Garmin Vivoactive, GPS activity monitor | Full analysis


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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 it directly in store for poder to offer the test as soon as possible, but on this occasion we must thank Garmin for providing the watch to make the review. Once the analysis is completed, it will go back where it came from; that is, Garmin does not give anything away in exchange for a positive or "non-negative" opinion of any of its products. The tests are conducted 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.


Garmin Vivoactive

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.

Garmin Vivoactive

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.

Garmin Vivoactive

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.

Garmin Vivoactive

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.

Garmin Vivoactive

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).

Garmin Vivoactive

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.

Garmin Vivoactive

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.

Garmin Vivoactive

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.

Garmin Vivoactive

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).

Garmin Vivoactive

But let's stop turning over the clock, and let's go train, which is what we're here for.

Activity monitor

Garmin Vivoactive - Activity Monitor

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Activity Monitor

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.
Garmin Vivoactive - Activity Monitor

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.Garmin Vivoactive - Activity Monitor

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Activity Monitor Comparison

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Activate sleep mode

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Activity Monitor

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 will have to open the appropriate application, in this case "Race". And is that the Garmin watches with Connect IQ no longer have sports profiles, they are individual applications that you will have to start, as if it were a computer or phone.

Garmin Vivoactive - Main Menu

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 so, you must press the bottom right touch button, which is the menu to enter options in any application (better known now as "hamburger").

Garmin VIvoactive - Settings menu

When you are within the options, you can move left or right between the different menus.

  • Data screens
  • Alerts:
  • Back to
  • Auto Pause
  • Automatic screen change
  • Background
  • 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

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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).

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The podrás laps to mark them automatically in the distance that you indicate, or enable the left touch button (the one to go back) to mark them manually. Enabling "Auto Pause" will stop the recording when you do so, or when you drop below a certain pace; and you can also select to have the data screens automatically scroll through. Default podransition 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.

Garmin Vivoactive - 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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Press Start

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Running

The Garmin Vivoactive takes data in a "smart" way. It is not normal, since nowadays the most common thing is that it happens every second. In this case instead of doing so it will do it every 4 or 5 seconds. In the type of watch in which we are it seems to me only "correct", because although it is probably not the watch in which a lover of intervals and series thinks, it would not hurt to record data every second, especially considering that today this limitation no longer makes sense to put it by 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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Cadence

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.

Garmin VIvoactive - Back to Start

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Back to Start

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Pause activity

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Garmin Connect Activity

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).

Garmin Vivoactive - Indoor Activities

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Speed/Cadence

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.


Garmin Vivoactive - Swimming

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Pool size

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 Vivoactive - Swimming Screen Settings

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Swimming Alerts

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Press to start

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Slow swimming

When you are ready to resume the activity, press the right button again and a new interval will start. These breaks 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 did on each one. If you're like me, you'll be somewhere between "pitiful" and "downright 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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Finish Swimming

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Swimming

You also have the tab intervals, where you can check all your times, along with the times of each length.

Garmin Vivoactive - Swimming

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.


Garmin Vivoactive - Golf

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.

Garmin VIvoactive - Golf

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Golf

From this information it is up to you to choose the club and adjust the power of the stroke so as not to end up outside the fairway (or as it happens to me, in the hole next to it). So if you hit it 150 meters, don't shake it with your drive, because you will 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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Golf

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Golf

Then, as you walk towards the point where you have left the ball, the screen will indicate the distance covered by your shot.

Garmin Vivoactive - Golf

If you want to measure a new stroke, enter the menu podhen select "New Stroke" to make the measurement again. This result is also automatically deleted when you move to the next hole, where podrue 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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Golf
Finally, with the Garmin Vivoactive you can also keep 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 it took you to complete it. But don't cheat and undercount yourself.
Garmin Vivoactive - Golf

This score will be saved as you complete the game.

Garmin Vivoactive - Golf

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.

Touch screen

Garmin Vivoactive

The Garmin Vivoactive is not the first Garmin to feature a touchscreen, although it is the first one designed specifically for it. You see, before the Vivoactive there were the Garmin 610 and 620 (even earlier, the 405 and 410 had a touch bezel). Both included touchscreens more as a "cool" extra than as a necessity per se. They had the physical buttons needed to have podido work without such a screen and have been operated with them just fine.

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.

Battery life

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Range Test

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - GLONASS off

I repeat the same operation as the day before. Charge to 100% and go outside to sleep in the open.

Garmin Vivoactive - Range Test

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.

Smart Clock

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).

Garmin Vivoactive - Reorder Widgets

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - 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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Calendar Widget

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Music Control

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - Time Widget

If you press on the screen, you can enter to see the forecast for the next hours

Garmin Vivoactive - Time Widget

And if you scroll left or right the forecast for days

Garmin Vivoactive - Time Widget

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - SunsetAll 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

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.

Garmin Vivoactive - App triathlon

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.

My opinion

Garmin Vivoactive

After a few weeks of intensive use, both daily and training and practicing a variety of sports, I can say that the Vivoactive has left me surprised as well as satisfied. Moreover, that satisfaction has been growing the more I used it, because of the feeling produced by the: "Well, it also does this. And this."

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



Operation - 8.5
Connectivity - 9.5
Design, finish and comfort - 9
Battery life - 8.5
Applications - 9.5
Price - 9



User Rating: 3.28 ( 38 votes)

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. I was waiting for this article to ask you: Do you have an application to go to the gym? Or do we have to check Walk on a treadmill and then change it on the web?
    Thank you and keep it up.

    1. No, there is no specific gym application, and look what would be simple... Change the icon and eliminate use of the accelerometer.

      But, well, I'm sure there will be an application through Connect IQ soon

  2. Another excellent analysis... Being able to connect several sensors makes it very attractive, however the design part does not convince me, I see it very square and somewhat fragile, I think it would be better if the extensible was wider and seemed to merge with the body of the clock, I did not love that little detail!

    1. I didn't like it at first in pictures. In fact, I thought it was ugly. But on the wrist it makes quite a bit, and it's VERY comfortable.

  3. Good things always come in handy...great!! As for the design, I must say that in the hand it looks remarkably superior to any image, I was pleasantly surprised.

  4. Hello very good, I was waiting for the analysis, I am among this the Ambit3 Sport, I know that are different products but for me I am a mountain runner whenever I can, I do not bike or swim (only just by obligation) or play golf, hehehe, I think it's perfect, I just wish you had a track in .gpx as does the ambit3, but maybe that could be done in the future with an app right ?, I'm saving for this right now, hahaha. Thank you very much for the analysis, as always the best!
    Ahh, it would be nice if you could mark the lapses with the light button or even with the right one as in swimming, I say this because sometimes you go with your hand soaked in sweat and I don't know how precise it will be, no?

    1. When Connect IQ was launched, Garmin indicated the partners they would be working with. One of them is Komoot, and they are preparing a navigation app. According to the information I have it will need to be connected to the phone, and there will not be a route as such to follow, but will be indications of junctions and distances (something similar to the type of navigation that the Garmin 410 had).

      If you're going to the mountains a lot on unfamiliar routes, Suunto seems a better bet. At least, safer.

  5. it would be great if they implemented apps like endomondo, runtastic... you know what?

    1. Sure, they've already thought about it, and they'll have something developed, even if it's above that, but for now they're totally focused on Apple Watch applications (actually, it makes a lot more sense for this kind of company).

      I think we'll see, what you can't tell is when. Right now, Connect IQ has a problem with monetization. Garmin should give the model a new twist, because even though there are ways to monetize applications, I only see it as interesting for manufacturers and large developers. But small studios are not going to offer any applications that can justify paying a subscription or purchases within applications.

      Garmin must allow applications to be sold directly from the app store. Luckily there are quite a few people at the Connect IQ development forum, and they care quite a bit about the needs of the developers, so I hope they will refine the platform and by 2016 it will reach some maturity.

  6. Hello, very good analysis.

    I have a few questions:

    * With regard to swimming:

    - How do you measure the calories expended? Do you make an estimate based on the meters run?
    - Do you think this application could be improved in the future, using the Connect IQ platform, for example to record swimming in open water...?
    - Does the belt work underwater as in the Ambit 3?

    The thing is that my wife is swimming again and she also wants something to tell her the steps when she goes for a walk and to see the calories she loses when she exercises...

    Thank you very much.

    1. Hello, Jorge, thank you.

      The calories consumed are estimated through its own algorithm. Usually that algorithm takes into account the weight, pace and of course time or number of lengths. There may also be variation depending on the type of style used (back, free, butterfly, etc.), but the Vivoactive does not detect the style.

      Like everything else, it is an estimate, not to be taken literally (nor is there a simple way to check it).

      I don't think that Garmin will launch an open water application for the Vivoactive. That doesn't mean that any developer will do it, but I doubt it. Open water swimming has a very high complexity when it comes to establishing an algorithm that can interpret the data (every time you put your watch in the water it loses a satellite signal). There we have for example the Polar V800, which after a year and a half in the market still hasn't received that sports profile. I don't think that an external developer will be able to make an application that covers it.

      The pulse sensor does not work under water, because as it is a digital signal it cannot reach more than 20-30 cm. It could be possible with an optical sensor like Mio Link, and although the watch looks for the pulse sensor and connects perfectly, the data is not written to the FIT file of the activity, nor, of course, can any HR field be selected. But Garmin will not enable it, because, as it does not support it directly, if it does, it would be more of a source of problems than a help to certain people.

      With those premises and waiting for the desired open water upgrade, the Polar V800 is the only one that meets all the points (and is now in blue at a very good price on Amazon).

  7. Good again, and between this one and the Fitbit Surge, which are more or less the same type of product that you get, I know that with the Fitbit I don't have the mountain track tracking thing either, but the Fitbit frequency monitor is optical and that adds up to points

      1. Since it's not a purchase I'm going to make right now, I'll wait for the analysis and then decide.

        One salute and it goes on like that!

  8. Hello.
    Excellent analysis, I think I like them better than Rainmaker's.
    Just a note, in case any cyclist reads the analysis: it does not match with potentiometers, neither from Garmin nor from any other brand.
    In the next product review, if you want to do the cycling part from the zitaSport blog... it would be fun.

    A greeting and simply reiterate our congratulations for the work you are doing.


    1. Thank you, Gabriel. The compliment is appreciated.

      Indeed, anyone with a power meter cannot use it with the Vivoactive.

      I have a plan for the cycling part... ;-). Anyway, I can do it if I end up with my jinx and both wheels. Every time I take the bike, I break something. Let's see if my luck improves...

      A salute!

  9. First, thank you for the analysis of the Vivoactive you made, which is excellent. And second, I take the opportunity to ask you a couple of things.
    Do you think Garmin will come out with an application to be able to do training sessions with it, or would it be closing the way for other more specific devices to be sold? And another thing. Can it be used for spinning and treadmill running in the gym? The pedometer is reliable in running without the activation of GPS?
    Thank you very much again.
    Get well soon. You're a cracker.
    Big hug, Eduardo.

    1. I doubt it. If Garmin wanted the Vivoactive to have advanced training, the application would have it from the beginning.

      Through a third-party application? It's possible, but not through Garmin.

      You have indoor modes by disabling the GPS. For spinning, if you want speed data, you would need an external sensor (of course). As for running indoors, yes, and also getting pace data thanks to the internal accelerometer.

      Thank you!

  10. How long does the baria last if you have bluetooth enabled (for poder receive the smartphone notifications) all the time, thanks 🙂

    1. In the weeks I have been testing the Vivoactive I have always had the Bluetooth on and paired with the phone. With use of GPS activities I have charged the watch, approximately once a week. Without using activities, just as an activity monitor and receiving notifications, I think 10-12 days does it without any problem.

      1. forgive my abuse, but I am a complete novice in these matters, in the vivoactive you can program training activities, I explain, for example, warm up 2km,1km or period of time to an established FC, etc... thank you

          1. okay thank you very much, fuck the vivoactive, it's nice to offer some design, but I think something so basic should be included, Thank you.

          2. Well, it's not a Forerunner watch, which is more focused on the runner, so the absence of training, the customer Garmin is looking for with this watch is a more casual runner.

          3. I've seen that from the Garmin Connect application you can create workouts and export them to the device...which is not where you save them.

  11. Hi! thanks for the complete analysis, the vivoactive can work with the m400? polar band.

    1. You can buy the Vivoactive together with the band in kit. The watch does not include a pulse sensor in the equipment itself.

  12. First of all, I was amazed at how you told us everything... thank you very much.
    Soo wanted to know if he has memory and plays music without a phone just with a bluethoot headset.

  13. It is not clear to me if it can be used for open water swimming. Does it measure distance swimming in the sea? How does the triathlon application work? Thank you very much

    1. No, there is no support for swimming in open water. You could do an activity from any other sport by leaving your watch on a buoy or out of the water in a swim cap (if you always breathe on the same side).

      The application of triathlon is quite basic in use, it can serve for a rush, but if you participate frequently in this type of competition I would look at something more specific.

  14. Hi, the analysis is great, perfect. I wanted to ask you about the functioning with the whatssaps, can they be read in full or just notify you that you have one? The notifications, all of them, I understand that they can be deleted from the clock and not from the phone, right?

    1. The messages can be viewed in full from the clock. You can exit the notification, and it remains on your mobile until you access it.

      If you enter the notifications again, they will all remain there until you manually discard them from the phone.

  15. Thank you very much for your answer, Eduardo. I can think of a few more questions to help those who have had their eye on it like me, and myself. The size of the text and data is large enough for those over 40 with tired eyes? hehe. Can the size of the text be adjusted? On the other hand, the vibrations are strong enough to be noticed at all times? If you lose connectivity with your mobile phone, it also warns you? It has sounds too? It has a stopwatch, timer and alarm? I have read that unlike other watches, with low light you can hardly see it, it is true?
    Thank you very much in advance!

    1. The text size I can't tell you. It's fine. Enough? I think so. But it doesn't allow for adjustment.

      Vibrations if strong, and warns if you disconnect from the phone. No sound.

      It has alarms, a timer and not as such, but I'm sure there will be something through Connect IQ.

      In low light, the lighting is on and you can see perfectly.

  16. After analyzing your active live test I have decided to buy a unit, I still have not had it for a week and I could not be happier. It fulfills each of the tests to which I have submitted it to perfection, I certainly recommend it. Thank you for your great analysis.

  17. Hi, I have the fourrunner 910xt and I just got shocked by the new garmin toy, is it good to buy this first version or wait for the next one that I don't think will be long in coming and will be improved with more stuff and maybe more battery?

  18. Hi Eduardo, very good review, the best I've seen of the vivoactive, I've already read that we need a mobile phone to load the music, my other doubt, I have the forerunner 610, I understand that my tape will be good for the vivoactive, no?

  19. Hello Eduardo, an incredible review!
    I've been thinking about buying this smartwatch for a few days now, and I have a couple of doubts:

    -Does it get dirty in white?
    -Does the screen look good at night?

    Thank you very much.

    1. Thank you, Silvia.

      It may be a little dirtier than black (it's just as dirty, but it will show a little more), but the material it's made of is easy to clean, so if you like it in white you can rest assured.

      Yes, the screen looks perfect, but you have to make use of the lighting.

  20. Greetings.
    I just purchased the Garmin Vivoactive, but I can't get it to sync with my Samsung S4 (although it's android 5).
    Please help

  21. Good morning, I wanted to request, both to Eduardo and to those who already have the device, information about how the screen supports the inclemencies of its use. It is a clock, and if it should be of use 24×7 in theory the screen should be strong to withstand well knocks, scratches, etc ... but I have the feeling that in that section could be somewhat weak and that it would be advisable to add some screen protector. Am I right?
    Thank you

    1. The screen is plastic, not glass, so it is a softer material that is effectively exposed to scratching. A screen protector can help you protect your screen from light scratches or scuffs, but obviously will not protect you from heavy blows against a wall, for example.

  22. Having a forerunner 610 cres that is worth going for the vivoactive, thinking that I only touch the pool 4 or 5 times in summer and that I am a runner that although constant I do not compete and rarely make series?

    1. The truth is, unless you want to make use of the smart watch or activity monitor options, with the Vivoactive you will do the same as with the 610.

  23. Eduardo, excellent review!!! I have the following problem: for some reason I don't know sometimes the battery discharges quickly and doesn't even last a day in clock function. Do you know what this can be due to? The next day I charge it and it lasts all week. I've been trying to infer what this can be due to: yes to the heart sensor, to the bluetooth but I have no idea. I wanted to know if something similar had happened to someone.

    1. It is possible that this is because you have some corrupted activity file that you are trying to transmit via Bluetooth, in which case it is best to do a complete deletion of the watch, and after doing so continue to observe its behavior.

  24. Hello Eduardo and thank you for your attention and dedication.
    I want to buy a watch, I usually run 3/4 days a week and add about 170kms per month if everything goes well. Almost always at the same pace, although I know that to improve I should do series (I hate them, but I don't rule them out).
    I'm also quite attracted to the Smart Watch theme (I have an iPhone 6).
    With these premises, which watch do you recommend? I like the Vivoactive but also the M400, V800...

    Thank you very much.

    1. The truth is that with your usage profile and requirements, the Vivoactive would fit you perfectly.

      Even if you plan to do series, you can do them "off the top of your head", but I don't think you will need to plan continuous structured workouts.

      1. Thanks for the answer.
        I just got my Nike SportWatch, which is no more basic than podia, so the only "downside" that I see in the vivoactive is the series or training preparation...
        At home my wife has the M400... do you see much difference?

        1. They are quite similar in performance. The Vivoactive stands out in its smart watch factor while the M400 stands out more for its training possibilities.

  25. Hi, Eduardo,
    Thank you very much for the review which, being several weeks... It wins a lot. It solves many of the doubts that we all may have.
    I personally would like to have a built-in heart rate monitor but in any case my question is whether you know that garmin's external chest monitors can be used in the water?

  26. My 305 forerunner just died and I'm evaluating possible options... one thing I liked about the 305 is that it could upload routes, then an arrow line would appear on the screen and you could follow the route quite well zooming in on the line. I'd like to know if the vivoactive has something similar, the image you indicate for the return home function doesn't seem to me as detailed as the 305, and I don't know if this is the only possibility.

  27. Hi, I'm kind of new at this. but I usually train about 4 times a week, almost swimming or never in the water. running, cycling etc. I have a little heart problem. so you should check my rhythm. Can you advise me between the Fitbit Surge or the Garmin Vivoactive? Thanks.

    1. If you don't have a pacemaker and don't need the pulse sensor on your wrist, the Vivoactive is a better choice, a more complete choice in terms of a sports watch. The Fitbit Surge would be a better choice if you are more interested in monitoring non-sport activity (i.e. in day-to-day life).

  28. Good morning, Eduardo!

    First of all the review of 10 no, of 10,000, because it's frankly great and it's very complete. I've read it like 3 times already.

    I wanted to talk to you about a question that assaults me since I want to acquire the Garmin Vivoactive: Do you see the need to buy, in addition to the watch, a screen protector for it? I ask this because I am very prone to scratch it and hit it accidentally (I'm a mess, I know), and when I see the screen both in the videos and in person, I see it very very fragile.

    What do you think?

    Thank you very much for your time and your work with the site.

  29. Hello! thank you very much for the review! it is very good! I am interested in the vivofit for swimming and notifications, do you recognize the style in swimming? I am hesitating with the tomtom multisport cardio, could you advise me?
    Thank you very much.

    1. Thank you, Gabriel.

      No, the Vivoactive doesn't differentiate the swimming style. There is quite a difference between the TomTom and the Vivoactive, it depends quite a bit on what you are looking for. You can also take a look at the TomTom Spark that was presented last week, you can see the article on the main page.

  30. Eduardo good evening, I'm about to buy a phone and I don't know which ones are compatible with android.

  31. Thank you for such a complete test, Eduardo. I do a lot of cycling and I would like to know what data it provides, such as slopes, height gain and loss,... and its degree of reliability. Also if you can see maps on the device, downloaded or those seen on the mobile.
    Thank you very much.

    1. The Vivoactive is not a cycling unit nor does it have advanced options like the ones you indicate, more typical of computers like the Edge 520.

      The data shown is simple, you can have accumulated ascent data, but it does not have a barometric altimeter so it will not be a precise figure. It also does not have the possibility of showing maps on the screen, unless you install an application through Connect IQ (which at the moment there is none of this type).

  32. Good morning.
    I acquired one a week ago and I see some defects that I don't know without my unit or they are all like that.
    I'll tell you if you can help me.
    The podometer does what he wants, he just invents steps, then between the steps that I count and the ones he says there is a brutal difference.
    Yesterday I took a trip by car and I counted 1500 steps inside the car and the direction of my car doesn't vibrate...
    I was swimming in the pool and in 44 lengths he counted 48.
    How do you see the theme?
    Thank you very much.

    1. It is normal that the pedometer is not totally accurate. In short, it is counting wrist movements. The adjustment of the watch on the wrist is also important, if it is too loose there will be much more movement and therefore greater error in measurement. The same applies to swimming.

      In this last case, if you want to try to exaggerate the gesture at the end of the length and start the new one.

      If you see that the data you have is consistently wrong it may be a problem with your drive, but my impression is that you simply need to get to know each other a little bit better.

  33. swimming back in the 50m pool sometimes multiplies by 2 this distance (you swim 50m and it is 100m long) and other times it does not measure. i returned it to the english cut, they updated it and it got worse. i have returned it definitely. do you know a watch that is useful for my 1200m backstroke sessions and that does not fail?

    1. I can't help you, because I barely swim backwards out of some specific exercise

      My workouts are freestyle, and in them the 95% of the occasions the record is totally correct

  34. I have a doubt, while I am running and registering the kilometers the clock does not allow me to see the time, since it only shows me the time, kms etc., there is some way to see the time without stopping the race ?

  35. Good morning again, Eduardo.
    As I was having trouble getting the steps in the car, I switched to another one...
    And now I have another problem that I don't think I had before...
    When I start to swim and I finish the activity, I check that it has also been counting steps, but let's go for a 1000 steps, I would swear that when you start an activity the step counter would stop, right?
    Thank you very much.

    1. No, during the activity steps are recorded, just as running also accumulates steps. Keep in mind that the figure indicated is an estimate, it should never be taken as an absolute value, and it is normal for swimming to interpret some movements as steps.

  36. Good morning, namesake! I'm writing again because I finally bought the Vivoactive and I have a question about sleep tracking. When I set up the Garmin connect with the Vivoactive, I indicated that I wanted it to detect sleep from 23:00 to 09:00. The thing is that tonight I went to sleep at 01:15 after reading and such, and when I woke up I had not detected any sleep. Could you explain to me how sleep detection works? Thank you very much and a greeting!

      1. Yes, yes, I synchronized it and nothing, it didn't send anything, unless it took forever for the data to appear. What I did was manually set the time I woke up and the time I went to bed and the data appeared, but yesterday when I went to sleep I'm sure it didn't go to sleep mode at all. I don't know why, or the same thing is that I don't know how it works, but having to enter the data manually is a nuisance. Do you know why?

        1. It could be some mistake, I have been doing a summary of the last two weeks to write down in the training calendar and I also found a day without any data.

          1. Nothing, after half an hour of reading with my hand still, I still didn't get the sleepy moon icon, I don't understand why. In my profile on Garmin Connect there is a section where the hours I normally go to bed come in. I'm on from 11:30pm to 9am. I don't know what else to do to make it work automatically..

          2. You won't see anything on the screen, because the sleep detection is server-side, i.e. you don't do anything on the clock, just sync it up the next morning with cable or mobile phone.

            When the data is uploaded to the Garmin website, the server determines the rest periods.

            But as I say, on the screen you won't see the sleep mode activated.

          3. Very well I understand Eduardo, so thank you very much. Tonight I'll try and tell you about it, okay? Greetings!

  37. Hello, first of all congratulate you for the site. I am passionate about technology and running and your site brings it all together. There is something that is not clear to me about indoor use. I understand that for treadmill running the accelerometer is enough, although a podometer would be better. But for poder using an exercise bike or in my case a spinning bike, do I need a sensor to know the distance and other parameters?

  38. The first brutal your analysis, incredible ... Congratulations, what a job!

    I have an iPhone 5s and also a polar loop bracelet. I want to have something more complete on my wrist, like this vivoactive. I have also considered other smartwatches in the market, like the one that attracts me a lot, like the pebble time steel. I practice crossfit 3 times a week... And run 1 or 2 times a week. Pebble, vivoactive, Apple?

    Thank you and keep it up!

  39. Thank you very much for your help Eduardo, I managed to solve the problem of the dream and it is already detected without problem. As you told me I did not have to do anything but synchronize it and wait. Now I wanted to ask you something else (because I do not know anyone else who has the Vivo and I can not compare): you notice that it costs a little to press the physical buttons (both the lighting and the start activity/menu)? It is that I have noticed that there are times that I press and it is as if I do not press them, because they do not do anything, I do not know if it is because of the protection that must have inside to allow the immersion or that makes you have to press well to be pressed. You have also noticed? Thank you very much in advance and a greeting.

    1. The truth is that I don't remember any incidence with the buttons, but that's what you're saying, keep in mind that the buttons have a rubber in front for protection when the watch is submerged, so they can't have a direct touch.

      1. I understand, so thank you very much. It's just that sometimes I get the feeling that it's hard to do (or I don't do it well perhaps), but well, thank you very much for your answer again.

  40. Thank you Eduardo for your time. I'm trying to do a basic training from garmin web, to download 10k of 50min, but it tells me that sending sessions with vivoactive is not compatible. If I can't send these simple things to vibrate or something, I prefer that you recommend me some other one that sets the pace, thank you.

    1. The smartwatch functions, the truth is that they have let me down a bit. I have barely used them in 2 weeks and probably if the trainings can't be sent, I will return it to amazon germany. and I will go for another one that you recommend.

      1. Advanced training can be found in the Forerunner range from 220 and in the Fenix range. If you want to keep the smartwatch features you will have to go to the high range, from 920xt.

        But if you expected more from that part of the watch, I think you'll be very pleased with Forerunner 220. Now, that's exclusively a running device. You can see the proof here:

    2. The Vivoactive does not support advanced training. It's strange, because that's what it lacks to be a "top" watch in the category it's in, but Garmin didn't want the Vivoactive to threaten the Forerunner range.

  41. Congratulations Eduardo, I thought it was great as you explained it so well, I had doubts about this watch, but now I have it clear, thank you very much.

  42. Thank you very much, very complete indeed. Just a couple of questions.
    Does my 310XT strap (waterproof) work?
    Would you also recommend it for use as a regular watch type "smartwacht" without frivolities, and for regular sports practice, or if you are going to make intensive use of both functionalities, better to buy more specialized models separately and have 1 for each thing?

    Thank you!

    1. Yeah, no problem with the sensor on the 310xt.

      If you're looking for a basic smartwatch (i.e. not beyond displaying notifications, without interacting with them) with Vivoactive you'll have more than enough.

      As a watch for different sports, the Vivoactive is not as complete as the 310xt, especially when it comes to display settings and outdoor swimming, but if the features you saw in the test are sufficient for you, it will meet your expectations.

  43. Excellent review. Thank you!
    I'm between vivoactive and fenix 2, I'm a running and swimming fan but I'm far from a triathlete?

    1. Thank you, Paul.

      If you don't need the navigation and mountain functions of the Fenix 2, or go swimming outdoors, I think the Vivoactive will suit your day-to-day life better.

  44. I congratulate you for this post, it is really very complete! I am evaluating to buy a watch to do triathlon...
    Is this watch suitable for 3 sports in a row? I have this doubt. If I didn't have this option I would have to buy the 310 or 920 for triathlon? Thank you very much

    1. Thank you German

      There is some application through Connect IQ, but it is not the most suitable option, and the Vivoactive does not have outdoor swimming either.

      For triathlon I recommend multi sport watch options and to enable a specific mode, such as Ambit3 Sport, 310xt, 920xt, Polar V800, Fenix 3, etc.

      By the way, if you like the page, remember to vote for the Journal Awards!

  45. I congratulate you for this post, it is really very complete! I am evaluating to buy a watch to do triathlon...
    Is this watch suitable for 3 sports in a row? I have this doubt. If I didn't have this option I would have to buy the 310 or 920 for triathlon? Thank you very much

  46. Hello eduardo, about 15 days ago that I am with the vivoactive, in its facet of sports watch I have no problem, but as far as notifications and bluetooth connection is concerned, I am disconnected from the phone several times a day without moving away from this i the issue of notifications, disaster, being the telf connected to the clock I do not enter any notification, I enter for a day without problem, but after two days without notifying me anything, and so I've been a week, in fact in the connect mobile, in the menu, if I remember correctly there is a section that says "notifications" that you can decide which applications you want to send notification to the watch, because every time I enter tells me that "no data available, when a week ago podia choose applications without problem. The truth is that I bought the watch for its sporty side, but it is not plan that its "smart" side has this defect. Do you know what podria is due to?
    Thank you very much and congratulations for the review, it was thanks to her that I decided to have the vivoactive

    1. Hello Rafa

      The Connect menu you're looking for is not the notification menu - that part is for application notifications only, like news and so on.

      What you're looking for is under Settings -> Smart Notifications.

      If they don't work properly, try clearing the clock from Connect and then re-pairing it, it usually solves quite a few problems.

      By the way, remember to vote for the Journal Awards!

  47. Hi, very good post, I told you I bought the vivoactive a couple of days ago and I love it, I bought it for its sport utility because I like running. The problem is that I can't connect it to my cell phone to download apps and content. I downloaded the Connect to cell phone application and when I looked for the vivoactive I couldn't find it even though the bluetooth is on in both devices.
    I downloaded the Garmin Express application to the pc and connecting the vivoactive with the usb cable I recognized it but I was told: we cannot add this device because our servers are not available at this time.
    I've been trying for days and the same thing keeps happening to me. I hope you can help me.
    Thank you very much!

    1. The Bluetooth connection must be made from the Garmin Connect application, after activating the search mode in the watch, i.e. do not search from the phone's options.

      As for the connection to the PC, check that the USB mode is set as mass storage.

      Remember to send in your vote for the Journal Awards!


      1. GOOD MORNING.
        A GREETING

  49. Hi, Eduardo:
    I would like to know if you used a handlebar holder in the bike test. I have the vivoactive since April and I can't get the touch screen to respond with the original holder or any other.
    The technical service changed it and with the new one it's the same. Even on any flat surface the touch screen stops responding.
    Otherwise I am delighted with the way it works and the data it provides, especially I use it for swimming in the pool.

  50. Hello, Eduardo. The completeness of the analysis is appreciated.
    I still have one more question: Using the device only in smart mode (without activating GPS), what is the battery life?
    Greetings and thank you.

    1. This duration is quite variable, since it depends on the number of notifications, how many times it is synchronized with the phone, etc. Garmin indicates in its specifications up to 3 weeks of autonomy without using the GPS.

      1. By checking with Garmin stores and the Internet, the device has a range of about 7 days when activated.


  51. Good morning to me it happens the same as to a girl who comments that I didn't tell her to install the applications correctly, I get the same sms:


    How can it be solved? Thank you. Greetings

  52. Good morning. I can't find the temperature range that you can stand. I train in the pool and it's usually 27 degrees, but when I'm done I like to relax for a few minutes in the Jacuzzi and stretch. The water is usually very hot. I'm afraid of carrying it.

  53. Hello eduardo and everybody, the analysis of the vivoactive is the best thing that there is in the whole internet. And that that I have seen enough. I am interested in buying it from me (ask the kings) but I have a doubt. This vivoactive was presented in the c 2015 at the beginning of January. It would be better to wait after the kings to the c 2016 in case there is any renewal of the model?
    Or I buy this one directly.
    Several forerunners have recently been renewed and the vivoactive has not.
    Does anyone know or have any news of the release of a new model of vivoactive?
    Thank you very much.

    1. I think you can ask the kings to take it easy. It's a bit difficult to play guessing games (in fact last year they surprised me), but I don't think they will prepare any replacements for Vivoactive, at least for next month.

  54. Hi. Hi.
    I loved the analysis, my compliments.
    One question, I have the vivoactive since 2 weeks ago, and everything works correctly, except for the calendar, in the clock always comes out that there are no events, and from the phone does not let me create tasks or anything on the calendar, there is some way to create these tasks ... this is only for sports or I can put for example that on Friday I have a meeting at 18:00 ... and especially as it is done.
    Thank you very much.

    1. What appears in the calendar are the entries you have in your phone's calendar. That's where you make your entries. It has nothing to do with the Garmin application.

  55. Hello good afternoon I have several doubts.
    if the watch is designed for triathletes because it doesn't measure in the open sea?
    the clock marks the transitions?
    if you were a triathlete today which of the two would be more effective garmin vivoactive or polar v800?


  56. Good morning, I found the analysis of the clock very interesting, I would like to know your impressions of the functionality of the smartwatch in HR mode, taking into account that I practice spinning. I am not clear if the heart rate reading appears on the screen constantly and if the battery autonomy is reduced moderately in this mode.

    1. Yes, you can configure the FC in the data screens, in the way you consider appropriate. There are no battery problems, in fact that is what the clock is designed for. The most important thing that consumes battery is the GPS, so disabling it for indoor activity will have a lot of autonomy

  57. Hi. From your analysis, I convinced myself to buy the Garmin Vivoactive. The only thing that happens is that I have the Samsung III and as I found it is compatible but when I want to pair them it tells me that it is not compatible with Bluetooth Smart. Where can I find, really, what phones are compatible? On the other hand, you could tell me what type of Bluetooth is Bluetooth Smart? I didn't know there were different types of Bluetooth. Thank you very much

    1. The Galaxy S3 does have Bluetooth Smart (or Bluetooth 4.0), but make sure you have your phone updated to Android version 4.3.

      Synchronization is performed from the Garmin Connect application, not from the phone's options.

      1. Thanks Eduardo, the issue is that the Android is 4.1 and does not allow me to update it 🙁.
        Here's another query: I did more than 7 workouts before synchronizing with my computer. When I did, I realized that the first two were deleted; they don't appear in the history, only the last 5. You know if I can get them back somehow. Thanks a lot!

        1. With that impossible Android version.

          You can't get them back. Once the memory is full, old activities are automatically deleted to make room for new ones.

    1. No, the sensor does not support underwater data. If you want heart rate data you should choose Polar V800, Suunto Ambit3 Sport or one of the Garmin that supports the HRM-Swim sensor (920xt, Fenix 3 or Epix).

  58. Good afternoon.
    Thank you very much for the analysis. I have just started doing sports and using my Garmin Vivoactive monitor with GPS. I find something that really surprises me and I am not able to solve: in the activity monitor function I notice that the steps are measured wrongly. Even when I am in the car with the watch removed the little thing keeps counting steps!!! What can be the reason? I can't find any explanation on how to use it correctly.
    Thank you

    1. It is normal for such things to happen. Data is posted through the accelerometer of the clock, so movements can be counted as steps. In all activity monitors it happens.

      Similarly, if you walk around the supermarket pushing the cart and not moving your wrist, it will not count steps.

      You must bear in mind that the data provided is an estimate, and you must not use it as an exact value. If at the end of the day the clock indicates that you have walked 2,300 steps, it is clear that you have had little activity. If, on the contrary, it indicates 15,000, your activity has been high. You must look at the figure as a whole and not expect precise data, as it cannot provide this.

  59. Very good analysis, Eduardo. On the runnig part, which is what I'm interested in, does it monitor you in real time as you go along for miles on average? Thank you.

    1. Yes, you have both an average mileage and an instantaneous and average pace for the entire exercise

  60. Hi, how can I get you to let me know when I get a notification, it doesn't vibrate or anything and I have it activated in vibration mode.

    Thank you very much.

    1. You must have the clock paired with your phone, and pairing is done from the Garmin Connect application, not from the phone's settings.

  61. Hi, I just received my vivoactive and it doesn't have a wall plug. Could you tell me if it's compatible with the iPhone charger, ipad?even the car charger which is also usb the powers are different and I don't dare to use this kind of plug. I've seen that garmin has one with usb port but I don't know if it's valid for the vivoactive either. In this aspect Garmin doesn't inform well. Thank you very much.

    1. Carlos, you can use any mobile phone charger with USB output, where you will connect the sync cable.

  62. It's been several months since you published the article but it just fell into my hands. It's been very useful to me. I've already tried one and I loved it. I wanted to ask you if it's necessary to buy the kit with the band for the pulses or if you can buy the watch and the band separately. I guess it will be the same model of watch in both cases and with the same functions. Thanks

  63. Eduardo is great, I've read it twice and I'm delighted, I got my watch and so far it's good, but I see mine in very little light compared to yours, can you increase the brightness? Thanks, you big lug.

    1. The illumination is the same, simply in the photo it will seem to you that it illuminates more (by the settings of the camera). It does not have graduation of intensity.

  64. Hey, I bought the vivoactive, it's great.
    I would like you to tell me where I can get or what brand is the heart rate band on the wrist (there is a man with the watch on his wrist and behind him the band with the two pieces on his wrist) that appears in the photos of the report

  65. Hey, Champ,
    One question. I'm going to practice basketball once a week this year and I want to add a manual activity. What type of activity should I select in Garmin connect to give me the best possible information? It doesn't appear in the drop-down menu.

    Thank you very much,


    1. If you don't see the activity you are going to do, put the one closest to it by type of physical activity

  66. Hello! Very good analysis. Do you know if it fits easily to the iOs system? Or does it have any contra? Because I have an Iphone and many times accessories are not completely compatible with Apple.
    Thank you

  67. Hi! Great article! I tried to connect it with a polar chest band but it won't let me. It's from the FT60 polar, which with the vivamart hr did let me connect via ATN+. Doesn't it support vívoactive?

    1. The FT60 uses a Wearlink sensor, which is specific to Polar (older models now use Bluetooth). This ribbon is not ANT+ compatible.

  68. Thank you, Eduardo, for your careful analysis.
    I have the Vivoactive since 1 week ago and I have detected the inconvenience that it does not let you add the heart rate field natively when you are in the swimming activity (you can add this field if you install the corresponding data field of the IQ app).
    I saw in your analysis that you have an HRM bracelet, could you test it in the pool by adding the field from IQ as I mentioned? Does it record the pulse data in the .fit file?
    Thank you very much in advance.

    1. No, although you can see the FC data on screen by having the wristband next to the watch, the data is not recorded in the file, so you will not be able to analyze it later.

    2. No, although you can see the FC data on screen by having the wristband next to the watch, the data is not recorded in the file, so you will not be able to analyze it later.

  69. Hello!! I like this watch the only thing q not of the pulse, it seems q there is not one with what I want for that reason I write you to see your opinion, I run, something of bicycle, I swim, paddle, sometimes gymnasium... I wanted one q served me for everything and perhaps q it is quantifier (it seems q it makes me grace) the tomtom cardio multisport is not quantifier no?, the .fitbit arises not useful for swimming no?, like.q the garmin 235, q mess... Your of these 4 and for what q I comment to you (daily use) which you recommend? The Samsung gear s2 would serve or you know another smartwatch q could be used? Q has integrated pulsometro, multisport, quantifier etc thanks in advance and very good work

  70. Very good your article and all the analysis, you have taken me out of many doubts and now I am almost 100% convinced to buy it, only one small detail remains to be clarified. If it enters beach waters it can be damaged? or the only problem is that the application is only useful for swimming pools? it is something that has not been clear to me, that would be the only reason why I decide not to buy the watch. I will wait for an answer. Thank you very much and greetings!

  71. Hello! Did I give you the right calories? I don't think I'm doing well. In 25 minutes of running on a treadmill at 8-10km/h you tell me that I've burned 122 calories... No way! The weight, height and age data are entered correctly. I even had another garmin and it didn't fail me.
    Do you know if my garmin is defective or if it really doesn't measure up?

  72. Good evening: I have given me the gramin vivoactive, however in indoor cycling I wanted to acrivarle to read me the calories I burn and I can not do. How can it be done? I hope not with heart rate band 🙁 thank you in advance.

    1. Indeed, without sensors of any kind it is impossible for me to calculate any calorie consumption data, which depends directly on exercise intensity.

  73. What's up buddy! I have some doubts, the cadence watch can do exactly this with the additional sensor, I'm interested because I practice cycling. For a duathlon like you see this vivoactive could not?

    1. Yes, you can pair it with a cadence sensor.

      The only thing you need to keep in mind is that you cannot do a multi-sport activity, which means that every time you make a transition you must stop the current activity and start a new running or cycling activity.

      1. what watch would you recommend for paddle tennis, tennis, combined with other minor hobbies like running or trekking (no trailrunning)

        1. Really for that use you can use any GPS and heart rate monitor connection, there is nothing specific to paddle and tennis. This Vivoactive can go very well, of course.

  74. Congratulations on such an excellent analysis.
    I have a small doubt, I hope you can solve it, can you surf with this device without being damaged by the force of the water? I usually run 2 or 3 times a week, I also surf once a week and I would like to know if this device would be recommended.
    Thank you very much.

  75. Very good analysis, very complete.
    The only thing that's raised a tremendous amount of doubt in my mind.
    I am a beginner runner and I had decided on my first watch after having seen quite a few.
    The forerunner 25 of garmin.
    It has everything for me, because I am looking for a watch to use daily and that is versatile with mobile notifications, daily activity etc.
    But having seen this analysis I think the vivoactive is very similar in performance but much more aesthetically pleasing than the Forerunner 25.
    The only thing I notice through the videos is that the screen of the vivoactive seems very delicate and fragile for a daily use, it even gives the impression that it can be easily scratched.
    Am I right?
    It's the only thing the analysis doesn't say anything about.
    I'm a sea of doubt now.
    What do you advise?
    Thank you and a greeting.

    1. Both screens are made of the same material, so they are exposed to the same problems.

      The Forerunner 25 is simpler, both in terms of features and ease of use, depending on what you're looking for. If you don't want complications with different options and want to go to the basics and elementary, I'd stick with the FR25, otherwise the Vivoactive has a lot more features.

  76. Hi Eduardo! I want to ask you a question about the swimming application. I'll tell you that I swim in a 25m pool, obviously I programmed it that way. The thing is that as I advance in the amount of lengths it gets out of phase and adds or subtracts 25m. Very rare... this happens to me when I do 500 or 1000m runs without stopping. Do you have any idea why this can happen? Thank you!

    1. Length detection is done by the internal accelerometer. Make sure the gesture you make when you reach the end of the pool is clear so that the clock can detect that you have completed a length.

  77. Well, it's been 4 months now that I have the vivoactive and I don't know how to follow a live session and it would be very important for me

  78. Hi, I wanted to ask you a question, I have a vivoactive and I don't know how to get the training zones to appear on the garmin connector mobile (the horizontal bar graph, where the amount of time in each zone is shown), I wanted to know if you know if it is for the vivoactive.

    1. I just reviewed recorded activities with the Vivoactive and no, that function is not present in that model.

  79. Hello ! When I enter the weight and height in my garmin I get in units of measurement that are not kg or meters how can I change it? And the degrees in the temperature I do not get normal as can be changed?

  80. Hi Eduardo, I was given the Vivoactive without the tape, I wanted to ask you if any of the Garmin tapes or monitors work with this model or do I need one in particular? Thanks a lot.

    1. Timer the very start of activity. There is no countdown, but you could install some application through Connect IQ that does.

  81. Hello, I have some questions, I'm about to acquire the vivoactive and I want to know the following, for sure you can help me

    1-I go to the gym 3 times a week and run and bike (There is something to detect the time I am doing and the constancy)

    2 - When I am out cycling if I activate the gps mode then when I pair it with my device I can see the route satellite (ie the area I travel)

    3-If I do physical activity, whatever it is (squats, push-ups and so on) is there any way to detect it?

    Thank you very much and I would appreciate your response, greetings Nahuel from Argentina!

    1. If the bike does not have sensors, it is not possible. The running time can be registered, with the indoor racing application. If the second, and as for the third you always have to start an activity, if not only count steps.

  82. Thank you very much for the analysis! I've been looking for a watch that can be used for swimming for a long time, but that can also be worn all day long and is not too bulky, and it even counts the activity, steps and calories! Exactly as you say, for people like me the watch's capacity is too much. Excellent and complete analysis, thank you very much!

  83. Good morning, Eduardo:
    Thank you for the analysis you're doing, very good.
    I'm looking for a heart rate monitor that measures the distances I ride, for both street and indoor cycling. I'm hesitating between this one and the Polar M400. Which one would you recommend?

  84. Good morning, Eduardo;

    Thank you for all the analyses you do, all of them very complete.

    I have a question and I don't know which one to choose, whether it's the Polar M400 or the Garmin Vivoactive. I want it for walking and knowing the distance walked, for cycling in the street and in the living room. Which one would you advise?


    1. Either of them will serve you perfectly for what you are looking for. For price the M400 is a better choice, for size and thinness I would opt for the Vivoactive.
      It depends on the size of your wrist.

        1. For the type of use you will be doing, both will meet your expectations perfectly. However, the Garmin has more autonomy and vibration, and mainly swimming function in pool (which the Polar does not have).

  85. Good morning, Eduardo!

    First of all, I want to congratulate you for the great job you do with the reviews. I've discovered you recently and I've read quite a few even about products that a priori don't interest me.

    I'm hesitating between buying the garmin vivoactive or the garmin vivoactive hr. I like the first one better for its aesthetics, but the second one has an altimeter, the screen works better and I don't depend on a chest strap for the pulses. And even if the optical sensor is not so accurate, it's more than enough for me.

    I mainly want it for cycling trips (2-3 times a week), as a heart rate monitor for spinning (3-4 times a week) and as an activity monitor for day-to-day life, gym, and various sports with friends, all at an amateur level, without competing anywhere. The truth is that I haven't decided between one and the other since both have their respective advantages. Which would you buy?

    Thank you very much!

    1. The Vivoactive HR seems to me to be a much better choice, it is a more complete and rounded product, which in addition to having the optical pulse sensor has is able to support the latest version of ConnectIQ (with what it means in terms of Garmin updates).

  86. Hello, very good analysis :), this Christmas I would like to buy a heart rate monitor and I am between this garmin vivoactive or a tomtom runner2, and I would like to know if there is much difference between them, as a sport I go to the gym and I practice swimming.
    Thank you.

    1. When it comes to swimming, I personally find the Garmin a better choice. The TomTom is more basic in its pool performance.

  87. Hello. I don't know if this has been asked. But I wanted to know if there is a way to download my training through the garmin connector to my vivoactive?

  88. Good morning.
    I have a question, is the polar heart rate sensor compatible with garmin watches?

    1. No, Polar uses Bluetooth on its latest models, while the Vivoactive is compatible with ANT+ only

  89. Good morning.
    does this garmin have a more accurate gps or are they very similar to the polar m400?

  90. Thanks for the analysis! My question is the following, although it seems silly. Since I don't just use the watch for personal training, I would need to know if this smartwach has the basic option of timing. Thank you very much.

    1. There is no stopwatch in the software itself. You can do this by starting an activity or, if you want a basic stopwatch, by downloading a Connect IQ application

  91. And when the right button does not work. It is the second time that happens to me and it is no longer under warranty. Besides what they did was to change the clock so it usually fails in all of them.

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