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Garmin unveils update smartwatch with integrated heart rate sensor

Garmin has launched an updated version of its flagship smart watch, the vivoactive HR, which now offers heart rate via a sensor built directly into the base of the watch. It will cost £209.99 and be available this spring.

The new vivoactive HR packs GPS and heart rate functionality into a sleekly designed watch. It’s able to track a range of sports and is smart enough to automatically switch between different activities, and can track your movements throughout the day, giving you a full picture of your daily physical activity. 

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The built-in GPS can be used for walking, running, swimming, skiing and, of course, biking. The main story though is the integration of a heart rate sensor, found on the base of the watch, much like the TomTom watch we reviewed last year. This eliminates the need for a chest strap, which can sometimes be uncomfortable.

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Granted, the vivoactive isn’t the sort of product that will appeal to all cyclists, but if you’re the sort who dabbles in a range of sports and likes the idea of one device that can easily track them all, the vivoactive might be more appealing than many dedicated devices for each activity. 

And if you’re interested in monitoring your complete daily activity, the vivoactive uses Move IQ which automatically recognises if you’re walking, running or biking without starting a new activity so you can review your daily activity in a convenient timeline.

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Garmin claims a 13-hour battery life with GPS or 8-days without GPS. The watch can be partnered to a compatible smartphone so you can push notifications from the phone to the watch, such as incoming calls, texts, e-mails and calendar reminders. 

“The vívoactive HR builds on the incredible versatility and multi-functionality of its predecessor by adding wrist-based heart rate and a barometric altimeter – allowing it to track even more data essential to workouts and day-to-day activity,” said Andrew Silver, Product Manager Fitness, EMEA. “All your efforts to stay active are accounted for from taking the stairs at the office to going on a run or ride.”

The vivoactive HR has an always-on touchscreen that is readable in sunlight. As well as GPS and heart rate, the watch has a built-in accelerometer. It’s also compatible with speed and cadence sensors, and can even be used with Garmin’s recent Varia lights and radar. 

The watch can be personalised with a range of free apps available through Garmin’s Connect IQ store, so you can check the weather, control music and even control a VIRB action camera.

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The vivoactive will cost £209.99 and comes in regular and XL fit black bands. A range of coloured bands, should you want to customise your watch, can be bought for £22.99. It will be available in the spring.

More at https://buy.garmin.com/en-GB/GB/wearables/wearables/c10001-c10002-p1.html

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.