Please note: there is an older version of the Garmin Vivoactive available! The Garmin Vivoactive (1st Gen).

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Garmin Vivoactive HR (Regular)


£22.79

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£149.99

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£149.99

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£198.99

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£199.99

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Garmin Vivoactive HR (XL)


£149.99

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£174.99

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£199.99

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Garmin have introduced the new Vivoactive HR, which is designed to add to the existing features in the original Vivoactive and address some of the issues with the original, like its style and its lag. And it comes with a built in optical heart rate monitor, too, which is well worth jumping up and down about.

 

Appearance

If you read my previous review of the Garmin Vivoactive (1st Gen.), you’ll know that I thought it was pretty Okay. Perfectly decent overall, but there were a few issues that, for me, stopped it from being great. The main concern I had was that it wasn’t exactly the most attractive activity tracker to ever hit the shelves. Don’t get us wrong, it’s not like it was hit with the ugly stick or anything, it was just a bit… off, maybe. A bit chunky, a bit clunky, generally cumbersome? I just couldn’t quite put my finger on it at the time.

But I’ve had my ‘aha!’ moment. The original Vivoactive and the Apple Watch were launched around the same time, which turned out to be a big mistake for Garmin. Garmin was a brand that was already big enough to stand on its own two feet, but even it got swept up in all the Apple excitement, creating a tracker that was attempting to replicate the look of the smartwatch. It just didn’t work. Now that the Apple excitement has died down, Garmin have given it another shot, and they’ve gone back to their own style. The Vivoactive HR is a little more sporty-looking. A bit like a bigger version of the Garmin Vivofit.

 

Vivoactive vs Vivoactive HR

These two models are a bit like fraternal twins; despite them looking completely different on the outside, they actually do share a lot of the same characteristics and personality on the inside. But there’s one massive difference that is definitely worth getting excited about: the integrated heart rate monitor.

This is something that was noticeably absent in the original Vivoactive, but I consoled ourselves with the fact that chest straps are typically much, much more accurate that an optical sensor. So the big question is, is it actually any good? Surprisingly, yes! Of course, I had to test it out, and I found that, on average, there was probably about a 2 bpm difference between the optical sensor and the chest strap which, for a non-professional, is more than accurate enough. I had a few concerns that using the monitor would drain the battery but I’ve still been getting around 5-7 days on average. Of course, if you use the GPS as well… Well, you’d be lucky to get 12 hours out the battery. GPS is a drainer!

 

Display

The Garmin Vivoactive HR has a 205 x 148 pixel, 28.6 x 20.7mm colour touchscreen display. Honestly, it’s not knocking my socks off, and it’s probably not knocking yours off either, but then you do have to remember that this isn’t a smartphone that happens to track activity. It’s an activity tracker that could be used for smartphone notifications if you wanted. The resolution is perfectly fine for displaying stats.

 

Price

Okay, so it’s a bit more expensive than your average activity tracker. It’s not ideal, but my perception of ‘normal’ is pretty screwed thanks to ‘standard’ trackers – trackers that do this, but not that. The Vivoactive HR is designed to be an all-rounder. Although I typically think of an all-rounder as being a jack of all trades, master of none, that doesn’t exactly ring true here. Yes, it’s a feature-dense tracker, but so far I haven’t found a single area where it feels like Garmin have thrown a sparkly hat on it and said ‘done’. Everything’s polished. They’ve even addressed that lag between starting an activity and starting the GPS – hurrah! When you look at it like this, the price isn’t all that bad. In fact, it’s actually a bit of a bargain!

What’s in the Box

  • Garmin Vivoactive HR GPS Smartwatch
  • Charging Data Clip
  • Quick Start Manual
  • Heart Rate Monitor (only with the HRM bundle)

Garmin Vivoactive HR
Design85%
Usability89%
Battery Life91%
Features91%
89%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (12 Votes)
46%