Hands on: Garmin Vivomove HR
27 April 2018 | 0
Fitness tracking wearables have progressed greatly in recent times, in both capability, and thankfully, style.
Gone now are the days when such things looked like a cross between a cyberpunk accessory and a gas meter reader. Garmin has gone a step further with its Vivomove HR, making it stylish enough to be a desirable watch in its own right, while providing full fitness tracker capabilities, with a smattering of pure smart device capabilities too, and hence the hybrid bit.
One critical element that has received attention is battery life. The Vivomove HR firstly, has a very handy charging lead in the form of a crocodile clip that attaches firmly, but easily. And while it is proprietary, it is perfectly appropriate for the application.
When fully charged, the pure watch mode will carry on for up to 2 weeks. Using the combined functions it lasts for 5 days. This is very important, as despite the conditioning of charging our smart phones every day, the idea of charging a device that is at least partly a watch, every day, still seems a step too far.
The device itself is pleasingly watch shaped, with a case diameter of 43mm, but is only 11.6 mm thick. This puts it well within the current fashion for pure time pieces. The reviewed device, with the silicone strap, comes in PVD coated stainless steel, which gives it a pleasing satin-like black finish.
The dial is black, with a sort of vintage gold hour hand and a yellow minute hand. The lower part of the dial is the interactive bit that displays all of the other functions.
There are the usual parameters measured, from heart rate, physical activities, sleep, calories, as well more in depth details, such as activity intensity and VO2, or blood oxygenation levels, though this is by inference from other parameters.
Bluetooth connectivity allows connection to Android or iOS and Garmin’s connect app, where upload and update frequency can be set, with complete automation available, if desired.
These devices have come in for criticism before, with even top of the range devices falling down on heart rate monitoring, with accuracy in question. Garmin has developed its own Elevate heart rate monitor. This has a learning phase, where the initial period of wear sees a higher frequency of measurement until patterns are established, at which point accuracy is established and frequency can be reduced in the name of efficiency without a loss in accuracy.
In usage, a tap of the dial activates the display and swipes in either direction control navigation with further taps to go into details and menus.
There is haptic feedback for alerts and notifications, as this is also a smart watch, as well as a decent watch and a fitness tracker.
Whether worn during sleep or intense exercise, the Vivomove HR felt just like a watch, and was generally unobtrusive. The only minor gripe is that this hack found the untextured inner surface of the silicone band a little prone to provoke perspiration. However, that is a potential side effect of silicone bands, not hybrid smart watches. But, Garmin did equip the watch with finger-operated spring bars for band fitting, meaning that the user can easily swap between the multitude of strap options, or just bung on any 20mm strap or band of their choosing, which is nice.
Overall, this is a good direction for these devices. As a watch fan, the fact that this is a pleasingly designed, nicely functioning watch, first and foremost, means it can be used all the time, without fear of being mistaken either for a tagged inmate on temporary release or a gas meter reader. Secondly, the fact that it is versatile enough to be worn in all but the dressiest of situations means it will get the wrist time to be the device of record and information to fulfil the fitness element.
In combination with the comprehensive app, the Vivomove HR gives not just a current where you are, but builds layered data to provide the kind of historical record that would previously have been the preserve of a medical test subject.
At €205 direct from Garmin, it is well within the range of a good quartz-movement watch. With all of its additional capabilities, it is a relative bargain and not a bad looking watch.