Many sport people say: no matter with what device you start with, but you finish with Garmin. And I think it’s true. Last time I decided to replaced my phone by sport tracking device. After some searches I found that the best option for me is Garmin Vivoactive. Now I can write short review and describe my experiences for about month of workouts and one MTB race. TL;DR: No, it isn’t ideal device, but much better than using phone or strange and complicated software for Android.
Why I bought Garmin?
There were many reasons to bought sport tracking device. Of course we can you Endomondo or Strava on our phones and just buy simple meter (for example for bike) but… it isn’t great. We can’t use any sensors with most of available phones, or only devices from small, specific and expensive group. We can’t also use phone long time with enabled display: it’s not important on running, but on cycling we like to see current speed, cadence, distance etc. There are also many issues with data syncing between many sport social services: I have used Strava and Endomondo for long time and must copy workouts manually or use external, unreliable services like tapitiik. It’s nice, but sometimes duplicates my workouts.
Our phones aren’t as accurate as dedicated devices, aren’t waterproof in many cases (you can try, but you can also lost your warranty) – is’t only partial solution if we do not have much needs. I tried use Android software like ipBike, I tried with second phone with ANT+ (Xperia X8 Mini) and with iPhone but none of them can compete with sport devices. Finally I found that is the only way. Why Vivoactive? It’s sport device and something like smartwatch – I can use it on my daily usage and company work, I can use it on workouts. It’s waterproof, adapted to running, but compatible with cycling adapters and can be paired with Bluetooth and ANT+ devices. Something like all-in-one and with nice price. Garmin devices are expensive, this is one of the cheaper. But what with quality?
Look and feel
Let’s make a deal: if you prefer classic phones, Vivoactive is not for you. Square display and rubber bracelet aren’t classic and very chic. I like classics, but think this “modern look” it’s nice and fit to young, healthy man. It’s also much more comfortable than metal clocks in daily usage: lighter and easier to move. As I mentioned before, device is waterproof (5 ATM), must work when we swim up to 50 meters deep and build quality is very good. Display is protected by reinforced glass. No problems also on sport activity: everything is ok.
Usage is simple because we have only two buttons and there is touch screen display. No, it isn’t as fast as mobile phones, I must sometimes repeat move or touch, but it isn’t problem on sport device. One strange thing is squeaking while moving the bracelet. Not always, but sometimes and I think it’s not acceptable in device fur such a price. Mounting on bike is not hard: we can just mount clock on handlebar or use Garmin adapter. Second option means more cost but it’s more reliable. Back is plastic and has two charging connectors. Attached charger is not true charger: we can dock clock, but then must use USB and connect base to computer or for example mobile charger.
Garmin says, that Vivoactive can run up to 10 hours with active GPS tracking and 3 weeks like smartwartch without GPS activity. After month I can say, that real results are similar: about 8 hours with active Bluetooth, GPS + GLONASS, speed and cadence meter and hearth rate monitor is more than good. I use ANT+ connection and Mio sensors. We can extend this time by disabling GLONASS (it’s optional and can improve tracking accuracy) and disable sensors, but only on long-time free ride, not shorter workouts. Disadvantage is that we can’t charge Vivoactive during activity, using for example power bank. Yes, we can attach base and use it, but it works only moment. I can’t say too much about idle battery life, because I make workout 3+ times per week. There is pedometer but it doesn’t drain battery so we can always monitor our activity.
As I wrote in the beginning, Vivoactive is not only tracking device, but also smartwatch. It displays clock and has few preinstalled applications: running, swimming, cycling, walking and indoor variants of these activities. We can simply connect device to our Garmin account and remove and install other applications: for other activities, navigation, store car position etc. We can also change data fields on workout apps, change watch faces (style, information etc.) and install new widgets displayed as other screens. There are many apps on Garmin website and anyone can personalize device. I think is great, because we can find best watch for us, display information for other apps and use Vivoactive in many situations.
What about syncing? It’s simple, we can connect clock to computer, but also can use Bluetooth and mobile app on phone or tablet. Syncing is very fast and we can configure automatically sending results to few other services like Endomondo and Strava (yeah!). I hadn’t any issues with accuracy and sensors – it’s just work as expected and I think Garmin can solve many issues. It was good choice and I think it will allow me to expand capabilities and work good for my business – it’s not only sport device, but also nice clock. If you have any questions, just ask.
- long battery life (with sensors etc.)
- syncing with other devices
- it has many options
- personalization options
- can be used just like clock
- not elegant as classic clocks
- touchscreen may be better
- indoor display visibility is average
- strange noises from bracelet