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Garmin Forerunner 630 review

Garmin Forerunner 630

Garmin Forerunner 630

Garmin’s latest flagship – the Forerunner is not geared for the average fitness enthusiasts, unless of course you can’t take any chances with your fitness results. Add to this, if you’re looking for a fitness tracking wearable that literally comes with all the bells and whistles, the Garmin Forerunner 630 is inarguably a solid choice. A successor to the Forerunner 620, the Forerunner 630 brings to the table a whole new round of features, most notably a few design tweaks to enhance its aesthetic appeal and phone notifications.

Unlike other fitness wearables that offer sleep tracking and running metrics only, the Garmin Forerunner pushes the envelope with the addition of GPS. The only pitfall of the Forerunner 630 is it doesn’t come with an onsite heart rate monitor, but Garmin’s addresses this issue quite well by providing a bundle package as well that includes a class leading HRM-Run monitor. With a lack of an onsite heart rate monitor, Garmin hasn’t skimped out in any way, but instead has justified that the Forerunner 630 renders near absolute accuracy in heart rate tracking.

Garmin Forerunner 630

Garmin Forerunner 630

Although a chest strap and wrist based optical heart rate sensor use the same technologies and algorithms, the difference in accuracy results from the fact that the latter reads your blood flow further from the source so its accuracy can be compromised by the light leaking and affecting the sensor. Contrariwise, chest heart rate straps just like the name suggests are located and track closer to the heart hence they tend to render a more accurate reading.

Highlights of the Gamin Forerunner 630

  • High resolution color touchscreen display
  • Advanced running dynamics
  • Automatically updates data to Garmin Connect
  • Wrist based smart notifications
  • Features stress score, lactate threshold and performance condition

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Garmin VIVOSMART HR review

Garmin VIVOSMART HR – activity tracker with wrist-based heart rate

Garmin vivosmart HRThe VIVOSMART HR is Garmin’s first fitness tracker that will monitor your heart rate around the clock, and provide you with pertinent info such as workout info, calories burned and even sleep patterns. There is no shortage of fitness trackers in the market, but what makes the VIVOSMART HR distinct from the rest is it will tell you off for sitting too long! This wrist bound device is basically a revamped version of the Vivosmart band introduced over a year ago, and this latest iteration comes with a fancy crisp touchscreen display, few new features and an optical sensor.

The range of Vivosmart fitness trackers isn’t new, but started last year with the original Vivosmart, which blended smartphone connected features such as notifications with the activity tracking features of the Vivofit. Before moving further, the VIVOSMART HR is not to be confused with a product most retailers termed and sold as the VIVOSMART HR last year as they simply included a heart rate (hr) strap. The 2015 VIVOSMART HR is integrated with a heart rate sensor so you don’t have to buy one separately.

Highlights of the VIVOSMART HR

  • Sleek band is comfortable to wear
  • Displays distance, steps, heart rate, calories, floors climbed and activity intensity
  • Display always stays on and displays your stats even in sunlight
  • Receive call, text, email, social media and calendar alerts
  • Reminds you to stay active with vibration and move bar alert
  • Touchscreen display
  • Weighs just 29.6 g

In the box of the VIVOSMART HR you receive:

  • User guide
  • Charging data clip
  • X-large or regular VIVOSMART HR

What’s new with the VIVOSMART HR compared to the VIVOSMART?

  • Counts flights of stairs
  • Internal optical HR sensor
  • Around the clock heart rate recording
  • Backlit display
  • Indicates intensity minutes

Common features of the VIVOSMART HR & VIVOSMART

  • Time alarm
  • Tracks workouts
  • Find your phone option
  • Vibration alerts
  • Music controls
  • Smartphone notifications
  • Inactivity alert and move bar
  • Tracks daily distance walked, steps and calories burned

VIVOSMART HR Design and Features

First things first, the VIVOSMART uses your stride length to calculate distance, which you can alter if you know it or simply use a treadmill to figure it out. This fitness tracker is appointed with an exclusive optical sensor, which Gamin likes to call Elevate technology. The heart rate tracking is done 24/7 apart from heart rate tracking during a specific workout regime.

As mentioned earlier, this is the first Garmin device to display stairs climbed, and does this by using an onsite barometric altimeter. The display will show a goal flight of stairs next to how many you’ve been able to achieve. In addition to the stairs climbed feature, the VIVOSMART HR displays Intensity Minutes or simply Workout Minutes. The goal here is to help you achieve 150 intensity minutes per week, and these results are displayed on a weekly basis rather than daily.

150 intensity minutes is not a number Garmin picked out of a hat, but is a recommended 30 minutes per day, 5 times a week by several esteemed health organizations including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization and the American Heart Association. Workout minutes or intensity minutes are calculated for all exercise sessions that provide a minimum of 10 consecutive minutes of moderate to vigorous active motion.

The VIVOSMART HR is outfitted with an amazing display, superior waterproofing (5 ATM – 50 meters) and unmatched workout tracking, and is a few notches ahead of its completion in virtually every other metric. The VIVOSMART HR bands can be ordered in large and extra large, and in black, dark blue and dark purple colors. Like its predecessor, the VIVOSMART HR is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery and comes with its own proprietary charging cable.

The battery life is a bit shorter at 5 days compared to a 7 days with the VIVOSMART, but this hit is probably due to the constant operation of the heart rate monitor. Good news is that you can switch off the heart rate monitor at any time to save battery life. The band material is thin, soft and flexible and makes the device feel comfortable on your wrist. A touchscreen display is a new addition to the VIVOSMART HR, and is complete with a push button for instant access to a wide variety of displays and menus.

Adding to this, Garmin was thoughtful to add a backlight, which can be activated on the fly if you need help viewing data in low light conditions or on a bright day. Furthermore, the display of the device is completely customizable, and you can choose the data to show, the order to show it in, and the data that will always be displayed on the home screen. You can even activate a “Do not Disturb” mode when you do not wish to receive notifications.

In order to view the weather, the app of the VIVOSMART HR will need access to your location, and will then stream weather information from your paired smartphone. The VIVOSMART HR is able to track estimated calories burned, steps, estimated distance based on your stride length and number of steps taken and displays your current heart rate and resting heart rate. This fitness tracker also allows you to set your own goals, and it can also suggest a step goal based on your activity pattern of previous days. In addition, it also allows you to time workouts to be viewed later, and you can even edit the workout type later via the Garmin Connect app.

After an hour of inactivity, a “move bar” appears at which point the device will vibrate twice and display the message “Move”. If you walk, jog or simply move around, you will be presented with another notification “move bar cleared”. If you ignore the “move” message the first time around, a new segment is added to the move bar with a maximum of four – 15 minute segments. The VIVOSMART HR continuously monitors your heart rate as you go about your day and even when you sleep. You can view this heart rate data directly on the touchscreen, and even broadcast it to another device such as a bike computer.

Pros of the Garmin VIVOSMART HR

  • Built in heart rate monitor
  • Heart rate data can be shared with other devices
  • Comfortable wrist band
  • Also measures floors climbed in addition to calories, steps and distance
  • Streams notifications from your smartphone
  • Syncs with your smartphone
  • Reminds to move with vibration and move bar alert

Cons of the VIVOSMART HR

  • Battery life of 5 days, but this can be optimized by switching off the heart rate monitor

Final Thoughts

The VIVOSMART HR is a comprehensive fitness tracker that you can even take in the pool (water resistant up to 50 meters). It measures your heart rate constantly, and the sunlight readable display eliminates the need to faff with buttons to check your data. The VIVOSMART HR can also be programmed to control a Garmin VIRB camera, and helps you stay connected with smart notifications such as texts, emails, etc.

All in all, a fitness device with an onsite heart rate monitor and add to this a touch screen display is impressive, and Gamin makes this possible with the VIVOSMART HR.