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Garmin’s Vivomove HR: Everything you need to know

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Sometimes, beauty is only skin deep.

And unfortunately in the case of the Vivomove HR – that’s never been more true.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.  The Vivomove HR is the second iteration of Garmin’s dabble in classic timepiece looking watches, which they kicked off last summer with the original Vivomove.  These watches were Bluetooth Smart connected, but mostly looked like a regular watch.  They did, however, have an internal step-counter in them, and could track other activity metrics like sleep and even some exercise.  They were essentially Garmin’s take on the once popular Withings Activité trackers.

And while Garmin didn’t sell a ton of them – I actually thought they were pretty darn cool and looked really nice.  The one challenge they faced though was lack of a heart rate sensor on the back (which Withings added in their Steel HR variant), as well as more clear smart notifications.  Add those two things in, along with a pile of other features like stress tracking and you’ve got yourself a Vivomove HR (priced at $199USD).

(Yes, I’m slowly iterating through each of Garmin’s three announcements last Thursday. Given I only have so many wrists…and so many workouts…I’m spending quality time with each. Sometime tomorrow I’ll also post on the new Vivosport after I’ve finished a couple more workouts.)

The Tech Details:

As noted earlier, the Vivomove HR is designed to be the upgrade for the existing Vivomove.  That watch lacked an optical HR sensor, or any sort of data fields on the display aside from mechanical step counters.  On the flip side…man, it looked nice.

With the new Vivomove HR you’ve got a display hidden behind the watch face.  It’s an incredibly impressive piece of engineering.  If you look at the watch in any light, you won’t see the display hidden behind. It just looks like a normal watch:

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Yet once you tap it or raise your wrist, the display illuminates and you get data:

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The watch can show all sorts of metrics, with similar data fields to that of the base Vivosmart units.  For example, you’ve got the following data pages:

Date/Day + Steps
Date/Day + Time + Battery Status
Steps and Step Goal for Day
Flights of Stairs and Stair Goal for Day
Intensity Minutes and total goal for week
Distance walked
Music control (for phone)
Weather at current location, high and low forecast
Smartphone notifications (anything from texts to Snapchat)
Current Heart Rate + 7 day Resting HR
Current Stress Score
Calories
VIRB Action Cam Remote

Phew! Lots of options, all customizable via the Garmin Connect app.

2017-09-06 14.07.58 2017-09-06 14.07.53

Here’s a small gallery of some of the data pages:

I really like the icons and such on the weather page in particular, just super clean and well done.

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Another subtle touch is that when data fields are illuminated, the watch hands actually move up and out of the way, kinda like doing the YMCA song.  That way it doesn’t block the text fields.  The split second the display turns off – the hands go back to their position.

When it comes to the band, the stock/default is a silicone material, though they use standard quick release watch bands – so any 22mm band should do just fine.

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Charging-wise, they skipped the semi-universal (2017 anyway) charging cable that’s on the Fenix 5/FR935/Vivoactive 3/Vivosport and went with the same connector used on the Forerunner 735XT, Forerunner 35, and a few other watches I can’t think of at the moment.  Battery-life wise, the unit claims 5 days in smartwatch mode, and two weeks in non-smartwatch time-only mode.  Note there is no GPS in it, and it can’t leverage your phone for GPS either.  It does however track/determine VO2Max, which is a nice surprise for a unit of this price point.

For the optical HR sensor on the back, it’s the same 2017 edition of the Garmin Elevate sensor you see on the FR935 and Fenix 5, among other watches:

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This means it’s recording resting HR 24×7 at 1-2 second intervals, which is kinda nifty.  Same goes for daily stress levels, which was introduced on the Vivosmart 3 this past spring (and is coming shortly to the FR935 and Fenix 5 too).  All of that is viewable on Garmin Connect/Garmin Connect Mobile as well:

2017-09-05 23.41.43 2017-09-05 23.41.54

In addition to capturing the data on Garmin Connect/watch, you can also re-broadcast your heart rate over ANT+, using what’s called re-broadcasting.  This is useful if you have another device like an Edge cycling device or perhaps even Zwift on a desktop computer.  Virtually all of Garmin’s wearables with optical HR sensors support this function.

Furthermore, all of the step and related data will show up there too – and even in the new interface that consolidates the data far better on the home page:

2017-09-05 23.40.43 2017-09-05 23.41.02

Same goes for sleep data and any other activity metrics.  Note that it will automatically track certain activities like riding a bike or running.  The default trigger time can be set within the unit, and then from there it’ll create legit activities in your activities page.  Else you’ll just see them show up as sorta-activities on your calendar like below (my calendar is a mess because of all my devices, but note the 17:00 cycling activity):

2017-09-05 23.42.03 2017-09-05 23.41.27

You can manually trigger a workout by holding down the screen and starting a handful of workout types.

Now everything I just covered works great.  I’ve had no issues with anything above from a technical standpoint.  It’s clean and happy and life is grand.  Except one itty bitty thing.

Where it all went wrong:

What’s somewhat ironic is that I didn’t actually notice this…umm…’glaring issue’ at first.  See, Garmin had sent over a white and goldish Vivomove HR to try out, mostly aimed at The Girl giving it a whirl.  As such, I didn’t end up wearing it much the first few days at Eurobike, aside from pairing it to my phone and poking at it a little bit inside in the evenings.  Then, over the following few days the weather was dismally rainy – so again, I was either inside or the thunderstorms kept the outside light pretty dark.

So it wasn’t until this past Sunday while walking around with it outdoors during the day that I realized something crazy: You actually can’t see the screen outdoors with any daylight.

Here, let me explain.  This is the screen outdoors:

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Oh, and the above? There’s actually text on the screen showing my steps.  But you can’t see it – it’s totally invisible. (You know the picture above is legit with data because the hands on the watch are doing the YMCA dance.)

Here’s what happens if I find a darker/shadier spot near the bushes.  The text is faint, but still visible (it actually looks better in the camera due to getting the exposure just perfect with the refresh rate).

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And thus, the fail boat we have.

With confusion I went back to Garmin to ask what I was doing wrong, and unfortunately the answer was nothing (and it wouldn’t be appreciably different on the other color scheme model).

This was simply the tradeoff they made to make the underlying display totally invisible when not showing text.  And to be fair – that part does work well.  Really damn well – it’s incredible.

Except, the invisible part carries over to where it shouldn’t: When you actually want to see the text.

And thus you end up with a watch that doesn’t show you anything when outside.

And honestly, that’s really all there is to say about it.  I’m not sure how many more ways I can say that the display is totally useless outside.

Oh, wait, actually, here’s The Girl’s official one word review on it: “Eck.”

She’s back on her Fenix 5S.

Wrap-up:

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The Vivomove HR is a watch that is stunningly beautiful when used inside.  It’ll look great on trade show floors, as well as inside your friendly Best Buy.  Really – I’m not kidding when I say it’s a stunning watch, especially technologically to have the display hidden behind the watch face and only appear when you raise your wrist.  It’s brilliant.

Unfortunately, it’s just a bit too far ahead of its time.  Without the ability to go outside and use the watch for the very thing you’re likely to do outside with it: Use it.

As such, it seems half-baked at best.  Yes, the display technology is cool, but not when you make an active watch that can’t be used outdoors.  Hopefully, we’ll see them take another crack at this, because if it had worked I’d happily recommend it to those that fit a certain profile.

But in this case, I can’t see who I’d recommend it to.

With that – thanks for reading.

(As an aside, in the next day or so I’ve got a post on the Vivosport that was also announced last week. While I see the Vivomove HR as a flop, Garmin did announce five products in total last week – the others being very solid.  So four out of five isn’t a bad ratio, or so says pharmaceutical TV commercials.)

Update FYI: In the event you’d still like to purchase the Vivomove HR (perhaps you live in Seattle where it’s always overcast), you can do so via Clever Training.  You’ll get 10% back in points with the DCR/CT VIP program, which you can use towards other products.  Thanks for the support!

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138 Comments

  1. Andrew

    Quick question – you show a screenshot with a new interface – is this on the iOS ConnectIQ App? Is it Vivomove specific or some unreleased version we don’t have yet because its rather different tow hat I see.

    • Jo

      It’s the Beta version – you can switch in the Settings menu on the app

    • Neil Jones

      I’ve yet to see anyone confirm that this is an option with the iOS version though. I could be wrong, but I certainly don’t see it in settings. Are you running iOS or Android?

    • My screenshots are all iOS.

      My understanding is that it’s only being ‘offered’ to a smaller percentage of users. I think like 20-30% is what I heard.

    • Clint L

      It was my understanding you had to opt into the beta testing program for Garmin to even be offered the new platform. I have been using for about a month and I personally love it.

    • paul barton

      i have the option, seems like a 50:50 split on people who see it in settings

    • Daniel

      I opted in for the beta and received the new display. After about a week-ish I received a question. They asked what I thought. I told the truth….I loved the new interface. I thought it was the best I’ve seen. A day or so later….bang ….new interface gone and I got stuck with the old one.

  2. portemat

    I disagree with you here, Ray.
    I like having 24×7 HR / steps / other tracking etc.
    But I hate wearing an ugly watch all day. And, you know what… I only look at my trackers during the day to see the time. The other data, I use only on the phone app (as I am really only looking at trends)
    So, while there is clearly an issue with this screen, I am most definitely in the market for a full-featured smart watch that looks like a watch. A mostly invisible screen is fine for me.

    • Same here. I’ll switch from my Withings as soon as this is ready to buy. I just wish it had a mechanic date element on it.

    • CG

      Ditto, very interested in this for those very same reasons

    • Peter

      I would strongly agree, not being able to see notifications in the sunlight really wouldn’t deter me. As someone looking for a something stylish to wear in business and in every day life this really ticks the box.

    • Thomas

      I can see your points, but wouldn’t also be achieved with some sort of a screen-saver? I mean… with this display, you never can see the details in sunlight. It should be that you don’t need to see them when you don’t want to see them.

    • Peter

      I think the point is not necessarily that I want to be able to hide the screen but more the point that I really wouldn’t be checking this information on the watch religiously. This is a great looking timepiece first and foremost, one that also has the benefit of the activity tracking etc. I just think for a lot of people like myself wouldn’t put this viewing issue in sunlight as a big fail. If I’m outside doing an activity I’m using my Garmin running watch, I certainly wouldn’t be using this.

    • Adam

      I have recently purchased a used Vivomove MKI watch and as long as you don’t want the “bells and whistles” of the MKII may be suitable.

      I’ve recently moved to Garmin from Withings and the Vivomove MKI gives most of the features of that system, except the alarm.

  3. Vladimir Gorbunov

    Thank you for this review! I am very interested in this watch. How do you think, will the screen look better on men’s black background?

    Also do the watch hands show the actual time during HR broadcasting via ANT+?

  4. Jasper

    You’re a lifesaver Ray.
    I’m in the market for (possibly) a vivoactive 3 for myself and (possibly) a vivomoveHR for The Girl. But after reading this… I will look elsewhere for The Girl!!

  5. Jeff K

    So what smart watch would you recommend for skinny wrists that looks reasonably attractive, lasts close to a week, and doesn’t cost more than 200-ish? My wife loved her pebble round… for about a week. The battery rarely lasted more than a couple days.

  6. Johnny

    “Unfortunately, it’s just a bit too far ahead of its time.” – Nice one in a watch review…

  7. I think everything I want to know would also include the price.
    Or did I miss it?

  8. Jason

    Ray,

    While the watch face doesn’t display well in out in open daylight, can that be somewhat remedied by you know, creating a shadow with your other hand? If that works then I’d say it’s a minor annoyance rather than a complete fail.

    • A little bit, but depends on the brightness. Full sunny day and you’ve gotta play pick-a-boo a bit. I guess my thinking is at that point you might as well just get the original Vivomove. After all, you’re paying a premium for the display.

    • Dan

      Seems as though the display is part of the ‘premium,’ but as you point out above there are also many other additional features.

      “Add those two things in [“heart rate sensor on the back”…”as well as more clear smart notifications”], along with a pile of other features like stress tracking and you’ve got yourself a Vivomove HR”

    • Matthew Weigel

      To be honest, I’m more interested in the vibration alert than being able to read the alert on the watch most of the time. I have just found that I prefer wrist vibration to phone vibration.

      I recognize that it’s a little weird to pay a premium for a smart display you can only sometimes use, but that “sometimes” will include most of my day and I’ll still at least know I should look at my phone when I’m outside.

    • Jason

      As always thanks for the input.

  9. Cody L Custis

    “Charging-wise, they skipped the semi-universal (2017 anyway) charging cable that’s on the Fenix 5/FR935/Vivoactive 3/Vivosport and went with the same connector used on the Forerunner 735XT, Forerunner 35, and a few other watches I can’t think of at the moment. ”

    Yikes. If Garmin won’t commit to using a universal cable, I see no reason to commit to their marketing departments description of said cable as universal.

  10. Richard Kaufmann

    I think the fine folks at Garmin can never make up their minds. My Vivoactive HR is hard to read indoors, but easy in sunlight. Here we have the opposite!

    The Withings/Nokia Steel HR has different issues. The digital display is bright, but too small. And the hands (at least on the black watch) are too skinny, and it’s even hard to tell the analog time!

    Extremely frustrating. I think I’ll go back to using sundials.

    (Serious note: for my day job I work for a company whose sister company makes sport watches. I don’t know those folks, and am writing this as an individual.)

  11. JR

    I’m going to disagree on the screen being a dealbreaker. Most people aren’t actually outside all that much, and it isn’t a huge issue to have to wait until you’re inside to see your data. If it’s really urgent for some reason, you can always check on your phone. Which reminds me that it wasn’t all that long ago that you couldn’t see most smartphone screens outside either!

    The bigger issue to me is that the watch is simply much less attractive than either its predecessor or the Steel HR.

  12. PeterF

    Can you log a workout manually using the app (preferably with the ability to specify what type of workout, like “yoga”)? One of the things I like about my fitbit is being able to check whether todays workout really was harder (HR based) than yesterdays or if it was just in my mind.

    • You can log a workout using the app, but it won’t have data associated with it – except those values you manually stick in.

      But workouts will auto-detect for certain sports, so then those would show up within the app.

    • PeterF

      Thanks Ray. That is actually more of a deal breaker to me than the screen-in-daylight problem.

      If/when you do a full review of the new trackers, could you also compare the vibration strength (for alarms) compared to Fitbit? I returned a VivoSmart 3 because it failed to wake me…

  13. Peter

    Can it be used as an BT HRM? I.e. for Endomondo on my phone.

    • Peter

      Whops – I just found the answer here:
      link to buy.garmin.com
      “HR Broadcast (broadcasts HR data over ANT+™ to paired devices)”
      How silly is that?? Only ANT+, but why not BT???? :-(

    • No, Garmin’s only done ANT+ re-broadcasting on their products, not yet BLE re-broadcasting.

    • And to clarify further there, there’s only one product today (Polar A370) that does true BLE re-broadcasting to my knowledge – and even that’s got some weird quirks in it.

    • Erik

      As someone asked earlier, but I didn’t see a response – does it continue to show the time when it’s broadcasting HR over ANT+? Or do the hands just stay at 10 o’clock so you can read the screen?

    • In HR broadcasting mode, it’ll briefly do the YMCA dance, and then within a few seconds the hands will go back to normal and the screen will turn off. It’ll remain broadcasting.

      Said differently: It works exactly like one wants it to.

  14. David W

    Garmin isn’t the only one that completely screwed up the outdoors readability of a display. I had (briefly) a Mio Slice. The display was great indoors but completely unreadable outdoors. The display was dim and there was a huge reflection from the “glass” (really, plastic, I think) in front of the display. Mio’s recommendation was to stand in the shade to read the watch- hardly a viable option. So, back to them it went.

  15. Orestas

    So if I understand correctly, everything else other than outside readability (like HR accuracy, sleep tracking) is great? If so, this is a very interesting watch for me.

    Ray, in one of your posts you previously mentioned that you would have more details about Withings Steel HR, but that was about half a year ago, can we still expect a review? Steel HR and this one seem the most interesting watches for me with Steel HR having a better battery life, but not sure about anything else.

    • Yeah, I haven’t played with it a ton since then. My primary concern right now with Withings is the whole Nokia mess. I’m not sure I can trust anything in the company at this point from a long term viability standpoint. Which is really too bad, as I loved their stuff when they were independent.

  16. Björn

    Have you got a release date (especially for Germany)? Dispite your concerns this still seems to be the watch/tracker I have been waiting for so long.

  17. Markus

    Hi
    Do you think the stress really uses hrv Data ?
    Or does it only show stress when heart rate is elevated?
    Bests

    • Markus

      Hi yeah but do you think they use real hrv? 1-2 sec readings just seem not enough for this. Or do they use : ” oh pulse is high without moving – it’s stressful ” you know what I mean?

    • It seems pretty real to me. Companies can do HRV at rest just fine with optical HR sensors these days, it’s while moving where things go to crap (hence why the Stress feature doesn’t work with lots of motion).

    • Markus

      Okay cause I saw your day and it seems it measured stress everytime ur pulse goes up so I thought it’s pulse high = stress?
      But you think it really correlates to hrv? Not high or low pulse?

    • No doubt there’s an element of the two being linked loosely, but no, I really don’t think it’s a simple 1:1 ratio. The FirstBeat folks have talked at length about this, so I’ll have to dig up some info on it there.

  18. “Charging-wise, they skipped the semi-universal (2017 anyway) charging cable that’s on the Fenix 5/FR935/Vivoactive 3/Vivosport”
    Why they did this? Is it really so hard to make one connector for all devices?

  19. Jose

    Still think this isn’t a complete failure…
    Anyway do you know when it is available to buy in the UK?

  20. Pete Parfitt

    And presumably this will work with True Up, Garmin’s step amalgamation platform. So maybe this for all day tracking and 935 for workouts (if I had the money to buy them)

  21. Michael Robertson

    I was 99% sure I was going to get this watch, and then I read this.

  22. Anonymouse

    Not that this is a perfect solution, but how readable is it outdoors if you cup your other hand around the screen when you are trying to read it? ’cause it sure is pretty . . .

  23. Just as an FYI to folks, I added in the Clever Training link for the Vivomove HR: link to clevertraining.com

    You can use the DCR/CT VIP program to get 10% back in points: link to dcrainmaker.com

    I didn’t add it initially because honestly I didn’t think anyone would want to order it. But if this is your thang, then using the links helps support the site. :)

    • Vladimir Gorbunov

      You wrote funny description, I see!

      I’m still planning to purchase this watch: I need an ANT+ HRM sensor for my weekend bicycle rides, which would include several alarm clocks, display the time during HR broadcasting and look like a proper watch.

      My current Vivosmart HR has only single alarm clock, and it doesn’t display time while broadcasting, so I’ll be glad to replace it to Vivomove HR. Bad sunlight visibility of secondary display is not an issue to me. I don’t see many features here which require constant and unflawed screen visibility. It’s not a true sports- or smart-watch anyway.

  24. Peter

    Thanks for the review Ray, I had read a couple of other reviews on this and you are the only one who mentioned this flaw. I bought the original vivomove last year and have been pretty happy with it. The one thing missing for me was 24×7 HR so I was interested in this when it was announced. While the ability to read the screen in daylight is lacking, I’m not sure it is a deal breaker for me. One thing that the Withings watch had that the Vivomove lacked was automatic syncing of the time off the phone (only a little thing but handy when you travel a lot) does the Vivomove HR get this feature?

    • “Thanks for the review Ray, I had read a couple of other reviews on this and you are the only one who mentioned this flaw. ”

      Likely reason: I’m the only one with a unit that was allowed outdoors. Others that have seen the units have all been indoors at IFA tradeshow, and never went anywhere with it. In my case, I’ve got a unit to do as I please.

      “One thing that the Withings watch had that the Vivomove lacked was automatic syncing of the time off the phone (only a little thing but handy when you travel a lot) does the Vivomove HR get this feature?”

      Yes, automagically happens.

  25. Andrew Burke

    The other issue I have with all the Garmin activity trackers (and scale) compared to my beloved Witihings is that it’s difficult to impossible to get the data out of Garmin. Nearly every platform out there can pull weight from withings and the vast majority steps as well. Their sleep data is accessible though I don’t know anyone pulling it right now.

    As an aside Ray every time I ask either Withings or Training Peaks about syncing sleep data over they both say to ask the other. So if you have the ear of someone who can make that happen it would be much appreciated.

    • Dr. D

      @Andrew – I know there is an option on Garmin Connect web to export a daily summary file.

      I have not dissected one of those files but I do know you can only export when on your Daily Summary page which shows your Goals, Timeline, Step Details, Intensity Minutes, Sleep, Calories, Activities.

    • Andrew Burke

      You can get data out that way. One day at a time. But as far as I know none of the major training analysis platforms can parse the fit file that it exports. Presumably because they are designed to read activities from fit files not metrics.

      Also there’s approximately a 0% that I’m going to go into Garmin everyday and download this data file.

      To be fair AFAIK neither Withings or Fitbit are currently syncing every metric over to TP (haven’t tried enough with any other platforms to know for sure). I would love to have my sleep data to look at alongside training data to look for trends. It would be great if I could get HRV data out as well. I believe Garmin’s stress score is just based on HRV.

    • Aaron

      Garmin certainly allows you to access your data via API – weight, sleep, steps, etc. Auto-sync is neither difficult nor impossible. Your complaint is about the partner websites needing to do the work, not Garmin, I think.

      SportTracks currently pulls in weight, lean mass, water weight, etc. measurements and will likely begin pulling in other activity tracking metrics soon as well. Their API is quite nice, actually.

      Cheers

    • Andrew Burke

      That was never the impression I got from asking partners about integration but I dug some more and you’re certainly right. Fitness Syncer should be able to pull all of your Garmin data and push it to Training Peaks or wherever else you need it. It worked for my Withings data that Training Peaks didn’t want to pull.

  26. Dr. D

    Ray, you stated…. ‘Note that there isn’t a way to manually start an official workout on the Vivomove HR, though it will automatically track certain activities like riding a bike or running.’
    You can start an activity manually or let it auto-detect (MoveIQ).

    On the display side, did you leave it in Auto mode? Do you know if setting it to max brightness improves visibility for you?

  27. Martin Perry

    Sorry, on a tangent you mention in the review that daily stress levels is coming shortly to the FR935 and Fenix 5 too, have Garmin recently confirmed that’s still happening and how long is shortly? The Vivosmart 3 was released some time ago when they said this would come soon.

  28. Sylvain Michaud

    The typical example of today’s stupid way of bringing a product to market.

    The only one in the company that had the balls to say that it wouldn’t make sense to bring this watch to maker as such, probably got fired due to a negative attitude issue and inability to work with his/her teammates. But everyone knows in the company that it doesn’t make sense to bring the faulty product to market. But they do it anyway.
    Since everyone, but one who got fired, approved, no one is really at fault. The product manager who was pushed to bring the product to market, no matter what on a time schedule that usually doesn’t make sense, won’t lose his job, the marketing manager who pushed and approved won’t get fired, the human ressources managers who hired a bunch of yes men and woman won’t be fired and the CEO will get his bonus anyway.
    In the meantime, the only person that has common sense his now unemployed and having difficulties finding a job due to bad references.

    Well hopefully they won’t sale a single unit.

    Aren’t you fed up to be sold crappy unfinished product ?

    • Sylvain Michaud

      Ho, and I forgot.
      The next time you’ll buy a Garmin product, remember that a part of it’s price goes to cover the losses generated buy this watch. So in a way you are buying a piece of this crappy watch.

    • Juro

      That’s a whole lot of assumptions you are making on the basis of Ray’s opinion (which a good couple of people in the comments do not share/care about). If the watch fails, it will hit Garmin’s P&L and decisions will be made. If it does matter to Ray only, the watch will sell. Don’t quite follow where your rage is coming from.

    • Peter

      What about the tea lady/man….. surely you can find some reason to blame him or her.

    • Volker Droysen von Hamilton

      There are millions of people looking for such devices, with countless of different expectations – and there are dozens of models in the Garmin range. You should not think that everybody wants the exact same features as you… fx if your sport is cycling, you need a HR-sensor, but have all your data on the Edge (and don’t want to look on another device while riding). And may you want a good looking watch at your wrist rather than a Fenix or a Vivoactive HR? So why should they not make this watch and offer ton’s of alternatives to those who are looking for something else???

  29. I commend Garmin’s effort to fuse fashion & performance but the dismal result was predictable. I say that because I made the same mistake at Meta Watch (leveraging a sexy, but hard to read display in a watch designed for performance monitoring). We also designed a similar hidden display concept for one of our clients – and received similar negative feedback.

    The crux of the issue is there aren’t many display options to select from that are 1) clearly legible in direct and indirect light 2) sufficiently inexpensive and 3) unique and aesthetically attractive. Hopefully, connected watch makers will have more display options in the future.

    Keep up the great work. Love your reviews!

    Bill

  30. Laird M.

    Hey, it’s not always overcast in Seattle! Right now we have smoke from forest fires. Totally different (and much more gross).

    Seriously, thanks for the first impressions. I’m really curious to read tomorrow’s on the Vivosport.

    Bummer they could not get the magic screen to work outside, because I have to say that the Vivomove looked interesting to me as a watch to wear more generally than my my 935 or Vivosmart.

  31. jose

    Hi,
    I read again your review, not quite sure I get it.
    You said “display is totally useless outside.” Yet all of the pictures you show of the watch with text are outside?
    The only time you can’t see the text is when the sun is directly on the display? If this is the case not sure why you’re being so harsh when they seem to get everything else right and a simple hand over the watch(to cast shadow over the display) when in direct sunlight seems to work?

    • I took all the outside photos at/near sunset, or on dark overcast days, or under trees. I also used a bunch of camera work to get those photos right (clamped down ISO, lower shutter speed, etc…).

      If folks want to hold their hands over their wrist to see their $200 watch, that’s fine be me. But I think it’s utterly stupid.

    • (To be clear, I’m calling the design stupid, not people.)

    • Jose

      I understand, and agree the design is flawed, but I don’t see it as a deal breaker(for me).
      The way I see it, is a nice looking watch with smartwatch benefits. Everything else works as it should and I appreciate the fact you flagged this issue up to help others consider if it is worth buying it or not.
      Keep up the good reviews.

  32. Thijs Rieken

    That is just simply complete failure. Illegible device screens were not tolerated in phones 10 years ago and neither will this.
    Sure hope they didn’t make too many units yet.

  33. Maxi MC

    Hi there,
    I’ve been a long time reader but the new Garmin lineup has finally given me the push to poke you with more questions :) On the Garmin website, the depth of the move HR is quoted as “11.6 mm” which is just 0.1mm less than what they indicate for their upcoming active 3. Can you confirm that both of those devices are essentially equally deep ?

    Further, what material is the watch casing of those two devices ?

    Thanks for your hands on reviews!

    • Yup, with both of them on a flat surface side by side, they’re basically identical.

      On both units the bezel is a metal of some sort (silver colored on my Vivoactive 3, and rose-gold colored on the Vivomove), and the rest of the case is plastic on both.

  34. AdamR

    Dying to know about Run/Walk intervals. Do anything of these new products. ESPECIALLY the VivoSport have configurable Run/Walk intervals?

    • The Vivosport has a Run/Walk mode. You can specify both run and walk times in minutes/seconds (not distance).

      The Vivomove HR does not have a Run/Walk mode. But you can configure both autolaps for running, as well as distance/time/calorie/HR alerts.

  35. Nathan B

    Hi Ray.

    This would be ideal for the wife, as she wants her tracker to “look like a watch”.

    This appears to have MoveIQ.

    Does it still count steps when you are riding a bike?!

    This a serious annoyance of mine. I ride to work, and have 6000+ steps on arrival. There’s no way to delete them, and it makes tracking pretty pointless.

    • For better or worst, still get step and stair accumulation/goals while cycling.

    • Nathan B

      Why do Garmin not stop counting once a cycling activity has been detected?

      I have the same issue with my Withings watch.

      The only one that appears to not do it is my Sony Smartwatch 3 using Android Wear. Great watch, but the GPS is shocking on it!

    • jonathan pattterson

      THIS.

      Exactly…THIS.

      O *love* my Activitee Pop, but having bike steps frustrates the hell out of me. Its even worse if I just leave it in the bag…not even a way to manually delete them. Perfect example of real world usage

      Almost as annoying as the TOMTOM newly introduced app bug where activities don’t show in the app despite being sync’ed with the watch…*sigh* I wish people who sold these would use them in the real world first…

    • Juro

      My theory for all devices counting steps for activities like cycling is that the my take “steps” as an “unit of activity” and a proxy for calories. Let’s say your bike commute gives you 6k steps, then you need to do only 4k real steps for your combined activity to be on the level that corresponds to 10k real steps. Once I started to look at things that way it stopped looking like an oversight.

  36. codyish

    Anybody else like the DCR reviews for products that he dislikes just as much or more as the reviews for products he likes?

  37. Markus

    So you think this is a reliable Feature to Set ones Recovery right? Means to take it slow when too much stress and to do harder workouts when good recovered?

  38. Actually, the girl’s one word review is a great time saver if you don’t have time to read the whole thing.

  39. Tyler

    Is the lack of visible display in sunlight something that could be corrected by:
    * a light sensor, and auto-boosting the backlight?

    or, if backlight isn’t possible with the display,
    * the same light sensor, and creating a reversed color display, such that light is dark and vice versa?

  40. maxfrance

    About the Beta Connect,

    I can confirm it hasn’t been offered to everyone; it automatically rolls back to the current released version every two or three days asking for a feedback.
    Having not found any flaw yet, I didn’t submit comments but simply re-enabled it, because it’s IMHO much better than the old (current) one.

  41. KJ

    Potentially daft question ….. is it luminous? Or is it a case of can’t see notifications in the day, and can’t see the time at night?

  42. BartMan

    @Outdoor visibility – this is a bummer – I really wanted to buy this product. I guess the screen is some sort of OLED. The original Vivosmart had more-or-less same issue: the screen was invisible (so you could not tell there is screen there at all) when turned off, nicely visible in-doors, but outdoors it was almost non-readable, especially on sunny day. What is more, the OLED screens in Vivosmart were failing very often – I have seen tons of reports that after several months screens were failing (missing lines, missing pixels, low brightness etc). Some time ago I had one of very first smartwatches, by non-existent now Sony-Ericsson watch had OLED screen which died after a year or so. Now, I’m pretty cautious with monochrome OLED screens.

  43. Samantha

    I take it there’s no way to adjust the display brightness through the watch or app? That seems kinda dumb.

  44. Rui

    Ray, what happened to the Vivo Sport 1st look you talked about?

    • I ended up shifting from just writing a first look to a full in-depth review. Mostly because it’s shipping now and doing a first look on an activity tracker type device ends up being about 50-60% of the work I’d do anyway. My goal is to publish prior to the end of the week. Pretty close.

  45. Rui

    Thanks Ray, looking forward to it.

  46. Ryan Richard

    Ray,

    So it looks like the gold/white model is a size small/medium and the black one is a size large. Is the display the same for both just different sizes on the bands?

    Thanks for all the great work!
    Ryan

  47. Thomas

    On iOS can you filter the notifications sent to the watch or is it “all or nothing” as on my FR230?

  48. Piotr

    Hello Ray,

    Does this model offer assisted breathing exercises and “move away from your desk” notifications?

    Also, on the legibility issue – the display only enables when it’s tapped, or also on some kind of wrist gesture and notification arrival?

    Thanks for the great review!

  49. Bjoern

    Hi Ray. Do you have any update about the availability of the Vivomove HR?

  50. David

    Some time ago you mentioned Garmin might add the ability to tracking via multiple watches.
    Is this ability still on its way?
    Would be good to have the Fenix 5 for active stuff, then a watch such as this for everyday stuff, without the faff of swapping watch every time in Garmin connect

  51. Josh

    Ray, thanks for the review. I was/am tempted to get this watch mainly because it is a hybrid watch with fitness features. Regarding the display, I am indoors about 80% of the day so I am torn on whether or not the outdoor visibility is an issue for me. I currently have a Fitbit Alta and notice the same issue with not being able to see the display in direct sunlight. Can you comment on how this visibility issue compares to the Fitbit Alta, Blaze or other devices?

  52. Scott Zinda

    The outdoor lighting issue is a bummer! I was totally considering this watch hard! Thanks for the review.

  53. Bjoern

    Hmmm, I am wondering why it takes so long to release the watch.
    Is there any chance the try to improve the display? Probably not…

    • It’s actually been out, and people have been buying it. My understanding though is that Best Buy had an exclusive on it for a set period of time (which I think expires around now), thus, it was pretty limited.

    • bjoern

      oh, thanks for the head up, wasn’t aware of that. just saw the release date slipping on the german garmin site.

    • Oh, yeah, Garmin.com shipping dates are always totally wonky. They’re usually the last to fulfill (for reasons I’ve never quite understood).

  54. Paul

    The device is water resistant rated at 50M, so are there any use for that property like swimming metrics collected if kept on wrist during pool sessions?

    I am looking for lap count (at least) and prefer also additional statistics like stroke count etc. Can this device deliver?

    • Unfortunately, the Vivomove HR doesn’t do swim metrics like you’re looking for. The best bet would be something like the Vivoactive HR or Vivoactive 3.

      As a general heads up, the Vivoactive HR is actually on sale this week for $50 off, which is a pretty solid deal. Full review here: link to dcrainmaker.com

      It’s a bit older watch (a bit over a year), but still one of the favs out there. The Vivoactive 3 meanwhile just came out last month.

    • Paul

      OK, I still wonder of Garmin product policy to cripple all small and simple fitness devices by left out basic swimming metrics of devices already waterproofed.

      Wide support of at least basic swimming metrics over the existing waterproofed fitness gears would really separate them from the sea of otherwise similar products. Missed opportunity here IMHO.

    • Paul

      Thanks for tip, I am certainly looking VAHR option, it’s quite package with really affordable price sticker nowadays.

      I expect that all toothing problems (SW/HW) should be fixed with these last production units available. How is the life with VAHR currently, any users around to comment?

  55. Derk

    Is it possible to show altitude height and climbingspeed on the watch face or do you have to look that up in the app?