Wearables

Garmin Vivomove HR a fitness tracker in disguise

The Garmin Vivomove HR fitness tracker looks like a conventional timepiece at first glance.
The Garmin Vivomove HR fitness tracker looks like a conventional timepiece at first glance.

Fitness trackers tend not to appeal to the fashion-conscious, especially when most of them look alike - small screens slapped onto a rubber wristband.

The Garmin Vivomove HR is trying to change that. At first glance, the Vivomove HR looks like a conventional timepiece. It has a round face with analogue-style minute and hour hands.

But raise your wrist or tap the bottom of the watch face and a monochrome display (128x64 pixels) lights up.

Swiping across this tiny screen lets one toggle through panels showing information such as steps taken, floors climbed, calories burnt, weather, heart rate summary and other notifications.

When the user is swiping, the hour and minute hands will automatically move to the 10 o'clock and two o'clock position respectively to get out of the way of the display. It is a nice touch.

The functions are not compromised. It is equipped with a barometric altimeter and accelerometer to track daily physical activities such as steps taken, calories burnt and sleep. It also comes with a built-in heart rate monitor that tracks heart rate all day as well as measures stress level.

The Vivomove HR comes in two versions - Sport and Premium. The Sport version is lighter with a polymer-resin watch case. It is available in black with a black silicone watch band and rose gold with a white silicone watch band.

  • TECH SPECS 

    PRICE: $299 (Sport), $449 (Premium; version tested)

    WATER RESISTANCE: 50m

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth

    WEIGHT: 40.8g (Sport), 56.5g (Premium)

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The Premium version is heavier, with a stainless steel watch case, but it looks sleeker and more elegant.

It comes in silver with dark brown leather watch band (version tested) and gold with a light brown leather watch band. This will not look out of place at wedding dinners or black-tie events.

Plus, one can easily change the straps of both versions as the watches are compatible with off-the-shelf 20mm straps.

The small size of the screen that allows the Vivomove HR to look like a normal watch does have some drawbacks though.

Its size makes it difficult to swipe and tap, especially when that is the only way to control the watch. The watch does not have physical buttons.

And while the Vivomove HR can display notifications when paired with a smartphone, the words are usually too small to be read clearly.

Like all Garmin fitness trackers, the Vivomove HR automatically adjusts the daily-step goal for the next day based on the user's current day's performance so he can have a more achievable target.

In terms of accuracy, the Vivomove HR tends to give a step count nearly 10 per cent higher than my Apple Watch Series 3.

The Vivomove HR does not come with GPS and is thus not ideal for tracking runs.

I ran with it on my usual 5km jogging route and found it recorded as a 5.8km jog.

It is also not very accurate in terms of sleep tracking. It overestimate my sleep duration by an hour at times.

The watch's waterproofing means it can survive a swim, but it does not support swim tracking.

Battery life is not bad at around five days as a smartwatch. But you can still use it as a "dumb" watch for another week thereafter.

• Verdict: If users want fitness tracking without looking like they are wearing a fitness tracker, they could consider the Garmin Vivomove HR.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 07, 2018, with the headline 'Garmin Vivomove HR a fitness tracker in disguise'. Print Edition | Subscribe