Garmin Vivoactive Review – a smarter GPS
I have to admit that I was fully on the Apple watch train. I bought my ticket, took my seat, and was ready to go until I heard that we wouldn’t know where we were going because it did not have GPS capabilities until the conductor brought his iPhone along.
I was bummed to say the least.
I thought that watch would be the answer to all my problems and free me from my heavy armband that contained the bane of my running existence – my iPhone. Alas no luck. For runners, this is a major flaw.
Down in the dumps after my too early apple watch excitement, I went for a run with my cousin Bekah and we were back at Mill City Running (her store) checking out the new garb when what looked like an apple watch caught the corner of my eye. Her employee was checking it out and mentioned that Garmin had done a great job with this one….
I spent the next couple minutes trying on the watch and ogling the box and just like that I granted myself permission to buy myself a mothers day gift. $250 later ($100 less than the Apple watch) I was the proud owner of a Garmin Vivoactive.
What is the Garmin Vivoactive?
I am not a watch person by nature. I only wear one when I run. The Garmin Vivoactive watch was different. I couldn’t take it off; it was like it was meant to be there.
It looks similar Apple watch – a simple flat touch screen face and comfortable, interchangeable (multi-colors) rubber band. It is very lightweight and extremely user friendly. It also has a GPS!
What It Does
From the home screen you can swipe left to reveal all your recent texts, emails, and other notifications. It also give a gentle vibration when a new one arrives. You can swipe left again to see your calendar, the weather, and your steps for the day, and even play music on your phone from the watch.
There are many “widgets” for the home screen that you can download from Garmin’s website or the Garmin app on your phone. Don’t expect an Apple like app store, but it has some good ones for those living an active lifestyle. I added a battery meter and changed the color and look of the clock, but that is the tip of the iceberg.
Speaking of battery, this baby gets up to three weeks of battery life when not in GPS mode, and 10 hours when in GPS mode… that is pretty incredible. The charging station is simple and magnetic. I have not truly tested the battery as I plug the watch in every night along with my phone.
Once you press the button on the right, the watch quickly reveals the many activities that it can help you track:
- indoor walking
- indoor running
- indoor biking
- show you your history
- and even help you find your phone
All of these seems pretty common, for golf. Apparently you can download over 38,000 golf courses worldwide and it measures layup and dogleg distances, as well as distances to the front, middle and back of the green, to improve usability over the entire hole – plus a whole bunch more, I am not even a golfer and this makes me geek out!
It also has a heart rate monitor, which I have not used. The band for the heart rate monitor is made from a flexible spandex fabric that stretches and moves with you. Once you are wearing it, the vivoactive automatically connects to it and you begin tracking. It wirelessly transmits heart rate to your device for feedback on how hard you are working. It’s a great addition to the fitness tracker half of the vivoactive.
How Does it Work for Running?
I am is a runner, and this thing is awesome for that. One big deal to me is how long it takes for the watch to connect to GPS. We all have been there, you are ready to go, itching to start and your darn watch cant find a signal. So you wait and lose your motivation.
When you want to go for a run you want to go now and those minutes waiting to connect seem like hours. This is no longer an issue with the Garmin Vivoactive. The watch connects in about six seconds – the fastest connection I have ever seen.
I headed out and the watch cycled through my combined pace, current lap pace, distance, lap distance, and timer. My one complaint about the watch when in GPS mode is that there is no way to check what time it is. This is not a big deal but sometimes I do need to know the time and others I just don’t want to keep looking at my pace or distance and so I switch over to the time face.
How It Feels
While running, I barely noticed the watch. It is comfortable and super lightweight. I ran with my phone (which I never do) for comparison with the mapmyrun app and in the end they were a little off but I honestly do not know which is more accurate. The watch said I went 4 miles at an 8:15 minute/mile pace, and the phone app said I went 4.11 miles at an 8:02 minute/mile pace. Either way I think the watch is close enough for me and I loved how light it was.
The only downfalls I have noticed about the watch are few and far between, and definitely not a big enough deal for me to get rid of it.
- At times, the display can be a little hard to see indoors but honestly is not that big of a deal.
- If you get too far from your phone you lose connection and no longer get the text and email notifications but truthfully that is not that often and I didn’t buy it for that reason.
Other than that I am in love and it kind of shocks me.
Other Wearable Technology
I have to tell you that I know my last watch review was a bust (literally, the company went under a few months after) but this watch is legit. I never thought I was one of those people who needed to get their texts on their wrists, but I am secretly loving it. It has released me from checking my phone as often and the gentle vibration is so simple that those around me haven’t even noticed when I check it.
I always thought there were two kinds of people in the world, watch wearers and non-watch wearers. For my entire life I was in the second camp (even when my husband bought me a Tiffany’s watch). Garmin may have converted me with this one. It is a game changer.
I realize as I write this that the coveted Apple watch isn’t out yet and I am sure it will be awesome but until they put GPS in that darn thing and waterproof it, I am sticking with my Garmin vivoactive.