2014 was a year of rapid growth in the wearable electronics market, with smartwatches and bracelets accounting for the majority of it. The Garmin Vivosmart is a smart band, but only on paper, because in addition to counting steps, calories and movements, it is able to show notifications from your smartphone on the built-in OLED display, which makes it a real hybrid. In this regard, Vivosmart is forced to fight not only with popular fitness trackers, but also with smartwatches from giants such as Apple or Samsung, not to mention a whole horde of watches from other companies. Will Garmin be able to accomplish such an ambitious task, or will we get another “ugly duckling”?
Vivosmart has a rather uncommon and minimalistic design: the outer part of the bracelet has a smooth and even black surface with a hidden display that turns on only with a double tap. The black interior has a dotted texture, and bangles are also available in mauve, purple, smoky blue, and gray. The design is so simple that there is not even a place for a microUSB port – only metal contacts for charging.
The clasp works according to the uncomplicated and familiar, perhaps, every principle of holes, which allows for extremely flexible size adjustment, and at one end of the clasp there is a silver company logo. It is worth noting that the rounded edges and pleasant to the touch surface do not cause discomfort even when worn throughout the day.
The touchscreen OLED display measures 3.4 x 0.4 cm and has a resolution of 128 x 16 pixels. It is bright enough to view information even in direct sunlight. It contains time and date information.
Swipe left or right to view missed notifications, distance traveled, steps taken, and control music on your smartphone. The display also reminds you that the owner has been inactive for a long time and it’s time for a little stretch. If you compare the amount of information on the display, for example, with Samsung Gear Fit or Fitbit Charge, then Vivosmart provides more data, because Gear Fit and Charge only count steps, calories and distance, although Charge also shows the number of floors climbed and the total time of activity.
The novelty is able to withstand immersion in water to a depth of 50 meters, which means you can safely wear it in the pool, bath or shower.
Functions and use
Before using the Garmin Vivosmart, you must install the proprietary Garmin Connect app on your Android or iOS device. The application has a very boring interface and most of the time you will spend on its main screen, viewing information about your achievements for the day, week or month.
The connection to the smartphone takes place via Bluetooth. The bracelet will vibrate if you get too far away from your smartphone, so be prepared for it to distract you every time you need to go to the next room or office.
Vivosmart brings text messages and emails to the display, as well as notifications from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social networks, and it does it extremely quickly and accurately – sometimes even faster than the smartphone itself. In this regard, Vivosmart almost completely matches its more famous competitor – Gear – but the latter also allows you to dismiss notifications, while with the new product from Garmin you will have to resort to using a smartphone.
In addition to measuring your activity during the day, this bracelet is also able to track your activity during your sleep, equating good sleep to practically still. Unfortunately, Vivosmart doesn’t have other factors to accurately monitor sleep quality, so I wouldn’t trust it much in terms of rest. It also has an alarm function that wakes you up with an active vibration, but if you are one of those people who sleep very soundly, then I would suggest using another alarm for safety. The transition to sleep mode is carried out through the bracelet menu, which, although not difficult, is clearly not as convenient as automatic detection in Fitbit Charge.
In its press release, the company promised that Vivosmart will be able to work for about 7 days on a single charge in continuous monitoring mode. I can safely say that the numbers are absolutely real: after four days of active use of the bracelet, I had more than half of the battery charge left, which looks especially impressive against the background of Gear Fit, which already asks for an outlet on the third day.
Vivosmart is a powerful bracelet for an active lifestyle, but more importantly, it is also a great smartwatch that is not overloaded with useless functionality, which, for me personally, makes me want to wear it all the time.
It’s priced at just over £100, which is pretty fair compared to other smartwatches and slightly overpriced compared to fitness trackers, but the Vivosmart’s key benefit is that you won’t have to buy two devices, which is amazing.