Garmin Vivosmart HR VivosmartHR Vivofit

Garmin’s Vivofit and Vivofit 2 have proven to be big hits for the company. While the list of features isn’t steep, the wearable is a very capable fitness tracker with a staggering 1 year battery life and stylish interchangeable bands. But a bare bones activity tracker isn’t for everyone; for those looking for a step up (or a new device after their non-replaceable Vivofit battery dies), Garmin has introduced the completely redesigned Vivosmart HR. Garmin has completely dumped the design of the original Vivosmart, favoring a new look based on the Vivofit 2. As the Vivosmart HR name gives away, the biggest feature of the new mid-tier activity tracker is the addition of an optical heart rate sensor. Based off of the company’s ‘Elevate’ technology used in their high end running watches, the heart rate sensor provides 24/7 monitoring. The company has improved the fitness tracking capability of band, adding a barometer to track steps climbed and the ability to atomically track how many minutes a week of intense activity you partake in. Garmin has also improved upon the “connected” features of the previous Vivosmart. The new device still vibrates and displays notifications but has added the ability to communicate back to your phone. This means you can now use the Vivosmart HR to control music playback or to help you find your misplaced phone. The tiny monochrome touch screen of the original Vivosmart has been also upgraded to a more roomy 1in x .42in screen, similar in size to the Vivofit 2. About the only downside when comparing the Vivosmart HR to the original band is that the HR version only has a 5 day battery life versus the original’s 7 day. Still, that is excellent for a connected device with an optical heart rate sensor. The Vivosmart HR will launch in early November for a list price of $149.99.

I think the new Vivosmart HR will likely be a home run Garmin. The device strikes the sweet-spot of balancing price versus features. The small, simple screen is more than sufficient and allows the activity tracker to have a 5 day battery life (which is among the best). There is an audience of people who are not ready for a full-on smartwatch and devices such as the Vivosmart HR provide a lot of the features of low end smartwatch without the complication. Versus some of its competitors, such as the Fitbit Charge HR, the Vivosmart HR is a much more capable and user friendly device. With all of the Vivofits sold during the Holidays last year needing to be replaced soon, Vivosmart HR could be positioned well to make it onto people’s gift lists..provided they don’t make the jump to a smartwatch.