Monday, June 5, 2023

Garmin Vivofit Review


garmin-vivofit-review-handThe Garmin Vivofit was Garmin’s first attempt at wearable health monitoring technology, it’s successful release has since prompted their campaign to build an entire movement around fitness technology. They’ve just rolled out the Vivofit 2, the Vivosmart which has notifications, and the Vivoactive which is really a smartwatch that leans towards being a fitness wearable. Each of these products has its own niche and each solves a problem the other addresses.

To solidify their products as part of an overall movement, Garmin has created Garmin Connect, a free online community where users can upload their daily results, connect with fellow fitness tech enthusiasts, participate in events and challenges, and ultimately monitor their progress.

The Garmin Vivofit has an MSRP of around $130 but can be found between $60-$130 depending on where you find it, whether or not it’s directly form the manufacturer, and whether or not it’s new or previously owned. On average you can find them for $80-$90 online at Amazon or at Best buy and Wal-Mart stores.


The Garmin Vivofit is built around a central console and display. The actual band is rubber like and attaches via a clip mechanism. The Vivofit is quite comfortable and before long you will forget it’s even there, at 25.5garmin-vivofit-review-wristband grams it’s very light and more than likely weighs less than your watch.

Unlike other fitness wearables it does not have an irritating metal alloy back. The rubber on the bracelet portion, although aesthetically not the most stylish option, is durable and won’t scratch easily, making it great for daily use. The only drawback here is that the rubber clip isn’t great if your activities are more intense than general walking. Especially when engaged in water based activities, users have frequently complained that the Garmin Vivofit falls off far too easily.

Had Garmin opted for a strap style attachment similar to most watches, this would have made the device more bulky but it would have had the added bonus of security. Paying up to $130 for a device and having it fall of your wrist is not a pleasurable experience for anyone.


Considering the price of the Garmin Vivofit, it is stockpiled with great features for keeping up with your garmin-vivofit-reviewfitness goals. Setup is fairly simple, you enter your name, height, weight, and your general sleep patterns and the device sets up a daily goal for you to achieve. The goals are adjusted every day in response to your actual fitness levels, providing realistic fitness goals.

There are two applications you can use to keep track of your fitness goals, as well as the online forum, Garmin Connect. The App, available for free for devices running android or iOS, allows you to sync our device. Similarly, you can do the same with the desktop tool.

The Garmin Vivofit uses an accelerometer to sense motion and how many steps you’ve taken. Also, there is a sleep monitor that will calculate how often you sleep and what type of sleep you’re getting, be it light or heavy.

Perhaps the most defining, and endearing feature of the Garmin Vivofit is it’s 1 year battery life, roughly 6 months more than the next longest active watch. This is due to the fact that the Vivofit uses a normal replaceable CR1632 coin cell watch battery, unlike other devices which rely on lithium ion batteries that need to be charged every few days or weeks.

Also, the Vivofit is designed to withstand depths of up to 50 meters. This means, rain or shine, whether you’re in the shower or the desert, the vivofit will monitor your activity 24/7/365.

The fact that you could theoretically wear this watch for an entire year straight in multiple climate conditions is what makes the Vivofit such a quality buy. This should be a standard of all fitness activity tracker, and even smartwatches, if they truly want to replace your watch as the number one wearable.

Wireless technology allows the Vivofit to sync with your apps as well as with the Garmin Connect website. Keep in mind issues can arise, although the Vivofit is intended to automatically sync every five minutes this is often not the case and the Vivofit must be manually refreshed, this can be especially true if you have a lot of data. The Vivofit itself can store 1 months’ worth of data, so make sure to sync frequently or you risk losing track of your progress.

The display is always on and by pressing a button you can see wither the time, date, the amount of steps you’ve taken that day, how many steps are remaining before you reach your goal, how many calories you’ve burned that day, and the total distance travelled. To maintain the extended battery life, Garmin did not install a backlight into the Vivofit, meaning you’ll still have to rely on your phone to tell the time at night.

Also, although the pedometer is fairly accurate, the Vivofit does not have a built in GPS, altimeter, or any way of accounting for water sports or cycling. These are fairly large drawbacks that prevent the Vivofit from being a true all around fitness wearable. Without an altimeter or a swimming sensor the Vivofit doesn’t know the difference between walking, climbing steps, or swimming. This can be especially frustrating if you want a true measure of how many calories you’re burning in a day.

Also the sleep monitor only measures sleep movement, so although you can get a fairly accurate reading of the quantity of deep sleep vs slight sleep, there is no way to measure the quality of the sleep you’re getting.

The Vivofit comes with two interchangeable bands, one large and one small, as well as a heart rate monitor which is attached to the chest. To improve how well the Vivofit stays on your wrist, clips can be purchased online and attached to where the wristband connects, providing added security.

A large drawback is that the Garmin Vivofit does not vibrate or flash to alert you when it’s time to get going. Instead relying on a red bar at the top f the display which grows larger the longer you remain inactive. The bar disappears when you get moving, and it’s disabled when the Vivofit is in sleep mode, however, unlike a vibration or a flash the bar is very easy to ignore. Your best bet for staying motivated is to set personal goals and connect with the online community.

Overall Assessment

The Garmin Vivofit is jam packed with great features that make it well worth the modest price tag. Highly recommended for novice to intermediate level fitness tech users, it’s very user friendly and has a great community behind it. However if you  participate in a diverse set of activities and you want a more in depth analytical tool , opt for a device with superior monitoring, sleep analysis, and a GPS tracker.

Andy Debolt
Andy is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a Bachelors Degree in Journalism. When he isn't writing Andy enjoys water sports and spending time on the golf course.


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