Garmin's vivoactive HR gets heart rate monitoring and a makeover
When we reviewed the Garmin vivoactive last year, our biggest complaints were the lack of heart rate monitoring and dubious styling. It looks like Garmin was listening, as the firm has now announced the vivoactive HR, an updated model which adds heart rate monitoring, and gives the device a much-needed makeover. Garmin also announced the vivofit 3 tracker which pairs year-long battery life and a backlit display.
Garmin vivoactive HR
As with its predecessor, the vivoactive HR is an all day activity tracker with an impressive array of specs. It has a touchscreen display, built-in GPS, and some smartwatch functions. However, this time around the headline attraction is the addition of the Elevate wrist-based heart rate monitoring technology we've seen deployed on other Garmin wearables like the Forerunner 235 and Fenix 3 HR.
This lets the vivoactive HR use heart rate data to calculate calories burned information as well as the intensity of fitness activities. The device can also log steps, floors climbed, intensity minutes and sleep quality, while built-in GPS-enabled apps are available for walking, running, biking, swimming, golfing, paddle boarding, rowing, skiing and snowboarding.
A redesign of the tracker sees it looking considerably sleeker than its predecessor, though you probably still won't want to wear it to the office. The bezel around the sunlight-readable color touchscreen has been significantly slimmed down, and there are two physical buttons below the narrower screen. However, with Move IQ, users won't even need to press a button to track running, biking, swimming and elliptical training, which can all be automatically recognized.
The screen can be used to display information about recent exercises, daily exercise totals and progress towards goals and heart rate information, as well as to navigate menus, select workouts or tell the time. Compatibility with the Connect IQ store lets users customize the look of their tracker by installing watch face designs, widgets and apps.
Pairing the vivoactive HR with a smartphone via Bluetooth will sync your activity information with Garmin Connect app, where you can check on your progress and receive smart coaching. Smartphone notifications also let users check things like calls, text messages, emails and calendar notifications on the wrist.
Battery life will depend on which features you are using, but Garmin suggests you'll get up to eight days' battery life in watch/activity tracking mode, or up to 13 hours when using GPS. While the sensors inside the vivoactive HR should do a good job of tracking your general activity and sporting endeavors, the device can also be paired with ANT+ sensors such as a bike cadence sensor.
Garmin vivofit 3
For those looking for a simpler activity tracker, Garmin also announced the vivofit 3 which is, again, an arguably more stylish option than its vivofit predecessors. Key features of the new model are its one-year battery, backlit display, water resistance, and interchangeable accessory bands which will be available in a number of colors and styles.
Another gain for the vivofit 3 is the addition of Move IQ auto activity detection, which means even forgetful exercisers will get credit for their activities. The small backlit display will now also display daily progress with the Garmin Move bar as well as steps, calories, distance, intensity minutes and time of day.
The tracker can also give you audible inactivity alert reminders, and it's water resistant to 50 meters. As you'd expect, it pairs with the Garmin Connect app which, in addition to tracking and presenting your exercise information, also gives more meaningful insights based on that data than some rival apps.
The vivoactive HR and vivofit 3 are both due to ship in Q2 of 2016. The vivoactive HR will set you back US$250, while the vivofit 3 will be priced from $100 to $120 depending on the band.
You can check out a promo video for the vivoactive HR below.