Inspire HR is Fitbit’s latest fitness band. Along with the lower spec sibling Inspire, it is one of the company’s best value bands. The gizmo repackages Fitbit’s existing technology into a slightly more modern form-factor, and makes it affordable to the masses. In our review, we found it does the job well.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
One of Garmin’s most popular fitness bands is the Vivosmart 4. In additional to all the usual fitness tracking smarts, the fourth generation device comes with a blood oxygen sensor and the gadget will keep tabs on your body’s energy reserves.
These recent new additions make it all the more difficult to choose the right fitness band for you. Hopefully this article will make the job a bit easier. Here’s how the two fitness trackers compare.
Fitbit Inspire HR or Garmin Vivosmart 4: Design
In terms of looks, these devices feature a feature a fairly sporty, rubberized design. They come with rounded edges and are slightly more modern looking than their predecessors. Another common feature is that they are both fairly slim and lightweight.
Vivosmart 4 comes with a silicone strap, aluminum bezel and polycarbonate lens. There are two sizes to choose from – a small/medium and large. The small/medium weighs only 16.5 grams, while at 17.1 grams, the large version is a fraction heavier. The black and white screen has the same 6.6 mm x 17.7 mm dimensions on both iterations.
At 48 x 128 pixels, the display resolution is not something to write home about, but it does the job. To preserve battery life it is off by default. It springs to action when you raise your wrist, tap on the screen or a notification comes through.
There’s a haptic button at the bottom which sits flush against the screen. You can use this to wake the tracker up, move through the menus and start activities.
Fitbit Inspire HR has a similar form-factor, but with some important differences. An obvious one is the single physical button on the left. This is used to wake he tracker up and move you back out of menus. The rest of the navigation is done via the full touchscreen.
Also black and white, the OLED display on Inspire HR is slightly larger making it a bit easier on the eye. Its exact dimensions are 37 x 16mm while the resolution comes in at 128 x 72 pixels.
Inspire HR is also slightly wider (16.2mm versus 15mm), thicker (12.6mm versus 10.5mm) and at 20 grams a fraction heavier. But don’t get us wrong – even though Inspire HR is slightly more bulky of the two, the device is very lightweight.
There is little you can do in terms of customizing Garmin’s wearables, so it comes down to choosing a color you like when making the purchase. Fitbit allows you to easily switch bands and customize its trackers to fit your look.
Overall, the two devices are very similar in terms of design. Vivosmart 4 is the slimmer of the two, but Inspire HR comes with a larger and better quality screen. My personal preference is Fitbit’s device as I find a larger screen makes it easier to use a fitness tracker. I can see, though, that Garmin’s device may appeal to some. Particularly female fitness enthusiasts due to its slim form-factor.
Under the hood there are some important differences to be aware of. While both trackers sport an optical heart rate monitor, 3-axis accelerometer and vibration motor, Vivosmart 4 also comes with a Pulse Ox sensor and barometric altimeter. The first is used to measure oxygen levels in the blood, the second to measure floors climbed.
Fitbit Inspire HR or Garmin Vivosmart 4: Battery life and water resistance
Battery life is steadily progressing with each passing year. Processors and sensors are becoming more power efficient which makes it easier to come up with something that doesn’t need charging every night.
Both of these devices have a rechargeable Lithium battery. Vivosmart 4 will keep running for about a week (excluding pulse ox sleep tracking), which is not bad. Inspire HR has a bit less juice but it’s no slouch. It’s 5 day battery life between charges should keep most people happy.
Fitbit Inspire HR
Both wearables are water-resistant down to 50 meters so can be worn in the shower or pool. They will also track swimming workouts but only with basic detail.
Fitbit Inspire HR or Garmin Vivosmart 4: Features
As you would expect, you will find fitness essentials on both bands. This includes 24/7 heart rate monitoring, tracking of steps, distance travelled, active minutes, calories burned, sleep and more. Its quite a comprehensive list. Expect little difference when it come to the quality of data.
Inspire HR and Vivosmart 4 also feature smart notifications to keep you connected on the go. You will need to use your phone, though, to read the messages in full. By default, the bands shows the time so you can also use them as a watch.
The trackers spit out motivational messages through the day and nudge you with move reminders if you are feeling particularly lazy. There is also automatic activity recognition which means you will get credit even if you forget to log a workout.
There are some more advanced metrics, too, such as Vo2Max’. This tells you how well your body uses oxygen when you’re working out at your hardest. It reflects the aerobic physical fitness of the individual.
You’ll get continuous heart rate monitoring throughout the day, in addition to monitoring your ticker during a specific workout. You can view current and resting heart rate from the display, and during workouts.
Now to the differences, and they are mostly in Garmin’s favor.
The first one to mention is the altimeter for counting floors on Vivosmart 4. The total flights of stairs you’ve climbed will be summed up and computed as a factor in your calorie count.
Another is the Pulse Ox sensor. Garmin’s fitness tracker will gauge your oxygen saturation levels at night, allowing you to better understand your sleep quality. This can potentially be used to identify sleep conditions such as apnea. You can also check your oxygen levels during the day at the press of a button.
Its other novel feature is what Garmin calls Body Battery energy monitoring. This uses a combination of stress, heart rate variability (HRV), sleep and activity data to let you know when to push hard, when to rest. The info should enable you to make better, more informed decisions on how and when to train.
The final important difference is 24/7 stress tracking. Vivosmart 4 has it, Inspire HR doesn’t. This taps into your heart rate variability values to estimate how chilled you are. These are rough estimates but are, nevertheless, useful.
The main advantage of using Fitbit’s tracker is the screen size. It’s much easier to read everything on Inspire HR. This is especially the case if you’re on the go. Its a small, but important difference.
Fitbit Inspire HR or Garmin Vivosmart 4: The bottom line
Vivosmart 4 and Inspire HR are both fully featured fitness trackers which have most things an average person needs to track their activity 24/7. There are a few important differences, though.
While both feature a sporty, rubberized design, Fitbit’s device comes with a larger, better quality screen and is more customizable. Garmin’s device, on the other hand, is lighter and comes with an ultra-slim form factor which may appeal to some.
Outside of esthetics, Vivosmart 4 is more feature packed of the two. It comes with an altimeter for counting floors, a stress tracking function and a Pulse Ox sensor. It will will also tell you know when to train hard, when to rest thanks to its Body Battery energy monitoring function.
Garmin Vivosmart 4
It’s no surprise therefore that Vivosmart 4 is more expensive of the two. It typically retails about a third above Inspire HR.
For those that are after a more fully featured activity band, we suggest opting for the Garmin tracker. It will set you back an extra $40 but the extra features are worth it. Inspire HR is the better option for those starting to track fitness, as it covers the basics without overloading you with data.