good measure.

The watch contains a touch screen as well as one physical button on each side, with a further two dedicated touch-sensitive button-ish areas below the touch screen.

We’ll start with Garmin’s strongest area which is fitness tracking.  The Vivoactive contains three base sport modes – swimming, cycling, and running.  Within each of those modes it’ll track your speed, distance, time and sensor data such as heart rate or cadence.


Of course my first thought when noticing the swim mode is that this might just make for a perfect replacement for my aging Garmin Swim watch.  And to a large degree, that’s true.  It’ll record swim metrics like laps, time, and lengths, as well as show you your current pace just like Garmin’s other pool swim tracking watches.


Where you see some slight differences though is in some of the more advanced swim capabilities like the interval rest timer and drill mode found on the other Garmin swim devices.  These functions aren’t currently available on the Vivoactive, which I think is a bit of a mistake.  I suspect the addition of those functions would convert a lot of people that have the Garmin Swim still in their swim bags, especially with the Bluetooth Smart uploading of completed workouts via your phone straight to sites like Training Peaks and Sport Tracks that have detailed swim analysis modules.

Moving on from swimming to cycling, the unit will leverage the internal GPS chip to capture speed and distance data and display that within your data pages.


These data pages are fully customizable – another nice bump up from something like the budget Edge 200 or Forerunner 15 which have historically lacked much data page configuration.  Here you can tweak data pages and select any of the data metrics shown on each page as you want.



And remember that since it supports Connect IQ, you can add in basically any data field on this planet that a 3rd party company might make.

Before we leave cycling note that it supports the ANT+ speed and cadence sensors natively, but that with Connect IQ someone could relatively easily extend it to record power meter data too.

Next, if headed outside running it’ll use the GPS chip there as well to track your run pace and distance just like any other Garmin GPS device.  Indoors it can go GPS-less by using the internal accelerometer to track pace and distance, such as if running on a treadmill.


Like with most of Garmin’s other running and fitness watches, you’ve got options like Auto Pause and Auto Lap included.


Moving away from swim/bike/run, the Vivoactive tracks your daily steps just like the rest of the Vivo line.  This includes steps/distance/calories and sleep, all against a daily step goal and the usual Garmin inactivity bar and vibration reminders.

The watch maintains connectivity to your smart phone via Bluetooth Smart, which allows it to also receive smartphone notifications from the notification centers on both iOS and Android.  So you can get text message or missed call notifications, or just Words with Friends updates.  Whatever floats your boat.

The same goes for workouts, which are uploaded automatically to Garmin Connect using Bluetooth Smart – and then can be configured to further automatically sync to services like Strava and MyFitnessPal.


In addition to the smartphone notification functions, the watch can also trigger a ‘Find my Phone’ function, like the Vivosmart has.  This will help you find your phone deep in the couch cushions.


Now there’s one last feature that hasn’t been seen before on Garmin’s fitness devices, which is golfing (for us endurance sports folks, it’s apparently a sport played with some sort of metal stick and small white dimpled ball).  This feature set has always been separate in the Garmin Approach series of GPS devices.  Now however, the base functions are contained within the Vivoactive.

On the watch you can connect via your phone and download any of some 38,000 golf courses worldwide.  From there the Vivoactive will leverage its GPS capabities to tell you how far to the green (front/middle/back), as well as keep score for golfers.  Regrettably, it does not appear to cover my favorite miniature golf courses – nor provide guidance on the always challenging windmill hole.  Perhaps someday.


Finally, I’ll dig into Connect IQ in a dedicated post later this week – but we’re already starting to see some of the apps that both Garmin and 3rd parties have developed.  Below is one that Garmin has put together called Tempo that is focused on calendaring.  It can also let folks know when you’re still completing those last few intervals out on a run and will be a few minutes late for that meeting.


And Accuweather is working away on an app with weather and related information for cities both local and afar:


But again, we’ll dive into that a bit later this week in my larger Connect IQ post.

Before we move onto the Vivofit2 though, here’s a quick video walkthrough I shot showing how the watch works.  Keep in mind it’s still at the beta stage – so there are still some unfinished aspects in there.

Note that the Vivoactive gets 10-hours of battery life with the GPS on, and 3 weeks with the unit in regular standby mode (GPS-off).  Of course, how much you use the backlight and apps will no doubt drain the battery faster.

With that – onto the Vivofit2!

The Vivofit2:


Next up is the Vivofit2.  Don’t worry, this section will be much shorter than the Vivoactive section.

The Vivofit2 has received a handful of minor updates, mostly hardware related.  These manifest itself in the following ways:

1) Addition of backlight to display
2) Addition of audible alerts for the move bar
3) Addition of activity timer (no need for heart rate strap like previous)
4) Now does all day automatic sync (to your phone)
5) Addition of vibration alerts for your phone on behalf of the move bar

The first four are pretty self-explanatory, whereas the 5th one simply means that you can have the ‘Move’ alerts vibrate on your phone, as opposed to on the band itself.

But really the biggest changes in the Vivofit2 are on the outside.  It’s here that the Vivofit2 has had the biggest overhaul.  First is that they’ve changed up the clasp on the band, which should improve its ability to stay shut.



Next you’ll see that when compared to the Vivofit1 (left) that the pod design is entirely different now.  The two pods are not compatible with each other’s bands.  So bands and pods from Vivofit(1) shall not mate with bands and pods with Vivofit2.


On the front side, the screens look nearly identical (of course the Vivofit2 has a backlight whereas the original doesn’t).  But you do see a slight change in the button location and texture of the button.


Before we get into the wonderful and whacky world of bands, here’s a quick comparison between the Vivosmart (top), the Vivofit2 (middle), and original Vivofit (bottom).


Now we’ll go ahead and blingify.

First up is the Vivofit2 ‘Style Collection’, which is a series of stainless steel and leather bands.  These come in a boatload of different styles as seen over the next three photos.  This is as close to fashion photography as you’ll find on this blog (well, baring when it happens outside my house window).


Here’s a close look at the backs of these:



Then we’ve got the not-so-swanky but slightly more ‘fun’ Vivofit & Vivofit2 straps.  The below straps are part of partnership with designer Jonathan Adler.  According to Wikipedia he also makes pots.

Unlike the Style Collection above, the below bands will be available for both the Vivofit and Vivofit2.  Shown in my photos below are the Vivofit variants.


The Jonathan Adler designed straps will be sold in three-color packs for $40.



Finally, there are also a bunch of other Vivofit2 bands that Garmin is coming out with.  These are available for a three-pack for $25. The pre-defined colored blends are as follows:

‘Neutral’ pack: Black, slate, white
‘Downtown’ pack: Burgundy, slate, navy
’Active’ pack: Red, blue, green
’Serenity’ pack: Mint, cloud, lilac
’Energy’ pack: Canary, pink, violet

And here’s a shot from Garmin with all the colors in one gigantic group photo:


Ok…that’s enough color and fashion for one blog post around these parts.

A few initial thoughts:


While the $249US Vivoactive is an astoundingly full featured watch as-is, it’s the potential of expandability with Garmin Connect IQ that really takes the cake.  In the vast majority of cases, you’re really not limited to what Garmin has decided to include within the watch since over the next little while you’ll be able to just tap into the Connect IQ store to find an app that fills in the gaps for you.

On the Vivofit2 side, while the small feature adds are certainly welcomed, I do wonder how well Garmin will continue to do at the higher $129 (or $139 with a Jonathan Adler band) price point.  Over the last few months there have been more and more options out there, especially the Fitbit Charge HR for only $20 more (and that includes optical heart rate).  I would have expected to see a bit more on the software side from Garmin here to make up for that, such as improved calorie calculations (a pain point I hear from readers on often).  Still, I expect the new Vivofit2 hardware little tweaks may cover the gap for some of the hardware features people have been asking for.

As you might guess though – my excitement in the Vivo-related announcements mostly rests with Vivoactive.  Of course since my time with the Vivosmart has been somewhat limited, I don’t know how it might perform when it comes to aspects like water on the screen or GPS tracking performance (it did find GPS reception quite quick in NYC though for me, which is good).  The same goes with the touch screen in scenarios such as the pool.  These are all areas I’ll be tackling within my in-depth review once I have a final production unit and final software.


Note: You can pre-order the Vivoactive and Vivofit2 through Clever Training today (all variants and models), as well as various accessory bands.  The units will ship as soon as Garmin starts shipping, which is currently slated for Q1 2015.

Welcome to CES 2015! Don’t forget to check out all my CES 2015 coverage, as well as my continual updates throughout the day on Twitter.  It’s gonna be a crazy busy week!

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
If you would like a profile picture, simply register at Gravatar, which works here on DCR and across the web.

Click here to Subscribe without commenting

Add a picture



  1. Alan

    In golf they aren’t called ‘sticks’ Ray…how ignorant…they are called ‘bats’.

  2. Steve

    Will an old heart rate monitor strap from a Forerunner 305 pair with the Vivoactive?

    • Neil

      Looking at the pictures, that’s exactly the kind of basic strap it comes with Steve:
      link to buy.garmin.com
      You’d have hoped it would come with a premium strap but seeing as it doesn’t, I’d be buying the watch only, use your current strap and maybe buy a premium strap as an upgrade later.

    • SaltyDub

      agree with photo BUT…according to garmin site, bundle comes with:

      •Premium (soft strap) heart rate monitor

    • aminox

      I believe you are correct. It’s the HR strap that tracks HR + running dynamics as well.

    • Any ANT+ strap will work with these units (including the one from the FR305). None of the units in this post support the Running Dynamics (HRM-RUN) data though, so there’s little reason to buy that strap over the cheaper ones.

    • Neil

      I’m pretty sure it didn’t specify Premium before and our local Australian site currently doesn’t specify the type either, so you have to go with the photo.

      vívoactive Bundle:
      Heart rate monitor
      Charging/data clip

      You would hope it would come with a premium strap here too but….

    • Gary B

      Seems strange for Garmin to exclude Running Dynamics, surely it can’t be hard for them to add and I don’t see any reason why they would not include it unless they it isn’t part of there long term plan.

      I’m hoping it gets added via IQ or firmware.

    • Just simply product differentiation for upsell.

  3. aminox

    So, unless Ray comes back with a horrid review of the touch screen on sweat/rain/wet conditions, I’m sold on this watch. I truly wanted the Fenix 3, but could not justify the $550 expense.

    • Neil

      Does this help aminox?
      link to facebook.com

    • aminox

      That’s actually pretty impressive. Neither my iPhone, nor my TomTom are worth a damn with sweaty hands, let alone rain or pouring water.

    • Cool stuff.

      I would caution slightly (only because I’ve made a lot of these videos for other products), that getting a single 5-second clip functioning is relatively easy actually – even on the worst of devices. Not saying that’s the case here, but just being a bit of a reality check.

      I’ll definitely post a video Friday when I get back with a longer clip under the shower/faucet with the results.

    • Kartik


      Has any other ‘first look – hands-on preview’ if yours caused so much buzz in the recent past? (just curious). There are several people here (including me) who are eagerly waiting for your full review. I reckon a a nice chunk Garmin’s sales through CT/Amazon is going to hinge on this review!

      WTH are you doing globe-trotting all over? Get your priorities straight, mate – we don’t need you to do your day-job; we need you to publish your reviews ASAP! :-) (jus’ kidding!).

      For the record, I’ve been logging on the DCR website twice a day everyday since 05th-Jan. So get cranking on the review. Pronto!


  4. andy from embsay

    Someone on Garmin forums has a shipping note from Cotswold – looks like they’re on the way…

  5. Kevin Loaf

    I contacted Cotswold Outdoor and they say they haven’t received any units yet, let alone shipped any.

  6. ML Heng

    vivoactive is now on sale in Singapore.

  7. Andy from Embsay

    Cotswold said: “Hi Andy, we had a tiny amount come through so it’s probably true, rest assured we’re doing everything first come first served. Next batch still expected e/o March. Sorry for the frustration but we are genuinely getting the earliest batches of these in the country.”

  8. andy from embsay

    And there are pics of one on a real person’s arm on the Garmin Vivoactive forum – so there’s at least one in the UK!

  9. Kevin

    Ray commented on another post that he thinks CT will start shipping either Fri or Mon

    link to dcrainmaker.com

  10. Jim

    I think a bunch of folks are waiting for the vivoactive, and I think I’ve found an indicator. The “Garmin Connect” Facebook group is now the “Garmin Fitness” group, and in the last two days, Garmin has posted a video on setting up the VA and another on how manage notifications on the VA.

    They did the same kind of videos a few days before the VF2 started showing up in consumer’s hands.

  11. Here’s the first of a number of videos I’ll upload this weekend with the Vivoactive, this one focusing on the display with water.

    As you can see, despite Garmin Australia’s best attempts otherwise – it does not work with constant water pressure on it (in 10-15 minutes of toying with it, only a single swipe worked then). However, that’s not a big deal, as otherwise, the display works great with water on it or your fingers, as the video shows.

    I also go into detail about use of the swimming mode. Full video here: link to youtube.com


    • aminox

      Awesome video, Ray.

      The shower test does concern me a lot. At least the climate I live in, torrential rain is not that unusual May-Oct. which is when I do the bulk of my training preparing for the fall season. I was “sold” on this watch, now I’ve gone back to considering other models. Shame because it looks like a slick and useful watch otherwise.

    • I’d be cautious in that there’s a big difference between torrential rain, and the shower. The shower just has so much pressure coming out of it (especially this one)

    • Turn The Damn Cranks

      Thanks, Ray. I had the opposite reaction to Aminox. I watched the video and immediately signed up for the CT VIP program. And as soon as my personal coupon code showed up I pre-ordered a Vivoactive to replace my aging FR305 (which I pretty much use only to run).

      I gave serious thought to the M400, but Vivoactive does enough for me as a runner, will be of use in the pool, for the occasional round of golf, and who knows what else once ConnectIQ really kicks in. Toss in the fact I already have plenty of ANT+ accessories and it was an easy call as the price of a the M400 with a HRM is basically the same as the Vivoactive.

      Thanks again!

    • Neil

      Thanks Ray, much appreciated.

    • aminox

      Yes, if you don’t live in very wet and humid environments, this is a very nice watch — no doubt. But, having had so many bad experiences with touch-screens, I’m just not going to take the chance. I am now waiting for the fenix 3 to become widely available — specifically, available on amazon which is where I have some GC money left to help foot the bill.

    • Kermit262

      Ray – any more videos ready to upload? Thanks.

    • I’ll probably create/upload a few more later today. If there are specific topic areas of interesting, feel free to drop a comment – happy to try and create them.

    • K.

      Just curious of overall navigation in the watch. Maybe more specific ad to what it offers for bike activities.


    • Kermit262

      Intereted to see if the touch interface works well – I thought I saw somewhere that you said Garmin might improve it from the demo unit to the final production unit. Also would like to see how quickly it grabs a GPS signal and how accurate – maybe we can see a route that you ran?

    • Jerry Gonzalez

      Just placed my order for the Vivoactive using clever training VIP code. DC Rainmaker, thank you for making this site available, enjoy reading your reviews!

    • For videos, here’s the first, which shows the UI responsiveness in a normal non-water situation: link to youtube.com

      I also shot videos showing running pace today, as well as navigation. I’ll upload them here shortly (they’ll automagically add to that playlist as well).

    • Thanks for the support Jerry!

    • And the instant-pace video here… link to youtube.com

    • Johan


      Currently I’m using a Motorola motoActv some years and I still believe it’s the best workout watch I ever had. It can be mounted on wrist, bike handlebar or clip. It has storage for songs and wifi to wireless sync workouts the moment I arrive at home. I can program, via the site, a custom workout routine where voice instructions are nicely mixed with music feedback to tell me when to speed up or cool down.
      The major downside is the batterylife (less then 4h when using gps and backlight enabled). This is enough for daily short run’s but not for long bikerides… next to this, it is currently no longer in production and spareparts (screen is broken..) are not to find.. Therefore I’m looking for a replacement and the Vivoactive can be a good contender.
      But, for me, a specific requirement is the possibility to add custom workouts so the watch can help me train interval’s.
      Next to that it would be nice if we have some more information on the music playback feature.. is a connected phone required at all times?

    • No, the Vivoactive doesn’t have music storage, just control.

      Custom workouts aren’t there today, but I suspect we’ll see Connect IQ fill in that gap.

    • Adam Lewis

      Hey Ray I noticed at the end of your instant pace video the HR display disappeared twice when you stopped. Is this a HR connection issue or something else?

      Thanks (have mine on pre order waiting for shipping)

    • Maltloaf

      It looks like it lost connection momentarily. I haven’t seen that happen with mine.

    • I’m pretty sure it was just lack of moisture on the strap. I was out there filming various segments for about 20-30 mins, and it was pretty dry. Since I wasn’t running much more than those short segments I lacked working up a sweat.

      I haven’t seen it drop HR during ‘normal’ activities yet.

    • Mike Richie

      Don’t see the video on navigation, although I gather it is just back to start, but interested in seeing how it works without a compass.

    • Nate

      Thanks for the excellent reviews! I checked the playlist you linked to, but I don’t see a video for the navigation features. Am I missing something?

  12. So I’m a winter slug who has been waiting for nicer weather in the Northeast to get back into outdoor cycling. I want to hit the weight room again and generally be more active during the day. I’ve had a Jawbone UP24 in the past, and I really like the app, but I had to stop using it because the Jawbone drained my iPhone so badly. Then I see they’re having problems rolling out the new Up band, so I thought I’d give up on that. So then I was looking at the Fitbits, but it doesn’t seem they really count cycling as an activity. I also had a Garmin Vivofit 1st gen, but their app is so blah and doesn’t do anything. I have a Garmin 810 for cycling, which I love for maps and directions. What activity tracker does anyone recommend? Thanks.

  13. wilderaz

    What is the lug width of the Vivoactive’s band?

  14. Dim

    Thought I would share some good news from Clever Training (if you pre-ordered a black one)…

    Here is the email that came just now:

    “Thank you for your pre-order for the Garmin Vivoactive. We’re expecting to receive our first shipment of Black Vivoactives on Monday. We’ve been told that the White versions of the Vivoactive will be delayed a few weeks.”

  15. Andrew Davies

    Ray, thanks very much for your tube review of the vivoavtive touchscreen and water.
    That clears up any doubts I might have had about the units Practicality when using the touch screen. The use of short and long presses of the right button ( for start, rest and stop make a lot of sense ). Perhaps an app might be developed for running, cycling etc. in wet conditions with the right button being also used to take an interval? As this would solve Aminox’s problem. Is this possible with IQ connect ?

  16. TriGuySwede

    Here’s hoping for some good reviews. I want to consolidate my FR305, FR110, Garmin Swim, Vivofit and Pebble with the Vivoactive. I run, swim, bike and ski apart from general fitness. The Apple watch is somewhat of a conumdrum for me. Right Now I dual or triple wear watches. Vivofit is always with me and usually the Basis Peak. I add the FR305 for outdoor training and Garmin Swim for swimming. Like Ray wrote in his interview the Peak is a good activity tracker for the 23h your not running, swimming or riding a bike. It gets confused while doing interval training. Apart from being overly sensitive, the sleep tracking is the best I’ve tried. Just wish the would make an option to delete sleep segments and consolidate segments.

  17. Tom

    Has garmin published any information regarding what happens to personal data (location etc.) collected when using IQ based apps. Do they share the data with 3rd party’s as I presume the Android watches and apps do.

  18. alan groves

    can the watch keep track of multiple time zones?

  19. Steve

    1) Does the music control feature work on the basis of A2DP Bluetooth profile and I suppose this meant to control a phone or iPod type Bluetooth enabled device? Is there a way to advance the song while the activity data field is in use or do you have to switch to the music control screen.

    2) How well does the display work with light gloves on?


  20. julienfr38

    Hello Ray,

    After reading your review again and again, I’m going to send back my v800 to amazon (just bought few days ago).
    I only hope that 3rd app will come quickly to allow intervall training for running.
    Do you have any news for that ?

    As a geek runner (no triathlon), I really think this vivoactive will be a better choice than v800. The geek side of this watch is of course ConnectIQ ;-)

    • K.

      I did the same with my v800. Now eagerly waiting for this one to be released!

    • Jim

      As far as connect IQ apps, check out apps.garmin.com to see what’s available today. Also, in the Garmin forums, under Developer>Connect IQ, there is a sub forum for people to suggest new apps. (forums.garmin.com/forumdisplay.php?509-Connect-IQ-App-Ideas)

  21. chris

    I’ve been nursing my old Garmin FR60 along waiting for the right device. Tried a Fitbit Charge HR but I found the optical heart rate monitoring too wonky and has all sorts of trouble with wildly inaccurate stair counts as well. Considered the Garmin FR 15 since that has daily activity monitoring, then I stumbled onto the Vivoactive preview and I think I’m sold. My only concern is it’s useability as a day-to-day watch. My wrist circumference is only about 7″ and I’m wondering how outlandish the Vivoactive will look when worn all day, in a work environment, etc.

    Any input from folks who may have already snagged one?

  22. Clikiller

    Dose Vivoactive support the Garmin Speed/Cadence Bike Sensor (the All-in-one version)?

    • Yes, the Vivoactive supports the ANT+ Speed/Cadence combo sensor, ANT+ Speed only sensor, and ANT+ Cadence only sensor. It has a sensor pool concept, and allows you to store multiple sensors of a given type.

  23. Claudio MV

    For all those in Europe, I ordered a black Vivoactive on the Garmin France website where it was shown as shipping within 1-3 days (same for the white version). And indeed, I placed my order on Saturday 14th, and it shipped Monday 16th form the UK via UPS. It should arrive on Wednesday (tomorrow). The Fenix 3 is also shown as available on the Garmin website (all versions).
    Sorry Ray, I know these orders don’t help the site… I hope you’ll pardon me as in parallel I also have a fenix3 on order from Clever Training! ;-)

  24. ML Heng

    Just wondering if the touch screen is a finger prints magnet. Will you get lots of finger prints with frequent swiping of screens?

  25. julienfr38

    Which ANT+ strap is in the vivoactive package ?

  26. Thanks for the in-depth review of the new VivoActive. Pre-ordered and anxiously awaiting the new watch to support recent efforts to set new PRs this running race season.

    Can’t wait to run, bike, AND swim with my first Garmin :-) Now, if only they would hurry up their failed promise to deliver in Q1… sigh….

    • Jim

      Seems REI is now shipping. I checked on my order with Garmin.com (us) and they said it should be shipped March 27th (I pre-ordered in Jan, so YMMV).

  27. Craig

    Thanks for the videos Ray. In your final review (or now?) would you compare the VivoActive to the M400? Those are the two watches I’m trying to decide between. Also, not having or used a running watch before (just my iPhone), I’m curious as to which software ecosystem is better (Garmin vs Polar) for a casual (20-25 miles/week) runner, if starting from scratch.

    I could see myself wearing the Garmin more than the Polar as a regular watch (looks better), however, the interface still seems rather slow to me based on the videos you recently posted. There’s a fair amount of delay between the finger swipe and the screen movement that, over time, may prove too frustrating for me. Maybe I’m just too used to my iPhone where the response is immediate.

    If that’s the case then the button interface of the Polar would appear to be a better fit.

    • Yup, I’ll definitely do some comparisons there. Obviously, they’re different costs – so that will impact things a bit.

    • Steve

      I’d like to see the FR220 comparison to the VivoActive (on my short list)…..seems like a closer comparison price point at least….looking forward to the review Ray….thanks for all your help.

  28. Steve

    Wondering why VivoActive screen can only display 3 data fields and Fenix3 can hold 4. Four data field layout on a square screen seems like it should be possible.

  29. Peter N

    For your upcoming in-depth review of the Vivoactive, can you try an open water swim with the Vivoactive in Run mode to see if it will track distance? Perhaps compare results with it worn on wrist and in cap/on buoy.


  30. Matthew Rosebrock

    Hi Ray,
    Thanks for your reviews. I’ll be getting the Vivoactive soon as a gift. I have a couple questions:

    1) You mention some of the limitations that you mention (no power meter, HRM-Run metrics, open water swim, intervals, multi-sport files, etc.). Are all or some based on hardware limitations (obviously no ABC, so I am not asking about those features) or all most of soft/firmware decisions on the part of Garmin?

    2) The reason why ask this—it may just be wishful thinking—is because I am wondering if you have any insider knowledge on whether there would ever be the possibility of offering these other features as a paid feature, e.g. I could choose HRM-Run Support for $10; or let’s say I decide that I want to start training for a Tri and decide to add the multi-sport files feature for $25. At least under this scenario—assuming Garmin’s limitations for some of these features has to do with cutting into sales of other watches—they still make a profit and I am still able to customize the watch to meet the most useful features to me.

    • 1) Just software/firmware decisions, nothing harware. Some of it I expect will be covered by Connect IQ once that gets to full speed.

      2) I’ve noted numerous times to them that going to a paid feature model makes so much sense – especially with the Vivoactive that basically cannibalizes their other units. Agree completely with you. Part of that in my mind would also be to open up the store to paid apps.

  31. Ravikumar

    Ordered my first Garmin through CT and thanks for the VIP discount. Now anxiously waiting for your vivoactive in-depth review and the device itself. Keep up the good work.

  32. ML Heng

    Just place my Vivoactive screen protector from the site below.


  33. Steph

    I am a bit of a Garmin junkie. I’ve got an ancient Garmin FR310,a relatively old Garmin FR405CX and am toying with the idea of a new Garmin FR620. I’m primarily a runner when it comes to using Garmin although I recently purchased the Vivosmart out of sheer curiosity. It’s a nifty step counting, Move!, call and message notification device but that’s about it for me.

    So, after seeing the Vivoactive, I’m very curious to read the full review and compare it to the Garmin FR620. Does it even make sense to compare these two models? I find myself looking at the Garmin website on a daily basis. Talking myself out of purchasing both a FR620 and a Vivoactive, just to fulfill my curiosity, is becoming harder and harder to resist.

  34. acousticbiker

    Hey Ray, eagerly awaiting my order from CT and for your review! I know that the vivoactive does not have a barometric altimeter, but when an activity is synced to Connect, will it show altitude based on GPS data?

  35. Schuiram

    I have a question:
    If I register a device to my garmin connect – can I re-register it on another account later on?

    I want to test two watches (including the vivoactive) and want to keep the one I like more while giving the other one to a friend. Is this possible or is it a permanent lock to an account?

    Thanks for the answer guys

  36. Paul

    Hi Ray,

    My Vivoactive will arrive tomorrow. One thing is not clear, does the Vivoactive have cadence for running without an external device?

  37. Jeremy

    Hi Ray,

    A few quick pre-review questions (apologies if you’ll be addressing them in your full review):

    1. Can you access the music controls during a run? If so, how easy is it to get back to the run activity screen?
    2. Do the music controls include volume adjustment?
    2. Do phone alerts show during a run? If so, does the watch automatically switch back to the run activity screen?
    3. Were you able to test the live tracking feature?

    Thanks! I’m hoping this will have more support than the Echo Fit. That’s a great product, but so far Magellan’s execution hasn’t lived up to their promises.

    • Maltloaf

      I can answer some of those.

      1. I’m not sure sorry.
      2. Just play/pause forward, back
      3. Notifications do show in an activity. I spent 45 mins on my rollers yesterday and got several alerts. It reverts to the activity screen automatically or you can hit the back button to do the same.
      4. Live tracking works as I’d expect it. Same as on my edge 510

    • To round out the answers…

      1) No.

      I shot a short video I’ll upload here momentarily with the Music Control pieces.

    • Here ya go, a quick video showing how music control works: link to youtube.com

    • Maltloaf

      You can actually get to the music controls but it’s a bit of a chore mid run. Long press on the screen until the watch face comes up then swipe to the music control. The start button then takes you back to your activity.

    • HJK

      Speaking from an Android user, I do see volume controls *and* I can change it to control Spotify, so it’s quite different from the iOS pairing then. ;) If it helps my vivoactive is running on version 2.40.

  38. Lee

    I wonder if while not in a “workout mode”, if the VivoActive would connect to a foot pod to count steps? I have 2 little ones that are constantly pushed in a stroller and steps never get counted pushing a stroller with wrist based trackers.

  39. sol

    Does anyone know if you can see the elevation live on the watch?

  40. R33ce ww

    Hi Ray

    I’m new to garmin products, how do I/can I use the vivoactive to track gym weights session.

    Thank you

    • It’s funny. The Vivoactive doesn’t have a straight indoor weights mode. Instead, it has two indoor wandering modes (walk/run), which..is odd.

      Still, faced with the same conundrum last night for a core workout after my run, I just used one of the indoor run modes to capture the HR (and thus calories). Here’s an example of the file: link to connect.garmin.com

  41. Michelle

    Finally ready to buy the Vivoactive as my first GPS watch…this site has been so amazing, thanks.
    I’m a runner but hate chest straps and big heavy watches….thus 1-2 years waiting for the right combo.
    What functionality would I miss out on if I buy just the watch, with a Scosche Rhythm + strap for heart rate?

    • From a Vivoactive standpoint, no missing functionality with the Scosche. That’s because the Scosche doesn’t support recovery time or VO2Max or the like (which are the attributes that can be impacted there).


    • Kartik

      Thanks for the clarification. I intend to go for exactly the same combo as Michelle… Once I figure out the issues with the CT website and how I can get on to the VIP Program.

    • If you have any issues at all with the sign-up of the VIP program, the folks at CT are happy to help. It’s a simple phone call or e-mail at: vipsupport@clevertraining.com & via the good ole telephone at 844-399-6440 (toll-free)

  42. Ravikumar

    Those who are considering ordering it now. I ordered with VIP account on CT yesterday and it is showing as shipped today . Total cost $270 with HR strap :-). Thanks again Ray for this great site and tie-up with CT.

    • Awesome, I appreciate the support! Indeed, a bunch of units came in the last few days. Good to hear!

    • Kartik

      I simply couldn’t even create an account on CT – “customer could not be saved”. Do I first need to create an account in CT and then figure out the VIP Program bit? Couldn’t figure it out…

    • Gunnar

      Interesting you have shipping confirmation. I pre-ordered March 6 and my order (black, non HR model) still shows just “processed” not shipped and no shipping confirmation email…..I’ll reach out to Clever Training today.

    • Ravikumar

      1) create a CT account 2) purchase VIP pack 3) order using coupon you receive my mail
      I followed “Method 2” here –
      link to dcrainmaker.com

    • Greg

      Very interesting. I pre-ordered two months ago and have not received any shipping information. It would not seem right for current orders to ship ahead of orders placed months ago, especially considering that I have been receiving updates that say units will ship in the order they were placed.

    • Remember, there are basically four different Vivoactive SKU’s:

      Black base
      Black bundle
      White Base
      White bundle

      The white’s haven’t even begun production manufacturing yet (some sort of delay, at least as of last Friday).

      CT is always pretty crisp on shipping order, so I suspect what you’re seeing is the backorders shipping out for other models. If I remember correctly, a bit more than half of the black base went out, with all but one of the black bundles going out.

    • Greg

      Oops. I should have included more details! Black base is what I ordered. Maybe not enough units came in to reach where I am in line.

    • Erica

      White ones are not even in production yet, yikes! So I’m guessing the white one (without HRM) I just pre-ordered today through CT probably won’t arrive in time for the half on April 12th. :-(

    • Yeah Greg, on Black Base they got a large batch of them on Monday that fulfilled more than half of the backorders. The bundle, they got in an order yesterday that fulfilled all but one unit of backorders.

      Erica – For the white’s, I heard by the end of the month. So we’ll see…

    • Felix

      The white ones are DEFINITLY in production. On the Garmin forums there is a post where someone already uses it: link to forums.garmin.com

    • Ahh, cool. Last I checked was last Friday, so good to see some have trickled in since then.

    • Gunnar

      Just went for a stroll at my local REI (College Park, MD) and low and behold they have the Vivoactive in stock. Just off the truck today. Looks great up close and personal. A bit bigger then my Pebble, but similar shape…..which should work well. Fenix 2 was a bit too big for me as an everyday watch, so this should work well. (Ray, I resisted temptation and didn’t cancel my CTR order and buy at REI….loyalty to the DCR site!)

    • Paul

      Yes they are, live in Holland and have one today

    • Bill

      Saw on REI’s website that one of the local stores had the black one in stock. Gave them a call and was told they had one, but it was already on hold. Said they export more real soon.

  43. Felix

    @Ray: Have you tried if one can use the Vivoactive with the ‘Smart Lock’ feature of Android Lollipop to unlock the phone when in close proximity to the watch? Same question for the Vivofit 2. Many thanks.

  44. R33ce ww

    Thank you for the reply

  45. Kevin Dwyer

    Hi Ray,
    Really appreciate the work you put in to the site.
    Any possibility of a similar arrangement with a retailer here in the UK or Europe ?

    • Yes, the goal is a soft-launch by the end of the month. I haven’t checked this week to see if that’s still on target.

    • Felix

      Oh please do. I’d love to support you in this way. And thanks for the above answer concerning Android. Perhaps someone else knows, if this’ll work.

  46. arena

    Made a comparison between vivoactive and 920xt, surprised to see the vivoactive do not detect type of swim stroke (Stroke type identification) : to be tested …
    link to goo.gl

    • Wouter De Raeve

      the vivoactive really seems to be lacking in sports-features… I hope Ray’s review indicates otherwise…

    • I’d be super-hesitant to trust any of the Garmin.com pages. Most of the time they’re inaccurate.

      I haven’t swung over to the pool yet to try swimming. Though, in general for the core activities of cycling and running, I’m not really seeing any unexpected gaps at this point. In fact, for the price point I’m seeing things I didn’t expect. For example, the ANT+ Sensor Pool concept is implemented, so I can save boatloads of sensors. And on the data fields, there’s slightly more than I expected (i.e. elevation, temperature with Tempe, etc…).

  47. Paul

    Hi Ray,

    Just received my Vivoactive. Not a great success because the screen looks really bad. Nor bright at all. Hard to describe but I really have to stand at the window and even then it’s just not good. The screen is just plain dim.

    Can this be one off or do you recognize it?

    • It’s a bit dimmer than other watches (though, actually similar to how a Pebble looks), but I definitely don’t have to press the backlight button during the day.

    • Maltloaf

      I will admit I was disappointed with the screen when I first switched it on. Its not vivid like a moto 360 etc. but it’s very clear even in bright sun and very functional for its intended use. Also probably very very low power. Now I’ve had 48h to get used to it I actually like it.

    • CMV

      The screen looks initially dim, but after a while it’s great. The more outside light there is, the brighter it is. And it has the big advantage, compared to most smartwatches, to be always on. No more shaking your hand to turn it on when you want to now the time!

    • CMV

      oops, I meant “know” the time.

    • Anatol

      Is the fenix 3 screen same pale / dim ?

  48. CMV

    For those curious to see a comparison with the Motoactv and with the Forerunner 220, I took a couple of pictures:
    link to tinyurl.com

  49. Sarah

    Have any women received the watch yet? I am super curious how it looks on a woman’s wrist. I would love to see pictures.

  50. TriGuySwede

    Does the Vivoactive do live tracking with ANT sensors at the same time?

  51. Anatol

    Ray, can you tell vibrations strengths ? Is it sensable enough during running ?
    Is it possible to set vibration eg at the end of interval ?

    • I do feel it while running, but I also feel like it’s not quite as strong as the Fenix3. In non-running situations, it’s completely acceptable.

    • Kevin Dwyer

      Hello Anatol,
      I have been for a couple of runs with the vivoactive on one wrist and my Fenix 2 on the other. I had autolap set at one mile intervals. The Fenix 2 would vibrate to indicate each mile earlier than the vivoactive, and even when I was anticipating the vivoactive autolap vibration I found it barely noticeable and missed it completely on several occasions.
      I have emailed support at Garmin and asked that they increase the duration or frequency (HZ) of the altert vibration, or pulse it to make it more noticeable. I downloaded the Garmin Soccer Timer app from the Connect IQ store and the alerts in that are more intense and vary in frequency (HZ) to make an almost musical tone.
      I hope that it is something that they will take a look at soon.

  52. Kom

    Hey Ray,
    can you give some more details on the bike features? Can I show Speed, cadence, distance and HR on the same screen foe example?

    Thanks for all the info. Feels like an Apple product release! ;-)

    • Maltloaf

      You can have 3 data fields on the screen at once and 3 screens. It can be set to auto scroll between screens and you can also set the scroll speed. You can’t have 4 at once but you can have up to 9 total in multiples of 3 and scroll between them.

    • Maltloaf

      I outdoor cycled with it for the first time yesterday and I had 3 screens set up as described. It’s actually super easy switching between screens during the activity. You just give the screen a tap to move to the next screen and it cycles around the three with each tap.

  53. peter

    Love the site Ray! Would there be a way to track an open water swim (just as an activity to track # of strokes and time – not GPS) by changing pool length to infinity? Or some work around like that? Thanks!

    • Unfortunately with the pool mode it just uses accelerometers, not GPS, so it basically depends on you reaching the end of each pool length to understand how far you went. Also, the pool length has a setting limit of about 150m/y.

    • peter

      If you swim in open water with the watch in pool mode will it at least track strokes and time even though you never reach a wall? Thanks.

  54. Edwin Aerts


    Please correct me if I’m wrong.
    The difference between Fenix 3 and Vivoactive concerning the altimeter is that the Fenix 3 has a barometric one and the Vivoactive one based on GPS. Does the Vivoactive show the height, gradient, … in real time while cycling/hiking or afterwards on the Garmin Connect app on your smartphone?
    Do you know when the Basecamp for Android will be released by Garmin?
    Thanks for answering.


    • Claudio MV

      Hello Ed,
      yes: elevation is one of the data fields available for display during activities. I couldn’t find grade though. And yes, on the Vivoactive elevation is GPS based, whereas the fenix 3 has a barometer.

    • Maltloaf

      I had hoped for a grade datafield too, it’s one I have on screen on my edge, but I’m sure this is something that can be done with ConnectIQ as it’s only a calculation

  55. Rob

    I think it’s funny that on the back of the Vivoactive box there is clearly a hiking icon, yet the icon is nowhere to be found on the watch. Seems like if they went out of their way to put it on the box it should be an “app” you can choose from. Obviously you can choose walking and swap it out after, but they literally made a hiking icon for the back of the box, haha.

  56. Ted

    Found three of the vivoactive’s at my local Dick’s Sporting Goods and decided to pick one up.

    I’m coming from an FR620 (which I really like) but I wasn’t using a lot of the “higher end” features like custom, structured workouts. I have the HRM-Run but don’t find the VO or GCT numbers all that compelling after the initial fascination wore off.

    I’m looking forward to the “vivo” side of things with step and activity tracking as well as the ConnectIQ stuff – especially since I’m a software developer myself.

    So far, I like the style and the fit of the watch… now I’m off to explore the offerings in the ConnectIQ store to look for widgets and watch faces.

    • Vik

      Hi Ray
      I am from UK, and am stateside in April. If I purchased vivoactive there would the warranty cover me in uk. If so where is it best to purchase this

    • Generally speaking Garmin covers any unit globally the same, regardless of purchase location.

    • CMV

      If I am not mistaken, the legal warranty in Europe is two years, and one in the US… so even if Garmin honors the warranty on the whole planet, the durations may be different.

  57. julienfr38

    Hello Ray,

    Is it possible for an 3rd apps (for example, a interval training app) to export all the metrics to a social website (strava, runtastic, Garmin connect…) without paying the Garmin tax ?
    If not, is it possible to export manually the session as a TCX file (or whatever) ?

    • As an end user you can always export the .TCX or .FIT files from the control panel.

      Apps that pay the tax do have raw access to the .FIT fie, others the .TCX. However, one non-blessed app recently seemed to imply that they did have access to the .FIT file.

      However, these days almost all major apps (like the ones you listed) have paid the fee.

    • julienfr38

      Great !
      So you mean that Strava, runtastic & co will publish ConnectIQ app soon ?

  58. Paul

    Got one delivered on Thursday but I did return it on Friday. I just could not get over the screen. Don’t believe the pictures you see in the Garmin pictures. The screen is faint and dim. I did not expect the screen of an Apple Watch but this was just not worth the money.

    There are a couple of pro’s. Good and fast BT upload, very light and thin en the GPS search was fast (not instant but 30-60 sec).

    But the overall look and feel was just to ‘plastic’ for 250 dollars.

    • On the GPS, ensure that you have sync’d fully via BT or USB to update the cache. I think you’ll also find that after the first time outside, it’ll be much quicker for subsequent times.

  59. peter

    Ray, one more on the swim…if you swim in open water and have the watch on pool mode, will it at least track number of strokes and time even though you never reach a wall? Thanks!

  60. chris davis

    Has anyone seen the white version in stores? I grabbed a black one, but would prefer white if available. Regarding the screen–I also have the fenix 3 and the screen is the same and agreed that the marketing photos make you feel like you are getting a super bright, clear screen so it’s somewhat jarring. Seems great outside though which is really the point and it’s so easy to see at a glance. The size and weight of the vivoactive are really nice and make for a much more comfy watch than the fenix 3.

    • Ted


      The only thing related to the white vivoactive I’ve seen in stores or online is at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

      I picked up my vivoactive at Dick’s, and it is the black one – with the black band, but also has the white band and the changing tools included in the box… there is just a small indication on the front of the box that both bands are included. Unfortunately the watch body is definitely black.

      The online listing for the product at Dick’s says that it includes both bands as well. The selling price is the same as anywhere else for the just the watch alone. I find this very curious.

      Strange marketing move by Garmin/Dick’s to sort of silently have a differentiating factor to the watch that Dick’s is carrying.

    • chris

      Thanks Ted. My black–non HR bundle just came with a black band. Was yours the bundle or standalone watch?

    • Ted

      Just the standalone black watch – with an extra white band for no apparent reason.

  61. HJK

    The only thing I don’t like about the vivoactive so far is the relatively wide wrist strap… the lug width is only 16 mm but the strap is a ‘grotesque’ 24 mm throughout… is Garmin trying to pull a Bell&Ross here? I know I’m going to shop for some cheap 16 mm resin watch bands soon…

  62. C Dennis

    How much cycling data will the VivoActive display? Will I be able to ride without my Garmin Edge 500?

  63. Carlos

    I’m new to triathlon. I’m thinking of getting the vivoactive vs 920xt. Is the extra cost of the 920xt worth it?

  64. chris

    I’ve had some bluetooth connection issues with my iphone 6–it disconnects for 4-5 seconds and then will reconnect. My watch is running 2.40. It also wouldn’t auto sync–just kept failing. Rebooted both and no change. I’d just returned from a run when I noticed the sync failing. I also had a footpod and scosche rhythm+ connected.
    A question for Ray–I notice the vivo reconnects to any active nearby sensors after rebooting…is this normal or shouldn’t it just connect when I start a new activity? I don’t remember any of my other garmin or suunto devices behaving in this way. Am I crazy?

    • Yeah, I’m not sure why it reconnects to all the sensors automatically even outside activity mode. Perhaps it’s to allow widgets to access it. Mine does it too.

      As for BLE sync failing with it, mine is doing the same time this evening. Tells me a server error – seemed fine up until tonight, so perhaps something on the backend is going poorly this weekend.

    • chris

      Ok thanks Ray. So has the sensor reconnection hurt battery life? My gps was on as well when I went in and disabled them.

    • chris

      One last question–if it is a widget thing, then the behavior is the same on the fenix 3?

    • It’s not the same on the F3.

      As for the sensor hurting battery, nah, it’s virtually non-impacting on battery to enable the ANT+ side of the house since it’s on the same chip as the always enabled BLE side. GPS on the other hand…

    • Gunnar

      Same problems here with Garmin Connect sync last night (garmin fenix 2 and edge 500).

  65. Camille

    I’m trying to decide whether to get the Vivoactive or the Timex One GPS. I’m leaning towards the Vivoactive because I have a very small wrist and feel like I could get more use out of it as a ~daily watch.

    I’m most used to Timex watches and using the countdown interval timers for ~strides (22 sec with a simple reset) and intervals w/rest (like 5-10 min. reps w/ 1/2 recovery). However, I had a Garmin FR50 for ~4 yrs, which had 2 simple countdown interval timers (with an easy reset too). However, the FR405 drove me nuts cause of the complexity of setting it up (or resetting it)– I ended up selling it to a friend.

    Does the Vivoactive active have even 1 countdown interval timer (and possibly easy to reset too)? I tried to read through the comments, but it wasn’t clear what people were asking. I don’t care about the ability to take intervals/splits– I just want a simple countdown timer or two that beeps loudly at the end. It seems like this could be an app that could be developed, if not currently available on the Vivoactive.

    My other question is whether the ANT+ HR monitor I had for my FR50 would be compatible with the Vivoactive? I’m guessing the answer is yes, but I just want to check.

    I appreciate your feedback!

  66. ML Heng

    Anyone tried downloading apps from IQ connect? Kept getting the server error.

    • CMV

      Tried today, got some server errors, but I wonder if it wasn’t due to my own Wi-Fi. In the end it worked – I’m using an Android phone running Jelly Bean 4.4.2

    • ML Heng

      I found the problem, think it has to do with Garmin Express proxy.

      When I use Google Chrome to download via Connect IQ URL no issue.

      But will always get an error when I download via Garmin Express and Garmin Connect on the mobile.

  67. CMV

    I meant: KitKat 4.4.2

  68. Joe

    Had the Vivoactive for the past 4 days and 2 of those days I’ve seen significant battery drain overnight (going from 70-80% to 20%)? Anyone else seeing that? I’ve also had several instances where the connection to the phone won’t work despite it stating it is connected…I need to restart the watch to take care of this. I’m wondering if the constant searching is causing said battery drain.

    • ML Heng

      Garmin forum had users facing blue tooth draining issues due to searching. Yes the Bluetooth seems to have bug. I have to delete the paired vivoactive several times to pair via garmin connect within less than 48 hrs of use.

    • CMV

      Same here… the first night, when I woke up I found it had died when the battery was above 50% when I went to bed… I thought I had left GPS on and that that was the reason, but I can’t be sure.
      The second night it didn’t die, but went from 70 to 25%. Frankly I have no idea if it was the GPS or bluetooth. Tonight I’ll make sure that GPS is off before going to bed, we’ll see tomorrow…

    • Claudio MV

      Did a further test yesterday night… battery level was at 83% when I went to bed. I verified that the GPS was off, and activated sleep on the vivoactive. My phone “sleeps” in a different room, so the two got disconnected.
      This morning (after about 7 hours) the vivoactive battery was down to 53%, and it wasn’t able to connect to the phone. I left the two sitting next to each other for another hour, the battery went down to 47% and still no connection. I then turned the watch off and back on, and it immediately reconnected to the phone. Now, after one more hour, battery is still at 46%, and the two are happily paired, so it definitely seems to be a bluetooth connection problem (or vivoactives have very agitated nights!). My phone runs on android.

    • Graeme Cowling

      having the very same issues with a new device – my phone was next to the bedside and the battery went from 97% down to 0% in less that 8 hours. phone running IOS 8.1 – odd that this isn’t being seen by more users.

      has the issue stabilised yet or are you having the same issues with BT? – Just interested as my battery doesn’t seem to have the longevity that is mentioned all over the place.

  69. Jack

    Hi Ray,
    In your youtube video about music control you said there was no way of controlling music once in a active mode.

    I have been told you can control music while in active mode by doing the following.

    If you press and hold on the screen while you are in a run it will take you to the home screen. You can then scroll over to get to the music player. Press the start button to return to the run screen.

    I have not tired this as i have not received my vivoactive yet, can you please give this a try.


    • Yup, thanks! I had overlaid text on the screen at that point noting that as well. Did that text not show up?

    • Jack

      Thanks Ray
      I did not see the text but maybe I just missed it.

      Thanks for confirming

    • So one of the main things that I’ve been looking to have with the Vivoactive is controlling my music while I teach class, however I want to have it tracking my workout/calories burned while doing this. If I’m understanding you and Jack correctly I can. Did I get that right? If this works well then I’m ready to order mine. Ray, do you feel overall, that this is a better purchase than the Fit Bit Surge? In my min, right now, for what I am looking for the Vivoactive is the better choice but I would love to hear your thoughts.

    • Jack

      Hi Stacie. Yes you can track your workout and control your music at the Same time.

  70. Gunnar

    I should be receiving my Vivoactive from CT pretty soon and in anticipation, I just had a look at the Connect IQ page and in the app category I don’t see an app for a power meter.

    I was thinking this would be one of the first apps developed for the Vivoactive? Any thoughts on if and/or when this will be developed?


    • Ted


      According to the documentation for the VA, the built-in Cycling app from Garmin supports ANT+ Power Meters (in addition to Cycling Speed and Cadence sensors).

    • Maltloaf

      There isn’t a power data field available on the cycling activity screens

    • The Vivoactive doesn’t support the ANT+ Power Meter natively. However, Connect IQ would permit it to support power meters once someone creates an app for it.

      Where do you see VA documentation saying it supports PM’s?

    • Gunnar

      Well shoot, I better get my thinking cap on and download the Connect IQ developer SDK and get to work!

    • If you make an app for Connect IQ that works on the Vivoactive that can connect to power/speed/cadence/HR and log GPS data too, then I’m more than happy to write a single post on it – as it significantly changes the pricing landscape.

      *Side note: I prefer non-ugly apps. :)

    • Ted

      Whoops… sorry, Ray and Gunnar. My mistake. I was confusing what I had read in the vivoactive user manual and the SDK documentation for ConnectIQ.

      No native Power support in the VA.

      I don’t have a power meter, so I hadn’t checked it out myself yet.

    • Jim

      forums.garmin.com and then Forum>Developers>Connect IQ is a good place to learn the ins and outs!

  71. CMV

    So, first pool swim with the vivoactive today… had it on my left wrist, with my faithful FR910XT on the right. The two watches showed the same number of lengths most of the time (even when I stopped halfway through a length, and they both counted one extra length), until all of a sudden I had 23 lengths on the vivoactive and 25 on the 910XT… you’ll never guess that the correct value was 24!
    That was the only mistake though (apart from the mid-pool stops that trick all watches), so I’d say that the vivoactive passed the pool test (25m pool, open turns, mixed styles) with good marks.
    As someone noted higher up in the comments, however, the vivoactive counts laps, counts strokes, but does not recognize swimming styles. All styles appear as “unknown” or “unspecified”, both in Garmin Connect and SportTracks. So now you know!

    • Nico

      Thanks CMV.
      does the VA have a vibration alert every 8 (or whatever you like ) lengths ?
      The 910xt could do that and it helps as I cannot count on my fingers while swimming :-)

    • Claudio MV

      Hi Nico,
      I didn’t even know that functionality existed on the FR910XT!
      But I checked on the vivoactive and indeed you can set alarms based on time or distance (including number of lengths). I set it to 8 (I also do 8 length exercises), I’ll see how it works next time I swim (not before next week).

    • Nico

      Hi Claudio,
      Thanks for the update – now waiting for your next swim. Please let us know if the vibration is strong enough.
      With the 910xt it happened about mid – length every 8th.
      Indeed the vibration alert also worked for open water swim (ows). Useful for tri when you have no other way to know when you are about half distance or 3/4…
      (No chance with VA a I understand there is no ows mode).

    • Sarah

      I did a swim with it yesterday and it buzzed right before I finished the 8th lap (I set that number). I was very impressed with this because I normally lose count!!!

      Number of laps was accurate as well. You can definitely feel the vibration.

  72. Ray,
    So which one do you think is the better watch? The Surge or the VivoActive? I’m leaning towards the Garmin even though I don’t even need most of it’s functionality. I do however like accuracy and I think the fact that it can be updated is great. Ready to order just would love your thoughts on which one is better? Also is the Sony Smartwatch even a competitor?

    • wendy

      I am wearing both on my wrist right now… the battery life wins on the Garmin! Actually, for just unboxing it at lunch today, the Garmin wins on most aspects. Hope to get a run in tonight or tomorrow to check accuracy :)

    • Ignoring the optical HR, the Vivoactive is a far more capable watch.

  73. Ravikumar

    Any suggestion on which speed and cadence sensor should one buy to work well VA (other than the Garmin sensors)

  74. Long Run Nick

    CT shipping notice. Ordered 3/4/15-black VVA shipped today. 20 day wait, not bad. My 920XT was a 58 day wait. I still haven’t come up with a reason why I need both- but being a senior citizen body metrics data geek with expendable income, why not? Thanks Ray and CT.

    • Thanks for the support Nick!

    • Stephen Rahaim

      Feeling like someone cancelled Christmas for me!
      I ordered from CT on 2/19 and still nothing.
      “Processing” Sniff.

    • Stephen – which variant did you order? Unfortunately stock comes in by SKU, with the levels differing.

    • Felix

      If it makes you feel better: in Germany there are no devices at all. ;)

    • Kom

      In Canada, we went from March 23rd to April 3rd for availability.

    • Stephen Rahaim

      Black no HRM
      and White no HRM
      Was thinking they might be holding entire order until they can fill it.
      Which would put me a month out. (Frown)
      I know, it’s Christmas Eve and I won’t go to bed!

    • Just checked with CT. They’re getting a huge shipment of Black Base (no HRM) tomorrow, which will cover all existing pre-orders, and assuming the delivery truck doesn’t arrive super-late, will be shipped out same day.

      The white is scheduled for a few weeks still for CT. In chatting with them, they can go ahead and ship the black tomorrow, but you just need to hit up customer service (sales@clevertraining.com) so that it doesn’t get held up for the white.

      Cheers, and thanks for the support!

    • Oh, and for the black bundle, they’re getting a shipment today that’ll cover about 75-80% of backorders (all recent), with another shipment on Friday that’ll cover all remaining backorders.

    • Stephen Rahaim

      And they reached out to me. Black non-HRM on the way.
      Christmas tomorrow. Thanks and thanks CT.

    • almighte1

      amazon is killing me… i cant get any indication of when they’ll have stock again… my order just sits in limbo. ;(

  75. Jeremy

    I’ve had the Vivoactive for a few days now and it’s great…running, swimming and notifications all work really well. It’s quick and I like the screen a lot. The concern I have is durability. It’s meant to be an all day/all night watch since it records steps and sleep, too. But it really seems like a little cheap piece of plastic. The Ambit3 I had for a few months got scratched up and this one seems more fragile than that. Will it really last a couple years on our wrists all day and night? Would a screen protector make a difference? Or would it be much smarter to just wear it for activities and wear a cheaper Vivosmart or an Apple Watch or something else for steps and sleep?

  76. Sarah

    So I received the watch and being a woman, it looks HUGE on my wrist. I am wearing to see if I get used to it but I don’t know if that is going to happen. I was wearing a vivofit before I and I loved how I could create an activity during my workouts and it tracked my daily steps but obviously lacked many important things such as GPS and swimming information. I am not sure the vivoactive is a daily watch for me as it is advertised, so my question is this, I would like to keep my vivofit as my daily activity tracker but use my vivoactive for my runs, swims and cycling. My question is this, can I have both the vivofit and vivoactive hooked up to garminconnect via bluetooth but turn off the activity tracking on the vivoactive but still be able to sync my workouts from the vivoactive?

    • It’s complex. You can have multiple devices paired to the GCM (Garmin Connect Mobile) app, and, it’ll even send smart notifications to multiple devices concurrently. However, it won’t upload from both devices concurrently if both are in range (you’ll have to power one off).

      Additionally, you have to specify a single device at any one point in time to be the activity tracker. So…to put that in perspective in a real-world use case.

      Right now I have the Vivoactive as my ‘activity tracker’ for steps/etc. But, I also have the Fenix3 that I use for runs. So, when I return from a run the Fenix3 will upload the workout. Once it’s shut off or out of range of the phone, then the Vivoactive will upload any step data (or whatever else it has).

      Hopefully that makes sense. The same logic applies to all Garmin products, including the Vivofit.

    • Sarah

      So, I have the vivofit 1. I have to sync my steps by pressing the button on the vivofit. Is this equivalent to having the device turned off since it is not automatically pulling the information?

  77. DC Runner

    Ray (or others) – I’m curious about battery life (maybe this will have to wait for the full review). I go for some pretty long hikes/mountain runs, but that includes some break time. So I’m wondering (a) how effective is the smart recording function? If I take 2 hours of breaks during a 10+ hour ride, for example, about how much do you think extend the battery life (assuming GPS is left on the whole time)? And (b) is there any indication that Garmin will give the option to modify the recording interval in the future? I’d gladly trade less accuracy for longer recording time on my longer activities.

    Any sense as to why the industry in general doesn’t make battery life longer? Is it actually all that costly? Or is it a matter of space? 10 hours is a little stingy, especially if you consider you’re not always charging between each activity and life will decay over a year or two. I would already have ordered a vivoactive if that battery live number was 20 hours.

    • It’s mostly a race between size and battery life. Battery life improves, but companies continue to decrease size, thus decreasing the size of the battery.

      I wouldn’t expect any plans to go to 1s recording (even though that’s silly), or, the inverse. However, it’s possible someone could create a Connect IQ app for a different recording interval, though a Connect IQ-capable developer would have to correct me if it’s technically possible to modify the recording interval with CIQ- I’m not sure there.

    • DC Runner

      Oops. I replied below to the other post. Thanks for the reply in any case!

  78. Jamie

    Ray, thanks for all the helpful info over the years. I’m really keen to get the vivoactive, and have held off the FR220 in anticipation. My primary purpose is running, specifically interval workouts. I need a watch with similar programmable workout functionality to the old FR305 (my last garmin before switching to suunto). I have checked the developer forums but can’t see a very promising interval app in development, specifically for running and not for weights training, crossfit, etc. Do you have any further information on whether garmin (or a third party developer) is planning on developing such an app for the vivoactive? This would be a deal breaker/maker for me!

    • I think it’s going to take some time. There’s been lots of non-Garmin chatter about it, but ultimately apps just opened up a few weeks ago, and until last night, they had recalled the Fenix3 firmware update that enabled apps.

    • Jamie

      Interesting. I’m really looking forward to your review. From what I have read so far, it looks like this device has a huge amount of potential but may not have realised it just yet – partly due to the software development delays. The vivoactive becomes available in Australia in the next few days and still seems a better buy than the FR220 at similar prices in AUD.

    • DC Runner

      Wow! I’m duly impressed with your near instant reply to a months old post with almost 700 comments. Thanks for the info, and in your visits around the US maybe let some manufacturers know there is a market out there for a moderately priced device with limited functionality (think Garmin 110), good water protection, and ultra long battery life.

    • Neil

      It’s available in Oz now Jamie, I ordered one last night and should have it tomorrow morning :)

    • Kartik

      Neil: Where did you order it from? Does ordering from CT (in the US) and paying for shipping make it more expensive than buying in Aus? Keen to know…

    • Neil

      I have ordered from CT in the past and been happy with their service.
      In this case, I used Bike Bug online as they had a few in stock and I was in a hurry but other online stores have them listed and the likes of Harvey Norman, JB HiFi and Rebel Sport are due stock within days. There have been a few pre-orders made with these stores (I was told my local HN they were only getting 4 in so stock may be limited/gone).

    • Kartik

      Thank you!

  79. Nathan

    I got mine in Melbourne yesterday, there’s limited stock trickling in. Went for my first run with it last night. GPS tracking on the run was great, previously i used runkeeper with my iphone 6 so was very happy with how my run tracked. I used a Scosche Rhythm+ Heart Rate Monitor, which had a bit of a problem I’ll need to fiddle with that I think, but not the fault of the Garmin. I also used Tapiriik to sync runs from Garmin Connect to Runkeeper where I want to maintain my run history, thanks Ray for that Recommendation was happy to pay the money for auto syncing :)

    I think my main critque of Garmin is the app just doesn’t seem as polished as say Fitbit. The Fitbit App is aweomse whereas the Garmin app really needs a complete redesign.

    The watch itself though I’m very happy with, looking forward to further firmware updates which apparently are coming as well. Also looking forward to Ray’s full review which I’m sure will be extremely popular, but it seems most of us have one already!!!

    • Kartik

      Nathan – I’m evaluating the exact same combo that you have already procured for yourself (Vivoactive + Scosche) – I’m waiting for Ray’s final in-depth review of the Vivoactive. Couple of q’s:
      1) What specifically are the issues that you faced with the Scosche? Also,
      2) Where did you buy yours from? (I’m in Melb as well). Does the CleverTraining discount + shipping work out to be more expensive as compared to buying locally here in Aus? Am looking at 2 pairs (one for me and one for the wife).
      Let me know and thanks in advance.

    • Nathan

      Hi Kartik,
      I got mine from Cecil Walker cycles on Elizabeth Street in the CBD, it’s just around the corner from my office. Sadly I think I got the last one, the guy in the shop told me there’s only 500 in Australia so far, but I’d assume more and more will be arriving. I didn’t do any price comparisons, I just paid the $339AUD (I’m travelling overseas soon so will at least get the GST back when I go).
      The Scosche connected okay and seemed to be showing a heartbeat before my run. Maybe I didn’t have it tight enough… it wasn’t moving around but for some reason I just got long straight lines of the same heartbeat, and sudden changes to different measurements. I had previously tried the Scosche with runkeeper on my iphone and it worked okay but I’d only done one run with it. I’ll give it another go tonight at the gym and report back here :)

    • Kartik

      Thank you very much for your response, Nathan. I’m waiting for Ray’s in-depth review and will then do a price comparison between <> against <> (I expect to travel overseas on work in a month or so).

      I’m keen to know more about your Scosche experience; since it shall hv a direct influence on my buying decision. Do post here again when you have a moment.

      Thanks again.

  80. Nathan

    PS Kartik JB Hifi on Bourke St had two on the shelf there in the fitness section, so they’re definitely around :)

  81. peter

    Second day with the VA, enjoying it and getting it figured out…few observations in response to some comments here…(love the site and your reviews Ray btw, thanks!)
    * put a Zagg screen protector on works great, never peels off my phone and seems durable on the VA – tip, I bought old iPad full coverage on Amazon, cheap and I cut to size for everything.
    *I also bought a polyurethane link 22mm watch band I have on my Luminox on Amazon, favorite watch band ever. Low profile, light, doesn’t snag sleeves like rubber. Have to carefully cut to size to fit watch, and links easily unscrew with 2 small screwdrivers, but works great.
    *screen will take some getting used to in dim light.
    *controls either phone music app or Pandora, need to designate which on my HTC M8, controls forward/back and volume from watch.
    *can’t believe how light and low profile it is, I think it will be plenty durable with screen protector…

    Thanks everyone for all the tips.

    • peter

      P.S. works great with both Garmin HRM and the Scosche Rhythm +, Scosche very inaccurate while rowing so need to use strap.

  82. Kevin Dwyer

    I have done three runs so far with my Vivoactiv, on the first two occasions I had my Fenix 2 on the other wrist so I could compare on the run.
    I have autolap set to 1 mile and on the Fenix 2 the vibrate alert is very noticeable, on the Vivoactiv it is barely noticeable. On last nights run I just wore the Vivoactive and was actively anticipating the mile split alert ( a regular route where I know each mile marker ) even then I found that I missed several alerts.
    I would be interested to know if anyone else feels that the autolap alert is not very noticeable while running.
    Apart from that niggle I am very pleased with the screen legibility.

    • ML Heng

      I feel that the vibrate alert quite noticeable, however, I do wear my VA real tight, so maybe that helps.

    • Kevin Dwyer

      Thanks for the feedback. I ran with both again today, when the Fenix 2 vibrated to signal the first mile I started watching the vivoactive screen ( it is usually about 5-10 seconds behind the Fenix 2 at each mile )
      I watched it roll over to 1 mile and felt a slight vibration a couple of seconds later, duration of perhaps 1/10 second.
      The vibration on acquiring GPS is noticeable, and I downloaded a Soccer Timer App where the frequency and duration of the vibration are far more marked.

  83. Klaas Dieleman

    In Holland both the white and black (without HRM) Vivoactives came in last week, march 17 already. So I got the white one instantly, thinking at the time that the black ones were not orderable yet. One day later, the black one did appear to be orderable, so I changed them. Got comments from the wife about the white one being not very manly ;)

    Anyway, one thing I noticed is that the white strap was of another material than the black one. White was more sticky and hurt my arm hairs a bit. The black one is smoother and more comfortable for me, so that’s one thing to consider.

    Ray, I bought this watch hoping it would provide very accurate GPS tracking, but noticed it is still less accurate than my Nexus 4 phone. Even though I enabled (disabled by default) Glonass support. My track sometimes was off by 30 meters, according to satellite images! GPS accuracy seems a bit on par with my Edge 800. That’s a shame because my official 10k run last sunday only read 9.9k from the Garmin, so no PR for me :(
    Do you have similar experiences with other Garmin products? I’d think that a dedicated device from Garmin would always outperform a smartphone, GPS-wise, but it seems not.

    • If you’ve only done one run, I found that GPS accuracy improved on the second run. Unfortunately there is no method to change from Smart Recording to 1-second recording, which would improve accuracy.

      That said, in general I’m finding it within 1% of other GPS devices I’m using. What I am seeing though is a bit more variation in some tracks due to lack of 1-second recording.

  84. Kom

    Is there a need to have something like a Garmin Edge with this type of device, besides for the turn by turn?

    • Maltloaf

      It works perfectly well for cycling but the screen is a lot smaller than say an edge 500 or 800.I have done one outdoor ride and two indoor rides with my VA and it has worked perfectly.

    • Kom

      So it,s just a matter of organizing it physically on the bike.
      I understand that having both would be redundant.


    • Maltloaf

      I’m sticking with having both as I do a lot of cycling (4000 miles last year) and like a lot of data fields on the screen at the same time. You can’t just glance at the VA the same as you can with an Edge. It takes more of a proper look if you know what I mean.

      If you just want to have the data available and get a log of what you’ve done then the VA does just fine.

    • I’d agree with Loaf. I wouldn’t personally use the Vivoactive as my bike computer given the amount of cycling I do. If I was more casual, then it would be fine. I just don’t get the data fields I want in a single screen.

  85. Kom

    Thanks for the input.

  86. Marco

    Hi All, I am thinking of buying the Vivoactive as my first GPS-sport watch. I do a bit of cycling and running a open water swimming (Atlantic ocean). So far i have been using my HTC One M8 together with a Polar FT80 to track distance, speed, cadence (polar BLTE sensor) and Hearth Rate.
    What is putting me a bit off this watch is:
    1. the lack of support for open water swimming (I don’t like lane swimming)

    2. the fact that it cannot record HRM in the water (I now it is a BTLE and Ant+ limitation but my old polar can track it using the analogue signal or Suunto with its caching sensor)

    3. Lack of BTLE sensors connectivity

    Has anybody tried to use the watch in open water? Is there any additional app or workaround to this?
    I guess there is no way the suunto caching HRM sensor will work with the VA as that is Bluetooth?

    Is it possible to copy music on the watch so that you can ride/run with just the one device?


    • I’d expect that we’ll eventually see an openwater Connect IQ app. It’s going to take crossing a bit higher bar though, and will likely be rough at first – since that’s basically a boatload of algorithms.

      Ultimately, Garmin knows that no other smart watches on the market that support complex apps* can also support Openwater Swimming. So, it’s their business move to have you spend $150 more. Same goes for multisport mode.

      *I think we can all agree that Connect IQ apps have far more potential/connectivity than Suunto apps do.

    • Marco

      Thanks for the info Ray. I understand that Garmin wants us to buy a higher end watch for multi-sport and possibly open water swimming, but I think that some people – like me – would be happy enough with a “primitive” implementation of OW swimming, such as distance, route, pace and maybe very basic metrics.

      Any idea if it would be at least technically possible to load music on the watch? Then would it be possible to connect bluetooth earphone…still technically speaking?

    • No method to load music. It doesn’t have the storage, nor the connectivity required to run BT Analog.

  87. sharpeg

    I’ve emailed garmin support on two occasions asking can workouts be sent to the watch from garmin connect. On both occasions they say it can. Has anybody been able to do it yet?

  88. Fredric Luthman

    I though VA was the answer…

    The fact that the VA does not support workouts from GC is a real downer. Pace altert and intervals might suffice, I hope these possibilities will be included in the review.

    Too all: Where do you go from a FR 305 if you want to be able to upload new activities without connecting thru USB? I would love not having to start up the computer to upload after training. I have a Swim so I could settle for a non-swimming watch. Running and Cycling is a must though. Live Tracking a big plus.


  89. Andrew Davies

    I’ve had the VA for a couple of days and can’t get the left button to take a lap in either the run, cycle or walk apps. However the swim app works great using the right hard button to take laps( long press to stop) and could be used for other sports too. If the soft buttons remain flakey. Also, could it be possible to switch to 2 or 1, rather than 3 lines of data, as the numbers are quite small in this format. Perhaps through an app or update? Great compact light comfortable watch. Very subtle elegant look. Messages working well. Vibration alerts great. as mentioned , the screen is good outdoors, but dim inside. The answer is simply to use the light when required, which works fine.

  90. Felix

    Mhh. I seem to suffer from the battery bug as well. Went to bed with 90+% and woke up and the Vivoactive was powered down. Battery empty. Ridiculous. :(

    • Mine did the same after applying the update yesterday afternoon. Seems fine now though. Very similar behavior to what I saw recently after updating the Fenix3. Almost appears that GPS gets left on in the upgrade process until a shutdown clears it.

    • Kermit262

      Felix and Ray – same thing happened to me after updating as well. Woke up this morning to a powered-down VA.

      Ray or others – how can you tell if GPS is on? If I’m not in an activity, which I wasn’t, what indication is there that GPS is on?

    • Jack

      After the update to v2.60 I notice half way through the day my battery had dropped more then what i have seen before the update. I turn the watch off and then back on again and notice that the gps symbol on top of the screen turned green. I went to settings, sensors and gps was turned on. Since i turned it off it has been ok.

    • Felix

      Is GPS supposed to be on or off in the settings? Surely that doesn’t mean that it is always on, but rather that “off” means always “off” and “on” means “on” when needed during tracking. Correct?

    • Ted

      I believe that the GPS should generally be “off” in the System Settings. “On” means that it is on all the time – even outside of an activity.

      When I turn on an activity that needs the GPS, it automatically turns on for the duration of the activity and then turns off after the activity is done.

    • Felix

      No. My GPS is turned ON and it is not consuming power at the rate it would’ve been expected if GPS was really turned on. So I guess I was right in assuming that ON means ON when needed.

    • Kermit262

      I don’t think On means On when needed. I have GPS turned Off in settings, and I’ve confirmed that when I start the Run app/activity, GPS turns on and satellite recording occurs. So it would seem that Off means turn On when needed.

      So what exactly is the point of the On/Off GPS switch in Settings?

  91. casebase

    Got the Vivoactive a couple of days ago from Amazon in the UK (I see they reduced the price by £10 after I had already received it!). Very pleased with it so far but have a couple of questions that someone may be able to answer which I cannot find in the manual.

    I can’t work out if you can set an audible alarm. I’m using a watch face that shows that sound is muted but I’m wondering if there is sound at all.

    If I’m in an activity can I quickly check the time or do I need to set that as a data field?

    Thanks for the site and reviews. Absolutely amazing and helped me make a decision. Would love something like CT in the UK so I can contribute financially.

  92. kirby71

    Hi Ray…always great reviews as usual! Which HR strap comes with the Vivoactive bundle? How is the accuracy of this strap and would you suggest other HR straps which might work better/be more comfortable in your experience? Would it be worth getting the HRM-RUN strap for the Vivoactive in case someone develops an app to log Dynamics such as the FR620?

  93. Dim

    OK, my VA arrived yesterday from CT (ordered on 02/16).
    I think it is beautiful watch – very light and slim. It came with the SW ver 2.40. Right after pairing with my iPhone 6, it would start rebooting itself every few minutes. I updated to 2.60 and it seems to be OK since then. I did not charge it after opening the box, so it was at 76%. Went to sleep and in the morning, it was 73% – I think acceptable drain. This morning I went for a 5 mile run (in the snow, mind you). The GPS was able to locate the satellites in less than 30 seconds, where my FR610 used to take few minutes. The vibration on every mile marker is not as pronounced as 610, but I felt it just fine. Screen is great, no issues seeing it. After the run, the battery is at 60%. I use Mio Fuse HR (very accurate if you are looking for a good HR band) and Gamin Footpod that I had for years. Both integrate well.
    I will fully charge it now and see how long it will last with my normal routine – 4 days running and 2-3 days strength training. Did anybody find a good app for strength training on CIQ yet?
    Hope this helps all Ray’s faithful readers.

  94. Felix

    Ahhh. Stupid watch ist killing me. Auto-upload ist not working. Steps are not synced, activities are not synced. Tried via USB and via BT. Just gives an upload-error.

    Then I removed the device from Garmin Express PC and tried to reconnect. Won’t work. The device is found, but the process stops the moment I click connect. Takes forever …

    On the phone it works until the first sync. Then it fails. I can’t even access the device via USB (I thought I could save the activities file at least). I see the main folders, but then the Windows explorer process freezes.

    Any ideas anyone? It’s as if something sits in the upload queue an blocking it.

  95. Felix

    Lost 16000 steps and two activities in the process now. Vivoactive crashes on one computer and works on another now. BT connection gives an “upload error” “sync failed” most of the time. I’ve got a 620, a Vivofit and a Vivoactive. Seriously thinking about changing the ecosystem. :(

  96. James

    I just got the Vivoactive and was wondering if you can set up virtual partner like on my old 610.
    My favorite thing about the 610 was setting a virtual partner pace and seeing if I was ahead or behind at certain points.

  97. Lander Stoddard

    Just set up my new VivoActive. Very limited selection on Connect IQ. Would love to see the Accuweather you mentioned.

  98. Lasse


    Does the Vivoactive have the fitnesstest (VO2) like the fenix3 and Polar V800?

  99. Lander Stoddard

    Found the weather. Have to sideswipe from the watch mode.

  100. Derek

    Just picked one up yesterday to compare with the v800. Weather widget is stuck at waiting for data, anyone else experiencing this?

    • Kermit262

      You’ve got to first start and stop a GPS activity, then the watch will pick up a weather station based on your location.

  101. C Dennis

    I am still waiting for my white Vivofit but received a leather band for it. The band and the pins were in the box but there was no installation tool. I have tried to contact Garmin via their website to obtain a tool, but the website requires a registered device. Is there a different way to email or contact them?

  102. Juliet

    Can I please confirm that Vivoactive uses Firstbeats? Rainmaker said no I think but the rep here has assured me that it does. I have a very high heartrate and Garmin’s generic hr algorithm is incredibly inaccurate.

    • I’m getting re-confirmation, as previously when I asked at launch it did not. It sounds like perhaps they changed plans between then and shipping (a good thing).

    • ML Heng

      Looking at my VA, System settings, About, it says “Advanced heartbeat analysis by Firstbeat.”

    • Juliet

      Thank you so much. I am feeling Garmin frustrated after 3 different answers directly from Garmin – rep says yes, Australian customer service says no and email response says yes. I struggle to have a lot of trust after being assured that my F15 had Firstbeats and then discovering it was useless to me as a watch when it turned out it doesn’t – Garmin wouldn’t exchage it.
      I almost wish it wasn’t released as I was going to swap to the M400 after having two Garmins but this has cadence and I really need a good hr algorithm, an activity monitor with steps and something that fits small wrists (only prob with M400).

    • Indeed, everything I see looks like it’s in there.

  103. Felix

    My thoughts about the device so far:
    1. Screen is rather dull. In a dark room you can’t make out anything, but the screen gets better the brighter the light is. Then you get very high contrast. And there is always the backlighting. I use it a lot.
    2. Screen is responsive, but touch controls are a bit finicky when it comes to distinguishing between pressing and swiping. Happened a lot that I wanted to press, but swiped instead.
    3. GPS fix was very fast. GPS accuracy are OK, but far from superb. HRM sensor was found very reliably and fast.
    4. Battery life is OK for a smartwatch but not anywhere near the 30 days they mentioned. Without GPS-driven activities you can expect about 3-4 days of battery life as far as I can tell.
    5. BT-connectivity on a LG G3 (and on a Nexus 9) is a pain in the xxx. Once it works carry your phone wherever you go, because if you loose connectivity there is no telling when you will get it to work again. I lost it even though a couple of times. Even in close proximity to the phone. When it works smart notifications are fast and actually quite useful. Music control works. But only with one app on your phone that you will have to choose in the settings.
    6. Sync to Garmin Connect: doesn’t even work for me. There is actually no way to manually sync to the phone, which I find is an inexplicable omission. Automatic sync doesn’t even start most of the time (I tried shutting down the app, restarting it, entering flight mode, exiting flight mode, deleting the device from the Garmin connect app, reconnecting ….) and even when it does, it stops with a sync error.

    Summary: The hardware is excellent. I like the look. I like the slim form factor a lot. I like the UI and the quick GPS fix. I thoroughly hate the connectivity (or the lack thereof) I see and that really is a dealbreaker for me.

    • Stephen Rahaim

      My thoughts on your thoughts:

      1)Agree the screen isn’t bright indoors w/o backlight. Doesn’t really bother me but yes.
      2)Agree on responsiveness of screen, no problems on touch vs. swipe for me so far.
      3)GPS seems fine; tracks same as my Fenix 2 on a couple runs, but I’m no accuracy maven….
      4)Battery is at 50% on day 4, three 30 minute GPS runs and constant BT. Thinking it might last a week or six days with normal use.
      5)BT connect has been perfect on an iPhone 5s, not a single dropped sync. And I wander in and out of range of the phone all day. Kinda fun to peek at the stepcount etc…. So BT connect may vary with mobile OS or mobile BT hardware? Calendar and text alerts are very useful to me.
      6) As with BT, syncing is perfect up to the mobile and then to Garmin Connect.

      Would agree that the connectivity is the whole point. If that’s not working for you, then it lets a lot of air out of the fun balloon. I’m using v2.40 on the watch. Holding off on any updating.

      So my experience has been very positive in my limited time. Looking forward to Ray’s review so I can use it more effectively.

  104. Jeremy

    So I pulled the trigger before Ray’s final review and my Vivoactive arrived this morning from CT via the VIP program. For less than the FR220, it seemed like an easy decision.

    Still getting used to it, but a few comments/questions:
    1. It is dim in low light. Not a huge deal, but I can see why people are surprised by it. However, it’s fine in “normal” light and great outside.
    2. How do you select which calendars are used for the calendar widget? I have stuff coming from random calendars (e.g. birthdays) that are unchecked in both my iOS calendar and Fantastical. Plus all day events are showing twice, once as “all day” and once as “12:00 – 11:59”. Definitely some needs some work, but not a huge deal because alerts work. Worst case, I’ll just ditch the widget.
    3. Alerts are awesome, and haven’t failed yet. This is why I originally got a Magellan Echo.
    4. Love that you can uninstall apps. Goodbye golf and swimming! (adding them back is also really easy)

    Sadly, no runs yet, but I’m hoping to at least test out treadmill tracking this week.

  105. wick

    A friend recently let me trial his vivoactive. He is both an avid and very accomplished triathlete. In his real-life, he’s a professional. The watch seems to cater to all facets of his life.

    I am training for an ironman, during my off-time from being a physician. I already own a 910XT, which is great for training, but doesn’t even show time when it’s off. (Or on, for that matter).

    I’m very active, but can do without all the data and analysis the 910XT offers. I’m trying to figure out why the vivoactive isn’t the perfect watch for me! Is it that the battery life won’t last for an ironman (I would need at least 12 hours)? Do I need the multi sport mode for training?

    I’d appreciate your thoughts. Your reviews are amazing. Thank you.

  106. Maltloaf

    A note on battery life and comparison to my edge whilst cycling. I did a 4 hour cycle ride on GPS yesterday alongside my edge800. The vivoactive started out at 93% and ended the ride on 35% so by my reckoning I could have logged a 7 hour or so GPS activity.

    On accuracy, my edge showed 63.5 miles and my vivoactive showed 63.28. 0.22 miles after 63 is acceptable in my book. I had notifications coming through throughout the ride which I could either wait to time out or press the back button.

    Screen was easily readable throughout the ride and I could switch between the training pages with a simple tap of the screen.

    If anyone wants to see my log with the vivoactive, it’s here… link to connect.garmin.com

  107. Ravikumar

    Can someone please confirm if the VA can be used while being charged. The idea is to use a portable charger while going on long bike ride.

  108. geusie

    I’ve got the VA since Saturday and I’m really happy with it. Had some minor BT connection problems from time to time, but I guess this is solved now after I installed the software update to 2.60 yesterday.

    A practical question, that maybe someone can answer here:
    The activity tracker (which counts your steps) shows a bar which becomes red when you don’t move for a while. Is it possible to set a vibration alert for this? From some websites/reviews I deduce that some people receive a “Move” notification, but I’ve never had that (didn’t see or feel something). I have to manually go to the activity widget to see if the bar is red. I’ve searched in the settings and in the connect app, but I can’t find a setting for this Move-notification.

    • Ted

      On my VA, I get a Move notification line at the top of the watch face and a vibration alert when the Move timer is triggered by inactivity.

  109. Gunnar

    The Vivoactive is a good watch….but I returned it and now have the Fenix 3 on order (thanks Clever Training for the easy exchange).

    The Vivoactive I think will appeal to a broad audience, but the display is a deal killer for me as well as the fairly cheap feel to it.

    I have used a Pebble watch since day one and the display while similar on the Pebble, the Vivoactive is noticeably darker unless you’re in direct light.

    As a everyday watch, at least for me, I think it would get beat up pretty fast. The plus side is, it’s a very light watch and barely noticeable while wearing.

    I had a few episodes of my ANT+ sensors dropping out, as well as a couple of activities that took a few tries to get to sync with Garmin Connect Mobile, but that was before updating to firmware 2.6. I’m sure Garmin will get things ironed out.

    • Gunnar

      …..one more note. My two weekend rides were 32 degrees (Farenheit) and below (where’s Spring in DC?!)

      The touch screen was unresponsive during those rides (fine during a midday warmer run).

      When I stopped the (cold) ride I was able to stop the activity but, it wasn’t until I got inside and warm that I was able to have the “save” touch area work on the screen.

  110. joel

    The calorie algorithm is showing way lower Results with the vivoactive than the polar m400. I’m not saying it’s wrong but for a 40 minute run with an average heart rate of 170bpm I’m getting 17 cal/min for the polar and 10 cal/min with the garmin. One of these is not right. That’s a 60% difference.

    • Calories when running is largely dependent on distance, not time. Assuming both are accurately configured with user profile information, it’s a bit odd.

      That said, I’ve heard some rumors that certain newer Garmin devices are taking some time to ‘learn’ when it comes to calories. I haven’t been able to validate that yet though.

    • joel

      Thanks for the response. I run a lot of trails and rolling hills. Two miles downhill at 140bpm would seem to use much less calories than 2 miles uphill at 180bpm. I’ll have to look into the polar and garmin Calorie algorithm. I see someone posted a link above.

    • Typically speaking you won’t see calorie divergence between walking/running until you get very close to your MaxHR levels (which, you could very well achieve going uphill). Somewhere around here I have a neat chart from my VO2Max tests that show a bit of that in terms of calorie burn at various intensities, etc…

    • Juliet

      This is what I’ve found with Firstbeats, it learns but it takes a few wears. With the garmin generic algorithm it doesn’t learn and as I have a heart rate that jogs at 90% of max plus I get crazy calorie readings from the F15. The 220 seemed to ‘learn’ my heart rate was odd and then accounted for that.
      Based on what you’ve seen, Ray, would you recommend the M400 or the VA for someone with a funny hr who does want accurate cals? I really appreciate your site and the reseach you do. I’d to the 220 again but activity monitor is a must for my everyday watch. Thanks heaps.

  111. Funkright

    Will the vivoactive work with a Wahoo bluetooth HRM strap (bought a few years ago)? Searched the interwebs but can’t find clarity. Any insight would DEFINITELY be appreciated.

  112. Jim Mullane

    Thanks Ray – I used my DCR VIP membership for the first time at Clever and received 10% off a new VivoActive. I was really heading towards the Fenix 3 but after reading your first look, I think this will suit most of my needs. I appreciate the thorough reviews. Thanks.


  113. Kermit262

    Went for an easy afternoon run today. No clouds in the sky, no leaves on the trees yet here in Central Ohio. Wore the Vivoactive and my trusty FR 305 on the same wrist. Was very happy with the results. Both reported exactly the same 3.0 mile distance. The 305 seems to have tracked better, but the end result is the same.
    link to mygpsfiles.com

    I’ve had my Vivoactive for a week now and the longer I have it the more I like it.

  114. Sean Murray

    Currently have a 620. Are there any features that the Vivoactive has that my 620 doesn’t? I mainly use it for running but occasionally use it for cycling.

  115. nate

    I’ve a garmin 310 heart rate monitor. Does the vivoactive use the same one?

  116. Boaz

    Hi Ray,

    Really looking forward for the in-depth. Is there an ETA for it?


  117. Simon


    How would you rate the Vivoactive for runners? Do you think it is good enough with accuracy and pace to be used instead of one of the more specialist devices?

    To put things in context my 310xt died on me recently so looking to upgrade to something a bit slimmer and with a better strap. I already have a footpod, HRM and Speed\Cadence sensor for the rare times I do cycle. I have used both the course feature and interval workouts on the 310 but if really necessary could use an old 205 for those until hopefully someone writes an app for the Vivoactive if I go down that route.

    So far it is between a 910XT or the Vivoactive which are available at about the same price as of today (in UK), although not sure for how much longer, hence asking now.

    My main concern is that with smart recording it will lose out on accuracy and as such pace compared to 910, especially if paired with the footpod.

    I have also been considering the 620 and 920xt but don’t think they would be worth the additional expense. I could pair my 310 with my phone and upload to GC that way so assume the 910 would be the same.



  118. kirby71

    Hi Ray…I am planning on getting the Vivoactive and am wondering which heart rate strap you use and/or would recommend to purchase for use with it. Thanks for any input!

  119. Scott

    I’m sorry if I missed it but I have looked several places. If I am using the vivofit2 as an activity monitor and the 920 to track workouts but syncing with my fitness pal will the calories burned be accurate if I do not wear the vivofit during workouts?

  120. anggit s kresno

    hallo dcrainmaker..
    i’m anggit from indonesia, i hv one question for u about your vivoactive,when in running mode,there’s a pace alert or no?

  121. Curious

    I don’t want to wear out my 920xt by using it all the time as a fitness tracker (although that’s part of why I upgraded from 910xt, that and the improved metrics for triathlon). . . We all know that rechargeable batteries can only be recharged a certain number of times, right? Like my iPhone. 2 years.

    SO, I was thinking about getting either a VivoActive (Love the idea, especially since I also golf), but will I be able to upload both the Vivoactive and 920xt to the same garminconnect account without one overriding the other regarding data (steps, for example)?

    EX: I run and log 8,000 steps with my 920xt. I take it off, put on my VivoActive and log another 5,000. Will I get a total on GarminConnect of 13,000? Or will it take only the most recent upload, or just one instead of adding them together

    Just curious. . .


    PS: And thanks for your awesome blog. LOVE it.

    • Mags

      I have a vivosmart and just got the active. My connect recognises both but only takes a reading from one. It doesn’t override but does log the higher number of steps. I’m if active is more and I take it off it doesn’t start counting on the smart until I reach the number that was on the active. Hope that makes sense

  122. MagsD

    I’m a powerwalker not a runner. Love the watch, which I got a couple of days ago, looks like they’ve separated walking and running (which is a great thing). Still don’t think it will record a personal record for a walk though which is disappointing

  123. C Dennis

    Clever Training is shipping the white Vivoactive models today.

  124. Josh

    I noticed in your video that the vivoactive doesn’t do each second pace ticks, but 5 seconds. I was just on Garmin website and they have a picture of the vivoactive and it is showing a pace that is not an every 5 second pace, I believe it was 7:34, regardless, was it an update that it now has individual second ticks or did they have a photoshop accident?

    Thanks in advance!

    • It would only show 7:34/mile if you were looking at the average pace or lap pace fields, but not instant pace. Otherwise, it would be rounded to 7:35/mile.

    • David

      I was curious about this and went and looked for the photo. I believe you are talking about photo 3 in this gallery.
      link to buy.garmin.com
      The field is definitely labelled “pace”. And it can’t be average pace since the distance is 4.7 and the time is 1:43:28 (average pace would be bout 22:01). I assume lap or last lap would be appropriately labelled. So I would conclude that it is a photo shop accident.

  125. Edwin Aerts

    I’m a cyclist and uses my Garmin Edge for recording data. The altimeter function does not (always) work properly and slowly (I always have to put GPS on and search for satellites), is inaccurate (I always have to calibrate in order to get correct results) and the possibilities of recording are very poor: only gradient, hight level and global ascent/descent; it doesn’t give me e.g. max/min/average hight, vertical speed, etc. Does the Vivoctive or Fenix 3 work differently: do I need to put GPS on in order to get e.g. simple height info?; is there an app/widget (for VA and F3) that allows you to get more detailed info of the altimeter function?: my old VDO cycle computer does the trick!
    Thanks for answering.

  126. Jesper

    Is it possibel to track heart rate on vivoactive all day

    • No, not really. You could technically leave it in one of the indoor modes though (i.e. indoor walking), and track it that was an activity file – but that’s suboptimal.

  127. Dasha

    Hi DC! I am very excited about the Vivoactive, thank you for the fantastic review! My question is this: with al new products and especially with technology, would you wait a bit after the release to purchase so they have a chance to get all the “kinks” out or is it pretty safe to pre-order and get it right as it comes out?

    • It depends on the company, and even within that, the given product group.

      The Vivoactive is shipping already, which helps. Based on my back of the napkin notes, all of the bugs I’d been seeing in the first week or so have been taken care of with subsequent firmware updates. I still have to double-check all my notes, but at least there’s progress there.

    • Felix

      That is funny. I still can’t sync with my Android devices. NO word from Garmin even though I wrote to Android app and the normal support team. Tried two different Vivoactives. Tried a LG G3 and a Nexus 9. Tried deleting the app. Nothing works. And that even though the devices are connected and smart notifications work. Only the synchronization of steps and activities ends with an error all the time. Obviously a bug in either the Android app or the firmware.

    • Steve

      This sounds like what the Polar M400/M800 suffered from when it launched. Not sure Polar has solved that yet. This is an important feature and would be interested to know what Garmin says about Vivoactive and if any others have this issue.

    • Felix

      Me too. I’d even go so far to say that the feature is essential and I really hope that I’m not the only one, because that makes it so much more likely a problem to get solved. I would think that it was a freak problem if it wouldn’t persist across two very different Android devices and two Vivoactives.

    • Dasha

      Thanks for the reply. Here I am waiting for April 15th but looks like it’s already out and ready to ship!

  128. R33ce ww

    Seems garmin connect server is down with regards to uploading the steps counter, is anyone else having this issue?

  129. Cynthia

    Hi! I’ve been researching a bunch of activity trackers/watches lately and feel like the Vivoactive might be a goer. Just wondering what the activity tracker is like for gym work. I mix up my training between walking/running/cycling outdoors but also do cardio and weights inside the gym. If i’m running on a treadmill or a stationary bike, will my activity still be tracked? Obviously I won’t be using GPS because i’m not going anywhere! haha

    • ML Heng

      I used the VA for outdoor and treadmill interval run. The treadmill run is quite accurate provided that you swing your arm consistently as you run outdoor. I had a few incidents that I hold my arm on the support of the treadmill and the distance is not logged.

      But you must run outdoor first for the VA to learn your stride, if i remember correctly.

      The VA works well for me in treadmill.

  130. C Dennis

    I have decided not to link the Vivoactive to my phone for now and am disappointed that the Vivoactive weather widget will not work without phone synchronization. Oh well, I guess I can use my phone for that. Otherwise, I am happy with the Vivoactive and with Garmin support.

    • Felix

      @C Dennis: How is the Vivoactive supposed to get the weather info if not from a connected phone? Seriously: phone sync is a MUST, but sadly it is still not working as intended for a number of – mainly Android – users out there.

    • C Dennis

      You are right, about the need for phone connectivity, however, when I go on a 60+ mile ride into unfamiliar territory, including along beautiful rural roads, I want my phone to have as much power as possible in case of an emergency.

  131. anggit s kresno

    hey dcrainmaker, i want to ask u another question but thanks before about your answer for my question yesterday, oke one question for this moment, if i want to do a triathlon training,are you suggesting that vivoactive for my triathlon training beside 910xt and 920xt?

  132. Tom G

    Ray, after spending many days reading the reviews on this site had nearly decided to purchase 1st GPS running watch Polar M400. I know the VivoActive is more expensive – looks like it easier to wear daily (size). Does it offer a lot more for the dollars? I am mostly a runner. Should I stick with my original inclination for the Polar M400?

    • The featureset between the Vivoactive and M400 is rather considerable (and growing). About the only thing offhand that the M400 can do that the Vivoactive can’t is around structured workouts. Everything else (and more), the Vivoactive wins on.

      Check out the full in-depth review though for full details: link to dcrainmaker.com

    • Tom G

      Ray, looks attractive the Vivoactive and I think somewhere you said made the 220 and 620 obsolete, but seems a lot of people are having issues based on some forums that I am looking at. Is it worth the hastle of going through issues, and extra cost, when I will mainly use for running.

    • As a general rule of thumb, if you look at forums, you’ll only see issues. Those forums are expressly designed for troubleshooting. Sorta like going to the hospital and finding sick people.

      As for the issues I saw, I listed them within the review. Though those issues weren’t really running focused, but rather in other areas.

  133. Hi Ray,

    Earlier on in this discussion I had asked whether the VivoActive would sync the time automatically apart from a smartphone connection (I travel to some countries where my cell phone doesn’t sync the correct time). You had said that VivoActive would sync via GPS or some other means, like most Garmin products. Sadly, I found out yesterday that this is not the case. I changed time zones yesterday and my VivoActive did not sync automatically when I turned on the GPS. I tested it by manually setting the wrong time and then turning on the GPS. It didn’t change the time. Later, Garmin support confirmed that VivoActive only has two settings: manual time setting or mobile time setting (automatically connect to your mobile device). I’m bummed out. But. . . am I missing something? Is there a way to make this happen?

  134. Fortune Ejekubi

    Hi Ray,

    I can see from the comments above that VIvoActive has a number of issues with Android phone such as Galaxy s3…Is it better to wait couple more weeks before considering the watch. In addition I do a lot of weight training and sometimes outdoor running is the VivoActive suited for custom workouts and reading heart rates.

  135. Andrew Davies

    After four weeks of use my impressions of the VA are its is a Great everyday activity / smartwatch. Love knowing who’s calling, getting messages and notifications, plus being told to move! I only had one dropout from my iPhone 6 so far. When I’ve been inactive for too long. The step counter is a great motivator to head out walking, as I am not able to run at ggear minute due to injury. Light, slick and comfortable. GPs pickup takes between 5 & 20 seconds in Ireland. Great battery life – generally around five days with 1-2 hours gps daily. Love the ability to change settings from within an activity. All major activities offered, although So many options for metrics( still would like the option to switch from 3 to 2 or 1 line of metrics – small gripe). The touchscreen is excellent. Positive in operation I find it quicker than my old fr 310 to navigate) works fine in rain and in the pool. Taking a lap is pretty foolproof , with the vibration. Although the watch screen is dim in low lighting its reflective is crystal clear in daylight and using the light works fine. Would strongly recommend this watch to both everyday folk for fitness and smartwatch functions and to athletes who do not compete in multi-sport activities.

  136. Stewart Meyers

    Hi Ray, in your product comparison calculator, the Vivoactive is the only Garmin model in the moderate price category that is listed as suitable for hiking. I was wondering why you think the Vivoactive is suitable for hiking, but the 220, or even more expensive models such as the 620 are not. Thanks much!

    • It’s partly because I completely and totally forget to set those category/labels half the time. :(

      And partly because the unit supported both Komoot (if it ever releases), but more specifically a back to start navigation function, then I left it in the ‘Hike’ category. Whereas the FR220/FR620 lack that.

  137. roberta central fl

    Sams Club has VIVOfit 2 in stock now, have you evaluated them? I did not find anything when I searched.
    Your reviews are great!

  138. Jason Allen

    I’ve been doing comparisons for weeks and still haven’t decided which watch to purchase. I do a lot of obstacle course racing and was wondering if this product would hold up if I was careful with it during the race? I really like the Fenix 3 but the Vivoactive fits in my budget better right now and I like how light and good looking it is.

  139. Matt


    Does anyone know how to edit the stroke name for each interval once the data is downloaded from the vivoactive to garmin connect? The only thing that seems to be editable are the basic infos of the workout.

    Thank you,


  140. Matt

    I forgot to mention: This is referring to SWIMMING not golf. ;-D

  141. Dale

    Hi Ray,

    Thank you again for a thorough review. I just have a few questions that hopefully you can answer:

    1) Can the Garmin Steps sync to Fitbit Steps? If so how?
    2) Do all your phone’s notifications come to the watch or just phone, text and email?
    3) Does your membership extend to Canadian residence as well? Do you have any partner stores up here?

    Thanks Ray!

    • 1) No, unfortunately no sync there in either direction
      2) For the Vivoactive, any notifications that you configure per the phone.
      3) Yup, CT helps out Canadians equally too!


  142. Gloria

    Hi, ive downloaded the rowing pace widget for my vivoactive garmin watch, however i dont knkw how to start the clock for a workout. I can get past the “rowing pace” page and onto the “500m” page. But cant start the timer.
    Can you help? thankyou

  143. Onlyzuul

    Hi Ray, Great article! I am a lap swimmer (outdoor only) and an outdoor/indoor cyclist. I have a Scosche HR chest strap and a Withings scale (syncs with Digifit and Fitbit). I’m using the Fitbit Force but am returning it due to the recall, plus I want something more ‘advanced’. Would you recommend the Fitbit Surge, and be able to ditch the chest strap, OR would you recommend the Garmin Vivoactive, and ditch the lap watch?

    • It’s tricky. Neither will get you HR will swimming (not sure if you care about that). For cycling, I’m not having good luck with the optical sensor on the Fitbit Surge (even in the new cycling mode). Whereas I constantly use the Scosche. So personally, I’d stick with the Scosche for the HR sensor portion, and perhaps look at something like the Vivoactive actually (so you can do cycling there, but also get pool metrics.

  144. Jonstoops

    For the not-so-serious Multisport folks- What happens if I swim open water with the watch in swim/run mode? It would at least provide me with timing and not require the “swim cap method” right? Could I record in swim mode and alter the record to the listed distance after the fact (i.e. set it for 150m pool length, swim 1500 m in a tri, go back and edit the workout swim length)? How quickly/easily can one navigate from one activity to another. Keep in mind I’m not a pro so 15-20 seconds in transition isn’t going to make or break my day.

  145. Isabelle

    I bought the vivofit2. If I understand, it is compatible with the wahoo tickr strap but not the polar h7?

  146. Andrew Chalkley

    Hi Ray, apologies can see the bones of the question to my answer through the thread but still missing some confirmation. Possible to check please:

    1. Heart rate monitoring is built in right? No strap at all required?

    2. Also calorie counting is automatic based on the heart rate monitoring..is that right?

    3. Is the calorie counting reasonably accurate….don’t need military levels of accuracy, is to help someone with weight loss & exercise impact monitoring.

    4. My old chestnut…..does it integrate with the Tanita BC10000 scales like Vivofit and FR60 did/do?

    Appreciate it if you have time to answer these. I feel a new investment coming on :-)

    All the best

  147. Andrew Chalkley

    Hi again Ray…. just correcting my questions as I found your detail review of the device and it filled some of the gaps in my understanding:

    1. Heart rate monitoring is built in right? No strap at all required? – can see it does require a strap. I don’t really get on with these chest ones…have one but never used. Are there any small format alternatives?

    2. Also calorie counting is automatic based on the heart rate monitoring..is that right? – read that calorie counting is more accurate if use a HR device, but does it work in any form without the strap? Ideal if does.

    3. Is the calorie counting reasonably accurate….don’t need military levels of accuracy, is to help someone with weight loss & exercise impact monitoring.

    4. My old chestnut…..does it integrate with the Tanita BC10000 scales like Vivofit and FR60 did/do?

    Appreciate it if you have time to answer these. I feel a new investment coming on :-)

    All the best

    • Kartik

      Andrew Chalkley,

      1> Heart-rate monitor is indeed required. If you don’t like a chest-strap, a terrific alternative is the Scosche Rhythm+ armband (which you wear on the forearm). Easy to use, accurate and convenient. Ray has a review on this as well on the DCR website, you can check it out.

      2> and 3> Calorie counting is indeed automatic; but will be accurate only when you wear a heartrate monitor (HRM reading kicks in only in fitness activity mode and not in activity tracker mode). Otherwise, caloric counting is only approximate based on age, weight, height, activity class and other details that you provide on your Garmin Connect profile. Similar to what you presumably already do with your VivoFit.

      4> I’m almost 99% certain that the Tanita BC1000 works on the ANT+ profile (since it syncs with your FR60 and your Vivofit). Consequently, it’ll defly work with the VivoActive.

      Good luck!

    • David

      Regarding the Tanita:
      link to dcrainmaker.com

    • Andrew Chalkley

      Kartik many thanks for the clarification….is very much appreciated.

      Definitely going to take a look at the arm HR unit you mention…sounds way better for me and will take a look at Ray’s review. Super stuff.

      And brilliant news on the scales….yes makes total sense as you say.

      For the life of me I can’t think why they didn’t add the optical built on sensor into the Vivoactive…..it really would have been the killer solution. The chest straps are just a burden all round. Maybe cost or size was the reason….lets hope in the Vivoactive 2 that this occurs……maybe there should be a thread somewhere for suggested improvements for the Vivoactive? Maybe someone at Garmin would take a read.

      Many thanks again for the solid advice. Andrew

    • Andrew Chalkley

      Thanks for the link David…..yes looks conclusive and a nice tight integration of existing investments and new ones. Thanks for advising……it’s purchase time! :-)

  148. ANTONIO

    El s Sony SmartWatch 3 no tiene HRM, no marca las pulsaciones del corazón, el GPS dura solamente 40 minutos, no se puede comparar con el garmin.
    El sony es reloj inteligente, no vale para hacer deporte.

  149. Sonja

    where can you purchase the replacement designer series bands for the vivofit? I am in Australia and cant find any?

  150. Caroline

    You say the Polar loop activity data can be exported easily, but the Vivofit activity data is only a FIT file. Has that changed with Vivofit 2? Could I export number of steps for example to SportTracks?

  151. Brian


    I already have a Vivofit that does my sleep/steps. Can I turn off the steps/sleep on the Vivoactive since I already use the Vivofit for activity tracking? I already use a 910xt for triathlon, so I am just looking for a smartwatch and want to stay in the Garmin ecosystem Also, any word on whether they going to come out with a new version in the Spring 2016? I might decide to wait.

    • Nico

      Indeed:the Vivoactive as smart watch and activity tracker and the 910XT as sports (triathlon) watch. That’s the best combination (I own both). Vivoactive can even do live tracking – it is so light you may wear it on the other arm.
      You have every feature Garmin offers at this time.
      But then I cannot imagine why you would want to keep the vivofit: the vivoactive does the activity tracking as well

      I also own a 920XT; does everything in one watch (and does everything well) but it is too big for me: I cannot wear it with a formal suit. To tell the truth I am rather small so it may be a better fit for you.
      I bet it would be the same issue with Fenix or epix (all of them are fairly thick).

      If you already own a 910, the vivoactive is the perfect smart watch addition.

  152. Alan

    It sure does seem like a lot of watch for the money so I am wondering what the ‘catch’ is.
    I have a forerunner 410 now but would really like something that does Smart Notifications. I run with my phone in the back pocket of a water belt so if I get a text while I am out on a long run I have to dig my phone out.
    The Forerunner 25 does Smart notifications but I don’t think it offers distance intervals only time intervals.
    So why it so cheap?

  153. Phil

    Vivofit 2 where can I buy the metal straps?

  154. Phil

    I have a vivofit2 where can I purchase the metal straps from?

  155. Harvey Castro

    Ray: Is the Style Collection’s Signature Series straps available for purchase anywhere? I can only find the Adler designed straps.

  156. ting lee

    no comment

  157. Reaz Haque

    Besides the fitbit surge – Is there any other watches that can track, running, cycling and gym workouts such as weight lifting and pilates?and

  158. dawnn helene

    I’m very confused with the vivoactive and the LOW calorie burn. Forgive me if this was addressed but it’s 50% lower than lets say my polar m400 300 endomundo etc… all using a HR strap. I’ve returned the vivo last year but rebought recently hoping it would be resolved with software updates but nothing.

  159. John Bergquist

    Ray, do you know how often the Vivofit 2 is supposed to automatically sync? I haven’t seen mine do it yet, and I have my iPhone’s BT on all day long. I tried searching the Garmin site and manuals, and all it says is “periodically”. Thanks!



  161. Leah

    I am having issues with the vivoactive swim mode – it is adding lengths. The set pool size is 25m. It seems to be an issue no matter which stroke I am using. Any suggestions?

  162. Theo Botha

    Will a Bluetooth HRM work on the Garmin Vivoactive?

  163. Doug

    Does the vivoactive watch require a smartphone? Does the golf gps work without a smartphone because I only have a blackberry?

  164. Greg Hilton

    Do you happen to know if Garmin will EOL this device with the HR version being out, or will they sell both side by side for the foreseeable future?

    • Hard to say. It’s off MAP (Minimum Advertised Price policies) now, which means retailers can do as they please price-wise. That’s usually an early indicator something will be discontinued. At the same time, things can sit on that for 1-2 years.

      I suspect they’ll keep making them through at least the 2016 Holidays.

  165. Marçal

    I am the owner of a vivoactive hr. My questionnis anout tanita bc 1000. Do you know if both are compatibles?
    Thank you

  166. Frank

    Exciting times with the new Garmin Vivoactive! 🏃‍♂️⌚ The perfect blend of smartwatch features and athlete appeal