As the number of smartwatches, fitness trackers and clever health applications grow, companies like Garmin are being forced to squeeze extra functionality into their step-counting bands. The new Vivosmart HR+ will measure your heart rate, track you using GPS and even give detailed information about your run without requiring a chest strap.
The big addition to the new Vivosmart’s feature set is GPS, which lets users track the distance, time and pace of their activities more accurately than it could before. That makes it far more useful for runners, who are now able to take advantage of auto pausing and distance-based lap timing.
It’s still not a full-fledged multi-sport watch like the Forerunner 735 XT, though. You’re still not able to connect it up to the full range of bike power sensors, and doesn’t track metrics like your cadence, balance and stride length like Garmin’s fully-featured watches.
The Vivosmart is more focused on getting people out of the office for a walk, so it does without such specific measurement functions, although you’re still able to keep track of your heart rate thanks to an optical sensor.
Also fitted to the Vivosmart HR+ is something called Move IQ. As well as monitoring how long its wearer has been inactive, the system is able to automatically recognize whether the wearer is walking, running, cycling, swimming or working on an elliptical machine to build a more complete picture of the activities you perform throughout the day.
This daily activity, combined with sleep tracking, can then be shared with friends on a free online fitness community through the Garmin Connect application. This allows users to get a bit of extra motivation through online challenges with friends or working to achieve virtual badges.
But there is more than just fitness tracking to Garmin’s new tracker. In a nod to the growing number of smartwatches on the market, the Vivosmart HR+ is display text, call, email and calendar notifications and alert to their presence with vibrations. It also allows users to control music on their smartphone and locate said phone when it’s misplaced.
The device features a 160 x 68 pixel sunlight-readable display measuring 1 x 0.42 in (25.3 x 10.7 mm) and is water resistant to 5 ATM. If you’re using the HR+ in regular tracking mode, the battery should last around five days, but that drops to just eight hours if you’re using it in full GPS mode.
Pricing starts at US$219.99, putting it in a similar league as the Fitbit Blaze.