During the 2017 IFA, which ran from September 1-6 in Berlin, GPS and wearable tech specialist Garmin revealed through a series of press events three new wearable products. The models are new additions to its popular vivo range: the vivoactive 3, its flagship sports watch; the vivomove HR, a hybrid smartwatch; and the vivosport, Garmin’s latest attempt at a fitness band. Each of the three different devices is designed with different users in mind and as a result, some are feature-packed whereas others offer basic functionality. Here’s a first look at their specifics and in a post tomorrow I will post my first review of the Whoop 4.0 Band.
vivoactive 3: The biggest noise surrounding the vivoactive 3 is that it is the first device in this range to have Garmin Pay as one of its main features. This new, contactless payment platform supports debit and credit cards from major banks and works in a similar way to Android/Apple Pay in that users can still receive rewards and benefits from their card companies.
Being a higher-end model, the watch itself is packed with premium features such as a built-in GPS, 13-hour battery life (which increases to a week-long when the GPS is not enabled), waterproofing, and Garmin Elevate. This integrated heart-rate monitor tracks VO2 max, fitness age, stress levels, and more. Garmin Pay is probably this model’s most useful and attractive feature for wearers who want a functional sports watch.
The vivoactive 3 also features an always-on touchscreen with a Garmin Chroma display and some pretty handy side swipe controls that enable easy navigation through the watch’s interface. In another first, the functional vivoactive 3 allows wearers to send and receive text messages, phone calls, and emails, as well as receive and respond to social media and notification/app alerts. Three different color schemes will be available — black/stainless, white/stainless, and black/slate, with recommended prices ranging from $299.99 to $329.99.
vivomove HR: Designed more for the general fitness market, the vivomove HR hybrid smart watch is aesthetically pleasing but not as functional as some other Garmin models. It lacks GPS tracking for a start, however, given that some older Forerunner models have incorrectly tracked some customers’ running speeds as greater than the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, this may not be a bad thing for the amateur or casual runner.
The follow-up to the original vivomove does, however, have a built-in heart rate sensor and many updated features that make it quite functional. It tracks a wealth of activity metrics for a start, including steps, intensity minutes, stairs climbed, sleep, etc. and is preloaded with different sports profiles for activities like running, walking, cardio, and strength training. Particularly useful, it also features Garmin’s Move IQ tech, meaning that the device will automatically start and stop tracking when it senses the wearer’s activity.
On the watch side of things, the vivomove HR has a vibrant, touchscreen display and a second digital display that automatically turns off and on according to the wearer’s wrist movements. Battery life is said to be five days in Smart mode or two weeks in watch mode. The device also provides vibration alerts for text, emails, and phone calls and is compatible with most smartphones. It’s swim and shower safe and its sleek and stylish design makes it attractive and wearable. The vivomove HR Sport ($199.99 RRP) has a silicone strap and the vivomove HR Premium ($299.99 RRP) has a full steel body with a leather strap. Voth models are available in three different watch case colors: rose gold, black, and stainless steel/gold.
vivosport: Garmin’s take on a fitness band, the vivosport, is a slim, lightweight and functional tracker that would be particularly beneficial for cyclists and long-distance runners. Like other devices in the vivo range, the vivosport has Garmin’s always-on Chroma color touchscreen display, which seems to be a first as far as fitness bands go.
Its features include a built-in GPS and the Garmin Elevate heart rate sensor. In addition to tracking VO2 max and fitness age, the wrist-based monitor also calculates and tracks the wearer’s heart rate variability, which is useful for monitoring stress levels and identifying areas for improvement. It’s suitable for indoor and outdoor activities, and like the vivomove HR, it features built-in apps for walking, running, indoor cycling, cardio, biking, and strength training.
Waterproof, the vivosport has a battery life of seven days as a smartwatch and eight hours when in full GPS mode. As with the two other new releases, this device is smartphone compatible and receives text messages, emails, and notifications/app alerts. It can also be auto-synced to upload activity data to Garmin Connect, the manufacturer’s online community. Available in black/slate, black/fuchsia, and black/limelight (large only), the band comes in two different sizes — S/M and L — and has a recommended retail price of $199.99.
Overall, press reviews for the new models have generally been positive, with the vivomove HR scoring points with tech sites for its innovative design and high-end look and feel. Whether this makes up for its lack of GPS and other shortcomings remains to be seen. All three devices are currently available for pre-order directly from Garmin and will eventually be stocked by the usual online Garmin retailers. In addition to the new releases, Garmin announced plans to roll out new software for its fenix and Forerunner 955 devices, so stay tuned for further updates.
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