In the ever-growing market of wearable fitness trackers, Garmin is always looking for an open seat to beat the competition. For the record, Garmin makes some of the best and most solid GPS sports watches available today, so expectations were enormous for the brand’s first tracker. Our primary focus today is on the Vivofit 2, Vivofit Jr, and Garmin Vivofit reviews.
The Garmin Vivofit is a fitness tracker that’s much similar to Samsung Gear Fit, Jawbone UP24, and Nike Fuelband SE – just to mention a few – struggling for a place on your wrist. The company is certainly not a stranger in creating data tracking devices whether it’s the Forerunner running watches or GPS-packing Edge cycling computers.
This time around, Garmin is getting rid of the GPS and paying more attention to steps counting and helping people make steady improvements to their daily lives. It’s very affordable, though there are some problems that hinder it from being the best fitness tracker out there (more on that later).
Basically, Garmin Vivofit helps to tracks your sleep, count your steps, and monitor your active time.
Now, you might be thinking why this is important; well it’s very important because Garmin has a lot of loyalists out there, and the Vivofit series perfectly integrates into the brand’s existing online ecosystem, so you can easily track all of your athletic activities from a single page (assuming you equally use Garmin watches, I guess).
The Vivofit series is equally one of the first of its kind that has the ability to pair with an ANT+ heart rate monitor (purchased separately), which should offer you a broad picture of what’s happening while you’re working outs. And, finally, it also important because you don’t need to border about charging it.
- Garmin Vivofit Review | Design
- Garmin Vivofit Features
- Garmin Express & Garmin Connect app
- Garmin Vivofit’s Performance
- Garmin Vivofit Jr Review
- Garmin Vivofit Jr | Look And Feel
- Vivofit Jr Review | Functions
- One Last Thing about The Vivofit Jr
- Garmin Vivofit 2 Review
- Vivofit 2 Review | Features & Performance
- Garmin Connect
- Garmin Vivofit 2 Sleep Tracking
- Garmin Vivofit 2 Battery Life
- Conclusion about Garmin Vivofit Review (Including Vivosmart Jr & Vivosmart 2)
Garmin Vivofit Review | Design
If you want a fitness tracker that can live unobtrusively on the wrist, then the Vivofit does not fit the bill. The flexible rubber band that holds the tracking module looks extremely cheap and reminds me of the Livestrong wristbands notwithstanding with a wider body. It appealingly has a lot in common with the Fitbit Flex than the likes of Fuelband SE and the Jawbone UP24, and even uses a similar clip to secure the band around the wrist.
Additionally, it weighs only 25.5g making it almost as light as the smallest Nike Fuelband SE (27g), and the Jawbone UP24 (23g). There’s large (152-210mm) and small (120-175mm) band sizes both offered in the box and you can swap them with different colored straps which cost an extra buck.
One advantage the Vivofit has over competing trackers is that you don’t have to remove it when you’re going swimming or in the shower. It’s water resistant up to 50m – this means that it’s a band you can have on your wrist all the time, however, it doesn’t have dedicated swimming features to really make the most of it.
Apart from that, it features an always-on simple LCD display (10 mm high by 25.5mm wide), so it’s not the very bubbly AMOLED touchscreen on the Gear Fit, but it’s excellent for quickly checking your stats and this also means that you’re not entirely tied to your phone to keep a check on your progress – but that’s until it gets dark.
Garmin didn’t include backlight at all on this device, and that is undoubted to improve battery life – as a result, it’s hard to go out for an evening run or even to activate sleep tracking without having to flash a smartphone screen on it or reach for the bedside lamp.
Furthermore, there’s only one button close to the display to skip through the displays in order to view date, time, steps taken, calories burned, total distance, and steps remaining to attain target goal. Pressing and holding the button puts you in pairing, sleep, or sync mode.
The pairing mode means that you can connect an ANT+ heart rate monitor chest strap including an extra display to view heart rate zones and measure heart rate. Garmin Vivofit is an available bundled with an ANT+ heart rate monitor which will make the price to go a bit higher and is compatible with only ANT+ chest straps, Bluetooth Smart monitors aren’t supported.
You’ll find a large and small band inside the box, both in the same color alongside the ANT+ USB receiver. Similar to the receiver that comes with Fitbit’s trackers, this is your process of performing the initial syncing data and setup, in this instance to the Garmin Express.
Finally, Garmin Vivofit is insanely comfortable to put on all day and night and displayed little signs of annoyance even after a sweaty workout. However, we did have some problems with the secureness of the clip which fell off twice on different occasions during sleep tracking.
Garmin Vivofit Features
There’s not much to talk about here on how this device tracks movement. It makes use of an accelerometer to detect motion just like its rivals. It has no GPS which is not entirely a surprise considering its low price.
However, what’s more, underwhelming is the lack of an altimeter for elevation tracking where you’re going to burn more calories – but you can still track activities such as cycling and running, but it does mean they still have to be imported from other Garmin devices or entered manually.
Similarly, for the ANT+ support for connecting heart rate monitor, there’s Bluetooth to sync to a mobile phone albeit this has to be manually done as well. Details of onboard storage aren’t revealed by Garmin too, but the Vivofit can comfortably store a month’s worth of data.
Additionally, Garmin Vivofit has two exceptional ways of motivating you to keep on moving. The first one is the “Inactivity Bar.” This is basically a red line which shows at the top of the display when you’ve been dormant for about an hour. Ideally, the longer you’ve not moved from your desk the larger it grows.
It’s just like the ability to configure “vibrating inactivity alarms” on the Jawbone UP24 or the “Win the Hour” feature on the Fuelband SE. You need to get out of your seat and move in order to reset it. However, it’s often easy to ignore, and that’s a problem – and that’s because there’s nothing like vibration or a way to nudge you into action.
The personalized goals are more efficient in giving you a nudge. When you want to set up Garmin Vivofit, you can choose a target step count goal – and if you attain your daily goal, the device will push up your daily target to get you moving higher. Interestingly, it’ll be reduced a bit if you don’t meet your goal. Instead of just counting steps, it takes things a bit further and grows it into something you can enhance on in a very little but gradual way.
Garmin Express & Garmin Connect app
Data can be synced in two different ways and that’s through the Garmin Connect phone app or the Garmin Express desktop tool. Available for both iOS and Android, and it’s free. However, Connect has existed for some time now and fortunately, it’s been given a long overdue upgrade. It’s a more firm platform compared to the likes of Jawbone and Fitbit where the only available 3rd-party support is through MyFitnessPal.
Moreover, you’ll be required to sync and register the Vivofit in the smartphone app before you can make use of it. Except you already have an account with Garmin Connect, this requires creating an account which involves the regular general information such as weight, height, and also adding your normal sleep starting and wake up time. Once you’re in the dashboard just like the Fitbit, it allows you to add widgets so you can easily customize the information you want to quickly check.
Finally, there’s a Community section where challenges can be found, a news feed and connections where other Connect users can be found. And there’s equally a “LiveTrack” function where you can easily share activities to invitees in real-time.
This is mainly replicated on the web version of the app where you can equally see virtual earned badges, challenges and extra reports on daily, weekly and even monthly progress. It’s simple enough to navigate about, however, the real problem is getting the information there in the first place.
Garmin Vivofit’s Performance
The Vivofit proves problematic before you even get it strapped on syncing. For example, it took lots of attempts for the band to be connected to a Windows 8 laptop using the ANT+ receiver. Also, the smartphone app doesn’t necessarily make things much better. It didn’t sync or connect once when we tested it with the Samsung Galaxy S5. However, it was easier for us to eventually pair it with the Nexus 5. Syncing the data albeit always crashed the app or it often didn’t make it through a complete sync.
There are some differences in the data recorded as a step counter but it’s generally consistent. When compared to the Withings Pulse O2 and the Jawbone UP24, the number of steps counted is much larger than the other 2 fitness trackers.
This could be explained by the fact that we didn’t have to remove the Vivofit to take a shower after a run or in the morning. However, the calorie count is more than double what the Withings Pulse O2 and the Jawbone UP24 suggests so there’s obviously some accuracy problems in this area.
As for the sleep tracking, you’ll be surprised that it’s slightly superficial and not very handy, just like the Fuelband SE. It does not offer you a reading of the quality of sleep but is rather focused on movement during sleep time. Additionally, there are numerous times recorded for the time in bed and amount of sleep. The Withings Pulse O2 and Jawbone UP24 offer much richer data compared to the graph provided by the Vivofit.
Finally, if there’s one thing you certainly don’t have to border about with Garmin Vivofit, it’s battery life. It doesn’t come with any dedicated charging cradle to carry around. And there’s also no need to recharge through micro USB as it operates on two regular CR1632 coin cell watch batteries, which is also replaceable.
This helps the device to last for up to one year before needing a new set – and that is 6-months more than what the battery-powered Fitbit Zip tracker can do.
Garmin Vivofit Jr Review
Garmin vivofit JR. – Real Flower
I was very thrilled when I heard the price of Garmin’s Vivofit Jr. The Vivofit Jr is an activity tracker which is specifically built for children. By getting family members onboard and adding tasks and rewards, the primary purpose of Garmin Vivofit Jr is to excite children about staying active. It’s a logical procedure that lots of brands know about but have failed to consider when releasing products.
The presence of wearable tech today is irrefutable in the field of sports daily activity tracking and even the place of work. Yet schools seldom embrace the approval of wearable technology outside heart rate monitors which hinder the workout session; ease of use, costs, data security, and how long it takes before the device becomes out-of-date are all few issues faced by schools with a lean budget.
I’m honestly pleased with what the Vivofit Jr has in store. Let’s quickly examine some of the features and uses.
Garmin Vivofit Jr | Look And Feel
Garmin Vivofit Jr activity tracker is enclosed in a silicon band that looks more like a bangle than an ordinary wristband. This is excellent since the children won’t be required to fiddle or learn how to clip the watch. Additionally, the wristband is expandable and should be pretty easy for kids to wear.
Aside from that, Garmin equally sells wristbands that you can easily buy for customization. Again, Garmin Vivofit 3 bands are equally compatible with the Vivofit Jr if, for any reason, you need a bigger sized wristband.
However, the screen is slightly tiny for my liking; I assume that children would have preferred giant fonts and big screens. The physical size of the device is almost identical to that of Garmin Vivofit 3 right down to the resolution and screen size. Basically, the weight and the wristband design is the only difference.
It has just one single button that controls all function through series of long and short presses.
- Slightly extended press activates the backlight
- Single press toggles through the menu
- A long press activates functions such as put the device in pairing mode, task timers or turn it off
Interestingly, the Vivofit Jr is swimming safe and seems like it can take a few hard knocks without being broken. The wearable runs on a user replaceable coin cell battery for up to a year.
Vivofit Jr Review | Functions
Unlike other Garmin wearables that usually connects to compatible mobile devices through Garmin Connect mobile app, the Vivofit Jr has its own dedicated app by the same name.
However, the set up can be a bit challenging but I assure you it’s pretty fun if you’re exploring it with your kid. From creating of the avatar to customizing the background color, and entering the displayable name, I can only visualize how many conversations this app will create between parent and kids.
Essentially, Garmin Vivofit Jr tracks the activity level of the kid and synced it to the administrator’s smartphone, who’s likely going to be one of the parents. Aside from that, Garmin has equally offered the option for the administrator to include another two guardians.
Although, the administrator is the only person that has access to customize tasks and rewards.
The fun actually lies in the customization of tasks and rewards. Talking about the chores, the app already has a list of chores – but you can also create your own chores if you can’t pick from the list and afterward apportion the number of rewards in “coins.”
After which you can decide on the type of rewards which can either be having a TV time or ice cream. Finally, the kid can then redeem the rewards using coins earned from completing chores.
From the beginning to the end, there’s an ample of conversation between parent and child from the creating of the account to the setting up of tasks and rewards. Also, the brightly colored graphs and charts further serve as a good motivating factor for kids to maintain or boost their activity levels.
Parents taking a keen interest in their child’s wellbeing undeniably encourage positive relationships. The duty is on the child to gain the rewards agreed upon by completing tasks.
Undoubtedly, nothing is as sweet as a family staying active together. Step count of the guardian and the administrator will always be reflected in the leadership board provided they’re on Garmin Connect.
Moreover, it only links a maximum of about 8 Vivofit Jr activity trackers to one administrator at the moment.
A parent can also utilize pre-set timers to supervise the kid in accomplishing the tasks. For instance, you could set a 2-minute timer for brushing teeth in the morning or even a 30-minutes timer for reading the books. Once enabled, a countdown timer would display – and once the time is set, the Vivofit Jr would make a beep sound and the parent must play their part to include a coin for a completed task.
One Last Thing about The Vivofit Jr
Finally, accessing the timer function can be slightly bulky due to the fact that a single button controls every single function via short and long presses.
Garmin Vivofit 2 Review
Garmin takes care of form and function with the Vivofit 2 series. It’s basically a fitness tracker which monitors sleep, distance, steps, and calories, with an always-on screen display and an incredible yearlong battery life. You can equally get jewelry-like and colorful wristbands for the device, so it can turn into an outfit accessory. At its affordable price, can Garmin Vivofit 2’s combination of beauty and brains position it ahead of the competition?
We’ll find out!
Interestingly, Garmin didn’t change a lot in the second series of the Vivofit. It’s still a tiny, rectangular sensor which fits into a wristband and has an always-on LCD display as I mentioned earlier. The device is curved to naturally and comfortably fit on top of your wrist, and it features a single physical button for the screen control.
The 1 x 0.39-inch screen display shows the time by default, and the button can be used to scroll through to view the date, calories burned, steps taken, steps remaining to reach your goal, and distance traveled in miles. One good thing is that you can easily read the display both indoors and outside in sunlight. Garmin equally included a new backlight to light up the Vivofit 2’s display in dark settings.
Furthermore, Garmin Vivofit 2’s bands are where the real fun starts. The device can be purchased with a white, black, pink, or navy band, and you can purchase bundles of 3 silicon bands from Garmin’s latest “Style Collections.”
The cost-effective multicolored packages which are available at the moment include “Downtown” (for the style-addicted citizens, featuring chic burgundy, navy, and slate colors), and “Energy” (for the bubbly and bright, featuring bold canary, violet, and pink bands).
Also, the “Signature Series” will have metal bands in colors such as silver, gold, and rose gold, for those that want to masquerade their gadget as a piece of jewelry. Good enough, Garmin partnered with famous designer “Jonathan Adler” for another flamboyant collection which features silicon bands alongside Adler’s signature white-accented patterns.
Garmin Vivofit 2 can be set up via Garmin Connect mobile app for iOS and Android, or via your computer (using the added USB cable). Using the app, I saw Vivofit 2 in the Devices section and then pressed the button to switch it on. Once on, the app will automatically search for the device and pair with it once it notices that the tracker is closed. And after a minute or two, the device paired and synced to the app.
Vivofit 2 Review | Features & Performance
The stopwatch function is one of the newly added capabilities in Garmin Vivofit 2 and not in the original. You can long-press the button on the device until “Start” displays on the screen, and then release it to start timing an exercise session. In order to stop tracking, long-press the button until “Stop” shows up on the screen, and then release. It’s an easy and great way to control Garmin Vivofit 2 during a workout.
Additionally, audible inactivity alerts are yet another new feature: The Vivofit 2 bells around every hour if you’ve been motionless for too long. It’s an awesome touch, but I wish it equally had vibration alerts.
The device tracked my steps correctly over the course of some weeks. In the Garmin Connect app, I could notice that, during the workweek, I walked around thirteen thousand steps daily, with spikes to between sixteen and twenty thousand steps on Fridays, when I’m out with some friends in the evening. While on Saturdays and Sundays, I surrendered to laziness and only walked about six thousand and ten thousand steps daily.
In a nutshell, the Vivofit 2 indeed tracked my exercises pretty well; the measurements of my distance were around 0.2 miles of what the treadmill and elliptical in my gym recorded.
Garmin Connect is the brand’s portal that houses all of the information that the Vivofit 2 collects. The app can be opened on your smartphone and long-press the button on the Vivofit 2. After which you’ll release the button once “Sync” appears on the device’s screen – and within 5-seconds, the device will start syncing with the app through Bluetooth.
Garmin Connect arranges information similar to card windows which you can scroll through. By default, step data is at the top, followed by calories, weight, sleep, activities, badges, workouts, and personal records. However, the order of these cards can be changed at any time by simply tapping the “Edit button” located at the top-right corner of the homepage.
Furthermore, tapping “Details” at the bottom of any card will show you individual in-depth analysis. For instance, steps show you bar graphs representing your step counts in daily, weekly, monthly and also yearly format. Now, I found this really exciting after putting on the device for almost 2-weeks: I was both stunned and delighted to see that I walked over 105-miles in that period.
Although I do wish the Garmin Connect app would allow you to track your daily diet, just like apps from Fitbit and Jawbone do. It includes an extra layer of fitness monitoring which people need to stay in shape and make them sincere about having that additional afternoon snack.
Aside from that, I equally wish the app were more buoyant; combining friendly icons and bold colors, as both Jawbone and Fitbit do, this would, in turn, make Garmin Connect more attractive. Finally, I often went over one week without syncing my Garmin Vivofit 2 to Garmin Connect, partially because I kept forgetting and partially because the app doesn’t attract me to use it.
Garmin Vivofit 2 Sleep Tracking
Sleep mode can manually be entered by pressing the button on Garmin Vivofit 2 until “Sleep” shows up on the display. Although, the device recently gained automatic sleep detection, which means that you don’t have to border about sleeping without programming the device.
Additionally, Garmin Vivofit 2 tracks movement to figure out whether you’ve had a good night’s sleep – the same way the Jawbone Up24 and the Fitbit Charge monitor sleep. That’s not all, in Garmin Connect, you can also view a graph of how much you moved the previous night, and set up an emoji-type icon that’ll record how your feeling when you woke up. However, unlike the Up24 and the Charge, the Vivofit 2 does not have an inbuilt wake-up alarm.
Garmin Vivofit 2 Battery Life
Garmin Vivofit 2 operates on two CR1632 coin cell batteries, and according to the company, the battery can last for over one year before needing a replacement. That’s pretty much better than the 10-days of battery life on both the Jawbone Up24 and the Fitbit Charge.
Another Vivofit model that’s worth mentioning is the Vivofit 3 series. The Garmin Vivofit 3 has a lesser, more stylish screen than that of the previous models.
We’ve already written a detailed review of the Garmin Vivofit 3, please refer here to read it.