Garmin Vivosmart HR: Nearly the perfect fitness tracker

The Vivosmart HR gets a design overhaul from its predecessor and looks sleek and unobtrusive.
The Vivosmart HR gets a design overhaul from its predecessor and looks sleek and unobtrusive.PHOTO: GARMIN

The Garmin Vivosmart HR succeeds last year's Vivosmart. And as its name implies, the new fitness tracker comes with a built-in heart rate monitor that tracks your heart rate all day.

This HR version also gets a design overhaul. It comes in black and looks like a slimmer Microsoft Band 2.

The Vivosmart HR has a 160x68-pixel touchscreen that has an always-on display with backlight. A single button sits just below the display. It looks sleek and unobtrusive.

It comes with a watch-like clasp that provides a secure fit on the wrist. Two strap sizes are available - regular (version tested) and extra large.

You activate the backlight by tapping or covering the screen with your hand. The default screen shows the time and date, so it doubles as a watch too.


  • PRICE: $229

    MATERIAL: Rubber wristband


    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth 4.0

    WEIGHT: 30g (regular size)


  • FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5




    OVERALL: 4/5

Swipe on the display to cycle through different status panels that show date and time, heart rate, distance travelled, steps taken, flights of stairs climbed and calories burned. Pressing the button takes you to another menu, which lets you cycle through options such as run, sync and settings.

The Vivosmart HR is waterresistant to 50m.

Like all Garmin fitness trackers, it has a Move bar. Once the Move bar is filled, it will alert you with an on-screen flash and vibration to get you moving.

It sets your daily step target based on your previous day's effort. So, if you hit 6,000 steps today when your target is 7,500, it will set tomorrow's target at 7,000.

The original Vivosmart tended to be over-generous when tracking your steps, but not so the Vivosmart HR. Its readings closely matched my calibrated Fitbit Charge HR, differing by no more than 3 per cent in terms of steps tracking.

The heart rate monitor shows the resting heart rate as well as average heart rate for the day. The readings also did not differ much from my Fitbit's readings.

Unlike its predecessor that requires you to set it to sleep mode, the Vivosmart HR automatically detects and tracks your sleep. It shows how long you are in deep and light sleep, as well as the time and duration you are awake.

The sleep pattern results I got were similar to what I got with the Fitbit Charge HR. However, the Vivosmart HR does fall short in one aspect: Whenever I place it on the table, it would assume that I am sleeping deeply.

The battery life is as good as advertised - five days when connected to a smartphone.

Trevor Tan

• Verdict: After releasing a series of fitness trackers, Garmin finally got everything right with the Vivosmart HR with a built-in heart rate monitor and accurate daily physical activity tracking.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2016, with the headline 'Wearables Garmin Vivosmart HR: Nearly the perfect fitness tracker'. Print Edition | Subscribe