Other Gadgets

Smart enough for the average Tim!

| Updated on: Apr 01, 2015
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bl02_tech_vivo.jpg

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Unlike The Watch, you can’t go grocery shopping with this smartband. But, you can track your life…somewhat

From devices which gave directions to people on the road, to directing them towards achieving fitness goals, Garmin’s transformative move has helped add more personal tech to its portfolio.

Garmin has maintained a steady pace, introducing new fitness bands with better features every year. We reviewed the Vivofit last year, now Garmin has just launched the new Vivosmart, a fitness tracker that also attempts to double up as a smart watch/ band. Should you queue up to pick one?

Pink and Blue

The Vivosmart is a more wholesome product combining a fitness tracker and smartphone notifications display, even though its size and form don't allow it to take on the more complicated features of a smartwatch. With the level of cellphone and fitness addiction that is currently the norm, this is still a fairly useful combo.

Placed next to the previous iterations of smartbands, the Vivosmart is a bit like an example of electronic evolution. Worn on the wrist, the Vivosmart can pass off as a sophisticated friendship band or bracelet. It features a curved OLED display that has been wrapped by a rubberised plastic band and strap. Sealed in within the dual-coloured matt polymer body, the Vivosmart is waterproof upto a certain depth. So, you can get into the shower with it and even go swimming (don't try scuba diving though).

The build feels solid, though not in a very metallic sort of way. It is still plasticky and you may be looking at a few months of usage only if you are going to live with it day and night (like we did during the last two weeks). Size button holes on one arm of the band and a simple press down clasp on the other makes it a comfortable fit for most wrists. Its light weight, rounded edges and a clean fit makes you forget that it is on your wrist.

Double tap the face of the Vivosmart and the display comes alive and swiping the tiny rectangular soft-lit screen lets you scroll through the options - time, calendar, notifications, music controls, distance covered, move alert, fitness goals etc. Pairing the Vivosmart with your smartphone is a fairly simple process using Bluetooth. But, the point to remember here is that this Garmin smartband is not compatible with many Android phones. You may want to check that before buying the device. It pairs with most iOS devices (Post 4S iPhones, iPads and iPods). We tested it with a HTC One M7. Pairing automatically also means that its music controls sync with the native player in the handset or tablet. To charge it you’ll need to use the proprietary claw-shaped clip that fits easily into the guide slots and contact pins on the underside.

Better IQ

If you are new to Garmin’s devices, prior to pairing you will also need to download the Garmin Connect App on your compatible smartphone. Register yourself; fill a few uncomfortable details like age, height and weight and you will be ready to use the device. Choose from the list of devices in the App after turning the phone’s Bluetooth on and the band can then be strapped on.

While the pairing process just takes a few seconds, the connection is still quite tenuous and the stability of the connection is inherently affected by the protocol's weaknesses. Syncing the Vivosmart and viewing the statistics and its analysis in the phone App will need a WiFi / data connection. Connection status, phone notifications and other alerts can all be literally felt on your wrist thanks to the vibrating band.

In terms of the fitness tracking statistics the Vivosmart helps record, most of them are not fundamentally new, though new ways of sharing, comparing and analysing have been added. Essentially, it tracks the number of steps you have taken, the distance covered, quality of sleep time, and other activities, which you can manually add. The advantage with the Vivosmart is its ability to intelligently adjust your fitness goals based on the level of activity it records over the previous few days. You can choose goals and personal records to beat under various parameters and pairing its other GPS devices and sharing tracks and new challenges with your friends and groups is quite easy.

Counting calories and tracking what you eat is also made more accurate thanks to the collaboration between Garmin and MyFitnessPal. The verdict about the accuracy and usefulness of sleep tracking is still out there. We aren’t too convinced about it given the simplicity of a movement tracker attempting to tell you if your 7-8 hours of sleep was peaceful or not. But, Garmin's proprietary ‘Move Bar’ is a good feature to get you moving. The band vibrates lightly to warn you that you have been sitting and haven’t moved in an hour.

Bottomline

There are Apps that now attempt to use the embedded electronics of a smartphone to do many of the functions that the Vivosmart is capable of doing. But, the efficiency of a smartband which is permanently on your wrist is a whole lot more than a handset which is only going to be in a handbag or occasionally in your pocket. The Vivosmart’s distance tracking is also pretty accurate. It still has a few bugs though - the screen’s touch-sensitivity is occasionally erratic and the Move Bar gets activated at times even if you have moved. Also, though it tries to combine smartwatch functions like displaying notifications, they are not actionable and reading the entire message is best done on the phone. Brightness of the display is the only customisable setting and visibility under direct sunlight is poor even in full brightness.

Price: ₹12,990

Love: Waterproof build, accurate activity tracking

Hate: Pricey, limited smartwatch functions

Published on March 10, 2018

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