John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Garmin Vivofit review

Activity monitors like the FitBit, Nike Fuel etc are all the rage. Frankly the point of them alludes me so I thought heh, let’s see what I am missing. So I did some digging and this one the Garmin Vivo Fit stood out. Largely because it can also interface with a Ant+ heart rate monitor which I already have. So I bought one to try it out.

So let’s start out with what is it? It is a pedometer (measures how far you’ve walked, your welcome from Captain obvious), a heart monitor and a watch that can display date and time. That’s about it in a nutshell. Yawn. Don’t look for ANY additional functions. No compass, no temperature, no altimeter, not even an alarm, NADA, zippo, bupkiss. Any of these additional features might give a reason to keep this device, but sadly nope.

This particular device can be setup and used with either a phone (iOS or Android) or with a laptop with the included BlueAnt USB stick. Setup was painless and easy. The ability to sync any time any where through your phone is an awesome design. The data goes up to the cloud to Garmin’s fitness web site. The web site is well designed and I already use it with my other Garmin devices. Another reason why this particular device caught my eye.

And thus comes the biggest limitation of this device, the display. They opted for an LCD display with no back lighting to allow maximum battery life. This one instead of needing recharging frequently can last up to a year on disposable coin lithium batteries. The display is readable as long as there is a reasonable amount of light. A dark restaurant, movie theatre, or at night and your SOL. It really is not a good choice. And as with a lot of other devices in this category the display is not turned towards you. It’s readable but odd at best. The Nike Fuel has a much brighter easier to read display but is still turned the wrong way. You can not configure the display for left or right handed mode, it is where it is. On the positive side the display is always on so your not fussing with a second hand to turn the watch on. But if you left it on say calorie count and want the time your back to needing the second hand to change the display. It does not timeout back to a default display, which could be both good and bad.

Ok so the pedometer … it counts your steps. It sets a goal for you to meet. And any day you don’t meet the goal it lowers the bar. Any day you meet the goal it raises the bar. The display shows a red bar any time you have been sitting too long. But don’t look for any kind of sound, or vibrate to get you off your ass. Nope also absent from the device (and in others). So in some ways it motivates you, and in others IMHO it misses the mark. And remember, given most modern phones have accelerometers in them so they can function perfectly well as a pedometer with the use of an app like Samsung’s S.Health or Runtastic’s pedometer.

So on day one here is the data from the VivoFit and Samsung’s S.Health

8112 steps Vs 10386, 6.6km Vs 8.2 and 1467 calories Vs 359. Holy crap. Now I’ve previously compared S.Health to a GPS based app and it was reasonably close so the Garmin seems off. And the calorie count seems ludicrous, well until you do some reading. And what you discover is this device (along with others including the Nike Fuel) include baseline calories. The amount of energy your body would need to simply exist based on some particular formula using the stats you provided, age/weight/height/sex (yes please šŸ™‚ ) etc. So I found this interesting site that allows you to figure out your baseline calorie burn. No idea how accurate it is. But if I used it’s numbers it says I would burn 1484 calories to exist. So even with that tid bit reconciling the calorie count the Garmin comes up with is just magic. Whatever engineering constant they have used (a fudge factor used to multiply the answer you get with your number to get the correct answer, which is of course not a constant, a little engineering school humor sorry) is a mystery. So all in all I am left thinking WTF?

Ok onto heart rate. Surely this will be useful? It paired very well and easily with my existing Ant+ Garmin heart rate monitor. Came up with my instantaneous heart rate as well as zone that I am in at the moment. That’s it. There are no alarms you can set if you are out of your zones. There are no stats (min/max/avg) until the data is uploaded to the portal. Once on the portal you discover that it separates out whatever portion of the day you wore the heart rate monitor into a separate workout. A nice choice. The steps/calories are still in your day count as well. So I would have to say I am disappointed in this function. I do have to wonder what the device would do say cycling, or mountain biking. I have seen some people talk about taking the device off during those type of exercises but that seems to defeat the point.

Lastly the device if worn while sleeping tracks how soundly you sleep. Interesting, but really, do I need a device to tell me I toss and turned through the night?

Also missing is the ability to configure Owner information in case you lost the watch or were found unconscious šŸ˜¦

Physically the device comes with two rubber wrist straps of different lengths. They are comfortable enough to wear, even when sleeping. Could be worn in the shower/swimming as this device is water proof.

So in the end, I find myself back where I started … I don’t get the point of these devices and returned mine šŸ˜¦

May 29, 2014 - Posted by | Activity Trackers, Electronic gadget reviews

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: