The Garmin wearable tech army is getting even stronger as today the GPS giants have announced two new devices, the Garmin Vivoactive HR and Vivofit 3. No other company on the scene are keeping pace with the amount of wearables being released by Garmin.

Just in the last few weeks we’ve covered..

 Garmin Varia Vision

 Garmin TruSwing

 Garmin quatix 3

 Garmin Fenix 3 HR

The original Vivoactive released last year was probably the strongest rival to the Fitbit Surge, both are GPS-enabled but the Vivoactive lacked a built-in heart rate monitor. We did a head to head review of the two and the Vivoactive came out on top, but many people opt for the Fitbit Surge because of its HRM. That advantage has just been swallowed up as the new Vivoactive HR features Garmin’s Elevate™ optical heart rate technology which We’ve just been testing with the recently released Vivosmart HR and is one of the most accurate optical HRMs.

The new Garmin Vivoactive HR has received a major overhaul in terms of design, rounding off the edges, changing the shape from square to rectangle and an increase in thickness. The original Vivoactive looked kind of like an extremely SQUARE regular watch, whereas the new HR version looks more like a chunky smart band.


Given that the Vivoactive is basically a smartwatch/fitness tracker hybrid the new looks are well suited. One thing I can’t understand though, is why the bottom of the device isn’t curved like the Vivosmart HR.



What’s New With The Garmin Vivoactive HR..

The new wearable brings several new features and improvements over its predecessor. New features include:

 Continuous heart rate monitoring

 Barometric altimeter (floors climbed)

 Intensity minutes (moderate and vigorous)

 Move IQ – automatically detects exercises

 Varia Radar support


New Apps

Paddleboarding and Rowing

Paddleboarding has become one of the most popular watersports. The Garmin Vivoactive HR features a dedicated paddleboarding app that tracks your duration; distance covered; pace; stroke rate and number of strokes. If you’re sweating it out on an indoor rowing machine the app will track your duration; stroke rate and number of strokes.

Skiing and Snowboarding

If you’re heading for the slopes, the Vivoactive HR wants to come with you.. Thanks to the new app it can track your 3D speed by measuring speed and distance on an incline against latitude and longitude. There is also an Auto-Pause feature that knows to stop tracking when you get to the bottom of the slop or hitch a ride on a ski lift.

Better Battery Life

The original Vivoactive has a decent battery life of up to 3 weeks, and 8 hours in GPS mode. The new Vivoactive HR trumps its ancestor, providing up to 13 hours in GPS mode. With the addition of an optical HRM, the battery life with GPS switched off has been decreased form 3 weeks to around 8 days – which beats most of its continuous HRM tracking competitors, including the Fitbit Surge.

Like the original, the Garmin Vivoactive HR is designed to be versatile. It features automatic sleep monitoring, all of the activity tracking essentials, and it’s geared up for running, walking, cycling, golf and swimming. The onboard HRM doesn’t count your BPM in while you’re swimming, but you have the option to pair with HRM-Swim and HRM-Tri chest straps.


The Vivoactive HR has features a built-in GPS and GLONASS support The Garmin Connect app makes it easy for you to save waypoints and favorite locations and review your outdoor activities and routes. Unlike the Samsung Gear S2, you don’t need to be connected to the internet to use the GPS.

It has an always-on color touchscreen Garmin Chroma Display that looks more vibrant than the original’s although the resolution is the same. Hopefully it has adjustable brightness – a feature that was previously lacking.

The Vivoactive HR is smart in the notification department; delivering caller ID, texts, emails, calendar reminders and alerts from social media apps. Other features include VIRB control, music control, phone finder

It is compatible with the Garmin Connect IQ platform that allows you to customize the experience by downloading third-party watch faces, apps, widgets and data fields.

The Garmin Connect mobile app is compatible With Android 4.3 + / iOS iPhone 4S + / Windows 10. You can also access your dashboard on a desktop/laptop to get even more in-depth with your stats – especially GPS data.

Release Date & Price

The Garmin Vivoactive HR is expected to start landing on people’s wrists in April 2016 with a price tag of $249 USD.

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