In this post
- Garmin Venu
- Main features of the Garmin Venu
- That's the Garmin Venu
- Garmin Venu as a smart watch
- Setting up and sports
- The new features of the Garmin Venu
- Training sessions at Garmin Venu
- Optical pulse sensor and Pulse Ox
- GPS Performance
- Buy Garmin Venu
- Opinion Garmin Venu
The 2019 renewal of the Vivoactive range came with the added surprise of Garmin VenuThis is a model that was not expected, which does not mean that it is something strange in the Garmin range.
Garmin presented together with the Vivoactive 4 and 4S, este Venu como una opción «premium» dentro de su gama. A la hora de la verdad la única diferencia que hay entre el Vivoactive 4 y el Venu es la pantalla AMOLED de este último (y la diferencia de tamaños en los que se ofrece), pero todo lo demás es lo mismo.
The Venu therefore stands out for being the first Garmin watch to use a display of this type (and clearly will not be the last), and no longer for the other intelligent clock possibilities such as music playback or wireless payments, which are increasingly common in the American manufacturer's models.
I've been using the Garmin Venu on one wrist every day for a few weeks now, along with the Apple Watch Series 5 on the other, so I've been able to make a good comparison of what both models offer as a smart watch, but mainly as a GPS watch for sports (which is what you're interested in at the end if you're reading this page).
This test unit has been temporarily loaned by Garmin and, once the analysis has been completed, it will be sent back. I want this to be clear because there is no compensation of any kind from Garmin, the test is totally independent. The analyses I carry out are always performed with the utmost objectivity and as impartially as possible.
If you like this review and find it useful in deciding to buy your next GPS watch, please use the links on this page (well, you can buy that GPS watch you want or anything else, anything goes). You won't pay more than it's worth, but the seller returns a small percentage which helps to cover the cost of hosting the site and, obviously, my work. Or you can become a VIP member..
- The AMOLED screen is a joy used to the typical transflective screen
- Compared to other smart watches, it is much more complete in terms of sports performance
- High autonomy despite full colour display
- Music playback including syncing with Spotify
- The user interface is quite far from what we would expect from a smart clock
- Para ser una propuesta «premium» el contar sólo con pulseras de silicona es algo limitado
- It brings nothing that the Vivoactive 4 does not have, beyond the most eye-catching screen
- There are still a few software bugs that Garmin has to work out that I didn't notice in the Vivoactive 4
Main features of the Garmin Venu
The new features of the Garmin Venu are practically the same as those of the Vivoactive 4Not for nothing is the clock based on these models with the change of technology used in the display.
- AMOLED screen for the first time in Garmin, which until now had always relied on transflective technology. 390×390 pixel resolution
- Display mode always on, despite being an AMOLED display. Displays basic information
- Clock dials with movement and colours
- Sony GNSS chipset (like all the rest of the Garmin and other manufacturers' range)
- Optical heart rate sensor Garmin Elevate v3 with Pulse Ox (pulse oximetry to identify the different phases of sleep)
- Size from 43mmTherefore, it is located between the Vivoactive 4 (45mm) and the Vivoactive 4S (40mm)
- Two buttons I emphasize this because the Vivoactive 3 only had one button
- 20mm wide silicone strap, with Quick Release system
- The AMOLED screen is of course touch-sensitive (as it is a smart clock), but there are also two buttons control
- Music playback, Both synchronized from your computer and from streaming platforms, highlighting Spotify and Amazon MusicThe memory capacity is 4GB
- Wireless NFC payments with Garmin Pay
- WiFi connection for synchronization and download
- Two new sport profiles: yoga and pilates
- Training sessions It is the main novelty of the Venu (as well as the Vivoactive 4), which brings a series of exercises directly in memory, but it will be possible to extend them by downloading from Garmin Connect. The exercises will be for cardio, strength, yoga and Pilates training
- Body Battery showing the remaining energy and recharge with rest.
- It adds the possibility of doing menstrual cycle monitoring It was previously available through the application, but now you will also see on the clock screen
- Hydration monitoring to keep track of the fluid you've been taking throughout the day
- Estimated sweat loss after training
- Breath tracking. In addition to being recorded in the Yoga profile workouts it is a function that will also be available 24 hours a day, helping to monitor the quality of sleep as well
- Incident detectionThe watch will send a message asking for help to the contacts you have programmed in advance. The watch does not have a LTE connection, so you need to carry the phone with you as it will be in charge of the communication. It can be activated automatically (if it detects a fall or similar), or manually if you find yourself in a difficult situation
Es decir, son las mismas novedades que Garmin introdujo con el Vivoactive 4, pero en un teórico paquete más «premium» debido a su pantalla AMOLED de alto contraste y que tiene la posibilidad de permanecer siempre encendida. Pero aparte de eso no presenta ninguna otra mejora (o «peora») con respecto al modelo del que parte.
The price difference (official price) between the Venu and the Vivoactive 4 varies quite a bit depending on the finish and size.
The 40mm Vivoactive 4S costs between £279 and £299, depending on the colour of the bevel finish, while the Vivoactive 4 (45mm) costs between £299 and £329.
The Garmin Venu costs between £349 with a polished aluminium bezel or £379 for options with a black or gold bezel.
So we have a surcharge on the Vivoactive 4 of £50, which is the price that would allow us to enjoy the AMOLED screen in full colour.
That's the Garmin Venu
Unlike the Vivoactive 4 and 4s, the Venu is offered in one size only, which is exactly between the two sizes of the Vivoactive 4. This way Garmin gets none of the models to step on its brother and you can find the size that best fits what you are looking for or your wrist supports:
- Garmin Vivoactive 4s40mm circumference, 1.1″ screen
- Garmin Venu: 43mm circumference, 1.2″ screen
- Garmin Vivoactive 4Circumference: 45mm, 1.3″
I think I've made that clear enough, but just in case I'm going to clarify again what the difference between Garmin Vivoactive 4 and Garmin VenuThe screen only, while the Vivoactive 4 use the transflective screen typical Garmin, the Venu has a AMOLED screenIn all other functions, both offer the same features.
Opting for one type of screen or another depends solely on you and your tastes (and secondarily, your wallet). AMOLED screen Everything displayed on the screen comes to life and is more in line with what you would expect from a smart watch. In addition, following the trend of 2019, on the Venu you can select to have the screen always on.
But as with other models (such as Fitbit Versa 2 or Apple Watch Series 5) there is a low power mode for the dial, which is what is displayed when we are not looking at the time.
By raising your hand and turning your wrist, the screen changes and the dial you have chosen will be displayed in full colour.
This change of screen occurs only on the time dial, while we are training there is no low power mode and you can simply choose to have it always on, or to have it turn on with a twist of the wrist.
Of course the AMOLED screen has the toll of the price, but also in battery life. The data that Garimn announces I can corroborate it because it is what I have been able to appreciate in my tests. About two or three days if we use the always on screen mode, which can reach five or six if we let it turn off when we are not using it and we deactivate the pulse oximetry. All this taking into account the use of daily GPS recording some training.
The touch screen is the main way we have to operate it. As in the Vivoactive 4 we also have two side buttonsThe menu is a set of rules, which will be used for everyday actions such as marking laps while you are training or confirming or backing up within menus.
It sounds silly, but having that specific button to mark laps or intervals can make the difference between a watch that is designed for sport and one that is not, and clearly enhances the unique button design of the Vivoactive 3.
Garmin's use of the AMOLED screen is not high, beyond being able to configure very showy clock faces that can even be dynamic, changing the lighting depending on the time of day. An example is the New York skyscraper, which will be done at night or during the day depending on what time you have on your clock.
There are only 4 dynamic displays that Garmin has included in the clock, a much smaller number than what other manufacturers, such as Apple, offer. However, thanks to Connect IQ we can install a lot of dials from external developers (something that Apple does not allow).
No obstante hay que tener en cuenta que no todas ellas son compatibles con el modo «siempre activo» del Venu, el desarrollador debe actualizarlas para que así sea.
Hablando del modo «siempre activo», es posible combinarlo con la opción de no molestar, con la que puedes establecer las horas habituales en las que estarás durmiendo y que no quieres recibir notificaciones inteligentes.
In the case of the Venu there is also the fact of turning off the screen (even if you select the screen mode always on), which is a good thing because it is not too pleasant to wake up by the brightness of the clock in the middle of the night, as if you had a lighthouse on your wrist.
Beyond the dynamic spheres, Garmin has not ventured into a specific interface. All the menus mirror what the rest of the range has to offer. In a sense this can be a relief, because if you're already a Garmin user you know you won't have to learn anything new - everything is in the same place as before.
From the main screen you can access the different widgets by sliding your finger up or down. You'll find the usual activity widgets, viewing steps, heart rate, calories, etc.
Within the widgets we can see some of the things that have come to Garmin for the first time and that have been released on both the Vivoactive 4 and the Venu. Starting with the hydration monitoringof which I have prepared a specific section for you later.
There are other novelties that we can also see inside the widgets, such as the breathing rateGarmin had already incorporated this metric in other models, but to register it, they had always needed the sensor on the chest and did so only during training.
However, on the Venu we will also have it using just the optical pulse sensor on the wrist. But I will also talk about that later.
You can set up a shortcut to the feature that's most convenient for you or that you think you'll use most often. By sliding your finger from left to right you can quickly access music controls or Garmin Pay, among others.
So you can access wireless payments without having to go through any intermediate menu, but that's just one of many options.
In this quick access we only have the possibility to configure one function, but we also have a quick menu that can be accessed by pressing and holding the top button.
As with the shortcut, we can also configure which items we want to appear in this menu.
As I say, we find that menu if we leave the top button pressed for two seconds. But if we keep pressing longer (about 5 seconds) what we access is the support functionIt can be useful if you want to send a warning message in case you have suffered a fall or if you think there is something wrong (for example, that you are in a compromising situation).
This is completely with the incident detectionSimilar concept to the assistance function that I have indicated before, but in this case it starts automatically in case of detecting some incident while you are practicing some running or cycling activity (you must be training, it is not valid just to wear the watch).
That is, in the event of a rapid deceleration or a severe shock (which is detected by the clock's accelerometer), the event detection function will be activated to send a message to the contacts you have selected.
In case it was a false alarm (because you simply braked dry but without any accident, something that can happen especially in cycling) you will have a short time to cancel the warning and not scare anyone unnecessarily.
With regard to the message sent with the support function and incident detection, the contacts you have selected will receive the notice along with a link to LiveTrack, which will allow them to see where you are.
But you need to have your mobile phone with you to communicate, because it depends on the connection of the mobile phone.
All this configuration will be done in Garmin Connect.
Garmin Venu as a smart watch
Of course, the Garmin Venu should also be referred to as a smart watch because even though it is a model in which the sports functions are the most important, it is the segment that the manufacturer has targeted, especially because of the inclusion of the AMOLED display (the first time that Garmin has used a display of this type).
But it is my biggest objection to the Venu. The AMOLED screen is not used and the interface does not make use of the advantages it offers beyond showing the same graphics with more contrast. It does not have a differential menu, it is still incompatible with many emoticons, there is no speaker that recognizes sounds and no microphone to answer messages, etc. It is, for better or worse, a Vivoactive 4 with AMOLED.
We can divide the intelligent functions into four different things:
- Applications and spheres
- Wireless payments
- Music playback
The problem with the Garmin Venu is what to compare it to. If we compare it to smart watches such as the Apple Watch, Wear OS watches or even Samsung or Huawei watches, we can see that Garmin is quite weak in this area. We can also read the reverse, because in terms of sports, Garmin is quite superior to all of them.
But I'm not the one who describes the Garmin Venu as a smart watch or smartwatch, that's already been taken care of by Garmin... so it will have to be those models I compare it to.
First of all, I'll talk about the notifications. As in other Garmin models, we can see on the Venu's screen the smartphone notificationsThis notification will appear immediately, but we can also see the previous notifications from the widget itself.
The clock allows us to view them, delete them (which will remove it from pending notifications on the phone) or, if you are an Android user, reply with pre-defined messages, but there is no way to reply to those notifications or send messages from WhatsApp or other instant messaging applications.
Without a doubt, this is the aspect that makes the Garmin Venu the smart watch that it is. It is not a question of Garmin being able to update it in the future to incorporate it, since the watch does not have a microphone. In short, with respect to notifications, there is no change with respect to other models of the brand other than being able to see colour emoticons. Because no, neither will it show us images that are sent to us or from applications such as Facebook or Twitter.
Applications and spheres
The Venu is compatible with Connect IQ applications and areas But, if you expect to find an ecosystem even resembling the one the Apple Watch has, I'm sorry to bring you bad news. They don't look anything like it, and Garmin's chances are far more discreet than those of a full-fledged smart watch. Here's what Garmin Connect IQ is all about and what possibilities it offers.
De momento no hay muchas esferas en Connect IQ específicas para el Venu, en el sentido de aprovechar su fantástica pantalla AMOLED. Pero si quieres una esfera vistosa, podrás configurar alguna de las «live watch faces» que se ofrece directamente en el menú del reloj.
Among the possibilities offered by the Venu is that of leaving the screen always on. The Venu therefore joins the recent trend in the sector to adopt this possibility which, don't forget, will increase battery consumption.
Of course, the dial that is displayed when you are not looking at the watch will be a simpler one, which Garmin calls the low power mode. This is what it displays, keeping the time in the same place as it is displayed on the dial in the normal mode.
As soon as we turn our wrist to look at the time, the screen will go into normal mode, showing the dial we have set with all its colours.
Además de todo esto, en el horario que tengas configurado el «modo no molestar», el reloj apagará totalmente la pantalla. Lo cual es bastante lógico ya que se entiende que en ese horario estarás durmiendo y no quieres que el brillo de la pantalla te despierte.
Wireless Payments with Garmin Pay
Garmin PayIt has a derived problem, and it is that the list of supported banks and cards is much shorter than the list of supported cards. what Garmin has to offer right now.
However, if our bank is compatible with Garmin Pay the operation is what we can expect from a watch of this type. Adding cards is very simple, and making payment is even more so.
As for the music playback Here, the Garmin Venu does stand out from its competition because beyond being able to sync music to the clock and play it back (which in 2019 is no longer a big deal), the Garmin Venu is compatible with streaming music services such as Spotify, Amazon Music or Deezer.
We have 4GB of memory to store musicThis is the case both for music synchronized from the computer and for music downloaded from streaming platforms (download to be done directly via WiFi once all the details have been set up).
After having the music inside the watch you simply have to pair a Bluetooth headset and you can listen to music completely independently.
Otherwise, it offers the same functions that were already present in the Vivoactive 3 MusicIn that respect nothing has changed.
Setting up and sports
If I said earlier that as an intelligent watch the Garmin Venu is not up to the competition, now it is time to talk about the possibilities it offers for sports practice. It is in this section that the competition has absolutely nothing to do with Garmin's proposal, as it is a watch that is much more prepared for sports practice.
Both in terms of configuration and training options, what the Venu offers is superior to what we see in other watches such as the Apple Watch.
The data screen configuration is inherited from the Forerunner range, with a maximum of 4 data per screen to choose from. 12 data in total are available to choose from as there are three screens available to configure.
The rest of the options in each of the sport profiles are the usual ones: fins, activate automatic lap and the distance at which you mark it, automatic pause, automatic screen scrolling and the type of GPS to use (GPS, GPS+GLONASS or GPS+Galileo).
Then there are the advanced trainings, which in this case we do enjoy the same benefits as in any other Forerunner model, being able to select not only the intervals but also the target for each of them (for example, running between 160 and 168 beats)
The trainings are programmed from the application or from the web, not being possible to do it in the own clock. It has some predetermined trainings that already come loaded, but there is no possibility of creating them although it is of simple form.
On the plus side, it's easy to schedule your workouts through Garmin Connect, where you can set the different phases you want to go through, including the target beats or pulses for each one.
And if you use TrainingPeaks and you have the workouts created there, they will also be downloaded to the clock and you will have the daily notice with your session on the calendar.
Once you have established which exercise session you want to do, the clock screen will show you where you are and what your objective is.
Using the example of the previous training, we will have 15 minutes of warm-up without any kind of goal, beyond the jogging pace you want to do. After a minute and a half break, a series of 5 1 kilometer intervals will start, for which there is a set running pace: between 3:35 and 3:45 min/km. If you go over that pace (both above and below) the clock will warn you by means of vibrations.
Tras completar el kilómetro, automáticamente hay un periodo de recuperación de dos minutos, tras lo cual volveremos al intervalo (y ya «sólo» quedan cuatro).
In addition to creating your workouts or importing them from the Training Peaks calendar, there are other options. The Garmin Venu is compatible with Garmin Coach adaptive training plansThis training platform (which is free of charge), will offer you a training guide based on the test you choose.
You will be able to mark which are your usual training days and which one you prefer to be the one of the long run. The advantage of this platform, moreover, is that it is an open plan. If one day you don't train because you had some unavoidable commitment don't worry, the plan will adapt automatically. These are the different options that you can find in Garmin Coach.
As with the other models in the Vivoactive range, another thing that stands out about the Venu is the number of sports available. I'm not just talking about running, swimming or cycling, but also sports such as weight training, rowing, skiing, elliptical...
And two new profiles have been added to that list: yoga and pilatesBut I'll leave that to your specific section, as it is one of the main new features of the Vivoactive 4 and Venu (not because of the profile itself, but because of the exercise videos it offers).
What you don't have are too many Firstbeat metrics (which is what the advanced metrics of all Garmin watches are based on).
Es decir, de métricas «especiales» tenemos sólo cosas como VO2Max o body battery.
And finally, in terms of sensor compatibility, the Venu is exactly the same as any of the latest Garmin models. It is compatible with both ANT+ and Bluetooth sensors, and the only thing it does not support is cycling potentiometers. But you can connect an external pulse sensor, bike speed and/or cadence sensors, radar Garmin Varia or even Stryd.
The new features of the Garmin Venu
The new features of the Venu are exactly the same as the ones that were present in the Vivoactive 4, so this is a repeat section of the test that was already published of the other models, so as I did at that time, I will talk to you about the lighter or less important new features, leaving a specific section for the video-guided trainings that in the Venu benefit from the AMOLED screen.
Breathing and exercise rate
The Garmin Venu is capable of recording our breathing rate, and does so with the watch's own optical pulse sensor, without the use of an external sensor. This breathing rate will become part of our daily activity statistics.
Therefore, that breathing data will not only be displayed on the clock but also synchronized to Garmin Connect, where you can see graphs and different details that you can see in daily evolution or comparing different days.
Breathing exercises are also found on the Venu. BreathworkIt's not just a simple relaxation exercise, but Garmin wants it to go beyond that. In fact, it's a specific application within the activity menu.
We have different breathing techniques to choose from, each with different exercises to perform.
They can be exercises to relax and concentrate, de-stress before bed, etc.
When you do the exercise, it is structured as if it were a training series. The clock display shows what you should do in each exercise, number of repetitions, etc. As I said, Breathwork is not the typical breathing exercise, it is quite long and methodical.
When you perform the exercise, the clock display will show the instructions you must follow, telling you when to breathe in, breathe out or hold your breath.
As far as recording the breathing rate is concerned, the truth is that it is surprisingly accurate. During an exercise I tried counting the breaths I took and the watch makes the correct measurement. When it comes to rounding off an average per minute, I may dance one up or down, but the overall result is correct.
Monitoring of hydration and sweating
Another new feature that came with the Venu and Vivoactive 4 and that will soon be available to the rest of the Garmin range of watches is hydration monitoring, for which the watch has a new widget that can be activated or deactivated from the watch's options.
Every time you drink some liquid you can write down what you have ingested. By default the quantities are 250ml, 500ml and 750ml, but you can change it and select other quantities.
Just as with the daily steps we have a goal to meet, we can also have a goal for hydration. And just as with the steps, it is possible to set the goal manually or automatically.
With the automatic target, the watch will vary your target on the days you are most active, to compensate for the fluid loss produced by training.
In addition to recording hydration throughout the day, another novelty is that the watch includes an estimate of fluid loss through sweating during training. When the activity is over, there is a new field with this estimate.
And that data... where is it obtained? Well, it is an algorithm that takes into account different physiological data of the user and the environment. Data such as weight, temperature, pace and distance, training intensity, etc.
¿Es preciso? Pues no es más que una estimación matemática realizado a nivel general, por lo que la respuesta es que «depende». No todos sudamos igual, por lo que para unos será más preciso que para otros.
The best way to know if this is true is to weigh yourself before and after training, thus being able to see what the real weight loss is and, therefore, fluid loss through sweating.
Training sessions at Garmin Venu
But if there is one feature that I must highlight in the Garmin Venu and Vivoactive 4, it is the new animated training sessions.
This is where the Venu's AMOLED screen comes into its own as it allows the animations to be shown slightly more fluidly.
The guided training can be found in the following sport profiles: strength training, cardio, yoga and pilates. Although as I said in the test of the Vivoactive 4, here I would love to see running or swimming technique exercises, two sports that could have many benefits from this new feature.
The concept of this type of guided training is the same as the interval training that can be done in other sports, but here it comes with pre-defined exercises and includes videos that show you how to perform the exercise correctly.
Imagine you are going to do a yoga workout, you must go to that profile and access the screen before the activity starts.
Slide your finger from the bottom to the top to open the options menu, and here you will find the training sessions option.
Here you will find all the exercises that come by default on the clock.
Each sport profile has 3 different workouts. And don't think they are simple or basic exercises, at all. There is even a yoga exercise that has a whopping 77 steps to perform.
Additionally, from Garmin Connect we can download a number of additional exercises.
There is a lot to choose from, with a total of 57 exercises to select from (for the total of 4 sport profiles in which it is available). There are different filters to find the exercise we are looking for, including the type of activity, the muscle groups, difficulty of the exercises, total duration or the objective.
So it's not just limited to what's in the clock, you can download anything from the catalog, and it's an open platform that Garmin can continue to add to over time.
Can't you find one that fits? Well, don't worry, create your own exercise.
The downside is that the workouts we create manually do not include videos, at least not at this time. Only those that are already predefined on the Garmin platform have animations, which is what makes this a special feature.
As for the exercises themselves, once you have selected the workout you are going to do, when you start the activity the first thing that will come up is the information about the exercise you have to do: name and number of repetitions.
And after that you'll have the video with the exercise we have to do.
In the strength exercises and as it is already possible in previous models, there is recognition of repetitions and exercises, so if we have to perform a series of certain exercises, the clock will discount them showing how many are left to finish.
If they are yoga or pilates exercises, what will appear on the screen will be the time you must maintain the indicated posture.
Of course, in these modes you can also see the rest of the data fields and not just the animations. Just slide the screen to see what you have set up in each profile. In the yoga and pilates profiles you can also set up two new pieces of information: breathing rate and stress.
Optical pulse sensor and Pulse Ox
As with all recent Garmin models, the Venu is equipped with the brand's latest optical pulse sensor, the Garmin Elevate v3.
This is the same sensor that is also present in other more expensive Garmin models, such as the Fenix 6, Forerunner 945 or the MARQ This sensor includes pulse oximetry estimation which, unlike models such as the Forerunner 245If we can use it throughout the day to make regular blood oxygen estimation measurements.
However, using this option will significantly shorten the battery life, and in this case, which is already burdened by the consumption of the AMOLED screen itself, perhaps this is something you should consider, although you can choose to use it exclusively at night, helping the watch to identify the different phases of sleep.
Let's talk directly about the optical pulse sensor while playing sports, which is ultimately what someone buys a watch like this Garmin Venu for. But before I show you comparisons of different sensors, I'd like to remind you of some basic aspects of optical sensors.
Keep in mind that a wrist heart rate monitor does not work the same way on all bodies. We're all different, and if we put things in the equation like skin tone, tattoos, body hair... the difference from person to person can be quite big.
In my tests it is not that the spectrum of users is very broad: it is me, myself and I. So what works well for me might not do it for someone else, or it might be better.
But the most important thing to keep in mind is that you have to follow some guidelines to wear the sensor. It should be tight (but not cut off your circulation), enough to keep the watch from moving freely on your wrist, leaving a separation of approximately one finger from the wrist bone. By following these details you will ensure that you get the best results that your conditions can offer.
As I always do, I like to start with some easy training for the optical sensor, because if it is not able to cover the most basic aspects, that sensor and I will have a bad future...
So here you have a progressive training in which the idea is to start softly to increase the intensity little by little, but without sudden changes of pace.
We have the classic difficult start that occurs in winter. Until you warm up and start sweating so that the pulse sensor in the chest registers correctly (and the capillaries for the optical sensors dilate), the measurement is not correct.
In these circumstances, it is the chest sensor that takes the longest time to be fully operational, and except for occasional errors, the optical sensors coincide from the start.
In general the logging performed by the three sensors is very similar. In the final part you can see much more coarse peaks than at the beginning, because the sensors are continuously changing one pulse up and one pulse down every second, which multiplied by three makes it look like a comb.
Therefore, even if it seems that the measurement is not well done, it has no major problem beyond the representation that can mean 152.7 pulses for some and others (that's why so much leap in a continuous way).
I did point out three points in reference to the Suunto 5 graph. Honestly, I have no idea why it comes out like this (it goes forward in time and then backward). I guess they are platform errors when creating the exported FIT file.
I'll raise the bar one more point, and now I'll move on to intensity change training, which is where the optical pulse sensors are really tested.
For this training I wore the Apple Watch Series 5 and the APEX Pro Chorus, paired with the H10 Polar sensor. It is a simple fartlek in which I perform 3x(2km soft + 1km harder).
To analyze the training, I separate it into the three different blocks of the exercise.
In this first block we have a good start by the optical sensor of the Apple Watch and the Polar H10, while the Garmin Venu needs a few seconds to start recording correctly. However, halfway through the warm-up there is a very strange peak for which I have no explanation.
The optical sensor of the Apple Watch and the Polar H10 chest sensor paired with the CHOIR also coincide at this peak. The Garmin Venu remains stable, which is what it has to do, and no matter how much I check the activity I can't find any reason at this point to explain this sudden increase, which certainly doesn't correspond to the reality of the exercise.
A mystery because there are also two graphs that match. As for the first interval of one kilometer there is not much to stand out, the three sensors perform the reading correctly.
Moving on to the second interval, everything is fairly stable on the soft section, except for slight peaks from the Garmin Venu measurement (which sometimes marks one more pulse than the other two), but generally without much trouble.
However, the Venu shows irregularities in the kilometer with the highest intensity, with a sudden drop in heart rate. Not that I measure it wrong, but for a few moments it loses the sense of what I'm doing. And in the recovery after the interval it takes several seconds compared to the real situation, something that doesn't happen with the optical sensor of the Apple Watch.
However, the rise in pulses as the interval rate increases is instantaneous, which was one of the problems typically faced by Garmin's optical sensors.
The third interval is similar to the second one, although again we have a small punctual error in the smooth section. The increase in intensity is again totally instantaneous by the Garmin Venu, and much better than before in the arrival of the moment to reduce the rhythm to make the recovery, which takes place almost at the same moment.
The one that's very accurate at all times is the Apple Watch Series 5, which virtually traces the graph of the Polar sensor at all times.
Let's change things up, we go with an interval training but now riding on the bike. The other optical sensor I carry for testing is the COROS APEX Pro watch, while the Garmin Edge 1030 is using Garmin's HRM-Tri data.
There are three clearly differentiated parts: the first one where I go to the area where I do the series, the series itself (a climb of about 14km) and the return to origin at a very slow pace.
It is quite clear that the COROS APEX Pro's graphics are quite bad, so I eliminate them because they only create confusion. I proceed to dissect the training in two parts, leaving aside the final stretch which is much smoother.
En esta primera mitad del entrenamiento (donde hay más intensidad) el resultado es medianamente razonable. Le pondría un 7 sobre 10, que en principio no es mala nota. Pero la frecuencia cardíaca o se registra perfecta o son datos que no aportan nada, aquí no sirven las medias tintas. Por tanto aunque ha mejorado con respecto a lo que los sensores de Garmin medían en el pasado (que era algo similar a lo que has visto antes con el COROS APEX Pro), sigue sin ser «perfecto» o «casi perfecto».
El tramo de vuelta es algo similar. No está mal, más o menos concuerda con el sensor de pecho, pero vuelvo a decir lo mismo. El «más o menos» no sirve.
The result is much better than that offered by the CHOIR, but still requires the use of an external pulse sensor.
These are some of the examples that I can show you, but it is the behavior that I have been able to observe in the rest of the trainings in which I have been comparing with other devices.
Garmin's sensors have undoubtedly improved over time. We're now in the third version of the sensor and in addition to hardware changes there have been countless software changes. It's getting closer and closer to being an option for the vast majority of people in regular training. Of course there will always be mistakes, but as you've seen those will also exist with the chest sensors.
In my particular case I have no problem using the optical sensors in my daily training, but I do opt for the chest sensor as soon as I intend to ride the bike.
I think it is already becoming repetitive, and I suppose I will continue to remember it in all the races ahead in this year 2019, but I have to add it once more. Garmin Venu incorporates the Latest GNSS chipset by Sony.
It's not something special, since it's the same chipset that mounts almost all (or even all) of the devices that have come to market since late 2018. The reason for this domination by Sony is simple: its very low battery consumption is key to being able to offer the hours of autonomy that all watches offer right now, at least when we talk about use with GPS on.
This chipset includes the possibility of using the combination of satellites that we choose: GPS only, GPS + GLONASS or GPS + GalileoAt the moment the recommendation is to use the GPS + GLONASS option, it's the option that Garmin has worked hardest on and the one that should offer the best results. In fact it's what's predefined in the clock (although it still keeps the intelligent recording option, something that doesn't make sense anymore).
However, soon the GPS + Galileo option should be equally or more satisfactory. Like the optical sensor tests you saw earlier, the GPS comparisons are done in the same way: with the watches accompanying me in my regular workouts, wearing both the Venu and other models, and checking where problems appear.
I don't have a defined path to establish a score for the simple reason that there are other external factors that we should never forget. Things like clouds, leaves on the trees or simply the position of the satellite can alter the GPS results from one day to the next.
I will start with this good comparison between four devices of four different brands, where I have combined areas where I go and return by the same way, and others where I make a circular route.
Before applying the zoom, we can already see that there are points where some of them clearly stand out from the others, which is not usually the case.
I'll start from the beginning of the route. This is always complicated because I'm only running a little bit more than a minute, so the clocks haven't triangulated their position with all the satellites that could do it yet. Besides, I'm running north-south (from top to bottom in the image) stuck to a building of enough height which makes difficult the reception.
There is a point where you reach the roundabout in the image, a large open space. At this point the Garmin Venu is the worst, as it is the one that takes the longest time to identify the turn. The Vantage M is the best, as it practically follows the route followed. The Apple Watch is not completely bad, but it is already showing signs of tending to round any curve that is found (which we will see later ...).
Further on we have a return route in which the 8 tracks behave perfectly in the clear areas.
Sin embargo he marcado un punto de giro en el que entro en el paseo marítimo, haciendo dos giros rápidos de 90º. En ese punto el Venu se comporta perfectamente, al igual que el Suunto 9. El Vantage se desplaza ligeramente de la zona correcta, pero quiero destacar nuevamente lo filtrado de la señal GPS del Apple Watch. No hace dos giros rápidos, simplemente crea una «chicane».
Another point that I usually pay a lot of attention to is this one below. It is a slight change of direction in a very short space of time that normally costs a lot of work for the different watches to do correctly.
Both the Suunto and the Venu do the turn more or less well, with some centimeters of displacement from the real zone, but overall giving a good result. The Vantage M continues to be displaced from the real route by several meters, something that I hadn't seen since the last firmware update, but that seems not to have been completely solved.
Meanwhile, the Apple Watch does its thing, filtering everything in excess to get nice graphics (when we look at them from a distance).
In this turn around Puerto Banús there are many things to highlight. The direction of the march is the one I mark with the arrow, I highlight it because the Vantage M had managed to return to the royal route, but as it wanders through the narrowest streets of the port it deviates again quite a few meters. It was definitely not its day.
Both Suunto and Garmin are performing well again, as is the Apple Watch which, in its excess filtering of the route, as long as there are no sharp turns, is the best seen.
However, when measuring total distance and contrary to what it seems, the Apple Watch is always the clock that records more distance, despite eating meters in every turn we do, proof of how aggressive the algorithm they use in Apple to make the recorded graph aesthetically beautiful.
By the way, the FR945 does not appear in the graphs because it was removed, it was simply supporting the new Stryd, but stored in the pocket so neither heart rate nor GPS data were usable.
A similar route follows, but changing some of the streets. I put into the equation in this case the APEX Pro Chorus replacing the Polar and Suunto of before.
Even before we start zooming in we see two areas that stand out: one where there is a small disagreement between the clocks and another where many, many things have happened, because after coming from making totally straight lines we have real saw teeth.
This is the first point where a discrepancy was noted. The one that makes the mistake is the APEX CHORUS Pro, which I have had to point out in many points. It is not a glaring error, but it is possible to see that it has had a bad start in training.
The Venu has a start in which it has a little difficulty (the first roundabout is in the middle), but then it starts to triangulate correctly and the rest of this area is done perfectly. The one that keeps playing the same game is the Apple Watch,
The descent down that street towards the beach is correct on all three clocks, but on the turn to cross the river again the CHOIR moves quite a bit from the real route (as it does a bit further on).
I did want to highlight a point where the Venu does really well, as it is a point where you have to cross an area of stairs and turn right and then left a metre later. The Garmin does it perfectly, while both the CHOIR and the Apple Watch filter it completely. Of course, a little further on it is the Venu that is off course.
The same fast turn as before, this time only the COROS has got one of its passes right. The Venu can't hit the corner either on the way there or on the way back. In the meantime the Apple Watch is already a hopeless case as it makes the corner as straight as possible.
But let's go with that area that was already regular from a distance... and that the zoom confirms the real disaster.
This area is complicated because it runs under quite leafy trees and with buildings on both sides. It is not easy for the watches to receive GPS signals, but this day has been a real disaster. To remember, the Venu's graphic is in blue, the CHORUS in red and the Apple Watch in purple.
In this first section you can see how on the way back the Venu has moved many, many meters from the real route, totally lost (not that the result was good in the first leg, it has also had its many meters above the buildings).
The only one that has a good performance is the Apple Watch because here its excessive filtering makes it the one that moves the least from the real route (which does not mean that the measurement is correct, as we have seen before).
However, the pivot point, which I do in a totally open area (where the start and finish of the Marbella Ironman), is not so much a problem for any of them, although the Apple Watch is eating those meters again.
This is as far as running is concerned, in cycling as usual there is no problem of any kind, both because of the amplitude that usually receives the GPS signal and because of the speed itself, as we move faster there are fewer problems of correct triangulation.
In general the result I see in the Garmin Venu is reasonably good. In the open areas there is usually no problem, but perhaps it suffers a little more than the competition where it is more difficult.
This doesn't mean that I have problems or that I'm not useful in training. Not at all, this is a watch that will satisfy the vast majority of users, but you can tell that there are still aspects to be polished with respect to the new Sony chipset, and that Garmin still has to work on it.
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Opinion Garmin Venu
After several weeks of use with the Garmin Venu, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I have no doubt that the Venu is the first in a long line of Garmin models that will come with an AMOLED screen.
If you know a little about the history of recent Garmin models, you'll know it's how they test a solution that they then incorporate into the rest of the range. It happened with Forerunner 225, which lasted just a few months in the market until Garmin validated the general public's interest in optical sensors and launched Forerunner 235 using its own sensor.
The same thing happened again with the Garmin Epix, a model that passed through the market without any shame or glory but that marked the way as the first watch with integrated maps of the brand. The result of that model was the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (and successive).
Or the pulse oximetry estimation, premiered by the Fenix 5X Plus and now has been invading the entire range, including the Vivoactive 4 and this Venu. All these are clear examples of what is the usual behavior of Garmin and how they are incorporating new features to their different ranges, having right now three clear open fronts to be adapted to their models in the short / medium term: AMOLED screens, LTE connectivity and solar charging.
En el caso que nos ocupa Garmin ha realizado un buen trabajo en la parte técnica. Se ha adaptado a la corriente actual de fabricantes que utilizan una pantalla de este tipo en sus «wearables» y que además puede permanecer siempre encendida. Es la novedad de 2019 y tanto Fitbit como Apple ya lo habían añadido a sus modelos más recientes. La autonomía del reloj varía entre «decente» y «suficiente».
With the screen in the always on mode is possible to reach up to three days of battery life with GPS use (when in the Apple Watch is complicated to reach a day and a half), while if we deactivate this mode we can reach up to 5-6 days, a very similar to the Vivoactive 4.
¿Entonces por qué digo que tengo sensaciones encontradas? Porque a pesar de haber hecho un buen trabajo técnico, Garmin no aporta nada más que «belleza» con la pantalla AMOLED. La interfaz de usuario es exactamente igual al Vivoactive 4 y casi igual que el resto de modelos de la gama. Tampoco se ha trabajado en exceso las esferas de pantalla (siguen existiendo las mismas 4 opciones desde su lanzamiento).
It still doesn't have support for many emojis (only the most basic ones will be shown, the rest appear as a box), it doesn't show images of messages or mails, nothing has been advanced in terms of application notifications... That is, Garmin has worked the basis, but to try to fight with other smart watch models such as those from Apple, Samsung or Huawei; they still have to give an important review to the user experience.
The fact that it's mainly sports-oriented doesn't make it perfect in that respect. There are still software bugs around the use of the Varia radar (it keeps looking for it even after you've finished training and only stops after you've turned off the clock), the optical pulse sensor stays on even when you remove the clock from your wrist (when other Garmin models turn it off after a few seconds to save battery power), not all Connect IQ data screens are displayed correctly (I couldn't use Stryd's, although he did record the data) and I've even had to force the clock to be reset 3 or 4 times. And of course, the GPS tracks could be improved.
And yet despite all the criticism I've made, I consider it to be a more than worthy rival to the Apple Watch. It has a presence thanks to its AMOLED screen (something that perhaps transflective screens don't have), in the sports section it's far superior thanks to its advanced training and multiple sports profiles with their different options and although as a smart watch it's several steps behind the Apple model (and even Samsung or Huawei), it still has more than interesting options such as synchronization with Spotify and Amazon Music or wireless payments.
It's a very valid competitor for the segment, at least if sports performance is one of the things you place most value on.
You know, if you have any questions regarding Garmin Venu or any other issue not addressed in the article, please use the comments below and leave your question. I will answer it as soon as possible.
And with that... thanks for reading!