Checkout the Garmin Vivosport review. The Vivosport is Garmin’s latest fitness wearable offering GPS, wrist based HR sports tracking including strength

Garmin surprised everyone back in September by announcing the Garmin Vivosport which is a fitness wearable featuring GPS, wrist heart rate tracking and Garmin’s strength tracking that is featured on the Garmin Vivosmart 3 along with the high-end fitness sports watch range, the Garmin Fenix 5 series.

So lets get some of the standout features of the Vivosport out the way first

  • GPS – Features built-in GPS to track activities outside
  • Sports tracking, run – outdoor/indoor/ walk – Outdoor/indoor cycle – Outdoor, Strength, electoral and Cardio
  • Daily tracking – Steps, calories, stairs claimed, activity minutes
  • VO2 max and fitness age estimates
  • All-day stress tracking and you can view this at a glance and see more on Garmin Connect
  • Features Garmin’s Chroma Display that is always-on colour
  • Features strength tracking which counts reps and sets and again you can view in Garmin Connect.
  • Garmin say the battery life 7 days in smartwatch mode; 8 hours in GPS mode
  • Various watch face options to choose from
  • MoveIQ, this tracks most workouts automatically if you forget to set a workout going on the Vivosport

Must read review: Garmin Vivosmart 3 review

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Garmin Vivosport Review – Design and screen

  • Small form factor will appeal to people with smaller wrists
  • Integrated Elevate Wrist HR
  • Always on colour Garmin’s Chroma Display

The Garmin Vivosport is similar in design to the Vivosmart 3 and on first glance you cant tell the 2 apart. The Vivosport features a polymer material for the tracker housing which feels nice on the wrist with a soft silicone band which is fastened by a stainless steel buckle. The band features a colour screen which is very responsive to the touch and swiping through the various menus and screens is a breeze, I found it a lot more response than the Vivosmart 3. On the back on the Vivosport you will find the charging port and Garmin’s Elevate wrist-based Heart rate sensor.

Design & Screen Summary

Overall I found the Garmin Vivosport very comfortable to wear and for extended periods given it does all day tracking along with sleep tracking this is important for any wearable. The Vivosport is very lightweight on the wrist and you forget its there at times, you only remember when it gives you buzz to either move or a smart notification.

My one and only complaint with the design is when you fold your arms and cross them you activate the screen and this is due to the skin making contact with the screen and pressing down. Whilst this is not a massive issue, its just annoying! However you can lock the screen from within the menu and simply unlocking takes a double tap, simple fix when you look into it.

 

Garmin Vivosport screenGarmin Vivosport Review – Menus and touchscreen interface

  • Simple menu design
  • Watch faces can be customised on Garmin Connect Mobile
  • The screen does perform well in sunlight.

I found the menus easy to navigate and this is due to the simple nature of the design and with it being simple it also means that the menus are not as detailed some might like. However despite it being simple, I actually liked it and would think this would suit someone that would not want to be bombarded with a massive amount of data.

Scrolling up or down will reveal steps, stairs climbed, calories burnt, current HR, stess and weather information. You can also tap on a particular menu and get more detail. So for instance tapping on the steps menu will give you the previous day’s step count, but tapping on weather for instance will give you weather information for the next 4 days.

To access the sports profiles and deeper menus you need to press slightly on the screen and I found this easier todo than with the Garmin Vivosmart 3. Once you are in the deeper menus you can access the sports tracking, settings, personal achievements,  which includes vo2 max and the settings to change various things like brightness, wrist place and many others.

Garmin Vivosport run tracking

Menu and UI Summary

The biggest point I would like to make about the UI and menus on the Vivosport 3 is that its simple to use and does not give you to much information like you would find on the high end watches that Garmin produce, so this could be a good thing for some, but it could be lacking for others so you need to decide on this point based on personal preferences.

Garmin Vivosport Review – Activity tracking

  • Tracks steps, calories, stairs climbed, activity minutes, stress and sleep
  • Pretty accurate at step tracking
  • Reminds you to move when you have not moved within the hour

I don’t want to spend much time on this section because as with most wearable these days tracking of basic daily activities like steps, floors climbed and calories should be a given and this is no different for the Vivosport . As a activity tracker the Vivosport performs well well when comparing to others such as the Fitbit Ionic and the Fenix 5. It will show you steps and all the other normal data on the band itself, but then you can look at more detailed information in the companion app, Garmin Connect Mobile or online at connect.garmin.com

Garmin Vivosport sleep tracking

The Garmin Vivosport also does sleep tracking and whilst I am always wide open about this type of tracking and capabilities, I can say that the Vivosport 3 performs well against another device I use when testing them side by side. I took note of the falling asleep time and the wake times and it was pretty much spot on.

Garmin Vivosport stress tracking

First introduced with the Garmin Vivosmart 3, stress tracking is now being rolled out to other Garmin fitness wearables including the Garmin Fenix 5 and forerunner 935, so it was not a surprise that Garmin would include all day stress tracking the Vivosport.

The Garmin Vivosport stress tracking feature allows you to view at a glance on the wrist your current stress levels at a given time and if you want to know more the last hour on a graph on the Vivosport display.

You can also view in-depth information on the Garmin Connect mobile app and you can view your all day stress profile. When using this on the Vivosport I have found it pretty much in line with what I was finding throughout the day and could identify periods of high stress and low resting points along with times I was participating in activities.

Garmin vivosport sleep & stress tracking

Activity sleep and stress tracking Summary

Using the Vivosport for all day activity tracking was a good experience and the data collected was comparable not only with what my normal daily fitness watch told me, but also with what I had identified when looking back on the day. The bottom line is that the Vivosport does a great job at daily tracking including sleep and stress tracking and Garmin have pretty much nailed it in this area

Garmin Vivosport – Fitness features

  • Tracks run, bike, strength, cardio, walk and other
  • Integrated wrist based HR monitor
  • GPS tracking

The Garmin Vivosport can track 6 different activities from running, cycling, walking, strength, cardio and other and it uses GPS to track outdoor versions of run and biking. You can also customise the data fields you see and can up to 5 data screens, all of these can be customised in Garmin Connect Mobile and synced back to the Vivosport. The Vivosport does not have a swim tracking feature, but I tested it with the “other” profile and it didn’t do a great job and as with the Vivosmart 3 it kept on stopping the activity and I believe this was down to the water making contact with the screen.

Garmin Vivosport sports

 

Starting an sports activity is pretty simple, all you do is press down lightly on the screen and then navigate to the workout menu and then choose the workout you want to perform and if a outdoor or indoor type is available then choose if its outdoor or indoor. What is interesting and point to note that the cycling workout profile does NOT have a indoor option, so if you are going to be doing activities such as spinning or indoor cycling then you will need to choose other or cardio. To start an activity its really simple all you need to do is double tap the screen and it starts, simple as that and to end you follow the same double tap.

The Garmin Vivosport also has Vo2 max estimations along with fitness age. Vo2 max this is calculated by using data from running or walking workouts to determine your vo2 max, you cannot get Vo2 max for cycling due to not being able to connect a power meter. It does take a a couple of week’s of use to get meaningful date. When comparing this to my known vo2 max it is pretty much inline, however as I always caution its simply a estimation and if you want accurate readings then you need to go and be tested in a lab.

Garmin Vivosport vo2 max

Fitness features Summary

Overall I found the Garmin Vivosport to be pretty accurate and provides some good level of sports tracking capabilities. For those that are wanting simple and straight forward fitness tracking with some level of customisation on how the workout data is presented then the Vivosport is a excellent fitness tracker choice.

Now read on to see how well the Vivosport performed in both GPS and heart rate tracking

Garmin Vivosport – GPS performance

  • GPS, but no GLONASS
  • Comparable with other devices in terms of tracking
  • Takes a while to get a GPS lock if you have not synced in a while with your smartphone

I have already mentioned that the Garmin Vivosport vs Garmin Vivosmart 3 have many features that are the same, however one of the biggest differences is the GPS feature on the Vivosport. The Garmin Vivosport features a GPS chip, but it does not offer GLONASS which is normally reserved for high end fitness GPS watches like the Gamrin Fenix 5 or the Suunto Spartan trainer.

Garmin Vivosport GPS

When I first started using the Vivosport with GPS tracking I noticed it would takes ages to lock onto a GPS signal and when I say ages I mean upto 2 minutes. However I found that if I synced with my smartwatch more frequently it would lock on within about 10 seconds

When testing fitness wearables with built in GPS, I normally do it over a number of outdoor activities and this usually involves running, cycling, hiking etc. In this case I used the device for running and cycling outdoors with 2 other devices, a Fenix 5 and a TomTom Adventurer  and here are the results

Essential reading: Fitbit Ionic

Vivosport running GPS performance

The Vivosport did a good job at running. I ran a 5k route using the Vivosport alongside the other wearables and the checking both the paces and distance covered whilst on route it was fairly in line.

  • Vivosport – 5.01km
  • Fenix 5 – 5.03lm
  • Adventurer – 5.0km

So for running the Vivosport did well and within what I would call an acceptable tolerance for what I need it for, maybe not for everyone though

Garmin Vivosport run tracking

Vivosport cycling GPS performance

The Vivosport did a good job at cycling also with the GPS track being pretty good. I cycled a 30k route using the Vivosport alongside the other wearables and the checking both the average speed and distance covered whilst on route it was fairly in line.

  • Vivosport – 29.98km
  • Fenix 5 – 30.06km
  • Adventurer – 30.01km

So for cycling the Vivosport did well and within what I would call an acceptable tolerance for what I need it for, maybe not for everyone though

GPS Summary

So overall I was happy with the performance of the GPS on the Vivosport and its something I could personally rely on if I was using it. However I want to point out that everyone has different levels of acceptance

Garmin Vivosport – Wrist Heart rate performance for 24×7 and workout HR

  • Great for running and walking
  • Cycling it falls down
  • You can broadcast HR to another ANT+ device

I have split this into 2 areas, 24×7 HR, and workout HR. I will get the 24×7 heart rate tracking out of the  way first. The 24×7 HR.  It works well across both normal everyday use as well as things like sleep and stress tracking.  I found my resting HR was pretty much inline with my normal tracker once it settled down after a week of use as at first, as the Vivosport was showing high resting HR.

Garmin Vivosport resting heart rate

Next up is the heart rate performance during a workout and in the case of the testing I did it across running, cycling, strengh and cardio classes using a chest strap paired to a Garmin Fenix 5 as a the baseline device

Overall the Garmin Vivosport HR performance was pretty good and kept much on inline when using it for running, walking and cardio classes with the odd drop out in HR tracking during one of the cardio classes I took part in. When it came to cycling the Vivosport didn’t perform well at all during the high intensity parts when I was moving my hands and wrists around on the handle bars and it was totally useless when it came to the strength workouts for HR tracking.

The Garmin Vivosport can also broadcast HR data to another ANT+ device and on testing this was straight forwarded, However I am unsure why you want to do this given it would only be useful in cycling to say a Edge cycling computer, but because I found it poor at tracking HR performance during cycling I cant see the point.

 

Garmin Vivosport HR broadcastHR performance Summary

So overall the Vivosport performed well in the areas I knew it would with running and walking being very good, but it being let down in the cycling and strength training sections. The 24×7 heart rate tracking works well and this is good because Garmin’s stress tracking feature is dependant on the wrist based HR

Garmin Vivosport – strength tracking

  • Counts reps and sets
  • Still needs some work to improve accuracy
  • HR performance during strength workouts is not great

Garmin first introduced strength tracking with the Vivosmart 3 and I tested it out and I found it ok in its performance. The Strength feature allows you to track reps during strength or workouts such as pushups and attempts to identify the activity type. Using the Vivosport for strength tracking I feel Garmin have made improvements with the rep counting and workout identification. I found on 90% of the occasions it would count the reps correctly and for exercises like dumbbell curls it would identify the exercise. However it would still struggle identifying the difference between a bench press and a shoulder press, but this is understandable  given the similarities in exercise type.

Garmin Vivosport HR during activity

Garmin Vivosport – smart features

  • Call and test alerts
  • Companion app via Garmin Connect Mobile
  • Real world usage – around 5 days and 7 hours with GPS

As with most of the Garmin range they come with smart features and the Garmin Vivosport is no exception. The Garmin Vivosport pairs to your smartphone and will display call and text alerts to the wrist, but you cant reply you can on a Apple Watch 3 for instance. I personally turn them off as they are of no value to me and I personally don’t want notifying when I am working out.

 

Garmin Vivosport smart featuresTo get the full benefit out of the Vivosport you need to pair it with a smartphone that runs either iOS, Andiod or windows 10 and download Garmin Connect Mobile companion app. I personally really like GCM as it provides a lot of data and it allows you to view post workout data that you would not normally see on the Vivosport small display.

Garmin Vivosport – Battery

  • Garmin day 7 days battery
  • 10 hours on with GPS
  • Real world usage – around 5 days and 7 hours with GPS

I found the battery life to be pretty good with the Vivosport and lasting between 5-6 days when using it for most activities and this is pretty good when it comes to a fitness tracker with GPS capabilities.

Charging the Vivosport uses the same cable found on the Fenix 5, Vivoactive 3 and the forerunner so Garmin are now starting to move towards a standard charging port and it takes about 1 hour 30 minutes to achieve a full charge

Garmin Vivosport Review
Garmin Vivosport review – in-depth look at the New GPS wearable
Design90
Features85
Usability81
Performance80
Value80
Reader Rating1 Vote90
Pro's
Great price
Bright readable screen
Solid GPS performance
Con's
Battery life could be better
Shaky HR performance when cycling
Cant swop the bands out
83
Recommended
Garmin Vivosport - Conclusion
The Garmin Vivosport is excellent GPS enabled fitness tracker with some good features, from its 24/7 activity and HR tracking, multiple workout modes and strength training. It also features Vo2 max and stress tracking which is a welcome inclusion on the Vivosport.However its not all great with the Vivosport such as no indoor cycling tracking or the poor performance of the optical HR while cycling outdoors. It not does have swappable bands which is featured on many of its rivals at the same price.Overall I do recommend this band for its build, performance and features and would certainly recommend it to someone looking for a GPS enabled fitness tracker in a small simple design.
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2 Comments on "Garmin Vivosport review – in-depth look at the New GPS wearable"

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MrHolmes
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Great review as always AJR. I thinking of getting this for my wife, but I am going to wait to see if it appears in the Black Friday sales first

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