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Garmin Vivosport In-Depth Review

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A few weeks ago as part of Garmin’s trifecta announcement of new Vivo-labeled products, they announced the Vivosport (along with the Vivomove HR and Vivoactive 3).  In many ways the Vivosport got overlooked as it lacked the fashionista flashiness of the Vivomove HR, while also lacking all the bells and whistles of the Vivoactive 3 (like contactless payments).

But the Vivosport actually has a bunch of new features in it that combine the Vivosmart 3 they released earlier this spring, with the Vivosmart HR+ from a year ago.  Said differently: You now get GPS in the band (which wasn’t in the Vivosmart 3), but all the new stress tracking, VO2Max, and similar features of the Vivosmart 3 units.

In any event, I’ve been using a media loaner unit since before announcement, and now that the company is shipping I figured it’s time for an in-depth review.  As usual, I’ll give this unit back to them and go out and get my own via normal retail channels.

With that – let’s dive into it!

What’s new:

Garmin-Vivosmart-VO2-New

Let’s start by looking at what’s new in the device, which does require us to have a baseline to compare it to.  For example, if we compare it against the Vivosmart HR+ (the one with GPS), then we’ve got a boatload new, all of which was introduced on the Vivosmart 3 this spring:

24×7 Stress Tracking Mode: This will score  (1-100) and bucketize (low/med/high) your stress levels constantly.
VO2Max/Fitness Level Scoring: Gives you both a VO2Max value and a general score
New Relax/Breathing timer: Walks you through breathing exercises to help you relax
Strength training mode: This can now count reps during certain activities
More constant 24×7 HR mode: This is akin to Fenix5/FR935/Vivosmart3/Vivoactive3 with far more frequent HR updates, at 1-second intervals for the Vivosport
Watch face choices: You can now select some (limited) watch faces
New Stop Watch/Countdown Timer: Pretty self-explanatory
Auto-start for Run/Walk Activity: Allows you to automatically trigger these workout types
Added Rep Counting: This tracks reps in the weight room, including the ability to specify weights.
Far thinner design: Reduced by 4mm compared to Vivosmart HR/HR+

But what about compared to the Vivosmart 3 that was introduced?  Here’s the list compared to that device:

Always-on display: The Vivosmart 3 had an on-demand display
Hell of a lot better display: Simply put, this thing is crystal clear, versus the semi-soft VS3 display
Battery life: It’s 7 days in smartwatch mode, 8 hours in GPS mode
Additional Sport Profiles: Outdoor versions of walk, run, cardio, and bike
Added Run/Walk Interval Mode: Popular in some run training plans
Added Auto-Pause: Used in sport modes
Added LiveTrack: Given it has GPS, this is a logical addition
Added Auto-Activity Start: This will trigger for walk and run, and gets a legit activity versus just a Move IQ calendar one

Also, note that Garmin believes the Vivosport is actually the smallest activity tracking band with GPS included and at least 7 days of battery life.  I can’t say I disagree there.  Perhaps there’s some random OEM-type device in China that bests that figure, but as far as any major player devices, that’s certainly true.

Got all that?  Good.  Now you’re ready to see how things size up.

Size & Weight Comparison:

Note that during the James Bond-esque hand-off on the side of the road between two cyclists, I received just the unit and a charging cable – no box.  That was true of the second unit I had/have as well, since nobody wanted to carry a bunch of boxes in their luggage.  No worries though, all you need to know about the box at the moment is that it has the band and the charging cable in it.  It uses the same exact charger as most of Garmin’s 2017 units (Fenix 5, FR935, Vivoactive 3, etc…).

I’ll add an unboxing section once I get a proper box.  But this is a final production unit.

As for sizes and weights, it’s pretty similar to past Garmin Vivo-units.  Here’s the weight of it:

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And then here it is compared to the GPS-less Vivosmart 3, and the GPS-capable Vivosmart HR (same shell to Vivosmart HR+, but slightly smaller):

Vivosmart3Weight VivosmartHRWeight

Since Fitbit doesn’t really make a band of their own with GPS, it’s a bit weird comparing that in the weight sense.

To see how the Vivosport is slightly thinner and less bulky than the Vivosmart HR, here’s some comparison goodness:

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Got all that?  Good, let’s get right into the actual usage then.

The Basics:

Vivosport-Steps-Overview

The Vivosport is pretty straightforward to use.  Everything is done by either tapping or swiping the always-on touch display on the unit.  There are no dedicated buttons beyond this screen, which responds to taps, more taps, long-olds, and swipes.

Vivosport-Screen-Unlock Vivosport-Baseline-Watchface

Above you’ll see the time, date, and inactivity bar (if you’ve been lazy), which I have not been, thus, you don’t see it.  You’ll also see the battery status – which is close to death in my case.  I’ve been easily getting 4-5 days of battery life out of it, including GPS workouts of about 30-60 minutes per day.  Further, the screen will show if any alarms are scheduled.

The main screen is your default watch face, which can be lightly customized with a few default watch faces, as well as the orientation.  Note that you cannot install any Garmin Connect IQ watch faces here.  You can also customize the default home widget, which could be something other than the watch face.

Vivosport-Watch-Faces Vivosport-Home-Widgets Vivosport-Display-Options

Next, you’ve got all your widgets, which contain things like steps, floors, intensity minutes, music control, and so on.  For most of these you can also tap into them to get additional details.  For example, here’s the heart rate (HR) widget, which shows your current HR and 7 days resting HR below it.

Vivosport-RestingHR-Main

But you can tap it to get the last hour’s HR graph, and the high/low figures:

Vivosport-RestingHR-Detail

For a quick look at all the widgets, I give you a widget gallery.  It’s…well…a big ‘ol collection of many widget photos.

Yes, for real, I did walk 30,000 steps today (more since I took that photo).  My legs are done with walking for the foreseeable future.  Or at least the next 1hr and 28 minutes until I have to walk my ass off this train and back home.

The unit also receives smartphone notifications as well.  These will appear first as a little icon for the particular app (I.e. Instagram, Facebook, texts, etc…), and then you can tap it to read the full details:

Vivosport-Notifications-Text Vivosport-Notifications-Twitter

When it comes to the data from the Vivosport, all of it is funneled via Bluetooth Smart to your smartphone (iOS/Android/Windows), and into the Garmin Connect app.  It’s here you can see your daily totals.  For example, the new Garmin Connect Mobile home screens are far better than the past.  Here’s what my day looked like today, swiping through from top to bottom:

GarminConnectMobile-MyDay-Vivosport GarminConnectMobile-MyDay-Steps-Vivosport

You’ll see how it has things like my GPS activity up top, followed by the different activity categories.  Then down towards the bottom I’ve got a tidy little comparison to yesterday, as well as a summary of the last 7 days.

GarminConnectMobile-MyDay3-Yesterday GarminConnectMobile-MyDay-Yesterday

You can dive into any given stat to get more detail.  For example, here’s the 24×7 HR stats in more detail.  On the left you’ll see little grey icons, which indicate automatically triggered activities.  Versus the green icon for run is a manually created GPS run.

GarminConnectMobile-Vivosport-AllDayHR GarminConnectMobile-Vivosport-AllDayHRWeekTrending

Speaking of which, the Vivosport now contains the same more advanced Garmin ELEVATE optical HR sensor that the Vivosmart 3 had (but that didn’t have GPS).  This means the optical HR sensor is measuring your heart rate at 1 second intervals and recording as such.  This gives you far better accuracy than Garmin’s past iterations which sometimes would go off on vacation for hours at a time at night (though usually it was less).

Garmin-Elevate-Sensor-Vivosport

In addition, with this higher frequency recording they’re doing new metrics like stress measurement throughout the day when not in a workout.  This is leveraging heart rate variability and algorithms from Firstbeat, and is identical to what was shown on the Vivosmart 3.  I find it pretty darn accurate in measuring my perceived stress.  You can see this on the device itself, or on the app afterwards:

Vivosport-All-Day-Stress

I like the app view, as it shows it both throughout the day but also in a little chart format.  This is also true of the intensity minute data, which is more accurate than before since it’s calculated constantly:

Garmin-ConnectMobile-Vivosport-Stress Garmin-ConnectMobile-Vivosport-IntensityMinutes

Similar to what Fitbit introduced a year or so ago, Garmin added in new Relaxation/Breathing type functionality, which is found within the Vivosmart 3.

Of course, like most activity trackers these days it tracks sleep as well.  In general this works well, though I did have one night a few days ago that incorrectly thought me using my phone in bed was sleeping (for about 45 minutes on either side).

Vivosport-SleepStats-2 Vivosport-SleepStats-1

Within Garmin Connect you can connect with friends (only on Garmin of course, nobody has cross-platform integration), and see how you compete against them.  And for lack of anywhere else to put the other screen below, you can do all sorts of charting of metrics like calories and such.

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Finally, a note about the display.  By default the display isn’t locked, which I found incredibly frustrating.  Silly little things like my coat sleeves would trigger it and before I knew I was in the workout mode or deep into the settings.  Same goes for a shower (the unit is waterproofed to 50m).  As an added ‘benefit’, the default would have the backlight illuminating on almost any wrist movement or tap of the bedsheets.  The Girl nearly ripped it off my wrist and threw it out the window to the street six stories below.

However, both those issues were solved by turning off backlight wrist raise (except in a workout, where I’ve set it to default backlight on when raised), as well as default auto-locking the screen.  To unlock I just tap twice.  All is happy now in both our lives.

Vivosport-Display-Options 2017-09-18 01.51.40

Also, you can adjust vibration alert intensity as well.  I found the default ‘medium’ setting more than fine.

With that – let’s talk sports.  After all, it’s named ‘Vivosport’.

Sport Usage:

Garmin-Vivosport-Runwalk

If you can untwist the confusing lineage of the Vivo series, which is a complex Tinder-packed hooking up of the Vivosmart 3 and Vivosmart HR+ series, the core takeaway you’ll find is that the Vivosport has both GPS and higher-end optical HR.  That’s roughly what this all boils down to over the Vivosmart HR+ from a year or so ago (which also had optical & GPS).  Also, this new unit has sporty features like VO2Max algorithms, run/walk modes, and personal records.  All the stuff I listed in the ‘new stuff’ section up above.

In order to start a workout you’ll hold down the screen for about two seconds, which brings up this colorful little person:

Vivosport-StartSport

You can then tap them and swipe through the different sports, such as running, walking, cycling, or cardio.

Vivosport-Select-Running

There are some odd quirks here.  For example, you can choose running, and then indoor or outdoor.  But for cycling you only get outdoors but not indoors.  Garmin would probably argue that’s what the ‘Cardio’ option is for, since technically it wouldn’t do anything different by adding an indoor cycle/spin option.  But by having a separate option it’d bucketize the activities different on Garmin Connect later (without manually overriding).  It’s a reason why Fitbit allows selection of a boatload of sports, even if behind the scenes there’s virtually no difference.

Vivosport-Indoor-Outdoor-Selection

If we select run we’ll get the option for that indoor/outdoor piece.  Selecting outdoors will enable search for GPS, while indoors it’ll use the accelerometer for pace/distance.

Vivosport-WaitingForGPS

Typically I found that for GPS it took less than 15-20 seconds if it’s synced with your phone recently and has the GPS satellites pre-cache data on it.  Else then it’ll take a heck of a long time (2-3 minutes).

Vivosport-Found-GPS

Once done you can go ahead and double-tap to start the activity.  At this point it’ll be tracking your workout including distance and heart rate.  You can swipe through workout pages, each of which contain two metrics.

Vivosport-MetricsPage2 Vivosport-MetricsPage1

You can customize these metrics using the Garmin Connect Mobile app, such as selecting different data fields.

Vivosport-Data-Pages Vivosport-DataField

All of this is pretty straightforward.  One benefit that I alluded to early on in the review is that the display is always-on.  Unlike almost all Fitbit devices these days (and even some Garmin devices), the Vivosport display never shuts off, so there’s no awkward waiting if/when the wrist-raise doesn’t properly trigger the display-on.  It’s nice having it just always be there and work.

VivosportRunning-MidRun

Note that during the workout you can enable things like auto lap to automatically create laps at preset durations (such as once per mile or kilometer), as well as auto pause and even run/walk mode.  Further, you can create distance, calorie, heart rate, or time alerts.

Vivosport-Alerts-Mode Vivosport-VirtualPacermode Vivosport-RunWalk-Mode

Once your workout is done you can go ahead pause the workout by double-tapping the screen.  Then you can select to save the workout.

Vivosport-RunningDone

Afterwards you’ll get any PR information if you’ve hit any of those during your workout.  These can include longest runs or fastest paces.  Note that as has been the case forever, Garmin still inexplicably can’t sync your PR’s from Garmin Connect to these devices, so they always start over.  I fail to understand why.

Vivosport-PRs Vivosport-MilePR

You can further view your workout on Garmin Connect Mobile, including a boatload of stats:

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Or you can view it on Garmin Connect online (here’s links to some of my Vivosport runs and rides, for those curious about the exact data and how it appears on a real life workout.  Additionally, if you connect your account to sites like Strava, Training Peaks, or MapMyFitness – the workouts will end up there within a few seconds of Garmin Connect receiving it.

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Also of note is that now you’ll get VO2Max information based on your workouts.  This can be accessed through the menus to pull up your VO2Max stats at any time.  In general you’ll find that this feature takes a couple of weeks to stabilize to your metrics.  So don’t fret if initially the numbers are pretty low – it’s normal for not just Garmin devices, but most devices in the industry.

Vivosport-VO2Max-Menu Vivosport-VO2Max-Values

Finally, the Vivosport includes the ability to re-broadcast your heart rate over ANT+.  It doesn’t do this while in sport mode, but only in a secondary mode that’s accessed in the settings menu:

Vivosport-Edge-Broadcasting

When in this mode, you could use something like a Garmin Edge cycling computer to pair to your HR sensor on the Vivosport, in place of wearing a chest strap.  Of course, the accuracy of that data is limited to the Vivosport’s accuracy, which I talk about in the next section.

Note that the Vivosport CANNOT connect to any ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart sensors.  So no ANT+ heart rate sensors or speed/cadence sensors for cycling.  I find it peculiar that the Vivofit (that’s half the price) can connect to HR sensors but the Vivosport can’t.  Sure, it has its own HR sensor in it, but so do numerous other Garmin products that allow you to connect to ANT+ HR sensors.

Heart Rate Accuracy:

Garmin-Vivosmart-Heart-Rate-Accuracy

Next up we’ve got heart rate accuracy.  This roughly falls into two buckets: 24×7 HR, and workout HR.  By and large, I see no tangible issues with 24×7 HR.  It works well across both normal daily routines as well as things like sleep.  You do see slightly higher resting HR calculations than I believe is accurate for me.  For example, it generally gives me Resting HR (RHR) values in the 49-51 range, yet I’ll routinely get HR’s in the 39-44BPM range.  But that’s sorta always been a quirk of many watches.  Speaking of which, I talk about RHR values and 24×7 monitoring here and why it’s interesting.

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(As an aside, I also found it interesting that for 3-4 days I wore the new Vivomove HR.  While doing so, my resting HR numbers dropped about 8-10bpm per day, and then as soon as I went back to the Vivosport, it rose. This was on Sept 2/3/4th per above.)

Before we move on to the test results, note that optical HR sensor accuracy is rather varied from individual to individual.  Aspects such as skin color, hair density, and position can impact accuracy.  Position and how the band is worn are *the most important* pieces.  A unit with an optical HR sensor should be snug.  It doesn’t need to leave marks, but you shouldn’t be able to slide a finger under the band (at least during workouts).  You can wear it a tiny bit looser the rest of the day.

Ok, so in my testing, I simply use the watch throughout my normal workouts.  Those workouts include a wide variety of intensities and conditions, making them great for accuracy testing.  I’ve got steady runs, interval workouts on both bike and running, as well as tempo runs and rides.

For each test, I’m wearing additional devices, usually 3-4 in total, which capture data from other sensors.  Typically I’d wear a chest strap (usually the HRM-TRI or Wahoo TICKR X), as well as another optical HR sensor watch on the other wrist (many models during this testing period).  Note that the numbers you see in the upper right corner are *not* the averages, but rather just the exact point my mouse is sitting over.  Note all this data is analyzed using the DCR Analyzer, details here.

With that out of the way, let’s dive into a run first in the Swiss Alps.  This was a bit of a cooler day (early fall), and also a bit of a rolling course, producing variable heart rate.  You see that there’s definitely some disagreement in those first 5 minutes or so.  We do see both optical HR sensors (Vivosport and FR935) do better than the chest strap in the first minute (not uncommon), and then we see some differences between minutes 4-6.

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However, after that point all three sensors actually agree very nicely for almost everything.  About the only real stand-out in my opinion is the recovery HR’s that you see around the 38-minute marker and 45-minute marker.  Both of these were during brief sections I paused to take a photo, and you can see the HR strap recovers much faster than the optical HR sensors.

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Slight delays on recovery HR’s isn’t unusual for optical sensors, but usually it’s on the order of 2-5 seconds.  Here we see quite a bit longer gap – upwards of 30 seconds before it gets even halfway.  Since both Garmin optical sensors (on separate wrists) failed to track this properly in the same way, I’d assume a common algorithm error here, though I’m not sure if stopping to take a photo is considered an algorithm edge case.  Either way, it’s the first I’ve seen of this.

Next, we’ve got another run.  Or maybe it wasn’t a run.  Perhaps those first 5 minutes I was actually inside a meat grinder.  I’ve never seen such complete and total craziness in HR’s between multiple units.  Ever.

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I have zero explanation for that.  I was just quietly running along the river and everyone except the Polar OH1 decided to crap themselves.  The chest strap, the other optical HR sensor, and the Vivosport.

And then boom – at the 5-minute marker everyone magically got happy.  It appears that at the 5-minute marker I went up a very slight grade for 10-15 seconds, and that was just enough to allow the units to unsort their likely cadence-lock type issues and find my HR. All of them.

From there on out, everyone is identical:

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Next, we’ll take a crack at two bike rides.  The first, indoors on a trainer.  In this case I used the ‘Cardio’ option, since there is no indoor bike option:

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You’ll see that aside from the first 60 seconds, it actually tracks near perfectly the entire time.  And honestly, I’m not sure what else to say beyond that.  Generally speaking you see optical HR sensors on wrist perform quite well indoors (as there’s no bumps to account for), but less well outdoors.

Thus finally, an outdoor ride.  Don’t worry, this won’t take long – it’s horrible.

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In case you’re trying to figure out which one is the Vivosport, it’s the one you see most obviously not like the others (the blue one).

There’s not much of a point to analyze the above, other than to say that if there was any variability in my intensity, the Vivosport while riding did the opposite of what I did.  The only exception to that was in the middle there where I was fairly steady-state doing some loops, that it got fairly close…except when I did a sprint, and then it lost the plot again.

While this is somewhat common for wrist-based optical HR during cycling (with variable intensity), you’ll notice the FR935 actually tracked fairly darn well throughout this entire thing, save for one sprint.  So it’s not quite as black and white as some might think.  For example, if you look at the first half of this ride, where I climb for multiple hours – the Vivosport tracks my HR perfectly, since it’s steady-state intensity.

Still, beyond outdoor cycling – the Vivosport optical HR sensor has largely worked well for me in other scenarios.

(Note that all these sets for both the HR & GPS accuracy sections were done using the DCR Analyzer, which allows you to compare multiple devices at once.  You can now use the DCR Analyzer yourself for doing your own gadget comparisons.  You’ll find the details here.)

GPS Accuracy:

Garmin-Vivosmart-GPS-Accuracy

There’s likely no topic that stirs as much discussion and passion as GPS accuracy.  A watch could fall apart and give you dire electrical shocks while doing so, but if it shows you on the wrong side of the road?  Oh hell no, bring on the fury of the internet!

GPS accuracy can be looked at in a number of different ways, but I prefer to look at it using a number of devices in real-world scenarios across a vast number of activities.  I use 2-6 other devices at once, trying to get a clear picture of how a given set of devices handles conditions on a certain day.  Conditions include everything from tree/building cover to weather.

Over the years I’ve continued to tweak my GPS testing methodology.  For example, I try to not place two units next to each other on my wrists, as that can impact signal. If I do so, I’ll put a thin fabric spacer of about 1”/3cm between them (I didn’t do that on any of my Vivosport workouts).  But often I’ll simply carry other units by the straps, or attach them to my shoulder straps of a CamelBak.  Plus, wearing multiple watches on the same wrist is well known to impact optical HR accuracy too.

Next, as noted, I use just my daily training routes.  Using a single route over and over again isn’t really indicative of real-world conditions, it’s just indicative of one trail.  The workouts you see here are just my normal daily workouts.

I’ve had quite a bit of variety of terrain within the time period of Vivosport testing.  Be it from major mountains and trails of the Alps, to quiet farmland in France, to city runs and rides in Paris or Amsterdam.

With that, let’s crack a look at the first activity, a run in the middle of nowhere France out in farm fields as a rain storm rolled through.  You can see it’s a pretty straightforward course in theory:

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But while it might look straight forward, I like these sort of straight-line courses as a test for how clean the GPS track is.  Meaning – are there wobbles if we zoom in?

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Nope, looks good there too.  And while not a perfect measure, what about the distance spread between the units?  All within a 41m spread (on ~4,450 meters) – so about 1% spread, which is totally normal for GPS accuracy.

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Now as a contrast to the above run, I will point out this run in Paris where GPS on the Vivosport totally lost the plot at the 10-minute marker for a minute or so (it’s the green line).  It makes no sense to me. Though I will point out that the firmware on the unit is now newer – so perhaps whatever caused that has been fixed.

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Next, we’ve got another run – this time in the Alps.  We looked at the HR plots of this earlier, now we’ll see how the tracks perform.  I had planned to take a Suunto Wrist HR unit with me on this run, but I forgot to charge it and was running out of light.  In any case, let’s start backwards this time – with total distances for each unit:

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You can see that the entire spread of all three units was a mere 43 meters (on ~10,400 meters) – or less than one-half of one percent.  But remember total distance doesn’t tell the entire story.  We need to look at the track points plotted and ensure they line up with reality.  What’s cool here is this track was alongside steep cliffs and in the mountains, making GPS reception harder.  Not to mention tree cover.  Here’s the overview, but at this level everything will look fine.  We need to zoom in some.

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Let’s take a look at a tiny little loop I did onto the lake on a small park there.  I did this 100% on purpose to demonstrate the impact of smart recording, which the Vivosport did (whereas the others record at 1-second intervals).  Smart recording slightly varies the recording interval, generally between 3-7 seconds.  Note below how the red track of the Vivosport cuts the corners and is more blocky:

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They key though is that while smart recording plots less points, it doesn’t actually short the distance (in theory), as that’s accounted for elsewhere in the file…at least until you use 3rd party services like Strava anyway.

If we zoom our way around the lake (you can do the same by clicking the file link above), you’ll see all tracks are generally within 1-2 meters of each other.  Some slight variation here and there – but all within the spec of consumer grade GPS.  Again though you do notice the more clunky nature of the Vivosport track since it’s recording fewer data points.

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But ultimately, throughout the rest of the run it’s basically the same.  All of them are close.

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Next, we’ll take a look at a bike ride, which is higher speed and across a dense city.  For the heck of it, we’ll start with the distance totals first:

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All of the units are within about 75 meters, save one Edge 520 that’s oddly 700m short. I’ve got no idea where it lost its 700m, as the maps show identical (and there’s no speed sensor on it).  I like that the Vivosport is within 36 meters of the PowerTap hub distance, which would be considered the most accurate distance here since it’s a wheel speed sensor.

In any case, here’s the overall map:

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Just randomly picking out some turns/corners/tougher sections, all the units track virtually identically:

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About the only time during the entire ride that you see some disagreement is through a slimmer street in between tall buildings on both sides.  In that case, you see some units visit some buildings next door, though, the Vivosport actually maintained one of the best locks of anyone.  Go figure.

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Finally, I like to look at tunnel entrance/exits to see how units handle.  Here you can see that all the units properly entered and exited the tunnel.  I’m specifically looking to ensure that when exiting the tunnel with low GPS accuracy (as it re-acquires GPS), that it doesn’t improperly place a GPS point far away (I.e. 150m away somewhere).  All did well here.

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Overall, I see good stuff with the GPS on the Vivosport – with the exception of a single run for about a minute.  It plots the points quite well across a wide variety of conditions (save that one).  Of course, since it doesn’t do 1-second recording I’d be hesitant to recommend it for trail running/riding (though trail hiking/walking is fine), as you’ll lose many of the switch backs due to lack of data points being recorded.

(Again, all these comparisons are done using the DCR Analyzer.  You can click on any of the links at the start of each set to dig into the sets in more detail, or to download the original data and do your own comparisons.)

Product Comparison:

I’ve added the Vivosport into the product comparison tool, allowing you to compare it to other products I’ve reviewed.  For the purposes of this post I selected a handful of other units to compare it against in the tables below, but again, you can make your own charts here.

Below I decided on matching it up against the Polar A370 (has both GPS & Optical HR), as well as the Vivoactive HR (watch-like), and then the Vivosmart HR+.  It’s not a perfect match-up, but I think it’s what people are most likely comparing.  I skipped comparing it in the below charts to the Vivoactive 3, since that’s considerably more.  But you can do that yourself with the tool if you want.

Function/FeatureGarmin VivosportGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivoactive HR
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 27th, 2017 @ 3:52 amNew Window
Price$199$219$249
Product Announcement DateAug 31st, 2017May 16th, 2016Feb 19th, 2016
Actual Availability/Shipping DateSeptember 2017June 2016Q2 2016
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYes
Data TransferBluetooth Smart, USBBluetooth Smart, USBUSB, BLUETOOTH SMART
Waterproofing50m50m50 meters
Battery Life (GPS)8 HOURS GPS ON8 hours GPS on13 hours GPS on
Recording IntervalSmart RecordingSmart RecordingSmart Recording
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerYesYesYes
Quick Satellite ReceptionYesYesYes
AlertsVibration/VisualVibration/VisualVibrate/Visual
Backlight GreatnessGreatOKGood
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceNoNoYes
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)YesYesYes
Can control phone musicYesYesYes
Has music storage and playbackNoNoNo
ConnectivityGarmin VivosportGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivoactive HR
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingYesYesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)YesYesYes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)YesYes
Group trackingNoNo
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNo
CyclingGarmin VivosportGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivoactive HR
Designed for cyclingYesNoYes
Power Meter CapableNoNoWith some Connect IQ apps (but cannot record data)
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsN/ANON/A
Power Meter TSS/NP/IFN/ANoN/A
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableNoNoYes
Strava segments live on deviceNoNoNo
Crash detectionNoNo
RunningGarmin VivosportGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivoactive HR
Designed for runningYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)NoNo (uses internal accelerometer)YES (Also has INTERNAL ACCELEROMETER)
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)NoNoNo
VO2Max EstimationYesNoNo
Race PredictorNoNoNo
Recovery AdvisorNonONo
Run/Walk ModeYes (limited)YesYes
SwimmingGarmin VivosportGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivoactive HR
Designed for swimmingNo (but waterproofed just fine)NoYes
Openwater swimming modeNoNoNo
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingNoN/AYes
Record HR underwaterNoN/ANo
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)N/AN/ANo
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)vN/AYes
Indoor Drill ModeN/AN/ANo
Indoor auto-pause featureN/AN/ANo
Change pool sizeN/AN/AYes
Indoor Min/Max Pool LengthsN/AN/A17M/18Y TO 150Y/M
Ability to customize data fieldsN/AN/AYes
Can change yards to metersN/AN/AYes
Captures per length data - indoorsN/AN/AYes
Indoor AlertsN/AN/AYes
TriathlonGarmin VivosportGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivoactive HR
Designed for triathlonNoNoNo
Multisport modeN/ANoNo
WorkoutsGarmin VivosportGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivoactive HR
Create/Follow custom workoutsNoNoNo
On-unit interval FeatureNoNoNo
Training Calendar FunctionalityNoNoNo
FunctionsGarmin VivosportGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivoactive HR
Auto Start/StopYesYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureNo (but has Virtual Pacer)Has Virtual PacerNo
Virtual Racer FeatureNoNoNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)YesNoYes
Day to day watch abilityYesYesYes
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NoNoNo
GeocachingNoNoNo
Weather Display (live data)YesYesYes
NavigateGarmin VivosportGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivoactive HR
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)NoNoNo
Markers/Waypoint DirectionNoNoYes (to pre-saved spots)
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNoNo
Back to startNoNoYes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoNoNo
SensorsGarmin VivosportGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivoactive HR
Altimeter TypeBarometricBarometricBarometric
Compass TypeN/AN/AMagnetic
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyYesYesYes
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleNoNo (can broadcast ANT+ HR though)Yes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableNo (can broadcast ANT+ HR though)NoYes (Can also broadcast ANT+ HR)
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableNoNoYes
ANT+ Footpod CapableNoNoYes
ANT+ Power Meter CapableNoNoNo
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoNo
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoNo
ANT+ Lighting ControlNoNoYes
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationNoNoYes
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NoNoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNoYES FOR GARMIN VIRB
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNo
ANT+ Muscle Oxygen (i.e. Moxy/BSX)NoNoNo
ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)NoNoNo
Shimano Di2 ShiftingNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoNonO
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoNoNo
Temp Recording (internal sensor)No-Sorta (Available only in Skiing/SUP)
Temp Recording (external sensor)NoNoYes
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsNoNoNo
SoftwareGarmin VivosportGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivoactive HR
PC ApplicationGarmiN ExpressGarmin ExpressGarmin Express - Windows/Mac
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectGarmin Connect
Phone AppiOS/Android/WindowsiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows Phone
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNo
PurchaseGarmin VivosportGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivoactive HR
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programN/ALink
DCRainmakerGarmin VivosportGarmin Vivosmart HR+Garmin Vivoactive HR
Review LinkLinkLinkLink

Again, remember you can make your own comparison charts using the product comparison tool here.

Summary:

Garmin-Vivosport-Start-GPS

Overall, Garmin has done nice things with the Vivosport, combining the best elements of the Vivosmart 3 and the GPS-capable Vivosmart HR+.  It did away with the clunkier band of the Vivosmart HR+ (yet keeping the GPS), while bringing in all the new HR-focused metrics of the Vivosmart 3, such as the stress tracking, better optical HR sensor.  All while updating the display far better than both units and with respectable battery life.

There are of course some software quirks, such as the sport mode selection offerings, or the lack of stability of optical HR while cycling outdoors.  Sure, the exterior band design isn’t exactly anything to write home about or win fashion awards for.  Nor does it have interchangeable/swappable accessory bands.  But it’s also not something that draws attention as fugly either, if that’s a bar to achieve.

Whether or not it was Garmin’s ultimate goal to make not just the slimmest GPS band on the market, I don’t know. But despite doing so they still made a GPS activity tracker band for fitness-focused folks without any apparent tradeoffs that works well and tracks a boatload of metrics largely accurately with good battery life.  And at the moment, there are very few products (basically none) that fit that description.  So to have one that does it well is certainly welcomed.

Found this review useful? Or just want a good deal? Here’s how:

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well. 

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers exclusive benefits on all products purchased.  By joining the Clever Training VIP Program, you will earn 10% points on this item and 10% off (instantly) on thousands of other fitness products and accessories.  Points can be used on your very next purchase at Clever Training for anything site-wide.  You can read more about the details here.  By joining, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get to enjoy the significant partnership benefits that are just for DC Rainmaker readers.  And, since this item is more than $75, you get free 3-day (or less) US shipping as well.

Garmin Vivosport (select dropdown for colors/sizes)

Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the Vivosport. Or, anything else you pick up on Amazon helps support the site as well (socks, laundry detergent, cowbells). If you’re outside the US, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top.

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible.

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199 Comments

  1. mykd83

    Which version of Garmin Connect Mobile do you have?!? The “My Day” section on mine looks nothing like yours…

    • KenS

      Go into settings in the Garmin app and click ‘Beta Access’ at the top. Et voila, much better home screen!

    • Andre Lemos

      except that not everyone gets that option.

    • Yeah, it’s being rolled out in beta. I think it’s somewhere in the 30-50% of users have access to it. I don’t know of a way (beyond what Ken noted) to self-enroll in it, though I’ll ask, since a lot of people have been asking after recent screenshots.

      (And those that do have access seem to really like it, as I’d agree, it’s a lot cleaner.)

    • Myk83

      Yeah, that worked for me!! Thanks, the new layout looks great. I especially like he little graph for recent heart rate like you can get on the watch, and the trace of your recent run route :-D

  2. gingerneil

    Great write up as always. It looks like lots can be configured from the app. Any idea if this method will also be coming to other garmin devices ? It would be really useful to be able to configure 935 run screens this way.

    • Hard to say. We’ve seen them very slowly add in some settings via the app to various devices, but the configuration of data fields and such has mostly always been available for the bands through the app (and we haven’t seen it hit the watches that way yet by and large).

  3. Nathan B

    I’ve been waiting for this one for a while!

    The one thing that I’m curious about is whether it still counts steps whilst out riding. I do a lot of commuting on the bike, and this has skewed my step count on previous Vivo versions.

    I’ve contacted Garmin on Twitter, and they say it’s not “supposed to”, but that wasn’t a no.

    Any idea Ray?

    Also, any CT Europe link? If not I’ll buy through your Amazon affiliate.

    • Still counts steps during a ride. I handily cleared all my stair/step goals during one of my Swiss Alps rides.

      No CT Europe link. Garmin is slow in getting them assets to build out listings (sigh, often the case with Garmin Europe)…three weeks later.

  4. Aldo

    116k steps? Seems like The Girl had a pretty busy week

  5. Nathan B

    Also… what size is that you’re using?

    Wasn’t mentioned, unless I missed it?

  6. phr3dly

    This looks like an interesting product, except for the “WTF” heart-rate and GPS issues. Those seem like pretty significant showstoppers to me.

    I have a VivoActive HR+, and see similar problems; HR while cycling outdoors is spotty at best, as is GPS for anything but walking at a brisk clip on an unobstructed sidewalk. Hop on a bike or dip into the trees and my track looks like I’m in la-la land.

    For any fitness cycling I’ve got a couple Edge units so it’s not a huge deal, but I’d prefer to use something like a watch for commuting purposes, just to keep things simple. But a watch that works 90% of the time means that I never really trust it.

    Yes, this is a first world problem. But one that $200 should be able to solve.

    • Yeah, whatever happened on that run definitely made for a bad day for that unit. It’s somewhat interesting to me that all the badness occurred on a single run, and no other activity in the last 15 days (aside from the general poor optical HR during cycling, which I kinda expected).

      That said, I’m surprised you’re having issues with GPS on the Vivoactive HR – since I can’t remember the last time I saw a complaint there for GPS accuracy. I’d suggest doing a hard reset, and see if that fixes it (it usually does on Garmin devices).

  7. Adam

    Continued to be dumbfounded by the fact that you CANNOT connect an external sensor. These trackers may be great at steady state activities, but if you step outside of that (weight training, CrossFit, etc) the data goes to sh*t.

    • Mike Richie

      I agree, this seems like more of Garmin’s marketing decisions to avoid competing with their higher end watches. My old FR60 connects to sensors and runs on a coin cell battery for a year, so it can’t be battery and since they broadcast HR they’ve got the chipset. This is a $200 device, what are they thinking? Garmin really needs to stop worrying about competing with themselves and start worrying about Apple, Fitbit and to a lesser extent Suunto and Polar. They did the same thing on their Vivoactive 3, when the didn’t include an outdoor swim activity. They seem to be the only wearable company that purposely cripples their devices when their is no technical reason to do so, to questionably avoid cannibalizing sales of their (older) higher end watches.

    • Ahh, the good old FR60. I feel like that’s one of those devices that sits apart in the history of Garmin devices.

      I think the slight wonkiness of different models capabilities is less of a concern than what I believe is starting to become the larger issue: Just too many damn models.

      If you turn the way-back clock on, one of the (albeit many) things that really hurt Polar about 5-7 years ago was just sooooooo many darn models/watches, all with barely any difference between them, primarily at the mid-lower end. Consumers eventually gave up and just bought a Garmin because they couldn’t figure it out. Polar has moved away from that, and things are really clean now.

      I feel like Garmin is starting to slide into that same realm though of endless models between all the available on-market options for the wearable side:

      Vivofit 3
      Vivosmart 3
      Vivomove HR (+ Vivovmove still?)
      Vivoactive 3
      Vivoactive HR
      Forerunner 35
      Forerunner 230
      Forerunner 235
      Forerunner 630
      Forerunner 735XT
      Forerunner 935
      Fenix 5
      Fenix 5S
      Fenix 5X
      Fenix Chronos

      And this assumes I give them a pass and pretend the FR920XT or Vivosmart HR+ isn’t still being offered.

      The problem is that I suspect if I were to bring this up to Garmin, they’d logically differentiate between these models – just as I can do too. Except that’s not what a consumer thinks when they walk into Best Buy and they have a relatively simple Fitbit lineup with 4-6 devices. Or Apple with 2-3.

      Obviously, there’s an element to the above lineup that’s certainly working for Garmin (as their earnings statements clearly show). But I wonder on the flip-side how many customers – especially at the low-mid range, they lose due to confusion.

    • David Tucker

      I agree with you. I’m curious what your ideal line up would be.

    • I think roughly:

      Vivofit # (basically, sub-$100 activity tracker)
      Vivosmart # ($100-$150 activity tracker)
      Vivosport (GPS band variant of Vivosmart)
      Vivoactive 3 (watch, roll-in handful of leftover FR235 features into it)
      Forerunner 935 (do away with FR735/620, and put price at $399)
      Fenix 5/5S/5X (different band sizes makes sense)

      I’d probably keep Chronos, but treat it more like a band than a model. Which I suppose is what they kinda do now.

      I suppose the harder one is the FR35, since that fills the gap for people that actually want a watch with GPS at a low-price.

      I suppose I’ve only got rid of a few models. But my job isn’t to make cuts – it’s just pointing out that the average consumer can’t figure this out. ;)

    • Mike Richie

      I completely agree about the number of models and your list of the models to keep. However, not having the ability to connect to Ant+ sensors on a $200 Garmin wearable makes no sense. That is something Garmin does well that the competition doesn’t have. Connecting to a bike cadence sensor, getting more accurate HR readings from a strap or connecting to gym equipment are pretty basic for a device with “sport” in its name. And the Vivoactive 3 is a great watch for all but the more dedicated/pro and multi sport athletes with the exception of the open water swim. Ray, you would simply use another device when swimming outdoors, but if this is your only device you simply have no way to record the activity. Some people use rowing, but then your distance and gps tracks are all over the map (pun intended). So you basically get no record at all of an OW swim. And this really is a more basic activity then many of the other sports it does record. Also, this is something Garmin does well and better than some of the competition. The Apple Watch 3 (GPS only) is only $30 more ($329) and is not crippled in any way, although has many other disadvantages (and advantages) for those who want to track their fitness activities.

    • Yeah, it’s a tricky balance. I guess the question is how many athletes are pure OWS folks, and a device that did all the other stuff plus OWS would probably cut into Garmin’s higher end devices too much.

      I personally think the right long-term approach is really unlocking software features by pay. Taking a platform like the Vivoactive 3 (especially if it had just one more button) would have been really interesting. You could ‘make it’ a FR235 to unlock interval works for say $20. Or you could ‘make it’ a OWS watch and perhaps disable other features for a period of time (sorta like authenticating software licenses for a set period of time).

      Garmin already does a huge amount of hardware re-use, so it’s really getting the softwar side able to unlock features. Unfortunately, I think that’s a long time away.

    • David Tucker

      I actually think it’s smart to keep those features on separate devices. Can you imagine the confusion and discontent if people discovered they needed to pay for features? I feel like their forums would be full of angry people talking about how they were ripped off by such a strategy.

      I like your list though, that’s basically what I had in my head.

    • Mike Richie

      What I am suggesting is that Garmin needs to stop worrying about something cutting into their higher end watches sales, they need to worry about Apple and Fitbit. Apple is opening up more and more of its internals to developers and even adding more and more to its own workout app. If their watch can do something and the software is in their OS, then the watch can do it. Right now if you are interested in keeping track of fitness stats and have around $300 to spend on a watch, you are probably looking at the Vivoactive 3, the Apple Watch or the Fitbit Ionic. There are trade-offs between all of them. Garmin needs to leverage what it is good at, the competition is not the Fenix 5. If you want a watch that reliably handles power meters, advanced statistics, multi sport competition and advanced navigation on a watch(or just want to look like you need that), then the Fenix 5 series (or something from Suunto or Polar) is probably your best bet, not the Vivoactive 3 (or Fitbit or Apple). I also think the “unlocking features” ship has sailed. Although they could still do it through Connect IQ. If Garmin had an OWS app for $20 that used the code on their other watches and synced to GC, I would buy it in a minute for my Vivoactive HR (hint, hint) ;)>

    • ekutter

      And this doesn’t include things like Approach S60 and X40 which could could be used by a golfer who also wants to run/bike. For my wife, its a close call with the Vivoactive 3 vs these two. The X40 is so close to the Vivosport but not quite enough cross over between golf and other activities to go with just one or the other.

    • RISHABH SEKHANI

      Could not agree more. Its been a pretty frustrating wait for an updated Garmin tracker which offers chest strap connectivity.

      There is a very sizeable chunk of the’active’ group which focuses heavily on CrossFit, HIIT etc – for which an optical wrist sensor just doesn’t cut it. There is also a very sizeable chunk of folks who prefer the everyday wearability of a fitness tracker over a watch eg- for many, a sports watch is just not be ideal option in a formal/ official setting. And in their intersection, lies the need for having fitness trackers which connect to HR straps.

      I’m not sure which part of this doesn’t resonate with Garmin, but speaking from personal experience, they are standing to lose loyal followers to an Apple or a Polar (A370). And this, inspite of the fact that no one does ANT+ as well as them.

      I fully endorse Mike’s point reg losing to competition sure to some silly cannibalization strategy. The last Garmin tracker which offered chest strap connectivity was the Vivofit, which simply misses out on too much when compared to the other trackers around. So in the absence of other viable options, I guess the only alternative is the Polar A370 (unless Samsung’s new Gear Fit 2 Pro also connects to chest straps).

      2 questions, Ray:
      1. Is there a way we can reach out to Garmin and request for this feature to be added via a s/w update and is it likely that they will realistically consider such a request? Have you ever brought it up with them and got their perspective?
      2. When are we likely to see an updated version of the Vivofit (basically any Garmin tracker which does connect to chest straps)?

    • I’ll ask why they didn’t include it when I see them this week.

      They (the right people) read the comments here.

    • Paul

      Isn’t this basically Garmin’s current lineup though? I get they are still selling the older Forerunners, Chronos, etc, but I just kind of assumed they were clearing out existing stock. It is definitely confusing for someone new to the Garmin world, however.

    • RISHABH SEKHANI

      Hi Ray.

      Just following up on your previous comment – you’d mentioned that you’d check with the Garmin folks on whether they would adding ANT+ HR monitor connectivity to this tracker, or why this feature want added? Could you share an update on that?

      Much appreciated. Thanks.

    • RISHABH SEKHANI

      Hi Ray.

      Just following up on your previous comment – you’d mentioned that you’d check with the Garmin folks on whether they would consider adding ANT+ HR monitor connectivity to this tracker, or why this feature want added? Could you share an update on that?

      Much appreciated. Thanks.

  8. Paul

    Thanks for the review Ray,

    So if you had to choose between the vivosport or the vivoactive 3 which one would you pick?

  9. andrew

    which do you prefer the garmin vivosport or the polar a370? mainly as an day to day watch / activity tracker with an occasional run / cycle. Thanks

    • It depends. The A370 uses GPS from your phone, so it’s a bit different than the Vivosport that uses GPS internally.

    • David Cruz

      Great review Ray! For someone Who always carry a phone while running.. Vivosport, Fitbit Charge 2 or Polar A370?
      Also is the Vivosmart3 good enough if your main activity is running?
      Thanks.

  10. Mike M

    Thank you for the great review as always.

    This little band would be perfect (for me) with two small additions that both seem like potential adds via software updates.

    1) I do both trail running and mountain biking… 1 second GPS sampling is a big deal

    2) Run/Walk by distance and/or time, which would allow programming rudimentary intervals

    It looks like a nice device, and I do like the strength training tracking, just not quite there overall for my needs.

    • Just to clarify, the Vivosport has Run/Walk mode. You can see it in some of the screenshots above actually.

    • Mike M

      Thanks Ray.

      It looks like the run/walk mode is by time only. I would want to be able to track by distance as well… for example, a 2 mile tempo segment with a 1 mile warm up and cool down, or 200/400 meter intervals. I would be happy to build out the steps one at a time, but would need to specify the segment in miles and/or meters. Is that an option?

      Thanks, Mike

    • Yeah, within run/walk timer on the Vivosport you can merely set the walk time (minutes/seconds) and run time (minutes/seconds). That’s it.

      Fwiw, the Vivoactive 3 does what you want from a customized workout standpoint.

    • Mike M

      Thanks again Ray.

      Kind of crazy, but I was hoping for the functionality in a band. I used an AW for two years, and switched to a 935 in June. I miss a lot of the AW functionality and plan to go back with the AW3. However, I like the accuracy of the 935 and the GC data. I don’t really want to wear two watches, but I was thinking that I could put the Vivosport on my right wrist with a roadid tag… which isn’t much more than the roadid band I wear today. Oh well, thanks for the info!

    • RodgerT

      Have you used the run workout feature of the Vivoactive 3 yet? I tried it yesterday and it was a mess.

      The single button changes from a start/stop/pause button to a lap button so if you try to pause in the middle of a step for whatever reason it will advance to the next step.

      For some reason the summary screen after a step has a “0 kg” field in it. Must be a remnant from adapting a strength workout.

      During recoveries it seems to stay on the instruction screen without giving any indication of where you are in terms of time or distance in the recovery.

      It was a total mess for someone who’s used to using this feature on Forerunner and Fenix watches and I would think confusing to someone new to it as well.

  11. James

    Nice. I wish it had a slightly bigger screen, tho.

    I’m too casual for the size/price of the Vivoactive 3, but would like a slightly bigger screen than the Vivosport has.

  12. Mike Richie

    Ray, I am curious about the auto start activities. Do they, I assume, auto stop as well? Also, do they turn on other metrics such as HR, cadence, pace/speed and GPS track? If not, how are they different from Move IQ?

  13. David Tucker

    Ray, i made this comment elsewhere, but I’m curious if you actually use an activity tracker on a daily basis. I’m so active that in some ways it seems unnecessary. I do find the “move” notification to be invaluable as someone who ends up at a desk all day long. I’m just curious how other active people use activity trackers.

    I think this device really would scratch the need for most people though. I think this actually fits really well in the lineup. I do think the Vivosmart 3 needs a $10 price cut.

  14. Tim Grose

    BATTERY LIFE (GPS) seems missing from the comparison chart?

  15. Ian W

    Is this seen as a replacement for the vivoactive HR? Or do they plan to upgrade the firmware to include some of the vivosport features?

  16. Rich

    Very thorough review. I had high hopes for this, but the smart recording worries me since I was hoping to use it for sports such as soccer & the 2+ second sample time won’t be enough to track reliably.

    Is there really no way to turn this off, either on the app or via the device?

  17. Tim Grose

    Got any take on the smart or every second recording thing on these devices? The FR35 which is hardly a top of the range watch came out with every second recording for some reason (even if welcome!) but nothing else from Garmin seems to have also done at this sort of price point. And yet say the Strava phone app is every second recording.

    • Yeah, I don’t really get it either. The battery limits your potential recording storage time well before storage. And all it does is confuse people and increase support calls when people say they cut corners on buildings. It’s mostly not driving people to higher end devices, it’s driving them to either phone apps or other devices.

  18. Patrick

    Maybe this is better suited for a different thread, but I was wondering if you could comment on the Garmin-Firstbeat relationship and why we don’t see ‘training effect’ getting into these lower end models (compared to FR935). Do you know how much they pay to license that tech and how it contributes to final pricing of the higher end models? Also since the lower end watches now include VO2 max estimation, do you know if they are licensing that from firstbeat – or has Garmin successfully cloned that feature in house (seems like it would be easy to do with all the data they collect)? I personally love the aerobic training effect score because it makes things really easy for me, just aim for above a 3 and I know I logged a good workout session.

    • Firstbeat powered metrics aboard the Garmin vívoactive, vívomove HR and vívosport:

      • VO2max (Fitness level)
      • Fitness age
      • All-day stress
      • Calories burned

      (It was in a handy e-mail I got)

  19. According to the official Garmin website, the Vivosport has barometric altimeter. Great review, though!

    • Good catch, fixed that typo. It’s of course used for flights of stairs primarily (plus in workouts).

    • Jenny

      When in workout mode does it actually show elevation change once in Garmin connect? I’m looking for a good running/hiking watch that tracks gain and loss not just stairs. If you have a suggestion I’d appreciate it. Thanks!!

  20. Eli

    Any chance the 935 will get a rebroadcast only mode too? Say I’m using a Edge bike computer and use a 935 as my watch.

  21. Lorant

    Could you possibly post a side-by-side picture with the Vivosmart 3 to compare thickness/width?

  22. Tyler

    Does it do smart notifications, like the vivosmart 3?

    Honestly, that, and the cool hidden screen, are some of the best implementations that Garmin has to date.

  23. GarminLover

    Hi,i am going to buy a watch/fitness tracker these days(for about 200$) but i cannot figure out which one is better.I have two options.One is the forerunner 230 and the other one is this brand new fitness tracker vivosport.I know that there are a lot of differences but i dont know which one has the better accurancy.I know that fr230 doesn’t have HR ,but this isn’t abig problem for me.Moreover in fr230 you can download a lot apps and change the watch faces too, which makes it very interesting.Is it clever to buy a watch that was released in 2015?Thank you very much for your time.Any help would be appreciated.

    • The Real Bob

      I have had the 230 and now have the 935. Every person is different so its hard to judge whats important. For me, one of the things top on my list was battery life. This is why the vivo”whatevers” never appealed to me, there battery life is much shorter.

      I really liked my 230. The battery life was awesome and did everything I wanted. I would get a legit 3 weeks out of the device. When the 935 came out, it had some things that the 230 didn’t have, that I wanted. (cycling power, and a flush mount HR monitor)

      The 230 will do everything the vivosport will do except the stuff with HR (first beat analytics, stress, etc)

      The other thing to think about it garmin tends to abandon their devices after the new stuff comes out. That isn’t that big of a deal, because my 230 was pretty solid. Many people complain about the backlit but it is good. But, if you want constant updates, you aren’t going to get them.

      If battery life is more important get the 230. Hopefully others will weigh in, I don’t want to be the only one giving advice.

  24. Cookie

    Hello: I am thinking of purchasing this as a gift for my daughter. Can you explain a little bit about the Live Tracking? Mainly I would like to know if she is out running by herself and has the GPS feature on would her husband be able to see where she is at on a smartphone? I am thinking of this for security purposes. Thank you.

    • She’ll need to take her smartphone with her. The LiveTracking option essentially makes it silly easy, in that it’ll automatically trigger a link to her activity when she starts the run if she takes her phone with her (and her watch). That link is updated every few seconds with her current position, as well as stats like pace, heart rate, distance and elevation. It’ll keep active for 24 hours after the activity ends, if selected to do so.

    • Cookie

      Thank you for your comment. I am not very smart with all this technology so I have another question. How would her husband be able to see her location? Would he need to have something downloaded to his phone or laptop?

    • One she presses start on her watch, within a few seconds any pre-defined contacts will get an e-mail with a link. That e-mail then opens up a webpage that allows you to see the tracking in real-time. No app on the receiver is required.

      The contacts are setup ahead of time via e-mail, and then just automatically e-mailed every time. Note that you can forward e-mails to texts. For example if you google ‘how to e-mail to a text number’ with your carrier, you’ll find most carriers allow things like 206123123456@txt.att.net

    • Cookie

      I appreciate your help. Thank you very much.

  25. Scott

    Thanks for the thorough review. I think the Vivosport is perfect for me. Right now I have a 910XT (3rd one via warranty replacement…altimeter issue) and a Vivofit 2 activity tracker that I wear on my right wrist. I hate wearing a HR strap and I collect watches (swap them out almost daily).

    I use my 910XT for biking, swimming, and running, but as long as it works why spend money on a Fenix 5 or FR935 that I don’t plan to wear all the time? So I see the Vivosport as a nice compliment to what I have already (activity tracking, HR broadcasting, etc.). Plus, it’s a nice GPS backup when I forget and leave my 910XT at home.

  26. Peter Gasser

    Thank you Ray for your great review!

    As I am using currently using a FitBit Charge 2 for tracking various (sleep/steps/indoor workout, bike commute to work) activities and a Fenix3 + Chest Band for every run, bike and swim, I am currently looking for a replacement for my FitBit Charge 2.
    Might the Vivosport (or VivoSmart 3?) currently be my best solution if I want to get a cohesive picture within the Garmin world?

    Thank you for your time =)
    Best

    • Yeah, I’d agree that having the Fenix 3 for most workouts puts you in that camp.

      Using something like the Vivosport for bike commuting tracking (ignoring any specific HR quirks doing so), is probably the blend I’d go for if you want a smaller unit for day to day usage.

      The two will combine steps together as well.

  27. Ivan

    Thanks for the review!

    Just a comment regarding Resting Heart Rate : The RHR according to Garmin is the average of your heart rate during the time you are sleeping (if wearing the device while sleeping) or the lowest heart rate over a minute during the day if you are not wearing the device while sleeping. (link to support.garmin.com)
    This makes some big differences since typically the average over the night is higher than the minimum in the morning, especially if you exercise the day before or in the evening. Also if the sleeping hours are wrong, the RHR is wrong as well. If there is a way of using lowest heart rate during the night instead of average, I would be interested to know, as I find that my heart rate drops slowly at the beginning of the night and only stabilizes for the last few hours of sleep in the morning. With a usual lowest HR of 50, I can sometimes get a reading of RHR from my watch of up to 70 if I have exercised in the evening, although the minimum in the morning is closer to 50!

    Also I want to point out that my vivoactive HR records heart rate every minute, even during the night, without any gaps. This has probably been improved in a firmware update since your review of the vivoactive HR and makes it much better for 24/7 HR recording.

  28. Fili

    Hi Ray,

    any idea on how to get the new Garmin Connect User Interface? I still see the old one and no options to change it in the user settings. Thanks a lot.

    • It’s being rolled out to folks (about 30-50% at least asked). I’m going to ask them tomorrow on how exactly someone can self-enroll if it doesn’t give them the options to self-enroll.

  29. Venelin Krastev

    I feel kind of fucked up with vivosmart…. At least hope they will send update to have always on display…

  30. Scott K.

    Hi Ray, curious what you would say about the wrist band sizes. I have a 7″ wrist circumference right behind the boney part of my wrist. My Vivofit 2 slides forward because I wear it a little loose, but I’m assuming that with the HR sensor you need to wear the Vivosport relatively snug.

    From the Garmin web site:

    Small/medium size measures 7.8” (197 mm) in length and 4.8”-7.4” (122-188 mm) in circumference.
    Large size measures 8.8” (223 mm) in length and 5.8”-8.5” (148-215 mm) in circumference.

    My wrist size seems to be at the top end of the SM/MD and the middle of the LG. Is it better to go with the SM/MD and have less extra band, or would you suggest playing it safe and just getting the large (where I’m leaning). Thanks!

    • Yeah, I’ve got the small/medium size, and there isn’t a ton of room left for extra notches. It works for me, but I’m at the end of the spectrum.

      Generally speaking as long as you can crank it down if required (which usually you can do), then I think you’d be good with L.

  31. tom

    any bluetooth relaying of the HR?

    • No, unfortunately nuttin on Garmin products at this time (and for that matter, only the Polar A370 does it as far as I know). Certainly, dedicated ‘HR sensors’ like the Mio and others do it, but they aren’t GPS units.

      I’m not aware of anyone else doing BLE broadcasting.

  32. Ash

    Hi Ray,

    Can you give some detail on where you were wearing each watch on the HR test runs?

    • For the ones labeled optical HR sensor, they were worn about half an inch from my wrist bone, one per wrist. Most of the time the Vivosport was on my right wrist. All were ‘snug’, but not overly tight.

      For the ones not labeled optical sensors, they were either hand-held (lightly gripped in each hand), or connected to a Spibelt. Those were collecting HR strap data (Wahoo TICKR or Polar OH1), and so the focus there was more about HR than GPS data.

  33. hopeful

    hi ray–

    you write that the Vivosport can take several minutes to find a GPS signal if it hasn’t been synced to the phone in awhile. Is this at all improved from the Vivosmart HR+ or is it basically the same experience in your view?

    I ask because i’ve used a Vivosmart HR+ for awhile now and have also tried out my boyfriend’s Vivoactive HR. i’ve noticed that the Vivoactive HR finds GPS very quickly (within a minute) even if the phone hasn’t been synced whereas the Vivosmart HR+ can take a very long time (up to 10 minutes) to find GPS in New York City unless it has been synced recently (and even then it takes 3-5 minutes to find GPS).

    As a result, i tend to use his Vivoactive HR when running as i otherwise lose the first 5 or 10 minutes of my run and/or have to carry my phone with me to make sure the Vivosmart HR+ will sync.

    I guess I could solve this problem by purchasing the Vivoactive, but I have small wrists and the new Vivoactive and the Fenix 5S both are oversized for me whereas the Vivosmart is the right size.

    Thanks so much for any input you can provide and keep up the great work with your site!

    • j m

      @hopeful

      I run 3-4x a week with a vivosmart hr+ and i’d say 1 out of every 4 runs has GPS problems, even running on the street. Today mine latched on to some totally incorrect point and decided I ran in a gigantic Z across Palo Alto with a top speed of 146 MPH. If this is something we’ll see in the vivosport as well, I’m not going to bother and will go straight to the vivoactive. Would love RM’s feedback on this, regarding “is the gps going to be a lot more accurate in a device with GLONASS support?”

    • bobby

      I upgraded to a Vivoactive hoping the GLONASS would fix the GPS issues on the HR+.

      It definitely performs much better, I no-longer get GPS bounces like in your example.

  34. Jennifer Blackwell

    Hi Ray,

    I’m looking to replace my m400 as the heart rate accuracy seems off lately. I’ve changed batteries, replaced the strap, etc. I was debating between polar a370 and m430 but then read some of the reviews for the vivosmart HR+, Vivoactive HR and new Vivosport. So I am now completely confused! I do occasionally run and ride outside. Hike also. But work out indoors more. Was trying to move away from the clunky m400 as I wear it as a watch also. So Vivosport looked like a good option but just re-read m430 review and am still undecided. What are your thoughts on a good wearable?

    Thanks!

    Jen

  35. AngelaB

    I’m looking for a HR tracker with GPS to support outdoor rowing and give pace (pref per 500m but per m/km would do). This looks good but would it allow me to use GPS on a row or cardio setting or only on run or cycle settings?

  36. Markus

    Hi,
    “Added Auto-Activity Start: This will trigger for walk and run, and gets a legit activity versus just a Move IQ calendar one”

    will this feature also come to Fenix 5 series ?

    Bests

  37. Lam

    Was looking forward to this one but disappointed about the hr broadcasting accuracy while cycling. What products do well in this area? Doesn’t seem like it would take much considering the Schosche rhythm does just that. Thanks –

  38. idriss

    Well am getting confused now :p!! A had a polar a360 and it’s very horrible, maybe the great shift of all fitness trackers… A don’t like fitbit because HR isn’t precise… And a was looking for this vivosport or thé smart 3….. But now A don’t know……. 1) Am looking for a fitness tracker that had the best précise HR (even for intense workout) without the need for a chest trap
    2) especialy working in for streng (fitness, musculation)
    Is there something a can buy?!! (Sorry for my English )

  39. Shaun Ellis

    Does the Vivosport work with an Edge 500 (via ANT+) ??

  40. Bob

    Just found out from Garmin today that the Vivoactive HR now has 1 second GPS vs it’s previous smart tracking (today 9/20/2017 ..Would this put the GPS accuracy at a whole different level, I know from viewing your GPS accuracy charts the VA HR was at the bottom of the heap?

  41. jim

    Your run in Paris reflects my experience with the Vivosmart HR+ when running a canal towpath. I took the route often as it was close to work an the Vivosmart would consistantly put me in the water or on the otherside of the canal. I later bought a Vivoactive HR and found all those issues went away.

    I always wondered if it was due to the GPS unit being energy efficient/low power or if the glonass in the Vivoactive made the difference. Still interesting to see the the Vivosport looks to have the same issues with it’s tracking.

  42. Hello, I’m deciding between the Vivosport or the Apple Watch. I didnt want a watch and thats why I’m looking in the vivosport because it looks slim, and a good activity tracker. However, the apple watch I guess can do more stuff right? I’m just starting to workout, and I want a waterproof device. I also think that the battery for the apple watch won’t be as good as the vivosport right?
    Well, thanks for the infoo!
    Maria

  43. Julien

    During a running session, do you find the size of display sufficient or too small ? Because when we run the arm shakes and maybe it’s difficult to read data. What do you think about that ?
    Thanks.
    Julien

  44. Cam

    A couple of edits for you:

    – First paragraph under “The Basics” should be long Holds, not long olds.
    – Missing the Polar A370 in the comparison table. Only shows vivosmart and vivoactive HR

    I swear I’ll leave you alone and stop tweeting you next week after the Vivoactive 3 in depth release, maybe then I’ll be able to make the VA3/735/935 call. haha

    The Vivosport is a good looking device though, awesome intro level fitness tracker or for someone who doesn’t need the data junk rush post workout.

  45. Tyler

    The Vivosport is actually available on Amazon here: link to amazon.com but still no word on the shipping date.

  46. Daniel

    What about other sports, e. g. skiing? or stand-up paddling, would the vivosport be able to track strokes? as the fenix 5x does? or at least show them later in the connect app?

  47. andrea

    Thanks for another great review Ray. Vivosport is the band I’ve been waiting for. I have a 735xt and it has been great including some long bike tours and rando rides. However, I have tiny wrists so it is a bit big for everyday wear. Vivosport looks perfect for my everyday use including commuting by bike and hikes with my dogs. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long for it to be available in Canada…

  48. Sébastien

    Hi, vivosport or gear fit 2 pro ? :D

  49. Mutislav

    Hello, thank you for your excellent review. I would like to buy this bracelet. My main activity is outdoor in-line skating and indoor elliptical trainer. I have a question, if you can turn on these measurements manually (or automatically) BEFORE these sports. It is reported that Garmin VivoSport are the only sporting activity profiles (running, lap, walking, cardio, fitness). Will the bracelet for my activities work well? Thank you

    • No, nothing you can turn on before-hand. So for example your outdoor activity I’d just do it as a run, and then change it after the fact in Garmin Connect Mobile.

    • Mutislav

      Thank you for answer. In that case, however, the measured values will not be correct if Garmin has another activity counted – or do I?
      And inside activity? (elliptical trainer?)
      Or could you recommend another bracelet that could work for me? But it certainly should not be watches, I really want a bracelet that I would still wear on my right hand.
      Once again, thank you for your willingness to respond.

  50. Brian

    Continue to love all the reviews. Is there anyway to turn off the display on the vivosport? Actually think that is a great feature on the vivosmart 3 as I wear a watch and just like knowing that info is being tracked by my band in the background. GPS on the vivosport would be a great addition but contrary to probably 99% of people would prefer not to have a screen always on.

    Thanks,

  51. Robin

    I’ve got a Garmin running watch (FR235) and a Edge 520 so I don’t really need the GPS features. I don’t go to the gym and do reps etc. I am looking for an activity tracker as I prefer to wear my mechanical watch over my FR235 on a day to day basis.

    Given that, is there any software benefit in getting the Vivosport over and above the Vivosmart3 which here in NZ is $100 cheaper.

    Thanks

  52. Steven

    I’m just curious what differentiates the vivosport and FR 35. Apart from one being a watch and the other an activity tracker, they seem to have very similar features at the same price.

  53. Mary Beth Bissig

    I have one of these on order right now! I really like the smaller size and love my Vivosmart 3, but the having to tap or lift the wrist at times (work as a nurse) to see the time is sometimes erratic. I may use the Vivosmart 3 at home and Vivosport at work when knowing the time is important. I do at times have to shade my Vivosmart out in the sun to read the screen so hoping the Vivosport really is visible in sunlight. Very excited to try this one. After a bad experience with Fitbit (Force, got what they called a “rash”, it got recalled finally) have been with Garmin and had many of their products. All have been great products and their customer service has been terrific if there has been any kind of a problem at all.

    • David Cruz

      Hi Mary, where did you buy it? I can’t find any available right now other than the lime one. Thank you.

    • Mary Beth Bissig

      I have it preordered on Amazon. Saw the Slate available at REI right now, can’t remember which size was available. I thought Amazon had large Limelight available, I just checked. I ordered the small fuschia so waiting still for update on delivery. I ordered on the 20th. Garmin web site still says 2-3 weeks. Hope that helps.

  54. DJE

    HI DCR
    brilliant review as always. I changed from a vivosmart hr+ to a samsung gear fit 2 because i did not like the bulkiness of the vivosmart. so far the samsung is quite impressive with it´s large screen and also lots of funtions.
    did u consider having this device or maybe the successor gear fir pro going through i review?
    thx

    PS: best smart band was the original vivosmart – a shame what happened with the displays

  55. Colin

    Does Garmin still not support smart alarms?

  56. Ed Chen

    Does the Vivosport have Virtual Pacer?

  57. Wayne

    Another garmin product that doesn’t work on people of color, frustrated. Trying to bring awareness to this, as it’s not a technology limitation, it’s a choice/oversight. They just updated the Fenix series to successfully deal with this issue.

  58. Lars

    I have the units set to metric but autolap takes a lap time on every 1.61km (mile). How can I change that?

  59. John B

    Thanks for a great review. I mostly do cycling (commmute and leisure) and swimming so had a couple of questions around that.

    1) I have an edge 520 with HR monitor so would use that for long distance but wouldn’t look to take the band off. Would the activities be doubled counted from each device or will the app be smart enough to work it out. I assume it does worth checking

    2) Do you know how the swimming activity works and what it measures? Is this an activity you select or does it auto-detect.

    Thanks in advance

  60. Ricardo

    I found a really nasty bug.
    I have my unit and app set to metrics, kilometers. But during an activity the pace is shown in miles and auto lap is in miles to. There’s no way around this. Many people in the garmin forums are complaining about this.

    Also this device for strength straining is useless, they should let us pair it with a Bluetooth chear strap. 220 euros and doesn’t pair with a cheast strap?

  61. Warren Poh

    Hi,

    I currently use a Fitbit Flex to provide both silent alarms for waking up and other activity tracking. I really want the GPS standalone function for running but don’t want all the rigmarole with other full blown watches.

    Here comes the question….

    Does the Vivosport do a silent alarm like the fitbits? Helps with waking up without waking up the Girl

    Thanks,
    Warren

    • Robin

      I bought the Vivosmart 3 after reading this review (I have a watch for the GPS functions). The Vivosmart does silent alarms so I presume the Vivosport does too.

    • Warren

      Thanks a lot, let’s hope so.

      The 235 watch is about the same price as the Vivosport in NZ! But the 235 is much older. They are around $400 in NZ

      The 935 watch is about double the price, and ‘triathlon’ functions aren’t really needed. At $670 it’s in that niggly range where for a little bit more money you get lots features you probably don’t need.

      Not sure if you have any comments? They’d be appreciated if you did!

    • Robin

      I’m in NZ too. I have the 235 and obviously the Vivosmart (3). I’ve only had the 3 a few days now. I find the HR sensor on the Smart better for Day to Day activity tracking. I use the watch for training. First decision I think you should make is the form factor – watch or band. If a band, get the Vivosport if you want GPS. If a watch, either the 935 or Vivoactive 3 which is about to be released here. The newer HR units I think are better than the older ( eg 235).

      Good luck

    • Ricardo

      I bought the vivosport and works well. I only get 3 days of a battery, but I have all the settings on, phone notifications, backlight, Bluetooth, etc
      I prefer a band over a watch, I can’t see myself sleeping with a sizeable watch or hit the night club.
      The vivosport Hr sensor is useless for weight lifting, it’s seriously bad. Polar wrist sensors are better btw.
      Also keep on mind the vivosport has a big bug at the moment mixing miles and kms.
      Otherwise, I think it is really a good band.

    • Warren

      Thanks Ricardo,

      Can you please confirm the silent alarm eg alarm with vibrate only for the Vivosport?

      Also what’s the bug re miles and kms?

      W

    • Warren

      Hi Robin,

      I get what you’re saying there. I just need something with a silent alarm for wake up. But if it can do GPS for running then great! Seems like the Vivosport could do this.

    • Ricardo

      You can set several alarm clocks, it vibrates to wake u up.
      About the bug,if you have the unit set to metrics, it will show you distance in kms, but it will auto lap every mile, and pace and speed showing in miles.

      Also about the battery, DC says 4 to 5 days, but in reality is 3 if you have all features on. If you turn off the back light gesture and set the back light to 1 then you get 4 days of battery.
      If you turn off phone notifications, you then get 5 days.
      Beyond that, to get up to 7 days, you would need to turn off continuous Hr, Bluetooth (auto sync with phone) , and even activity tracking (steps and sleep) but at that point would make no sense haha.

      Good device overall.

    • David Cruz

      Agree.. 3, 4 days max using GPS for about 45min a day.

    • 4-5 days is actually Garmin’s official thing. I find I get though though if I turn gesture backlight off as noted, because I find that super annoying – especially as night.

    • Burak

      The Bug that you mentioned is a really serious problem. I am going to use this device with a setup km. Can this bug reform with an update?

    • Ricardo

      This is a serious bug everything in kms but the instant pace shows in miles and auto lap in miles. Im sure this is gonna be correct very soon with an update.

  62. David Cruz

    Stairs counter seem very off to me, it misses a lot of stairs up every single day, not sure if I got a defective device, any advice?
    Sleep tracker lacks compared to Fitbit, which shows light/rem/deep stages where Garmin only shows light/deep.
    Other than that I love how open is Garmin about the data, as soon as I’m done running, everything shows in my under armour record app (mapmyfitness family) and in runtastic, so you’re free to use whatever app you want, wherever your friends are.
    I really don’t get why people complain about Garmin app, seems very comprehensive and shows a lot of data, works perfect from everyday simple tracking to athletes who need to know more (I’m way too far from being an athlete but I do love data). Fitbit does a better job at keeping you motivated I think, more “gamified”.

  63. Luciano

    Completely disappointed and in disbelief that this cannot connect to my bike speed/cadence sensors. Garmin screwed up big time on that. If they have a spec that says ANT+ is compatible, why wouldn’t allow you to connect to the ANT+ sensors they manufacture?
    Crazy.
    I have a FR235 and wanted to change to a wristband so that I can resume wearing a dress watch, but this is very disappointing…

    • There’s about 20 different ANT+ device profiles, plus plenty more that are profile profiles. Most of Garmin’s watches only connect to a fraction of those: link to thisisant.com

      ANT+ is just a communications protocol, just like Bluetooth is.

      Ultimately, Garmin decided there’s likely little cross-over between people who want cadence sensor support and people wearing the Vivosport. I actually don’t necessarily agree with that thinking though.

    • RISHABH SEKHANI

      I completely share Luciano’s disappointment (ie completely disagree with Garmin’s take).

      I was equally disappointed on learning that the Vivosport doesn’t connect to ANT+ HR sensors. As some of us have been lamenting (repeatedly, on this forum), it’s inexplicable why Garmin doesn’t see that there’s a sizeable section out there which prefers the everyday wearability of fitness trackers (which can be clubbed with dress watches) over sports watches and which needs HR strap connectivity (for CrossFit/HIIT).

      I actually took my chances and wrote to Mr. Cliff Pemble, requesting him to consider adding this functionality as a software update to the Vivosport and got a response from his EA that my request will be forwarded to the engineering team. Haven’t heard back since.

      DC – wondering if you could reach out to the Garmin folks and get their thoughts on this? [Please? :)]

  64. Ben

    Hey Ray,

    Does the Vivosport support cadence data for running (ie: steps/minute) in any way? I am finding some mixed info elsewhere. From what I can tell, it does not show cadence in realtime, but it does show you a graph in the Garmin connect app after the run when reviewing all the stats.

    Can you confirm one way or the other?
    Thanks

  65. John

    Essentially this should do mostly everything (besides golf and connect to sensors) the vivoactive 3 does when you utilize the app/web interface? For example, if you paddle board, you would select cardio and then change it in garmin connect to be paddleboard? And then the HR technology is the same? I’m debating between the two. I want the smaller lighter band but don’t want to get this if its not basically the same tech as the vivoactive.

  66. Burak

    H i
    I wonder, “Auto start walk /run” feature, does it mean vivosport automatically understands you are runing and create and work out?

    • David Cruz

      That particular feature surprised me a few days ago, I had it setup for run/walk, so I was going to run for just a few minutes, so didn’t start a workout manually. To my surprise, like a minute in (I guess based on my settings), I felt it vibrating.. it started tracking the run and in my default run/walk mode, and even more, it activated GPS so tracked the whole thing.
      I’m still “pissed” at how my estimated age has been going up and up, started as a solid 20 years old, lol, now apparently I’m 42 years old, though I’m actually 33. I can’t believe I so out of “fitness shape”, not a couch potato at all and in decent physical/appearance shape.
      Overall very happy with this little device, but definitely my favorite feature is how garmin connect shares everything it collects during your workout with whatever app you use, i.e. Under Armour Record (mapmyfitness), Runtastic. Pretty cool stuff, specially after trying a Fitbit before which didn’t share anything.

    • Burak

      Thank you for the explanation, it is very helpful to my questions about this feature.

  67. Mutislav

    Have a nice day. Is it possible to adjust the bracelet to display nothing? And if not, can it be assumed that it will change in some update?

  68. Ben

    Ray,

    Have you done/could you do a more in-depth analysis of the impact Smart Recording has on the gps route and other stats?

    You mentioned the issue becomes a real problem when sharing the activity to other apps like Strava.

    I’d be interested to know how much it impacts, how often, etc.

    I’m really keen to get the Vivosport but this is the only thing holding me back!

    Thanks

  69. CAROL STEELE

    I followed your instructions to lock the screen but I don’t have ‘auto -on display’ as an option on Garmin connect. It only says ‘auto-on backlight’. Do you know if Garmin have changed the way you can lock the screen please?

  70. Norsham

    I enjoyed your review as it was exactly what I was looking for as there are not that many reviews of this set. Good work indeed. I find it very useful.

  71. blueberry

    This is by far the best review I read in a long time! Thank you for that. Unfortunately the vivosport is currently not available in Switzerland. But I get one asap. :)

  72. Shay

    When swimming does it record the movement under any other activity? My current tracker records swimming as walking as it doesn’t record swimming but at least I get a time that I swam for if that makes sense! Thank you

  73. jacques

    Hi DC, before I buy this thing: Can you get a replacement strap for it? I searched the internet high and low on the Vivosmart Active 3 – and it did not.

    If you can’t repair a $200 watch than we’d like to know about it.

    thanks

  74. Burak

    I think you do not have a chance to replace the strap. If so , this is useless because with this device people go for run or walk etc. so when you get sweat then think about that strap e few months later.

    • jacques

      that sucks that you cant replace the strap. on to another device then.

    • There’s actually a large number of devices out there that don’t have replaceable straps, and sweat usually isn’t the issue. Most people just wear it into the shower, and all is fine.

      Generally what happens after 3-4 years is that the strap breaks, due to some sort of rubber wear issue. Not always, but it does happen. The thing is, with smaller devices like this, most people tend to move on after 3-4 years anyways.

  75. Bryce

    Hi Ray,

    Bought a vivosport based on your review, can the vivosport do vo2 max while cycling.
    I can only see if for run / walk.

    mostly use my trusted edge 500, but would be handy if it could.

  76. Jifsome

    I purchased a Vivosport 3 weeks ago, to replace a Polar Loop 2 and a Polar M400 – and am largely happy with its HRM accuracy for continuous steady state training. My major (MAJOR) gripe is its suitability for interval work. It’s so wildly erratic it becomes an irrelevant statistic. My strap based Polar(s) have no issue reading my peaks and troughs, however the Vivosport becomes so inaccurate it may as well be reading my neighbor’s cat’s HR. During a Spin Class my Polar was reading between 120 – 155 bpm….. the Vivosport, erm, anywhere between 89 (!) to 125 (!). During a heavy weight training session, Polar 110 – 145, the Garmin 75 – 120 (?). At the end of the 55 minute session the Vivosport thought I’d hardly broken sweat, so low was its ‘average’ reading. Ok, I get that wrist-based is not as accurate as chest-strap, blah, blah, blah, but DON’T then market your product as a ‘SPORT’ device! You’ve given the Vivosport a great review, but from my 3 weeks experience, it can only monitor steady-state training and pretty much nothing else – with NO OPTION to hook up to a strap for activities which would cause peaks and troughs in heart rate activity (…erm, that’ll be most ‘sports’ then?). And to add insult to injury, since the latest firmware update, it no longer wants to pair with my phone (or the Garmin Connect App). So for anything other than a steady walk or jog, for my needs it’s become nothing more than a fancy wrist strap/second watch. A very, very disappointing (and misleading) product, in my opinion. Back to my Polar(s) until Garmin sort their shizzle out.

  77. Andrey

    2 questions:
    1. Is there a way to calibrate distance for indoor runs? Currently it shown a minute faster pace than an actual treadmill pace.
    2. When showing pace on the screen still shows in minutes per miles, while the rest is in KM. I assume this would a software bug.

  78. Dipak

    Your reviews are so good. I first came across them for the Garmin Vivosmart 3 and was convinced it was the one for me.
    When the Vivosport (1) was annouced I was curious to see how you would take to it. Again your review and workthrough of all the features in real life use is amazing. Even the “solved by turning off backlight wrist raise” was something no other reviewer has mentioned.
    For now, I will stick with Vovsmart3 as Vivosport is twice the price and I am not sure GPS accuracy is worth twice the price.
    Thank you.

  79. Tracy K

    What is the “Back to Start” function? I am having a hard time deciding between the Vivoactive HR and the Vivosport and I can’t seem to find an explanation for that. I’m leaning toward the active, but like the smaller size of the sport. I do love some of the other higher end watches, but they are too big and interfere with wrist movement. I can still do pushups with the active and not hurt. (It looked a little weird doing that in the store, but I had to know.)

    Also, how important really is the VO2 max? Can Garmin Connect figure it out but it just doesn’t load on the watch, or is it something inherent within the watch itself?

    Thank you. I am coming from the original Vivosmart (yeah) and I know I’m upgrading quite a bit, but I am also hoping that the lifespan is better than my little OLED friend. Oh yeah, are there any reports of either of the screens crapping out on the active and sport?

    I really appreciate your input. My husband directed me to your site, it helped him find the Garmin right for him (Fenix series,) and you’ve helped me a ton so far as well.

    • Surfer TechMan

      Do you want a band thats small and discreet with limited info on the screen or do you want a smartwatch? On the app and web they more or less display the same info. The VAHR calculate indoor swimming and indoor rowing but the vivosport has newer hardware such as a better HR sensor. I prefer the VAHR for the gym because its easier to use with the larger screen but for all day wear you will not beat the sport with anything on the market today.

      As far as VO2 max goes…its nice to know and its 1 of many indicators of your health. The vivosport calculates it for walking, biking, and running outdoors with GPS on. The VAHR does not calcuate it.

    • Tracy K

      Yeah, I’ve lived without the VO2 max so far, it would just be a point to the sport. Right now, the active is really pulling ahead with all that it can do in the pool, but then, the sport does have the slimmer aspect. I did try them both on at the store, and I think I could live with the larger size of the active… I think I’m pretty much leaning toward the active. I guess I was looking for something that might improve the sports’ odds because I do like the smaller watch.

  80. JW

    Do the smartphone notifications still come through to the band while in activity tracking mode? Thanks!

  81. Alberto Ventura

    Hello
    Great review, very good job, thanks for that!!
    Just a question. I want to use the vivosport to mountain bike. Is it works during the ride completely independant from the mobile phone? Or can I let phone at home and later download to Garmin connect??

    Usually I take the phone with me but I really want the band to be disconnected from the phone during the ride.

  82. Daniel

    Hi,
    Another great and comprehensive review. A pleasure to read.

    Several questions, please.

    I’ve read many articles about fitness trackers and the functionality they provide.
    I mostly do light sports (walking, trekking).
    The functions that I think are applicable to me are:
    1. Wrist device
    2. Built-In GPS (when I go walking I don’t carry my cellphone)
    3. Battery life (with/without active GPS)
    4. Android App and how useful is it
    5. Steps
    6. Distance
    7. Calories
    8. Floors
    9. Sleep monitoring
    10. Waterproof/Water resistant
    11. Display size (I prefer medium/small as this won’t be my regular watch)
    12. Clock
    13. Bluetooth
    14. Sunlight visibility

    Functionality such as the following is not applicable for me:
    1. Smartphone notifications
    2. Music
    3. Social media/competitions
    4. Multisport

    Which of the following models would be the best, given my preferences?
    1.1 TomTom Spark 3 Cardio
    1.2 Samsung Gear Fit 2
    1.3 Garmin vívoactive HR

    And in general, Is a built-in GPS really necessary for the above activities? When I go walking I don’t carry my cellphone (so a cell phone connection won’t be available).

    Thank you.

    • surfer techman

      The vivosport will do this so will the vivoactive 3. The vivoactive HR is older tech but can be found for a good deal. Any of those 3 will work for you. Its really going to be a matter of which looks best for you as they all look very different from one another. I have all 3 and the vivosport and easily the most comfortable as its so small – I can wear it all day and you don’t even know its there. Also the only one I can sleep with.

      As far as GPS, I mean its necessary if you want to track your walks/runs, otherwise, no you wouldn’t need it.

    • Daniel

      Thank you, surfer techman.

    • Jens Elsner

      Hi
      going out the house without mobile requires GPS when you´re looking for track recording or even precise distance measurement. In general i would prefer Garmin over Samsung if you´re looking for good sports performance and handling.

      My personal thoughts:
      – TomTom discontinues their mobile devices, maybe not first choice as you don´t know what´s happening to the mobile dashboard in midterm
      – Vivoactive HR is quite bulky but has longer runtimes with GPS enabled; price should actually drop significantly
      – Samsung GearFit 2 (not Pro) is a very comfortable device (size and display); if you´re not a swimmer the non PRO will do it right now for a competitive price; but there´s only a limited posibility for exporting data to other systems and for real sports it got a few glitches that are annoying (e.g. starting GPS fix after activity starts, HR notas precise as garmin devices)

      Actually I´m looking for a vivosport or the vivoactive 3 – nearly same features for activity but different form factor.

      Hope this helps a bit

    • Daniel

      Thank you Jens for your insights.

      I prefer a rectangular/square form factor for this watch, which rules out the vivoactive 3.

      Re Tomtom – I fear you might be right, as I purchased a TomTom Bandit camera from them (very good product), but sadly they discontinued support without any formal notification to customers. They still promote it but there’ve been no updates for almost a year, I think. So their watch might meet the same fate.

      I’m currently researching known issues with the remaining alternatives, pros and cons, based upon user forums.

      And of course, I’ll need to physically see the short list.

  83. Does Garmin still not support smart alarms?

  84. Andrey

    Move IQ detected swimming on my vivosport today. It did not capture the starting time correctly, but still I was positively surprised. Still swimming cannot be selected as an activity. Is this something new or this functionality was originally there? I checked my other swimming sessions with vivosport and they were not detected.

  85. Brian Ho

    I have just upgraded from Vivosmart HR+ (with GPS) to Vivosport.

    The 4mm difference in thickness is huge, and it is way more comfortable to wear with the newly designed HR sensor. I recommend every Vivosmart HR user try the Vivosport in person. Before seeing it I was thinking it was too expensive to upgrade since the HR+ already has 2/3 of the functions of Vivosport, turned out that the upgrade is worth every penny spent!

  86. DJE

    Hi
    the km/mi bug is known from several devices before and was fixed everytime by software updates orf garmin connect / firmware.

    It´s just a matter of time ;o)

  87. Nick Stevenson

    Great review thank you, helped me decide on a purchase.

  88. Steve

    SO well done! Thanks a mill for all your hard work reviewing the Vivosport. I came here on a quest to figure out why my GPS won’t start but got a full on review of what my brand new watch can do.
    Keep up the good work!

  89. Tina

    I love your reviews! Day 1 with my Vivosport switching from the Vivosmart HR. First impressions? I love the improved fit and lightness of the Vivosport! So far the HR sensor seems much more accurate? Doing similiar workouts the Vivosmart was recording my HR averages much higher? As much as 15-25bpm! Are there activities like indoor rowing or spinning that give less accurate HR readings?

    • The Vivosport is using Garmin’s 2017 sensor, which has advanced a bit. In most cases advanced are about edge cases, so it’s sorta the 1% gains here, 1% gains here kinda thing. If you fell into the 1% bucket for any given issue, then it’s like 100% gains.

      Spinning indoors shouldn’t be an issue, but rowing could still be tricky.

  90. Spring Parsons

    I just took mine out of the box! Was so excited to finally have a sports tracker and especially a heart rate option. What ended up selling me was the fact that it said I could see a text message. So far, it alerts me that I have a message, but will not allow me to read it. Just wondered if I misunderstood and it only alerts you of a notification but cannot actually read the text. It seems to get emails just fine and can be read. Frustrated that I cannot received the text messages. Wanted this for emergencies if I’m working on a patient and if the the kids school needed me. I have a Samsung Galaxy 8. Does that make a difference?

  91. Nate

    Ray, we’re looking at getting a set of these for our kids (ages 10 and 12) for the holidays. They’ve currently got bike computers for cycling, but would enjoy tracking other activities like skiing, hiking, etc. Could you advise (or point me in the right direction if you’ve already done it) if there’s a way to manage multiple garmin devices from a limited number of phones (our kids don’t have smartphones, oh the horror). USB plugging bike computers for a couple activites a week isn’t a big deal, but it doesn’t seem practical for all of the tracking/updates/etc that would be necessary for wearables. Is there a way to connect several devices to one app but keep the users/accounts separated? We wouldn’t want auto-uploading to the same Strava/etc from multiple devices across different users (the kids have their own accounts). Not interested in getting the kids smartphones at this time.

    Thanks for any advice.
    PS — these are running at $149 right now!

  92. Marcia

    I’ve been trying to find a fitness tracker with GPS and a HR sensor that will provide calories burned during a workout, not just over the course of a day. Will the Vivosport do this? I checked the manual, and the answer appears to be “no,” but you seem to know more about this equipment than the manual!

  93. LordyW

    Thanks for all the info. One question I haven’t been able to find the answer to is whether this has something similar to the ‘three circles’ concept on the apple watch?
    I read about the ‘move bar’ above and I know it tracks steps but I’m looking for a product which prompts you in a simple, clear manner if you sit too long, don’t take enough steps per day etc but is not as large as the Apple Watch.
    Thank you.

  94. John Vance

    It’s a decent step counter. As a calorie counter and ANT+ rebroadcast for cycling, it’s laughably bad.

    Calories: BMR appears to be 1715. That’s about 300 Calories high for a 54 year old man at 5’8″ and 130 lbs, by Mifflin St. Jeor, Harris Benedict or Katch McArdle. Yesterday I got credited for 249 Calories for over 10,000 steps. That’s well under a PAL of 1.2, which according to doubly labeled water studies is the lowest figure you’ll find for a bed or wheelchair-bound person. It’s laughable how little Garmin seems to know about energy expenditure considering it’s the bread and butter of its Vivo* line of products.

    Now onto the ANT+ heartrate rebroadcast. A random number generator would give better results. For the first 10 to 15 minutes of my ride the VivoSport refused to rise above 100 BPM despite me making high endurance / low tempo watts. It’s really fun watching the HR drift down to the 80s or even 70s while my wattage pushes up. Then over a 15 second period it seems to rise up 30 – 50 beats and “lock on” to my endurance or tempo HR. Except when it drifts down 20 beats under, or spikes up well over my max HR. I see none of this behavior when I’m running or climbing stairs. HR rises exactly as expected.