The latest product from Garmin is the £99 Vivofit, a fitness tracker that monitors and records your daily activity and syncs to Garmin Connect. It’s also compatible with an ANT+ heart rate monitor strap and the battery lasts a claimed one year, and it will be available in five colours when it is launched in March.
The fitness tracker market is one rapidly filling with choice from a host of manufacturers, including the recently launched Samsung Gear Fit, plus current offerings from Nike, Jawbone, Pebble, LG and many more. The market for wearable tech, with a particular focus on a gadget that monitors your heart rate and tracks your activity, fitness and health, is one that is expected to boom this year. Apple is rumoured to be developing something along similar lines this year.
Garmin’s entrant to the market is cleanly designed and boasts a one year claimed battery life, with batteries easily replaceable. It’s an always-on design, constantly monitoring your activity level. The display is curved and it's a very slim design, and the clock face appears easy to read from a number of angles. I tried it on and it felt comfortable and does appear to be the sort of thing you could wear all day. The single press button simply cycles through the different modes, there’s no complicated menus here.
It records number of steps, distance walked and calories burned, and can set personalised goals too. An inactivity bar prompts you when you’re being lazy. It’s water resistant so you can wearing it swimming or in the shower. It even monitors the quality of your sleep too, so you have an all-day activity monitor.
It is compatible with an ANT+ heart rate monitor, they offer it with one for £139, so you can add another layer of detail to your activity record.
The Vivofit is always on, constantly monitoring your activity. It's not the sort of device that you could use just to record a ride with heart rate, stopping and starting it at the beginning and end of a ride. It's constantly monitoring your daily activity.
What it doesn't do is offer any GPS functionality, which might seem a surprise from a company specialising in GPS devices. Garmin clearly don't want it to compete with their Edge or Forerunner GPS devices, and have instead opted for a device to appeal to people who just want a simple way of seeing how active they are throughout the day. Garmin tells us it can be used alongside an Edge or Forerunner, to track your recovery between rides and runs.
This data can be shared on Garmin's Connect website. Talking of which the new version is available now to Vivofit customers, and Edge users will be able to start using the updated Connect website from April onwards. We had a quick look and play with the new training website and first impressions are that it is vastly improved. There's also talk of segments and challenges, so it's clear they have Strava's success in their sights with this update..
Vivofit is available in five colours and will be in shops in March. It costs £99 or £139 with a heart rate strap.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.