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The Garmin Vivoactive was introduced at the beginning of the year at the Las Vegas CES and is a new model in the range, not a replacement for any other device. To find out where to put it, just look at the name, because the watch is not from the Forerunner range, but from the Vivo range, which includes the activity monitor bracelets. Garmin's commitment to the Vivoactive is to offer a smartwatch with a strong sports focus.
At the moment of truth, the watch is placed in the catalogue next to the Vivo, but it could well be one more Forerunner, because when it comes to training its functionality is practically the same. Only the most demanding will be able to miss some feature, but for the vast majority, the Vivoactive is a very serious purchase option, especially if in addition to running you practice other skills.
Before I start I always like to clarify the origin of the devices I test. Sometimes I buy them directly from the store so that I can offer the test as soon as possible, but this time I have to thank Garmin for providing the watch for the review. Once the review is completed, you will go back to where you came from; that is, Garmin does not give anything away in exchange for a positive or "non-negative" opinion of any of its products. I perform the tests from a completely independent point of view without any pressure from the manufacturer.
Remember that if you want to show your gratitude for the tests I perform and want to help support the site, you can buy the watch through the links I provide. That way I receive a commission for each watch, which is what allows this website to continue and covers some of the work I do.
Now that that's all clear, let's get to the test. The good, the less good and the bad of Garmin Vivoactive.
The first thing you have to do is to take it out of the box. I leave you the video of the unpacking I did at the time to put the long teeth (advice: subscribe to the YouTube channel).
But as I know that in the background what you like are the suggestive photos (just look at your Internet search history), I also detail it in images, and we go step by step.
The Vivoactive comes in a very good quality box. The box in this case is white, because it is the color of the clock. If you buy the black clock, the box will come complete in that color. If you buy the kit with pulse sensor, on the front you will find the icon with the heart and the graph, indicating that is the HRM version.
On the back of the box you can find most of the functions supported by the Vivoactive. Notifications of mobile, walking and running, golf, cycling, etc.
The contents are concise, just the right thing. In addition to the watch, inside the box you'll find the synchronization and charging cable (which when you pair the watch with the phone will be relegated to charging only), a small manual and, as this is the HRM version, the pulse sensor and chest strap.
The Garmin Vivoactive's display is touch-sensitive, colour and transflective, which means it does not have constant lighting, reflecting the light received to illuminate the screen. The more light that falls on the screen, the better it looks. So outdoors, on sunny days, visibility is perfect unlike your mobile phone. And if it's nighttime, you can always rely on the auxiliary lighting it has.
This type of display usually offers a lower quality than an LCD display (like the one on your cell phone or other smart watches), but in return it hardly affects battery consumption.
The operation of the Vivoactive is mainly by using the screen (by pressing or scrolling) and the two touch buttons on the front of the clock. There are also two physical buttons, on the left side the clock on/off button, which also allows you to illuminate the screen.
And on the opposite side you have the button that you will use to enter the menu, as well as to start and stop activities.
The strap is fixed by a screw system. Garmin offers different strap options, which are sold as accessories. In addition to different colors in silicone straps, two leather straps are also available, in the same colors as the watch (white or black).
The back of the watch houses the timing and charging pins on display. It's no problem to swim with it and, in fact, it's waterproof up to 50 meters deep.
As is always the case with every new Garmin model, the cable changes design. In this case it is very comfortable, because thanks to some magnets the watch remains fixed while it is connected. You can leave it hanging that it will not fall down.
The pulse sensor strap is Garmin's new design. The change is more aesthetic than functional, but it is somewhat more comfortable than the previous version.
The Vivoactive is designed to serve both men and women. 43.8 x 38.5 mm in size, it fits almost every wrist. What is most impressive is its thickness and weight, which at only 8mm and a total weight of 38g (including the strap) you will barely notice on your wrist.
Those 8mm may not tell you much, so nothing better than seeing it compared to other watches. In this picture you can see a Garmin Fenix 3, a non-sporting automatic watch and the Vivoactive. It is incredibly thin. In fact, in the space of the Fenix 3 (16mm) you could fit two Vivoactive (2x8mm).
But let's stop turning over the clock, and let's go train, which is what we're here for.
Starting with the activity monitor seems to me to be the most appropriate, as it is a device from the Vivo range, mainly focused on fitness and less intense activity. This means that this watch does not belong to the Forerunner range although, as you will see later on, running is where it is most comfortable.
The activity monitor we have on the Garmin Vivoactive is no different than what we're used to seeing on other models in the Forerunner range, such as the 920xt, which was the first to be released.
To access the activity monitor screen you must scroll to the left of the clock (i.e. drag your finger to the right). This is the default position, but from your computer or phone you can sort these widgets as you wish.
Here you will find all the necessary information. The main data shown on the screen are the steps you have taken during the day, and the upper bar represents your activity so far with respect to your goal (which is the number that appears in smaller size above the number of steps).
There are two options for this final goal, either you set it manually with a number of steps that you specify, or you let the Garmin Vivoactive dynamically adjust it. That way, as you complete your goal and exceed it, the goal will increase. Similarly, if you are unable to reach it, the number of steps needed to complete it will decrease. In addition, it is designed so that a day of running a long distance will cause the goal to suddenly increase.
At the bottom of the screen you'll find the inactive line. This line will fill up when you spend a lot of time sitting still (watching kitten videos on YouTube). Once completed, it will notify you that you've been sitting still for a long time with a vibration. To deactivate this alert you'll have to get up and walk a few meters (about 100), so you won't be able to deactivate it by going to the fridge to get another beer.
Finally, at the bottom you have distance and calorie data. This data is estimated, since neither the GPS nor the pulse sensor are involved in its calculation. The calories also include the consumption of your basal metabolism, since you consume energy simply by breathing. These calories are adjusted by the values you entered for weight and height during the setup process.
All of this data is synchronised to Garmin Connect, where you can see a breakdown of your day-to-day details. If you have your clock synchronised with your phone (which is the norm), this synchronisation will occur periodically and automatically.
Below you can find several tabs to increase the level of detail, for example, see when you have been most active and when you have had inactivity alerts.
Many of you ask about the validity of this data. The first thing you should know is that at no time is it an exact data. That is, those 24,650 steps that you mark in the image above may well have been 24,200 or 24,800. There is no way to check their accuracy (in short periods, counting the steps, there is usually an error of less than 10%).
But to give you an example, in this image you can see what three activity monitors have measured over a whole day.
As you can see, the data do not match exactly, but they are tremendously similar. Even in the estimated distance, between the Garmin Fenix 3 and the Vivoactive is 100 meters less difference. The phone does not provide distance (it does after the last Google Fit update), but the number of steps is practically the same.
The Garmin Vivoactive activity monitor also offers sleep analysis, and will automatically estimate when you have gone to bed. Or you can activate it manually by pressing the lower right button.
The automatic detection works quite well. Where it can fail is if you get used to, for example, reading in bed. If you spend two hours reading, but are not asleep, the detection is probably not correct. But if you lie down to sleep, the data will be very valid.
These will also be synchronized with Garmin Connect, but if the activity data is very complete, the sleep data will provide almost nothing. As an example, this image of how the whole night has unfolded.
The only information provided is the start time and the time to wake up. In this case it is not completely correct, because I went to bed with the computer to work and the effective time to go to sleep would probably be the small peak that appears after 12 o'clock at night, but it is the normal in the automatic detection. The problem is that the rest of the information does not provide much detail.
Hopefully, the development of the activity monitor will not stop here and the possibilities it offers will be expanded, especially when it comes to sleep analysis. The forecast is that they will continue to add options, as in fact the automatic sleep detection option is new and was incorporated into Garmin devices just over a month ago.
But let's talk about running, which is why most of you are here. The Garmin Vivoactive, without being a Forerunner series watch, is quite complete as a running training watch. It even allows you to pair a pedometer via ANT+ (in addition to the pulse sensor).
To start an activity, you'll need to open the appropriate application, in this case the "Career" application, because Garmin watches with Connect IQ no longer have sports profiles; they are individual applications that you'll need to start, just like a computer or phone.
Before starting to run the first thing you'll want to do (I guess) is to configure the data screens and other options. So while the clock is looking for the ANT+ sensors you have configured and the GPS signal, let's go into the settings.
To do this, you must press the bottom right touch button, which is the menu to enter options in any application (better known now as "hamburger").
When you are within the options, you can move left or right between the different menus.
- Data screens
- Back to
- Auto Pause
- Automatic screen change
- System configuration
These are the different parameters that you can configure, being the main one the data screens. You can configure three different screens, with three data per screen. So in total there are 9 different data that you can consult in the race. The list of data that you can put in these screens is the following
|Time fields||Distance fields||Rhythm fields||Speed fields||FC fields|
|Return time||Return distance||Average pace||Average speed||Average heart rate|
|Last lap time||Last lap distance||Rhythm in return||Lap speed||Heart rate zone|
|Average lap time||Rhythm in the last lap||Speed on the last lap||Training effect|
|Elapsed time||Maximum speed||maximum|
|Average vertical speed in 30||R|
|Vertical speed||% of maximum average CF|
|Turned heart rate|
|R per turn|
|Cadence fields||Temperature fields||High altitude fields||Other fields|
|Average cadence||Maximum of the last 24 hours||Course|
|Return rate||Minimum of the last 24 hours||Back to|
|Last lap cadence||Sunrise|
|Time of day|
Some of these fields are completely new in a watch of this type. For example, the temperature (although it depends on an external accessory, the Garmin TempeBut the latter will not be very reliable either, as the watch does not have a barometric altimeter and will depend exclusively on GPS data, which, due to the technical complexity of satellite triangulation, can never provide accurate 3D data (at least as accurate as 2D data).
The rest of the options are the classic ones that we are used to seeing in other Garmin watches. In the alerts you can set up warnings that are activated, for example, by distance, time or calories; or program run/walk alerts where you can set up running for 1 minute and walking for 4. These alerts can also be customized, to remind you of things like eating, drinking or coming home (which will make you angry for being so late, as usual).
You can mark the laps automatically at the distance you indicate, or enable the left touch button (the back button) to mark them manually. By activating the "Auto Pause" the recording will stop when you do, or when you go down a certain pace; and you can also select to have the data screens switch over automatically. By default you can switch from one screen to another with a simple touch of the screen.
Finally, you can change the screen background from white to black, and if you select system configuration you will go to the general clock options, where you can match sensors or vary some other type of configuration.
The sensors follow the pattern set out a few months ago, where you can have several (even the same type) synchronized and connect to them alternately, for example, several pulse sensors or several cadence sensors. Unfortunately, what is not possible to do in the Garmin Vivoactive (but is possible in other models such as Phoenix 3 or 920xt) is to change the name of those sensors.
After this general review, and after spending some time configuring the data screens, I'm sure you have your clock ready to go for a run. As for the GPS signal, does it take long to get it? Well, you can check it out for yourself in this video.
The search is usually very fast, almost instantaneous if you go for a run in the same spot where you just finished training. Garmin Vivoactive also has a satellite cache, and at every synchronization it updates the location file, so the search speeds up. And if you activate it in the menu, you can also use the GLONASS satellites (Russian satellite network), just like the big brothers 920xt and Phoenix 3.
You're ready, with your watch set, your laces tied, and you've stretched well, so you just need to start the activity to begin your workout. To do so, you need to press the Start button, as indicated on the display.
Once you're running, you'll have access to the data screens you've set up. Remember, up to three screens with three pieces of data on each one. And as I indicated a little earlier, you can switch between screens simply by touching any point on the screen.
The Garmin Vivoactive takes data in an "intelligent" way, which is not normal, since nowadays the most common thing is that it takes place every second. In this case, instead of doing so, it will do it every 4 or 5 seconds. In the type of clock we are in, it seems to me that it is only "correct", since although it is probably not the clock that a lover of intervals and series thinks about, it would not be a bad idea to record data every second, especially considering that nowadays this limitation no longer makes sense to put it in due to memory problems.
That's why the changes in rhythm take a little longer than usual to be reflected in the instantaneous rhythm shown on the screen, but as I said, I think the target audience for Vivoactive can live with this, and unless you make very short fartleks, it won't cause you too much trouble.
As is standard with all new Garmin, the pace is displayed in 5 second increments, but this is the instantaneous pace, if you want to have a more precise data you can select the average lap pace data, for example, and you will have the average pace of that lap displayed to the second.
One field you can set is the running cadence. You know, experts recommend having a cadence of around 180 steps per minute for perfect running technique, although you shouldn't take it as an absolute figure either, as it depends on each individual runner. This data is obtained thanks to the internal accelerometer, you don't need to connect any external pedometer.
And so that the manufacturers say they don't copy the competition. In the Garmin Vivoactive you will find, just like in the Polar M400The "Back to Start" function is also available.
It is a kind of navigation for when you get lost during a route, but it does not present you with a map to follow, but simply shows you in which direction you should go to find the starting point of your training.
When you reach exhaustion and want to stop your workout, simply press the right fitness button (the one you used to start) again. The pause screen will appear in front of you, where you can see a brief summary of your workout and offer to continue the activity, discard it or save it.
When you're done training, as soon as the clock gets within 10 metres of your mobile phone it will synchronise the activity with Garmin Connect, where you can access all your training or running data.
You can review all the data graphs that you have generated in your training, expand them, compare them with each other and see all your statistics. The lap times can be found in the tab of intervals, and here you will see the laps marked automatically with the Auto Lap, or the ones that you mark manually with the touch button back (if you have activated that option).
As you can see, the Garmin Vivoactive offers you the same features as any watch in the Forerunner range, including a running cadence or even LiveTrack, which allows you to broadcast your workout or race to friends and followers (as long as you have your mobile phone with you, since it uses its internet connectivity).
The only thing you won't be able to have is the creation of advanced workouts, where the clock will mark a workout you have previously created through Garmin Connect step by step.
But for everything else, the functionality offered is the same, including the possibility of training indoors, for which we have two applications, for walking and for running on a treadmill (with the possibility of configuring them independently).
In this mode the watch will take data from the internal accelerometer, calculating rates and distances quite accurately.
Everything you just read in the running section is valid when you ride your bike. The behavior of the cycling application is the same and allows the same settings, but separately. Therefore you will be able to specifically configure the screens you will use when you ride your bike.
But one thing that differentiates other watches in this price range is that in the case of the Garmin Vivoactive, you can pair the watch with external ANT+ sensors (in addition to the pulse sensor itself). These sensors can be for cadence and/or speed. It allows you to use the sensor installed on your bike for cycling trips, and not depend on the GPS signal to show your current speed and distance. This is very important especially if you are riding in areas with tunnels or lush forests.
And thanks to this you also have a specific indoor cycling application. In this mode the GPS remains off and will take all the data from the external sensor you pair.
The Garmin Vivoactive also supports swimming in the pool and can provide you with pace and distance data. It will do so using the internal accelerometer (the same one used for the running cadence), so you need to enter the measurement of the pool. The clock detects when you have reached the end of the lane and are turning (either by making a normal turn, or by turning underwater) and will thus accumulate the lengths you make, along with other important data such as the number of strokes and the SWOLF of your swimming session.
To do this, you need to start the swimming application, and the first thing it will ask you to do is to enter the size of the pool.
You have a series of standard measures, such as 25 or 50 meters, but you can also configure it manually. This parameter is recorded, so if you always swim in the same pool you won't have to change it. But if it happens to you like I do, that I alternate a 25m pool with a 50m one, you will have to remember to change the data before starting the exercise, because the clock doesn't remind you.
Once you've completed your exercise you won't be able to change it in Connect, which is quite good, because if you forget to select the 50m pool you'll be able to show off in front of your friends how you're capable of doing 800m at a pace of 1:00 min/100m.
The configuration options of the swimming application are very simple. First of all you can configure the data screens.
Garmin calls it a screen, in plural, but it's really just a screen. We have four data on it, but we can only change the first two, the two on the bottom line being fixed (total training time and total distance). The other two you can configure, being able to choose from a fairly high number of metrics
You can also set up time or distance alerts, for example to receive a warning that you have been swimming for 30 minutes or if you have already completed your 1500m session.
Once you have everything set up, it's time to soak. To start the activity, simply press the right Start button, as indicated on the screen.
And from that point on, the touch screen will stop working - you'll only be able to interact with the physical buttons. Actually, you'll only need the right button, because the left one keeps the same function of always turning the light on and off, which I doubt you'll be using, unless you're swimming at night in the middle of the sea.
When you want to end an interval, simply right-click on it, and the screen will change to a black background to let you know you're in that mode, and present you with details of the interval you've just completed.
When you're ready to resume activity, you must right-click again and a new interval will begin. These cuts will also be recorded in the FIT file that will be synchronized with Garmin Connect, and you can later access the intervals separately so you can check how you've been at each one. If you're like me, you'll be moving between "sorry" and "really bad".
When you have finished swimming and want to stop the activity, you will have to do it again with the right button, but this time you have to keep it pressed until the stop symbol appears on the screen. Now the touch screen works again, and the Vivoactive offers you three options, to continue with the activity (pressing the button again), to delete it or to save it.
You can view the basic details of your workout in the clock by accessing the history, or after synchronising the clock with your phone or computer, view it in full on the computer screen where you can find all sorts of details.
You also have the tab intervals, where you can check all your times, along with the times of each length.
During these weeks of testing with the Vivoactive I have swum a lot, and I have never had problems counting the lengths. It has always shown them correctly and in none of the activities have I found any length cut or where I have not detected having reached the end of the street to turn around. And I have not put special effort into making sudden changes to ensure that the clock understood that it had reached the end. I think it is the first clock in which it perfectly nails all the lengths made, because with other models there has always been some length that has not identified reaching the end of the street, and thus times or distances that did not correspond to reality.
This is all that swimming application allows. Therefore, there is no outdoor swimming using GPS to count distance when swimming in a lake or the sea. And as for support of other functions, it is more limited than any other Garmin watch with swimming support like the Phoenix 3 or the 920xtFor example, having a single data screen where you can configure two variables, or the rest screen only offers you two small details of how you are doing the activity. But these are watches aimed at a more enthusiastic public and triathletes, where improvement in the pool is crucial, so they need more information.
In the case of the Vivoactive, or that Garmin has sought is to make a watch simple to operate and understand, and not load the applications of functions that an occasional swimmer will not need.
This is new, at least for a watch of this type. Garmin (and other manufacturers) already has a very complete range of watches and devices for playing golf (Garmin Approach), but this is the first time we see the functionality in a fitness watch like the Vivoactive. It is somewhat limited in performance compared to the top of the Approach range, but it is still a long way from what an Approach S2 and S3 can offer. Still, it is remarkable that this application is incorporated.
Before you can play, the first thing you must do is download the course from the Garmin Connect application. You can search by name or by GPS position. Once found, you must download it and synchronize phone and clock.
When you are playing, Garmin Vivoactive calculates the distance to the back of the hole, the center and the front of the green (in order, from top to bottom in the digits on the right). It does not indicate the exact distance to the flag, as the position of the flag varies. In this case, the most important thing is that the database managed by the manufacturer is valid, and considering that it is the golf courses that provide this data, you will not have problems.
From this information it's up to you to choose your club and adjust the power of your shot so you don't end up outside the fairway (or as it happens to me, in the hole next to it), so if you score 150 meters don't shake it with the "drive", because you'll go long.
In addition to the green information, on the left side you will have the hole number and par, being able to change holes to know what par the next ones have.
If the hole you are playing is more than par 3 (par 4 or par 5) then you can know the approach distances to stay 100, 150 and 200 meters from the hole. This is useful for cases where before the green you have, for example, a water hazard. You can choose to hit the ball to place it directly on the green, or find a comfortable shot to leave an approach around 100m and just before the hazard.
It is possible to measure the distances of your hits. You can do this by pressing the right button from the point you have hit.
Then, as you walk towards the point where you have left the ball, the screen will indicate the distance covered by your shot.
If you want to measure a new stroke, by entering the menu you can select "New stroke" to make the measurement again. This result is also automatically deleted when you move to the next hole, where you can repeat the operation.
But that's not all that will count, if you slide your finger on the screen you can find the odometer. The Vivoactive will count the time, steps and distance covered since you start the journey.
Finally, with Garmin Vivoactive you can also keep track of your score. Within the golf application, by pressing the menu button you can select the "Start Score" option. Then select the hole and the number of strokes you needed to complete it. But don't cheat and count yourself short.
This score will be saved as you complete the game.
On the menu you can also find the score card, to check how you are doing so far, and confirm that you will have to pay for the round of beers when you arrive at the clubhouse.
The Garmin Vivoactive isn't the first Garmin to have a touch screen, but it is the first one designed specifically for it. You see, before the Vivoactive were the Garmin 610 and 620 (even before that, the 405 and 410 had a touch bezel). Both had a touch screen more as an extra "cool" than a necessity in itself. They had the physical buttons needed to be able to operate without the touch screen and to be operated perfectly.
But in the Vivoactive the touch screen is a means of control in itself, as we only have two physical buttons and their use is quite marginal. The left one to turn the light on and off and the right one to start or stop activities and enter the menu. That's all. The rest of the functions must be performed through the screen or the two touch buttons that you can find below it.
And how does the Garmin Vivoactive move with the touch screen? Frankly, it's fine. But instead of writing it down, you'd better watch this video.
Two questions arise about the touch screen.
- Does he respond well in the rain?
- Can it be used with gloves?
Answering those questions is very easy, you just have to check it. First of all, I will test it with water, simulating an autumn rain.
You see, in Hollywood they have it very well planned, they have a stage with specific devices to simulate you from a light rain (more known as calabobos. And yes, is in the SARBut here at C1M I have a somewhat more rudimentary means: the kitchen tap.
The display has no problem when used in light rain, but because the amount of water is excessive it will not respond correctly. This is why, when you perform a swimming activity, the display and touch buttons are completely deactivated. They simply would not work properly. And this is also why you can only have one data display when swimming, because there would be no way to manually switch between several displays.
The use with gloves depends on the thickness of the gloves. I have tried with several gloves and only with the thinnest ones I was able to use the screen. Cycling or golf gloves have worked without major problems, but thicker gloves made the use of the screen impossible. So keep this in mind, especially for use in winter, as it can present a limitation.
The autonomy Garmin declares for the Vivoactive is up to 3 weeks in use as an activity monitor and smart clock, and 10 hours using GPS (with GLONASS off). We are used to smart clocks that last 1 day, 2 hopefully. So those 3 weeks in the specifications sound like glory.
I haven't done the three week test, because I guess what matters most to you is how long the battery lasts when you're using it for sport, and I didn't have a unit that I could dedicate to that specific use.
To check it, I have completed a charge up to 100% and I have put it on the street all night recording an activity so that it uses all the battery, but remember that the clock was with the GLONASS satellites option activated, which increases the battery consumption (so it won't reach 10 hours maximum).
The next morning, I picked it up from the roof and it was indeed off. When I put it on, the activity was on pause, it doesn't stop or get lost, so I just had to stop it and synchronize the clock, so I could show you the result.
Almost 7:30 hours of autonomy, which compared to the 10 hours indicated in the specifications seems a somewhat poor result. But as I say, it may be that the fact of having activated the use of GLONASS is the one that reduces the autonomy so much, which usually has an impact of around 15% in the total duration.
And since I don't like to leave you halfway, the next day I repeated the test, this time disabling that option and using only GPS.
I repeat the same operation as the day before. Charge to 100% and go outside to sleep in the open.
This is something else. It does not reach the 10 hour maximum promised by Garmin, but it stays quite close: 9 and a half hours of total autonomy (Bluetooth activated). It is an impressive result, considering that it is only 8mm thick, and similar to what is offered in other watches of the same category and much more size.
The Garmin Vivoactive is following the course initiated with the Garmin 920xtthe first to include smart clock features as we are seeing them today. Before that there was the Garmin Fenix 2but only displayed the phone's notifications on screen (and with exaggerated battery consumption).
But of all the range, the Vivoactive is the closest thing to a traditional smart watch, especially because of the inclusion of the touch screen, which makes its operation more traditional than what we are used to.
The order of these widgets can be modified from Garmin Express on the computer, although from the mobile phone it is easier (applications can also be ordered).
These screens are the ones that offer you the smartwatch functionality, updating the data they show through the Internet when the clock is connected to your phone.
The one you will probably use most is the notification widget. Here you can see your notifications.
And you will be able to enter each one of them to know if you have to attend the mail or message with certain urgency.
But you can only view them, you can't interact with them, so you can't delete them, mark them as read or of course reply to messages.
All the details are obtained from the internet, or those provided by the phone itself, such as showing your calendar of the day. Very important, because this way you will not forget the most important things of each day.
You can also control the music player with the widget available for this purpose. This widget is also present in the Phoenix 3In the Android application you can set the player you want to control with the clock (for example, Spotify), but in iOS does not allow you to select it, it will control the music application by default.
The weather widget is quite complete, by default it gives you all the information for your current location, with current, maximum and minimum temperature and probability of rain.
If you press on the screen, you can enter to see the forecast for the next hours
And if you scroll left or right the forecast for days
But where the most complete part comes in is the possibility of installing widgets, both Garmin and third party ones, through Connect IQ (which I will go into in detail below). This allows us to extend the functionality as a smart clock to limits that we have yet to discover.
An example: This widget is developed by Garmin, and allows you to display the time of sunrise and sunset (and moon) not only for today, but if you click on the screen you can select a different date to, for example, know when the sun will set on the day you have planned a tour.
All these widgets have little impact on battery consumption, so you don't have to worry about having one or the other installed. In fact, most of them don't have automatic data refresh and you have to get them when you go to look for information (for example, this last widget we saw).
Connect IQ was originally released in the Garmin 920xtThis is Garmin's answer to the recent electronic clock fever. It will allow you to install applications on the clock, both from Garmin and from external developers. 4 types of apps are supported:
- Applications: Complete applications, more advanced than the simple creation of some additional screen. Here we can see how companies like BSX Insight can create a training application and make use of their non-invasive lactate meter, or mountain-specific navigation applications.
- Widgets: Provide information obtained from other sources. A stock status widget that receives information from the phone would be a good example, or the current weather situation.
- Customized fields: Data fields that you can add to the screens you have configured. I have one installed right now that estimates the completion time for a half marathon race. Or a beer consumption counter, so you know how much you have to run to make room for the 3 beers you will be drinking post-training with your teammates.
- Clock dials: New screens to show the time, analog or digital.
These applications are installed from the computer through Garmin Express, or from the phone application itself, as if it were the app store for your mobile. At the moment the platform is quite new, so the catalogue is quite limited. But it is to be expected that availability will increase, and not only from important companies, but also from amateur developers. For example, pmTriathlonVivoactive, an application that approaches the use of Vivoactive in a triathlon competition.
Given the newness, the big developers are still working on the main applications, which are the ones we will start to see the real potential of the platform with. If you want to see some of those applications, or know more details about Connect IQ, I recommend you read the entry specifically dedicated to the platform.
Support for widgets and applications through Connect IQ is still difficult to assess in order to know how far it will go. Here, Garmin needs to make a major effort to attract developers who are interested in offering programs. To do this, Garmin must know how to reward these developers, because they obviously develop if they make a profit.
With applications, everything is clearer. A developer creates a product, for which he charges X, and develops a Connect IQ application to be able to use that product with Garmin watches. So far, so good, and you benefit from selling the product, with the application being a means of use, or an incentive to buy. The clearest example could be the Moxy oxygen monitor.
But what about widgets or clock faces? Here the monetization options are much more diffuse, as there is no possibility to sell a clock face through the Garmin app store. There is no incentive for the developer, beyond mere hobby or entertainment.
Both Apple and Google are pushing very hard with their watches. Today Garmin is several steps ahead in two very important points: autonomy and sports use. But if they want to stay in the fight they must have different applications, and for that it is necessary to offer economic benefits to the companies that are going to develop products for Connect IQ, either by giving them the option to sell them to obtain income, or by means of contests or sponsored applications. They have developed a platform for the future, but the work does not end there, it is necessary to continue investing resources so that their growth continues.
After a few weeks of intensive use, both on a daily basis and while training and practicing a wide variety of sports, I can say that the Vivoactive has left me surprised as well as satisfied, and that satisfaction has grown as I have used it more and more, because of the feeling produced by: "Well, it does this too, and this too."
I have always valued it not as a GPS running watch, but as a fitness watch, an activity monitor or an intelligent watch, but it is during various workouts that the best version of the Vivoactive comes to light, the one that stands out as a good sports watch.
It's true, it's not the most complete or the one that offers the most features in any of the sports, but it's the one that offers the most overall within its price range (especially because of the inclusion of the golf application). And all this in a really comfortable device that hardly makes itself noticed. Running with the Vivoactive on your wrist makes you realize what a Phoenix 3Not that it is uncomfortable, its weight is not excessive either, but it is noticeable. The thin Vivoactive, on the other hand, goes totally unnoticed.
When it comes time to determine if it's the watch you're looking for, you need to consider what kind of athlete you are. If you're a triathlete and intend to participate in an IronMan, the Garmin Vivoactive is clearly not what you're looking for. But for all other athletes who play any sport at a popular level, it will more than meet all expectations.
The only reason you might decide to go for a different model might be because you don't want to create advanced training, or to do structured training or series and intervals. But thanks to Connect IQ, even this detail can be solved in the future by a new application. The expectations that come with this platform are great, but now Garmin has to at least help make it happen.
Did you like the test?
I hope this test has cleared up all your doubts with Garmin Vivoactive. If you want to know the truth, it takes many hours to perform each analysis. Taking data, photos, videos, writing your own test... It's a very long and demanding process.
If you liked it and want to help, you can leave your impressions in the comments below. It will help me to know your opinion, or to ask me questions if something is not clear. Share the post on social networks, I'm sure your friends will also like it.
If you want to buy the device, you can do it in the links below, this way you save by getting good offers, and I get back a small commission that supports this website and its tests.
Buy Garmin Vivoactive
You will find the Garmin Vivoactive in two different colors, black and white (which you can then change the color of the strap by buying it separately). And in each color, two options, with or without pulse sensor. Here I leave you with the sales prices. You know, if you buy it through these links, you help the development of this page and continue to have tests like this.
In addition, these are the prices you can find on Amazon throughout its European network