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Published on September 29th, 2015 | by admin


Garmin Vivoactive® SmartWatch Review

The Internet of Things (IoT) is all the rage in the tech world these days. IoT specifies devices and objects that connect to the web and includes everything from T-shirts, to rings, and of course, smartwatches. Since the release of the Apple Watch earlier this year every technology company has been rushing to spit out a smartwatch that can compete. Think the Garmin Forerunner, and the Fitbit devices that are so popular.

vivoactive smartwatch display data screens

Now, with an aim to make a more affordable smartwatch with GPS capabilities, Garmin has released the Vivoactive watch. Like most other smartwatches, the primary use of the device is to track fitness, which makes it applicable for road cyclists and triathletes alike. However, unlike most of the competition, Vivoactive has a built-in GPS that tracks location and is compatible with other Garmin devices.

 The Garmin Way

 Garmin is definitely an athlete first type of company. They have been committed to enhancing the active lifestyle of people everywhere for over a decade and the Vivoactive smartwatch is a continuation of that tradition. Although some tech savvy Apple lovers will dispute the components and external beauty of Vivoactive, athletes will find the application of the smartwatch to be spot on.

The Vivoactive was specifically produced to be a daily companion, not simply a workout watch. Garmin emphasizes the ability of the watch to transition from the office to the bike saddle to the golf course seamlessly, tracking your activity throughout your daily life. The metrics include steps taken and calories burned and the watch encourages you to accomplish your daily fitness goal with periodic notifications.


For the all-around athlete, the Garmin Vivoactive is pre-loaded with sports apps for running, biking, swimming, golfing, and walking. It features a high-resolution screen that is visible in sunlight that makes it perfect for outdoor activities. And while you are away from work or home, the watch syncs to your phone to provide communication alerts. Light and comfortable, Vivoactive weighs less than 40 grams in total and is only 8 mm thick.

Advantages for Cyclists

 There are all sorts of computers, devices, and expensive pieces of specific technology meant to improve the ride. The problem is that the sheer quantity and expense of these products is intimidating and confusing. Vivoactive offers a simple and useful alternative to power meters and cyclocomputers at a much lower price point.


Retailing for $250 on the Garmin website, Vivoactive is a no nonsense smartwatch. It has the ability to track the most important stats for a cyclist, among them time, speed, distance, and calories burned. The watch is also compatible with Garmin heart rate monitors, although it does not have heart monitoring capabilities on its own. For recreational cyclists and commuters who want to track their stats and progress, but don’t require a $500 cyclocomputer, the Vivoactive is a great option.


In addition to being compatible with external heart rate monitors, the Vivoactive can pair with a number of other Garmin products including cadence and bike speed sensors, to report the data instantly to your wrist. Also, the GPS tracks and records your route maps for viewing at a later dat. After rides, a data recap is sent to the Garmin Connect App, and can be viewed on a smartphone or uploaded to the internet. For those who use other sports Apps such as Strava I can report the Vivoactive is 100% compatible. During testing of the device, I had no problems adding activities from the Vivoactive by Bluetooth (via my phone) and indeed direct from my Laptop via USB.


Another cool feature of the Vivoactive that sets it apart from a lot of other watches is the incorporated accelerometer. This feature allows the watch to be used on a treadmill whilst running or walking without the use of a Garmin foot pod. By simply selecting an indoor walk / run from the options the Vivoactive gives remarkable accurate pace and distance data which I found very impressive.


But wait; there is another great feature of this device. On those clear, sunny days when the road calls you, the Garmin Vivoactive smartwatch will keep you updated on what is happening in the world around you. It can receive all the notifications and messages that you receive on other Bluetooth-enabled devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.) and the watch will vibrate on your wrist with every alert to notify you, so you don’t miss an important text or email. These include text messages, e-mail alerts, missed calls, and Facebook and Twitter messages although you must still have your phone within range of the watch.

Applications for Other Sports

 Vivoactive applies equally well to running and swimming as it does to cycling. For runners, the smartwatch records time, pace, heart rate and distance as well as calories burned. At completion of a run, the watch will report and log your performance. This feature allows you to view stats such as longest run or fastest run to date plus of course you can update your workout to 3rd party apps such as Strava for even greater analysis.


In the pool, Vivoactive is waterproof and tracks a number of key metrics: distance, interval distance, interval time, calories burned, stroke count, and strokes per length included. Again, as with the running app, the swim-specific app records your daily performance at the completion of each workout.

vivoactive swimming app

Finally, if you are a golfer, the Vivoactive acts as a range finder while tracking your steps around the course. When synced with a smartphone, golf course maps can be downloaded to the watch. Measurements during play include distance to the front and back or the green, distance to the hole and strokes to par.

vivoactive golf display screens

There are some other fun features of the Vivoactive apart from athletic performance. Those include a customizable background and personalized apps which are available for download from Garmin Connect IQ. The watch is available in white or black with optional leather bands to heighten the style factor. Finally, with a battery life of up to 3 weeks, or 10 hours of GPS use, the watch is able to stand up to days of continuous activity.


Garmin’s Vivoactive smartwatch might not be the most advanced item on the market, but it isn’t supposed to be. The Vivoactive is a solid watch with diverse application and a wide array of data calculating abilities. For cyclists and other athletes looking for a fitness monitor at an affordable price that is compatible with other devices, the Garmin Vivoactive is a qualified candidate.


I have been testing the watch for the last couple of weeks and I am indeed very impressed. To complement my cycling I have just started running and have found the Vivoactive to be superb. I especially like the treadmill run option which does give me accurate distance and pace data without any additional devices. I also like the built-in activity tracker which records my steps although I have notice this has a bug which also for some reason records my cycling as steps.

Garmin Connect IQ

One of the great features though of the watch is the use of apps that are available for free at the Garmin Connect IQ website. I firmly believe that we are seeing the start of a revolution in regards to sports tracking devices which a strong shift to app based devices.

vivoactive connect iq apps

For example, in regards to the Vivoactive you can easily change any of the data screens simply by downloading apps. You can change the actual watch face or any of the data screens in seconds so you can tailor the watch to your exact requirements.


You can even download an app for the C25K (couch to 5k) running training program which I have found very useful. Over the next year or so I believe app based devices will rule the roost so it is a smart move indeed by Garmin to get in on the action.

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