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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!

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  1. Felix

    And I thought I told you something new when I saw the product page on Garmin.de pop up today. ;)

    • Hazel small

      Does anyone know if the vivo fit records pace per mile while running and displays at each mile or km split ?

  2. Want!
    Does the watch currently allow multi-sport activities, and is it robust enough to be a contender to the 920?
    Great review, as always.

    • No multisport activities allowed, so not at the moment a direct competitor to FR920XT/Fenix3/Epix. I don’t believe that Connect IQ can be leveraged in that manner to tie activities together unfortunately.

    • Resa

      I was wondering, can you upload training plans to the Vivoactive like you can on the Forerunner 220?

    • Al Griffin

      Ok, so not a direct competitor, but for those of us who like different activities but not necessarily needing to move fluidly between them, any major reasons to fork over the extra money for the 920?

    • Chris

      I’d like to know that as well!

    • No, Training Plans are not supported on the Vivoactive (because custom workouts are not supported).

    • Teri

      Does the Vivoactive require a phone or data plan to use GPS? I’m concerned about usage if I’m in a remote area with no phone service. Will the GPS continue to work?

    • Matt B

      The Vivoactive does not require a phone or data plan in order to use GPS. It has a GPS chipset built into it.

    • brian

      hi, i have a question. i am highly interested in this vivoactive watch but have a couple of questions. will this have a weight lifting mode?. is their a boxing mode?. i would love this watch but need to know if their is a mode for weight lifting, boxing because i will be training in those specific fields including swimming wich is another reason why i want this device.

  3. It’s a real shame Garmin doesn’t have LED HR monitor technology at the moment, add this to a Vivo Garmin and I’d be sold on it!

    • Chris

      Agreed. If the Vivoactive had an optical HRM I’d pre-order one today.

    • Tim R

      Keep in mind that LED HR monitors in their current state are inaccurate at higher BPMs or if you are moving at all. link to cnet.com

    • I had a Basis and a Fitbit Charge HR, both were incredibly in accurate returned them both. LED based HRM technology just isn’t there yet. I rely on my Polar H7 chest strap during workouts and use Digifit to track my stats. Works like a champ!

    • Tim – It fully depends on which sensor is being used. Some are great, some suck.

    • David Stanfield

      I disagree. This was done using mio link. Same ride done a few days prior with a chest strap returned the same max and average BPM, with no crazy spikes.

    • Frank G2

      Looks like only the jawbone UP3and maybe the ampstrip are not using optical sensors-that right?

    • Mark Powers

      Based on a review here on DC Rainmaker (link to dcrainmaker.com) I ordered a Scosche optical HR monitor that straps to the forearm or upper arm and connects via Bluetooth HR and ANT+. I’ve used it with Endomondo on iPhone and my ancient Garmin Forerunner 305 with excellent results. I would recommend passing on the Garmin HR and hooking up the Scosche. Both the Vivoactive and Scosche optical can be had on clever training with discount thanks to DC Rainmaker!

    • François Trout

      Same for me, I know that Optical HR is less accurate, but I would use the Vivo to track daily activity and night sleep. (I have my Edge for cycling workouts). (If I was a serious runner, I would use a Forerunner not the Vivo).

      We should not debate about this, why not the best of both world? An integrated HR sensor and the ability to couple Ant+ HR monitor, if the coupled monitor is connected, then the integrated sensor would be

  4. Pete

    so in your opinion alllll things considered…whats the best fitness band to buy now/close from now?

  5. MartinF

    Any thoughts on battery life for these.

    I own a Vivofit and so does the rest of the family. I said in a past post for the Vivosmart that Garmin needed to get creative with fashion, like Fitbit, and here you have it. Smart move, and the wife is already very interested.

    One the VivoActive, I only wish they had an MP3 player for a potential Motoactv replacement.

    • MartinF

      Went to Garmin’s website and they say the Vivofit 2 still has 1+ year battery life and the Vivoactive has 10 hrs in GPS mode or up to 3 weeks in watch/activity mode.

  6. Jen B

    Does this support a footpod? Does it have an interval timer?

    • Yes to footpod. Validating on interval timer (pretty sure it’s no).

    • Michael Falk

      On the Danish Garmin site it says “Du kan opsætte vibrationsalarmer for puls¹, tempo og løb/gang-intervaller.”
      “You can set up vibration alerts for heart rate¹, pace and run / walk intervals.”
      although when you look at the listed functions intervals are not cheked. Strange.

  7. Greg

    What’s the vivofit2 battery life with all the new features?

  8. Randall

    On a previous review, you mentioned that some other watches could do sleep tracking with HR, while the Garmin couldn’t.

    I looked at the product page on Garmin.com as well, but it doesn’t state in the specs, so I’m wondering if you know!

  9. Greg

    I think the active is too similiar to android wear and Apple watch for the same price. When they create more apps for wear, though they already have golf shot, running apps and such, I don’t get how the active will survive even with connect+. Android supports hrm straps, can read blte bike sensors and has many more functionality than this. I guess time will tell. Wear and Apple have 100x the dev base

    • The Apple Watch doesn’t have GPS, so for no, Garmin survives just fine.

      As for Android Wear, some do have GPS, but apps aren’t yet at the level to really be competitive with watches at this level (they are however more competitive at entry level running watches).

    • Tadej

      Android Wear is far off to be considered as an activity gadget, since the OS takes too much resources for anything else, it’s basically an older mobile SOC in there. Most of the apps and use cases are gimmicks, apart from the displaying of notifications, which is being done everywhere now anyway.

      I believe that sport watch makers can create a better all sports watch with smart capabilities faster then software/hardware/mobile companies can make theirs with proper sport tracking ability.

    • Greg

      Tadej…I assume you have a wear watch to back this up? There are lots of new apps in development that easily replace any entry level garmin and devices like this.

      I have a sony smartwatch 3, which has internal GPS offline, offline music support and from what I can tell does 80% of what the active does (with regards to fitness) at the same price…but can also
      – read my gmail
      – respond to texts
      – play music
      – load offline maps
      – turn by turn navigation
      – set appointements, reminders, record audio
      – provide geo compass
      – provide weather and custom watchfaces
      – Act as a trusted device for android

      The new beta apps out there for sony can handle running, walking, etc…with
      – Custom fields (6 per screen, 5 screens)
      – HRM support via BLTE devices
      – Auto upload to strava/runkeeper/etc…
      – Segments

      I get like 5-6 hours of battery with GPS on and 3 days otherwise as a watch/notification manager.

      The Sony watch has replaced my Garmin 602, my old 301, vivofit, etc… I had all of those and sold them for the Sony, which at this point does everything I need for a serious runner, but also plays music offline and has normal wear features.

      Go to the forums and youll see that once you try it, most runners (and bikers) have sold their garmins in favor of the sony watch once they started to use it.

      Plus, it has wifi, NFC, compass, etc…that will also become enabled in future updates.

      Now…it is android only, so the apple folks will be screwed, especially as their watch wont have GPS or offline music. However, android folks should really take a look. Especially because garmin and their android support sux big time unless you have a galaxy phone. Notifications have never worked the edge 1000 or others with moto phones.

    • Chelsea

      OK, so I am thinking about getting one of these two watches (the vivoactive or the Sony) for my birthday. I am not looking for the super in depth sport tracking, basically just speed, pace, time, HR. But I do want basic functionality across all three tri sports.

      It sounds like you have been impressed with your Sony so far, my question for you is, have you used it swimming at all? I like that the garmin, at least hypothetically, can provide basic swim data.

      It looks like some of the features you mentioned for the Sony may be available with apps on the Garmin, like watch faces and setting appointments, but I do like the idea of getting turn by turn navigation on your watch. That is huge. How functional is that? Does it use google maps, or a proprietary mapping app?

      Thanks for posting so much info for this, you have given me some help in my research for sure.

    • Greg S

      Turn by turn requires your phone nearby as it uses google maps (good for biking, not soo much for running), though I am hoping (and hearing) that nokias here app may get offline wear support soon. It works now via a crazy bootleg process, so theres hope! The smartwatch has 4gb of memory for music, maps, whatever, so its just apps holding this back (not the hardware).

      The garmin apps will be hacks made to suit a certain software, while the appointments, gmail on wear will be directly made by google for google (seamless integration). Plus the watchfaces on android wear are amazing compared to garmin (just due to the tech). My watchface has time, steps, 3 day weather forecast, high lows, outside temp all with pretty animated pictures in a professional form

      As for swim…Nothing really aside from a stopwatch or GPS. It wont do strokes, laps, etc…it has the same hardware to do it as the garmin, but the developers have been focusing on the running/biking for now. Plus, the sony is really the only waterproof of the wear watches with GPS as well, but once the 2nd gen wear devices (moto, lg, etc…) come out with GPS (guaranteed), it will open up the app market.

      To me, wear is just getting started and later in 2015 I think they (with help of apple) will slow make many of these garmin watches obsolete.

      I use mine for running and it replaced my 620 for everything I need. I have an edge 1000 for the bike, so the sony gives me music and a gps watch in pne that is always being upgraded by google.

      The sony has wifi and nfc built in as well, though android wear does not work with them yet. You can see that its still in its infancy, but I think will really take off this year. Plus sony just announced new bands for the watch coming soon (metal and 24mm band adapter)!

    • Gunnar

      I hear ya that the Sony SW 3 is getting close (I used to be a Sony Xperia guy and used the SW2).

      But 5-6 hours of battery life is not enough for serious athletes. Also, I doubt you will see apps developed to have the ability to use a power meter with the Sony SW3. With. Garmin Connect IQ we are likely to see that.

      The final kicker is the swim feature for the Vivoactive that the Sony SW3 doesn’t have.

    • Jacqui

      Greg – I have been debating between the Sony and the Garmin Vivoactive. Can you tell me what forums I should go to to learn more about the Sony? Also, how accurate have you found the GPS to be? I have heard varying opinions of the GPS on the Sony. Thanks!


      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.

  10. Rohan

    Interesting that it’s called the Vivoactive – looks like it could have been the MOTOACTV2 if Moto had continued.

    • Rick

      This was my initial thought also… A bit slimmer, perhaps more durable, and addressing the inability to tackle moisture (minus the ability to serve as an MP3 player also), it seems form and function is very much the MOTOACTV. With the Augmented Smartwatch Pro app for Android that allows for pushing and notifications from phone, I believe my MOTOACTV does all of these already.

  11. Grazza

    The one big Garmin announcement I was hoping for was a Garmin Virb 2. Is anything likely to be announced on that this week – or is it going to happen at all? I’m trying to avoid the temptation of a cheap Virb Elite if a new model is likely to come out soon!

  12. Matthias

    Maybe I just missed it but I cannot see any pricing information for the Vivoactive?

  13. David

    Do you know if they have fixed the problem with the Vivo series constantly needed to be re-paired with android phones over bluetooth? I’d like a Vivoactive for myself, but after seeing how useless my wife’s Vivosmart is because the connectivity issues, I am not sure I’d throw down the money.

    • sirolf

      It’s your lucky day! Today Garmin updated the firmware for the Vivosmart (2.90) and also the Android app (2.7.2). On the Garmin forums I read reports from users stating that these updates fixed the bluetooth reconnect issue.

    • In talking with them about it today, the change on the Vivosmart for Android is pretty significant. It’s a major shift in how they communicate between the device and the app – and they believe it’ll help quite a bit for Android users.

    • Steven Knapp

      Hopefully similar improvements for other devices on Android?

  14. Juan

    Did I missed the battery life on the VivoActive? Thank you!

  15. Tadej

    Does the Vivoactive use the ANT+ HRM strap or BT (or even both, since you said it connects to power meters and cadence sensors too) ?

  16. Daniel Churco

    Do any of the new sport watches (Viviactive / Fenix 3) from Garmin support Bluetooth MP3 for music while working out. I think all these watches have great features, but with out the music part, I’m still stuck putting my motoactv on the other wrist so I can listen to music when running/training.

    • Greg

      Get the sony smarwatch 3…does music, offline GPS, notifications, running, etc…

      Try ghostracer beta…amazzzing app. Now supports HRM support via Mio Link, custom fields, summary pages, etc…

    • Neil

      Can you point me towards a good resource for the Sony watch ? I’ve googled, but nothing seems to be running specific. I use a forerunner 220, but like the idea of a smartwatch that could replace it.

    • Greg

      Here is one community on the running app I use

      link to plus.google.com


      link to forum.xda-developers.com

      and a review that is decent

      link to zdnet.com

    • Daniel Churco

      Does it do Swimming and Biking. I didn’t think it had ANT+ either. I was looking at it, but it is not quite where the Suunto Ambit 2 that I have now can do. I think if Garmin or Suunto can throw in MP3 and bluetooth audio, it would be Golden

    • Greg

      Swim – not yet really…but its waterproof for it

      Bike – It can do offline (no phone) with bluetooth sensors (no ant+), or it can be used as a display for apps like strava that work with Ant+ devices. Think of it as a phone screen in that second scenario.

      Its not really “tri” ready by any means, especially with its 5-6 hour GPS battery life. I would say its a better fit for runners (especially those who like music via headphones) and bikers who want to use it as their screen with their phone in the saddle pack

  17. Neil

    This looks really interesting. I have been waiting for a smartwatch that contains GPS and could act as a forerunner replacement. It seems crazy to me to buy a smartwatch AND a GPS watch when there is no reason a device couldn’t do both. I’m not fussed about steps etc.
    Could you see this as a replacement for a forerunner 220? With Connect IQ support, there shouldn’t be anything functional that it cant do – assuming it can sync customer workouts etc with Garmin Connect. 10 hours battery time on GPS matches the 220, and the support for both BTLE and ANT+ is there. The clincher though will be in GPS accuracy.
    Unfortunately I cant decide if I love the look of it, or totally hate it!

  18. Leroy

    Is the vivoactive a 220 and/or 620 replacement? Or does it lack anything (intervals/workouts/run dynamics..?) functionality compared to them? And can that functionality come with just software updates – whether garmin or 3rd party?


    • A FR220 replacement, somewhat. The lack of structured workout options like you noted is the challenge. It could definitely come via 3rd parties.

    • Erik Arnström

      I’ve had the FR220 for a year without using structured workouts, so I guess I would be fine without. How would you judge the durability/ruggedness of the two watches? It seems the Vivoactive would look a bit out of place on a long trail run…

    • Deb

      I had the same question – I had an old Forerunner 110…thought I lost it…bought a 220 and the two things I liked about it was the BT connection to phone (no manual upload after a workout) and the ability to set it up for run/walk alerts. I just found my old 110, and have a friend who wants to buy my 220…and have been wanting a step counter as well…but didn’t want to wear a step counter AND use the 220…wanted to simplify…sounds like this watch will do the trick? Am I missing anything? Does this smart watch do vibrating walk/run alerts? IF so, I’m totally sold with this being the simplifying replacement device…

    • aminox

      Deb, not sure how precise metrics matter for your lifestyle/exercise, but inability to set GPS to 1-second ticks might mean slightly off (or way off, depending on route curviness) pace/distance metrics. If you’re ok with that trade off, then it sounds like this might be a good fit for you.

  19. Micah

    I’d love to know how well the touchscreen works with wet sweaty hands. I’m interested in this watch but still have nightmares about the wonky touch bezel on the 405.

  20. BobV190

    It’s a shame that all of these watches always seem to be always missing at least one feature that would otherwise make them perfect. For the Vivoactive … it is optical heart rate monitoring. Not so much for during runs and rides (i don’t mind a chest strap during exercise), but more for the other 22 hours of the day. I find that data very useful especially to gauge recovery and to more accurately track calorie expenditures, etc.

    The competition also lacks something …

    The Basis Peak lacks GPS, HR accuracy suspect at times
    The Fitbit Surge lacks the water resistance necessary for exercise
    The Apple Watch lacks GPS, waterproofing and battery life (so we are told)
    Android Wear watches lack all of the above in various combinations.

    Someone will eventually get it right I guess.

    • Chris

      Agreed! So far the Surge looks the best, but their closed ecosystem is a real turnoff.

    • Greg

      Sony smartwatch 3 has your waterproofing (I swim with it all the time), offline GPS (great for running), HRM support (via new apps as of end of december) via BLTE, offline music, and has 5-6 hours with GPS on and 2-3 days otherwise.

    • BobV190

      Still no optical HR on the SmartWatch 3 (for non workout tracking), plus I personally am too invested in iOS to switch to an Android device.

      Also, I understand there is a lack of true running apps for Androidwear that support the GPS on the watch.

      Again … someone “almost” got it right.

    • Neil

      I don’t get why people want on-watch HR. The last thing I want in the winter is to have to wear my watch against my skin. My Mio sits under clothes, with the forerunner on top and my wrist warm!

    • Greg

      Amen…I use a mio link, which is 10x more accurate than any in watch HRM because its designed for close skin contact and a good seal unlike normal watches, which are more for comfort and viewing.

      Look up the app called “ghostracer” in beta. Exports directly to strava (others to come), but it reads my mio link for BPM, does offline GPS (pace, distance, averages, time, HRM, segments, etc…). It is a true running app and the dev is only getting started. It has replaced my garmin 602 as my watch to run. Plus I dont need a stupid phone to listen to music!

    • BobV190

      I don’t have a problem wearing the watch against my wrist in the winter time .. so that isn’t an issue for me.

      Also, you still don’t have 24hr HR tracking using the Mio Link, like you get with the Basis Peak and the Fitbit Surge, so again the Sony SW3 + Mio Link combination still doesn’t check all of the boxes.

    • Bachoo

      What is the garmin 602??

    • Neil

      Looks very interesting – but from the XDA thread it looks like the beta is having similar issues to those that Garmin have faced. For example, crazy instant pace that needs smoothing etc. I will happily hack about with rooting my phone and running custom android ROMs (I’ve even gone so far as to build my own kernel to give eth0 support), but I wont risk my running stats with a beta tool! Those stats are just waaay too sacred! :)

    • Greg

      620…typing too fast

    • Greg

      I hear you…but its pretty good at this point. I have been working with the dev since the start and I think it is 98% of the way there. All it did at the start was record distance and time…and over 1.5 months now does soo much more with HRM support, custom screen field builder, auto uploads, etc…

      He seems to have fixed the smoothing issues, added a GPS lock at the start and such.

      While the pace on his display may be a little off at times, the upload to strava is perfect and spot on with the latest update (last night). I run 20-30 miles a week using this app.

    • Neil

      I think I’ve found it fatal showstopping flaw – no ANT+ :(
      I backed the runscribe kickstarter, so when that arrives will need ANT+ in order to be able to use my Mio and runscribe at the same time. Boo.

    • Greg

      That is neat! I know someone else was doing a insole like device, but I like this better.

      Yes…no ant+, so for older devices you are screwed. But most newer devices have bluetooth which means you in luck. Plus, most poeple bike with their phones (unlike running with a phone) and my moto x supports ant+ so I use that for biking if needed.

    • Frank

      I’ve just started using Cardiio (a free iPhone app) to record my RHR immediately upon waking up every morning to gauge recovery. I’ve found this works very well. You don’t really need your HR for the other 22 hours of the day if this is what you are after.

      It seems to me that the Optical HRM that work well all have 8 hour or less battery limitations. The ones that run for days don’t work.

  21. papayou

    No problem at all for me on connectivity between vivosmart and android phone (samsung note 3)
    paired on unboxing and still paired 2 month later

    going out of range of blutooth cause no issue when the phone get back in range
    same with on/off of the phone / band

  22. Doug

    Has Garmin given any indication of supporting gym activities such as weight training (my interest), Pilates, Yoga or even tennis, basketball etc…

    There is a lot of re-hashing on the Swim/Bike/Run but not a lot of new areas covered by these trackers. Wahoo’s TICKR X seems going in the right direction however.

    Could ConnectIQ tackle that sort of information?

  23. Luis R Defreitas

    Hi Ray,

    Why do u think the price is $250?!?!?

    it seems to have the same functions as other garmins so why only $250?

  24. Mark

    Thoughts on how the Garmin Vivoactive GPS compares to the Forerunner 220 as a running watch? They are the same price, and regarding running appear to be equal. Why would someone purchase the 220 over the new Vivoactive GPS?

    • Bachoo

      Ray can answer better but I get the feeling from reading is that the “run” portion on the active is an app on the watch. It doesn’t seem to be as rebust as the 220. However, I would assume an app could be (all ready is) developed to add more running specific features.

    • Eric Hanneken

      The vivoactive seems to support interval training (The product page says so, although the screen in the nearby photo displays only heart rate data.), but I don’t see any mention of support for custom workouts. It’s not clear that the vivoactive supports foot pods, either.

    • Eric Hanneken

      Here is the complete comparison between the vivoactive and the Forerunner 220, using the tool on Garmin’s web site. (Oddly, the vivoactive does not have a check mark for “interval training.”) I’ll stick with my 220.

    • It does support the footpod. I’m getting clarity on interval workouts since seeing some conflicts there.

    • Gunnar

      Is there any chance Garmin can limit what apps are developed for certain devices? What I mean is, if developers can get advanced swim metrics, advanced power meter data, navigation similar to the fenix3 for the Vivoactive then why buy the twice as expensive fenix 3?

    • Mark

      Ray – any idea on accuracy vs. 220? I really don’t care about Interval/Virtual training, but rather if this is as good of a GPS running watch in terms of GPS ability.

    • I’ve confirmed again it does not support interval training or any form of structured workouts.

    • JD

      Is there any chance that a 3rd party app would add that support? For example something that might interact with TrainingPeaks? Or has the way Garmin has set up the apps locked you out from being able to add something that substantial?

    • Yup, they absolutely could. I expect to see that.

    • casebase

      I’m new to the Garmin eco-system as I’m currently using Runkeeper and iSmoothRun on my iPhone. I’m looking to step up a gear with running now though. I’ve seen I can create an interval workout on garminconnect. Given your previous post would I be right in thinking that it will not be possible to upload this to the vivoactive?
      Amazing website by the way. Really appreciate it.

    • Frank

      Just double checking. Under Accessories > Fitness Sensors on the Garmin US website it only shows two HRMs and the Speed Sensor. No foot pod.

    • And you assume the Garmin.com site to be correct? ;)

      From the e-mail sent to me from product group, I just double checked, sensors supported natively are: “HRM, Speed, Cadence, VIRB remote, Tempe, Footpod”

    • Frank


      Looks like every sensor they have. Looking forward to your full reviews on both this and the f3 but I’m not sure why. I’m kind of finally getting comfortable with my Vivosmart fenix 2 combo.

  25. Tien

    A couple of questions on the Vivofit2.

    1.) How thick is it compared to Vivofit and Vivosmart (i.e. how far out does it measure from your wrist at it’s thickest)? 2.) Does it have vibration alarm to quietly wake me up in the morning (like Vivosmart)?

    I chose the Vivosmart because it’s sleeker and has illuminated screen & vibration alarm, but the smart notifications are not customizable enough for me… Vivofit2 may sufficiently fit the bill. Plus, I can change out the bands. I’m so worried about tearing my Vivosmart band.

    • Lew

      I believe the Garmin product page provides the dimensions and features, you may wish to look there. I don’t think the vivofit2 vibrates itself, just that it can trigger your phone to vibrate.

  26. andy from embsay

    Love the look of the Vivosmart watch – will it control a Virb? That and a HRM would be the complete package.

  27. Been looking at fitness bands for a while to compliment my 910XT and have been wondering about upgrading to 920XT but now this adds to the confusion. The Vivosmart certainly looks interesting, but is it as robust as the 910XT and does it do all that the 910XT does?

    Also, can it sync to Garmin Connect via ANT+ as well as syncing via Bluetooth Smart? I only have an iPhone 4 so the bluetooth aspect wouldn’t be supported, but if it’ll sync via ANT+ as my 910XT does then that’s fine… I need ANT+ for TrainerRoad compatibility as well.


  28. Matt B


    Couple Vivoactive questions:

    1) Any word on whether it can be charged while an activity is running? I know they specifically noted that on the Fenix 3, but that could be HUGE for this watch.

    2) Any word on 1sec recording and/or what GPS chipset it using (same/similar to 220/620?)?


  29. andy from embsay

    Sorry – meant does the Vivoactive (watch) control the Virb?

  30. Charles

    Any chance of Garmin releasing a quick release kit for the Vivoactive? That will really put the icing on the cake for cyclists.

    • wjc

      Along these same lines, is there anything to prevent someone using Connect IQ to develop an app that would basically make this a Garmin Edge 500 replacement?

    • No plans at this point for quick release kit.

      No issue at all with making an Edge 500 replacement app. Though, there are some inherent limitations that might cause problems at the more complex side of that. But realistically the Vivoactive basically sits somewhere between an Edge 200 and an Edge 500 already for non power meter users.

  31. andy from embsay

    Answered my own question: the Vivoactive can control your Virb. Looks like I’m selling my 920XT then…

  32. Midpackbiped

    Ray – what’s the comfort level of this thing while running? Not sure square vs rounded edges would feel great on a 50K. Opinion?

  33. Tomasz

    Can Vivoactive be used as the standalone device without Smarphone ?
    Do I need to have a smartphone to upload the activities ?

  34. Gunnar

    Just to be clear, regarding connect IQ and the vivoactive…..if there is an app developed say for a power meter and the Tempe sensor, you can not only display that data, but it will show up through the .FIT file as viewable data on Garmin Connect?

    • Yes, correct. Right now Connect IQ apps get a single ‘spare’ ANT+ channel to work with.

    • I’d just like to say that I’ve loved reading your blog over the years, but now I’m afraid you’re drinking way too much of Garmin’s kool-aid.

      I’ve been looking into this as I got given one as a gift recently, while I think it’s great I’m a little annoyed that it doesn’t support power meters. With a background in software development I decided to have a look at what’s involved.

      Problem is, you can write some custom code to pick up a power meter but you cannot write any of its data to a FIT file, therefore your statement ” but that with Connect IQ someone could relatively easily extend it to *record* power meter data too.” is incorrect as, if you cannot write the data to a fit file, then you are not recording.

      Further to this, you cannot plug the power data into the built in power fields, you have to create your own, and since there is not interface for configuring data fields, you cannot choose which power meter the fields derive from.

      But, you could write an app that shows power, which I guess would be OK but it means that you still need to have another device on hand to record your ride with power. Anyway that’s what I’m working on at the moment.

      I think the product has been segmented in a similar way to the Edge 200 – Garmin’s marketing team must have stepped in at some point and order the power meter functionality be disabled. The edge 200 vs 500 thing makes sense as they both have similar shape and function so you can pay a bit extra for ANT support but there is no equivalent to the vivoactive that supports power.

      Due to my location (australia) I cannot get in touch with anyone from Garmin who can give me a definitive answer on whether power will ever be supported in this watch. I can only hope it gets released in a further update.

      In my opinion Garmin are cutting out a whole segment of their market by dropping the feature. And Connect IQ does not live up to expectations in what it can do to fill in the gap.

    • I think you’re forgetting timelines a bit here.

      When I posted this the first week of January, Connect IQ apps weren’t actually available yet to the general public (not for some weeks later). As such, we didn’t really find out all the limitations that we’re seeing now.

      So stuff like lack of ability to record data to the FIT file, which as I’ve noted in random places since then is really a deal killer for Connect IQ. That also encompasses things like connecting to an ANT+ devices and writing that data to the .FIT file. Or, the fact that you can’t easily ‘extend’ existing apps – but have to re-write the whole thing.

      On power meters in Connect IQ, it’s one of the natively supported ANT+ types – so you can certainly write an app to connect to the power meters, you just run into the issues noted in the previous paragraphs.

      As for power meters in the Vivoactive – no, I certainly wouldn’t expect it. Garmin has never promised it. And ultimately there are many other Garmin devices that can connect to power meters that are likely a better fit for cyclists.

      If Connect IQ gets ‘fixed’ in the way they promised it’d work way back in September, then yes, it’d be totally possible for someone to write an app to record that data on teh Vivoactive.

    • Michael

      I use a Garmin Vivoactive as a normal watch and as my recording device for activities without a bike. I also use it for biking activities as a spare device since my well trusted Garmin Edge800 does the job as a guide, recording and pacing device when needed. But it would still be nice to use the Vivoactive as a backup device for biking activities with power data. Also if I did multisport activities such as Triathlon the Vivoactive would be an excelent device to record all my data since I can wear it all the time. I know there are more expensive “tri” devices but as an entry level device that does not look to big as a normal watch the Vivoactive will be hard to beat.

  35. LT

    Will the Vivoactive connect to a HRM in the lap swim mode? What is the minimum pool length?

    • No HR strap. Will populate min pool lengths tonight – just getting final verification there.

    • LT

      I have been having great success using a Vivosmart/Scosche Rhythm + to track heart rate in the pool. I have my 910xt on the other wrist to track laps and dynamics. I would like to find a way to combine the two in one device. I know the Suunto Ambit 3 offers heart rate in the pool, but obviously I am already committed to the Garmin family.

  36. Raynald

    Hi Ray,

    I own the Forerunner 620 and totally love it! Will the Vivoactive provide Running Dynamic informations like the FR620 does?

    Thank you!

  37. amadeus303

    Really like the features, but the aesthetic design leaves a lot to be desired… I own plenty of Garmin watches/devices because I value function over form, but man… it’d sure be nice to wear something that looks nice to boot too!

  38. Neil Rosser

    Ray you do have the product pics, but it would be nice to see the VivoActive shown on your (or someone’s) wrist, then perhaps also some comparison shots with other units also on wrists. Sorta like the comparison pics you usually do when you lay out similar devices across a log or all on their sides, etc…

    Just hard to get a true size perspective on how it would look on the arm. (seems kinda large, with the square corners as was mentioned above)…..

    • Bachoo

      Do a google image search. It shows up on a wrist shot.

    • Neil Rosser

      hmm yeah I did that, and man those square corners really makes it look fugly, to me. Would have given it some serious consideration otherwise….too bad Garmin can’t get the design aesthetics that Polar has recently been employing. Really like their new stuff.

    • Yeah, I’ll upload some of my wrist. I thought I had uploaded some, but apparently not.

  39. Mike Edwards

    Does the Vivoactive use FirstBeat for calorie calculations? (I can’t see it anywhere, but I believe the vivosmart/fit don’t)

  40. Greg

    Love the idea of the VivoActive. Makes so much sense. Finally a product that’s a little head of the game in practicality.

    So Ray…you get overwhelmed with all the gadgets you may have to review?!

  41. Travis Atkinson

    Ray, so with the Vivoactive is the watch mode always on or does it go black and activate with wrist movement. Also as far as the Vivofit 2, how is the backlight?

    • It’s activated with button press. I double-check if there’s something planned for auto light activation.

    • Travis Atkinson

      Okay thanks, it’s kind of a bummer but I’m used to it, coming from my MotoActv… still wish one of these devices would come with Music storage and playback support. Oh well, I’ll probably get it anyway. :-)

  42. Myria

    The Vivoactive seems like the closest competitor to the MotoActv there’s been, but still dreadfully short of what the MotoActv could do. Weird, years later and still nothing on the market tops the MotoActv? That’s just… sad.

    I continue to be puzzled that fitness device manufacturers have apparently never heard of gym rats. As a bodybuilder the MotoActv offered me a lot of data and functionality. The Vicoactive, on the other hand, doesn’t even seem to have a ‘general’ category like the FR70 I’m currently using does.

    Seems very weird to me that the lifter/gym rat market is being completely ignored (well, aside from depressing disasters like the Amiigo /sigh) when by and large we’re as rabid about metrics as any other sector of the fitness nut demographic.

  43. Neil V.

    Thanks so much for the write-up. Any insight as to whether this supports Livetrack (i.e., for family to track someone out on a ride) or if that could be added via connect IQ? Thanks again.

  44. Gunnar

    Ok, the more I read about the Vivoactive (and fenix3 and epix), the more I’m liking the vivoactive. With connect IQ, the Vivoactive should be able to eventually offer everything I need in a watch (the possible exception being multi sport mode). But I should be able to add power metrics and Tempe pod support (?).

    For the 1 or 2 triathlons I do a year, this watch should work: Stow it in the swim cap for the swim and manually start and stop, re-start as needed for the additional bike/run portions. A bit slower then a dedicated tri watch, but reasonable enough for a back of the pack age grouper.

  45. Casey Manion

    I would like a this watch with 4GB of storage and BT to headphone capabilities. I want to run with music – no wires. I use the Jaybird Bluebuds X (link to jaybirdsport.com) with Decibullz inserts (link to decibullz.com) – the headphones never fall out. So now I need a small ipod (which hasn’t been updated in 4 years) or watch. Some of the forums are saying the Apple Watch will have BT to headphone (no phone) capabilities; we’ll see.

  46. Dirk

    It is sad that the Motoactv still holds up against all activity smartwatches on the market. For instance, it supports offline maps which seems to be missing here.

  47. Dressel

    Great hands-on posts today.
    Small typo. In your comparison photo of the bands, the vivofit2 is in the middle instead of the original vivofit as it says above.

  48. Phil Q

    Hello! How about your thoughts on a quick comparison between the new Vivoactive and the FR220 and/or Polar M400? I’ve been trying to decide between the two and now this new product :-) Thanks!!!

    • Yeah, I’ll wait for the dust to settle this week and then tackle something.

    • Mike S

      Yes, I just noticed you haven’t reviewed the Sony Smartwatch. Any plans to do so? It would be a great comparison.

    • Phil

      Thanks Ray. Do you also think the Vivoactive is capable of monitoring HIIT training either by itself or 3rd party apps? I’d love to be able to use this in the gym for other workouts as well outside of run/bike/swim if possible.

    • Marek P

      yes, that was my request as well :) comparison between M400 and Vivo… :)
      as i’m wondering if it is worth to pay more for the auto swim (pool size/strokes that M400 misses) capabilities, or having less activity data as i understand in comparison to Polar

  49. rburbridge

    Vivoactive is compelling to me. I currently use the 310xt for running/cycling tracking. I also have an Approach S3 that I use for golfing. So anytime I can consolidate down devices and arguably gain features is a win. I’m curious for more details about the golfing aspect. The draw of the dedicated device like the Approach was that there was no reliance on a smartphone, it sounds like this device is a hybrid of perhaps pulling the hole/course info down and the GPS on the watch showing your location.

    Thanks for the info!

  50. Man, I got really excited when I saw this. This would be perfect except for one thing, why didn’t they include a HR sensor? I so wish garmin would. :(

    I had the fitbit surge for one day and returned it, felt it was limited as a smart watch and the band was impossible with long sleeves or with a coat on. The Peak was ok, but no cycling and very limited in activities. And the apple watch won’t track sleep and you can barely get it wet and have to charge it every night…to high maintenance. this was perfect :/

    This really sounded like a winner for me. :( why garmin, why did you not include a HR sensor. sad!

    • Matt B

      You can use a HR strap as well. I know it’s not as comfortable or “easy”, but it A) is significantly more accurate than optical HR; and B) results in much longer battery life (for the watch).

    • Correct and understand that. But being person born with a congenital heart defect, I do have more of an interest in continual HR. Also, I believe the HR helps give better sleep data. I had the Peak for a week and was very impressed with the sleep data of deep sleep, REM and light sleep with restlessness.

    • Because Garmin doesn’t believe that optical HR technology is accuracy enough for the sheer volume of units that Garmin ships. A Mio or TomTom can get away with a 1-5% person-not-working-on-optical failure rate. Garmin can’t.

    • Thanks Ray, that makes sense. So, in your opinion, will optical HR technology ever be accurate enough, or is the strap really the best way to go and I should make my decision based on other features and continue using the trap technology.

    • BobV190

      Understood. I still think it would make sense for all of these companies that are making fitness/smart watches to have both. Have an optical sensor for non-workout times, and allow connection to a chest strap for runs, rides, etc.

      I think there is a value in the 23/7 monitoring to gauge recovery, sleep, caloric expenditures, etc., but also agree that the optical technology is spotty at best during exercise, but having the option to pair a chest strap to the watch would take care of that.

    • James

      Completely agree. If this had optical HR I’d be all over it. If this had the ability to get real-time calorie burn, it could take over the market. It would be just about perfect. Garmin has fallen behind the times.

  51. Peter N

    I just got the 920XT and can still return it. I am trying to (quickly) determine if the vívoactive will work for me.

    I do maybe 2-3 triathlons per year, so multisport is not a deal breaking feature for me. Just to understand what “multisport” capable is: ability to track swim, bike, and then run without having to specifically start each activity. Basically, it sounds like with multisport capability, you get your T1 and T2 times and save a few button presses.

    Any other major differences between the vívoactive and 920XT?

  52. I would love to see a comparison chart with the vivoactive and 920xt myself.

    I would like to stay in the garmin ecosystem, for I have an Edge 1000 and the virb elite. I really wanted wrist HR on this.

    Right now, I am thinking this is the only option for me, since there isn’t one wrist HR device that has the rest of the features I need, daily tracking, sleep, multi sports and water proof. I can live without the GPS since I have the edge and the virb.

    any suggestions?

  53. Eric

    Somewhat off topic: any word on if Garmin will announce new/updated Virbs?

  54. David

    Do we know if the touch screen is resistive or capacitive?

  55. Rupert Hawkes

    I too would love to see a comparison chart with the vivoactive and 910 and 920.

    For example can the vivoactive capture elevation and route data to be plotted in garmin connect post run?

    Can the screen be customed to show say just DISTANCE and HR, then just DISTANCE, PACE and TIME OF DAY like the 910?


    • You can click on the link just below the chart and then make a comparison chart with the Vivoactive and FR920XT and FR910XT.

      You can customize the screens with that data just like the FR910XT.

  56. Doug

    I have a Garmin Edge 500 and use the HR belt. Will that work with the vivoactive?

  57. Devon Q

    My initial thought is that this product is for a more casual user, for instance someone who needs smart notifications, wants to track their daily activity, but also may train for a 5K/swim/cycle/golf a bit in their spare time. Obviously, we are a bit out from release and in-depth testing but it just seems to try and do too much at once for those that are trying to compare/replace with a Forerunner which has custom workouts plans, running dynamics, etc.

  58. Shaun

    How do you download apps/watch faces and other things to the 920xt from Connect IQ?

  59. Nicholas

    First the Vivoactive looks pretty great unless you remember how well most touchscreen work with sweaty hands. I saw multiple tap attempts and slow responses within the video above. I suspect Garmin might add some more value to the 220 by finally releasing cycling for it. Then you have a choice of buttons and deeper training options or more sports but less details on them between the two.

    I really wonder how Garmin is going to tread the line properly here with regard to differentiation of products, obviously in part to get more money but also with regard to expectations. There are already dozens of people here speculating an app will provide what Garmin won’t in terms of watch functionality. Obviously Garmin is choosing not to add some functionality because otherwise people won’t want to buy more expensive watches. It seems like a tightrope and I wonder how well they will walk it. What will happen if a third-party wants to introduce and app that gives recovery, their variation on running dynamics, etc.? Will Garmin deny the app access to their watches? Interesting times ahead.

    • Peter N


      I watched the video. It looks like there is a physical button to start and stop the activity. And the other button is used for back screen illumination. Does that mean that the pause or rest feature (if supported) will be one of the soft keys on the touch screen. I frequently use the “back” button on the 920XT to initiate a rest and then resume during swimming workouts, when my fingers and the screen are wet.

      Any speculation on how pausing will work with the vivoactive? Did you test that functionality out?


    • Lew

      Peter – this is why people want to know if the touchscreen is capacitive (like a phone) or resistive (like the Garmin 610). Resistive touchscreens don’t care about water and work the same whether wet or dry.

  60. Sarah

    It is so interesting that I have been researching watches that track multiple sports and I thought I decided on one today (Forerunner 920xt) and then I get an email from Garmin about Vivoactive. Now what do I do?. I am mainly concern about the swimming function, the 920, you can do indoor and outdoor swims, you can also do customized pool lengths, is this something that is available on the Vivoactive?

  61. Raul Freitas

    Ray, congrats on a great start for this CES coverage…
    Typo: at the end of another post I guess you wanted to refer to drain the battery instead of train the battery… (too much training in your mind, I guess)
    As for Garmin, all I’m waiting is a new better entry level cycling computer to replace the ancient 500 and/or a better screen/true upgrade (I.e. new product) to replace the 510. I feel I’m not alone in this need… They are begging to have some competitor disrupt this market that is currently theirs…
    Now I’m sure it’s not coming soon…

  62. Jose

    Hi Ray, how do you find this against the polar v800? I know that the vivoactive lacks many functions, is it to bad the swimming on this one?

  63. Mark C

    Sold! I love the watch, one slight problem though. The wife! I just picked up the fr15 which I love. Now I have to sell her on a new watch. Hmmm I see a storm coming.

  64. Rob Montgomery

    On the Vivoactive, does the walk icon on the main screen mean Garmin FINALLY added walking as an activity you can choose and have it correctly map automatically as a walking activity on GC? Or does that walking icon simply take you to your step stats for the day?

    I’m so tired of having my walks map to GC as runs or “other” then having GC sync with all my sites and having to go to each one to edit the activity type. I just wish Garmin would make walking a “built-in” option like running, cycling, and swimming, especially on the more “casual” watches such as this one.

    • Bryan Kirk

      I second that Rob! I do a mix of running, run/walk, and speedwalking. A dedicated “walk” activity would be so nice. Like you, I have been used for years to do the “edits” post download in GC and then on Strava.

  65. Megazine

    I’m surprised nobody asked this. Does this watch constantly stay on to show time? Or do we have to touch screen to show time. This would be a deal breaker for me.

  66. mfthriller

    What about athlete tracking while out on training run/ride/swim??

  67. Bibo

    The vivoactive looks similar to the Sony SWR3 but with usefull software on it. If it supports footpod and gps is no crap i will buy one.

  68. ESF

    What do you think about this watch compared to the Suunto Ambit 2S? Do you think that the Garmin will have a big advantage with future apps?

  69. Rupert Hawkes

    Hi Ray, thanks for replying. Does it capture elevation and route data so you can plot that in connect like the 910? It does seem like it could be a good replacement for the 910 and vivofit for me I as I don’t multi sports and don’t need the more complex training aspects of the 910.

    Its a shame Garmin haven’t listed the data fields or a manual yet.

  70. Nico

    I currently swim with a pool mate pro. What I love is the vibration alert each 200m (or 8 pool lengths – number adjustable).
    1. Is such vibration possible on vivoactive?
    2. The “drill” mode seems indeed interesting and should be easy to implement.
    3. By the way, Garmin should really focus on editing swims on GC. Painful!
    The watch is worth a try but these 3 items are an absolute requirement.

  71. Clint

    Do any of these new smart watch/activity monitors support bluetooth HRM? They all seem to support sync over bluetooth but I haven’t noticed any that support BTLE sensors.

  72. Ray – as always, such a great intro to these new products. One minor typo I spotted in the last paragraph. You say your time with the vivosmart was limited, but I think you mean vivoactive.

    I think they should have named them the other way around. smart for smart watch and active for their advanced fitness band.

  73. Hi,

    Does anyone know if this has all the running features of a 310XT such as virtual pacer, custom workouts etc?


    • rupert

      It has virtual partner but not custom workouts according to the Garmin comparison thingy…

    • Matt B

      The Garmin comparison thing is not 100% accurate (from what I’ve seen). Often times they rename/rebrand a specific attribute and it doesn’t get crossed correctly.

  74. Amanda

    I know this maybe way early to ask and way ahead of the game but any idea on when you’ll have a full review. I know it just came out, so i don’t expect it soon and i don’t know if you already answered this question. Oh and I know this may not be a big factor for everyone else, but being a petite women I was wondering if you could post some picture of the girl wearing it. I know this isn’t always a huge concern but it helps sometimes.

  75. Luke

    Ray, do you know if it possible to write a Connect IQ app to use a garmin watch (920 or VA, most likely) to capture running info (cadence, vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc) from a non garmin HRM. I really like the looks of the new Wahoo HRM and am very tempted to buy it for post-run strength workouts/guidance. However, I don’t want to sacrifice the running dynamics of the garmin HRM (which I actually use).

  76. Nicholas

    Ray has anyone asked Garmin directly for comment on ConnectIQ apps that provide a deeper functionality than their native apps provide on the watch? People are commenting about the possibility of a triathlon app or a running app with their variation of running dynamics. If an app includes a functionality Garmin has reserved for more expensive watches, will Garmin allow it in the store and onto the watches?

    • Yes, Garmin has no issues with that and fully expects folks do to that. I talked to them about the power meter scenario yesterday in fact, whereby they expect someone to develop power meter support for Vivoactive, despite it not being there in the base unit.

  77. SaltyDub

    Thank, Ray, for preview. Looking fwd to full writeup.
    I think the Vivoactive may just be the ticket for people like me. I do 1-2 tri’s a year, 5-6 activities per week including swims/runs/cycling, and want daily activty tracking (sleep too). I am not so serious about my training that I need tri mode, advanced intervals, power meter capability, more detailed metrics, etc. I now have Tomtom Multisport (non cardio) and am content with it but it’s missing daily activity.

  78. Sean Murray

    Ray, as others have mentioned, I’m curious to know whether the screen is capacitive or resistive. Also, on a related note, I’d like to know what the screen is made out of. Specifically whether it’s glass or plastic.

  79. Matt Longacre

    Thanks for keeping us so updated!

    When should we expect to see an in-depth review of the Surge? I care about heart rate, but don’t need it to be perfect (just close for good approximation). I wanted to see your view on how effective all its functions were.

  80. Andy


    Will the vivoactive have support for livetrack?

  81. wilderaz

    Will Clever Training offer a 10% discount on the Vivoactive?

  82. Melissa

    Any idea what pool lengths the VivoActive covers? One of the lanes at my nearby pool is 20 yards. I know the 910 didn’t go this low, so I was waiting to buy the 920 — wondering now if I can just go with the VivoActive instead (I have an old 310 that I can use for triathlons and a 610 I use specifically for running).

  83. Srinivas

    I know 3 week battery life is with GPS turned off. So does that mean it has 3 week battery life with bluetooth and notifications turned ON?

    Ray could you please confirm. Thanks in advance.

  84. Alex Casings

    I was planning to upgrade my Cateye to an Edge 510 soon, with expectations to add an Apple Watch in the Spring.
    Any early opinion on whether the Vivoactive would be a good 2 for 1?
    New rider, so power meter isn’t on my immediate to have lists.
    Of course spending $250 vs combined $700+ is a win.

  85. JD

    Ray, I see that the VivoActiv supports GLONASS (link to buy.garmin.com). Given that, do you feel that the GPS accuracy on the activ might outstrip the 220/620 since they do not support it? I’ve heard that the 920XT that supports GLONASS seems to do better in challenging conditions than the 220 and 620 do.


  86. Andrew

    I’d like to see a watch that displays real-time elevation gained – as many of my workouts are based upon an elevation goal rather than a time/distance.

    Will this watch be capable? Or does any wearable you know of provide this?

    I really like the low profile wearability of this watch, it may actually fit the bill. Something nothing else has offered yet for my outdoor activities.

    • Andrew

      Bump! Any thoughts on Elevation Tracking with this watch?
      Thx in advance!

    • hollie

      Bump. does the vivoactive have ELEVATION capabilities? it would be absurd to have a watch of this caliber missing such an important function. I would buy one right now if there is indeed an elevation function.

      also, Can music be added to the watch?

  87. SurlyWill

    I’m curious if the VivoActive works with Livetrack.

  88. Greg

    Hey Ray,

    I apologize if this isn’t a good question…with Connect IQ apps can they operate only on watch. I’m thinking there is no other way to get info unless connected to phone. The accuweather app looks to require a phone connection. Just curious how independent the watch can be.

    • Totally depends on the app. Some require the phone, and others are free-form with no phone required/used. The Accuweather for example will cache some data so if the phone isn’t there, it still opens.

  89. Gary

    I’m feeling a little annoyed with Garmin. Have bought a FR15 and Swim in the last 6 months. Vivoctive would do both plus a fair bit more that I use for them for.


  90. Tom

    I see that the only major difference between the Vivoactive and FR220’s running features is the lack of structured workouts. Do you think that this is a feature that Garmin could easily add with a later software update? If so, is that something they would do?

  91. P Wood

    Am I correct that the Vivoactive does not support Bluetooth HRMs such as the Polar HR7?

  92. Andy d

    How do you take a lap using only two hard buttons, given that the left one is for the light?

  93. Tim

    I couldn’t agree more about wishing this was a more full-on replacement for the trusty Garmin Swim!

    I love the size of the Swim, no need to charge the device, and the usability (drill logging and rest timer included). The one miss is the BT activity transfer…

    If the vivoactive included all of the swim metrics / modes… and potentially had a multi-week battery life (without using GPS) I’d buy one to replace the Swim.

    For now I’ll continue rocking the Garmin Swim… even my 920 hasn’t fully replaced it merely due to size and cost (I’m always worried I’ll destroy my screen on a lane rope)

  94. massysett

    I’m not at all interested in buying this. It needs more hardware buttons; I still have the Garmin with the touch bezel and that thing is a disaster. The screen looks washed out in bright sun. It looks too complicated to futz with while running.

    But I’m glad it’s coming out because it’s only $249. Hopefully this will induce them to cut the price on the more boring devices with hardware buttons and simple LCD screens.

  95. Douglas

    Will I be able to use my Suunto Dual HRM belt & Suunto Footpod Mini with the Vivoactive?

  96. Ray, do you see this as a potentially viable multisport watch? I currently have a 910XT, which is great, but I’m doing duathlon now (no more tri, dropping swimming), and I like the idea of the new tech without the $500 price tag. I don’t care about transition times, so I don’t need a true multisport mode like the others have. Thoughts?

    • Peter N


      Take a look at Ray’s reply #145. Since the Vivoactive does not have an Open Water swim mode (not sure why other than Garmin does not want this product to compete with the 920xt and fenix line), this would make it a good candidate for duathlon. The only issue I see, and other posts have questioned, is what type of touch screen does it use. If it uses capacitive (not good with wet fingers or in water) then it could be problematic if stop and start activities while you are sweaty. The other type of screen is resistive, which is used on other Garmin products (e.g. 610).


    • Peter, thanks for the clarification! Not a big fan of touch screens on fitness devices…I’ll be curious to hear Ray’s full review.

  97. Byron rieer

    VivoActive questions regarding golf

    1) Does it do shot tracking similar to the S6 or G8… that is hit the ball, press the start icon, go to ball, press the stop button and pick a club. Club and distance hits by hole are thus recorded.
    2) Does the scorekeeping get uploaded to Garmin Connect as it does with the S6 or G8. What about club tracking?
    3) Do I have to download a course EVERY time I play a course. If I download a course today and play it again tomorrow do I have to download the course again?

    • rburbridge

      I’ve been researching the same thing. With the built in app we will be limited to distance and tracking the score (how many shots on each hole). There could conceivably be an app that adds the other functionality. I looked at the developer kit because adding more detailed score tracking (putts, fairway, etc.) would be useful and I assumed easy. The way it stands today each app is independent. So I couldn’t just add to the built in golf app to add this functionality, you would need to replace the built in app functionality and add to it, so not a trivial task.

  98. Jim M

    Hi Ray, do you know when you might have a review on the Epson Runsense SF-810? You said you would have a review on this product line in December but I did a search on your website and could not find it. Today on Mashable gave some positive comments about the watches, and on BusinessWire according to Epson:

    “Long battery life (20 hours for SF-810 with GPS and HR sensors on) 30 hours for SF-710 and SF-510 with GPS on) ”

    This is exactly the watch I have been looking for, long battery life, GPS, and optical HR all in one watch. Not sure if it supports touchscreen or not. I prefer a touchscreen watch (I currently am using a Garmin 620). Sorry in advance I am not trying to go off topic here.


  99. Tony Gonzalez

    Hello Ray,
    Does the vivoActive support Ant+ body composition scales (Tanita BC-1000 plus)? Then sync measurements to Garmin Connect via Bluetooth Smart?

    • Not natively, but I expect to see it via Connect IQ.

    • Tony Gonzalez

      Thanks Ray! Seems like Connect IQ will be able to open many doors of functionality. Very exciting!
      Great work as always =)

    • Andrew Chalkley

      Hi all…..any news or ETA of any software to integrate Vivoactive to BC1000 scales yet?

      Just bought a VA thinking it would link to scales….any scales and record weights but just setting up and it cannot see BC1000.

      Is this functionality available now? Is it likely to be anytime soon? Or is there any other scales that could be purchased that would work with the VA?

      VA looks good but this lack of functionality seems suprising. Thanks in advance

  100. Mark

    Thanks for your reviews, they’ve been really helpful when sorting out my watches

    One thing you didn’t show on here, which you have done on all the Forerunners I’ve looked at, is the method of charging the vivoactive. Does it have the usual Garmin clip with pins?

    Was your three weeks of battery from what you observed, or just Garmin’s text (because I noticed on your Forerunner 920XT review that you apparently got drastically different life).

    I’m currently on a Forerunner 10, but am taking part in my first triathlon, so was looking to upgrade to a watch that supports all three events (plus, I’m a software dev, so I’m into the ConnectIQ option)


  101. Michael

    Hi, I would like to know, if vibration alert to get up in the morning without disturbing my wife?

    • Peter N

      On the FR920xt, the alarm status was “on” or “off”. There was no way to independently set vibration or beeping. There was only one alarm and you could only set the time. My Timex IM watch has more alarms with better options (e.g. day, weed day, weed ends, etc.).

      But perhaps someone would create an ConnectIQ app that had a more programmable alarm.

    • Michael

      Thanks for clarification Peter!

    • John

      On the fenix2, you have a huge range of alarm options, including just vibrate. I like it because it is a nice way to wake up, and doesn’t wake wife/kids. I’d say the new garmins would have same thing.

  102. Andy from Embsay

    Ray – I see Clever Training have the Vivoactive available for pre-order – I assume they will ship to the UK, but what’s the implications for warranty and support? I’m really keen to get my hands on one, and even if I end up paying VAT/duty etc the price may be lower than the UK, so if it gets me one sooner then I may order one from there – but I wouldn’t want to be without support.

  103. Christopher

    Nice looking watch – It is a shame for the lack of programmed workouts.

    Can this device record R-R/HRV in the fit file like the Forerunners?


  104. Rudy

    This might just make for a perfect replacement for my *sunken* Garmin Swim watch :-/

  105. Frank

    Garmin need to make 2014’s products—and Garmin Connect—work as specified and advertised. If it cannot do that, this new wave of products don’t have a prayer. Eventually, the Emperor of Kansas is going to be busted for public nudity.

  106. Perizene

    I took a quick look at the <a href="link to developer.garmin.com; title="Connect IQ SDK documentation" and something worries me regarding power meters and the “spare” ANT+ channel:
    “The ANT Generic interface is not available to watch faces, widgets or data fields.

    At first glance my understanding of this is that only “background” apps will have access to the power meter. They will be able to receive it and write it to the .fit file, but if the interface is not available to data fields does that mean that we will not have on-screen power info, even with 3rd-party apps?

  107. Matt E


    Will the VivoActive act like BT hub sending realtime HR data to iOS apps like iSmoothRun (since the HR is ANT+)?

  108. Matt E


    Will the VivoActive act like BT hub sending realtime HR data to iOS apps like iSmoothRun (since the HR is ANT+) ?

  109. Frank

    Garmin Connect—the shared platform for all of these marvelous new fitness devices—is, at best, half functional this morning and is still asking for our patience in a box at the top of the screen. A box that has been there for several days now.

    Is anyone embarrassed?


  110. wilderaz

    Some reviewers have noted the Vivoactive’s display quality and responsiveness are marginal. What was your impression and might this change with release of the final software?

    • The display quality didn’t seem a problem at all to me, on par with most other smart watches.

      The responsiveness was mixed, but they also told me that they’re still working on it. I saw it improve a fair bit since I initially tested a unit a month ago, and now. So, add in another 45-60 days and it’ll probably be solid.

  111. Geoffrey

    I wear the FR620 day-to-day, now want to use an activity tracker displaying the time, so that my FR620 is used only to run.

    My questions:
    1. Does Vivofit or Vivosmart show the time of the day?
    2. How do you mix usage of something like the Vivoactive with an FR620 on a day to day basis?
    I can wear something like a Vivosmart or Vivofit all day and then wear the FR620 to run, but I won’t wear both the Vivoactive be the 620 when I run…

  112. Geoffrey

    I wear the FR620 day-to-day, now want to use an activity tracker displaying the time, so that my FR620 is used only to run.

    My questions:
    1. Does Vivofit or Vivosmart show the time of the day?
    2. How do you mix usage of something like the Vivoactive with an FR620 on a day to day basis?
    I can wear something like a Vivosmart or Vivofit all day and then wear the FR620 to run, but I won’t wear both the Vivoactive be the 620 when I run…

  113. Geoffrey

    1. Does Vivofit or Vivosmart show the time of the day?
    2. How do you mix usage of something like the Vivoactive with an FR620 on a day to day basis?
    I can wear something like a Vivosmart or Vivofit all day and then wear the FR620 to run, but I won’t wear both the Vivoactive be the 620 when I run…

    • Andy from Embsay

      Why would you not run with the Vivoactive? That’s the whole attraction for me – because it has GPS i can wear it every day, get notifications etc and also use it for running. I don’t need to plan workouts etc, as I generally “just run” or use a track for reps etc.

      Still not sure whether i want a Fenix3 instead of as or as well as a Vivoactive!

  114. Robert

    Hey, so just some quick questions.
    Can it handle cycling with the GPS. Will it link up if I have a cadence device on my bike as well as using a heart rate strap?
    Sorry, last question at the moment, any idea as to if it will support activities such as stationary spinning, or other actives like treadmill running, or any indoor exercises like yoga, or weight lifting?

    • Andy

      Yes the watch will connect to ANT+ speed and cadence sensors as well as ANT+ HR monitors.

      With the foot pod it should handle treadmill with no problem.

  115. Siimon

    Vivoactive seem a great watch. If it would have also SIM card it would be excellent. Is there any hope in the closer future to see smartwatch with SIM card in it? It’s annoying to carry phone during all workouts, but for security reasons would be good to have phone with.

    • Andy from Embsay

      You don’t have to carry a phone with the Vivoactive as it has a GPS chip – or do you mean for messages etc?

    • Siimon

      Yes, I mean for calling, to keep in touch with family e.g. I know there are some very bulky watches with SIM card, but they aren’t sport watches. Would be nice to have sportsmartwatch with SIM card.

  116. Jim

    It’s interesting that with the FR15, Garmin put it in the “running” sub forum on link to forums.garmin.com, and I think people didn’t really know that it did the 24×7 activity tracking. And though the vivoactive was just announced, it’s a sub-forum under “Health and Fitness”. It’s almost like the FR15 was kind of a test for a fitness tracker with GPS.

  117. Craig

    Interested in getting a GPS watch, primarily for running so I can leave my phone behind, and had it narrowed down to the M400 until I saw this. I like the dimensions. It looks like I’d be able to wear it more easily during the day under a long sleeve cuff.

    My main concern is the screen lag. From your video it appears as if it is not very responsive.

    Looking forward to your full review so I can get a better comparison to the M400. Do you have an ETA on when it will be posted?

    • For the Vivoactive it’ll be about 3-4 weeks after I have a final hardware unit with final software. Maybe a touch less. To set expectations, it’s sounding like Vivoactive will be closer to the end of Q1 than the beginning (whereas the F3 is sooner rather than later).

      I wouldn’t over-think the screen responsiveness of the Vivoactive yet – wait until the software is finalized. They’ve done a good amount of work for example in the last 3-4 weeks.

  118. Harish Lakshman

    Ray – As always, love your reviews. Just ordered the Vivofit 2 on Clever Training. And am loving my 920xt thanks to you!

  119. Andrew

    (Sorry for multiple posts, I’m really hoping for replies)
    I’m looking for thoughts about elevation accuracy/tracking with this device.
    With ‘app’ developing would this watch potentially display real time elevation gained, or would the lack of barometric to pressure sensor make it much more difficult?
    I’m looking for that wearable ‘outdoorsy workouts’ (hike, Mtn bike, trl run, BC snowshoe/Ski) watch I can wear daily. The fenix/ambit are just too clunky still for my average size…

  120. Greg

    Just for clarification, does the display remain on during normal daily use such as displaying the time and tracking steps or does it go completely black? Is the back light button used just to see the display in low light conditions? I hope it is always on so that I do not have to press a button just to see the time. It seems like it would be but I just want to be sure!

  121. Scott

    Enjoyed the article and video. Quick question, if you are running and you want a split on an interval that is not your auto lap, is the back light button also the split button? It only looked like there was the start/stop button and the back light button. Thanks

  122. LGreen

    Ray, Any chance you have info on the minimum pool length for the Vivoactive (or Fenix 3 for that matter)? I would love to get a swim tracking watch like the Vivoactive but not until there’s one made that will also track shorter pools!!! I have a basic 20ft x 40ft backyard pool. While I swim at a local school’s indoor 25y pool in the offseason, I swim a lot in my backyard pool in the summer – it’s great for quick 1/2 mile swims. Thanks.

  123. seth frankel

    Just want to confirm- it seems Vivoactive does NOT support Open Water swim tracking. Is that correct?

    • Greg


      That is my understanding. I wonder if Open Water swim tracking can be added at some point….

    • seth frankel

      Not sure. As has been suggested before it seems if someone is willing to develop something for IQ, it may be possible. Separate discussion, but always though the Tom Tom Multisport would be a nice option if it would also include Open Water swim.

    • That’s correct, it’s NOT supported. Someone might be able to write an App for it, but it would be very difficult without having the exact GPS accuracy information, as Connect IQ only provides a bad/ok/good type GPS accuracy information system right now.

  124. Flo

    Does it measure the cadans while you are running? To have the speed indoor or when you are running on a treadmill. Love this on the Forerunner 220!


  125. Mark

    Thanks for the review Ray! I was wondering if the vivoactive can do manual splits like the forerunner series watches. I only see two buttons and most watches that do manual splitting have three.

    • Jim

      Actually, it would be really nice if at some point there was a chart of the “running” functionality of the vivoactive vs a FR220 and FR15. It might be too early to do this, as I imagine things are still in a state of flux.

      mark, it could be that with the vivoactive having a touch screen, some of the “button functions” on FRs could be “swipes” on the display (such as forward and back on screens)

    • Yes, manual laps are still there.

      I’ve got a gallery to post here shortly, but, you can use the comparison charts right now for the Vivoactive vs any other Garmin (see sidebar for comparison link) to show you all of the running features.

  126. Jim

    Non sport or activity tracking suggestion that maybe Ray can pass on to Garmin! With the vivoactive, it’s meant to be worn as a watch all day. And most watches have an alarm (maybe more than one). But they also have the option to make that alarm something like “once”,”monday thru friday”, or “every day”.

    For example, the FR15 has an alarm, but it’s only “once”, so you need to turn it back on every day, if it’s an “every day” type alarm. That’s one thing I like about the Polar M400 over the FR15 – with polar, you can set the alarm to repeat.

    Again, not sports related, but something that could make this a bit more “user friendly” when it’s used as a watch.

  127. I’m interested in the vivoactive for three main reasons:
    1. it automatically changes time when entering a new time zone. I travel a lot and I will love his feature. The Polar M400 didn’t have this feature
    2. The pedometer shows the distance traveled (miles) along with the steps. The Polar M400 only updated the distance later on.
    3. Great battery life. I would not want a smartwatch that only lasted 1-3 days. Too much of a hassle.
    And then, the smartwatch notifications are an added benefit as well (Polar M400 and most others don’t include this).
    Question: Does anyone know of a sport/smartwatch that does or will do the above three better than vivoactive?

    • 1) Yes, it has a setting to do this automatically based on your phone.
      2) Yes, it shows distance as an option (all Garmin devices do with the activity tracker option)
      3) Too early to tell to be honest.
      4) As for your last question, the Garmin FR920XT does this today without any issue, it just doesn’t have as pretty a screen as the Vivoactive.

    • Thanks for your comments. They say the vivoactive battery lasts three weeks. Have you found that to be untrue? (or perhaps you just haven’t had the time to fully test the battery yet). Also, could you send me the comparison chart link. I couldn’t find it on the sidebar. Thanks, Joel

    • Yeah, it’s too early for the battery testing (both hardware and software).

  128. Angie Jacin

    Does anyone know the size dimensions of the face and sizing info for the band? I have an extremely tiny wrist.

  129. Angie Jacin

    Can I use my polar heart rate strap with the vivoactive?

  130. SurlyWill

    Needs a kayak (paddle) sports mode.

  131. Greg

    Hi Ray! Can you please tell me if the display of the Vivoactive stays on during daily activity tracking and watch use or does it go completely black? I would assume that it stays on but I just want to be sure. It would be a pain to activate it just to see the time.

    Thanks for all of the comprehensive reviews!

  132. Bill

    I have a edge 500, wish it had The wireless upload ability of the 510. The vivoactive would seem to get me that for less then the cost of 510 plus a smart watch.. So what’s the catch? Has to be missing something major. I don’t see a barometric altimeter listed anywhere in the specs? What happens when I upload to starva or garmin connect? Is the elevation flat? Or nonexistent?

    • Ger

      Has it multisport capabilities at all or could it be adapted to be used for Tri? I don’t need all the stuff on the Felix or 920 and have an 800 for the bike this seems like a good option

    • No barometric altimeter. When you upload to Strava or GC you’ll get GPS-based altitude, which is generally OK, but not perfect. However, those sites also will override the altitude with even better satellite based ‘known’ altitudes.

      For multisport, no, it does not at this time. Someone could write an app there however.

  133. Tine

    Thank you for the extended article.
    You made me by my first garmin 910xt and now i m interested in the vivoactive.

    A few questions i’m not quite sure about:

    – Can the vivoactive do autopauses in swimming mode?
    – Does the vivoactive needs gps while it is counting steps?

    Thank you for your answer

  134. Bill

    Will the vivoactive support more then one bike profile? Would hope at least 3?

  135. Jared

    Long time lurker of the site posting for the first time here!

    Since it seems you’re the only lucky fella with the Vivofit 2 I was wondering if you could tell me if there is a setting to keep the backlight on indefinitely. Or, as I think someone else in the comments asked, if there is an auto-on function for when the wrist is rotated.

    I ask because the spin classes I take are in near total dark. I’ve been hunting high and low for a device that connects to my Scosche Rhythm+ that can provide me with my HR value as my workout progresses. The only thing out there are the higher end GPS watches with “always on” options for their backlights.

  136. Hi, I’ve got a question for you. I’m a Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instrucotr. Mainly using Tabata Interval Training. A Very high intensity interval training. So I need a very accurate heart rate monitor. I’ve had a Polar FT7 , FT4 and the Bluetooth only strap ( I don’t remember Polar’s name for it). I also have a Body Media Link Armband. So I do like the idea of tracking all my daily activity and sleep. Calories burned during my workouts,and everything that entails with accuracy is probably my highest priority. Second priorty would be being able to pause the music from my watch (via bluetooth on my phone) during my classes. Third would be GPS tracking when biking with my family. I would also love the capability to track my strength workouts. So the Wahoo chest strap interests me as well.
    Given this information what device or combination of devices is most accurate and suited to getting me the data I am looking for?

    Thank you very much for your time! I really have enjoyed looking through your reviews!

  137. Hi, I’ve got a question for you. I’m a Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instrucotr. Mainly using Tabata Interval Training. A Very high intensity interval training. So I need a very accurate heart rate monitor. I’ve had a Polar FT7 , FT4 and the Bluetooth only strap ( I don’t remember Polar’s name for it). I also have a Body Media Link Armband. So I do like the idea of tracking all my daily activity and sleep. Calories burned during my workouts,and everything that entails with accuracy is probably my highest priority. Second priorty would be being able to pause the music from my watch (via bluetooth on my phone) during my classes. Third would be GPS tracking when biking with my family. I would also love the capability to track my strength workouts. So the Wahoo chest strap interests me as well.
    Given this information what device or combination of devices is most accurate and suited to getting me the data I am looking for?
    Thank you very much for your time! I really have enjoyed looking through your reviews!

    • Given all those things, I’d say that the Vivo series is the best bet right now as far as a one-size fits all device. I’d probably look at the Vivoactive specifically.

    • Thank you! That’s kind of what I was thinking but I need to get it with the HR strap correct? The HR strap I have currently is a Polar and if I remember correctly you said it wasn’t compatible. Aslo would the Wahoo strap be of any benefit at all? Or really only useful during lifting sessions if I want to record my reps?

      I really appreciate your help. I understand you are a Triathlete and what I do doesn’t exactly align with those areas but your reviews are very thorough.

    • Thank you! That’s kind of what I was thinking but I need to get it with the HR strap correct? The HR strap I have currently is a Polar and if I remember correctly you said it wasn’t compatible. Aslo would the Wahoo strap be of any benefit at all? Or really only useful during lifting sessions if I want to record my reps?
      I really appreciate your help. I understand you are a Triathlete and what I do doesn’t exactly align with those areas but your reviews are very thorough.

    • Thank you! That’s kind of what I was thinking but I need to get it with the HR strap correct? The HR strap I have currently is a Polar and if I remember correctly you said it wasn’t compatible. Aslo would the Wahoo strap be of any benefit at all? Or really only useful during lifting sessions if I want to record my reps? I really appreciate your help. I understand you are a Triathlete and what I do doesn’t exactly align with those areas but your reviews are very thorough.

    • Edgar

      I will look at the Polar F80, that coil certainly fit your needs.


  138. Kom

    I have the V800 for biking and some running. How is the vivoactive comparable to it?


    • Trevor

      I was fighting over the same decision just last week. Look forward to Ray’s reply.

      I went with v800 when amazon had it on for $300US over the weekend. I could have easily went with the vivoactive though.

    • It’s really an entirely different beast (both of them are). If you’re a triathlete, then the V800 might be better – since there’s no multisport mode on the Vivoactive.

      However, if you don’t do all three sports at once, then the Vivoactive would make more sense and it’s generally quite a bit more capable.

    • Kom

      Based on what I read, I’ll swap my V800 for this puppy. Looks more suited for what I really need…

      Thanks for the review Ray!

  139. Matt Collins

    Does the vívoactive come with a band or is it extra. Thanks.

  140. Ken

    Has anyone used this for tracking indoor activities that are not associated with a treadmill. example fitness classes, basketball, or weight lifting. I am looking at combining one product to track heart rate fitness info when I am in the Gym and the traditional Garmin running/biking outdoor fitness activities.


  141. Humphrey

    When are you planning on reviewing this?

  142. Hey Ray, I’ve been testing the FitBit Surge HR and am actually pretty surprised at the data quality. As you know, it has multiple sport modes built-in including things called: workout, weights, hike, elliptical, spinning, yoga, and run. Oddly it’s missing cycling. But the smart thing about that is that it has those indoor modes such as weights and the indoor/outdoor modes such as workout.

    It seems to me that Garmin missed an obvious sport setting in the VivoActive for “workout” (i.e. strength training as opposed to run, cycle, swim, hike, or…golf). Seems like sort of a no-brainer sport mode that should be there but isn’t. Probably a vestige of where Garmin is coming from, where as the activity trackers are coming from the run/walk/workout world.

    Is that something you think is patchable with a ConnectIQ app? Or think Garmin will clue in to the fact that it’s missing?

    • Wendy

      Troy – I too have the Surge, and am impressed. I am torn with whether I want to trade this in for the VivoActive or not… I think I will miss the optical HR, and I also like the weights, etc. My question with the VivoActive is regarding sleep monitoring. Will the Active’s sleep monitoring be more like it was when I had the VivoSmart? One day a device will do all we want and more, and for less than $300… but until then, Im just enjoying trying them all out! :)

  143. David

    I’m unfamiliar with Garmin calorie calculation issues. Can someone enlighten me? I’m in the market for a new device and have been primarily a Polar guy forever.

  144. Frank

    Every device seems to do it differently. My edge is way high. My fenix 2 is a little low. My Vivofit and Vivosmart have been around 33% too low. But hey, its all just a guess anyway.

  145. Chris

    Ray, awesome write up – as always! Was wondering: you mentioned swim metrics, but what about stroke identification? Garmin’s chart seems to suggest it has everything but that. I ask because when swimming, I don’t just use a crawl – i tend to mix it up some – and there actually is a decent calorie expenditure difference between strokes (I also like to compare how fast i was at X distance at X stroke across different points in time). Also, my wife and I will be in Paris in early March – will definitely stop by the cupcakery one day and hope to get a chance to say hello!

  146. Chris

    One more quick question: in looking at the feature comparison charts on Garmin’s website, I noticed that every watch I compared to was listed as having a “high sensitivity receiver,” though this was not listed for the Vivoactive. I see that the Vivoactive has GLONASS, but what might the lack of this “high sensitivity” reciever mean? Might this cause difficulty with trail runs?

  147. Andrew G

    I am very excited about this watch. Sorry if I missed it but have they discussed plans for third party apps like Spotify? All of my music runs through Spotify so the ability to work with that app would be huge.

  148. Elmo

    I’m a 15 year old. I want a sports fitness watch for cycling running and swimming.. Could you please recommend the best watch to suite my needs. Thanks heaps

  149. Tb

    Does the hrm support cadence for running like the 920 xt? Thanks

  150. Kartik

    Hi Ray,
    Hello from Melbourne, Australia. Long-time reader of your blog and a big fan. I play tennis (recreationally) and focus on HIIT, cycling with a view to improving my performance on the tennis court. I have a cheap FR60 (which I’m looking to replace) + a Garmin footpod and a Garmin Speed/Cadence sensor on my bike. Can I buy me a new HRM strap with the new Vivoactive and get it to pair with my cadence/sensor + footpod and use it to measure/track everything that I wish to do? The need to pair with a cadence sensor was necessarily making me move up to a 620, which I believe is an overkill for my requirements. Does the Vivoactive solve my problem? Should I be evaluating something else?
    P.S. I was superexcited about the launch of the Fitbit Surge till I read your review about HR measurement accuracy. -disappointing-
    P.P.S. I hate golf, so this feature on the Vivoactive is useless to me. Can I delete/hide this icon/functionality?

    • Yup. I’d agree that the Vivoactive solves your problem. It supports both of those sensor types.

      Hmm, not sure on hiding/deleting. But I think you’d be able to drag it to some far away page you’d never see.

  151. Woods

    Which watch is better; The Garmin Vivoactive GPS smartwatch or the TomTom multisport watch..?

  152. Klaas

    Did you do some GPS accuracy testing on the Vivoactive? The Garmin site states it has GLONASS support, but no high-sensivity GPS receiver. How would the accuracy and fix time be, compared to my Edge 800? I always used to believe the Edge had better GPX than a smartphone, but recently found out that my Nexus phone actually has more reliable GPS tracking.

    Furthermore, the (Dutch) Garmin site says the Vivoactive doesn’t have an accelerometer, whereas you say it does. Can you clarify on that?

    • I’ll be doing GPS accuracy testing once on a final production unit with final software. The challenge with folks doing accuracy testing on beta devices (and beta software) is that it often gives incorrect results – or results that won’t match the product. Then folks get all bent out of shape and make decisions that may or may not be accurate.

      As for the Garmin Dutch site…it’s wrong. ;) Don’t worry, that’s pretty normal for Garmin.com sites to be wrong on specs. It has an accelerometer, as that’s how you measure steps, swimming (as well as treadmill use, cadence outdoors, etc…).

  153. Woods

    Where can I buy the vivoactive from? I’ve searched everywhere and still can’t find it… I live in Australia. Thanks

  154. JimW

    For the same price which, which do you hold in higher regard; the Garmin Vivoactive or the Fitbit Surge. I’ve been reviewing the specs for both and am not sure which the better buy.

    • The Vivoactive looks like it should be a better watch in every way…except not having an optical HR sensor. While the Fitbit Surge’s optical sensor isn’t terribly great for sports, it is pretty good for 24×7 heart rate monitoring (outside of workouts). Whereas the Vivoactive requires a chest strap.

      Of course, as I noted in the post there are things I wasn’t able to test – such as how it handles water on the display/etc…

  155. She

    Does the Vivoactive ‘Run’ feature provide an option for intervals?

  156. She

    Does the Vivoactive Run feature provide an option for intervals?

  157. After inquiring on status of all recently announced products, here’s where things stand from their standpoint:

    Fenix3: On target for delivery in Q1-2015, likely late Feb/Early March.
    Epix: The very edge of Q1-2015, potentially just into April.
    Vivofit2: Estimated late February.
    Vivoactive: Estimated Mid to late March.
    Vivo Signature bands: Estimated mid to late March.

    (As a reminder: Here’s the order of events that has to happen for any Garmin product to be shipped: link to dcrainmaker.com)

    Thanks all!

  158. Kom

    Thanks Ray!
    V800 is out, vivoactive is on the radar…

    I think it’ll be better suited for what I am doing.

  159. Joshua

    Ray, I am currently without any running watch which is fine as I’ve been sidelined for a week after surgery with another week plus of rehab to go. I intend to buy something to get me thru until either the vivoactive starts shipping and has a final review and some consumer feedback, or until a light at the end of the 620 replacement tunnel is visible, ie the 630, hopefully late in 2015. One would think it has to be on par with all of the huge advancements we’ve seen in garmin’s product line recently, if not beyond. Would it be a waste to purchase a fr15 which is on sale via CT and Amazon, and then either pickup a vivoactive or perhaps even wait for a 620 replacement? Needs are 5k thru 26.2 races.

    • It depends. If you’re essentially just buying a FR15 to bridge the next 45 days, then it’s probably a waste. Personally I’d just use a free app on your phone and upload into an account of your choosing (such as Garmin Connect), so that later all the data just flows together.

  160. SaltyDub

    Hi Ray.
    1. will it be possible to get vo2max through a connect iq app or otherwise on the vivoactive?
    2. do you have any thoughts on how valuable vo2max estimations are for gauging overall fitness?
    3. are you experiencing any problems with the touchscreen, e.g. false laps? can the screen be locked?

    • 1) I don’t know if HRV/RR information is exposed to Connect IQ or not (a developer might now)
      2) I generally don’t think it’s all that useful to be honest. Most trained athletes won’t see much of a shift in that number. Now recovery information could be valuable, but even that is often suspect.
      3) Too early to say, I don’t currently have a final production unit.

  161. acousticbiker

    Anyone get an email from CT on preorder status / estimated ship date?

  162. Andrew

    Hey Ray, please could you let us know how start stop and works with only one dedicated button (the other being for the light and turning the unit off – I assume?) .

  163. Andrew

    Apologies Ray, I forgot to mention taking a lap, as start and stop you demonstrated in your video. Is it perhaps a tap on the screen or a short, as opposed to long press.
    Button use will obviously be preferable to using touch screen in water – so hopefully the screen will be locked in swim mode ? Andy

  164. kom

    Any idea how this watch could stack up against the Apple watch?


    • David Stanfield

      the I watch is a joke put in the context of this watch.

    • David Stanfield

      the I watch is a fail put in the context of this watch.

    • Jeremy

      Given the following assumptions: (1) Garmin activity tracking could use some work, so I’ve heard, (2) the Apple Watch will have a 24/7 heart rate monitor, and (3) Apple has proven that it puts more into experience and making sure everything works than Garmin and other brands, I foresee:

      The Vivoactive will be much better for exercise activities and the Apple Watch will be better for activity tracking and everything else (i.e. “the other 23 hours” when you’re not working out). For that reason, I’m thinking of getting both.

      There is a chance the Apple Watch will be bad at everything out of the gate and take a few years to get things right and leave the others in the dust, as Ray has suggested. But I think they’ll get a few things right off the bat. At least enough to make the Vivoactive interface seem clunky by comparison.

  165. iZ

    Hey!! Great review!!
    I’m wondering if the Vivoactive have Heart Rate zones, that would vibrate or beep when reaching certain levels??
    I just got the Scosche Rythm+ HRM after reading your review and I’m very satisfied with it!

  166. Will

    With the vivoactive will there be an option to track workouts?
    Like to also see exercises displayed on watch face and have hr recorded during workouts as well

  167. Andy

    Hey Ray,

    I am still trying to find out how to take a lap on the vivoactive.

  168. Graeme Cowling

    Hi Ray

    I don’t actually see a downside to this watch.

  169. Peter

    Hi, Does the Vivoactive GPS smartwatch allow you to download training plans from the Garmin website? similar to the 220?
    Thanks for the great reviews

  170. Kevin

    Hey Ray,

    I’m a collegiate track/cross-country runner and I am currently trying to decide between the vivoactive and the FR220. I think the functionality of the FR220 will fit my needs, but the Vivoactive looks promising. However the Vivoactive looks a little less durable and would it be able to take manual laps without a dedicated “lap button”?


  171. Jim

    Ray, have you heard anything from Garmin as to how the big issues with the western US ports (nothing coming in or going out, it seems) may impact the date for the availability of the new Garmin stuff?

  172. Michael N

    Do you know if the Vivoactive will have any navigation/trail GPS functionality such as way points, track-back, or at least a coordinates display/ Or have they left all that out to avoid encroaching on the Tactix, Fenix, etc.?

    Those features are just firmware. And it’s likely firmware that’s already largely written and debugged for other Garmin products. So it’s something Garmin could essentially add for free that would be much more difficult for many of their fitness tracker competitors–i.e. it could give the Vivoactive another competitive edge. I’ll be sad if they decided to handicap the product purely for marketing reasons.

    • Jim

      I’m thinking if the vivoactive doesn’t display your GPS location out of the box, that my first “Connect IQ” app would to add GPS location as a data field. If I don’t do it, I’m guessing someone else might!

    • Michael N

      We can hope Garmin doesn’t restrict the Vivoactive’s Connect IQ API in ways that would prevent adding functionality from their more expensive products. In the comparison table there’s a “YES” under “BACK TO START” for the Vivoactive so perhaps it has at least some navigational ability out of the box.

      If Garmin is smart they’ll let anyone develop apps restricted only by the hardware capabilities of the device–not artificial software restrictions. For example, Apple for many years limited Bluetooth connectivity to only certain devices and protocols until they realized it was causing a significant number of customers to choose Android devices.

    • It has the Back to Start functionality out of the box.

      I’m not aware of any blocks at this point on a per device basis.

  173. Edwin Aerts


    I am interested in the Garmin Vivoactive as cheaper alternative to the Fenix 3.
    Is there in the meantime an altimeter app available for the Vivoactive via third parties (because not yet available through Garmin connect IQ)?
    Is Garmin planning to bring out such an app?
    Thanks for answering.


    • Michael N

      The Vivoactive doesn’t have a barometric altimeter and GPS-only altimeters are notoriously inaccurate–especially if you’re somewhere with buildings, trees, mountains, etc. restricting access to some of the satellites. It also appears, so far at least, that Garmin has intentionally left out most of the navigation features in the Fenix/Tactix. According to the comparison table, it doesn’t even support way points. We don’t yet know what sort of GPS Connect IQ apps might be possible.

      The Vivoactive is half the price of the Fenix 3 and it looks like Garmin is artificially restricting the Vivoactive’s GPS abilities to force anyone wanting those features to buy one of their much more expensive products. If that’s true, given the size, color touch screen, and fitness capabilities of the Vivoactive, that’s sad.

    • The Vivoactive supports Connect IQ apps, including hiking ones like the navigational ones I’ve previewed here: link to dcrainmaker.com

      The Vivoactive also has built-in basic navigation support. So essentially, all one can say is that it simply doesn’t have a barometric altimeter. Which, at $250US, I’m not aware of any mainstream GPS watches that do. Let alone ones with the Vivoactive’s capabilities.

  174. Dror kis

    I saw in the full comparison table that it has an external and internal temp sensor what does that mean ?

  175. Dror kis

    OK Ray thank you .

  176. Whats the width of the strap on vivoactive? I want to use it with natostrap.

  177. Syd

    Hey, thank you for this great review. Up until today, I’ve had the Fitbit Surge as my first activity tracker. I am sending the Surge back due to a pretty bad rash and the optical heart rate monitor being utter crap. I was wondering if you could answer a few questions about the Vivoactive for me.

    – When you get a unit (earlier you mentioned in another comment that you don’t have one right now), could you take a picture of it on your wrist and your girl’s? I have the same size wrist as you (again, read it somewhere else on your website) but am a pretty short female. The Surge looks awesome on my wrist and I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on it which leads me to my second question.

    -Can you post a comparison picture of different devices? A Surge being on there would be great since I know that looks awesome on me.

    – Will the vivoactive work well with the Polar H7? I’ve been looking into getting a chest strap and that seems like the best one out right now. Should I get the Garmin chest strap or is there another I can get?

    – Will there be a general workout option? I focus quite a bit on weight lifting and would love to be able to see how many calories I burn from lifting.

    -is there a silent alarm feature? Vibration notifications are definitely awesome.

    -is the sleep mode automatic?

    Thank you for your time reviewing these products, as someone very fresh to being active, your reviews and insight has made this a much easier process.

    • Ilan

      About the HRM, have a look at the Scosche Rythm+. I read the review here and bought one myself. It works really well and provides 4 readings per second. And is specially good if you don’t want a chest strap or a wrist band.

  178. Andrew

    This may be a far fetched question, but any idea if the vivoactive will have support for ‘workouts’ setup in garmin connect for running. (e.g. workouts based on HR zones) ? Thanks a ton

  179. Rob

    Ray – how many data fields can be displayed on one screen when running with vivoactive? Can you display 4 different data fields on one screen?

  180. Jim

    The user’s guide for the vivoactive is now online at garmin.com, under “support” for the VA. GC Mobile was also updated with one of the items in the change log being “vivoactive support”

  181. Andrew

    Hi Ray,
    So a lap is taken on the bottom left soft button. Please could you report back on how well this works with sweaty hands or in the pool, as the effectiveness of the touchscreen in these situations will make or break the Vivoactive as a serious sports watch and not just an activity tracker with sports capabilities.

  182. Iñaki


    does it support outdoor swimming tracking vis GPS?

  183. Emma

    Can you turn the alarm off on the Vivofit ?

  184. julienfr38

    Hello Ray,

    Do you know when the watch will be released ?
    Sometime Garmin says on twitter Q1 or Q2 2015 …

    Thanks !

  185. Nathan

    Hey Ray! Great site! Curious to know if you know what heart rate strap the Vivoactive will be bundled with? The classic or the soft strap? Thanks!

  186. I paddle a kayak/ocean ski. I need to load interval training schedule, see speed, measure HR, Plot speed and HR on a chat at home and calc distance travelled. Obviously waterproof. Most important is that I don’t have good eyes and can’t see dials easily. Would this watch be suitable?

  187. aminox

    Hi DC,

    One question about the Vivoactive Watch: every device I’ve used with a touch-screen becomes borderline useless when your hands are sweaty or wet. Did you try it using it the screen while wet or sweating? What was your experience like?

    • I don’t have a final production unit, and wasn’t able to use it in wet conditions. It’s one of my primary concerns that we’ll have to wait until I have a unit (likely later this month).

    • aminox


      As per this site: link to wareable.com it mentions capacitive buttons. If the touchscreen is also capacitive, it will render the watch nearly useless in wet conditions, unfortunately. I’m waiting on official word from Garmin, but if confirmed, it’ll be pretty disappointing.

    • Per me talking with the team directly, it’s designed to be waterfriendly and functional (remember, it’s a swim watch too!). But, as much as I’d like to believe the team designing it, I still want to validate that functionality directly.

      Also note that many tech folks still mistakenly believe that capacitive screens mean they can’t be used with water. That changed about 18 months ago with new display types.

    • aminox

      Right on. If and when you get your prod copy and test it out, post comments. I’m really interested to see how that works out.

    • Steve

      Besides wet conditions…..For those of us who live in cold weather climates will this capacitive touch button be an issue with gloves when doing intervals?

    • aminox

      Very good point, Steve. I’m really hoping it’ll be pressure-based and not pure capacitance, but I’m half-way expecting it to be a dud :(

    • Steve

      If you have to touch a certain part of the screen without gloves to mark a lap I consider this a degrade compared to using a hard button. When you’re running intervals you’re not really in a frame of mind to be hunting on a touch screen to mark the lap, you just want to hit a button without looking. They should consider using the activity button or enable a “shake” of the wrist to activate the next lap. MotoActv had this as s feature for some functions. Starting to get concerned VivoActive may not be what I had hoped for in running watch. Still no details on how many data fields are displayed on one screen or if you have to toggle between two.

    • aminox

      Steve and DC, someone from Garmin just got back to me and yes, confirmed both the “soft” buttons and the touch screen are capacitive. My hope is quickly dwindling.

    • Again guys, that term doesn’t mean anything in that context these days. Garmin makes plenty of touchscreen devices that people have no issues with gloves, water, or anything else these days. See: Edge 1000/810/800/705/510, and the Forerunner 620, plus all the outdoor/etc variants of those same devices.

      For example, when I asked Garmin last about this, they noted: “the Edge 1000 does have a capacitive touch display to improve readability which has been specially tuned to work with gloves and in damp conditions.”

      Which, is true. After some initial display teething pains all is pretty much good there now.

    • aminox

      DC this just came from someone in the technical team:

      “The vivoactive software is designed to disregard water as input on touch screen. This means if a lot of water hitting the touch screen and you try to swipe it may not respond well. I personally tested this on a vivoactive for you. With running water over the watch I had a hard time swiping to different page. […] Trying to swipe under water would be difficult. ”


    • No doubt, but how often do you use running water with your devices? Again, just not seeing that as an issue on the Edge 1000.

      Now, for swimming we’ll have to see on arrangement/use of buttons.

    • aminox

      Where I live rains torrentially quite frequently. Getting completely drenched is not unusual in my runs — specially summer. Yes, the swimming aspect will be the proof in the pudding.

    • aminox

      Sorry I couldn’t resist, so I followed up with technical team. For swimming, they said they’ve made up for the potential screen issues (on this particular watch) by offloading laps, intervals and # of strokes to the accelerometer. They insist you shouldn’t need to touch the screen other than before/after the activity. We’ll see I’m truly curious if the watch delivers in this case.

    • Turn The Damn Cranks

      Ray — Saw below that you are going to get your production version next week. Any chance for a quick post shortly thereafter about how it performs when wet? I can’t be the only person waiting to place an order with Clever Training depending upon your take on this issue.


  188. Gil

    Read both reviews on the Fitbit Surge and Garmin Vivoactive….

    I know the Surge review came out prior to the Vivoactive….Now that both have been reviewed…

    If you had a choice of either one, which one would you pick Ray?

    My activities:
    Running outdoor and treadmill
    I do HR training ( I do use a chest strap)

    • It’s honestly too soon to know on the Vivoactive.

    • Gil

      The release date is set for April, correct?

    • Jim

      It seems to be “before April”, as Garmin is still saying 1Q, and some vendors are now giving date like 3/20 (REI). People are starting to get the Fenix 3 and VF2, and Garmin seems to have updated their mobile apps, as well as Garmin Express…

    • Gil

      Well – I made my decision ….Went with the Surge…since I’m not going to use it in the water, it really would be the best choice for me…The only question I have about the Surge is this…
      I know you can start a run with the Fitbit app and the Surge…If I set my run using the watch, do I need to use the app also? I also noticed the GPS was off between the Fitbit app and the Runkeeper app…

  189. len ellis

    Ray –

    would the vivoactive change your view on the 620 as best gps running watch? $50 rebate now available on it, and that makes me think the 630 is right around the corner. trying to decide on a pure running watch. vivoactive does not support v02max estimate either, right?


  190. Jen B

    I might have missed this, but can you change the layout of the data fields and pages? Or are you stuck to 3 metrics lined up with the largest font one in the middle? I’d ideally like to have more than one page with two bigger font metrics per page or something like that.

  191. Lee

    Hi, Do you think it is possible that through the connect IQ we could see an app for the Vivoactive where we could get turn by turn directions for a running route? Cant wait to be able to trade in my Vivosmart and 610 and only have 1 device when I run or bike.

  192. Just as a heads up on Vivofit2 shipments, the first units have started to arrive. Clever Training just got their first shipment in today, which can be seen here: link to twitter.com

    These are headed back out today to the first pre-orders for the unit.

    Vivoactive is of course still pending Garmin release (likely not till the end of the month, or the first week of April).

    • Neil

      Garmin Australia have just posted on FB that the Vivoactive has arrived here.
      link to facebook.com
      Do you have a final production version under review and does it fit your ladies wrist OK?

    • Interesting, but no, I do not have a final production version. When I talked to the lead Fitness PR person on Monday in person at MWC, they were still thinking about the first week of April for public release.

      I’ve just shot over a quick note to get a bit of clarity.

    • Ok, got some clarity here. As much clarity as mud can be.

      Essentially, they’re officially unofficially shipping. Seriously, I can’t figure this wording out, and I’m kinda sick of getting poor communications on shipping from them on their spring products. Essentially they are sending units out to retailers starting now. My Vivoactive (and Vivofit2) trial/demo unit will leave tomorrow from Kansas, and arrive in my forwarding box on Monday, and then be here in Europe by Wednesday, assuming to customs hold-ups.

      I expect by next week we’ll get clarity on where the arrivals for consumers stands. Or, perhaps just like the Vivofit2 they’ll just randomly show up. Sigh…

    • Neil

      Thanks Ray. Looking forward to the full review but I’m time constrained as I’m buying as a birthday gift so may just have to take a punt based on your initial thoughts.
      Does it fit your lovely wife’s wrist OK?

    • She hasn’t tried it on, but I expect it will. One of the Garmin folks I know is roughly the same size as The Girl, and she wears it without any issues.

      Likely late next week I’ll publish some various YouTube videos with initial thoughts. I’m in the Middle East most of next week until Friday, so even if it arrives Weds to me, I won’t be able to touch it till Friday.

    • aminox

      I’m truly torn between the VivoActive and Fenix3. I guess, I’ll get whichever one gets to amazon first — that’s where I’ve got a gift card saved for this expense :)

    • Neil

      Thanks again.

  193. MarkleMcD

    What to do? I planned on getting the Polar M400 because I have found that the Garmin HR monitor function stinks. But the Vivoactive looks amazing in other other aspects and would cost about the same since I already have a HR strap. And golf functionality!

    • Neil

      MarkieMcD: I have the M400 and it’s nice but despite the extra cost, I’ll be buying my wife one of these….

    • MarkleMcD

      Biggest thing I’m wondering about is what fields can I use while running. I like a page with Total Distance, Total Time, Lap Pace and then another with Lap Time, Lap Distance, Lap Pace and HR. Hoping it has those fields.

    • Bachoo

      No vibration alert on the M400. If that is important.

  194. Simon

    Just wondering if the vivoactive will have any sort of heart recovery time (i.e. bpm after one minute of pressing end like some of the higher end garmins), or fitness test functionality. I would like to know if all the unicycling I am doing is actually making we fitter, or just tiring me out :)

    • It’s not planned to.

    • Simon

      Thanks for the response. Been looking through all your reviews (awesome job btw), I am looking for a watch that does all day activity tracking, but also includes a fitness test, or better yet a recovery rate test along with a cycling mode (I doubt any watch is going to support unicycling). I don’t run as it is a big asthma trigger for me, but do lift weights, so an HR calorie mode or similar would be required too. Is the M400 from polar (or the V800) the only one that does that right now?

    • So the Vivoactive does do calorie-based HR, so that’s still there.

  195. Andy


    This might sound like a long shot and I’m not sure exactly how it would work, but is there any chance that the vivoactive will eventually connect with Edge units. This could could be combined for multi sport users using the watch for the swim then using the edge for bike and finishing with the watch for the run. If they all connected to create one file and use the differences in time for T1 and T2 without having to push any additional buttons.

    Hope that makes sense just had that idea in my head.

    • Unfortunately I’d say it’s pretty unlikely. Mostly because even today the simple act of using two Garmin devices still results in some oddities on Garmin Connect. Let alone trying to have those devices do some sort of communications together in realtime. :/

  196. Jamesy

    Ray thanks so much for all you are doing here.

    Do you know if the vivoactive would continue to accept HR via mio link while in swimming mode, or does Garmin pro-actively turn this off?

    • Garmin’s been proactively turning it off, though, there’s no reason a Connect IQ app couldn’t actually. My understanding is that Connect IQ does have access to the swimming functionality (they left it open to enable an app to build out swim workouts).

      I’ll test it next week when I get the unit in.

  197. Kandis

    WIll I be able to wear this for HIIT workouts, weight lifting, and Indoor machines? I know there is not a button for this such as on the surge but if I was wearing the HR strap would I still be able to get my HR and calorie burn?

  198. Gil

    DC – any change you could do a side by side comparison test with the final release of Vivoactive against Garmin’s Surge…durability and other fun features…


    this will be my birthday gift…the winner finds a home in California…

  199. i have one of those already – Motorola Motoactv.

    • Gunnar

      The Motoactv. So close to being great. I’m still wondering how they managed the mapping on that device. I had one for a bit and really found the mapping useful. Too bad the only mapping now on devices are the Leikr and the VERY expensive Epix.

  200. aminox

    I just realized the Fenix 3 starts at $500?!? Did they bump the price? If so, I’m going to have to settle with the vivoactive whether it sucks when the screen is wet or not. :(

    • Always been that price. I suspect given that the V800 and Ambit3 were at those prices (retail/MSRP). Those prices for those watches have a slipped a bit in recent months as demand has fallen (especially with the FR920XT), thus, I suspect Garmin reasons that they could charge it and folks will buy it.

    • aminox

      Not a price bump. Damn. I just realizing it now. Sigh. $400 was going to be pushing it, $500, it’s out of my league, likely.

    • aminox

      Yup. my bad. I must’ve misread the expected MSRP. I know that’s an excellent watch that will last me a long time, but sheesh $500+ for an Smart GPS watch is hard to justify unless you do any or several of those sports of those sports professionally. $400 was a stretch for me already, but rationalized it would be a gift/reward for my running the last couple years. $500, I’m going to have to work my sales skills and sell the idea to my wife :D

  201. Alan

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

  202. 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.

  203. 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.

    • 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!


  204. andy from embsay

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

  205. Kevin Loaf

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

  206. ML Heng

    vivoactive is now on sale in Singapore.

  207. 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.”

  208. 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!

  209. Kevin

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

    link to dcrainmaker.com

  210. 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.

  211. 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!

    • 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?

  212. 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.

  213. wilderaz

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

  214. 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.”

  215. 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 ?

  216. 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.

  217. 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.

  218. alan groves

    can the watch keep track of multiple time zones?

  219. 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?


  220. 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)

  221. 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?

  222. 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.

  223. 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! ;-)

  224. 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?

  225. julienfr38

    Which ANT+ strap is in the vivoactive package ?

  226. 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).

  227. 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.

  228. 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.

  229. 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.


  230. 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.

  231. 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.

  232. ML Heng

    Just place my Vivoactive screen protector from the site below.


  233. 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.

  234. 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?

  235. 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

  236. Paul

    Hi Ray,

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

  237. 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.

  238. 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.

  239. sol

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

  240. 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

  241. 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)

  242. 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.

  243. 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.

  244. R33ce ww

    Thank you for the reply

  245. 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 ?

  246. 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…).

  247. 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 ?

  248. 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

  249. 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.

  250. TriGuySwede

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

  251. 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.

  252. 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.

  253. 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.

  254. 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

  255. 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.

  256. 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.

  257. 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 ?

  258. 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.

  259. 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!

  260. 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.

  261. 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…

  262. C Dennis

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

  263. Carlos

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

  264. 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).

  265. 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!

  266. 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.

  267. CMV

    I meant: KitKat 4.4.2

  268. 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.

  269. 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.

  270. 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!

  271. 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.

  272. 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.

  273. Ravikumar

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

  274. 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. ;(

  275. 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?

  276. 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?

  277. 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!

  278. 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!

  279. 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.

  280. Nathan

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

  281. 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.

  282. 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.

  283. 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.

  284. 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.

  285. Kom

    Thanks for the input.

  286. 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.

  287. 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?

  288. 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.


  289. 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.

  290. 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?

  291. 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.

  292. 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?

  293. 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.

  294. 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.

  295. 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. :(

  296. 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.

  297. Lander Stoddard

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

  298. Lasse


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