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Garmin announces Vivoactive HR & Vivofit 3


!!!Update! I’ve since posted a full hands-on and first run look at the Vivoactive HR!  Swing on over to that post for all the hands-on details and videos!!!!

Today Garmin announced two new products – the Vivoactive HR, and the Vivofit 3.  Both of which build on existing products they’ve had in the market previously.  The Vivoactive HR takes the now 13 month old Vivoactive and adds in Garmin’s Elevate optical HR sensor.  While the Vivofit 3 makes some very minor tweaks to the Vivofit 2 that launched at the same time as the original Vivoactive at CES last year.

Now this post is really just a placeholder.  Or said differently, it’s merely a post to keep my inbox and Twitter from exploding with people asking why I don’t have a post about the new units.  The reason is simple: I don’t have the units, nor yet hands-on time with them.  The only real Vivoactive HR & Vivofit 3 units out there are currently with their Garmin handlers working their way from Olathe, Kansas to Barcelona, Spain – for Mobile World Congress that begins next week.  For better or worse, I’m neither in Kansas, nor on that plane.  I will however shortly be in Barcelona and meeting with them there.

So, you’ll have to hang out a bit longer till Sunday sometime for my full write-up with pretty pictures and more of my thoughts on the products after some hands-on time.  However, to make it easy on you – I’ve summarized a list of changes that compares the two products to their older siblings from the same mother:

Vivoactive HR:

Comparison of features versus the existing Vivoactive:

– Added Garmin Elevate optical HR sensor for workouts & 24/7 HR monitoring
– Added ability to re-broadcast the optical HR over ANT+ (so a Garmin Edge can see it)
– Added in floors climbed metric
– Added in Intensity Minutes
– Added in skiing/snowboard, paddle-board, and rowing apps
– Added in Auto Activity Detection (Running, Swimming, Cycling, Elliptical)
– Added support for basic swim HR recording via HRM-SWIM & HRM-TRI straps
– Does NOT support HR using internal optical sensor while swimming (with no plans to enable)
– Increases GPS battery life up to 13hrs from 8hrs in original Vivoactive
– But decreased to 8 days always-on 24×7 mode battery (with HR though) from 3 weeks (no HR previously)
– Different display, however same overall resolution (may be better in sun)
– Slight increase in chubbiness compared to Vivoactive (more depth than original Vivoactive)
– Support of Varia Radar & Varia lights, and Varia Vision

Vivofit 3:

Comparison of features versus the existing Vivofit 2:

– Added in Auto Activity Detection (Running, Swimming, Cycling, Elliptical)
– Added in Intensity Minutes metric
– For swimming, does NOT count stokes/laps/etc, just the act of swimming
– Can still connect to ANT+ HR strap for non-swim activities
– Can still manually create a standalone workout activity
– New square screen, includes new analog clock face, different UI designs
– Not compatible with Vivofit1/Vivofit2 accessory bands
– Is compatible with Vivofit 3 new/styled accessory bands

Got all that?

In many ways, I see the Vivoactive HR as a continued assault on the Fitbit Surge.  Garmin already had the upper hand against that product if you compare feature to feature, but some might have felt the screen on the Fitbit Surge was cleaner/clearer.  In theory, the Vivoactive HR’s newly changed screen should carry much more contrast than the original Vivoactive – which some folks found a bit dull/dim.  But I’ll have to see it in person to validate that.

Both the Vivoactive HR & the Vivofit 3 are officially listed to ship within “Q2 2016”, which is the broad date range between April 1st and June 30th.  However, it appears they are telling retailers more like the April 2016 time-frame for the $249 Vivoactive HR, and March for the $99 Vivofit 3.

So hang tight for my hands-on preview on Sunday! You can either refresh the page umpteen million times between now and then, or, you can follow me on The Twitter.  As I’ll tweet it out as soon as I’ve got some actual hands-on time.

Update: Video! Fast forward a few days and here’s a video I’ve shot with the Vivoactive HR, following my first run with it.

Thanks for reading (and waiting)!

(Note: Imagery at the top is simply their stock shots of each unit combined with my table, whereby I worked on it for approximately 12 seconds.)


  1. Frank

    Great to see the continued Innovation at Garmin, neither product are for me in the multi sport world but I know plenty of people who want a basic easy to use devices with built in HR.

  2. rafbel

    – Added in Auto Activity Detection (Running, Swimming, Cycling, Elliptic)

    Nice feature for counting daily commuting on bike, do you think there is any chance that Garmin will bring it as an update to older watches like forerunner 230/235?

    • Paul E

      Sport detection would be great for triathlon. But you’d still have to hit the button for transition start/stop, like you do in the 920 and Fenix lines… But I’m sure they could figure something cool out for all of that.

    • Chris

      Curious if you’d need to do this. I’ve got to imagine there would be someway to trigger it automatically. It wouldn’t necessarily be clean, but why couldn’t you look back at say the last 10 seconds for a change in pace. Then an alert (active for maybe 20 seconds) so you accept what Garmin thinks is the new segment. I don’t like hitting buttons directly out of T1 (prefer to get going). End result is sometimes my T1 is like T1 plus the 1st mile or so of the bike because I forgot to do it sooner.

  3. Markos

    Looks good! Any release dates for Vivoactive?

  4. StephenA

    As somebody who a) likes his Vivoactive b) keeps misplacing his HRM, nice to the see the re-broadcast function

  5. Mark

    I have a VF, and like it quite a lo. I skipped the VF2. If the VF3 can do my daily cycle commute, sold!

  6. Nick Ward

    If the VA HR is anywhere near accurate, Garmin will have nailed the ‘All rounder’ shame open water swimming doesn’t look to have made the cut, but on paper, it looks an incredible spec

    Now I have to smuggle another tech purchase into the house 😉

  7. More than an attack to the Fitbit Surge, I see it more like shooting straight to the TomTom Runner 2. Design wise they even look very similar.

    It’s interesting to see the compatibility with Varia Lights and radar. I guess those will also come to other existing products (specially the Fenix 3)

  8. TR

    The Vivoactive HR seems quite powerful compared to FR 230/235 and packs some internal Garmin product competition here.

    I wonder what the price will be, but even if it’s somewhere at the 235 range, I really don’t know what would the strong point of 230/235 be anymore (beside circular design perhaps) ? Unless Vivoactive HR costs 350-400$/€ which is again quite unlikely.

    • TR

      Don’t know if I derped and missed the pricing in the article, or it was added afterwards :]

      250$/€ makes the FR 230/235 a really hard sell and again I don’t see the benefit of FR beside design now.

    • It may or may not have been added in. 😉

      I do agree that this makes the FR230/235 a bit wonkier price-wise. However, I think the basic dividing line is that if you’re a pure runner and want more advanced running metrics (i.e. VO2Max, more data field customization, etc…), then the FR230/235 is better.

      However, if you’re more of an ‘all-arounder’ with respect to other sports, then the Vivoactive HR makes more sense. Now that said, I think that makes the FR235 as priced today, overpriced for 90% of the market.

    • TR

      > Now that said, I think that makes the FR235 as priced today, overpriced for 90% of the market.

      Yeah, based on this VA HR price a correction would be more in place for both models. Perhaps 200$/€ for FR230 and 250$/€ for FR235 (since they both have optical HR). This way the customer can decide if he’s more running oriented or an all-rounder.

      > want more advanced running metrics (i.e. VO2Max, more data field customization, etc…)

      Regarding data field customization aren’t those the same on the VA HR (4 different fields on screen possible) or did Garmin artificially gimped them to sell other higher priced products ?

      About the advanced running metrics, I don’t know if they’re worth the extra buck currently. Well obviously there are to some people, but for someone to actually learn something from that data ?

      You’ve said it yourself that it’s nice what metrics Garmin offers to collect now, specially with the newer HRM belts, different running metrics etc., but there’s no guidance by Garmin for the customer what to actually do with this data and improve/change in the future based on it.

    • In Europe the price will be 270€

    • Matt R

      I’d tend to agree here, I was holding out for a FR235 but aside from wanting a rounded screen I’m not sure there’s an argument for it at all now. Then again amazon reviews seem to claim battery life on FR235 varies widely from initial claims, too.

    • Luke

      IIRC, one of the big drawbacks to the original vivoactive from a running watch standpoint was the inability to put in custom structured workouts (i.e. fartleks or intervals). It isn’t clear if this capability is now in the Vivoactive HR or not. If it is, then you have a slamdunk over the 235, if not, then it is still a big question.

    • m4johnso

      I’ve been researching GPS watches for months and I was on my way TONIGHT to purchase the Forerunner 235. Holding off until I see reviews on this.

    • m4johnso

      I’ve been researching GPS watches for months and I was on my way TONIGHT to purchase the Forerunner 235. Holding off until I see reviews on this.

    • Ben_I

      I have the current VA and not people are aware that it does support VO2 max but you can only get it from garmin connect then go to reports page.

  9. Linus De Paoli

    Does the auto activity detection mean I don’t have to hit start when I go out on a run?

    • TR

      That would be interesting to know, but I speculate more that you have to start the activity, but based on movements, speed etc. it predicts which type it was at the end.

    • David

      I don’t think that is correct, it is a copy of Fitbits new capability added to Charge HR and native to the new Blaze and Alta that DOES NOT require you to hit start on an activity.

      I have the Charge HR and basically you do nothing, as long as the activity lasts at least 15 minutes it will recognize that you did it and add it as an activity after the fact. The start and end times on Fitbit tend to be accurate within a minute or so (the ending is more the issue, sometimes the activity tacks on a minute or so of walking after my run competes.)

      Handy feature although obviously starting and stopping manually would be more precise.

    • Matthew B.

      I would imagine it does not work quite as well as you’d hope, as I would imagine turning on GPS every time it thinks you MIGHT be running would kill the battery. However, from an “activity tracking” AKA calorie burn standpoint, it probably works pretty good (similar to Fitbit’s feature).

  10. sebastiaan

    Very nice to see the redesigns. Do you reckon an update for the Vivosmart HR is coming as well, or is that device still too “young”? Trying to decide between that one and the Fitbit Charge HR, and whilst I love the Garmin ecosystem, I’m not too confident about Garmin’s 24/7 hr monitoring…

  11. Matthew B.

    Hello Ray,

    While I know they target somewhat different markets, I feel like this Vivoactive HR really undercuts both their 920XT and Fenix3 lines. Save true triathlon modes (which i know is big for some) and “advanced running metrics”, it appears to have taken all of the best features from each and smashed it into a watch that is half the price. The form factor and build quality will likely be lower, but am I missing anything else that would differentiate the Fenix3 and 920XT line from it?


    • Chris

      Battery life and triathlon mode are the biggest differences I see between the VivoActive and 920/Fenix lines.

    • Mike

      Also four data fields, GPS accuracy (TBD), primary pace from a foot pod, power, …

      But being smaller and lighter than the 920/Fenix3 is a big benefit. If I had the cash for a second watch I’d consider this for casual running and swimming.

    • Mike Richie

      Also workouts, true navigation, etc. etc. It is also a much heavier duty watch – and much “sportier”. There is still a real differentiation between hardcore and more casual exercise. That being said , if Garmin actually does allow writing to the fit file in Connect IQ, then most of these differentiators could be added to the Vivoactive HR.

    • marklemcd

      I’ve had the regular vivoactive since about June last year and I have to say I cannot for the life of me see why anyone would choose the 200 or 600 line of watches over the vivoactive, The “advanced” metrics are, um, really horse poop and there’s no real utility to them. I guess if you HAVE to have custom workouts, sure. But I’ve been running for many years and if you have a workout that’s so complicated you can’t remember it maybe it’s too complicated.

      This updated version just hammers that home even more.

    • Ian

      The Vivoactive also can’t handle power meters where the 920xt can.

    • John

      >>> “I guess if you HAVE to have custom workouts, sure. But I’ve been running for many years and if you have a workout that’s so complicated you can’t remember it maybe it’s too complicated.”

      As I was doing intervals last Wednesday night, I was thinking it would be nice to get audible/tactile alerts for start/stop times vs. looking at the time on a little screen. Just saying.

    • marklemcd

      Right, it can’t handle power meters but I didn’t count it as a replacement for the 900 series.

    • Erik

      And don’t forget the physical buttons. Nevertheless, its price and size make that Vivoactive HR very appealing.

      Why did I have to learn about it 12h after I bought Fenix 3 HR? I like its size (relatively smaller than Fenix 3 HR, of course) and it seems to have the most essential functions I need for basic data monitoring. If it had physical buttons, I would be cancelling my Fenix 3 HR order and getting this one instead. But now I will keep finding x-many reasons why the fenix is worth over double the price tag (but is it really?).

  12. Dean

    I wonder if they will fix all the issue with syncing with Garmin Connect before they launch these new devices. I am rapidly becoming fed up with key functions of my existing Vivoactive not working and not syncing.

    The only positive of the syncing not working properly is i can’t see how crap my last 2 rounds of golf were 😉

    • John

      I agree. I love my VivoActive, but getting it to sync is so hit and miss. Ive literally sat there after a workout or at the end of the day to register steps, for 10 minutes wondering if the mobile will sync with the watch. Then some days i fire up Connect and it syncs straight away. Its so random.

      Why can’t Garmin just have a ‘SYNC’ button???! I just don’t understand it.

      What i do know, is that since I’ve linked MyFitnessPal to Connect and registered my food etc that the next time I’ve fired up Connect it seems to sync more with my watch than previously. This is on a Samsung mobile.

    • kermit262

      Garmin does have a sync option – you just have to step up to the Fenix 3 at double the cost of the Viviactive. 😉

    • Ian

      My vivoactive rarely autosyncs or syncs the first time I open connect on my iPhone. If I exit (not fully close the app but just switch back to the home screen) then open again it syncs right away every time.

  13. Mikey T

    Sweet. My prediction came true. Not only did I guess the optical HR was coming to the vivoactive. I guess the name.

  14. Adam

    Hey Ray,

    Do you know if the new Vivoactive HR will allow for custom activities like the Fenix 3 or 630? Would like to create something specific for CrossFit rather than using “Other”. 🙂

    Also, with the new automatic activity tracking, maybe that’s the reason for all the Phantom Activities people have been seeing in Garmin Connect lately.

  15. John

    Do you know if this new Vivoactive will still be able to use a HR strap during cycling/running? i.e.: can you override the built in HR if you want to?

    I find straps are far more accurate.

    • Matthew B.

      Yes, it will be able to.

    • John

      Have you got a link to that Matthew, only I’ve since read they don’t know if the Vivoactive will support chest bands..here’s the quote

      “Garmin’s Elevate HRM, which was introduced with the Vivosmart HR earlier this year, lets the tracker monitor heart rate all day long and activity intensity during workouts. The Vivosmart HR is also ANT+ compatible, meaning you could connect a chest strap heart-rate monitor to the device if you prefer; there’s currently no indication that the Vivoactive HR has the same compatibility….”

    • Matthew B.

      It would be the first Garmin device that supported ANT+ that doesn’t allow for you to connect a HRM (I’m sure there is some obscure example from 10 years ago, but in general). Also, Ray specifically mentions “Added support for basic swim HR recording via HRM-SWIM & HRM-TRI straps” — so, it would have to SPECIFICALLY block that ability for running/biking, which would make absolutely no sense.

    • I’ve been told it works with a HR strap for other workouts, but I’ll validate on Sunday.

    • Ryan

      Will it support HRM-RUN with the advanced running metrics? Or will you still need a forerunner in order to get those metrics?

    • No, it won’t support HRM-RUN Running Dynamic metrics. Just the baseline HR from it.

    • Mike

      would be great to know if it will allow users to shut off the optical HR altogether (as well as the auto-tracking). The major benefit of the vivoactive IMO is that it doesn’t have a built in HRM and thus doesn’t need to be charged constantly. Pulling from my chest HRM is not only battery saving, but also more accurate. (And personally, I don’t see the benefit of having 24/7 heart rate tracking, unless perhaps I had a heart attack in my sleep and the autopsy examiner wanted a quick way to see what was what…)

    • Adam

      Matthew…Vivosmart HR is Ant+ compatible and does not support adding a chest strap.

    • mike

      Would also be great to see if this is compatible with Garmin’s TruSwing golf gadget as a more robust golf data collector. (Actually, Ray – do you know if this even requires a watch to use, or can it work with just the phone?)

    • John

      The Garmin website is showing their whole suite of ANT+ HR straps as accessories, so that’s a great sign (I love my Scosche Rhythm+), but I’m even more excited to see their Footpod in that list for indoor/treadmill running.

      Of course, we all know the first rule of Garmin.com…

      John (a different one)

    • Mike

      And interestingly it’s showing all of the straps as compatible – the HRM Run, HRM Swim, and HRM Tri. Hopeuflly this means it will actually use the data from each such as vertical oscillation.

    • It supports those straps, but will not do Running Dynamics (also on the list of things I validated yesterday).

  16. Janyne Kizer

    I am hoping that the Vivoactive HR have a swim drill mode (and/or that a firmware update is being pushed to the Vivoactive to allow swim drill mode or that they have a Swim2 coming out soon).

  17. Alan

    They made the VivoActive something I might actually want to wear 😉

  18. Josh

    The Garmin website says the Vivoactive HR has a barometric altimeter on the specs tab. How likely do you think that is? If so, could be game changer for me.

  19. Turn The Damn Cranks

    Looks like the Vivoactive HR has a very different band than the original as well. I’ll be quite interested to hear what you think of it as creatively-clasped bands seem to have a history of not staying closed.

    • Matthew B.

      It does according to their press release as well. It’s almost a certainty that it will include it (especially since they advertise it can tell the “flights of stairs”).

    • Adam

      Are you talking about the Vivofit 3? Looks like the Vivoactive HR has a regular looking strap, not a clasp.

    • Turn The Damn Cranks

      Nope. The VAHR. The original has a normal think pin that goes into the band holes. The VAHR in the photo seems to have curved pieces that go through two holes instead. Depending upon design that may be a better system, but it may also be much worse.

    • Mike Richie

      Look at the accessory bands, I think they have a standard watch closure – just a little stylized.

  20. Lee Parker

    Knew I should have waited longer, I bought the ForeRunner 235 HR which ive pretty happy with but the Vivoactive HR is a better fit in terms of device for me! eBay it is then!

    I assume it will support Connect IQ?

  21. Crispin E.

    Are there any indications of what female oriented colour schemes may be available for the Vivoactive HR. My daughter could be interested in one of these if the colour/look is right 😉

  22. Brian

    Ray – Of course Garmin just announced a VA-2, I just bought a VA a few months ago. 🙂

    Of the new features, obviously the big “add” is the built-in HR (which I don’t care about since I use a Scosche), but it looks like Barometric Altimeter is another nice boost. The other stuff appears to be app-related? Of these below, which do you think might make its way to the original Vivoactive by way of official Apps?

    – Added in skiing/snowboard, paddle-board, and rowing apps
    – Added support for basic swim HR recording via HRM-SWIM & HRM-TRI straps
    – Support of Varia Radar & Varia lights (does NOT support Varia Vision)

  23. Marc S.

    Ray, when you get about to doing the more detailed write up, can you include a comparison of the Vivofit3 vs. the VivoSmart and VivoSmart HR?



  24. Stroller Runner

    As far as auto-activity detection is concerned, I hope you’re able to set them manually or edit them ex-post facto. The auto-detection algorithm on the Basis Peak still confuses runs pushing a stroller with cycling activities.

  25. Harvey

    Will either have *actual* 24/7 HR monitoring, or will Garmin stick with the insufficient ‘check when there’s activity’ system that omits big chunks of time?

  26. M

    I’ll bet a nickel that the vivoactive HR still can’t do custom irregular interval workouts like pyramid intervals because they want you to also buy a forerunner or fenix.

  27. Robert Montgomery

    Nooooo. Why does Garmin do this to me? I’ve been asking for a camo Vivofit band for forever. Made multiple suggestions to them. Vivofit 2 they finally came out with one, but the camo band could not be purchases separately (only as part of a brand new unit) and now that they have one for Vivofit 3 they only make it in the regular size, not XL. Garmin must hate me.

  28. Garrett

    Vivoactive gets rowing as an activity… bummer. Wish I would have waited instead of getting my 235. Oh well!

  29. Darren Spicknell

    Pretty close for me as a lower cost Fenix 3. Very interested! Glad I have been waiting.

    • Erik

      Lucky you. Why did I have to learn about it 12h after I bought Fenix 3 HR? I like its size (relatively smaller than Fenix 3 HR, of course) and it seems to have the most essential functions I need for basic data monitoring. If it had physical buttons, I would be cancelling my Fenix 3 HR order and getting this one instead. Nevertheless, its price and size make that Vivoactive HR very appealing. But now I will keep finding x-many reasons why the fenix is worth over double the price tag (but is it really?).

  30. Eric

    Is there something that I’m missing here Ray. Are Garmin and FitBit really making money at wearables or is it about market share?

    Every time I see something new in wearables I wonder “where is Suunto?”. If there’s money to be made they are missing the boat on this huge marketplace where they could drop skinny versions of their rock solid GPS monitors, leaving it to the often flakey Garmin software and dubious FitBit hardware styling. I’m stuck in a world of Suunto sport and FitBit wearables, neither of which talk well to each other, or Garmin.

    • tfa

      wouldn’t probably fit to company mantra “Replacing luck.” 🙂

    • They actually just released their CY2015 numbers this week, quick version here: link to newsroom.garmin.com

      They had a *gross profit* of $366M on the Fitness division. That division includes cycling, running, and Vivo-stuff. It does NOT include things like the Fenix series, which is part of the Outdoor division. That division (Outdoor), had a gross profit of $259M.

      So yup, it seems to be working out for them. Fitbit reports their earnings on Monday.

    • Oh, and just for fun – net sales of fitness/outdoor devices was just over $1 Billion for 2015 for Garmin.

    • marklemcd

      Ray, Gross Profit, while important is incomplete. What you really want is operating income. When viewed through that complete view, both the outdoor and fitness lines were less profitable in 2015 vs 2014. In fact the outdoor line saw a revenue decline and the fitness line saw a large revenue increase but the costs increased faster so the profit was down. Market share war.

    • Good point. There’s no doubt that competition is definitely having a slight impact on profits.

      It’s actually interesting, because the decline in the Fitness group and shift to Outdoor may be due to the Fenix3 locale being Outdoor. That was a runaway success for Garmin, eating into their FR920XT and FR630 lines (Fitness division). Meanwhile, Outdoor likely saw a big drop in their VIRB X/XE based on it generally receiving lukewarm (at best) reception).

      Really too bad the product lines weren’t more clearly allocated, or more clearly reported (Fitbit has historically reported devices shipped, which helps).

    • Martin

      Yet their support is amongst the worst I have ever come across. Over 20 minute wait on the phone and emails take weeks to reply to with standard “We’re looking into it” replies that don’t answer my question. Burnt since the GPS72 days.

    • tfa

      actually that is looking not so good, overall operating income declined by 20% (691->550) and gross margin II down by 5%, driven by the drop in automotive that the fitness segment could not cover even in launching over 20 new products in 2015, outdoor (there the Fenix is accounted in) stays nearly flat

    • Yeah, that’s the challenge with the current org scheme, we don’t really know how well fitness is selling. With Fenix being off in Outdoor, we don’t know if 95% of Outdoor’s revenue in 2015 is actually Fenix. My guess is that it’s the vast majority, since I believe that the vast majority of products still sitting in the ‘Outdoor’ category are largely things that people have stopped buying (handhelds).

  31. Gabe

    Ray – are you aware if the Vivoactive HR comes in different colors? ie white/black like the vivoactive.

    Does the vivoactive pair with bike sensors?

  32. Tyler

    Current vivoactive user.

    I wish they’d focused some efforts on the smartwatch side of the equation (and maybe they did).
    The watch needs more readability on things like text message notifications, as well as a way to execute simple or pre-programmed responses.

    Also, a microphone to dictate, ‘Okay, Google’ style commands and actions.

    You see anything like these features, Ray?

  33. Timothy Berkey

    Can’t wait to see the full review. The original VivoActive was reviewed as NOT multisport/triathlon capable. Will the addition of Auto Activity Detection change this to a “yes” or a “sorta”, or will it still be a “no”?

    • Timothy Berkey

      OK. Thanks for replying! I can’t wait to see this side-by-side with the Tom Tom Spark. I have to believe that one of these two will be my next watch.

    • Gunnar

      FWIW, I used the original Vivoactive for triathlon last year. It actually did a decent job tracking my swim while it was on my wrist.

      For changing activities I simply stopped and saved my swim entering T1 and started my bike activity while leaving T1. Pretty easy squeezy.

    • SS76

      OK, so I’m concerned by this. If I wear this watch playing soccer and turn on GPS, with it accurately track my distance covered and HR (does it have 1s sampling rate?) .

  34. VIVOACTIVE HR is a good update, VIVOFIT 3 – nothing special

  35. GMRO

    Interesting… can’t wait till the review.


  36. ddfar

    Hi Ray,

    It looks like it will not, but if you have a chance, could you ask if the watch will have the ability to respond to messages with canned responses? The Pebble allows this and is the only reason that I wear both a Pebble and an old Forerunner 205 that is on its last legs.

    Thanks a bunch.

  37. Paul K.

    Support this site! Ray adds value to our lives with his great reporting and its only right we do the same by supporting him. I know I’m a proud member. What about you?

  38. SS76

    Ray, an idea if the Vivoactive HR has an audible coach when you are entering / exiting set HR zones ala Tom Tom Spark? Does it have vibration features for training zones? Smart Alarm? Sleep Tracking (assume it does with 24/7 tracking)?


    I have the Mio Fuse, and LOVE IT, but the app is so wanting that I can’t get any trending of my daily activity or workouts, which is a real bummer and has me looking elsewhere.

    • Mike Richie

      It says in the description that it has “smart coaching” when paired with a compatible phone. I don’t know if they are talking about audible alerts over bluetooth during exercise, but maybe. I think the FR235 does that. Maybe Ray can find out.

    • Sleep Tracking: Yes
      Smart Alarm: No
      24×7 Tracking: Yes
      Zones: You can setup HR zone alerts
      Audible Coaching: If it has anything, it has it via your phone like the FR230/235/Fenix3 – but I’ll double-check whether or not that made the cut for the VAHR.

    • Mike

      IMO, one critical factor is whether 24/7 tracking can be disabled to preserve battery life.

    • SS76

      Thanks Ray, but one more question…..Does this have 1 second HR sampling? I need this for sure if I am using this to play soccer. This is where my Mio Fuse excels.

  39. Francis Paulin

    Both units seem like nice everyday alternatives to my 920XT. I’d like to have something I can wear all day that tracks my resting HR.

  40. Josh

    I love my 230. Just finished a 17 miler and everything about it on the watch and in GC after uploaded was perfect. The 235 was accurate except for the HR thing. So I returned it.
    Now, a vivoactive HR for all day wearing, if they can get the performance of the OHRM in line then I’d be a buyer, but still would use the 230 for running.

  41. kev Henson

    Ray if you get chance when you have your hands on the vivoactive hr can you see if the data fields can be changed from 3 fields down to 2 fields per screen so layout is like the fr25, be a god send for us oldies with less than perfect eyesight, was thinking about ebay for my vivoactive to get the fr25 for bigger font bt might sit tight for a bit
    thanks for a great site…

  42. Mike Richie

    You could tell this was coming – first the great prices on the Vivoactive around Christmas (They now dropped the retail price to $219), then the new Connect IQ SDK has a new watch type called Tall Watch. I bought the Vivoactive in December for $149 and I have to say it is an amazing little watch for not much more the a basic running watch a year ago. The Vivoactive HR looks like an admirable followup. Garmin seems to have realized that their other products (and even Polar, Suunto, TomTom, etc.) aren’t the competition, Apple, Samsung and Microsoft are. When these guys start adding GPS, BT sensor connections, and actually functional optical HR sensors then software developers will be able to duplicate what the fitness watches do. But I must say, Garmin does keep stepping up it’s game.

    Some thoughts on the new Vivoactive HR, and according to their specs, which as we know are notoriously inaccurate! (Ray, Maybe you can verify these on Sunday) :
    It says there is now not only a barometric altimeter (you can see the hole for it on the right side), but also an electronic compass.
    It now allows you to save locations.
    Golfing app now has direction to pin as well as an electronic score keeper.
    Indoor and Outdoor rowing apps.
    Although the specs don’t say it, the overview says it does stroke detection in Swimming mode.
    It weighs 10 more grams than the previous Vivoactive, which is more than 50% more if you subtract the weight of the bands. (I love the size of the current one)
    The screen looks much brighter, but I guess we will have to see on Sunday.
    It looks like the charging clip does not cover the HR LEDs, so maybe you can actually charge it while using the HR monitor. If so, that would be impressive.
    Along with all the other improvements that Ray mentioned and a price of still $249, I would think anyone interested in fitness would just find this much more useful than any of the mainstream smart watches. Kudos to Garmin. But I am still waiting for Ray to weigh in when he actually can use it. It’s not a watch until Ray says so (which probably has Apple a little worried by now, at least until he gets that review done 😉 )

    • Mike

      Interesting catch on the swim stroke detection – the overview does indeed say “interval distance, pace, stroke count, stroke type and more”

      I also did a comparison on Garmin’s website to other watches, and while I’m not surprised to see that run dynamics are not checked for the new vivoactive HR (though I seriously hope they add it — would justify getting a swim HRM for the run data too), it also says that recovery info isn’t supported. My vivoactive had recovery info after my run last night, which I was surprised to see as I didn’t think it supported it. The Garmin website also doesn’t indicate support for a footpod and only notes the on-board support for HRM — both of which presumably will work as external devices…. so as you say, the garmin specs are not always very accurate (had the same issue with the Edge 520).

  43. Alfie

    Interesting updates to the existing Vivoactive. One thing I still don’t see which is a downer for my Vivoactive is custom workouts. Is that still missing from the watch? That is the only item that I have to go back to my 220 to do and sorely miss having it on the VA.

  44. Claudio

    Don’t like it:

    – Weights more than the original Vivoactive (47.6grs vs 38grs)
    – It’s thicker than the original Vivoactive (11.5mm vs 8 mm)
    – Prefer original Vivoactive shape to the new one.

    Doesn’t include any killer feature that make me think of upgrading to it (maybe if it did include open water swimming I would consider it).

    Continuous heart rate not a necessary feature for most of us and still prefer having the HR independent when I want it with scosche rhythm plus and be able to position it in other places of my arm where heart rate is more accurate than in the wrist

  45. KO

    Trying to make a decision of getting the vivoactive now or wait for the vivoactive hr.

    – SUP – will this be made available as an app for vivoactive?

    – Will additional activities be added to both vivoactive’s.

    – Intensity Minutes – will this be made available as an app for vivoactive or is there an app for it? More interested in staying in my 60-80% HR during workouts. So not sure if there is an app for it or if I need the intensity minutes.

    Would this be added to vivoactive? (not as important to me, but nice to have)
    – Added in Auto Activity Detection (Running, Swimming, Cycling, Elliptical)

    Not sure if I need 24/7 HR.

    I know you haven’t seen it yet, but maybe something to include with the write up on Sunday. 🙂 Just wondering if I don’t need the 24/7 HR, if I need the new version.

    Thanks for all you do.

  46. DCR, please get the review up soon so I can preorder via the clever training link….

    • Hi Russell!

      While an in-depth review won’t likely be out for months (whenever they ship), I plan to have a more detailed preview up on Sunday sometime (assuming nobody gets weird flight delays or anything).

      However, Clever Training already has them listed – so you’re in luck. I added links a bit ago to the bottom of the post and on the sidebar. The item is valid for the DCR 10% discount, via the CT/DCR VIP program.

      Here’s the Vivoactive HR CT Link: link to clevertraining.com

      And here’s the VIP Program link: link to dcrainmaker.com

      I appreciate the support!

    • Thank you…. just placed order….

  47. Gunnar

    Ray, the Garmin web site has both the Vivoactive and Vivoactive HR at 10hours battery life with GPS, not 8hours and 10hours as you state.

    • John

      First rule of Garmin.com. 🙂

    • Mike Richie

      From the Specs listed for vivoactive HR for Battery Life – “Up to 8 days in smartwatch mode (with 24/7 heart rate monitoring, No-GPS), up to 13 hrs in GPS mode”. But note that these are “Garmin specs” (which are not even consistent on their website)

    • Indeed, apply Rule #1.

      Reasons I know to apply Rule #1:

      1) You always apply Rule #1, always.
      2) The press release lists: “With up to eight days’ battery life2 in watch/activity tracking2 mode (with 24/7 heart rate monitoring, no GPS) or up to 13 hours using GPS, the vívoactive HR keeps up with users’ active lifestyles and keeps them connected”
      3) I actually took my distilled ‘changes’ lists for both products and ran that text section past them yesterday to be doubly sure. The PR folks in turn took that text snippet and ran it past the product team folks. Everyone checked out that what I distilled was accurate.
      4) Always see Rule #1.


    • Gunnar

      Got it.

      “Up to 13 hours” on press release. Then “10 hours” stated on Garmin.com…..which means likely 8hours real world.

  48. John

    This ticks an awful lot of boxes for me. My ideal watch would have been the Epix, but it looks like Garmin isn’t giving that any love on the update/bugfix front so I’m staying far, far away.

    The Fenix3 HR looked pretty good, maybe a bit of overkill for my needs (and expensive!) but at least those seem to get a constant flow of updates. That alone is worth a lot in my book.

    Based on what we know so far, the only thing lacking on the VAHR for me would be power, but on the bike I would only be using this as a backup to the 520 anyway, so not a dealbreaker, especially at a fraction of the Fenix3 prices…

    Can’t wait for Sunday’s first look!

  49. jml

    I’d love to know if the vivoactive will support download/playback of music (and obviously, connection to BT devices like headphones to go along with it). The ‘perfect’ setup of GPS/HRM/daily activity tracking/music still evades me…

    • No, it doesn’t have any music storage capability, nor Bluetooth legacy for audio.

      Unfortunately, the setup your looking for doesn’t exist on the Garmin platform.

      It does however exist with both TomTom (Runner 2/Spark), and Adidas (Smart Run GPS, albeit minus activity tracker).

  50. Torbjørn Høstmark Borge

    I just can´t understand if optical HR sensor is the way to go. I owned two Forerunner 235 and they both show way totally wrong puls. I hope it´s just a software related problem.

  51. Chris

    I’m sold on this. I was juggling between the new fitbit blaze or basis peak. This will ruin fitbit blaze, so glad I didn’t pre order.

    Can you connect to a heart rate chest strap as an option like the fr235?

  52. Kasey Cotulla

    I love my Vivoactive and I’m disappointed they’ve gone the HR route with the VA2.

    What I like about the current Vivoactive is that it is a slim and not bulky like almost all Garmin watches. The slimness makes it easier to wear under a long sleeve dress shirt at work or even less bulky when going to sleep. The FR235 had a terribly inconsistent heart rate monitor and I returned it within two weeks, so I’m not enthusiastic about the added HR feature and bulk.

    I’m committed to the Garmin tech/GPS environment, so I wish they would offer something just a little more stylish and streamlined as an update to the original Vivoactive. This new version looks like a fat FitBit and it certainly isn’t distinctive.

    When you drive down the highway, every SUV looks pretty much like the next one regardless of the nameplate. It’s a pity Garmin won’t differentiate the look of at least one sport watch in their lineup. i had some hope with the original Vivoactive. Oh well.

    • Bike Geek

      I was not really a fan of the VA display but I liked how slim the watch was. I agree that the VA-HR does disappoint in the style department.

    • Luke

      I’ve been saying this for a while, but the moment Garmin released a fancy slim dress watch with a step counter I’d buy it. I have a 920xt, but I can’t wear that to work, and I think the “fancy” Fenix3s are ugly as sin.

    • Júlia

      I totally agree with you. I was also expecting something more stylish and this is important especially for the women. If this is an activity and sleep tracker we are supposed to wear all day, but this new VA HR design, I haven’t enjoyed.

    • runnershigh

      I like slim design too, but I also like the features of the new VA HR. In the end it is more important to me that HR measurment is working well; if it’s neccessary to build the VA HR more bulky to make sure that HR measurement will be “a real feature” then garmin has to do so.
      If the optical HR is not valid, than you are right, they could stay more on original form factor of the VA.

      At the point of some specific (serious) useability a “wearable” becomes more than just a gadget to me.

  53. Bike Geek

    Hi Ray, I think the only question now is – when do you anticipate Garmin FR 925 or FR 930/935 being released?

  54. UpIrons

    Any idea if the Vivoactive HR will also accept a heart rate strap with ANT+ or Bluetooth in case I wish to have better accuracy during strength workouts and the like? If you can find that out soon, I would appreciate that. Keep up the great work!

  55. Brad Goodridge

    I just bought the Vivosmart HR last week. I wanted to track my HR and steps. I wish it was more real time but I can live with it for now.
    I need a gps that’s going to last 30+ hours that”s why I have a Ambit3 (trying something new. I have a pile of dead garmins). The Vivoactive HR 13 hour GPS is not going to cut it unless you can recharge it in-use. The VS HR needs to be connected to your iPhone for weather info, so why not get the gps data from the phone also?

    I think the VS HR is a great device and at my old age I can read the notifications (the whole message) (i wish you could adjust the display time). Unlike the Ambit3 Peak where you only get the first part of the message and it’s very difficult to read.

  56. Jimmy

    can’t wait for your take on the vivoactive HR – VERY interesting looking device. I always loved your reviews – they are thorough and very informative.

  57. JR

    I’m a little surprised by the “why would anyone buy a 235” sentiment. Frankly, the devices are very similar, with the main difference being form. Do you want a fancy touch screen? Or do you want reliable physical buttons that you can hit when you’re sweaty and gasping for air? Custom workouts are nice, but not nearly as important as just having reliable buttons for start, stop, and lap.

  58. Erica

    Autodetects swimming, but doesn’t count laps?


    You’re killing me here, Garmin.

    • SS76

      see, I think their target market is me! When I’m swimming, I’m not doing laps, just leisurely exercise I want tracked. Also, when I ride my bike, I want that tracked, but at a basic level.

      This device is aimed more at the mainstream and those who are active but not overly serious about it.

      The optical HR though I would hope would be accurate if I was playing soccer or ball hockey like my Mio Fuse is, but I’m not confident of this based on the FR235.

    • Tommy

      Apparently it does record strokes

    • It counts laps just fine in swimming mode though (Vivoactive HR, not the Vivofit3).

      Perhaps it’s just me, but I don’t tend to randomly fall into the pool unexpectedly and start a swim workout. 😉

    • Erica

      Ha ha — yeah, I was really hoping for the Vivofit 3 to do laps, but I guess not.

  59. Eric

    Any chance the existing vivoactive could get an update that would include the rowing apps? Thanks.

    • Alfredo

      I’d like to know this as well. Don’t see why that can’t be pushed through a software update.

    • I’ll double-check tomorrow, but I wouldn’t expect it. It seems like this is one of those separators that they’re looking at as a way to entice people to upgrade.

  60. PAX

    Ray Nice update.

    Just a reminder folks – these are technology based products…. understand that 6-18 months later there is going to be something new that will have more features. Get the product that works best for you right now….

    Don’t expect every product to do everything for everybody…. …the Vivoactive HR will not be as good as the dedicated watches – if you want high performance sports feature get the high performance.

    Expect the new product release to take 3-6 months to get the software bugs ironed out…

  61. Nathan

    I’m interested to know if the band on the new Vivoactive is replaceable as it was with the old one, hard to tell from the picture. Had my Vivoactive for almost a year and for a casual runner like me it’s fantastic. I use the Scosche Heart Rate Monitor as well, which is fantastic. Looking forward to your first impressions Ray.

  62. extremeliver

    Ray, any ideas on when the 920 will be updated to include an optical hr sensor? I’d also love longer battery life or the ability to charge it on the run.

  63. David Tucker

    As a user of the original Vivofit…I’m just waiting for my original battery to eventually die so I can buy a Vivofit 2 or 3 (or 4?) to replace it. Over a year and still ticking!

  64. Aleksey Korolev

    WOW!!!!!!11 )))

  65. Gary B.

    Great news. I love my Vivoactive and the addition of optical HR will be much appreciated. I’ll be upgrading for my July birthday.

    I think I am more interested in 24 x 7 optical HR then workout HR. I nearly always have my phone with me when I workout so use the Wahoo Fitness app and Tickr X HR strap, bluetooth to my phone and ANT+ to the Vivoactive.

    Let’s just hope Garmin listen to Ray and introduce the ability to increase the HR sampling when not working out. 3 day battery is enough for me so I would increase the frequency and have battery down from 8 days to 3.

  66. Miquel

    Hi Ray
    Do you know if the VA HR supports indoor running & cycling? I was planning to buy the Fenix 3, but now I’m thinking the VA HR may be a better deal for me.

    PS: Have fun in Barcelona!

  67. MIchael

    Would like to know, if this time is 1s-recording on board?

    • Also would like to know what basic run stat is available on the VAHR. If the 1s-recording for GPS & HR and decent run metrics are on the VAHR, then I feel I can skip buying a Forerunner 235 in favor of the VAHR ($50 cheaper too!).

  68. Mike

    The vivoactive is a piece of junk. I have been wearing one since soon after hitting the market. I am still wearing it because I paid a fortune for it. I bet you say this is absolutely wonderful too Ray. I doubt it very much.

    • Not really sure the rest of the universe agrees with you there. Most seem pretty happy with it. I had caveats I noted, so it’s not really my favorite watch due to those limitations. But again, I just very rarely hear complaints about it.

    • Mike

      I’m very satisfied with the vivoactive (though I only got it a week ago). It hands down is more useful than the apple watch (talk about a waste of money…) and the fitbit surge and charge. One week in on daily multiple activity use with an HR strap, and I still have 50% battery, though I haven’t used the GPS much due to weather. The swimming accuracy can be a bit off but I’m not a competitive swimmer so no real complaints there. The treadmill accuracy is remarkable, especially compared to the wahoo run strap. But mostly, I’m impressed with the battery, the always on aspect, and that it’s not obnoxiously bulky (though not a huge fan of the square casing – mostly because it reminds me of the apple watch).

    • Den

      You can check out the Amazon reviews. I know, it’s only those that are unhappy that post, but wow! A few folks are unhappy.

    • The Vivoactive has 943 Amazon reviews at 4/5 stars. Doesn’t seem like everyone hates it.

  69. Wasim Shaikh

    The varia vision lists the vivoactive hr as a compatible device

    • I’d defer to Rule #1 on that.

    • Mike

      Yes, def defer to rule #1 on that…. but that said, when the Edge 520 was released it showed the varia radar lights as compatible but the varia lights only showed the edge 1000 as compatible (and only made references to the edge 1000). I asked garmin about this, and they said it was just a matter of time for the Edge 520 to get compatibility and it eventually did; suspect that the vision will eventually support the vivoactive – no apparent technical barriers for it not to. On the other hand, Garmin has taken its sweet time on releasing connect IQ for the edge 520..

  70. Brian Perkins

    Now if Garmin would just include power in the VA cycling app …

    • Mark

      Never gonna happen.

      1) If you’ve spent the multiple hundred of dollars/pounds/francs it costs to buy a power meter, you’ve demonstrated that you’ve got a large disposable income. Garmin would like some of that, and will push you to spend some more of the money you’ve demonstrated you can afford, on a high-end multi-sport, or additional cycle specific device.

      2) Those who are recording power are very unlikely to be satisfied with the limited options, capabilities and displays of the low-end devices.

    • There’s already an app to display power on the Vivoactive: link to apps.garmin.com

      Once the next update to Connect IQ comes (should be any week now, based on the Q1 2016 plan), then you’ll be able to record said data as well. Details of that here: link to dcrainmaker.com

    • mike

      Ray – any word on when connect IQ is coming to the Edge 520?

    • Soon? Soonish? I’d have to go back and look at the planned timelines, but basically now-ish.

  71. Matt

    Tempted to eventually get a Vivoactive HR as a second watch besides the Fenix 3 – just because you can never have enough gadgets…

    Is Garmin Connect still limited to a single designated activity tracker, or will it count steps etc. from the device currently being worn automatically?

  72. Bob

    Will we be able to download training plans by Garmin Connect to the Vivoactive HR?

  73. Phil Mckenny

    Man, I thought this was going to be the device I would be buying to answer my prayers, A V800 combined with an Apple watch ish..

    I’m a bit dissapointed that I cant have custom running/riding setups.. when riding I like to see total ascent and descent, max speed… when running it looks like it wont give average pace or HR zones etc?

    One big thing is Garmin have this thing looking like it has a nice hi-res screen.. it has less resolution that the Fenix3 and I found the fenix screen annoying due to its low res attempts at a good GUI. Looking forward to you review Ray.

  74. John


  75. For those interested, I’ve just uploaded a video I shot this afternoon with the Vivoactive HR after my run with it:

    link to youtube.com

    I’m now working through the 300+ photos I took to put together the more in-depth post that answers many of your additional questions and gets more detailed on a few things. Stay tuned for that shortly!

  76. Alicia

    What does it look like on? You showed how it works, it looks pretty slick. I’d love to simply see it on a couple of wrists. Thanks!

  77. Larry S.

    Anyone know if the Vivoactive HR rowing feature means this will work with Concept2 indoor rowing machines?

  78. Mike H.

    Hello Ray,

    can you tell us, if the vivoactive HR has a 1s-GPS-recording-interval? Thanks in adavance!

  79. Dane Perkins

    new vivoactive HR looks awesome. altho my current vivoactive still works great. im very curious if they will add HRM TRI/SWIM support to the original….doubtful. cuz that would make people like me, not wanna upgrade.

  80. With you having more time with the unit will the VAHR make a better buy than a Forerunner 235 if one doesn’t really use the FR235 for the interval workouts, training options, etc.

    I bought FR 235 because it had OHRM and the ability to connect with ANT+ chest straps. But I’ve grown to love the accuracy of the GPS compared to my previous Fitbit Surge. Now the VAHR has me seriously considering it cause it has OHRM & ANT+ chest strap connect-ability. I’m more now curious to know if the GPS tracing is as accurate (or at least near) FR 235’s.

  81. Will Luttrell

    Will it support HRM-Tri / HRM-Swim for downloadable data? Right now, it’s pretty killer that I can wear my HRM-Tri in the water or at the gym, and my 920XT will download the heart rate data after the fact.

    Also notable: HRM-Tri / Swim are not listed on Garmin’s website under compatible accessories, but other heart rate straps are.

  82. Kartik

    Holy moly! I like this device! Time to palm off my Vivoactive to The Wife and get me a VivoActive HR. I don’t care much for the inbuilt optical HR (am assuming that it is as crappy as Garmin’s other optical HR watches) and plan to continue to use the Scosche Rhythm+ armband.
    What I liked:
    – Added in floors climbed metric (my old Fitbit used to have this)
    – Added in Intensity Minutes
    – ability to add new apps (how about tennis?)
    – Added in Auto Activity Detection (Running, Swimming, Cycling, Elliptical)
    – Increases GPS battery life up to 13hrs from 8hrs in original Vivoactive
    – Different display, however same overall resolution (may be better in sun)

    What I don’t like:
    – Slight increase in chubbiness compared to Vivoactive (more depth than original Vivoactive)

  83. Tommy

    Does it have instant pace then? I’m struggling to find a reason NOT to cancel my Fenix 3 HR pre-order. I guess for me it will come down to battery life and looks.

  84. Hi All-

    My new & far more detailed post is available here: link to dcrainmaker.com


    • And just as a quick FYI to folks following this original Vivoactive HR/Vivofit 3 post, I’ll be closing the comments section here to new comments – simply to keep things tidy. Feel free to comment all-day long on the newer Vivoactive HR/Vivofit3 post here: link to dcrainmaker.com