Garmin Vivosport first look: Bringing the GPS action back to your fitness tracker

IFA 2017: Hands on with the Vivosmart HR+ successor
Garmin Vivosport first look

Despite Garmin reporting struggles with its fitness trackers in a recent earnings report, that hasn't stopped it from releasing the new Vivosport — a true successor to the Vivosmart HR+.

When the fitness giant unveiled the Vivosmart 3 earlier this year, it did so without an in-built GPS. Thankfully, after wondering whether the feature would be reserved for the higher end of the Garmin stable, it makes a return through the slightly more colourful Vivosport range.

Read this: The best fitness trackers

As its name indicates, this is Garmin taking a step back towards being a fitness focused tracker, while wellness features are reserved for its siblings. But how does it feel on the wrist? Well, read on for our early thoughts on the Garmin Vivosport.

Garmin Vivosport: Design

Garmin Vivosport first look: Bringing GPS back to the fitness trackers

When put side by side, the key difference between the Vivosport and Vivosmart 3 is the screen. It's not the kind of stunning display you could expect from the likes of Samsung, but the always-on colour screen is, in our book, a stronger alternative to the disguised strip running on the Vivosmart 3.

When we tested the latter, we had to battle to cycle through screens in some conditions. And though this is never ideal regardless of what screen type you're dealing with, we anticipate it's less of a hassle with this small, responsive window.

Aside from this aspect, and the fact you can choose between a lime, fuchsia or slate underside on the black band, this is a very similar strap and overall design to the Vivosmart 3. It's comfy to wear, thin and does feel light on the wrist — this isn't a device that's taking up a lot of real estate and getting in your way.

Garmin Vivosport first look: Bringing GPS back to the fitness trackers

However, something to be aware of is the sizing. While the slate version comes in small, medium and large, the lime variant only comes in large and the fuchsia in small. This would appear to be a move to appeal to different genders, though I did manage to squeeze on the fuchsia band onto the last couple of strap holes — something to keep in mind if you're desperate to pick up a certain colour.

All in all, this is prototypical Garmin - it ticks the design box but doesn't do so with a whole lot of flair. If you're looking for a nicer screen to work from or fancy the ability to change your bands up for different occasions, you're best to look elsewhere.

Garmin Vivosport: Features

Garmin Vivosport first look: Bringing GPS back to the fitness trackers

It goes without saying that the biggest feature here is the in-built GPS, but that really just opens the door up to the rest of the action packed inside Garmin's latest tracker, and also takes a shot at its rivals.

Not only can you leave the phone behind, but you can do so with Garmin's Elevate heart rate monitor also in tow for those extra HR metrics and stress tracking. And if you're the sporty kind, cycling, cardio and strength training are all covered. The standard fitness tracking features include Move IQ support, while swimmers are catered for with waterproof support.

As you might expect from a fitness tracker with a screen, notifications and music control is involved, too. In our brief play around with the device, this felt a little finicky due to the small nature of the screen. It's manageable, and the screen itself doesn't sell you short in terms of responsiveness, but we just wonder how much the size will become a hindrance when your hands are sweaty from a run, when you've taken a dip in the pool or if you simply have big hands.

We can't yet speak to the Garmin's claim that the Vivosport's battery life will keep things running for a week in standard mode and eight hours in GPS mode, but we look forward to testing it out and also the accuracy of everything from its standard tracking metrics to the dedicated sports modes.

Garmin Vivosport: Early verdict

Garmin Vivosport first look: Bringing GPS back to the fitness trackers

With Garmin once again adding to its army of wrist devices, making a decision between the pack is becoming increasingly difficult. However, we suspect the inclusion of GPS will see many opting for the device over the Vivosmart 3. And while the screen is far from perfect, we prefer to see it included over an alternative design.

Aside from competing with its own crop, this is certainly a device that will give prospective Fitbit punters and sporty types something to think about thanks to its feature-heavy spec sheet.

1 Comment

  • Nopemeansnope says:

    considering the downsized screen, I'm struggling to see what the extra $50 over the Vivosmart HR+ is actually getting me.  VO2 max and rep counting?  

    This doesn't seem like a good value.

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