I've had a Vivo device since the Vivofit I was released in 2013. First the Vivofit (v1), then the Vivosmart (classic) last fall. It's become a must-have accessory for me, primarily for step counting and sleep tracking.
A lot of people ask: why bother with steps when you do so much running? First, walking is a great active recovery exercise on days off, and its nice to be able to keep myself honest - do enough walking that its significant, not so much that its not really recovery. Also, with ultrarunning, you can do a lot of time on your feet that is walking or elliptical work -- less pounding than running, but still pretty useful on the longer races. I find that if I get my average steps up to about 140K/wk, I can handle the physical demands of 6-8 hour races fairly easily.
I also like two handed device wearing -- being able to monitor mileage/pace on one hand, time or HR on the other. Dork city.
So why upgrade from the Vivosmart - a really terrific device if its working so well? I can't resist an upgrade - pretty much always have been an early adopter to a compulsive fault. And I really want to track resting heart rate since I believe it is a great early warning system for overtraining/overdoing.
The Vivosmart HR jettisons the sleek and anonymous look of the Vivosmart classic and returns to the big bulky look of the Vivofit.
Which is really not so bad... I never minded the size of the Vivofit - it still is a lot smaller than a running watch or a smartwatch. It is light enough to sleep in without discomfort. So the size bloat from Vivosmart to Vivosmart HR doesn't bother me much.
Plus: you get some added features from moving to the Vivosmart HR from the Vivosmart classic:
- Always on display (black background, white font - an LCD display that lights up when touched or when activity is started or notification arrives.
- Additional data (it can display weather on one of the swipe screens, transferred via Bluetooth when connected to your phone)
- And, drum roll please... Garmin's new proprietary optical HR monitoring that can not only take and track resting HR, but can also "broadcast" the HR signal to other ANT devices like any other Garmin HR strap would.
Initial experience is positive and makes me think this might not end up back in the shopping cart behind the customer support counter at Best Buy.
1. The device is comfortable. The strap is very soft, even when buckled with some firmness (which seems to help HR readings vs letting it dangle like a bangle on your forearm).
2. Advantage to always on display. One thing I forgot - whether its a fitness band or a running watch, the basic function of Time is underrated. Its nice to see the time without having to raise your forearm on demand.
3. The HR monitor seems to work pretty well. I've always been partial to chest straps, especially the new Garmin soft strap. They do a good job for me in reliably capturing HR data, except when super sweaty. Obviously, they aren't for 24 hour use. Garmin's new optical monitor seems to be fairly reliable in both resting HR monitoring (its been showing an accurate resting HR) and for exercise (see below -- the first part around was an 8 minute brisk treadmill walk, followed by a two minute sprint at the end and a one minute cool down).
This isn't a hardcore workout/test, but it is a good sign. Garmin is smoothing out the HR nicely in the graph, and the optical device is pretty responsive. Better than a stick in the eye (fail) on day one.
The only concern I have at hour 8 of ownership is battery life. 4-5 days is the claim; I'd hope I could get to the outer edge of that period on a regular basis since part of the charm of these devices is not having to do a nightly Apple Watch like charge up. I'll report back here with updates by the end of the week about HR accuracy, broadcasting, and battery. Over and out for now.
Edit: see new post on broadcasting HR data.
Edit: See final post on VHR - http://www.midpackgear.com/2016/01/vivosmart-hr-final-wrapup-and-some.html