Back to the actual device the Garmin Vivosmart is obviously an activity tracker so it does all of the usual by tracking steps, distance, calories burned, etc. The Vivosmart also tracks sleep and can track activities such as running or cycling. Activity tracking is taken a step further with built in support for ANT+ heart rate monitors and bike speed sensors. So while you are running or cycling the Vivosmart can read, display, and record your heart rate and speed on the bike. It also measures distance while running using the internal accelerometer. So the Vivosmart is definitely a step, or 2, ahead of much of the market segment when it comes to fitness targeted activity trackers.
The big new feature for the Vivosmart as I mentioned earlier is the inclusion of smart notifications from a paired smartphone on the Vivosmart. So this means whenever you get a text message or someone like your most recent Instagram post the Vivosmart will let you know with an onscreen alert. The Vivosmart also has a vibrate motor so the device will vibrate as well which can be toggled on or off directly on the Vivosmart. The smart notifications are all run through the notifications center on your smartphone. So on my iPhone whatever alerts show up in my notification center show up on the Vivosmart. This is both good and bad although I would argue way more good. On the good side you can completely customize what notifications you receive and the iPhone supports a metric crap ton of different notifications. Literally almost every app supports notifications versus a closed Garmin system that would have no where near the breadth of support for different types of notifications. The bad part to me is that although I do receive the notification on my iPhone that doesn't necessarily make it pressing enough to push to my wrist. Yeah it is nice to know who has liked my most recent post but not important enough to push it aggressively to my wrist; it can wait until I have time to check my phone. At the end of the day there is always the option to reconfigure what notifications I receive period but it would be cool to be able to create a two-tier system although it is kind of nitpicky.
Size wise the Vivosmart is tiny! Similar in form to the polar loop but much smaller in every way. The screen is touch compatible and awakens with a double tap. From there it is sliding, taping, and holding to navigate the screens. It has already become second nature in less than a full day of usage! Sleep and activity tracking have to be manually activated in the settings menu of the Vivosmart. Continuing with the LCD screen the brightness is adjustable on the device but also supports auto-adjust depending on the brightness of the surrounds. The screen has a bit of a fuzzy look which reminds me a lot of the Withings Pulse although the Vivosmart does retain serious waterproofing as it is good down to 50 meters. So I think you are okay to swim with it. The battery is rechargeable via the included proprietary USB cable with the Vivosmart getting roughly seven days per charge.
One feature I do like of the Vivosmart is the variable step goal. Rather than having a static 10,000 step goal every day the Vivosmart and the companion Garmin Connect app/site increase/decrease the goal from day to day depending on the previous day. So if you do a 10k one day the subsequent day your step goal will be higher although it only changes marginally so one day won't kill you the next. I find the concept pretty interesting and possibly more motivational than crushing the same goal over and over again. Also there is a "you're being lazy meter" or a lack of movement bar that basically runs a clock on how long you haven't moved. Once it fills up the Vivosmart goes off and tells you to move some to reset the bar. I am all for additional features that make activity trackers more motivational rather than just glorified pedometers!
I will be testing the Vivosmart here for a little while before publishing my detailed review. So in the meantime if you have any burning questions about the device feel free to comment or visit Garmin's Vivosmart site.
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