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First look at the new Garmin Vivosmart HR with optical sensor


Update! See my in-depth review of the Vivosmart HR – now located just one click away here!

Today Garmin rolled out their latest wearable, the Vivosmart HR.  This new wrist-bound device takes the Vivosmart band that they announced slightly over a year ago, and adds in an optical sensor.  Along the way it got a fancy new crisp display and a few new features.

The Vivosmart line isn’t new, and actually started last year with the original Vivosmart, which blended the activity tracking features of the Vivofit with many of the smartphone connected features of newer devices, like notifications.

Now it’s important to note the device name and what each one looks like, especially if purchasing.  That’s because many retailers used ‘Vivosmart HR’ as the name of the product last year when they included the bundled heart rate (HR) strap.  In theory, the official product name then should have been something like “Vivosmart with old-school bundled HR strap”, but alas, it was shortened to ‘Vivosmart HR’ by some retailers.  Whereas this year, the Vivosmart HR is truly an optical HR sensor inside the Vivosmart.  So, for comparison purposes, here’s the two units side by side:


To the left is the Vivosmart HR, to the right is the old Vivosmart not-HR.  If you see anything looking like the right, it’s not the new unit.  And for fun, here’s the Vivofit with the Vivosmart HR:


And just for fun, here’s two shots of the front/back as worn on my wrist:

IMG_9990 IMG_9992

Phew. Let’s get onto the device itself.

What’s new:


Since time’s limited (I’ve got 57 minutes until announcement!), and thankfully the feature-set is pretty similar to last year, we’re going to cook right into bulleted points of what’s new.  And then I’ll go through each new item later in the post.  Here’s what’s new/different on the Vivosmart HR:

– Internal optical HR sensor
– 24×7 heart rate recording (continual resting HR, and average resting HR)
– Counts stairs (flights of stairs)
– Displays intensity minutes (against a goal of 150min/week)
– Backlit display
– Slightly reduced battery life – 5 days instead of 7 days on original Vivosmart
– Rebroadcasting of your HR over ANT+ (so other devices can pick it up)
– Does NOT connect to ANT+ cycling sensors (like the original Vivosmart did)
– Does NOT connect to external ANT+ HR strap (like the original Vivosmart did)

It still does all the same jazz as last year such as:

– Tracking steps, daily distance walked, calories burned
– Inactivity alerts & Move Bar
– Tracks workouts separately
– Time alarm
– Smartphone Notifications (i.e. e-mail, text, Twitter, etc…)
– Music Controls
– Find your phone option
– Vibration alerts

But did I hear you say you wanted a quick preview video of the device, complete with new and old features? No problem, here’s a rundown of everything in just a few minutes:

Now, just to be super-clear, the Vivosmart HR does NOT have GPS within it.  It also can’t pair to your phone for GPS data (sorta a disappointment).  So for distance it uses your stride length, which you can tweak if you know it (or use a treadmill to figure it out).  This will help increase accuracy. Additionally, for cyclists, it can pair to an ANT+ Speed sensor to get speed/distance while cycling – just like the original Vivosmart. Update…apparently not – that was pulled.  As was also the ability to connect to a separate strap.


Of course, the big news is indeed that new optical sensor developed internally by Garmin (not licensed).  Which, btw, Garmin is officially branding as ‘Elevate’.  So, the Vivosmart HR has Elevate technology in it.  Or, to the rest of us, it has an optical sensor.  I’ll decide whether or not it earns the name Elevate if it actually works in my forthcoming testing.


In non-workout mode you’ll see a data page on the display when you swipe to the side that shows you your current HR, as well as your average resting HR.  In my case, I haven’t quite been wearing it long enough for the average HR to show up.  I assume by this afternoon it will, in which case I’ll update the photo below.


The HR tracking is done continuously, 24×7, in addition to HR tracking during a specific workout using the optical sensor.  While this is the second Garmin product in a week to include the in-house optical sensor, I don’t expect to see it rolled out to additional products this year, but likely more into new products next year sometime once it’s optimized a bit more.

As for the sensor accuracy? I don’t know yet. I haven’t run with a final production unit yet, though I have run with a prototype unit.  As with the FR235 last week, I’m going to withhold judgment on the optical sensor until I’ve had at least a few runs with it.  However, given it’s new and unproven, I’m going to say the same as last week: All optical sensors are guilty of sucking until proven otherwise.

To be clear, there are many great optical sensors out there.  But those sensors had to prove they were accurate.  Garmin will have to do the same – for both workouts and 24×7 HR data.

Note that the 24×7 optical HR data is then recorded to Garmin Connect via the Garmin Connect Mobile app (or to your desktop via Garmin Express).  On the mobile app side it uses Bluetooth Smart to connect to the device, on iOS and Android.  You can pair that via the settings menu:


As alluded to earlier, this is the first Garmin unit to display stairs climbed.  It does this utilizing an internal barometric altimeter.  You’ll then see the goal flights of stairs listed, next to how many you’ve actually done:


In addition to stairs, Garmin adds in ‘Intensity Minutes’, which is basically a fancy way of saying ‘Workout Minutes’.  Except, it sounds intense.  The goal here being to get you to 150 intense minutes per week, with the unit tracking this on a weekly basis rather than a daily basis.


This 150-minute suggestion of course comes from a multitude of health organizations that recommend 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week.  So Garmin totaled it up and called it done.

Initial Thoughts:


At $149USD, it’s actually fairly well priced.  It’s roughly in the same ballpark as the Fitbit Charge HR in terms of price and base features, but the Vivosmart HR includes a far better display, far better waterproofing (50m vs none) and way better workout tracking.  By almost every metric the Vivosmart HR is more capable than the Charge HR (except perhaps battery life).


The real proof will be in whether or not the optical sensor is accurate.  In the case of Fitbit that answer is ‘Sorta…it depends’.  So hopefully Garmin’s accuracy will, Elevate, above that bar (yes, I went there).


Note that the Vivosmart HR is available in three colors – a black, deep purple, and dark blue.  Quite honestly you can’t tell the difference between them from more than a few feet away.  However most notable is that the Vivosmart HR will only be available to Best Buy exclusively from November 1st to January 1st.  This means that other retailers can’t carry it.  On the flip side, it means that in theory it’s available to pickup this Sunday at a Best Buy store near you.  Why is that notable?  Because it’s going to be interesting to see if the optical sensor is ready for prime-time.  That was likely a hard-set date, versus one where Garmin could say push back until ready.  Maybe they’re already ready.  We’ll see.

With that – thanks for reading, and feel free to drop any questions down below – I’ll try and get them answered.

Heads up! You can now pre-order the Vivosmart HR from Clever Training.  Doing so supports the site, and makes you awesome.  Also, you can use your DCR-Clever Training VIP benefits, as described here.  Here’s the link:

Garmin Vivosmart HR (all colors & sizes)

Do remember though that Best Buy does have an exclusive 60-day period ending January 1st, 2016. Thus all shipments will occur starting in January.

Thanks for the support, it helps the blog here!


  1. Annette

    Can the display be made brighter. I can’t see it at all when in bed even with backlight on always.

    • Malcolm

      After using it for a couple of days I am taking it back. I have an old basic fitbit and by comparison the Garmin VSHR feature-wise great. But the display is a big let down; too dull and too small to read. I found the horizontal orientation awkward at best having to contort my arm to try to read. The vertical orientation was only for some screens.

      After setting up my wife’s iWatch I’m going to look for a traditional watch form factor device.

    • Michele

      I just bought mine today and taking it back tomorrow unless someone can tell me there is a way to make the lighting brighter… I can’t see anything

  2. Kevin

    So Ray… any ETA on the In-Depth review? Would love to hear the results of your testing/experience of the production device.

  3. Giuliano

    Hello everyone,
    as I am very interested in this VHR, do you know when it will be available on Amazon in Europe? And what about the scale?


  4. Todd

    I’ve had my VSHR for 2 weeks now. Though several people have posted issues with their trackers on the Garmin Forums, I haven’t had any. My VSHR replaced my Fitbit Charge HR and I have found the VSHR to be more accurate at reading your heartrate. Please keep in mind that NO optical heartrate sensor is spot on accurate. The biggest difference I’ve noticed is with steps and stairs. My Fitbit would count steps while I was driving my work truck (F450 bucket truck) and also count stairs when hit with high gusts of wind. No issues there with my VSHR and I’m extremely happy with it.

    • Max Payne

      I drive a fire truck and I can rack up over 10,000 steps on a busy day just from driving around because the truck bounces so much.

    • Stewart

      I’ve found that VSHR is unreliable at counting stairs. I can walk up and down my stairs multiple times an it will only count maybe 1 or 2.

  5. Antonio

    I purchased it.. and I love it.. and I HATE it.
    I love it because it’s very well made, not big, great screen, notification, you can swim,
    I HATE it because it’s a useless piece of garbage for cycling..

    went out and since it cannot pair to my phone GPS, or to any GPS, and it cannot pair to any sensors, either bluetooth or ANT+ it doesn’t record distance on cycling…

    it would be a superb tracker with the ability to pair to ANT+ speed and cadence sensors (heck I have an Iphone!)
    but right now.. I’ll give it back and stay with the original vivosmart..

    why the heck have you done this Garmin.. you shoot yourself in the foot.

    • Wes

      That’s a disappointment. I was really looking forward to a new vivosmart revision and this thing looks worse in most ways to me. I actually liked the screen on the original, you couldn’t even tell it had a screen which was part of the appeal. I ultimately stopped using it because I couldn’t use my phone for gps on rides and it had a weird bug with reporting crazy speeds off my ant sensor.

  6. Lasse henriksen

    Hi, great little writeup there on the Garmin Vivosmart HR. I actually have a Fitbit Charge HR, and not that happy with it. During workout it quite often doesn’t recognize my HR, and it’s pretty annoying by now.
    So my choices is between the Vivosmart HR or Polar A360. Both new and pretty similar devices, i guess the latter is more expensive but who do you reckon will do the job best? Thanks in advance.

  7. David I

    Having read everything Ray has to say about optical HR sensors, I finally decided to take the plunge and got one of these (in the Benelux from CoolBlue, ordered Sat arrived Sun PM)
    I am now close to using it for 2 full days, so I can give some first impressions, which mainly confirm what has been said already.

    * The HR sensor seems to work and gives the right ballpark figures as far as I can tell, both when resting or cycling. In the latter case for 2 commute cycle rides of 33km each – in the cold and dark and the second in the rain too. I cannot yet comment how well it would work in sunshine with a short sleeved jersey.
    * Ant+ broadcast worked perfectly, my Bryton 40 picked up the signal as soon as I activated in on the VSHR.
    * Step counter is roughly where expected from a couple of walks with the dog.
    * Sleep tracking mostly OK, this morning shows me as in light sleep when I had actually already woken.

    * flights climber/ descended seems a bit off, sometime counting a flight when I haven’t ascended and sometimes missing one. Ballpark is about right.
    * distance is consistently over stated and the ‘calibrate’ method provided by Garmin Connect is a PITA. Why can’t they allow input of a simple length? Anyone with a smartphone already has a calculator! (idea – maybe inputting a distance one the stride length and 1 stride will work … hmmm)

    * Initial connection took loads of tries. Maybe that lies by my Sony M2 Aqua (purchased because it supports Ant+) but that did work first time for a FitBit One. Eventually it worked and has continued to work.

    Major Bad:
    * Garmin’s apparent policy of actively excluding products from other suppliers in the Garmin Connect ecosystem. I have a Withings scale, but can only (possibly) feed reading across by a tortuous route. I have a Joule GPS for my bike, and have no plan to replace that with an Edge – my last died after only 2 years.
    * It seems impossible to transmit HR via Ant+ and to record an activity simultaneously. Either by design or mistake, pressing the button after activating one or the other stops that activation, so it is impossible to go over and activate the other.

    * For the 2 cycle rides mentioned above I clocked up almost exactly 150 minutes of real “Intensity minutes”, a good portion strenuous too (33km against a force 5 wind!), but the VSHR has counted a big fat zero. The HR trace shows clearly that I was engaged in activity and for the morning ride I recorded it as an activity too. It also recorded almost zero km distance, but that is to be expected.

    I conclude that Garmin have done their best to make sure that it does support cycling. This despite the publicity video on their web page for the VSHR showing both normal cycling and a static Gym cycle.

    I have yet to run with it, nor can I say anything useful yet about battery life.

    So far my recommendation is that if cycling – or other sports where your hands are relatively static – are important for you, then this is not the right device.

    The major bads are software related, so they can still fix them if they wish to.

  8. Claude Leduc

    VivoSmart HR Surprise

    I have owned them all…………….. from Fitbit flex , Fitbit Surge, Fitbit Force, Vivofit 1 and 2, Vivosmart, Vivoactive, Polar M400, Suunto Ambit, Garmin, etc………Now using mostly Fenix 3 and Vivosmart HR……..After several walks and runs with both side by side………Fenix 3 with heart rate strap versus Vivosmart Optical HR …….I was amazed at closeness of results on a 5 km walk…….Vivosmart HR off by 48 steps compared to Fenix 3 …………….Yes the HR data on Fenix with HR strap is smoother compared to Vivosmart HR slightly delayed and Average instead of real time on Fenix 3………..For serious runners, trainers I would suggest Fenix 3 with HRM or 920XT …….for walkers activity trackers not requiring GPS and on budget , I would recommend new Vivosmart HR……..not only activity tracker good to 50 m underwater…… Keep up good work Garmin……not bad first stab at optical HR activity tracker……good battery life…….good activity tracker

    • Tommy


    • Cher

      I am curious Tommy if you found the step count for the vivosmart HR to be accurate while going about normal daily activities. I returned the fitbit charge HR because the count was over by at least 30 to 50% only to find out the vivosmart HR is just as bad – I have racked up 984 steps while checking my email. I also wondered if you get the advertised 5 days battery life. I am lucky to get 3 days – even if I am not wearing it and I only get (on average) one call notification per week (not addicted to my cell phone). Is there a trick to get better battery life and more accurate step count? Love the display & swipe and much more comfortable than fitbit but disappointed in accuracy and the watch going dead when needed in middle of trade show.

  9. Jon Briafield

    Received mine today and happy with it thus far. Paired easily with my Fenix 3 and broadcast heart rate easily. Not had opportunity to use for run as yet.

    Would prefer to use my Fenix 3 as the activity tracker as I wear it on my left wrist and HR on my right wrist, but won’t allow allow synchronisation of HR into Connect whilst Fenix is my nominated activity tracker. That’s slightly disappointing.

    I find activity tracking on my right wrist overcounts more significantly than left (right handed), but HR tracking is more important to me with the VSHR. So be it until Garmin sort out their software to allow multiple trackers linked to account.

    Gave up on my Fitbit Charge HR a few months ago and believe this will suit better.

  10. Mark Duncombe

    Here is my first workout with the VSHR.

    I was on my turbo trainer with Zwift in workout mode doing an easy to moderate interval session.

    I used VSHR in place of my chest strap and didnt have both running but these are my thoughts on what I saw. The HR from the VSHR was being broadcast to my ant+dongle on my PC and used by Zwift

    The VSHR seemed to struggle initially at the beginning of the workout, flip flopping from what looked like to low to to high but it very quickly settled and provided a mostly convincing BPM. it did seem to get confused on a couple of occasions as I transitioned from an interval to a rest period with the HR going up rather than down which was a little odd but note those rest periods coincided with me stretching, taking a drink and wiping the sweat from my brow so maybe it was not snug enough on my wrist. So all in all an OK result if not 100%.

    I did note that although I was relatively static on a turbo trainer I did get some intensity credit in Garmin connect. rather confusingly different parts of connect showed different max HR, which was odd.

  11. Jeremy W

    I’m wondering if there’s any credence to the fact that a HR strap, and an optical HR monitor are essentially reading two different things, being HR and Pulse respectfully.

    Could there be a lag in the responsiveness of your physical pulse that also results in the VSHR seeming to “lag” behind a chest strap monitor in various scenarios?

    • Nah, I’ve seen cases (often) where the two are identical. Sometimes you’ll get a second or two more lag on an optical sensor, simply because there tends to be a bit more smoothing due to error validation/correction.

  12. Ray – are you planning to do an in depth review of the Vivosmart HR. (I have read your FAQ and understand you can’t do everything).

    Ray or others who have the new product – has anyone checked the accuracy for resting/waking up HR. Recording this strikes me as really useful, compared to counting pulse or putting on a chest strap in bed, and might persuade me to upgrade from my perfectly functioning 1st generation Vivofit.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Mark Duncombe

      Hi Stephen

      While I do not regular monitor my RHR I have done from time to time in the past and with a chest strap see a figure of around 43bpm.

      Using the VSHR over the last few days I am currently seeing an average RHR value of 40 with the lowest being 38. These slightly lower values might be explained than when I tested with a chest strap my HR would of risen slight just from the act of putting on the strap in the morning.

      What I cannot determine yet is how well it tracks it over time.

      I have also come from a Gen 1 Vivofit and have the following comments

      The VSHR strap is nice and comfy and feels very secure compared to the VF
      The VSHR move bar is not red like on the VF and his harder to see but you do get a vibration prompting you to move and a vibration when the move bar has been cleared which is nice.
      Having a backlit display on the VSHR is really nice to have, makes it far more useful as a day to day watch.

      So far I am pleased with how it performs, especially when you read the Garmin forums which after reading you would assume this thing is a piece of junk, which is not. Many of the complaints seem to come from people either not understanding what it was designed to do or expecting it to have features found on higher end Garmin devices.

      I use an Edge 500 on my bikes, a Fenix 1 hiking, trail running, skiing and kayaking and the VSHR for everything in between. The VSHR is also replacing my ant+ chest strap when on the turbo trainer when using Zwift as I always forget to wear the strap.

    • Stephen de Souza


      thanks for taking the time to write such a comprehensive and helpful reply. I’m edging towards getting one though will probably wait a bit in the hope that some decent discounts kick in, in the UK. I have an Edge 810 for the detailed stuff and this does sound like it will offer me more than a vivofit, especially as I want to measure RHR as part of tracking my ability to cope with training load and am too lazy to measure it in a more traditional way!

      Thanks again


    • Yup, I’m working on a VSHR review. Right now I’m focusing on getting the FR630 review out first. Then the Vivosmart HR after that. But, I am using the VSHR concurrently as well, specifically on measuring accuracy with it.

    • Just finished my review for Garmin Vivosmart HR. Looks like Elevate does not have perfect accuracy yet, even compared with Mio. Also i had no success with broadcasting HR to Endomondo in my Samsung Galaxy S5. Signal was dropped by phone in 2 minutes or so. Last thing i cannot understood – why i cannon control music from bracelet in training mode?

    • Mark Duncombe

      I have not tried but not being able to sue the music controls in workout mode is indeed and oversight.

      Another issue I have with the music controls is they are incredibly easy to inadvertently activate, which has resulted in music blaring out from my phone unexpectedly. For example

      when washing my bike with a bucket of soapy water, my wet sleeves /wrists will trigger the music player. In the shower sometimes the music controls will start my phone playing music.

    • Jarrett

      Does the VSHR sync with Edge devices to replace a chest strap heart monitor?

  13. Jeffrey

    Maybe a strange question, but can you turn the screen of?

    I’m a traditional kind of watch guy and i don’t want to give up my watch, so i wear the fitbit surge HR on my non watch arm and just use it for activity tracking and hart rate recording. And can you (like with fitbit) put in i’ve you are wearing the strap on the dominant hand?

  14. Chuck b

    Does the VSHR give heart rate in the water while swimming laps?

  15. Jeremy

    Returning the unit because the regular size is not accurate for the small wrist of my wife. She complained that during a trail run it would flop back and forth high and low for heart rate. Also, she says that she has to wear it way too tight and the light of the optical HR still escapes a little out the side.

    I briefly put it on my wrist to test my HR just for kicks and it was flopping up and down about 20 beats (60-80) all while I was standing still looking at it broadcasting.

    I have the scorche optical armband recommended by Ray and its great. This band, which is a great idea, not accurate enough for exercise or you must be the perfect composition for it to work.

    Bummer, I really wanted it to work as I was considering it to wear daily.

  16. Stuart

    Anyone know how to change the default workout form running to strength training (or anything else for that matter)

    I only use VSHR for crossfit as I have a FR910 for running

    When I plug in VSHR into laptop I can see the default ‘RUN’ in the file manager but do not want to mess with it without advice

    • Frank

      I’m in the same boat with a Vivosmart. Pretty much the only activities I record on it are strength training exercises and I always have to change the activity type after the fact. Ther eis no way to change the default. It would not be so hard for the thing to make a guess based on what it senses combined with your past activities.

    • Mark Duncombe

      Devices like the Vivosmart are designed as general purpose activity trackers for the general population with the intention of making your average person more active. Many people live a sedentary lifestyle and simple things like taking the stairs is something a lot of people can do to improve their health. Activity trackers are designed to motivate and they are not designed to be medical quality monitors. In other words they really are just glorified pedometers. They are optimised for what most people can do to improve their fitness and that is walk, maybe run more often.

      Inside an activity tracker is an accelerometer, it detects movement in 3 dimensions. The software uses the output from the accelerometer to try and workout how many steps you are taking, nothing more. there will always be some movements that look like steps to the software but actually are not. The software looks for patterns which it thinks are you walking. That software is never going to accurately be able to determine the subtle differences between walking, skiing, driving,gym work, cycling etc. Its just trying to pick out the patterns associated with walking or running.

      At the end of the day its a pedometer, a step counter and optimised to do that and nothing else.

      If you want to monitor your hear rate during other non perambulating activities such as gym work then a chest strap and watch/smartphone app is what you should be looking at. Which would also be cheaper, pick up a Wahoo BT chest strap and use the free Wahoo app for half the price of a VSHR.

    • Frank

      Well, it does not HAVE to be so stupid. It already knows when you are walking vs running even without reference to heart rate. The lowly Vivofit does that very well. They already use “intelligence” not to award you flights of stairs when you are riding a lift or escalator. So, in a scenario where you have started an activity and your heart rate keeps bouncing up and your wrist is moving a lot and your feet are moving very little it does not take a genius to figure out that you are very likely strength training. In that same scenario where your wrists are moving not at all, its a pretty safe bet that you have climbed aboard a bike. If it is going to guess, it is kind of stupid to “guess” that you were running when it “knows” damn well that you were not. If they can’t be smart about it they should just stick it in the “other” category like my fenix2 does for hiking activities.

      By the way, Basis has been doing this with their activity trackers for years. They even gave it a name “Body IQ™”. Too bad their hear rate sensors suck so bad.

    • Keith Weerts

      Well said. There are more than enough sensors on this device to give it basic “intelligence”. The real key is the underlying software. Hopefully Garmin has some coders on staff that can think beyond the simple objective of counting steps. We’ll see…

  17. Cristian Contreras

    I bought the Vivosmart HR and I’m so disappointing with it! The heart rate it shows is just random and resting heart rate is at least 15 bmp too low. Yesterday I was cycling on my trainer and Edge 520 with heart rate strap showing around 130-150 bpm while the Vivosmart said 70 bpm. On the other hand it can say 90 bpm while relaxing and watching TV. After two days of just random numbers I’m back with my Fitbit Charge HR. Too bad as I was hoping to have everything in Garmin Connect. I’m hoping for a replacement now, otherwise it goes in the trash – would’t even give it away for free to an enemy!

    • Mark Duncombe

      Hi Cristian

      I use my VSHR on my trainer and generally it tracks my HR reasonably well apart from a few glitches as below

      It does always seem to struggle for the first few minutes before settling down and following what my chest strap reports

      Sometime I get HR drops which the chest strap does not show. When this happens the displayed HR drops faster than my heart rate could ever drop in reality, so hopefully an improved smoothing algorithm could help here

      I sometimes see HR increase when coming off an interval and onto a rest but I have suspicions this could be due to the act of drinking/stretching raising my HR. I have not verified this yet against my chest strap.

      Resting HR seems to be within a few beats for me. Dont forget that the VSHR does not measure resting HR continuously but rather takes a sample periodically, this means that the display may not actually show your live heart rate, just the last time it was sampled. Likewise the average resting hear rate is taking samples from times you may not be looking at your heart rate, for example whilst a sleep. BTW, my HR when sleeping does not seem to vary much from my first thing in the morning HR.

      If you are having very bad erratic HR readings it may be worth checking the troubleshooting guide in the back of the manual. YMMV

      here is a picture of what my day HR looked like from yesterday, you can clearly see how outside of activities how it uses periodic sampling rather than continuous sampling.

    • MM

      I have mine just returned. After a week it started to play up. First the screen froze. Then after reloads it would not swipe. Then again reloads would not sync. Etc etc etc
      Then after two weeks battery was not holding charge for no more then a day.

  18. Ben Pine

    Hi Ray,
    My chest strap gives me a rash and I was interested in the 24/7 tracking so I bought this, without waiting for your review.
    Definite love/hate. My first run it tracked perfectly and broadcast to my suunto.
    First cycle I found out there was no cycling mode, you either have to broadcast, record as a run or just let it count calories. big issue!
    My second run, the broadcast kept switching off! I was wearing a coat, and if the sleeve so much as brushed the screen, the broadcast would end. This should only happen with a button press, etc.
    I’ve now had a few runs/cycles with it and the hr seems generally about what I had with my chest strap – no direct comparison, so long as I don’t touch the screen – coat sleeve rolled up brrrrrr.
    My cycle to work today though, it was quite windy and the hr was all over the shop. Very low for big sections of the ride.
    I think I’m going to stick with it and hope they update the software to fix the broad cast issue as that is a dealbreaker. Also to add a cycle mode as I just want the calories for my commute.
    Also the syncing with myfitnesspal is all over the shop. Very annoying. Trying to get workouts from movescount, calories from garmin in without everything going arse over head is, so far, tricky.
    I’ve contacted Garmin support about all of the issues, and they’ve replied with cookie cutter nonsense. I have no faith are listening at all. Their forums seems similar.
    Compared to Suunto customer service this is terrible.

    • Frank

      Call them. Their email support can be pretty bad but 2 out of 3 that you get on the phone are pretty helpful.

    • Gary WHITEHEAD

      I would like to comment on the HR, but in the UK they are like hens teeth and customer services do not know their own product.

    • Gary

      you can buy them in the UK – Argos have them for £10 over RRP. I bought mine from wiggle on Monday night and it arrived today. I decided not to wait for Ray’s review. I haven’t had the time to study it in detail yet but I agree with others’ comments that the HR reading seems to lag. My main interest is in an easy way of measuring resting HR. We’ll see ..


    • Gary WHITEHEAD

      Thanks for that, but when you add to basket at Argos, nothing happens and they have none in stock at Wiggle, but I have set an alert.

    • Mark Duncombe

      Hi Stephen

      I am manually checking my RHR in the morning and the VSHR RHR data seems accurate. The RHR seems to be one of the more reliable aspects of the VSHR, YMMV.

      Here is my resting HR over the week I have had the VSHR. Interestingly on Thursday morning I woke up with a mild cold and feeling fatigued. Not really enough data to draw any conclusions just yet but will be watching with interest

      I suspect Ray might be right in his conclusion that optical HR is going to be a very personal thing and work well for some and not for others.

    • Ben Pine

      I just got mine direct from Garmin. Sent by UPS 2 days later. Amazon have them too.

    • Frans

      Hi Mark. Have you a difference between the reported resting heartrate bij week and bij 4 weeks? I see a strange difference: per week it never drops below 40 average arround 45 which is quite correct. But now the strange thing: if I open the report for 4 weeks I get a low values of 38 which was never recorded and reported in the week reports. Think Garmin has to check this.

      The other monitoring is quite acceptable and if I do indoor cycling (i.e. Zwift) I start an activity to have it sample per second and than it will record an activity accurate (sometimes a drop, but not that serious). The amount of stairs is sometimes a bit off but all within acceptable margin. Still happy with the VSHR :)

    • Mark Duncombe

      I do see a difference as well but dont forget these are average RHR and not lowest recorded RHR.

      My 7 day average RHR shows as 41
      My 4 week average RHR shows as 40

      If I average the individual days for the 7 day is does indeed come to 41. Likewise the 4 week average does come to 40 or there abouts.

    • Ben Pine

      After some pretty thorough testing and a lot I like, I’ve grudgingly decided to return mine. I got round the broadcast problem by just recording an activity, which could then be re-labelled correctly later. I love the sleep and resting hr rate tracking. The app is great. However the inability to record hr reliably during cycling is too much. My commute to work is varying by hundred of calories. The whole point is to be accurate about my output!

    • Ben Pine

      Sent mine back and got a scosche instead. The VSHR is a lovely bit of kit, and I reckon probably the best activity tracker on the market. If you just run it’s probably fine. I got it primarily to track hr through running and cycling though, and it doesn’t cut the mustard there. Shame cos I got quite fond of it.

  19. Dennis

    Since it seems like you have a direct connection to the folks at Garmin, can you ask if they do indeed work on releasing the option of connecting the VSHR to other ANT+ devices? I have the Vivosmart and naively upgraded to the HR thinking it would be an improvement. But instead of keeping all functionalities of the Vivosmart, it removed some and added others. This doesn’t make any sense. Why would you limit us the customers/users of your products in how we use the product? An activity tracker should track all activity. Including when I bike to work which I do every day. I get no credit for this in my daily activity logs. I do have the forerunners etc, but my Vivosmart was just connected to my Cadence sensors and worked fine. So why on earth did Garmin decide to remove this option? I also would like to be able to use my chest strap if needed for high intensity workouts, as the optimal one seems sporadic at best. So knowing that Garmin is purposely blocking these functionalities in the software makes me want to return the product and go back to my regular Vivosmart.

    • Michael

      I did ask them why they didn’t transmit HR data over BTLE and he didn’t have an answer. I suppose he took it as a rhetorical question (the answer being so we will have to own and buy more Garmin products). He also didn’t have an answer as to why the iOS version of Garmin Fit was discontinued. My direct connection was by googling Garmin the support and phoning them. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

    • James

      Whilst I don’t dispute the reduction in features and agree it’s a weird choice I would comment that as long as you stay “in the Garmin ecosystem” then things work very well. I use the VSHR to track everything, but as others have noted the HR is less accurate when riding due to the vibrations, and it also doesn’t track cadence/speed. For that I use a Garmin Edge, which also uploads to connect and automatically replaces my HR data for the defined period with more accurate, and more frequent, data. So at the end of the day my data is perfect, 95% of it from the VSHR and 5% from the more accurate device for the specific intended purpose. If you’ve got a Forerunner then use that for the intended uses, and use the VSHR for the “general tracking” that it’s designed for.

    • Mark Duncombe

      I suspect Garmin have an interest in maintaining the Ant+ ecosystem and would want to use Ant+ over BLE. However they need to use BLE for connecting to smartphones and tablets as only a handful of Android smartphones support Ant+ such as my Sony Experia z2 phone.

      So Garmins approach is Ant+ for sensors, BLE for mobile device connectivity.

    • alan

      So this will not broadcast hear rate via bluetooth smart?
      too bad.

  20. Glenn

    A road ID plate fits on the band too. I would imagine it might shorten the life of the band due to wear but it is a perfect fit once you get it on!


    Will it connect to my Garmin Edge 1000?

    • Mark Duncombe

      The VSHR can broadcast HR over Ant+. Technically not a connection but it does send Ant+ to me Edge 500 so I can see no reason why it would not send HR data over Ant+ to an Edge 1000. But It will not exchange any over type of data.

    • Yes, it’ll broadcast to the Edge 1000.

      As for whether or not it’s at all accurate while cycling…well…all my tests to while cycling date point to “random number generator”.

      (Running is different/better for me.)

    • Frans

      Strange… While cycling it is for me reasonably accurate. I did notice today that starting an activity still not set the VSHR in every second sample mode; probably only when you set it to broadcasting. When it samples every second it seems to improve the accuracy. But it is clear to me that somehow the mileage will vary: some people have better result with the accuracy than others. Garmin needs to do some tweaking of the sensor.

      Would like to see Garmin change activity from running to generic activity and then set the sample rate to every second.

    • Michael Ayling

      Did you find that (random number generator thing) with the Mio Fuse as well? I had one of them and never had a problem while cycling. I haven’t had a chance to take my VSHR out cycling yet though.

    • Mark Duncombe

      I have yet to test it outdoors but on my turbo trainer 95% of the time my VSHR is pretty darn spot on (when broadcasting) what my Garmin chest strap is reporting, however from time to time it does “go off on one” and report a rapid increase or decrease in HR that just cannot happen so quickly. If you were to only glance at the VSHR from time to time you may not even notice it, its only because I have both sets of data scrolling across the screen in front of me at the same time that its apparent.

      I wonder if gripping the handlebars is having an impact on blood flow when cycling?

    • Mark Duncombe

      Ray, here is how to invoke a random number generator… :-)

      VSHR in broadcast mode.

      During today’s Zwift warm-up I repeatedly swiped the VSHR screen, every time I did so the HR dropped to 72.

      Also if you let the screen time-out and return to its default it also drops the HR to 72BPM. it does explain all the irregularities but it does explain some of the irregularities I am seeing.

      For a comparison I recorded a run activity in the shower… as the water droplets cause the screen to repeatedly change. But this time the HR plot looked ok.

  22. The most useful feature for me is the resting heart rate. Apart from a few glitches (which I hope Garmin will get around to ironing out) especially on the Connect website – where the averaging is very questionable – it seems very consistent and I think a good indicator of my ability to train on a particular day.

    Everyone who has posted their resting heart rate on here that I have noticed talks about a number around 40. I have been getting 38-40 also, and I believe it is correct, but to be sure I wanted to ask: has anyone on this forum been seeing consistent resting heart rates of higher numbers (e.g., >60) that seem correct, or do people feel that the resting heart rate is “too flattering”?

    • Mark Duncombe

      >has anyone on this forum been seeing consistent resting heart rates of higher numbers (e.g., >60) that seem correct, or do people feel that the resting heart rate is “too flattering”?

      thats a good point, I would guess many of those particulary interested in RHR have perhaps already got a fairly low RHR. If it turns out VSHR gives everybody a RHR in the region of 40… doh!

    • Ben Pine

      My wife wore mine overnight, and it gave her a RHR of 51. Seems reasonable. Really don’t want to send mine back. Trying to figure out if I can stomach swapping between a chest strap for cycling and hoping they fix the other issues.

  23. Michael Ayling

    My RHR is given as 58, which is quite ridiculously high. It is usually around 48-50 (I am unfit at the moment). RHR is lowest during sleep and that is when it should be measured but the VSHR seems to average it over daylight hours as well.

    • Johnny Row

      With all the questions about how different products measure RHR and its accuracy, to this old-fashioned guy it seems we are forgetting the accurate and easy method of looking at clock and manually counting pulse upon awakening in the morning, assuming not jolted awake by an alarm clock.

    • Frans

      I have counted my resting heart rate many times and use a blood pressure meter once in a while (gives heart rate as well) and there is nothing strange with the reported resting rate of about 45 in my case. And that more people here report that is not that odd: many are active people with an above average condition. And yes: if you are unfit or recovering from a cold or any other virus your resting hear rate will be higher. It is even an indication if your body is back to normal after a virus. The fever can be gone, but your body is still not fully recovered. If for instance you have a normal pulse of 45 and have one of 60 or higher: don’t pick up training yet and wait a few days until it is more normal again.

  24. João

    I was really eager to buy this one, but from what I have read here and across the WEB the HR sensor accuracy isn’t the best.
    Taking this in account which band has the best HR integrated sensor accuracy in the 150-200 € price range?
    I am trying to avoid to go the a chest HR sensor and I would rather have it all on the wrist. The main goal is for indoor gym training (weights, treadmill, cycling).

    Thanks a lot

    • João

      Would Tomtom Spark be an alternative? (without the music part which i don’t care about).
      It seems to have better HR accuracy and in this case if in the future I decide to get a chest strap it also supports it. The downside is the app ecossytem which seems to lack behind garmin.

    • Anh

      I did few runs and walks with both Fenix 3 + Mio Link and VVsmart HR, the HR were pretty much the same on both Mio Link and VVSmart HR . I think Garmin nailed HR in VVsmart HR.

      The issues are
      1. Garmin Connect has a bad user interface for daily activities compares to Fitbit mobile app.
      2. The sleep tracking and stair tracking are pretty much useless at this point .

  25. Jerry H.

    Look, I’m not a workout sort – I have A-FIB. I’ve been awaiting an HR wristband which simply reports my heart rate. With this doodad it appears that I can get what I want/need with the added bonus of keeping track of possible A-FIB incidences I would normally not notice (during sleep.) Everything else I can turn off if I choose which, to me, is a GREAT feature!

    • Johnny Row

      For all-day heart rate, Fitbit Charge HR is another option. Tossup which is more accurate. My sense is both do decent job when not exercising. But I’m not sure either is accurate enough to detect a-fib incidents. I think I recall reading one of them checks heart rate once every 5 seconds normally and once per second in exercise mode.

  26. Teddy

    will all my heart rate data useless if I am wearing this vivosmart HR without phone connected to it?

    For work sake, I m ditching my android phone for blackberry OS. So I probably sync the vivosmart after morning walk and late night to my android.

  27. Kyle

    Been trying this for about 10 days now. Some thoughts:

    – It’s very accurate when it wants to be (within +/- 3bpm), but as others have said, it has moments of random drift where it just goes full-blown stupid. I had random moments for when it dropped from 148bpm and randomly started reporting 93bpm for a few minutes.

    I’m curious if this can be fixed in a firmware update. Possibly by doing better smoothing or throwing out any numbers that are out of a realistic range. Your heart rate isn’t going to drop from 148 to 93 within a matter of a few seconds … unless you’re dying.

    – Doesn’t appear to take high intensity activities not tracked with the workout option and apply them against your weekly “intensity” goal. That seems silly.

    – Battery life has been good, getting about 5-6days out of mine.

    – I usually rotate it inwards for activities so it’s placed right above my wrist veins.

    – Sleep data is good, but they still need to workout a sleep-score algorithm like other popular trackers have. It makes it easier to compare day-to-day sleep.

    • kpcski

      I find that the Garmin Vivosmart HR, while in broadcast mode:

      1. Turns off broadcast mode for no reason
      2. Asks if you want to turn off bcast often
      3. I believe in an effort to save battery life, seems to stop properly sampling my heart rate and just broadcasts 71-72 until something wakes it back up
      4. Broadcasts 71-72 after a notification come thru the watch … Another indication that it loses the connection by mistake.

      Will this all be fixed by a firmware release?

      If the HRM just worked, then this device is awesome.

  28. Ron Hyman

    I was very interested in trying out the Vivosmart HR and the MS Band 2, so I bought them both this week at BB. I wore both for 24 hours and at the end of my test period, there was NO comparison (for me).

    First off, I was shocked to see that the steps recorded for each device were off by over 2,500 steps for just 1 day. So, I took to the street and paced off 100 steps. Both gave me around 100 steps. I then discovered that while sitting for 15 minutes I actually logged an additional 100 steps on the Vivo, and no steps credited on the Band 2. I was actually logging steps when moving my hands while talking and normal activities. Not good.

    I can also tell you that the display screen on the 2 devices are like night and day. I don’t wear glasses except for reading, and do so only when lighting isn’t great. The Vivo display is so dim, with no way to increase brightness, that I really struggled to see the screen. The Vivo screen is much better in daylight though. The Band 2 screen is beautiful. The standard brightness, which can be adjusted, is perfect for me. I don’t need reading glasses at any time for the Band 2.

    And for me, the Band 2 was more comfortable to wear, which really shocked me, after reading all the reviews.

    The Band 2 has GPS, another bonus, that I will use for running, biking and golf.

    I used the Starbucks app on the Band 2 this morning for the first time. Pretty cool! And coming from a software company, I know I will have many more apps coming to the Band 2 in the future, from MS and partners.

    As far as looks, I have received so many compliments on the looks of the Band 2. For me, the Band 2 had it over the Vivo in every way, except for price. BTW, picked up the Band 2 for $199, making it only $50 more than the Garmin. For me, well worth it.

    • martinot

      I also tested different activity bands, and also settled for Band 2. It’s far from perfect, but for my needs it was the best compromise I could find when I looked what was available in the market today.

    • Kyle

      Your post about the $199 deal made me go out to BB and pick up the Band2 to test alongside the Vivosmart HR. I also did the $30 2yr coverage, since I’ve had a history of fit trackers dying after a few months.

      First impressions are: Wow, they improved the comfort of this thing. Way more comfortable that the VSHR. A lot of reviews hate the clasp, but I actually like it, as it allows me to fine tune the fit for the situation.

      Accuracy (steps/hr/sleep/etc) is still up in the air as I need to test more thoroughly. But I’m digging all of the extra features, ability to reply (or dismiss calls). It is probably one of the only devices that straddles the line between premium smartwatch and fitness tracker. I also like that it gives a metric for sleeping (efficiency score) instead of Garmins approach.

      l’ll see if I can live with the battery life, but I do dig the fact it has an easy to attach magnetic charge cable. That’s something Polar always got right where as Garmin always has a weird manual attach approach.

    • martinot

      Yes, I agree. What I really like about the Band 2 is that it for me hits the perfect balance between an activity band and a smart watch. I also really dig it’s simplicity to use it.

      The only wish I have for the future is that they make a weather resistant version of it, including improving the touch screen when moist.

  29. Michael Ayling

    I also tried both. I am used to the Garmin over-counting steps – my VS and FR920XT, as well as my wife’s VF2, all over-count with the same precision. I suppose that is why the default step goal in Garmins is 7500, while the Microsoft goal is 5000.

    But I have thin wrists – but not thin enough for the small. So I do the medium up to one click off maximum and I found that I was constantly worried about scratching the Band screen, being on the inside (and more uncomfortable with the screen on the outside). The band was also not snug all round, so it protruded past my ulna. This made it annoying if I was rolling out on the floor as a warm-up. I did find the GPS good and it worked just fine while cycling. I already have a Forerunner 920XT so I managed to use the VSHR in broadcast mode easily. It did seem reliable, unlike Ray’s initial testing, as I clasped it quite tightly and perhaps because the curvature of the unit matches my wrist size quite well. However, intermittent HR monitoring during the day did seem a bit off here and there – I would swipe to look at it and see HR of 55 when it was 80. But altogether I feel that the Band 2 is still quite fragile and being always worried about damaging it (also with it not being waterproof) makes me worry about it too much to use it as an all-day every day device. Because I don’t have a Windows phone, its capabilities compared to the VSHR amounted to the GPS only. I am selling my Band 2.

    • Ron H

      I wear the Band 2 with the screen on the outside of my wrist. I am concerned about scratching the screen with it on the inside, and I like the way it looks on the outside. I may rotate it for workouts though

      I bought the 2 year warranty for $29 and so if anything happens during this time, I get a new one or they give me $200 towards a new one. That is a great insurance policy.

      I don’t have any other HR monitor, so nothing to compare it to. I am not hardcore training for anything, so just more concerned with getting the HR up than achieving various zones, etc. like others on this thread likely are.

    • martinot

      I prefer to normally wear the Band 2 on my outside wrist during normal day and night, but sometimes I changed it to be on the inside during running/exercise.

      I think it is great to have the option of both sides, and finds that it works well on both sides (I would say that it is a little bit more comfortable on the outside for me, but a little bit better HR tracking on the inside for me).

      The easy part to scratch is the metal parts, but I think the actual display glass – Gorilla Glass 3 – seems to be very resistant against scratches. I would not worry too much about that.

      What I would wish is that they could have made it better against water, including both the operation of the touch screen (very problematic if wet for me – I have to wipe it dry to use it), and I would love if they in the future would make a fully water proof version you can swim with.

    • martinot

      I also forgot to say that I have used my Band 2 both together with my work phone, Lumia 1020 with Windows Phone 8.1, and my private iPhone 5 with iOS 9.2.

      I currently use it with only my iPhone, but find that it works equally well on both platforms.

      The only caveat is that I have not tested it with Android yet as I only have iOS, Windows and OS X devices, but from the specification and theory at least, it should work as well also on that platform.

      (I really like the openness and platform agnostic Microsoft of today.)

  30. Mark Duncombe

    Firmware update now available

    Changes made from version 2.50 to 2.60:
    Fixed an issue that could cause the device to exit HR broadcast mode unintentionally.
    Fixed an issue that could prevent showing the scroll arrows on smart notifications.
    Fixed an issue that occasionally prevented the user from exiting a smart notification pop up.
    Improvements to the Heart Rate Graph by taking more readings throughout the day.
    Improved setting up a new device using Garmin Express.
    Enhanced User Interface for the Virb widget.
    Better ‘Off-Wrist’ detection while recording all-day Heart rate.
    Fixed an issue where the date could be set wrong for non-English units.
    Other foreign language improvements for various countries.
    Other minor improvements.

    link to www8.garmin.com

    • Thanks Mark. I think its also divided up the battery meter to make it a bit clearer how much is left. I’ve not let it run down yet but, if the meter is to be trusted, I find 5 days optimistic. 90 mins of hard cycling yesterday and a day in London with my kids (14000 steps so not exactly a big hike) seems to have drained about half the battery.

  31. Kyle

    Anyone else find the Intensity Minutes tracking weird? I did an hour long workout yesterday with an avg. HR of 130+ (max of 179) and got 0 intensity minutes for it. This was an interval workout, so peaks and valleys.

    Other times for similar workouts I’ve received 10 or 20 minutes towards it. So I’m curious as to what parameters they’re actually using to declare “intense” activity because the manual is somewhat vague. Makes it seem like you have to maintain the activity for a constant 20minutes to get credit, anything else is discarded.

  32. Jeff Allen

    Hi Ray (or others),

    Have you guys benchmarked the Vivosmart HR against more accepted HRM approaches – traditional HR bands or other optical HRM solutions – yet to qualify the “accuracy” of the sensor ?

    I have performed some testing between with my Polar RCX5 and definite variations appear. I am going to try again tomorrow benchmarking the Vivosmart versus an Edge 810 / Mio Link.

    The Vivosmart HR heart rate results look relatively faithful (with variation against the RCX5) excluding some very bizarre heart rate drops today when broadcasting to my Edge 810 as I was climbing with heart rate displaying almost at a resting rate. Can’t be.

    I desperately want to get rid of HR bands and would prefer to converge on one application – leaning toward Connect. Having had Polars for many years, I am sick and tired of their closed architecture and Garmin’s 910XT HR band never worked for me. Very much like my Edge 810 and Connect may be a good convergence application to suit my needs, if possible.

  33. Jeff Allen

    Also forgot in my last post, I don’t understand how the intensity minutes, steps, etc. are being calculated. I have walked very little today but went for a 1 hour bike ride (broadcasting HR to my Edge 810) and my band shows over 6,000 steps. Is it possible that the band misinterpreted my bike ride for a walk (and steps) ?

    It would also be nice to be able look at the detail of the weekly stats in Connect for the Vivosmart HR. The activities section of Connect mixes both the Vivosmart and my Edge 810, so this data is not available for the Vivosmart alone.

    • Frank

      Based only on reading Garmin’s own description of intensity minutes here: link to www8.garmin.com, I am going to presume that only step based activities are going to yield intensity minutes. As a group, Vivo’s have historically been very stingy awarding steps for road cycling so I don’t think your steps came from your bike ride and am not surprised you got no intensity minutes for that either. However herb chopping and other “vigorous” knife work can rack up a lot of steps. You will just have to dice in continuous 10 minute chunks to get intensity credit for food prep :).

    • Frank

      Also, if you go to the Step Details tab in the Daily Summary section of Connect you can view the number of steps you were awarded in every 15 minute segment throughout the day. You will also see segments marked as Highly Active in green. I am going to presume that those highly active minutes are the same as intensity minutes but cannot test that theory as I am between Garmin devices for at least another day or two.

    • I’m finding intensity minutes confusing but its not as simple as that. I have found:
      – A hard ride will get a lot of credit (i.e. double credit for some of the ride). So yesterday I got about 120 minutes credit for about 90 minutes riding.
      – A less hard ride (commuting in London for me) gets variable amounts of credit: so far sometimes 0 when I thought I had pushed it a bit, sometimes 10-20 minutes when I thought I hadn’t. I guess the 10 minute limit makes it somewhat digital, but I’m not sure what level of HR or %HR Max is the trigger.
      – Sometimes its a bit random. On Monday I did no real exercise: I walked my children to the cinema to see Star Wars and got about 10 minutes intensity minutes.
      So its all a bit mysterious but presumably this is all to some extent fixable in software but also a difficult concept as different people would want different things to count.

  34. Mark Duncombe

    So here is an example of one of the HR anomalies seen with my VSHR, shown in Strava while using Zwift. Its just a small extract from the whole workout.

    One second my HR is reported at 157bpm which seems reasonable as I was holding 280 watts on the climb on Watopia but then just a few seconds later its sitting at 72bpm for about 30 seconds.

    my cadence is constant, my power is constant and my speed is pretty constant, so what happened?

    Also not how a bout a minute later my HR as shown by the VSHR gets back to what I think is a reasonable value.

    maybe it coincided with me getting out of the saddle and somehow that changed the fit of the VSHR on my wrist.

    Like I say for 90% of the time the HR looks pretty good, just every now and again it goes off on one :-(

  35. Sarah

    Anyone been using the vivosmart hr for a while now (I know it wasn’t released all that long ago) and can speak to the accuracy of the optical sensor for monitoring hr? Trying to decide between buying the vivosmart with the hr feature or not. Thoughts? Thanks

    • dave

      I’ve been using the vivosmart HR for the last week and having similar findings to other folks posting here. the optical monitor works well for resting HR tracking and light activity (walking). It works “ok” on the runs I’ve used it for, with a few disappointments. It doesn’t track decreasing HR that well when descending hills. It tends to stay in my zone 4 HR I was in when running up the hill. It does eventually find my HR again but it takes a few minutes. I’ve found it tracks a little better If the sensor is on my volar wrist (inside). Also annoying is I’m getting HR drops from from from my training HR in the 130-160’s into the 70s whenever the vibrate alert goes off (to indicate a goal, txt message, etc). I guess the sensor can’t track HR accurately with that vibration motion. It does recover but takes a few mins. The HR broadcast feature is slick but it decides to turn off once in a while (about once a session so far). It might be that my wet sleeve was touching the display. I haven’t tried it for cycling. My only other complaint is it accumulates steps when I’m driving (my vivoactive does this too). I’m happy with it otherwise and works as advertised. Backlight feature is nice, touch display works well. You can confgure the screen layout for vertical/horizontal display for either wrist. I’m getting about 4 days of battery life, averaging 60mins running/day. It’s a nice gadget but Garmin has more work to do on the HR sensor accuracy.

    • Mike

      Interesting comment on it counting steps while you drive. I had mine off my wrist but turned on and it still seemed to be counting calories! BTW, mine started counting at 1000 calories out of the box. How does one re-set this main screen value to 0?

    • Johnny Row

      As for counting calories while off your wrist, the Fitbit Charve HR credits basal metabolic rate calories even when not worn. I assume this does the same.

  36. Sylvester Jakubowski

    Nobody else seems to be mentioning it, but the vivosmart HR (for me at least) is just plain uncomfortable and borderline painful to wear. I got one for Christmas and it’s going back. Really wanted to track resting HR for recovery but my old/current Vivosmart is going to stay.

    Hopefully something interesting comes at CES.

    • Sarah W

      I’m so glad to find someone else who’s experienced this ( although, sorry for your pain, obviously!). I’ve had mine for three or four days now, I’ve had to wear it in a different place each day. I’ve tried it on the inside and outside of my wrists on both arms, and wherever I’ve placed it, the HR sensor really digs into my arm. I’ve tried loosening it and even did t wear it last night to give my arm a rest but it’s still really sore this morning, as if my arm is bruised. On the outside of my wrist, it seems to sit right on the bone.

      My Dad bought a Fitbit Surge over Christmas so I’m going to try that for a few days and see if I fare any better. I’m so disappointed as I’ve been researching trackers for ages and have waited a couple of months to get this model and now I can’t even wear it!

    • Sarah W

      Just an update to this – I did send it back. Wore the Surge for a day and had no problems with discomfort at all, so returned the Vivosmart and bought a Fitbit Charge HR which is really comfortable. The screen is easier to read to; the Vivosmart lets you choose screen orientation but doesn’t apply this to all screens, so I found myself having to contort my arm awkwardly to read some things. Shame I couldn’t get on with it but very happy so far with the Fitbit.

  37. Michael

    So now that the Band 2 has had a software update which includes movement reminders and – crucially – music controls, I have gone back to that. The VSHR had to be done up uncomfortably tightly in order to achieve a somewhat easy reliable heart rate. Also, the music controls on the VSHR only work with iTunes music on the iPhone. I also use Goodreader to play my language MP3 files and the VSHR doesn’t pick that up, whereas the Band 2 does. It is a shame the Band 2 is not waterproof though. I might still use the VSHR to broadcast HR to my FR920XT instead of a heat strap, acknowledging I will need to do it up tightly for that. Or I might take it back to rebel on the basis of dodgy HR acquisition.

    • martinot

      Yes, I agree about the Band 2. While I really like it best of all bands today, I really wish that Microsoft listens to it’s customers and makes the next version waterproof. Microsoft; do it!

  38. Mike

    Well I have been doing a lot of research on HR monitors since reliability on the last two has become a major issue. My Polar FT40 will not remain paired to the strap. As well, I wore it plus the strap for my Edge 500 on a recent 60 km ride and got 952 calories burnt on the Edge and 1333 on the Polar. Hmmm… The HR readings were identical throughout.

    Too bad the Vivosmart HR will rebroadcast HR to all Garmin ANT+ devices EXCEPT Garmin cycling computers. Stupid. That said, tomorrow will be my Vivosmart HR’s inaugural use during a 48 minute workout on my rowing machine (3 minute cool down). I will use it in conjunction with my Edge 500 which to date tells me I burn 365-375 calories during that period. Update on that later.

    • “Too bad the Vivosmart HR will rebroadcast HR to all Garmin ANT+ devices EXCEPT Garmin cycling computers. Stupid.”

      But that’s not true.

      It broadcasts just fine to Edge devices. I use and record with my Edge 520’s without any issue at all.

    • Mike

      Spending a lot of time today getting used to this new marvel. In the report above the author clearly states:

      ” Additionally, for cyclists, it can pair to an ANT+ Speed sensor to get speed/distance while cycling – just like the original Vivosmart. Update…Apparently Not – That Was Pulled. As Was Also The Ability To Connect To A Separate Strap.”

      Well new “update” Yes. Yes you can! From the Garmin Owners Manual online: link to www8.garmin.com

      Broadcasting Heart Rate Data to Garmin® Devices
      You can broadcast your heart rate data from your vívosmart® HR device and view it on paired Garmin devices. For example, you can broadcast your heart rate data to an Edge® device while cycling, or to a VIRB® action camera during an activity.

      NOTE: Broadcasting heart rate data decreases battery life.
      Press the device key to view the menu.
      Select Heart RateBroadcast Mode.
      The vívosmart HR device starts broadcasting your heart rate data, and appears.

      NOTE: You can view only the heart rate monitoring screen while broadcasting heart rate data.
      Pair your vívosmart HR device with your Garmin ANT‍+® compatible device.
      NOTE: The pairing instructions differ for each Garmin compatible device. See your owner’s manual.
      TIP: To stop broadcasting your heart rate data, tap the heart rate monitoring screen, and select .

      I am broadcasting to my Edge 500 as I type this.

    • The manual is talking about broadcasting from the Vivosmart HR to your Garmin Device (i.e. Edge computer). Whereas my statement was talking about connecting your Vivosmart HR to an existing HR strap (i.e. Garmin HR strap).

      Unfortunately, that second one still isn’t permitted.

    • Pat

      Santa (me) bought one of these for my wife.

      I wanted something simple to help her in her various fitness activities, it has to be simple as she is the original luddite.

      Well, it failed, mainly as she has an iPhone4 so immediately I had to use my iPhone5 to set it up.
      OK I thought we can set up connect on the iPad – but it is an iPad Mini 1st Gen, and in theory should work; but doesn’t and searching the internet ‘verse this is a regular fail.

      So I have been told to use it myself and get it correct for her use.
      First morning to rebroadcast the HR to my faithful old Edge 705 – doesn’t receive.

      Nice looking watch though.

    • Can you clarify when you say it doesn’t receive?

      Did you:

      A) Go into re-broadcasting mode on the Vivosmart HR?
      B) Go into the Edge 705 and search for a new ANT+ device?
      C) Did it find it, or see anything?


    • Pat

      Hi Ray
      I put the HR on broadcast mode on the Vivosmart,
      Then in the 705 under settings>Ant+ Sport>Accessories, the 705 had “Heart rate Monitor Present ?” as yes, but it never said it found it..

      I then did Restart Scan, nothing.
      I then put the Heart Rate Monitor to No, and then back to yes, nothing, I then did restart scan , and again nothing.
      I even tried Receive Data.
      Usually when it sees an Ant+ device, it says it has found it and then starts showing the readings.
      In this case nothing.
      I have never seen on the 705 an “add new Ant+ device” setting, it always had, Heart, Cadence or Power as kind of defaults, Yes or No.
      Kind of stumped.

    • mike

      OK so after 24 hours and one full workout, here are my thoughts:

      If you want to use this as a real time HR monitor on the main screen, forget it. No matter what my actual HR is using my Edge 500 or manual finger pulse method, Vivosmart HR says 71-72. Regardless of which wrist or how tight. Even though I know it was in the low 50’s. When you scroll from time to HR, always 71-72. It may start to change but defaults back to Time too soon to get a reading. The second it does go back to Time, an immediate scroll back to HR and there it is, 71-72. Alternatively if you use HR as your main page, it freezes on the last pulse read after about 30 seconds. You have to tap the screen to re-activate it to see the “new” 71-72 and it freezes before it can display an actual HR. Bummer.

      Now during the workout, Max HR and Average HR were within acceptable limits of the Edge 500 readings. So the internal software of the Vivosmart HR are fine. But the display of information leaves a lot to be desired. Also, even though set to having the backlight activate upon lifting the wrist during Activity Mode, this feature did not work.

      So although a great idea, I have to give the Vivosmart HR a FAIL. I liked the idea of not having to wear a chest strap, but some things just cannot be overcome.

      In conclusion, back it goes…

    • Pat

      Hi Ray, in addition, I checked with my Forerunner 610, and it found the Vivosmart no problem when it was broadcasting HR.

    • Alex Greenwood

      Thanks for posting this. Finally someon me who mentions my exact same annoyances with it. garmin connect displays the information correctly, but I am amasezed how often during the day it says 71/72. I am really hopeful they will fix the hr display. What’s confusing is that if you stay of the hr menu for a couple of minutes and go back to it, it has an accurate reading and immediatly starts reverting back to 71 or 72. So really useless during workouts if you want to stay in the zone…

  39. Jacky

    Bought it for 1 week with firmware 2.6. There are few issues and I want to return it if possible:
    1. lag on HR. I was having exercise in GYM and running for few minutes. I can feel my HR increased and also showed on the equipment in the GYM. However, the VIVOSMART HR still shows extremely low HR for few minutes.
    2. Metal part of the watchband caused uncomfortable.
    3. sleeping time is not accurate.

    • Richard M.

      I also found a lag at the beginning of a workout, not sure why. But then, it seemed to track quite well. When it did lag, it showed abnormally low values, about in the 40s which I doubt I hit even in my sleep. I wore the watch a little looser and it began to track better. But I’m not sure why it would lag like that when I am sitting on a couch and check the HR, it seems to come up with a normal number.

      The band is super comfortable to me so that’s too bad it irritates your wrist. I literally forget I am wearing the thing. So far I like it and will keep probing it for weaknesses.

    • Jacky

      thanks for your reply, Richard.
      seems like the HR sensor needs few minutes warm up which is not required on chest band type HR sensor.
      It also shows delayed HR on the watch but broadcasts correctly to Garmin 510 when I am cycling.
      I believe the watchhand will be more comfortable if the metal part is replaced by sort material. Hope Garmin will release new firmware to fix the lag issue soon.

  40. Brenna Peters

    I have the Garmin vivosmartHR and it’s says in this article you can- Tracks workouts separately (can also still connect to HR strap)-

    How!!!! I do zumba and other classes. I would love to know how I many calories I loose in my hour class. I could add up my calories with my fitbit and log it in. Would love to do that again.

  41. Kirsty

    I’ve had the Vivo HR now about five days and love it. But there are a few glitches. Hopefully these are all just software glitches and can be fixed.

    1. The most annoying is that activity times default to Greenwich mean time. So you enter them and for me they log themselves as being done 10 hrs earlier. Normally when I’m sound asleep. I can change this on the Web page but have to do it every time.
    2. Lap times. Logs a lap as a mile not a km, despite all being set to metric. So I get a lap every 1.6km. Not very useful.
    3. Move bar is useless. I went for a bike ride and a swim yesterday. Low key with my seven year old cousin and it kept logging me as idle. I wanted to use this function when I was truly idle, stuck at the computer at work. Not when I’m out and about but not necessarily doing 200 consecutive steps. No way that I know of to manually clear it either.
    4. Flights gained is erratic. Doesn’t record them well if carrying for example my 20kg border Collie up and down which I do several times a day. Also always logs more flights down than up, which isn’t the case. Should be identical.

    On the plus side. It was awesome for a session kiteboarding to track my HR and intensity minutes. I do a lot of water sports so it is great to finally be able to track this. Excellent at tracking steps. Distances are pretty accurate too. It’s comfortable, fits my small wrist well and is much smaller than other waterproof hr trackers. I’m not a fitness buff, but I like being active in a range of not really conventional sports. This is the first tracker at a reasonable price with HR that really does work. It will be an amazing toy but just needs some background software tweaks.

  42. Lorri McDonald

    Hi I am still wondering if it has an alarm that I can set to wake me like the Jawbone?

    • Dennis

      Yes you can. But it is very basic. You can set the alarm to wake you up at the same time every week day or every day. That’s about it. It is controlled via the app. I cannot figure out why Garmin wont update this function. I have used the Jawbone app and the way it handles alarms are awesome. It would or should be easy for Garmin to simply just copy these functions as well.

  43. Dave C

    My wife and i also purchased one of these for Christmas. Frankly, quite disappointing. The heart rate displayed when exercising or resting is poor. Resting is always 71 – 72 for both of us. I have a naturally low resting hr of 50 but it never shows this even when in bed at night. It does seem to detect and display is correctly when viewing the history. The band needs to be worn too tight to pick up the heart rate and as a result causes slight irritation. I was also not able to keep the band connected to my new android device. It would pair after a lot of fussing about, but would then fail completely and not reconnect. My wife also has a different brand android phone that works a little better but far from perfect. Of course apple devices, ipad in my case work fine. Alerts have never worked.

  44. Mallory Hull

    Why does my vivosmart HR reset throughout the day. I have had it for about a week and have never reached my step goal (6,000-7,000) because it resets throughout the day. How do I keep it from resetting?

  45. Ridzuan

    Hi. I currently have a Fenix 3. I normally use it for running and cycling due to its GPS function. However I am still thinking whether to purchase the VivoSmart HR to track my daily activities. I have some questions though.

    1) Can both devices be synced to Garmin Connect at once?

    2) I am working on shifts. As such my sleep isnt regular. And as far as I know, I need to set the the time for my wake up and sleep timings for it to be able to detect sleep automatically. Can it detect sleep out of that period?

    I currently own a Fitbit charge HR which works totally well.

    • Mark

      1) As far as I know, you can connect multiple devices to your Garmin Connect app (iOS, no exp w/Android). But, you can only designate one as your activity tracker. And, this selection has to be done manually. It can be done on the app for all devices or on the device for some units. (ex – F3 is set as AT during the day. But, VSHR is set as AT during the night to capture resting HR.)

      2) It should auto detect sleep outside of the IDed period. But, if it doesn’t, you can manually report sleep and the specific data (deep vs light) will still be reported and saved to your GC account.

  46. Gwen

    Hi, we have bought 2 Garmin Vivosmart HR but we only have one phone, can they both be run from one phone? Thanks

  47. Frank

    After a week with the Vivosmart HR, I am pretty pleased. That is only—however—because I got it primarily for monitoring resting heart rate which I think it is doing pretty well.

    As for heart rate of any and every other kind, I am totally appalled by the poor performance of this device. A lot of people who will buy this device are the ones that are just trying to pry themselves out of their Lazy Boy Recliner and walk a mile every day or two. Purely out of curiosity, I have bench marked my VSHR against a HRM-RUN paired with a Fenix3 on three fairly long and decidedly NON-strenuous dog walks in the last few days with these results:

    _________________Walk 1____________Walk2____________Walk 3

    I guess this must be why they named their fancy new sensor technology ELEVATE. It certainly elevated my heart rate.

  48. Mark Duncombe

    Here is another example of the VSHR heart rate collapse during a Zwift trainer (Kickr) workout. The VSHR was in broadcast mode which was being picked up by an Ant+ dongle on my PC running Zwift.

    You can clearly see to huge heart rate drops, with at least one of them coinciding with a move bar cleared vibration notification. When the HR drops it flat lines at exactly 72BPM for a while before recovering.

    Over the course of the workout the HR was more or less accurate apart from the two drops seen in the picture plus one other occurrence earlier on in the workout

  49. Jeff Allen

    Finally decided to return my Vivosmart HR.

    Similar to many people, I was hoping this would be a reliable activity tracker plus a replacement to my fitness heart rate monitor. While it appears to be pretty good as the former it is not very good as the latter.

    Surprising since Garmin produces band-based heart rate monitors, you would think they would have spent considerable time benchmarking against these in-house alternatives plus competitors in the market such as Polar.

    Guess I will have to stick with my Edge 810 / Mio Link on the bike and a Polar RCX5 when working out.

    Pretty disappointed !


    • Pat

      Tried the VS HR on a bike ride.
      Just ran it it as a “running” activity, and also paired my standard HR strap to my Edge 705.

      Took quite a while (about 5 mins ) for the Vivo to catch up to the higher levels of the strap readings; but remained pretty constant at ranges of around 145-165.

      In fact my old strap started to freak out a bit (I need a new strap I think) and sent readings to the 705 of 200 plus – when I was at threshold efforts (obviously concerned my post Christmas shape was worse than I thought when I saw that), however the Vivo was actually far closer to what I was “feeling”.
      After the strap settled down again, they were running pretty constant and within 2 bpm to each other.
      Still can’t get the broadcast HR to work with the 705 though.

      Although not delivering quite what I bought it for, getting quite attached to it, so will not be returning it.

  50. R

    What is the point of reviewing something if you haven’t even used it properly yet? To say “I don’t know” “I haven’t tried it yet” & “We will have to see” is not really helpful. I have one and have used it for a good 2 weeks before I’ve decided that the distance travelled, calories burnt and heart rate are all incorrect . I found that my phone and old fashioned Polar HR with strap is much more accurate. I came here looking to see if I would get the same opinion but you would need to actually try all the features first before you can review it.

    • Umm, because it’s not a review. It’s a first look at a device on the day it was announced, with more detail than you’d find anywhere else. Everyone else seems to find that helpful though.

      If you just want to read a generic press release from the company, you’re welcome to find other places on the internet for that.

      As for my in-depth review of the Vivosmart HR, you’ll see it next week, following CES.

    • Jeff Allen


      As usual, Ray’s review was great – both thorough on the product features while warning the big risk was the accuracy of the sensor.

      Eyes wide open when I purchased the unit. Just shocked that Garmin did not adequately do their homework prior to releasing a product with so much potential and market opportunity. In my opinion, people are tired of Polar’s proprietary approaches while widely adopting Garmin’s bike computers. Therefore, a huge opportunity existed for Garmin to simultaneously knock out standalone heart rate monitors, owned by Polar (for reference, I purchased a 910XT liking the watch all-in-all but the heart rate strap never worked for me and the severely limited battery life due to the GPS was useless for me), and activity trackers, owned by Fitbit.

      The Vivosmart HR could have been the ultimate convergence device coming from the athlete-dominated angle.

      Sadly, I can just see the future at risk with these types of missteps:
      1. iWatch + iPhone could potentially provide the fitness tracking and cycle computer solution. Living in Silicon Valley, carbon fiber and spandex have replaced the Callaway / Taylormade’s woods which my Dad owned.
      2. Alternatively particularly with Apple moving into the fitness tracking segment, does Fitbit develop a cycle computer ?

      Garmin is in a position to win this market and obsolete some of these competitors if can develop the right product and features necessary.

      Again, Ray your review was great leading to my purchase. You had highlighted the accuracy concern which eventually led to the return of my device.

    • Frank

      Hi R. It’s kind of funny that you used it two weeks without figuring out how to customize the step size. That would have taken care of distance traveled. As for calories burnt, I wonder how you would know what is “correct”. Somebody else’s SWAG or have you been marching about in a room direct calorimeter? I have to agree on the heart rate front but that seems to vary from one individual to the next and chest straps have always worked way better than any optical sensor for me. That said, I’m not going to wear one 24/7.

      I’m anxiously awaiting Ray’s full review. As always, it will be more thorough, accurate and unbiased than anything you can find anywhere else and by no small margin.

    • R

      Frank, I have adjusted the step size on day 1 as per the instructions-it’s still out.

      There are few ways of tracking calories and they are all consisent, except for the Garmin.

    • tri-athlete

      Can’t wait for your review! Thanks Ray.

      And again question about swimming. Hope you have had time to test it out in the pool.

  51. LT

    I have been using the VSHR for about a month now in tandem with my fenix 3. I used the Vivofit and original Vivosmart previously. I love the 24/7 heart rate, but I am annoyed at how many steps it takes to get to the broadcast mode for the HR. It seems like it is buried too deep in the settings. I would love to see a menu option like the find-a-phone, rather then buried in the second to last settings dot. Is there a shortcut I am missing to setting it to broadcast mode?

    • Carman

      how do you normally use VSHR tandem with fenix 3? I have f3 as well and thinking of picking this up as a easy way to track HR and steps, tho not sure if its worth it considering fenix 3 seem to do all that already (minus the HR part)

    • LT

      I set the VSHR as my activity tracker and it feeds the 24/7 HR data to Garmin Connect (it also holds my RoadID tag). I use theF3 on my other wrist as an everyday watch and to record my workouts. This set up works OK, but I wish turning the VSHR to broadcast was a little more streamlined. If you don’t care about the 24/7 heart rate there are better optical monitors out there.

  52. Russ

    Review of the Vivosmart HR was very good. I have purchased one and find some difficulties with the intensity work out measuring (as in it will not measure). I am having some struggles having it work with the indoor trainer. I also notice the down flights of stairs is less accurate than the Up stair measure. The daily steps are also a bit off due to arm movement but I haven’t figure out what specific movement causes that yet. The heart rate is really good and is more accurate than any I have seen so far. The battery life is also very good. I like the sleep measure. It provides a base line which can be analyzed as time progresses. I would like an option for a bit brighter back light. Now I admit some or potentially all of the errors or trouble regarding settings can be user error but that is the finding so far.

  53. Marc Klein

    Is the vivosmart hr going to work well with swimming? And eventually get a swimming icon with a firmware update for that activity? And as far as rebroadcasting the heart rate , does garmin have plan to broadcast hr in blue tooth being that could help expand there app and the possibilitys , not to mention sales for them. Ant plus is great and what would be great for cyclist is is it synced with the varia radar and vibrated when a car was approaching on rides

  54. jen

    I wish my Edge 1000 would pick up the HR from my Vivosmart HR!

    • Frank

      Back in post #553 Ray referred to the VSHR’s HR performance during cycling as a “random number generator”. You are probably way better off with whatever you are already using.

  55. Anita Ward

    Can you please tell me if the vivosmart HR is also waterproof to 50 metres? I would like to buy one for my husband but this is vital information needed before I do!


    • Frank

      That is the specification. I’ve only had mine for a couple of weeks but have been swimming and showering with it on without any problems so far. I have not tried to use the HR feature while swimming because I have found the HR to be generally unreliable when exercising and have a HRM-SWIM for that.

  56. ARDotCom

    Yes, it is a perfect device for my routine moderate workout. I love the interval HR monitoring. The HR able to be read by my Garmin Edge 25 through broadcast mode perfectly. I don’t need strap chest anymore!!!

  57. kpcski

    I have just spoken to Garmin. They say that there are NO PLANS to add any LOCKSCREEN functionality to the Garmin Vivosmart HR. They suggest that this cannot be done via a firmware update, but that the device will need new hardware (a button) added. Do we agree? I would have thought that lockscreen could be enabled/disable by either touching the screen for 10-15 seconds uninterrupted or by holding down the single button for a similar amount of time. What do you experts think please? It is rather ridiculous that my Vivosmart constantly asks if I want to stop broadcasting while I am exercising when I should be able to LOCKSCREEN the device … agree?

    • ARDotCom

      Yes, im agree with u. I also had a same problem. But it is a small matter for me because im cycling with my edge 25. while cycling, i just using my edge 25 for time and to see my heart pumping. Btw the screen always changing while showering. The screen also sensitive to water flow on it. from my opinion, it should be a function lock screen on it. thanks

    • Finn Sievwright

      I too agree that the unit needs a lockscreen. I’ve noticed the screen is affected by falling water when in the shower. Surely holding down the button or pressing on the screen for an extended period would do this.

      I loved the functionality of the previous vivosmart and would love to bring back adding sensors like the HR strap or bicycle speed to the unit. I would have stuck with the older unit, but it simply wasn’t robust enough and was replace 5 times by garmin. It always failed while using it with the HR strap. The Vivosmart HR unit I have now is a replacement for my old unit failing too many times. I’m hoping this unit doesn’t die too.


  58. Some comments based on a few weeks use:
    – battery life doesn’t seem great. I doubt I’d get the quoted 5 days and intense activity seems to use the batter faster.
    – HR generally seems roughly OK with odd blips and drop outs as others have commented. I look forward to Ray’s detailed comparison and its worth bearing in mind that HRM belts aren’t always great, e.g. I’ve often found them to die after a battery change or two despite following instructions and have had double readings and drops outs.
    – HR broadcasting to my Edge 810 isn’t great. As others have said, its fiddly to get broadcast mode. I also found that I had to pair the Edge to the vivo and then back to my usual belt. And the signal kept dropping. So I’ve sort of given up on broadcasting for the moment.
    – Intensity minutes seem odd and I think the algorithm needs improving. A training ride with my cycling club gives me lots of credit (including a lot of double minutes) but commuting around town seems more random: sometimes I’ve pushed it and got nothing, other times I’ve been cycling more slowly because of traffic/unfamiliar route and got some credit.
    – Stairs seems odd too – I don’t think it always credits the same flight of stairs (most being in my home or office). I think distance ascended would make more sense.
    – Sleep detection doesn’t seem as good as the original Vivofit.

    The above comments sound fairly negative but I’m happy enough overall to keep it and I suspect I could be made a lot happier after some firmware updates.

  59. B Kelly

    Purchased the Garmin HR after returning a Fitbit Charge HR because the HR monitoring was so poor. However, Garmin HR is even less accurate. I could accept a 10% variance but even hard work outs show only a c70bpm reading. Its a shame because otherwise the unit is generally okay. Is the poor HR just a defective unit which might improve if replaced?

    • Frank

      I had a similar issue but that was only happening when walking (post 621 above). Yesterday, I ran five miles recording the activity on both the VSHR and a fenix3 paired with a Garmin HRM-TRI chest strap with the following results:


      Which is close enough to be useful in my book. Here is a comparison of the two heart rate graphs from this run:

      link to i1375.photobucket.com

      Again, not perfect but close enough to be useful in a pinch. Yet my walking heart rates continue to be crazy high so I called Garmin support. They advised me to take this one back to Best Buy and get another.

      I does not make a lot of sense to me that this could be caused by a device malfunction but a quick trip to Best Buy is a small price to pay to find out.

      Stay tuned :).

    • Frank

      Well, I swapped it out and then went for a low-speed three-mile dog walk at dusk recording the activity at the same time as my fenix3 paired with an HRM-RUN. The VSHR recorded average and maximum heart rates of 108 and 131 compared to 81 and 89 for the fenix3/HRM-RUN set-up.

      I have to conclude that, whatever was wrong with my first unit is also wrong the replacement and, by extension, with ALL VivosmartHR’s. My new one is running the latest firmware (2.60). It is really odd to me that it can do a reasonable job of capturing both resting heart rate and running heart rate but gets totally befuddled by a simple walk.

      I should point out that some people have reported getting much better results across a wide range of activities than I have experienced and your mileage may very well vary. Having said that, I am a fit, thin, not particularly hairy, 60 year old, Caucasian, male without any obvious physical abnormalities that would explain this odd and substantial HR inflation while walking.

      I am also keeping mine because I only expect it to be an activity tracker that captures resting heart rate. I have better devices for intentional exercise. Garmin also usually gets around to making their devices work right sometime during the first year they are on the market so it won’t get worse and will probably get much better sooner or later. There is not another activity tracker on the market today that I would rather have.

  60. kpcski

    I think that the trick to the Garmin Vivosmart HR for good HR measurement is that you have the device on either Activity Timing OR Broadcast ANT+ Heartrate. I only have experience with the latter, but Garmin told me that Heartrate is measured the same with either choice. What I see (on a bike !!) is that if my arm is still for too long, then the Vivosmart seems to go to sleep, broadcast a fixed and very low heartrate like 73bpm, and only sample heartrate every 10 mins … Sometimes if I shake my arm the Vivosmart wakes up and registers VERY well (better than Mio Link which I have used at the same time) … If the arm shake does not work, then ending and restarting the broadcast seems to work quite well

    • B Kelly

      I have used the Garmin HR for a few days now on “Activity timing” and this does seem to give a much more accurate record of my HR particularly in intense training periods. This seems to have dealt with my concerns. Might be worth Garmin making this operational guidance clearer in their instruction manual which might well avoid returns.

  61. kpcski

    Where can I buy Garmin Vivosmart charging cables please? I am London, UK based. Amazon.co.uk is no help. THANKS.

  62. Melissa

    I liked my Vivosmart HR until this morning. I turned it off (held side button to long) and now can’t get it to turn back on. I have only had it for 3 months. To early for it to die.

  63. Jodi Taylor

    Is the Vivosmart HR device compatible with the Garmin chest strap? I’ve worn many of these devices & unfortunately am disappointed with the HR feature during a vigorous workout. Workouts that i would normally burn 300+ calories, this watch is recording less than 200. I wore this one & my chest strap one at the same time & the HR record was completely different. At times my heart was racing my Garmin said it was between 75-85, which that is my normal resting HR. I wanted to rid of the chest strap but feel it’s the most accurate so I’m looking to pair this watch with a chest strap but am not finding any info on if it’s compatible which makes me think it isn’t. Which stinks because I’m going to have to go back to my other device to get a more accurate reading of calorie burn & HR.

    • Frank

      It will not work with any external sensors. This includes Garmin’s own heart rate straps as well as third part HR sensors. It will broadcast your heart rate to other devices but I think you would agree that that would be pretty pointless given its poor accuracy.

  64. Meghan

    The x-large is only available in black. Any idea if/when they are going to be coming out with more colors in the x-large size?

  65. Jeff Allen

    While I returned my VHR, let’s hope that Garmin doesn’t face this:

    link to theverge.com

  66. ARDotCom

    Hi, i have a little problem with my garmin vivosmart HR, the activity record shown a different time on heart rate table graph. My workout at 8pm but on graph it shown 12noon. Last night, it fail recorded my sleep tracking. None shown on graph. It is a software or device problem? Anybody had a same problem like me?

    • Frank

      The numbers that appear on your activity graphs (both heart rate and pace) are a timer representation. For example 12:00 represents twelve minutes and zero seconds into the activity not noon.

      As for your sleep graph, it may be uncertain when you fell asleep and woke up. Try editing your Start Time and Wake Time. The graph will probably show back up. My VSHR has been much worse at these guesses than my non-HR Vivosmart was but seems to have gotten much better with the most recent firmware release (2.60). Be sure you are on the most current release.

  67. Mark Duncombe

    another day and another test with the VSHR. Last time I posted I mentioned how I was seeing periodic HR drops with it flat lining at 72bpm for a while before recovering, on one of these occasions it corresponded to a vibration alert on the VSHR.

    So today I had an easy Zwift turbo trainer workout, alternating between 105 and 150 watts, with my VSHR broadcasting HR to my ant+ dongle for Zwift. But I left my phone off, so no notifications or move alerts. Might be coincidence and needs more testing but I did not see any massive HR drops like I saw previously. sure, it was not as good as my HR strap and there were a couple of minor fluctuations I could not explain but on the whole it looked pretty good.

    • Frank

      It is not HORRIBLE but it is bad enough that I would not find it acceptable. I am amazed by the lengths people go to and the compromises they make just to avoid fastening a bit of elastic around their chest. I have a Scosche Rhythm+ which is WAY better than the VSHR under “load” but I rarely use it because it does not support “real” HRV and has WAY more dropouts and spikes than any of my chest straps.

      I can see the VSHR taking a dump when it gives it’s attention over to another task (like getting a text notification or giving you a move alert). Turning off your phone would eliminate the former but not the latter. I would hope that engaging in a cycling activity would be enough to keep move alerts at bay. Has that been your experience? I have not yet cycled with mine.

    • Cristian Contreras

      I’ve been doing some tests myself and notifications causes HR to drop to 71/72 during exercise. I tested this today when on my turbo trainer and it was very consistent, received notifications and HR drops to 71/72 immediately.

      I think this is related to a bug that is being discussed over in the Garmin Forums which I’ve also experienced. Whenever you swipe to the HR screen the VSHR will take a HR sample. It will start off at 71/72 and then work its way from there. The problem is that it logs 71/72. Since it samples HR quite seldom, it doesn’t take many swipes to HR screen to mess up the all day HR stats. I’ve disabled my HR screen and stats look so much better. This only helps the all day readings, not exercise and notifications but I suspect they are related.

    • Mark Duncombe

      Interesting indeed.

      When I do see a HR drop its almost always down to 72bpm, sits there for a while and then slowly recovers to what it should be.

      What you have described would certainly explain many of the odd readings I ahve been seeing. I still get spikes but these are usually related to changes of position on my turbo trainer, such as stretching between intervals.

      Just swiped to my HR rate screen and guess what 72bpm!

      Looks like a smoking gun to me.

  68. kpcski

    My Garmin Vivosmart HR will no longer pair via Bluetooth with my iPhone5 … Does anyone have some #protips to work around this issue? It worked fine intially, but would not reconnect after the first time it was diconnected from the iPhone when Bluetooth was disabled when I took an airplane flight. I have tried turning on and off each device. The iPhone is still paired and re-pairing with other devices. The Vivosmart previously appeared as connected, but it was not, so I disconnected (forget this device), and now the Vivosmart does not even come up as a pairable device … Vivosmart does say Ready to Pair, but never connects and is never visible on the iPhone pairing list … THANKS.

    • kpcski

      I guess that I was being a dunce, though the Garmin Vivosmart pairs in a different manner than I have seen before … you DO NOT look for Garmin Vivosmart to appear in your Iphone Settings Bluetooth Pairing screen … Instead you have to go to Garmin Connect mobile while your Vivosmart is trying to pair and Garmin Connect Mobile will ask you to enter a code which now magivally appears on your Vivosmart display screen … Once you enter that six digit code, then you are paired and the Vivosmart appears in your Iphone settings connected list … #notintuative4me

  69. Michele

    I just bought mine today but returning tomorrow I can’t figure out how to turn the brightness up on the touchscreen and I can’t see anything it looks as if there isn’t a backlight at all is that how there supposed to be

  70. kpcski

    As others have mentioned, when in BROADCAST (Heart Rate) Mode my VivosmartHR generally works exceptionally well, but at times the device just wrongly starts broadcasting 71-72 as my heartrate. I saw the other who said that this happens due to a NOTIFICATION coming thru, but I see it just randomly. It feels as if the device goes to sleep, stops sampling, and just broadcasts some default rate. It is possible to wake the device back up to broadcast properly. I seem to be able to get it to wake up by wiggling the device, ending and restarting broadcasting, and/or swinging by arm arm (as I am generally indoor cycling). Does Garmin know of this bug? Does anyone else have any #protips like turning off notifications that the other person shared? I have emailed Garmin, but they have been very slow to respond. I really do like this device A LOT overall. To have a device that does all day heart rate monitoring, good activity tracking, and has ANT+ broadcast mode is a tremendous combination. I also find the device far more comfortable than my non-broadcasting Fitbit Surge. Thanks.

    • Mark Duncombe

      Could I urge anyone who has seen this 72BPM problem in any of its manifestations to contact Garmin via Twitter, Facebook or via a support ticket so they can see the extent of the problem, even better if you can back it up with some data from connect, which lets face it we all have access to. something like the attached which I captured from Garmin Connect when using a VSHR broadcasting HR to another ant+ device.

  71. James


    Love your website, awesome reviews across such a wide range of products. Utterly invaluable!

    I have a specific question: I am a cyclist, I use a Garmin 520 paired to my phone for cycling most days including training and commuting. The only limitation here is that I only get call/text notifications, not twitter, whatsapp etc but I can live with that.

    What I want is an activity tracker I can wear (or put in a pocket) during cycling and then wear throughout the day that won’t count the cycling activity as steps. For example, the Up24 tries to do that – so I end up with an element of double-count in my daily calories.

    Am I right in thinking that using the Vivosmart I can achieve this – i.e. Garmin connect will take the 520 data if I prioritise it and ignore the Vivosmart for that chunk of time?

    I believe I am also right in thinking I can only have the Vivosmart OR the 520 paired on BT and BLE?

    Thanks, James

    • Stuart


      I have whatsapp turned on as a notification as well as other apps I use so you can get them
      Just pick the apps through garmin connect, it even lets you decide what type of message they are

      My VSHR ignores steps when in HR broadcasting mode so that may stop counting cycling as steps

    • Finn Sievwright

      I’ve done a comparison of my HR on a 30km bike ride I did a few days ago with my FR620 with chest strap (left) vs vivosmart HR (right), and I have to say they are very close. Both gave me a max HR of 160, 161 and an average of 141, 140 respectively. I see one small blip with my FR620 at the start of the ride, but that’s it. I have to say I’m relatively happy with the way the vivosmart HR reports my HR.

    • Mark Duncombe

      I see very similar results, not with standing the irregularities caused by screen activation whilst ant+broadcasting. For that reason I am sticking with the VSHR as I hope a firmware fix could improve things dramatically.

      FYI, This is what Garmin came back to me with after I reported my finding to them

      Hi Mark,
      Thanks for reaching out to us. We’ve had some reports of this kind of behavior on the vívosmart and are currently investigating it.

    • Mark Duncombe

      BTW, what I reported to Garmin was that when in broadcast mode, any action that causes the screen to change, for example

      swiping the screen
      clothing brushing against the screen
      rain or sweat drops on the screen
      the screen timing out and going back to the default screen for this mode
      move alerts

      will cause the broadcast HR to drop to 72BPM for a short period of time before rising back to expected levels.

      So lets say your clothing brushes against the screen when in broadcast mode the screen will change to the screen that prompts you to exit ot remain in broadcast mode. Your broadcast HR drops to 72BPM. As this has happened without you noticing then eventually this screen will time out and return to the current HR screen and this too will cause your broadcast HR to drop to 72BPM.

      So you can see that in any given broadcast session you may have multiple events repeatedly pulling the HR back down to 72BPM no matter what your actual HR is, which frankly is not good at all and something that should have been picked up in Garmin’s testing.

      To date my testing has mostly been in broadcast mode so I have yet to really test accuracy when in activity (running) mode. I will try and do some turbo trainer sessions with it in activity(running) mode and see what I get. But if the above broadcast mode issue slipped through then there may well be over issues that were over looked.

      The picture shows me for a period of timing swiping the display repeatedly, with the HR drops to 72BPM being blatantly obvious and I am surprised Garmin missed this.

    • Kevin

      These are the exact issues that I also reported … It seems we need Garmin to:

      1. Implement a LOCK SCREEN
      2. In the absence of that, do not allow the Broadcast Screen to be swiped so easily that turns it to the DO YOU WANT TO TURN OFF BROADCAST so easily
      3. To stop NOTIFICATIONS from putting the broadcast into semi-sleep mode where it broadcasts 72bpm and decreases heart rate sampling speed to something like every 10 minutes
      4. To stop a lack of arm movement from also driving BROADCAST mode into a slow or zero sampling speed as well. While this lack of arm movement problem may not menifest itself while running, it is a huge issue while cycling (especially indoor cycling). I suspect that this issue os why Garmin Currently only offers running as a trackable activity?


    • Mark Duncombe

      My testing didn’t go any where nearly as well in activity (run) mode :-(

      VSHR on the left. Ant+ strap on the right. it was a little chilly though.

  72. Frank

    OK, with this post I am going to quit flogging this dead horse. I have a feeling Ray will be adding fuel enough to the fire when he posts his in-depth review in the next few days.

    Here is a graph of the HR reported by my VSHR (faint line) overlaid on a HR graph of the same activity courtesy of a Garmin HRM-TRI (heavier line). The activity in question was a one hour circuit of several weight machines.

    A picture is worth 1,000 words:

    Nuf said.

  73. Hey – in your lead off photo, you show the Vivosmart HR with the battery logo in the corner, is this just because the unit was low on battery when you took the photo? or is there some way that you can have the unit display the amount of charge on the date/time screen? The only way I’ve found to display it is by tapping the button and paging to the info option…

    Thanks in advance!

    – Will

  74. Sarah

    I have both the Fitbit hr, and this device I just purchased…..my question is, how come it doesn’t auto track or auto recognize what type of activity I am doing like the Fitbit does???? Fitbit knows when I am walking, biking…etc…….vivosmart isn’t doing that at all……entering data in is me ch more annoying on the Garmin connect vs Fitbit app……. I’m torn now between keeping the vivosmart and just continuing to use the Fitbit…( which I cannot see for crap in the sun , and it is not waterproof) ……what to do???

  75. Vibhor

    Garmin says you can can use the Custom Step Length for walking and running link to support.garmin.com

    What does it mean exactly – depending on activity (walking or running), Vivosmart HR will use respective step length ?

    or is it just one number ? then how does system make stride calculation between Walking & Running activity (stride length can differ between the two activities!)

  76. Israel

    Can I use the hr sensor since it is ant+ with my suunto ambit 2s? I want a daily activity tracker and a wrist band hr sensor… My other option will be vivosmart (not the new hr) with scosche rhythm…

  77. kpcski

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

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

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

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

    Here is my note …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Thanks. Kevin

  78. Ridzuan

    Does anyone know why my Vivosmart HR never receive any notifications even though I have it connected to my phone? I have a fenix 3 synced with my phone too and it works perfectly fine.

    • Double-check the notifications option is enabled on the unit itself.

      I haven’t had any problems with receiving multi-device notifications (i.e. Fenix3 + FR920XT + VSHR).

  79. Stuart

    My backlight worked fine for the first 3 weeks, and then just stopped completely. Can’t read the screen at all without direct light now.

    • Frank

      Take it back to Best Buy and get another. Yours has not been a common complaint so the new one should fare better.,

  80. Angelo

    Thanks for another in-depth review. I noticed at the top of your article (under the list of new features) you included ‘Does NOT connect to external ANT+ HR strap (like the original Vivosmart did)” then directly below in a separate section you have “Tracks workouts separately (can also still connect to HR strap)”. Can you clear that up?

    • Frank

      That was probably just a copy and paste oversight. It does track workouts separately (as in separate and distinct from the continuous stream of general activity tracking) but will not accept input from any external sensors including any kind of heart rate strap.

      The in-depth review is now out and available here: link to dcrainmaker.com. This subject is touched on in the last paragraph of the OPTICAL HR SENSOR: section of that review.

    • Thanks, indeed an error. Initially the unit I had did have that capability, but was removed for released. I’ve removed that wording (sorry, thought I got them all a long while ago).

  81. Hi All-

    As is customary, once I’ve released an in-depth review of a product, I close the preview post to new comments. Of course, you can still comment, just over on the in-depth review. This is simply to keep things tidy and questions all in one spot.

    The in-depth review was released last week and is located here: link to dcrainmaker.com

    Thanks all!