Garmin Vivosport hands-on: slim, sporty tracker with GPS

Garmin has introduced a trio of new Vivo devices in the past few days. Two smartwatches and Vivosport, a fitness band with GPS and wrist based heart rate. While the first two devices were widely expected and leaked ahead of time, the third came as a bit of a surprise.

Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets for 2017

The company is showcasing all three at IFA in Berlin. If you happen to be in the area, there is still time to visit. The show ends on September 6th so there are still a few days left. We went along and got to spend some time with Vivosport.

Not everyone wants a smartwatch. Some prefer a fitness band and with Vivosport, Garmin is catering to this demographic. The device can be seen as an upgraded version of the company’s popular Vivosmart 3 and Vivosmart HR+ trackers. In a sense, with the inclusion of GPS and a snazzy new design, Garmin has taken the best from these two and come up with an entirely new fitness band.

Vivosport is a very lightweight device and very similar in build to Vivosmart 3. The large size weighs only 27 grams and the small-medium 24.1 grams. It feels great on your wrist, fitting very snuggly. Measuring 21mm in width and 10.9mm in thickness, you hardly feel you are wearing it.

The case material is made of fiber-reinforced polymer which makes it fine to use for swimming. The always on Chroma display is rather tiny but its perfectly readable with a 72 x 144 pixel resolution. While its well suited for quickly glancing at your stats, you will need to head over to the Garmin Connect smartphone app for more detailed info. Vivosport is actually the first wrist wearable from Garmin to feature a colour display.

There are no physical buttons. Instead, you navigate by swiping on the display.

Despite the slim form-factor, Vivosport has some pretty decent specs under the hood. In terms of fitness tracking, you’ll get everything you would get with its big brother Vivoactive 3, minus some of the apps for individual sports and Garmin Pay.

Fitness tracking basics are well covered with information on steps, calories, distance, heart rate, activity, floors and sleep. Smartphone notifications will keep you connected to your loved ones although you will need to use your phone to read the messages in full. By default, the band shows the time so you can also use it as a watch.

Garmin has managed to squeeze a GPS along with a barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer and optical heart rate sensor into the device. The GPS makes for more precise distance, time and pace tracking, along with route mapping for your runs.

The optical heart rate sensor is the same that can be found on Garmin’s other fitness trackers. Our reviews show that it performs pretty well. The sensor will dish out detailed heart rate measurements and zones during exercise and in the morning it will register your resting heart rate.

The tracker will also provide you with VO2Max and your fitness age. To keep you calm, there is all-day-stress monitoring along with workout tracking for gym rats. These two features made their debut in April with the introduction of Vivosmart 3.

Of course, we couldn’t test the battery. But Garmin claims it will keep the tracker going for up to a week on a single charge and 8 hours with GPS switched on. That’s pretty good.

All things considering, we had quite positive first impressions of Garmin’s new fitness band. With GPS, heart rate, and everything you could possibly hope for in terms of activity tracking, this is probably Garmin’s best fitness band yet.

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