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Garmin Vivoactive GPS smartwatch review – the watch for the active user

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There has never been more attention on the smartwatch category as there is right now. The types of smartwatches are increasing too with different specialties offered in different models.

If exercise and activity are the main reasons behind your purchasing decision then the Garmin Vivoactive definitely fits the bill.

Garmin is a company with a long history of rolling out successful fitness, outdoors and GPS products.

The company brings that heritage and experience to the Vivoactive to suit the user who loves the outdoors and has an active lifestyle.

Garmin Vivoactive is available in black or white and has a remarkably thin profile.

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It has a 1.4-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 205 x 148 pixels and is only 8mm thick. And with those dimensions it’s light and comfortable to wear for the entire day.

The screen is clear and easy to read when you’re out doing your workout while a light button on the left can illuminate things when you’re inside or in the dark.

The Garmin Vivoactive is just 8mm thick
The Garmin Vivoactive is just 8mm thick

It always displays the time in large easy-to-read numbers along with the date, and battery level so there’s no need to wait for the screen to wake up when you lift your arm to see the time like some Android Wear smartwatches.

Make no mistake, the Garmin Vivoactive is a sportswatch as much as it is a smartwatch.

And it is running its own software so it’s not married to any one smartphone’s operating system. This means it can be paired just as easily to an iPhone to an Android device.

It has a water resistance rating that’s high enough for you to wear it while you’re in the shower or swimming. It doesn’t have a built-in heart rate sensor but a chest strap can be linked to the watch with Bluetooth.

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When using the Garmin Vivoactive we found it to be intuitive and easy to use.

Most of the commands are displayed on the screen and it has a button on either side along with a back and menu button just below the screen.

One of our only complaints was that the touchscreen wasn’t always responsive so scrolling wasn’t always as smooth as we liked.

Right out of the box the Vivoactive can used to track your run, walk, swim and bike ride and be your caddy on the golf course thanks to the built in sports apps.

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And it can also connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth to provide notifications about incoming calls, text messages, emails and calendar reminders.

You can also display notifications from Facebook and Twitter.

There’s also GPS built-in to allow active users to get a lot more out of the Garmin Vivoactive. In this case, GPS is used to capture data like distance and pace.

The reason there are options for indoor running on treadmills and indoor cycling is so it can track these activities without GPS feature to save the battery.

The Garmin Connect app
The Garmin Connect app

For runs and walks, you’ll see time, distance, pace and calories burned while cyclists can see their distance time and speed.

In the pool, swimmers can keep track of their time, the distance and their stroke count.

On the golf course the Garmin Vivoactive – when paired with your smartphone – can access course maps for up to 38,000 courses around the world.

It will display the hole number and par, distance to the hole along with distances to layups and doglegs while also being used as your scorecard.

The Garmin Vivoactive can also act as your everyday activity tracker to count your steps, distance and calories burned.

A move bar easily displays how far you are from your daily goal at a glance.

The device also links to the excellent Connect App so you can track your workouts, compete with your friends and family and join online challenges.

Users can view Garmin Connect through the computer browser or on their mobile device.

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It is also possible to download watch faces from the Connect IQ along with extra widgets like calendars, larger battery meter and heart rate charts and apps like a compass, rowing pace tracker and even a Tic Tac Toe game.

One of the strengths of the device is the battery. It can run for up to three weeks when it’s being used as your watch and as an activity tracker.

It can also handle up to 10 hours of GPS tracking before you need to charge it up again.

VERDICT

The Garmin Vivoactive is designed for active users who want to keep track of their workouts without all the bells and whistles they don’t need and that would just drive up the price.

It is also a smartwatch insofar as it can relay notifications via Bluetooth but if a user is looking for more on this end, then they need to look at a device that’s more smartwatch than sportswatch.

Garmin Vivoactive

Price: $339