Garmin Vivoactive HR review

If you do not bother to read the whole article, then this is a main take away points:


  1. Battery life
  2. Accuracy
  3. The clock can be set up automatically.
  4. USB port
  5. Custom apps
  6. Auto-generated challenges

  1. Pairing
  2. Bluetooth sync is challenging
  3. Unique USB port
  4. Garmin Support channels are useless as they provide ads but not support.
  Summary. This watch brings back happiness to do more and more steps and activities that I lost when I was using Fitbit Surge. It simply works and allows you to do the day out activity anywhere .. even abroad. It is not perfect though and it has few more issues than forerunner 220.



I used Fitbit Surge but I got fed up with. (If you are interested, you can check my review on my IT blog: Fitbit Surge Review.  In shortcut. Fitbit struggles with work on GPS for 10 hours and measurements were flaky in the beginning  ( it gets much better over time). Smart light woke me up many times during sleep. Changing time was f.. nightmare. Pairing was a pain in the ass on Windows. There were many bugs with the website. It annoys me to level that I just give up care about it. It was one reason why I gave up on being fit. (Like Runkeeper app 6 years ago).

I wanted to go back to fit and I decided to back to Garmin as I used Garmin Forerunner 220 in the past. Time to another advertisement .. if you interested in  “After 1-year review ” can be found here:  Garmin forerunner 220 everyday review and impression after one year of usage. I was thinking about Garmin Forerunner 235 or Garmin Vivoactive HR. I did some research and it turns out that Garmin Vivoactive HR is better in my case. Why?

I look for an activity tracker that :

  • The watch must work ~10 hours using GPS (to be able to walk a marathon or be able to do many walks on a weekend out.
  • It must have built-in HRM.
  • Accurate measurement of steps and distance
  • Silent alarm so it will wake me up but not my son.
  • Easy pairing with application/website.
  • Lots of stats.

From various reviews, I got into conclusion that Garmin Vivoactive HR will suit me more as Garmin Forerunner 235 better for running while Garmin Vivoactive HR focus on keeping you active.


It came in the small compact box. As always I will skip unboxing video of middle age getting exciting about a new toy. The first impression with this watch is exactly opposite to Fitbit Surge. It was ready to use in few minutes. ( I spent few hours before I was able to use Fitbit).

  • Watch works out of the box!
  • It setup time using GPS (Something that Fitbit cannot do!)
  • Install Garmin Express. No problem.
  • Update devices. No problem.
  • Pairing is the biggest pain in the ass in Garmin. There is a tricky way to do it and it works.


  • The battery is fantastic. I am impressed that watch can hold very long on battery. I went for walk for more 5 hours and there was plenty battery left. Even if you are using GPS, Bluetooth then the battery will last for many hours. I used to watch for a week and occasionally use GPS and it was OK.  Fitbit struggles badly with a heavy load for more than 6’ish hours. Forerunner 220 battery is enough for around 8hours of heavy load. Vivoactive didn’t have any problem with the weekend out where I used for more than 9 hours in total. For the size of the watch and under heavy load. I charge this watch up to 2 times per week. In comparison to the similar workload. I got a similar result on Forerunner 220 but I needed to do 3 to 4 times on Fitbit. Once I was stuck for 8 days abroad and I still have 19% battery left.
  • Sync via Bluetooth is challenging and it is very annoying. It works .. sometimes. It gets much better and better with each update but it still sucks.
  • Web application works much better than was before. It went off-line once for few hours. Garmin support couldn’t be bothered to provide any information.
  • (Vibration) Alarm clock works well.
  • The screen is clear and sharp. It usable in normal condition, swimming and foggy conditions. Touch is good but not great. It feels cumbersome in responding sometimes. It works underwater too … more-less. During swimming, i saw press any key message (to unlock ) appear every few seconds.
  • USB charge works well. can but if you lost then you are screwed. However, it is very stable when u con.
  • My biggest problem was with pairing device with Android devices. I took me 2 hours with tablet and few minutes with Huawei phone. I got annoyed that I couldn’t be connected with tablet and I thought that probably you can connect this shit in the toilet only … and for laugh, i decided to try … and guess what .. it pairs without a problem ! I was shocked. From the test, I perform u can pair device without problem when phone/tablet has internet access but there are none Bluetooth devices nearby.
  • The only problem I had was with the plug-in. For some reason, it works on USB 2.0 but not on USB 3.0 ( However, most devices struggle with this port on my old laptop.
  • Another problem I had with pair watch with a tablet. It took me 2 hours to figure out how to pair.


This watch brings back happiness to do more and more steps and activities that I lost when I was using Fitbit Surge. It simply works and allows you to do the day out activity anywhere .. even abroad. It is not perfect though and it has few more issues than forerunner 220 but overall I really enjoyed and I recommend to everybody who wants keep yourself active. In comparison, Fitbit Surge is a hipster “MVP” toy that simulates activity tracker.