Garmin vivofit review

GPS giant Garmin, has entered the ‘activity tracker’ market with the Garmin Vivofit- a simple pedometer that functions sans GPS.

Vivofit records your steps, distance covered, and calories burned throughout the day, besides displaying time and date. By adding in an ANT+ heart rate monitor, the device can also track your heart rate. You can synch the Vivofit with your smartphone and/or desktop and track your fitness progress plus share results with the Garmin Connect community online.

Prominent players in the activity tracker market include Withings Pulse, FitBit Zip and Basis B1. All these are clip-on activity trackers. Some examples of wearable activity trackers in the market include Nike Fuel Band and Polar Loop.

So how does the Vivofit compare against competition? Is this activity tracker worth buying? What are the specific pros and cons of this product? We shall aim unravel all these mysteries in this product review.

Garmin Viviofit – An Introduction

The Viviofit looks just like any other wearable tracking device. It comes with two straps of varying lengths to accommodate all users. First off, I liked this concept, because too loose a strap, which will keep the device sliding all over the hand is extremely irritating. And of course a too tight strap is a pain quite literally.

And if you have ordered the heart rate monitor (HRM), it comes as a separate unit within the package, along with its own HRM strap.

A USB device is available for synching your fitness data to your computer in case your phone does not have Bluetooth compatibility.

And yes, as always there is a bunch of printed stuff that tells exactly how to use the Viviofit and talks about its various features.

But since you are reading this comprehensive review, you might as well completely skip all of that.

Garmin vivofit

Garmin vivofit


The core of Viviofit is a square little module that features the LCD display screen. Powered by 2 CR1632 coin cells, this module records all you activities and displays the relevant data.

The display module ‘clicks’ into the rubberized band with a ‘pop and lock’ effect. The rubberized band itself is available in several 5 vibrant colors- purple, blue, teal. slate and black).

Overall, Vivofit is quite subtle and elegant. No flashing lights or blaring alarms. No one would even known you have worn it..and that?s cool. The HRM strap is to be worn around the chest, where it remains ‘invisible’.

Vivofit Unique Features

1. Display is Always On

The Viviofit displays varied data on its smart LCD screen. At any point, some data is present on the screen and you can change the screen by simply snapping a button on the right of the display. By pressing this button, you can scroll through the following display screens ? steps, calories burned, total distance, time and heart rate. It is very simple and easy to alternate between screens and get the information you want.

2. Goal Setting

The Vivofit is a ‘smart’ device and can adjust your goals based on your previous activity levels.

The default goal setting for the number of steps in the Vivofit is 7500. This is lower than the ‘sacrosanct’ 10,000 steps baseline most devices use. You can reset the number of steps to 10,000 if you wish to. But those who want to start small can start with 7500.

The ‘steps’ icon on the LCD screen indicates number of steps completed. Once you have achieved your ‘steps’ goal for the day, a small ‘+’ sign appears, indicating that you are exceeding your goals. How’s that for motivation!

3. Adjusting Goals as Per Activity Levels

You know how it is at work. When you achieve your sales target, your boss just dumps more targets on you. Well it is the same with the Viviofit. Of course the Vivofit is doing it for your own good, helping you move towards a fitter life.

Garmin vivofit

Garmin vivofit

Goal Increases

According to the company when you exceed you set goals significantly, your next goal is set a higher level as compared to if you just about managed to exceed your set goal by a few steps. Even then, when your set goal is in excess of 10,000 steps, the goal increases are slower than if your initial goal was on the lower side.

In my opinion, this is perfect because suppose you have had a particularly busy day today (say you had a marathon shopping session), you don’t have to face impossibly high goals set for tomorrow!

Goal Decreases

If you miss your goal one day, it will not reflect as a large reduction in your goal for the next day. But if you are consistently unable to meet your set goals for 2 or more days, then lower goals will be set for you.

The rationale behind this is to prevent feelings of discouragement and demotivation due to missing set targets. We all know how easy it is to give up, right?

The adjustable goal setting in Vivofit prevents this and is one of the best features of this device.

4. Calories Burned

Vivofit continuously records the calories that you are burning including calories burned during metabolism.

The device’s in-built algorithm analyzes data on steps taken, distance covered and the associated heart rate to give a fairly accurate picture of number of calories burned.

This is where the importance of choosing the heart rate monitor accessory kicks in. Vivofit is not equipped to accurately calculate steps taken for activities like gym workout, cycling or swimming, which cannot be interpreted in terms of traditional ?steps?. Hence Vivofit cannot offer the calories burned data for these activities. But with the HRM accessory, calories burned can be calculated based on heart rate during the workout.

Garmin vivofit

Garmin vivofit

5. No More Lazy Bones say Hello to Vivofit ‘Move Bar’

Vivofit not only records your movement and motivates you by adjusting your goals, it goes a step further and ‘shames’ you into moving by recording and highlighting your inactivity.

The Viviofit ‘Move Bar’ is designed to make you move.

When the device senses inactivity (no movement, no steps registered) for more than one hour, a red line appears at the top of the screen. Additional short dashes keep appearing for every 15 minutes of ‘non-movement’.

The strong desire to get rid of the irritating red line (it almost seems to mock least that was my experience) makes you get up and walk around a bit. This is enough to reset the device.

Of course, the system is not perfect. Even if you have had your morning quota of exercise, Vivofit will register inactivity when you are seated at your desk! But these are just few quirks of the device you have to live with.

In my opinion though, overall, the inactivity alert feature is more useful than not.

7. Sleep Monitoring

Vivofit can monitor movement in your sleep and thus indicates your periods of restful sleep. Activate the sleep mode via a long press and press the button again to reset the status when you wake up.

Vivofit does not reveal or analyze your sleep pattern, (REM, deep sleep mode etc), but only records the movement during sleep. It is quite debatable what the practical use of this information might be.

8. 24×7 Wearability

I don’t remember the brand, but sometime back there was a jeans ad with the tag line ‘Jeans you can live in’. Vivofit offers something quite similar. You can wear it 24X7.

Being water proof, you can use this device while in the shower or while swimming.

Device design and features optimize battery life to up to a year (or so Garmin says). Obviously we have to wait and watch.

9. Garmin Connect Online

With a press of a button, you can synch your Vivofit data to the Garmin Connect mobile app available for android, iOS and web browsers.

All your fitness data is now easily available to review. The dashboard is intuitive and easy to use. Customize it to display data in a format most useful for you.

Garmin Connect allows you to participate in online challenges. Earn virtual badges and enter a ‘healthy’ spirit of competition that motivates you to remain healthy.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the pros and cons of Garmin Vivofit can be summarized as follows.


  1. Simple, easy to use device that tracks your basic activity stats.

  1. Year-long battery life. Display is ‘always on’.

  1. 24X7 wearability. Being waterproof upto a depth of 50m, Vivofit continues to work, while you are swimming or running in the rain.

  1. No intermittent charging needed.

  1. Overall Vivofit is slim, smart and elegant and is available in range of colors to choose from.


  1. Vivofit cannot accurately measure steps for activities other than running and walking.

  1. The screen has no light, making reading impossible in darkness.

  1. No alarm for the inactivity monitor to draw your attention. If you miss it, you miss it.

However these (2 & 3) factors optimize battery life, keeping the device on continuously for 1 year.

So is Vivofit a Good Fit?

Frankly, serious athletes and those having greater expectations from their trackers would perhaps not find Vivofit a perfect fit for their needs.

However Vivofit is a good buy, especially from the point of view of maintaining and adhering to everyday fitness goals. It is recommended to buy Viviofit along with the heart rate monitor.

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