Garmin Vivomove HR first look: The hidden hybrid screen of our dreams

IFA 2017: Meet Garmin’s latest hybrid smartwatch
Garmin Vivomove HR first look

A watch with a hidden screen built into the watch face is not revolutionary in wearable tech terms, but no one has really nailed the concept. At least in our opinion.

HP has had a fair few attempts with the likes of the Hugo Boss Smart Classic and the Issac Mizrahi hybrid for women. The problem was, you could really tell there was a screen baked in, quickly breaking the illusion that they were nice-looking watches with those smart features. They've generally been pretty limited on the features front as well.

The Garmin Vivomove HR is a hybrid smartwatch with a touchscreen built into the face, but you definitely won't notice that it's there. The follow up to the Vivomove is still all about style but it's also about offering much more on the tracking side this time round.

Garmin Vivomove HR: For men and women

Garmin Vivomove HR first look: The screen-packing hybrid of our dreams

After catering mainly for men with last year's models, Garmin is now offering up more styles for men and women and it's nice to see that happen. There's now the Sport and the Premium models, the latter unsurprisingly being the more expensive.

The rose gold model, with a white strap, we got to play with is undeniably more female-focused but on all models you still get that lovely steel bezel to give it that luxury feel and you can switch between sporty and leather straps.

Garmin Vivomove HR first look: The screen-packing hybrid of our dreams

We also had a look at the silver tone finish with a brown leather strap; all four of the combo's on show look pretty classy. The watch faces also differ when it comes to the indices around the edge of the dial - dots or lines. Check out the box out for Sophie's opinions on the potential of this design and screen when it comes to wooing women.

The Vivomove did have the look and feel of a very generic traditional watch, but Garmin has definitely stepped this up a gear for the HR, this is now almost identical to a classic watch. Speaking of heart rate, there is now the addition of an optical heart rate sensor around the back, but this hybrid remains sleek, comfortable to wear and by no means bulky.

Garmin Vivomove HR: That screen

Garmin Vivomove HR first look: The screen-packing hybrid of our dreams

That brings us to the touchscreen, which remains off and only wakes up when you want to check in on your info. It's situated at the bottom of the watch face and to wake it up you'll need to give the screen a little tap and then you can swipe left to scroll through to see things like step counts, stairs climbed, stress scores and resting heart rate.

It's a really thoughtful combination of text and minimalist icons that makes the most of the space and is actually glanceable, unlike more complicated set ups. And once you've stopped swiping, after a few second the screen will disappear and the watch face will look non connected again.

If you're worried about those watch hands getting in the way, they dynamically move up to the top half of the watch face freeing up the screen below. While at times it can take a couple of taps to wake up the screen, generally it worked a treat. It's a really slick way of integrating a touchscreen without breaking up the watch design.

Garmin Vivomove HR: A fitness boost

Garmin Vivomove HR first look: The screen-packing hybrid of our dreams

With last year's Vivomove, you could count steps, get estimate calorie burn, monitor sleep patterns and there was a built-in accelerometer to track distance for indoor workouts. On the watch itself you had the two progress bars either side of the watch face to indicate inactivity and step count progress. Many of those features are still in tact, but crucially you can now see more of that data on the watch itself.

You can even hook it up with Garmin's Virb action camera. Garmin has made a concerted push to include as many of its new features (dedicated sports modes and VO2 Max tests) across all of its devices and with less room to play with than the Vivoactive 3 or the Vivosport, it has achieved that.

Garmin Vivomove HR
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As a result of the added smarts there are some elements that have been sacrificed, mainly in the battery department. While the Vivomove was powered by a pretty standard coin cell battery to give you year long battery life, you now get five days in smart mode and two weeks in watch mode. It's still a pretty good showing, but it does now mean keeping hold of a proprietary charger, which we think everyone will agree is disappointing.

Early verdict

On the whole though, the Vivomove HR makes a more compelling argument than the Vivomove that this is a hybrid smartwatch you need in your life. The design options are better, the tracking features have more than gone up a notch and we love the way that touchscreen has been added into the mix. At $200 for the regular watch, or $300 for the Premium model, there's a lot to like about the Vivomove HR and we can't wait to spend a lot more time with it.

Shop for stylish hybrid smartwatches on Amazon

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  • ArnauVia says:

    Isn't it too big for a woman wrist? I've been trying to find a smartwatch for my wife with a correct size for a long time. The only reasonable option size-wise was pebble round, but after fitbit acquisition I discard it. 


    • s.charara says:

      The second image down shows it on my wrist - I don't have the daintiest of wrists but I too am yet to see something match the size and comfort of the Pebble Time Round. When we review this fully, we'll make sure to post more pics of the Vivomove HR on my wrist. Re the Time Round, if you look at efforts of Rebble etc to keep the app store alive, it might still be worth purchasing

  • burt says:

    Just add GPS and take my money.   

  • Pw1 says:

    Just what I have been asking for for round 5 years. If this had android wear I would snap it up. 

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