Garmin Vivoactive HR | Full Analysis and Testing


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On the occasion of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Garmin presented the Vivoactive HR. Although its presentation was not expected, it was not strange, since little by little the Garmin Elevate optical sensor is invading the entire range of Garmin watches. Already present in different models of all Garmin ranges, the GPS version of the Vivo range was not going to be less.

The Garmin Vivoactive HR in the test has been temporarily loaned by Garmin, and will be returned to you as soon as I publish the test. As you know there is no fee from the manufacturer to publish these tests. My opinion is absolutely independent, so you can know first hand what the device looks like and what it offers before you place your order, so you buy for sure and don't waste your money.

If you like the work I do and you want me to keep doing it, buy your Vivosmart HR through AmazonThat way you get a good price and fantastic service and I get a small commission back which pays for part of my work. And it doesn't have to be the watch itself, you can also buy diamonds or any other item you need. Every little bit helps!

I've spent a few weeks training with the Vivosmart HR and you can read my detailed opinion of everything it has to offer. Are you ready? Then let's get down to business.


Overall operation - 8.5
Training possibilities - 8
Platform and applications - 8.5
Battery life - 7.5
Finish and comfort - 6.5
Price/performance ratio - 7.5



User Rating: 3 ( 34 votes)

The good

  • Support for many sports and not just running: swimming, skiing/snowboarding, rowing, golf (with course download)...
  • Barometric altimeter
  • Compatible with the latest version of Connect IQ
  • Touch screen, but also with physical buttons
  • 24/7 pulse monitoring without excessive impact on the battery
  • Without being a smartwatch, the notification support is quite good
  • Compatible with any ANT+ sensor, including lights and glasses

The bad

  • Too much plastic
  • No possibility to synchronize advanced trainings (intervals, etc.)
  • Maximum three data per screen]B01BLQT7DM&tag=c1mes-21]B01BKUB66U&tag=c1mes-21

Garmin Vivoactive HR

The presentation of the Vivosmart HR is the usual: good quality box in which you can see highlighted some of its details, as it has optical pulse sensor, or that is valid for many sports.


Garmin Vivoactive HR

Garmin Vivoactive HR

Garmin Vivoactive HR

But let's open the box, what matters is inside. And what a coincidence, both the inside and outside screen indicate the same time.

Garmin Vivoactive HR

Thanks to the optical pulse sensor, the content of the box is very brief. You will simply find the watch, the timing and charging cable and the instruction manual. You can forget the last one, because after reading this test you will not need it. When you finish reading you will know exactly what you can do with the Vivoactive HR.

Garmin Vivoactive HR

Compared to the original Vivoactive it has not only changed the design, but also added two buttons on the front of the watch instead of the sides. These two buttons and its touch screen is sufficient to operate the Vivoactive HR.

The left button is used to mark laps during the activity, go back in the menus and if you hold it down the off menu will appear (which includes options to activate the do not disturb and screen lock mode), while the right button is used to start and stop the activity. On the time page a tap will allow you to select the activity to be carried out, while if you leave it pressed you will access the complete clock menu.

Garmin Vivoactive HR

The Garmin Vivoactive HR, compared to the original Vivoactive, is also thicker. And it also has the small optical pulse sensor bulge. But at 11.4mm thick it's not uncomfortable at all. Its other measurements are 30.2mm wide and 57mm long. Together with its 47-48 grams of weight (depending on the length of the strap) it's a watch that doesn't feel strange on your wrist.

Garmin Vivoactive HR

The optical sensor is the same one we are used to see in many other Garmin devices, there is no variation in hardware. And as you can see in the sticker, the watch is waterproof 50 meters. It couldn't be any other way, because one of its main uses will be swimming.

Garmin Vivoactive HR

The strap is quite wide, 30mm. In case of breakage it can be easily replaced and it is also possible to buy different colored straps to match. Right now they are available in black, white, yellow and red.

Garmin Vivoactive HR

And in case you didn't think so... yes, the timing and charging cable is new, so you won't need any of the cables you currently have around the house.

Garmin Vivoactive HR

The design, however, is quite good. The connector fits on the sides of the watch and is perfectly hooked. You can move the watch or leave it hanging without fear of it falling out or being disconnected.

Garmin Vivoactive HR

And once presented, how about we take the sticker off the screen and start banging away?

Activity monitor

The Garmin Vivoactive HR activity monitor is probably the most important aspect of the watch. Being a Vivo device, it is clear that daily activity is one of its main focuses. This activity monitor is similar to what we are used to seeing in other Garmin models, but there are new features in some of the widgets present and in the way the information is presented.

It counts the steps in an approximate way, from which 1TP10 will give an estimate of distance traveled and calories burned. There is a daily step goal that you must try to overcome and, if you achieve it, you will receive a notification on the screen to reward you. This target can be set manually or as the default (and my preferred option) dynamically. By default the goal is set at 5,000 steps per day, quite easy to achieve. But it will dynamically adjust day by day to try to push you a little harder than the previous one. If you don't reach the "quota", it will relax that step target for the next day.

You can review this data in the different widgets, which you can access by sliding up or down the screen. You can place them in different order or add different ones (both Garmin's own and third-party developers') through the different applications, but the most convenient is with the phone and Garmin Connect.

But there are other differences from the original Vivoactive, partly due to new software features that have been added in this time, but also due to differences in terms of integrated sensors, as the Vivoactive HR has a barometric altimeter and can therefore record the number of floors climbed.

The first one you can find is the "My day" widget. A quick summary of how you are progressing in your daily activity. Here you will find the minutes of activity accumulated during the week, floors climbed, steps and calories consumed. These calories include both activity calories and basal calorie consumption (the calories your body consumes just to keep you alive).

Garmin Vivoactive HR - My Day

There is a second widget, which by default is not installed but can be added from the Connect IQ tab of Garmin Connect. It provides almost the same information, although you will also have the distance estimation.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Steps

But unlike the my day widget, if you click on the screen you can access the log of floors gone up and down, as well as the steps of the last week.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Steps

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Floors

And in the same way you can also have a calorie-eating widget.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Calories

Again, clicking on the screen will expand the information, showing the calories consumed in activity during the last seven days.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Calories last 7 days

On the main time screen you will have (unless you switch to any other Connect IQ option) a bar with an inactivity warning. You should try to keep the bar completely red. After one hour with no activity a first white bar will appear, along with a warning to get you moving. From then on successive markers will be accumulated every 15 minutes. You can restore the counter by getting up and walking for a couple of minutes.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Inactivity

The Vivoactive HR is the first Garmin device that I've tested that features the Move IQ function. It allows you to automatically recognize a workout and give you credit for it, without having to start a separate activity. Please note that it has its limitations and is not intended to replace the manual activity tracking that you initiate when you start your workout in the gym, for example.

It's more geared towards capturing those walks separately by taking the dog out or walking around the centre. You won't see anything on the clock to indicate that it's recording an activity, nor will you have access to it in any way. It's simply managed directly on the server to display, after synchronisation, all the data in Garmin Connect.

You can see that this is quite new, because I haven't been able to find information about the activities in the web version of Garmin Connect, and the only way to access it is through the calendar in the mobile application.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Move IQ

Each color represents a different activity, or a specific record of activity for that day. In gray are the Move IQ events that we can consult.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Move IQ

The information you record for each activity is very basic - approximate duration and start time, but does not specify calories, steps, distance or any other metrics.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Move IQ

For these events there is no use of GPS, nor heart rate tracking per second. It is the Garmin Connect server that dissects the accelerometer data to determine if there has been prolonged activity. And not just for walks, it is also capable of recognizing swimming or cycling events. For example a swim at the beach or a bike ride, activities for which you don't want to initiate an activity because they are not specific training or high intensity, but they are still "exercise". It is likely (and desirable) that the information we see in the future for these activities will be expanded.

But as it is evident, if you want the maximum number of data you will have to start the activity in the application of each one of them.

And just as the analysis of that activity is done directly on the Garmin servers, the analysis of your sleep is done in the same way. You only have to wear your watch while you sleep and the next day, after synchronization, you can see basic information about the quality of your sleep.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Sleep

In general and observing the data over different days, the time at which it records the beginning of sleep is usually correct, although there are always situations where it interprets that I have gone to sleep when I am, for example, reading a book in bed. But where it does not fail is at the time of waking up.

There are three states. Light sleep, deep sleep and moments when you have woken up. And how are you able to identify each of these states? By analyzing the movements you make while you are asleep.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - SleepIt is extra information that it provides, although the truth is that there is not much more you can do with this data.

Another new feature that Garmin has added to its activity monitors is the intensity minutes, which allow you to go one step further than the classic recommendations of walking X steps during the day. Because what happens the day you do 2 hours of gymnastics? What if instead of running, that day you had to do 90km of cycling? Clearly in both cases you will have exceeded the daily activity goal, but it will not be reflected in the final steps of the day and the clock will interpret that you are below the goal. Thanks to the intensity minutes you can have a global vision of all your activity and allows you to see it more accurately than simply counting the daily steps.

Several organizations, such as the World Health Organization, recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity per week. This would be equivalent to 150 minutes of light walking or 75 minutes of more intense activity, such as running.

What Garmin Vivoactive HR will do is accumulate all those weekly minutes so that you know how your activity has been and if you have fulfilled your objective. And as in the previous cases, there is a specific widget to control it.

You can see the minutes of activity for the day, and below that, the total minutes for the week at a moderate and strong pace (which the Garmin Vivoactive HR will count double in order to reach your goal).

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Weekly intensity

If you click on the screen, as you can imagine you will be able to access the minutes of activity broken down by each day of the week. Unlike the calories, in this case the widget shows the information of the week and not the last 7 days. Therefore at the beginning of the week there will be days that will still appear empty.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Weekly intensity

After synchronization, you will be able to find all this data in your Garmin Connect account, both of your activity during the day and the quality of your sleep, and you will be able to make different reports of days, months, etc. Here are a few examples of how you will be able to see this information once synchronized.

And of course, in the mobile application as well.

But if the activity monitor is something that's very important in the Garmin Vivoactive HR, it's precisely because it has an integrated optical pulse sensor. This sensor, in addition to being used during your training and running, is also present throughout your daily activity, recording your heartbeat at all times. Here's how it works.

Constant pulse monitoring 24/7

Thanks to its optical pulse sensor, the Garmin Vivoactive HR allows you to track your heart rate throughout the day. It is an option of the activity monitor and to have this information simply wear the watch on your wrist.

The recording is variable and depends on your activity. If you are sitting at the office working and not moving, the optical sensor will not activate to save battery power. But if you are walking or doing other physical activity the recording will be more constant. This can be seen perfectly in the synchronized data.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Synchronized HR Graphics

At the bottom of the graph, you can see the movement. In the periods where there is more activity, the heart rate record is every minute or every two minutes. However, when there is no movement, hours can pass without taking data. All this is in reference to the activity record during the day to day, if you are doing a training, it will take the data to the second.

Although the recording frequency is higher than Vivosmart HR, it is still far from what Fitbit offers in its devices, which record the heart rate at rest every 3 seconds.

In Garmin Connect, in addition to having the full graph for the entire day, your resting heart rate will also be recorded.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Resting Heart Rate

This data gives you a lot more information than you might think at first glance. By knowing your average resting heart rate over time, you can tell when your training is too aggressive, when you are pushing too hard and need to think about doing some recovery training or when you are about to get sick.

When there is accumulated fatigue or some physical problem, that average heart rate will tend to rise. In my case I know that if my resting heart rate is approaching around 50 beats per minute, I have either trained quite intensely or I am incubating a good cold.

You can also find a widget with information about your heart rate on the clock itself, but in this case it corresponds to the last 4 hours. On this screen you can see your heart rate at the time along with the average for that day. Below you will have the graph of those four hours, showing more detail than what is later synchronized with Garmin Connect. The numbers above the graph are those that correspond to the minimum and maximum for that period.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Heart Rate

If you press on the screen you will have the average heart rate graph at rest for the last seven days.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Widget FC

For reasons I don't know, the data is not the same as it is in Garmin Connect. My guess is that in Connect it records the absolute minimum of the day, while the clock shows an average of the minimums recorded. But it would be a detail if Garmin agreed and displayed the same information in both places to avoid confusion.

Running with the Garmin Vivoactive HR

Although the Garmin Vivoactive HR is a multi-sport device that will allow you to enjoy a multitude of activities, perhaps it is in running that it will be most comfortable. As an athletic watch, it is not as complete a device as a Garmin Forerunner 235But in return it offers many other things that FR235 does not offer and that you can have in this Vivoactive HR.

With respect to the 235 presents some limitations in terms of configuration. In the Vivoactive HR you can configure up to three different screens, with two or three fields for each. It is not necessary that you have the three screens activated, if you want the most basic data such as time, distance and heart rate and you do not want anything else, you can deactivate the other two screens.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Disable Displays

As for those fields that you can configure, the list is quite extensive. There is a lot of information that you can display on the screen and you can choose it from a very extensive list.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Data Fields

You can even activate a field to show the altitude or positive meters ascended, thanks to the Vivoactive HR has a barometric altimeter, something that for example the 235 lacks. And in addition to the altimeter, has a built-in thermometer (at that time the degrees are selected in Fahrenheit, not that it was boiling eggs. Do not worry, can be set in Celsius), but if you wear the watch on your wrist the data provided will not be much use, as it will be completely influenced by body heat.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Altitude and temperature data

This data is normally related to clocks intended for the trail and the mountain, but the addition of the barometric altimeter chipset to measure the ascended and descended floors is what makes it possible to have those fields that are usually not present in a device of this range.

There are other settings that you can configure, such as auto pause, automatic screen switching, or different alerts; that you can customize with any event or that are pace, time, distance, heart rate or run/walk alerts

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Alerts

You can set lap marking either automatically at the distance you choose (e.g. the usual 1 kilometer) or manually by pressing the left button. You can activate one option, the second or both together.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Returns

Usually, for a constant race pace you want to keep track of the laps automatically, and for specific work days like series or fartleks you prefer to mark the laps manually, so you can easily separate each work and rest period to be able to analyze it after synchronizing the activity.

In addition, you will have information on screen every time a lap is marked, either automatically or manually. Although compared to other devices, the information is quite brief and not configurable, only the lap number and the time it took to complete it will be displayed.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Lap

The Vivoactive HR has an optical pulse sensor that you can use for all your workouts, but you also have the possibility to add additional sensors, for example a pulse sensor for when you train in winter and prefer to wear your watch on top of a jacket. You can save as many sensors as you want, even if they are of the same type (e.g. several pulse sensors) and activate or deactivate them as you wish.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Sensors

As for GPS, the Vivoactive HR is compatible with GLONASS satellites, so in addition to the American satellite network (GPS) you can also use the Russian satellite network (GLONASS). Activating this option can increase the number of satellites available to the device and potentially improve positioning.

It doesn't mean that when you turn it off it will not work, nor that when you turn it on it will work much better. You will simply be adding a greater number of possibilities to have a good positioning. If using only GPS you get triangular with 9 satellites, activating GLONASS and triangular with a total of 14 will hardly improve the performance. On the other hand if with GPS there are only 4 satellites and with GLONASS there are 10, you will see a substantial improvement.

Keep in mind that the use of the GLONASS satellites option increases the battery consumption, so everything will depend on the records you get without the GLONASS activated. My recommendation is that if you run in clear areas without trees or buildings, you can take the GLONASS deactivated and be calm knowing that you will have a good positioning. But it is something that will depend totally on your location and your use, so it is you who must try one option or another.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - GLONASS

Unfortunately, data recording is not a new trend at Garmin, which was to equip all of its models with data recording per second. The Vivoactive HR only allows for intelligent recording, unlike Forerunner 230 and 235. This can cause you to find points when analyzing the tracks where the path is cut, skipping a curve. In this image for example you can clearly see how the Edge 520 has rounded the curve perfectly while the blue Vivoactive HR has cut the curve.

Update (20 July 2016)

Garmin has released an update, currently in beta channel, which adds the option of recording data per second to the Vivoactive HR. This option should be available soon in production versions.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - GPS

If you click on the image and the wide, you can see perfectly the points where the Vivoactive HR has recorded a GPS point, because you can see perfectly the peaks on the route, while the route drawn by the Edge 520 is much more rounded.

The GPS reception is good, on par with other models and sometimes even improving the reception in complicated places of other models. For example in this image both Fenix 3 and Forerunner 230 make a rather erratic graph in that stretch of complicated coverage (trees and buildings), but the Vivoactive HR has a very good behavior coinciding the path both to the go and return.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - GPS

This does not mean that it will always work perfectly, because when there are complications, any watch can be separated by a few metres from the correct route.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - GPS

In this case both Fenix 3 and Ambit3 Vertical are the best recorded route (the left side of the road), while Vivoactive HR moves a few meters beyond where it should.

As you've seen, when running the performance with respect to the Garmin Forerunner 235 is very similar. What's the difference then? Well, in the Vivoactive HR you won't be able to set up advanced workouts or have VO2Max estimation (although some users are finding this data synchronized in Garmin Connect, but not within the clock options), recovery recommendations or race time estimation. What you do have is the ability to display records for different distances.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Record

These records are for running and cycling, in the latter case and thanks to the barometric altimeter there will also be a record of the longest distance climbed (positive meters).


Everything you have read so far from the race can be applied perfectly to the cycling part. The configuration possibilities are the same as for your running training, however, when training on the bike you may want to add some additional sensors, such as those for speed and/or cadence.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Cycling Sensors

Once paired, you can choose to have the wheel measurement detected automatically (via GPS measurement) or enter the diameter manually. Obviously the first option is the most convenient and perfectly valid.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Wheel size

Clarify that the Vivoactive HR is not compatible with power meters, at least officially; although there are Connect IQ applications that allow you to pair the clock with your potentiometer (provided it has ANT+ connectivity). At the moment these power data can only be displayed on screen, although this is expected to change in the near future.

Unlike race training, instead of showing the pace in minutes per kilometer you can see it in kilometers per hour. That is, instead of being able to select pace fields, you will select speed fields. The rest of the settings in terms of alerts, laps and so on are the same; but you must keep in mind that running and cycling are two different applications with different settings and you can configure the data screens and alerts independently, as well as the auto lap, which normally in cycling is recorded every 5 kilometers.

You can wear the watch on your wrist or mount it on a handlebar mount, but in that case you'll need to pair it with a pulse sensor via ANT+. Garmin has an official mount, but any other mount is equally valid, for example this one from Polar.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Bike


First of all, two clarifications: the Garmin Vivoactive HR, just like the normal Vivoactive, has support for swimming in a pool. But only in a pool, it does not have an application for swimming in open water (for which you would have to look at a multisport watch). And as for the pulse sensor, it cannot be used during swimming, and always remains off. The optical sensor cannot be used under water at the moment, as the data obtained is not always correct. I have tried putting the watch in any other mode (without swimming metrics) and comparing the heart rate data with data from a pulse sensor in the chest, and sometimes the data from the optical sensor is valid, but in many others it is not.

So until that gets better, the optical sensor cannot be used in swimming. Unfortunately it is also not compatible with the HRM-Swim and HRM-Tri sensors, so it is not possible to have a heart rate from your swimming sessions.

The clock uses the internal accelerometer to count the number of times you put your hand in the water during your swim and to know when you have reached the end of the lane and made the turn, so it is important that you enter the correct length of the pool. In fact it is the first thing that asks you when you first open the application, and then you can modify it from the configuration options in case you go to a longer or shorter pool.

Garmin VIvoactive HR - Swimming pool

The display configuration is very simple. There are three fields, of which the lower one is always fixed. It is a double field with the total training time (including breaks) and the distance covered.

The other two fields can be configured to suit your needs: rhythm, interval times, SWOLF, strokes... whatever you want.

Garmin VIvoactive HR - Swimming pool

Alerts are also available (as in the other applications), with warnings for example for distance, calories or time.

During swimming the touch screen is disabled, so the control is done with the two buttons underneath it. And make sure you select the swimming application before entering the pool, because once the screen is wet it's quite complicated to select options. That's why the screen is not operational during swimming.

Swimming starts with the right button, and it is the same button that you will have to press to stop the training and finish (by selecting it on the screen). If you want to separate different series or you want to take a break, you can press the left button. You will switch to pause mode, which you will be able to identify because the background of the screen changes to black (white by default).

Garmin VIvoactive HR - Swimming pool

You do not have the option to count the exercises separately and be able to enter the distance. For example, if you swim holding a table with your arms outstretched, with other more advanced models you can activate this mode and later indicate the distance travelled (manually). In the case of the Garmin Vivoactive HR you do not have this option so in these exercises the distance may not be registered correctly. If there is no movement of arms or it is not regular you will be confusing the accelerometer.

What it does offer is the detection of different styles, although it is not always as precise as you would like. But it is not all the fault of the clock, also the clarity and the technique of your style. This can be seen when synchronizing the activity, where you can access the different times, rhythms, etc. As you can see, the rest periods and the time of them are also shown.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Swimming

It is not the only information that will be shown to you, but you will have the complete details of your activity with a multitude of details and graphics.

Garmin Vivosmart HR - Swimming

If you need help understanding all the parameters it indicates, Check out the second part of the Garmin Connect data interpretation guide.

Other activities

Don't think that the only thing you can do with the Garmin Vivoactive HR is run, bike or swim. It supports many other applications. In fact, far from being a watch designed for triathlon (swimming, cycling, running), it is not at all. The reason is that although it has all three applications, it does not have a multisport mode that allows you to switch from one to another without finishing the recording, as other watches designed for that discipline do. If you are a duathlete or triathlete, the Vivoactive HR can be used for your training, but you cannot record a complete competition by separating each of the sectors individually, as you can see at this link.

But there are many other specific applications for other sports - something that, for example, other watches in the Forerunner range don't have and which is also what makes this Vivoactive HR special. They are as follows:

  • Golf
  • Walk
  • Rowing
  • Paddle Surf
  • Ski/snowboard
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Running / Cycling / Indoor walking
  • Indoor Rowing
  • Strenght

I won't go into detail on each of them, mainly because there are many of them that I haven't practiced in my life (rowing, cross-country skiing or paddle surfing, for example), and because others are simply the version of the same application without the use of GPS.

Where there is something more special is in the application of skiing or snow, because it allows you to track the activity when you go down the slopes, stopping automatically when you reach the end and wait for the lift to return to climb. For this function makes use of the barometric altimeter enjoyed by the Vivoactive HR.

As for golf, you can take a look at the Garmin Vivoactive testI was talking specifically about the golf application and what it had to offer, but nothing has changed.

Optical heart rate sensor

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Optical Sensor

The optical pulse sensor of the Garmin Vivoactive HR has several possibilities of use. In addition to the one you have seen in the activity monitor section and the more than obvious use during sports activities, there is the possibility of using the watch as an optical pulse sensor for other devices that connect through ANT+.

The option is buried in the clock menu. To access it you must go to Configuration - Sensors - Frequency Card and activate the option to transmit heart rate

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Transmit FC

After activating the option on the screen you will only be able to see your FC and you will not be able to use any other options on the clock.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Heart Rate Transmission

To use that data in any other device you will simply have to search for sensors from, for example, an Edge cycling computer

Garmin Vivoactive HR - FC Transmission

While this is an option that makes a lot of sense in the Vivosmart HR, as it is a device without GPS and much simpler, I don't think the typical user of this watch will appreciate this option very much, but it is there in case you want to use it at some point.

But beyond the options it offers, what matters is the quality of the data. That is, that the data obtained by the sensor is correct. I have seen a slight improvement over other watches that equip the Garmin Elevate sensor, but since a picture is worth a thousand words, I have prepared a few graphs that will be equivalent to... 10,000? Well, I'll let you judge by how many words you change them.

I have tested the sensor of the Garmin Vivoactive HR by comparing it with a fleet of different sensors, both optical and pectoral. In this first graph the Vivoactive HR is confronted with two optical sensors as Mio Link and Scosche RHYTHM+ of more than proven quality, plus a chest pulse sensor as Stryd.


As you can see in the picture, except for the cold start where all sensors suffer (both optical and traditional chest sensors) and a few moments where Mio Link has a strange peak, all four graphs line up perfectly, pulse up or pulse down.

When doing series the behavior has improved slightly. It still suffers from a certain delay in recovering the correct heart rate after an interval and start with the rest. In the graph below you can see it clearly (in purple the Garmin Vivoactive HR). But it does not always happen, in this case has only happened in the first interval, while the second has traced the record of the other two sensors (one optical and one in the chest).

Garmin Vivosmart HR - Sensor Comparison

Extending the end of the first interval we can see that at the beginning of the recovery it starts correctly, but something distracts it for a few seconds and gives us a slightly higher reading than the real one, to get back to the correct frequency later on.

Garmin Vivosmart HR - Sensor Comparison

During the rest of the activity the behaviour is totally satisfactory. Some dissonant peaks can be appreciated, but we are talking about a difference of 2 or 3 pulses per minute.

Another training in which we can see how the same circumstance is repeated. A correct start, the same as during the rest of the activity, except for a strange peak in the middle of the activity. I certainly cannot confirm if this rise is a punctual error of the watch or has been produced by moving the watch on the wrist. But at the progressive end and by pressing it, the same circumstance is repeated. The Vivoactive HR recovers more slowly and needs a few seconds to understand that we have stopped the activity. As soon as it understands this, it quickly matches again the frequency reading of the other two sensors.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Progressive FC Comparison

So there's nothing we haven't already seen in other Garmin watch models that feature this sensor, such as the Forerunner 235 or Garmin Vivosmart HR.

In this training session you can see how in the initial part, during the race at a constant pace, the three sensors fully coincide in their reading.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - FC Comparison

At the end I had to do 20 squats followed by 50m sprints at maximum intensity, which is where you can start to see differences, so I'm going to enlarge it for you to see more detail.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - FC Comparison

When you reach the squat section, all three sensors respond correctly, with no delay from the Vivoactive HR. But running at maximum intensity is lost at some points. It is not an easy test, since the intensity is very high in very short periods and also with a lot of arm movement (which causes the watch to move from its place).

Where I have seen changes is in cycling use. If you have read previous tests of devices with the Garmin Elevate you will remember that the results when cycling were disastrous. Well, that has changed slightly.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Pulse Sensor Comparison

This training I can classify as surprising. In fact I had to look at the graph several times and several points, because I thought that the Vivoactive HR had been paired with one of the other two sensors and was simply repeating those data. But no, I could confirm that the three graphs coincided almost perfectly, only with slight differences in some points that served to confirm that, indeed, there were points with small differences of a pulse between one sensor and another.

The improvement is important, but it doesn't become totally perfect. Here you can see this other cycling training, where there are many coincidences, but the third block of work is where it is lost definitively, probably due to the accumulation of sweat. At that moment the most appropriate thing would have been to remove the watch, dry the sensor and put it back.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Pulse Sensor Comparison

But just as there are fantastic days and almost good days... I have encountered situations where, without understanding the reason, simply finding the slightest similarity in heart rate measurement is pure chance.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Progressive FC Comparison

The reason? I have no idea. I have a theory, and it's that the day was "weird" with temperature changes and I was warm. At times it was hot and with long sleeves I was sweating a lot, so with the position of the arm all the sweat ended up reaching the sensor area. This is something that does not happen when running, because instead of sweat going towards the hand, it goes towards the elbow and does not accumulate in the wrist area.

The sensor has improved slightly in its use for cycling (and other non-running activities, such as gymnastics), although at the moment it can't be scored on cycling activities. But again, the progress is remarkable and I hope that Garmin will continue to make progress with the sensor management algorithm, both for running sessions with pace changes and for cycling and gymnastics.

Battery life

Garmin announces an autonomy for the Vivoactive HR of up to 8 days in clock mode (with the optical sensor active). This is with notifications, connectivity and other options activated and without performing any activity that activates the use of GPS or lighting. In my case between each charge, with almost daily workouts of greater or lesser duration, on the fourth day I had to think about putting the clock in charge. The usual battery life has been 4-5 days in combined use.

Garmin also indicates that use in GPS mode can be up to 13 hours, and in the test I ran, it passed that figure with flying colours.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Autonomy

The test is performed with the GLONASS option turned off, so if you activate GPS+GLONASS it calculates that you will have about 20% less battery life. The result is quite good, surpassing by many hours the Garmin Forerunner 235 that has its Achilles heel in the battery.

Clock, lighting and other considerations

Don't forget that in addition to all the above, the Vivoactive HR is a clock. Notice that it also tells the time. Incredible, isn't it?

The first thing to note is that the design of the sphere can be changed through Connect IQBy default, the watch has a fairly simple digital face, which is what you've seen in the activity monitor images, but you can change the design of the watch to Garmin creations or to community creations through the application section of the Garmin application (either on your computer or in the Garmin Connect application on your mobile phone).

Garmin Connect Spheres

This way you can wear your watch on a daily basis with a more personalized look.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Watchface

In the Vivoactive HR, when programming alarms, there are more options. The snooze alarms are programmable, you can choose which days you want an alarm to sound independently, since before you could only select weekdays or holidays. So now you can have an alarm for weekdays at 8 am and for Sundays put a different one at 7 am (long pull!) And as the Vivoactive HR has no ringing tones, only vibration, you will not wake anyone but you.

And you also have a timer and a stopwatch, which is something more than one and two ask me in the comments of the different tests. Yes, this Vivoactive HR does have a stopwatch and a timer.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Stopwatch and Timer

As for the lighting I miss the ability to keep the screen on at all times, and it seems to be an option that is only reserved for higher-end models. My workouts tend to be almost always at night and if there is something that I use a lot is precisely the illumination of the screen. However, the Vivoactive HR tries to make up for this lack through gesture activation. You can activate this option from the "Backlight" menu.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Gestures

By activating that option, the screen will turn on both when you interact on the screen or the buttons, as well as when you turn your wrist to look at the clock. So when you run, you can turn your wrist to look at the screen, and the screen will turn on. Although I'd prefer to keep it always on for a quick look without having to make the full gesture.

The light quality is sufficient, and nine power levels can be selected.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Lighting

Compared to previous Garmin models the amount of light is clearly less, but I don't think this is a problem when training, I think there is plenty of light.

And I would also like to remind you that the screen uses transflective technology. Unlike a normal LCD screen that has very bright and colorful colors but loses visibility with light, in the case of Garmin watches it is the other way around, since transflective screens use light to reflect it behind the screen and give visibility to the content.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Navigation

Therefore, the more ambient light, the better the display will look and there is no need to use backlighting, which drains the batteries of other smart watches.

Of course, the clock screen will also show the notifications from your mobile phone (which you can turn off if you are not interested). You can also configure which applications you want to receive notifications from. When you receive them, they will be shown on the screen and you can open it to read the content in more detail. You can also access these notifications from the available widget, where you will have a list of all the pending notifications to read.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Notifications

Errors and bugs

Most of my trial time has been with the initial software version, 2.20. In that version, this list was much longer. However, Garmin launched an update correcting some of those errors, which has allowed to shorten this list substantially. Peeeeero, that update has not solved all the errors and there are still translations to be done.

The behavior of the optical pulse sensor is as it is, as you have seen in the corresponding section. But more than an error or a failure, I consider it to be another characteristic of the Garmin Elevate sensors, and that is that for the moment they are not up to the Mio Link and Scosche RHYTHM+ that give such good results, especially when used in cycling.

This first update to polish the clock has come quite early (even before it was officially released in Spain), have not taken as long as with Vivosmart HR that needed a few months of shooting.

Therefore, the Garmin Vivoactive HR, although not without its occasional failures, is a clock that comes to market when it is quite rolled.

My opinion

The Garmin Vivoactive HR is a small device that can do a lot of things. It doesn't stand out in any of them, but everything it does does is good. At first it may seem like just a steroid activity bracelet, but the possibilities it offers go far beyond that.

It may be perfect for many people who play many sports, but none of them in a competitive way. The Vivoactive HR is capable of doing many things and serving many sports, but when it comes to setting it up it is limited (as well as simple, don't forget). Runners may miss advanced training, cyclists may miss the scarcity of data screens available and support for power meters. Swimmers may fall short in terms of controls available in the pool and the lack of outdoor swimming. And triathletes will yearn for a multi-sport mode.

But if you simply enjoy sports and equally enjoy walking, jogging 10 kilometers in the park, biking, skiing or paddle surfing; I can't think of a better option to recommend you. Garmin has come up with a complete but simple to use watch capable of meeting the expectations of the vast majority of non-competitive sportsmen and women (who, let's remember, are the majority).

Buy Garmin Vivoactive HR

You can get your Garmin Vivoactive HR through Amazon and help the site by purchasing it through this link.

Remember that if you make the purchase through the link you will be helping to support the page, and all without any cost to you. This way you save and I get back a small commission that will help the purchase of new devices to perform the following tests.

Don't forget to share the test in your social networks and with your friends, so that they can also be informed. And don't hesitate to comment and subscribe to the comments, many times you will find answers to questions that have not been dealt with in the text of the test. You can use the test comments as a forum and share not only your doubts, but also your opinions of the computer with the rest of the readers.

Thank you for reading and supporting the page!

Eduardo Mateos

I've been surrounded by electronic devices of all kinds for more than 25 years. Using them, testing them, taking them apart and dissecting them. Long distance triathlete: I swim, run and cycle for a long time. Maybe too much.

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  1. Hey, Eduardo!

    Great analysis, as usual. I've had it for a few days now and I'm having second thoughts.
    My activities are gym and body weight training three days a week, swimming in the holes (in courses with a teacher), going for a jog sporadically, and walking kids and dog. I have never seriously controlled any of the activities, but since I work at the University in front of computers, sitting all day, I was attracted to the activity bracelets as a way to help me start recording what I do and self-stressed, and also to allow the consultation of notifications. SmartWatch are expensive, not very useful and short of battery (a scarce day), so after trying a Fitbit Blaze (no notifications in iOS, no GPS, not waterproof), I ended up with this Garmin.
    Once I've explained my types of activity, I'd like to ask you a few questions:
    - The automatic activity recognition doesn't seem to work very well; I have it activated, but for example, it doesn't recognize the elliptical bike. I don't know if you have to exaggerate the gestures to do it, or it needs 15 minutes minimum by default, like the Fitbit.
    - On the other hand, the activities with free weights or body weight, I understand that they have to be entered manually as a strength activity, and eliminate meaningless fields, such as distance traveled, lap-time, etc.. This makes me wonder if the algorithm for calculating caloric expenditure, intensity, etc., is really adapted to strength activities or is the same as for running. do you know anything? On the other hand, it is not the same to do in "strength" a session of strength, endurance, hypertrophy, or HIIT. Is it possible to adapt it, or is it the same formula for everything? Is there another clock suitable for it?
    - Finally (I do not want to abuse), for my work I need to "dress" sometimes with a more "apparent" watch. I am considering the SmartbandHR+ (more discreet), and on the other hand a normal watch on the other wrist, because I do want to continue "monitored" all day. Does it offer the same as this Vivoactive HR, or some activity, function, widget, falls out of the package?

    That said, I don't abuse it anymore. Congratulations on your great work, which I discovered too late, but I will continue faithfully.


    1. Automatic activity recognition does indeed need a little more time to be able to assess the activity, but if you are doing an exercise, it is best to do it independently.

      Most common when calculating calories is time and intensity (heart rate), then depending on the type of sport there may be differences, but the most important thing is to have the CF data.

      Vivosmart HR+ is simpler in everything. It doesn't allow you to add sensors, it doesn't have so many activity widgets, etc. If you don't need the GPS, I think what you want Vivosmart HR is more than enough.

  2. Great and contrasted report!!! 😀

    As soon as this:

    "Unfortunately data recording does not jump on the bandwagon of the latest trend at Garmin, which was to equip all of their models with per-second data recording. The Vivoactive HR only allows smart recording, unlike what the Forerunner 230 and 235 offer."

    Where can I find information, I would like to know if it is a hardware limitation or a software one as they have done with the Trainning effect that has disappeared with version 2.40?

    Then I don't know if I'm too clumsy or what but I can't get it to work as a heart rate monitor in Runtastic... 🙁....

    Greetings and thank you!

    1. It is simply a software limitation. There is nothing in the hardware that prevents you from including it, they are simply business decisions by Garmin to make one product more "premium" than another, or to provide extra simplicity to the Vivo range (more stable pace, more constant graphics).

  3. I've been looking at Gps heart rate monitors for some time now and I don't know which one to choose. I'm a footballer, and I think that the famous vests are out of price (although I'm not wrong), so I'm looking at a heart rate monitor profile that covers the activities I usually do: running, swimming, bodybuilding, playing paddleball... since in football the use of a watch is not compatible.
    I'm studying Inef so I'd like something that I can use to work with my future clients, i.e. calculate VOmax etc. (which the vivoactive doesn't have).
    I also have a doubt about the vivoactive HR: if I swam in open water, would it calculate distances and calories?
    The price I'd be willing to spend would be about 250 euros, 50 up 50 down... I really like the options of the band-less heart rate monitors such as the Garmin Vivoactive HR or the Forerunner 325.

    Could you give me an opinion, advice or recommendation on any particular one?

    Thank you very much and sorry for the inconvenience.

    1. For that usage profile the Vivoactive HR may be sufficient, but it does not have an open water swimming profile so you will not have a distance calculation. And the optical sensor does not work in swimming so the calorie measurement is not very accurate.

      You can take a look at the Ambit3 Ambit3> Sport that would fit your budget. It has no optical sensor but it does the rest of the activities perfectly.

    2. Pablo I think that if it is going to be a work tool you should not skimp, there are very good Suunto and Garmin watches that adapt to what you want but on average they are 400 euros.

      As for the VOmax calculation as you know these clocks are simply based on tables and calculations that you can make yourself by hand and that are more accurate (the training effect as well) and more if they are for customers.

      The Vivoactive HR is not prepared for measuring distances in open water and it will not measure the heart rate well either (a specific chest band is needed). The watches prepared for this as I said above are around 400 ? upwards. For your budget this is the best.

  4. Hey, Eduardo!

    I'm the George from above again hehe

    I'm going crazy so I can use the clock pulse at Runtastic.

    I have read and searched the web and I do not get anything clear, I am very interested because I am paying the premium fee for Runtastic Results.

    And please, if you could tell me some tools so I can compare two pulse charts, I want to see how accurate it is with respect to my chest band.

    Greetings and thank you very much

    1. The clock sends FC data via ANT+, so your phone has to support this type of connectivity, not all phones offer it.

  5. Hello and thank you for your work.
    I hesitated between this and the Phoenix 3 hr, but well, I think I did the right thing. I have a couple of doubts:
    - you can create new activities but only with the name others, there is the possibility to put the one you want ... In principle and according to the instructions it seems that yes, but I do not find as ...
    - You can create a new application for swimming in open water, can't you? I used it for surfing and it gave me too much distance I think, but the watch under the wetsuit.

    Thank you very much for everything again.

    1. Have you ever used another one of these watches or do you know someone else who uses it for surfing?

    2. I don't have the clock right now, so I can't confirm it, but it should be similar to other models. After creating the activity with the name of others and selecting the colour, you can customise the name. The name of others is the one that will appear in Garmin Connect after synchronisation.

      As for swimming in open water, the Vivoactive HR does not allow it.

  6. Hi, Eduardo,

    Thank you for your time and the great result of the analysis you show us here. I've been messing around with the Vivoactive HR for a couple of weeks and I don't like the fact that when I do some activity with the gps connected and I'm standing the distance increases. I've defined a new activity in others and that doesn't suit me either, I don't know if there's something I'm skipping or it's failing.


    1. It is normal that the distance increases. GPS triangulation is not totally perfect and if it places you 1 meter away from where you are it is distance that adds up.

  7. Hi Eduardo, I love your analysis. Congratulations and thank you very much. I tell you, I train four times a week at the gym, I go cycling once or twice a week, and very sporadically to run. I am hesitating between the forerunner 235, or the vivoactive hr. Which one do you recommend, since the price difference is not much?

    1. If you run only sporadically, the Vivoactive HR is a better choice. The Forerunner is a more race focused watch, so if you practice less the Vivoactive HR option is the most logical.

      1. Hello again Eduardo. Thank you very much for your quick answer. One question, is the pulse sensor the same as the one in the vivomart? I've been wearing up bracelets since they came out, I've had them all. But the up3, which I have now, promised an upgrade for the pulse sensors which hasn't come out yet. And I really like the idea of monitoring the pulses during the day. How do the vivomart and vivoactive record the hours of sleep? Is there a lot of difference between vivomart and vivoactive? Thank you very much again. Greetings. Manu

        1. The sensor is the same, although there may be differences in performance depending on the size of the box (how it covers the light when it is larger).
          The sleep record of Vivosmart HR and Vivoactive HR is the same, there is no difference in that point. I cannot compare you to Jawbone, as I have not tried them.

  8. Fantastic analysis, Eduardo.
    I've been with the Vivoactive HR for a couple of weeks now and I'm delighted.
    I was looking for a watch that would suit my needs and this is why I decided to be the best compensated as a whole. It doesn't stand out at all but everything it does does is very reliable.
    My sports activity is based on 5 days a week with a warm-up routine of about 15 minutes on an elliptical trainer or exercise bike, a strength session of about 45 minutes and, to finish, about 20 minutes of cardio on a rowing, elliptical trainer or exercise bike (depending on what I feel like that day). On alternate days I extend the final cardio session to 45 minutes and introduce an HIIT routine.
    I sporadically do some running, no more than 12km and no less than 5km, due to a meniscus injury that kept me away from half marathons and running as a main exercise.
    As you can see, I needed something that wasn't specifically for running, like the forerunner range, as I wasn't going to get any use out of it at the moment. I decided on this Vivoactive HR and bought it as an import a few days before it went on sale in Spain.
    In these two long weeks with him I have had very good results, I am happy with the acquisition, especially after the upgrade to version 2.40, because with 2.20, when configuring some data fields I was restarted.
    The visibility of the screen is adequate, although some color combinations make it difficult to read in small print. It is comfortable, reasonably sized and does not seem to me to be unsuitable in weight.
    When the lighting is configured in interaction mode there are times that it doesn't respond to touches on the screen, having to press a button to make it light up. During a rowing session, when I left the application to check the time, I lost the data, which was very bad at the beginning and I didn't lose more than a minute.
    Interestingly, in the exercise bike and rowing applications (on tape I didn't notice) one of the data screens shows the one that obviously always remains at zero. With a little customization you can leave the really useful data.
    Many times I don't recognize the floors I've climbed well, I miss one or two and it's not something that shows instantly but takes a while to recognize the change in altitude.
    And about the pulse monitor, I refer to your analysis adding that when driving, both car and motorcycle, the vibrations of the handlebars or steering wheel confuse it and the data it shows very high frequencies (above 100 when the normal would be half).
    But all those little bugs that depend on the software and not on the hardware, let's remember that it has just been released, we are in front of a version that will have to improve with time by correcting them, they do not spoil everything that it does really well and for which I need the perfect complement, at least among all those that I compared before deciding.
    A salute.

    1. Just add that for racing I use chest strap and pedometer that I link to the Vivoactive HR through ANT+ and the data is collected perfectly. In this sense it works without any problem.

  9. Hi Eduardo, I practice mountain biking and swimming and I'm looking for a pulse meter and route measurement, which clock would mend me, I can't decide it's difficult to decide, thanks in advance.

  10. Good morning, Eduardo!

    You see, I'm looking at this kind of gadgets because I have a vivamart hr that I'm happy with in many ways.
    The thing is that I go for a run 6 days a week, a little less than an hour because I go out before work. I also go 3 days to the gym to do some muscle building and sporadically some cycling.
    The thing is that I'm looking for a device that gives me what I already have but that can define my own training for running and the option of GPS also interests me.
    The thing is, I'm used to the Garmin platform and the rest of it seems worse to me.

    Can you think of any options with my pretensions or better to keep waiting/seeking?

    A greeting from Alhaurin de la Torre!

    Salvador Grau.

      1. Dear Eduardo!
        I bought the Vivoactive HR, and I have the impression that the heart rate does not work well. Is there any advice on how to put it on to make it more accurate? I say this because I have done very intense running exercises, and I have not passed 158 Pm. Thank you very much for your answers and attention. Best regards

        1. The watch must be at least one finger above the wrist bone.
          Tight but not strangling

  11. Hi, congratulations for this fabulous review, I wanted to ask you, do you see enough difference to change it for the previous vivoactive? and the other question is, do you notice much difference in the size of the wrist with respect to the vivoactive? is that I have a very narrow wrist and I don't know if I could stay very ugly. Thank you

    1. If you want to switch to optical pulse measurement, it may be worth it, otherwise you will find yourself with the same thing.

      More than the size, which has increased the thickness, what changes is the format.
      The screen is the same (although in the HR it has more contrast), it is simply turned and it is in elongated format in the HR. I find both models quite comfortable, although I like the button layout of the Vivoactive HR better.

  12. Hello, how do I synchronize my watch when I want to? How do I do it? Thank you!

    1. Simply open the Garmin Connect application on your phone and the synchronisation will begin.

  13. Hello, thanks for the analysis is very complete, I was given a Vivoactive HR, the only problem I have is that I find that the lighting of the screen is not enough, I entered configuration, backlighting and the maximum brightness that comes out is 5, in your analysis says that you can adjust up to 9 power, where can I adjust it?
    I'm waiting for your answer, thank you very much

    1. The lighting change was made with the latest firmware version.
      Make sure you've updated.

      1. Just today it updated automatically, that's what it was, now it comes out with 9 levels of lighting. Thank you very much for your help

  14. Good morning Eduardo. Thank you very much for your complete analysis of this device, you have cleared up many doubts I had about it.
    I would like to tell you about my situation and to advise me if this cardiometer is the one I am looking for or if there is a better option.
    I currently have a Polar M400 and I mostly do spinning (at home and at a steady pace most of the time) and occasionally go mountain biking, hiking and now I'm starting to run gently (what I call "trote cochinero", hehehe).
    Due to a meniscus injury I had to give up soccer and running at a demanding level.... My traumatologist "prescribed" me a stationary bike and told me that with time podría return to run smoothly ... Well, I roll up, the question is that my trips to the countryside and with the mountain bike are starting to go to more than 6 hours, and the battery of the M400 does not reach me (despite being more than delighted with it) and I thought about this vivoactive hr, but I have a couple of doubts that if I give the Polar and I think this does not have.

    The first one is the recommended recovery period. I can see it on the web on the Polar, and it is very useful for me to calculate the rest time I need after an intense session. This model I think I read does not have this option, right?

    And the second is that I see that it does not have by default the activity of hiking, but that if another one comes as a walk. Is it similar? Do you use the GPS to see the route taken?

    Another one (although I can imagine the answer to this one), I have the H6 polar band that goes through Bluetooth... With this model it doesn't work, right? I say it for when I use the bikes, which I have already read that it doesn't mark the pulse correctly.

    Thank you very much for your time and answers (and sorry for the scroll I dropped).

    1. No, the Vivoactive HR has no recovery time, for that you would have to go to 230/235.

      The activity of walking (or running) serves you perfectly, in that sense you would not have any problem.

      As for the pulse sensor, it doesn't really work for you.

      1. Thank you for your answer Eduardo, I had initially thought of buying the 235, but it lacks the most practical sport (indoor bike) as it is more focused on the runner segment and this pulls me back. I think I will finally buy this model. Thanks again and best regards.

        1. The 230/235 does have an indoor cycling (and indoor running) activity profile, so it's definitely just normal cycling mode with GPS off.

          1. Wow! I'm going to re-read the analysis you made of the 235, which I can see I didn't do very well.. I thought I only had cycling and running profiles.
            And how do you see the battery life at 235? I read it's his achilles heel.
            For hiking I guess there's no profile, but I could use the running one..
            Thank you once again.

          2. Almost 8 hours. It already depends on if it's enough for you on your walks in the country.

      2. Good afternoon!

        A little late, but I would like to comment that according to the manual of the VivoActive HR should have recovery time, ie should appear that information after 2 minutes of completing an activity ... the problem is that I can not get it to work regularly, ie I have achieved that I sometimes appear the FC recovery time but not always, and that's what brings me to my head, because the function according to the official manual should be provided by the device ... any ideas?

        Thank you, greetings! Excellent post!

        1. It may be because I'm not reading the pulse properly. Try adjusting the strap differently.

  15. Hello again! Thank you, the clock is synchronized with the mobile...

    But it doesn't update with Garmin Express, it just hangs there, what can I do? thank you!

  16. Hi Eduardo! I want to give my boyfriend one of these watches but I have no idea which one to choose since I see that they are all designed for running and my boy is a cyclist. Could you advise me which one would be the best for cycling? Without going overboard. Thank you very much

  17. Hello,

    Great analysis ... I'm evaluating the purchase of the Vivoactive HR or Vivosmart HR+ and I do not know which one to choose. Seeing the analysis the only thing I have clear is that both options are very good for what I need. Weekly I go out to run a couple of times (about 8-12 km), I do 2-3 sessions of weights in the gym and I play 2-3 times paddle (usually indoor). I am interested in the fact that it is waterproof but not to take it off at the beach, pool or shower, before I swam but I have been leaving but I do not rule out returning. I like the theme of notifications (calls and messages) and vibration alarms.

    Yesterday I traveled to a person with the Tomtom Runner 2 (or Spark I think) and I liked it, but when I went to see the review on your website and the manufacturer I was put off by the issue of not having notifications.

    Another point, is that I'm not used to wear anything on my body (bracelets, rings, chains ...) ... I bought a basic Chinese smartband with a heart rate monitor to try to wear something and more or less ... ok.

    What 1TP10Could you recommend? VivoSmart HR+ (I think you haven't reviewed it yet) or save a little and go for the Vivoactive (I'm a little afraid of the size of it for 24 hour wear). Thank you very much.

    1. I think the Vivoactive is a better option, both because of the possibilities and because of the possibility that you will take up swimming again later on.

      1. Hi, I am also between a vivo active hr and a vivo smart hr+. In my case I come from fitbit hr.
        I go for a run 2-3 times a week (30/60 min) and as the fitbit has broken down I look for a replacement.

        What are the real differences between the two?
        I can't see them all.
        Seems a little touched by the active life.

        Thanks for the proof, I'm waiting for the vivomart hr + ?.

        1. If the Vivoactive HR seems big and with the data provided by the Fitbit Charge you were happy, then with the Vivosmart HR+ you will be more than satisfied. There are many differences, but we return to the same, if you do not fit by size is clear.

  18. Hi Eduardo. Thanks for your work! My question is: does the vivoactive, with gps enabled, allow you to do the reverse route (trackback)? and the vivomart hr+?

    1. Yes, the Vivoactive HR has a back to home function, but showing an arrow indicating the direction to follow (not a route to go back).
      Vivosmart does not have that function.

      1. The forerunner 325 also does not show the route to be retraced? just an arrow?

        Thank you very much for your attention.

          1. Yes, but keep in mind that it is an application as such, so you must start it independently from the normal recording so you cannot be doing one activity and then go out and start the other application, because it will not know where it needs to go.

          2. Okay. Got it. You've been very kind and helpful. The next purchase I make on amazon, I'll do it from your link. Cheers!

  19. Good morning again Eduardo. After evaluating it a lot and reconsidering several options I have finally decided to go for this Vivoactive HR, but I have one last question that I hope you can solve. In your analysis you say that when paired with an ANT+ chest band it only indicates the heart rate... Does that mean that if I put one on for spinning or mountain biking I would only see this data? Would I not have access to my indoor cycling profile?
    Thank you for everything once again and a greeting.

    1. No, with the ANT+ pulse sensor the data will be that of the pulse sensor and not that of the optical sensor, but everything else will be exactly the same.

  20. Good morning, Eduardo!

    Since it cannot be used in open waters to measure distance, my question is if I put the option of Rowing or Paddle surfing, won't the GPS measure the distance of these applications? and the pulses?


    1. It has nothing to do with that. The open water swimming mode requires the algorithm to be prepared for the GPS losses that occur when you put the watch in the water.

      The only option is to wear the watch under a swim cap, out of the water, and thus have distance calculation.

      1. Hello Eduardo, I've had this heart rate monitor for a couple of weeks and very happy, but I have a question that I have been watching it for two nights and it is as follows: Last night I touched the screen to activate the backlight and poder see the time, well, the light was not activated and I had to press the left button to activate the light, once this is done and if the light is activated again with a touch of the screen. Is this normal? Does it have something to do with having activated the sleep system "sleep hours" with the little symbol of the crescent moon on the screen, something like not to bother you in the hours of sleep or is it a failure of the watch? I ask because I don't see anything about it in the user's manual.
        Thank you very much.

        1. Yes, it is designed so that an unintentional touch does not illuminate the screen.

          1. Thank you very much, I thought so but I wanted a professional like you who knows how to handle it to the letter to confirm it.
            Thank you again.

  21. Good morning, Eduardo!

    I tested the vivoactive HR in the pool by setting the 25m distance 3 days, but only one day it counted the lengths correctly (well it had a 25m error) but the rest of the days it marked half or less of the lengths I did.

    Does my device fail that much or is it an error? Does it have to be calibrated in any way?

    Thank you very much and congratulations on your work

    1. There is no calibration. The only thing you have to do is to make the swimming and turning gesture quite clear. The detection is done through the internal accelerometer, so there are no strange movements.

  22. Good morning Pablo, one of the applications that I like about the heart rate monitor is the sleep time one, well until tonight I've always been visualizing the half moon that comes out on the screen of it when it's programmed for the bed time, but yesterday from Garmin Connect I delayed a little bit the bed time and this morning I wanted to look what time it was and I observe that the half moon is not there and until 5:15 when I wake up it's always on the screen. I wasn't careful and I didn't remember to look at the screen before I went to bed to check that it was there, as I had changed the bed time! Because this could happen, if it's always visualized without problems, could it be because I changed the bed time? If so, how did you configure it to go out again and check the sleep time? The activity monitor hasn't been touched, so its status is activated.
    Thank you very much.

    1. I'm sorry I put Paul in place of Edward, I don't know what I was thinking!

    2. If I remember correctly, when you press any button or manipulate the watch, it interprets that you are already awake and therefore disables the night mode.

      1. Well, it had to be, because today the crescent was activated at the scheduled time and it was deactivated at the time I scheduled to wake up.
        Thank you very much for your clarification, Eduardo.

  23. Hi Eduardo, this weekend I gave my wife a Fitbit Surge for her birthday, which by the way was very intuitive and very easy to pair with her mobile phone, but on the same Monday I had to return it because it caused a significant skin allergy in the contact area. In the store they offered me the Vivoactive HR a little more expensive, but as the salesman told me that in this model they had not received any return for allergies, I chose this model.
    The first big disappointment has been the difficulty of pairing with our phones (Huawei Ascend P7) that are already two years old and are not on the "list". This is a serious failure because the pairing should be with Android or IOS, but not with specific models, it would only be necessary to change the cell phone. With an Ipad Air tablet, if we had podido mount the program, but we could not pair it and finally on my laptop I have succeeded but every time I have dumped data I throw 20 minutes waiting for the two devices to connect.
    I finally opted to use my old Garmin "Basecamp" program that I use with my Garmin ForeTrex 401 and connecting it through the charging cable at least I see two screens, one with the map (a very basic map where only roads and streets come up, but no trails) and then a data page, which at the top details the kilometers traveled, positive and negative elevation gain and heart rate data. That's something.
    I was going to change my old ForeTrex 401 for a Fenix 3 HR in September, but I think I'll finally switch to Suunto Traverse or Vertical (or the new Spartan). Although I'll have to wear the chest strap, I feel that I won't have any problem with the connection to my mobile phone, which I've already downloaded the Movescount and I think it's much better than the Garmin Connect.

    1. Clock pairing in both iOS and Android is done from the Garmin Connect application, not from the phone's options.

  24. Hi Eduardo! The most detailed analysis of this model that I could find, I tell you I have a couple of weeks ago, I bought it for the same reasons you give, looking for a heart rate monitor that fits me, I do not train for competition but if I like to spend time in what I do, I usually do MTB Bike, Running and swimming, and of course exercises in the GYM body strength, I noticed some details of the clock that has me somewhat concerned.
    1... it seems to me that it counts more steps than normal, and strides because I see that they change from pair to pair and others it does it one by one, but I think that at the end it puts something more ... (is it normal?) if so I will never have a reality of what is done ...
    2..The calories since I put it in ACTIVE .. come out from 0 to 800 in the detail of my day, in a matter of minutes .. (I explain) as soon as I get up I go to the kitchen to prepare breakfast ... has already been put there ...
    3..Today he has been counting 101 minutes of which 49 are moderate and strong N/A ... when I go to the Gym well imagine ... I always last a couple of hours ... and he lives giving me trophies ... hahaha...
    4. I was doing elliptical and I put it in int. run today I saw that in the mobile in the application connect iq I get elliptical ,,,, so it's like I did two activities .. by the way the elliptical widget I don't have it ,,,, where can I get it?
    I already used it in swimming,, there it is very good...
    Finally, since I used Runtastic's MTB APP... do you know any way to synchronize it with the Garmin Vivoactive HR...
    Thank you and congratulations on your work...

    1. The steps are counted with an accelerometer in the clock, so it is impossible for the data to be 100% accurate.

      The calories you're referring to are basal calories.

      If you record the activity, it should not be listed as a Move IQ activity. Move IQ only works when the clock is at rest.

      As for Runtastic, try SyncMyTracks.

  25. Thanks for answering ... I would have saved 30€ ... with the link you have put ... but soon I will buy the bike sensors ... if you have the link tell me ... the SyncMyTracks not on iOS ...

  26. Good morning Eduardo, yesterday I got an update of Garmin Connecti Mobile to my android Huawei P8 with 6.0 software and I updated it, well when I synchronize this morning the smartphone with the Garmin Vivoactive HR I get a pop-up message saying "the synchronization was successful, but the data has not been dumped, try again later". That little sign has been leaving me a certain time, until a while ago no longer came out and synchronized perfectly, but I go to see the SLEEP data and noted that already marks the hours slept in my day, then I peak at the little circle where are the total sleep hours and I get everything in 0:00, ie, deep: 0:00 light: 0:00 and awake: 0:00, I have not broken it down. The other data of heart rate, steps, etc., etc. it dumps it without problems. I tell you this because the broken down data of the hours of sleep is a very important and relevant data for me and before updating the App was going perfectly. This problem also happens to you. I do not think it is a problem of the heart rate monitor. Rather of this update of Garmin Connect. I have left them a message in the Play Store of this incident in case it was a problem of the update. Do you think it was just my problem or a general problem?
    Greetings and thank you for your response.

    1. I answer to myself. Well, nothing has been a specific error of the application of android, and today has correctly synchronized both the hours of sleep yesterday and today and everything correctly.
      By the way, one more question, I have a mini ipad, can I have the pulse meter with both android and ios at the same time or only with one device?

      1. I have some watches paired with both Android and iOS, although sometimes it's a matter of redoing the search for being out of sync.

        1. Ok, so that's my fear of having to pair with android again, because it was very difficult to pair it, it's a little complicated to pair via Bluetooth the Garmin with android that by the way can only be paired through the Garmin Connect Mobile in the traditional way is impossible.

  27. First of all, congratulations on your analysis, which is by far the most complete I have found on the web.
    I would like to take this opportunity to ask you if there is a way for it to record sleep outside the set sleeping hours, I mean if there is a way for the clock to pick up the Sunday nap. Until recently I had fitbit devices that record sleep automatically regardless of the time.
    Thank you very much for your attention and a greeting.

      1. Thank you very much Eduardo, I will try it as soon as I have the chance, although in this aspect I like more the Surge detection algorithm, which has given me excellent results.

      2. And how do you activate sleep mode manually? I don't see anything in the instructions.

        1. The detection must be performed in automatic mode, whereas previously it was possible to activate it manually.

          1. At least mine doesn't recognize it that way. On the Garmin Connect page there is a marker that says "siesta" but it is at 00:00.

          2. I'm afraid it's not possible (at the moment) to register sleep outside of the schedule that has been set for it. On the other hand, the moment of waking up nails me, but the moment of falling asleep is not very precise, many times the fact of being on the sofa watching TV becomes a dream (in this aspect other devices do it much better)

  28. Hi, Eduardo,
    I'm hesitating between buying this and the tomtom spark cardio music. It's mostly for the gym where I do a little bit of everything. And then one day I go out for a run.
    Which one do you recommend of the two?
    Thank you very much, a greeting.

    1. Either will perfectly meet your requirements. In favour of Garmin the best online platform, the touch screen which can be a plus, notifications, 24h pulse monitoring and a better activity monitor. In contrast, the TomTom is easier to use and if you like to train with music, you save a device and manage everything comfortably.

        1. Good morning Eduardo, well I finally bought this watch I am having a bad experience with it. I love the device but....el first, the day after buying it was dead and I had to return it. The second one has worked very well for 2 weeks except for the connection with the cell phone that is constantly lost but just yesterday, a washap came in and the same thing happened to it as the first one, it was blocked and did not respond.
          So I'll return it and keep looking at what to buy.
          I just wanted to share my experience.
          Thank you very much, best regards

  29. Hello Eduardo, first of all congratulations for that piece of test, as they say out there the best by far. I am about to purchase this watch, I am a novice and I have no experience, my question is if for when I use the bike, is it necessary for me to get a chest strap? If I use it with the strap, the other functions are exactly the same or you can only see the pulsations?
    Which tape is the most suitable for this device?

    Thank you very much in advance!

    1. Thank you, Isidro.

      Not necessary, but recommended if you want to have good heart rate data. Using the sensor on the chest the only thing that changes is the origin of the reading, everything else will be exactly the same.

      Any ANT+ sensor will do.

      1. Thanks for your answer, I'm still a little lost, and as much as I read and search, I don't quite understand the sleep control. I work shifts and sometimes I have to work at night and sleep in the morning, it detects this by itself, or I have to be entering the start time of sleep manually every day? and to detect it, you have to activate the "do not disturb"?
        Another thing, I have a garmin conecta training plan, is there any way to link it to the clock?? that is, if I have to do a fartlek training, I can activate it from the clock so that it tells me when to run and when to walk???
        Sorry to ask so many questions, but it's my first watch of its kind.
        Thanks again and best regards

        1. The automatic sleep control will only work when you sleep at night. If you do it during the day, you must enable it manually.

          As for the advanced training, it is a feature exclusive to the Forerunner range, it is not possible to synchronize them with the Vivoactive HR, although you can check them on the web and go out and do them without any problem, although the clock will not warn you of the different steps.

          1. Hi Eduardo, I have programmed the sleep theme manually since I thought it was not possible automatically, but it is something that interests me a lot since I set the time to go to sleep and get up that many days are very different. Is there a possibility that Garmin detects when I go to sleep without having to program any time? If so what would be your steps to activate it automatically.
            Another question from a friend who recently bought it is, is there an option to put the elliptical mode in the exercise apps? I looked at the ones that are pre-installed and elliptical doesn't come.
            Thank you very much.

          2. If the hours vary at night there is no problem, the problem is if you sleep during the day which will then not make the record correctly and you will have to set the sleep mode manually.

            For the elliptical I would use the indoor training mode. There's none specific.

          3. Thank you very much, Eduardo. What would be the application of indoor training that could correspond to the elliptical? For example, when I do bodybuilding I put on strength training and when I run on a treadmill, but similar to the elliptical I don't see any.

  30. Great analysis! I loved it.
    I have a live hr and the truth is that I am quite happy, I have only failed the minutes of intensity and not knowing why they were set to zero on the clock while the app still appears to me relating to this week, I would like to consult something about the activity monitor, I read in your review that the clock data in maximum and minimum pulse are not the same clock and in the app to synchronize but, at least in my case, when I analyze the graph in the section my day or the calendar do not match the pulses that are supposed to put, for example, according to the activity (look at the app on your mobile) I had a maximum peak of 107 but to go to the graph of the day I appear that peak at 100, and the same happens with the minimums the clock I mark a minimum of 42 but in the graph in the app says 44, is this normal or just happens to me ? is that I find it curious that within the same application looking at it in different sections
    Thank you very much and great work

  31. Hello Dear, tremendous analysis and I had questions regarding physical activity measurements such as crossfit or functional training, since I train in a square, do you have any way to register? I'm listening to your comments
    Thank you very much!

    1. There is no specific mode of crossfit, but of course you can use it in that type of training, although the heart rate data will not be the most accurate and I would recommend, at those times, using an ANT+ sensor on your chest.

  32. Eduardo, excellent analysis, a question, if I create a training session of running, with 5 steps at different pace, warm up, three intervals and recovery, fartlek type, and program it for a specific day, you say that this device will not warn me when I should change pace, I hope your answer to decide the purchase, my activities are running twice a week, crossfit, golf and cycling.muchas gracias.

    1. No, the Vivoactive HR does not support advanced training, it is only for specific race models. If you want all those sports and also schedule training, you should choose the Fenix 3.

      However, unless you are going to do interval training constantly (and variable training, beyond remembering every day what you do), with the Vivoactive HR you will be well served.

      1. Eduardo, thank you very much for the quick answer, and I keep getting deeper into the subject of running with this garmin watch, what types of running training can be done with the vivoactive, just record what you do or give you some simple plans to follow, like preparing a 5k, 10 k, etc, as the pre-set plans are listed on the garmin page. Remember that I've been using the adidas micoach system for a few years now, the grazing with the band plus the pedometer, and I want to move to a pulsometer, but the adidas range lately leaves a lot to be desired.

        Greetings from Cordoba, Argentina and thank you very much for your help.

        1. Training is also exclusive to the Forerunner range - it's the same as advanced training, except that it's an automatic way to complete your training schedule.

          1. Eduardo, thank you very much for taking the time to answer my question, and after reading several of your articles, it goes without saying that they are excellent, I have decided to buy the Forerunner 235, it is the one that will adapt best to my training series and be able to do some follow-up in another sport, cycling, croosfit, and I will see how it goes when I play tennis, but the main thing for which I want it, which is to run, I know that it will meet my expectations. Thank you very much for your help in deciding, and I will continue reading your articles that are very useful.

  33. Good, the best review I've seen on this... a question, I'm getting into tabata type exercises and the pulse sensor is not reliable at all. Marking me very very low pulsations (between 95 and 115). i have tried updating it as garmin has told me, but nothing. I see that the heart rates are not real. If I go on a treadmill, or elliptical, if it is more real. But I have noticed that when you sweat the sensor does not work well. any recommendations? what can I do? Because then I do not understand how they put out a product that, if you sweat, does not work well.

    Another question I have is: for tabata, crossfit, or functional training, which application is the most suitable? strength training? cardio? I have tried these and none of them count the distance you do, nor the speed.


    1. For short and intense intervals, a chest pulse sensor is recommended, but correct positioning on the arm is always important.

      If the training is indoors, the only way to get distance is through the accelerometer in indoor running mode.

  34. I practice running a couple of times a week, about 45', and I run with a pulse meter (tape measure) to check my heart rate. I also play golf (hcp 8) usually once a week. Can I use Vivoactive for both activities? What about the golf part?

    1. The Vivoactive HR is perfect for both. As far as Golf is concerned, in the end the most important part is that there are golf course maps available, and that aspect is well covered by Garmin, who have been making devices designed exclusively for Golf for years.

  35. Good afternoon, Eduardo:
    I am hesitating between buying the VIVOACTIVE HR and the Forerunner 735XT, could you advise me?
    My usual sports are 3-4 days/week CrossFit and running and some weekends mountain. I have seen that the Vivo has a force option... but I don't really know what function it has or what that function offers. The 735XT has on the other hand the VOx that if I am interested, intervals, recovery control, etc. but I don't know if it gives the option of some kind of force function or repetition control (without the need for additional sensors).
    Another question I have is if I download the app in connect iq for example VOx, according to gramin is compatible, would it work? I mean, there are also functions that does not bring them of serious a Vivo but you can get in connect iq and "match" some functions with the 735xt.... in theory ....
    In short, what do you recommend for my usual sports, with many changes of pace in a short time, high intensity and both internal and external ...
    Thank you for your time!

    1. For high intensity and very short interval training, an optical sensor is not recommended. In that case it is always better to use a chest sensor, but you can connect an external sensor to either one for the days you perform such training.

      If you're interested in the advanced features offered by the 735XT, you'll have to go to that model. It's not possible to add those features through Connect IQ.

  36. I have just bought a vivoactive hr and as far as I can see it is not compatible with incorporating training sessions or plans, so it is not possible to define series. Do you know if this error will be solved in the future? If not, I am planning to change it for one that allows me to do series

    1. The Vivoactive HR does not support this function, it is something exclusive to Forerunner

      1. I'm looking for something that will allow me to train in series not only running but also in the gym. The pool would basically be covered and the bike is already supplied with the edge. I don't rule out changing brands because I've been disappointed by vivoactive hr. Can you give me a recommendation for similar prices to vivoactive but that meets my expectations?

        Sent from my Samsung device

        1. In that price range there is nothing similar that allows guided training and also supports swimming, you have to go to high ranges like Fenix 3 HR or FR735XT.

  37. Hi Eduardo, congratulations on your website and your reviews, without a doubt the best on the net.

    I wanted to ask you please: I had a Forerunner 230 and through garmin connect's own website I was able to do a lot of things when scheduling interval training, fartlek, etc. On this device you can also? create for example:

    1000 m working in Z2
    400 m working in Z4
    1000 m recu Z2

    I hope I made myself clear. Congratulations again, a salute.

    1. Excuse me, I'm stretching a bit more than I've got stuff in the inkwell...

      By prescription I need to monitor my CF while I do sport, even swimming, so I am also considering the model of Polar V800. This last one, allows the creation of series as I mentioned above... In your opinion, you have tried both and if we forget about the FC swimming, which one would you stay with? Currently there is a difference of about 80 euros and I wanted to be sure that it is worth the investment.

      Thank you again.

      1. It depends a lot on what you are going to use it for. The V800 is a good triathlon watch, in the sense of being focused on running, swimming and cycling. The Vivoactive allows for more, but with less "detail" in each sport.

        1. Well, the truth is that above all, I use indoor gym, some biking, swimming and some running (with series). But I'm still far from a Triathlon...

    2. No, in the Vivoactive HR you can't configure the advanced trainings that Forerunners have

      1. Good morning Eduardo, a question, I used the runtastic with the phone and in the headphones indicated me, distance speed etc,
        Now the clock warns me with vivbreaking and I have to look at it to see the information, there is an option to tell me in the headphones


        1. Some Garmin models do offer this (with a phone and headset attached), but if I remember correctly, the Vivoactive HR does not have a mileage alert function.

  38. thanks for the comments have helped me to use it better, a consultation, in case you have a solution. the golf course, and which game is not in the garmin database. there are options to create it, design it or upload it. has any option to climb, run, walk, that I mark the field with gps image, or could create the golf course and upload it.
    You've heard from someone who has. Thank you very much already.

  39. Hello,
    Congratulations on the review, very complete.
    I've had the vivoactive HR for a couple of months now and I'm quite happy with it. I had a hard time deciding to buy it because I had a garmin 305 and was used to scheduling workouts and also following a track.

    Now a question:
    I have detected the following problem: I set the measurement units (distance, pace, altitude, weight, height and temperature) in km, km, meters, kg and Celsius.
    But soon after, sometimes before a day, the clock goes back to the units of origin: miles, feet, pounds, feet and Celsius.

    Does this happen to you guys?

    Thank you and a greeting.

    1. This usually occurs when you have the Garmin Connect application settings in miles/pounds. Check the Garmin Connect settings and the clock to see what you have selected.

      1. Well, it seems that was it. I thought that in the app I had configured it well. The fact is that I got into and also in the configuration all those things. At least I have been almost four days without changing it in the clock. Thank you very much !

  40. After reading your analysis several times I bought the garmin at Amazon from your link, it costs me the same and so I thank you for your work. Soon I will be able to enjoy it even though it has not had a black friday or similar dto

  41. Hello Eduardo, first of all, thank you for your work and analysis, they are so good that it makes the choice difficult, hence the next question.

    I practice strength exercises in the gym, as well as static and sporadic cycling and running. Which terminal would you recommend based on my situation? As I have seen, the vivoactive hr may be the best option in my case, but I would very much like to know your opinion about it.

    Greetings and thank you very much for your time!

    1. Yes, I think the Vivoactive HR is best suited for multi-disciplinary use without having a particular focus on any one sport - it is well priced for what it has to offer (and having the latest processor and memory with support for the latest version of Connect IQ)

      1. Eduardo what excellent information is what you show in this page, by far the best and most complete information I have found on the net, I read that you have enough experience in its use, like victor I do exercises in gym, some cycling, running, and I am about to start crossfit activities ...... do you know of any configuration that I can do in the watch for gym activities and / or crossfit?

        1. Nothing, just create an activity profile for that use with the data screens you want to see when doing it (time, keystrokes, etc.).

  42. Hello, I have the watch and I have doubts about its operation in running machines. I noticed that it marks a speed and therefore distance, different from the one marked by the tape. How do the sensors work in this case? Or maybe the machine is not calibrated.

    1. The measurement is done through the internal accelerometer. If you run outside with GPS, the distance will be calibrated automatically.

      After trying a few gym tapes... rely more on the speed of the clock (even if it is estimated) than on the calibration of the machines (calibration they never perform).

  43. Is it possible to choose the notifications that Garmin receives on iPhone/iOs? That is, it only notifies you of calls or emails but not of Whatsapp...

      1. Thank you very much but I can't find the option, can you give me more details?

        Thank you

        1. Sorry, I just saw you talking about iOS. It's on Android where you can select which applications are displayed.

          On the iPhone it behaves differently. Everything that is displayed in the notification center will appear on the clock. If you want something not to show up you have to cancel it from the notifications setting in the phone menu by turning off the "View in notification center" option.

  44. good morning Eduardo, I have a vivoactive hr watch, I use it for running, spinning, weights, etc.. But I have a question, in the series of running I go with a group of the gym, the monitor marks the time, distance, of the series, the case is that I would like to poder mark on the watch, when I start and when I finish. If I press the left button, it exits the workout, and if I press the right button, I get the red box to stop the activity. I don't know if I have explained myself well.
    On the track if I do 100 meters I would like to be able to start and stop. And then see it.
    Thank you

    1. You can do this by enabling the manual lap option in the menu, and marking the laps with the left button.

      1. Thank you very much for your answer, and your great work.
        Then this can be seen on the web? or in the mobile app, or is it only seen on the spot?

        1. You will see a brief summary of the lap on the screen when you press the button, and both on the web and on the mobile you will see all the details as well as directly on the watch at the end of the workout.

  45. Hi eduardo how are you? i would appreciate it very much if you could help me please. 1 month ago i was given a vivoactive hr which i had to change shortly after because there was a bad pixel on the bottom left, a white pixel that made that part look different. i went and bought it in another mall with the surprise that when i turned it on i found it the same as the other one. can you tell me if that is normal in everyone please?

  46. Hi, Eduardo,
    I have had a Vivoactive HR for a very short time. I don't see how I can create a training session where the watch warns me when I have completed the target distance (e.g. 10K). I also don't know how to do this with the target time (e.g. 45min). I also don't know how to make it warn me when I leave a heart rate zone.

  47. Hi, Eduardo.
    First of all, thank you for your analyses, which are very useful in clarifying concepts.
    Still, here are my doubts.
    I've ruled out the Fitbit Surge for the Vivoactive HR, but now I'm comparing it to the Forerunner 35 and I can't decide.
    The use I want to give it is to monitor sleep, walking, etc. and adding some speed and cadence sensors (to monitor training in roller and mtb outings).
    I don't know, I get the feeling they're similar in performance, or maybe I'm missing something?
    I appreciate your comments in advance.

    1. If you want a simple watch the FR35 is a good choice, and will do what you ask, but in performance is clearly inferior to the Vivoactive HR.

  48. Hi, everybody.
    I am writing in case the same thing happened to me with my VAHR yesterday. Yesterday the firmware of my device had to be updated to version 3.40 (either when I connect it to the computer to load it or as other times when the mobile is connected to the domestic network). The case is that it did something similar to a reset to factory settings, losing the data of some hours and disappearing all the configuration languages with the exception of the exercise modes that remain in Spanish.
    Has this happened to anyone else? Do you know how to correct it?
    Thank you and greetings.

      1. Thanks a lot Eduardo, I'll try. From what I've read on the official Garmin forums it's a widespread problem as there are many users who in a very short time have had similar problems.

      2. Fixed with webupdater. Besides the firmware the language is installed separately. Everything is back to normal.
        Thank you very much.

  49. Good afternoon Eduardo, sorry if you answered this question before, but I like this model aesthetically and features I find very interesting and after reading your article I just need your opinion to run out and buy it.
    To the point: I've been practicing for almost a year in an occasional way (Saturdays, Sundays and holidays) MTB with exits that are around 50 km, 4 - 5 hours of quiet route but at amateur level, no competition, and I am very interested in a wristwatch and I have the doubt of the reliability to record such data by the location of the watch (I do not want at all to use band on the chest) and I'm also starting to get the taste of hiking. Thanks in advance for your time and your response.

    1. Garmin's optical pulse sensor is currently not very accurate for cycling activities. In racing there are no problems, but when cycling it is a different matter.

      1. Hi, Eduardo,
        But I don't really understand why the difference in accuracy of the heart rate monitor between running and cycling. If you told me that underwater it measures the heart rate badly, I would understand, but between running and cycling?

        In fact, I have been running for a few weeks and the pulse rate of the vivoactive hr is lower than it should be.

        A salute.

        1. The difference is the algorithm that eliminates the noise, it does not behave the same in what situations, being the cycling more complicated.

  50. Good afternoon, Eduardo, see if you can solve a question for me, because I'm not capable of it. Let's go:
    When I go out for a run with the vivoactive hr I select the race and press the corresponding key once the GPS is positioned and I start running; but what happens, that after a few kilometers I ran out of strength and I had to stop for a while to catch my breath, so I pressed the right button thinking that it would momentarily stop the counters (as if it were a pause), but what it did was to finish the training session, giving me the options of "save" or "discard", so in the end it recorded two different races instead of just one.

    How can I pause the counters when I stop and resume them again so that they continue to contaminate the data as they continue to run?

    Thank you very much, maybe it's a peruvian question but I can't find it.

    1. Hey, Carlos,

      In the liveactive hr, the left button is to mark a lap but the activity is still recorded and the right button allows you two things: to pause or end the activity (discard or save)

      In other words, if you are doing an activity (such as running, cycling, etc...) and you press the button on the right, the activity is temporarily stopped and you are shown a screen with two buttons (one to discard the activity and another to record it). But if you ignore these buttons that appear on the screen, if you press the right button again, then you resume the activity you were doing.

      I hope it helps.

      A salute.

  51. Well, two days ago I bought the vivomart two weeks ago, last night I did the second charge and when I removed it from charging, I find that I was left in English and I can not change the language, only the English option appears, no other language to choose from, although in the application I have it in Spanish, it does not change.

    1. Good again I have solved it according to a previous comment downloading the SW again thanks for your help

    2. I have the same problem, but mine started to stop counting the floors I was going up and I restarted the clock, big was my surprise that my applications and everything else were deleted, and of course, the language was put in English without giving me option to choose another although in the application says it is in Spanish .... I was worried about this but now that I read there are also others with the same problem ........ right now I will try the web updater

      1. Altimeter failures are often related to the altimeter port being clogged with dirt. Check it out in case that is the cause.

        1. wow really?? that sounds bad [☹] I just got the watch 2 to 3 months ago [☹] ......where is that port??

  52. Hello Eduardo, a pleasure to read your tests, I am new in this intelligent sports watches and I have many doubts, I practice regularly the following sports, paddle, soccer and aerobic work with some weights in the gym, I also want to take maximum control not only of my sports activity but also my daily activity 24 / 7, which would be the best that fits my profile ... I was a professional athlete and I am 54 years, in general I want something that is clear and easy to interpret, and that looks good on the screen, which is touch and color.
    Thank you for your support, a salute.

  53. Hi, Eduardo,
    Thank you very much for your thorough analysis.
    I've been looking for several months for a watch with these characteristics to do varied sports and I have decided to buy it thanks to your comments.
    My question would be what is the difference in performance between the Garmin Viviactive Hr and the Garmin Vivoactive, apart from the fact that one is narrower and the other is square.
    Thank you very much.

      1. Thank you very much, Eduardo,
        I'll buy it for the link you put in.
        I'll tell you about it!

      2. Hi, Eduardo,
        I have a question about the screen. And I read several comments that the screen is quite fragile and I was thinking about buying a screen saver.
        But I don't know if he's going to lose touch sensitivity when he touches the screen.
        Do you recommend these protectors?
        Could you tell me which one would be the most suitable?
        Thank you very much, and without your super complete report I would not have decided to buy this model.

        1. I've never used a screen saver, so I can't tell you what it's like to touch. But it'll be like with the phones. If the screen saver is plastic the feeling will be worse than if it's glass.

  54. Hello Eduardo thanks in advance. I am thinking of buying a gps watch and I am between the garmin vivoactive hr and the tomtom runner 3. ( Megusta mas el Garmin) I go skiing from time to time so the altimeter interests me. On the other hand I also swim, run and bike and this is where I have the biggest problem since I have a polar bluetooth smart chest band and I think garmin doesn't support it. do you think it would be worth buying another ant band or will garmin update the watch to make it compatible?
    Do you also know how the touch screen works with gloves in winter?
    Thank you again.

  55. Hi Eduardo and thanks for your advice, I bought the watch through your link and it just arrived, one question I am starting again to run but I do a part walking fast and then another running, my question is if the watch automatically separates these activities or I have to do something, thanks again.

    1. No, it doesn't automatically separate it. What you can do is mark laps every time you go from walking to running and vice versa.

      And thank you for helping to support the page!

  56. Hello, I tell you my case because I am quite displeased with the expectations of this watch. The biggest problem I see is the issue of the measurement of pulses which are far from reality, it is very noticeable when it takes a long time of exercise and especially when one stops exercising and where the pulses do not recover ... in my case after the exercise has been 7 minutes marked pulses between 160-170 and I have even tried to remove the heart rate monitor and without anything to measure I have seen how the pulses are maintained and even sometimes rise.

    After noticing such behavior I called Garmin's after sales service where empathy and looking for the customer are lacking because of their absence, basically they told me that if I sweat the sensor pulses are not good enough and to buy a breast band. After transmitting my complaint and even sending an email to the quality service the response besides short and dry was the same... buy a band.

    I don't know if the rest of the people have this problem, but for those who are thinking of buying this watch, be careful because it is not a sports-oriented wristwatch.


    1. That kind of error in the 90% of occasions is due to not having the watch properly adjusted on the wrist. You can see the heart rate graphs in the test.

      1. I have tried every way, adjustments, changing the arm and nothing. The graphs I guess you have taken them with some kind of sport and I tell you that for Bici where the sweat "drains" to the wrists this does not go well. Out of curiosity how do you adjust it yourself because I've tried everything but who knows....

  57. Hello eduardo, all your comments very well , but now the vivoactive tells me that he has no memory, how can I clean the memory, please.

    1. You must synchronize the clock to delete previous activities, or connect it to the computer and delete the activity files manually.

  58. Good Eduardo, first of all thank you very much for the analyses, they are super descriptive and very helpful.
    I want to buy my first watch and I'm hesitating between the Garmin VivoActive HR model and the Tomtom Spark 3 cardio. I was very much in favor of the spark 3 cardio (and I'm very stubborn and it's hard to decide on another one), but looking at the analysis, maybe the Vivoactive Hr would be better for what I want.
    I've been doing sports every day for more than a year, and I want to know more about my performance and improve, I also want to start training for a half marathon at the end of the year. I do strength circuits in the gym to tone up, plus spinning, zumba, paddle and running, so I want a multisport watch, I also have in mind to later go out with the bike and start swimming too. And I have clear that I want to measure my heart rate at the wrist.
    In addition, I am very attracted to counting my daily activity (steps, calories, sleep ...)
    I wanted to know:
    -If both watches would measure the activity in my paddle games (distance traveled/steps, calories burned)
    - The quality of the measurement of daily activity (steps, calories, sleep) if one is more complete than the other
    -If you have vibration warnings, for example the rate at which I'm going every km
    -The option to make single series for example 5×1000 m with rest of 5′

    Thank you very much for your attention and your work.

    1. Both will offer you similar information on your activities, with the following "notes".

      - The Vivoactive HR does not support workout creation - I find the activity monitor better in the Garmin, as well as sleep tracking.

  59. Good afternoon.
    First of all, I would like to thank you for the extensive information you have provided.
    I have a question that I don't understand, maybe because I don't know the settings of the mobile applications. Can I put a picture of myself as wallpaper?
    Thank you very much for everything, I await your reply. Best regards.

  60. Hello ujulio josena consultation. With this watch you can for example go for a walk run and just save the activity? records the distance performed? I would like for training indoors on tracksi is not this which you would recommend me cque has pulse sensor ... Thank you

      1. Yes, I perfoned eduardo.I couldn't express myself well because my keyboard wasn't working.Hello again.My question was which of all the bracelets or watches would suit me better for walking and running without gps? I would also need the gps for some occasions. And optical pulse.Thank you eduardo Zucchiatti julio JoseCarlos Casares

          1. Sorry to bother you so much. I'm undecided about the bracelets. Which one suits me more vivaactive hr or vivamart hr? Thank you Zucchiatti Julio JoseCarlos Casares 

  61. Hello thank you very much for the information and work to do. One question I hesitate between vivomart hr + and vivoactive hr. What would you advise? Thank you.

      1. By the way, I would like to know which screen saver is perfect for the vivoactive hr. as many of them do not know if they fit and since I buy it that it fits perfectly. and advise me if it is better tempered glass, plastic film, or other type of protection. Thank you!

        1. I can't tell you, because I haven't used any. No doubt tempered glass has a better quality feel.

          1. Thank you, I'll look for one to put it on. A greeting and if I have any questions I'll write here! Thank you for everything.

  62. Okay and reading I'm sorry to make you very dizzy but between the vivoactive hr and the polar m600 what would you advise?
    I haven't bought the garmin yet.

    1. They are very different... it depends if you prefer to enhance the smart watch side or the sporty look.

      1. I decided to go for the vivoactive!! The battery and the fact that I'm not a pro helped me to decide. It also has everything, which is garmin that I like a lot and I have an iPhone. Greetings!

  63. Connection problems.
    Since I changed phones I'm having trouble connecting to Garmin Connect. With my S5 the clock was automatically connected. It's not the same with the S7; normally I have to turn the BT on and off to get it to connect but lately it's not like that. One day a screen appeared that showed the steps to follow in this case, but I deleted it by accident and I couldn't get back to it.
    Where would I start to solve it?
    Thank you very much.

    1. Remove the clock from the mobile application and start pairing from scratch, you should have no problem.

      1. Thank you very much, Eduardo. Yesterday I did it just as you told me to, and this morning it connected without any major problems.
        Again, thank you very much.

  64. Hi, Eduardo.
    First of all, I love your analyses and they are very useful, especially when deciding on a product.
    I want a watch with gps to be able to train: I do spinning and practice some sports, I also go for a run several times a week. I'm looking for a gps that marks my routes, if possible on the watch, that measures calories and especially heart rate in percentages for spinning.
    I've tried the Garmin 235 and it's great, maybe too much for what I need, and I've been reading your analysis of the M600 polar and garmin's vivoactive hr.
    I want a watch to do sport, I don't care if I receive notifications and that you can download apps not related to physical activities, I am only interested in the sports area.
    In my case, which one would you recommend for running and other sports?
    Thank you

    1. In the shopping guide you can see what I recommend depending on your intended use. I still recommend the Vivoactive HR as an "all-purpose" watch but not focused on any particular sport. And if you want something slightly cheaper and don't mind the amount of information on the screen (and the quality of it), another great option is the Polar M200.

  65. Hi. I can't download new screens. It tells me there's a problem with the server connection. This has been going on for weeks. Do you know how I could download them?

  66. Hi Eduardo! Magnificent exhibition, I liked it a lot. I tell you, I usually run during the week, one day gym, and sporadically pool. My wife has given me the polar M400, but the garmin vivoactive hr I like, and as I'm new at this, the pulse meter on my wrist tmb calls my attention, because the band for sure would end up boring me, as I see some colleagues who have it, and then do not use it.
    What makes me doubt, for choosing the vivoactive is that I've seen some comments that the material is not of very good quality, and the screen is quite fragile, I would like since you've analyzed it great, give me your opinion and if a glass protector would solve the problem.
    Finally, I would like you to tell me, looking at the physical activity I do, if you would recommend the vivoactive hr or the polar M400.
    Thank you very much in advance.

    1. With the Vivoactive HR you will be happier, it is more oriented to the use you give it.

      I've never had any problems with screens, whether they're made of plastic or mineral glass or sapphire. As for protectors, I haven't tried any.

    2. well, I tell you my experience with the VAHR, I have almost 5 months, is a spectacular watch, exceeded my expectations, as for the material I tell you that there are scratches on the sides of the watch which makes me somewhat concerned because it does not reach even 1 year of use and I have scratched and that I am careful with the watch ... I do not understand how it could happen ... as soon as the screen buys a protector from alisxpress, the quality of the handle is something that I do not like at all ... while it is comfortable .... the quality is not good .... I went to the pool 2 months ago and the chlorine in the water made the handle is white ... to date that white does not disappear, as soon as the clock runs

  67. Hi, Eduardo,
    Congratulations on the care you take in your analysis. I'm thinking of buying my first gps watch and I'm going crazy with so many options. I would really appreciate your advice.
    I run about 3 times a week and do a total of about 30km. I also swim once a week and occasionally go out into the mountains or ride my bike.
    What I feel I need is a watch that measures my heart rate and makes it easier for me to perform series (good distance and speed control). I would also like it to record the number of laps in the pool. If it also records occasional activity in the mountains and on the bike, it would be ideal, but not essential.
    It's unlikely to take all day, so I only care that I measure the activity well when I'm doing sport.
    With the links you put to amazon and some discounts I could get:
    Polar M400 (130 ?), Polar M200 (130 ?), Tom Tom spark cardio (170 ?) or vivoactive hr (220 ?).
    I prefer the cheaper ones (polar), because I don't think I need what the more expensive ones offer. What do you think?
    Thanks in advance.

    1. If you are going to use it for swimming, then you will appreciate the data it can give you on distance, stroke and so on, in which case you should discard the Polar (because none of them have a swimming profile) and opt for the Vivoactive HR or the TomTom.

      1. Thank you, Eduardo!
        Tom Tom runner 3 it is!!. I buy it from the Amazon access in your TomTom Runner 3 review.
        How nice to have a blog like yours where ignorant people from the gpsil world can get informed and get advice.

  68. hello, someone else has the problem that the clock loses connectivity with the phone, it goes into English and everything is erased ? stories, watchfaces, applications.... out of the blue??? it's been happening to me 4 times and it's annoying to have to use the garmin webupdater to correct it because all the stories in the clock are lost....some have a definitive solution for it? or it just happens to me :(...this has been happening to me since the last version of the software for the VA HR was released

  69. Hi, Eduardo,
    first of all congratulations for such a detailed post... I don't think the instructions explain it better!
    I'm hesitating between this and an activity wristband - Fitbit Charge 2; I know they're different things... or similar in terms of performance. But, besides the GPS my doubt is in the size... since I'm a girl who measures 159cm and weighs 50kg, so I have a small wrist.
    In this regard, I wanted to ask you if this model (which I'm honestly leaning towards more) would be too big for me!
    Thank you

    1. Of course it's bigger than Fitbit's bracelet, but I don't think it's too big, even for narrower wrists.

      I recommend that you buy it on AmazonIf when you try it on you consider it too big, you can return it without any problem.

  70. Hi Eduardo, how are you, I bought this watch and I am delighted with it but, it covered my expectations with more than enough, but I have a doubt regarding the information that it presents me. When I go out to run around my house I usually run around a park that measures 600 mts. approx. and give between 10 and 12 laps at a time and record the time of each lap, but when I finish when I review the information and want to review the data for each lap, the information I get is average pace per lap (min x kilometer) and I would also like to have the speed I have run each lap, just as I have it in the bike mode, is there any way to configure that in the running mode can also display the speed per lap?
    Thank you and congratulations for your analyses which help us a lot.

    1. Yes, you can change the pace data to speed from the sport settings

      1. Thank you for your answer Eduardo, another question, this change that you indicate, is it done in the clock or in the Garmin Express? because in the clock I can't find the option of the change that you mention. If you can give me a little more detail I would appreciate it very much.
        Greetings from Lima-Peru.

  71. Congratulations for the exhaustive analysis... I'm thinking of buying one and I wanted to ask a question that worries me, in some websites you read opinions that refer to an extreme fragility of this watch; it scratches, it breaks at the slightest blow, it detaches the screen... Could you give your opinion on this point?
    Thank you very much.

  72. Hello again Eduardo, I am bothering you again, I understand that with the GPS and the internal accelerometer more information is given to know my movements and even measure my strides, but do you think that with an additional pedometer I have more information or it would not be very relevant? How could an additional pedometer help me since I run outdoors and also on a treadmill? Thanks again for your answer.

    1. You'll have greater accuracy in pace and distance, especially indoors

      1. Eduardo, I congratulate you on your comprehensive review. I liked it very much, thank you.

        I do sport 5 days a week. 2 of them I run, one I bike and the fifth gym. I have been reading and I have doubts between the Garmin VAHR and the Polar M600. I would like you to help me see the advantages of one or the other, please.

        Thank you very much, from Colombia!

        1. It already depends on whether you are more interested in the intelligent clock part of the M600 or not. With that activity both will give you a perfect service, both in information and in general quality of optical sensor or analysis in its online platform. The main difference is the possibilities that the M600 offers outside the sport, although at the cost of a lower autonomy.

      2. Hi Eduardo, about this thing you mentioned about having more precision indoors, I have a doubt that I will tell you as soon as possible. Due to the rain in Lima, which takes between 4 and 5 months, I am running on a treadmill at the gym, and I have noticed that there is quite a difference between what the treadmill marks and what my watch marks.

        On tape I run 12:30 minutes, divided as follows:
        - 30 sec. at 9 km/h (6:40 min/km)
        - 4 min at 14 km/h (4:17 min/km)
        - 4 min at 15.5 km/h (3:52 min/km)
        - 4 min at 16.5 km/h (3:38 min/km)

        This gives me a total theoretical distance of 3,142 meters. I have done 5 sessions in the last week on the same treadmill, at the same time and on the same wrist (left) finding errors of around 200 to 250 meters less than the theoretical distance, but the last session seemed quite the difference and I started to analyze the data a bit while running and noticed the following difference:

        - Within the first kilometer of the tape, my watch was 100 meters slower.
        - In the second kilometer of the tape my watch was 200 meters less.
        - In the third kilometer of the tape my watch was 300 meters less.

        This gives me a total distance covered of 2,550 mts. on the watch over the 3,142 mts. that the treadmill shows (600 mts. difference), and what I noticed is that as I ran at a higher speed the difference was greater, which I understand makes sense since the stride size is increasing and I understand that the accelerator of the watch does not register it correctly at higher speeds.

        My question is: how can I improve the information of the distance of my tape watch? I will do these tape jogs regularly until the end of the rainy season and it is quite complicated to have a quite wrong data, would a pedometer help me for my tape races, that is to say, would it be able to measure better the size of my stride and the cadence of my steps with more precision? Or would the error persist because of the limitations that a tape has since they are reference calculations?

        I am thinking about the Garmin foot pod 11092, but I don't know if the investment is really worth it on the new data I will have, that's why I am consulting you.


        1. First of all, keep in mind that treadmills are anything but accurate...

          Once this is clear, yes, a footpod can give you more accurate information.
          Not totally, but in more detail than you can get from the internal accelerometer.

          1. Thanks for your answer Eduardo, I totally agree with what you mentioned about the accuracy of the tapes, really a problem.

            So, when I make speed changes on the treadmill, would the footpod better record the length of my stride on a treadmill vs. the internal accelerometer on the Vivoactive HR that calculates it on the wrist?

            That's basically my doubt, since on a treadmill I'm basically jumping in the same place on an engine that in theory turns faster as I increase speed, and it's hard for me to understand that if there's no physical displacement how can I efficiently calculate the size of my stride.

            Thank you again.

  73. Hi, everybody,

    First of all, I want to congratulate you for the great analysis you have made of this device, thanks to that I have decided to buy it.

    I wanted to know if there's a way in which, if you're always carrying garmin vivoactive, and you want to bike with a garmin edge 520 (you take off the vivoactive), this last activity stays in the vivoactive and you get the calories and other metrics in the vivoactive once it's synchronized with garmin connect, that is, if you can synchronize both devices