Garmin Vivoactive Review

Garmin Vivoactive Review
25 Jul
Garmin Vivo Active Review Smartwatch Panda

The Garmin Vivoactive HR GPS smartwatch encourages you to “Play harder, work smarter, live better”. The GPS allows you to monitor your Run, bike, swim, golf, ski and more with a smorgasbord of fitness functionality. Outside of your more active moments, you can receive smart notifications such as call, text, email, social media alerts and more. Or even Customise your watch with more than 1,300 apps, watch face designs, data fields and widgets from Garmin Connect IQ™ store.
Coming in at Garmin’s mid price range it is an excellent watch that is really a fitness masterpiece.

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The Garmin VivoActive's size and comfort is something which comes as paramount. It doesn't look like something strange on your wrist, which is so common in other fitness tracker smartwatches. You can wear it everywhere. You may need a day or two to play around with the strap (tighten and loosen to find the right strap adjustment) but once you find your groove it is very comfortable. It has a strap lock at the end, which is good to keep the watch securely on your wrist during activities. The size is excellent and sits comfortably on the arm. The ultra-thin, lightweight GPS smartwatch

The Garmin Vivoactive's screen is sunlight readable, high-resolution colour touchscreen. Other reviews have mentioned how the screen is not very bright. It uses the Kindle screen technology. The brightness adjusts according to the brightness of your environment. It is dim in a dark room and becomes very distinct and vibrant out in the sunshine, which makes it readable no matter what situation you find yourself in. But there's no doubt you will not be disappointed with the screen in bright sunlight, this is when the screen is at it's best. If you have your watch set to the brightness setting of 1, this is the optimum configuration. The touch screen is very responsive, and you have options to lock it during ‘Watch' or ‘Activity' mode.

Regular Band for a wrist circumference between 5.39 –7.68” / 137–195 mm
X-Large Band for a wrist circumference between 6.38–8.86” / 162–225 mm


Absolutely stuffed with features, this is a serious activity/training/sports smartwatch that is obsessed with delivering on its mission. The key Features are as follows:
– GPS smartwatch with a sunlight-readable, high-resolution colour touchscreen and has  rechargeable lithium ion batteries
-Built-in-GPS sport apps, running, cycling, golf, swimming and activity tracking
– Elevate wrist-based heart rate gives you heart rate all day and night – no additional strap required
– Receive smart notifications and smart coaching on your Vivo Active HR from Garmin Connect, when paired with your phone
– Sync with Garmin Connect app to upload activities. Rechargeable battery: 8 days (watch/activity tracking mode), 13 hours (GPS mode)

The GPS accuracy is very good, and the error of margin very very little. It takes around 15-20 seconds to start up. We tested the watch using the Endomondo App and Mapometer to test the accuracy of distance covered. The GPS has mapped runs accurately. When activating the running app the GPS notification on the screen appears red, don't start running until It turns green as only then has it locked on, the time to lock on has been very quick. There are many different activities where this GPS can be utilised.

Heart Rate
You get heart monitoring 24/7 and can monitor your resting heart rate constantly but you can also record your heart rate during activities which in turn gives better calorie burn statistics and also suffer scores in Strava etc. This is a positive addition to the watch, For some it could really make the decision to purchase the Garmin Vivoactive a no-brainer.
It keeps the heart rate monitoring without the drops that the charge has when you get sweaty and you can view your heart rate throughout the exercise without pressing any further buttons.

The Garmin VivoActive pairs with your smartphone to gently vibrate and display alerts for incoming calls, calendar items, emails, and texts plus notifications from social media and other mobile apps.  A really handy feature. We really like the screen being on all the time to see the time and your workout stats.
The amount of features and settings that can be tweaked might be a bit daunting and there can be multiple menus to navigate to find what you want. We recommend downloading the PDF manual from the Garmin Website .


There are apps aplenty with the Vivoactive. First up the Garmin Connect App: With any smartphone, it is a very simple, yet useful app to use. Creating a Garmin account takes about a minute and connection from the watch to the app is very straightforward. You can sync the app as often as you like if you want to. You can view your HR stats, sleep stats and so on much more in-depth on the app or on the Garmin Connect website. The Garmin Connect app appears to be very detailed and the phone syncs your activities quickly, it's early days and there's so much info to take in so there is a bit of a learning curve to understand all the different menus.

There are free downloads for customisable watch faces, stats widgets, and apps from Connect IQ, Garmin's 3rd-party app developer site. Using the IQ app you can upload numerous watch faces making it look different day to day. It's great fun to mess around with the look. One such watch face is the “Actiface”. It provides: battery life, date, time, steps, calories burned, max steps, distance moved and calories for the week. It's a great way to get a lot of info at a glance.

An example of some downloadable apps are:



with plenty of add-ons to the Garmin Connect App


The battery life is very good and has impressed with how quickly it charges to 100%. The rechargeable battery lasts through all your activities with up to 3 weeks in watch/activity-tracking mode or 10 hours using GPS. Garmin has come up with a top product that will meet the needs of a wide audience, varying from causal joggers to fitness professionals.


Comes with built-in running, cycling, golf, swimming and activity tracking apps that follow your progress.  The running feature tracks your pace, time and distance. The golfing feature allows you to download golf course maps from over 38,000 courses worldwide, measure shot distance and support individual scorecards. The cycling feature allows you to measure time, distance and speed. With the swimming feature, you can track distance, pace and stroke rate. The activity tracker counts your steps, calories burned and distance throughout the day. The Garmin Vivoactive has a similar feature to the Apple Watch, when you have been “inactive” for too long it alerts you to stand up and start moving – a pretty nifty alert if you are working in an office.
Sleep tracker: This is very accurate and tells you how well (and in some cases for me, not so well) you slept. As for the usability of the watch during exercise one great feature is that the screen swipes worked effortlessly in the water. The wet screen causing no problems at all, it measures strokes and swim distance and you can also have laps so you know if you've had a break or not.

There are Apps for almost every sport imaginable, including swimming, indoor rowing, and golf (it even has golf course maps) and an app store for the ones no-one has thought of yet
Garmin has come up with a top product that will meet the needs of a wide audience, varying from casual joggers to fitness professionals. The problem with many of the other fitness trackers is they don't track movements as well as this Garmin does. So you really get a good sense of how much physical activity you've been doing.

Out of the Box

  • Garmin VÎŻvoactive HR
  • Charging/data clip
  • Quick start manual

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What We Like

  • It's VERY easy to use
  • Always on display
  • Battery life is good
  • Loads of features
  • Light and comfortable
  • Fast GPS lock
  • Easy to read in direct sunlight
  • Size and shape viable as an every day watch

What Needs Improvement

  • This product is not compatible with smartphones with Windows OS and iPhone 4
  • Stairs: This is one aspect where it is not very accurate. It doesn't pick up sometimes when I go upstairs. It picks up approximately 2 out of 3 times. This will improve with development though

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