I upgraded my phone recently to a Sony Xperia Z5 Premium from an IPhone 5s. I solely relied on my IPhone and Runkeeper to log runs and it was pretty accurate 99% of the time. The Sony phone immediately proved to be very inaccurate in logging runs and I very quickly knew I had to get myself a sports watch to record my running. After some thought I decided upon a Garmin Vivoactive with a separate Heart Rate Monitor chest strap.
It’s a lovely looking watch. Quite light and not as bulky as other sports watches I’ve tried out. It comes with a magnetic charger and cable (needs a standard USB plug). The first thing I did when it arrived was change the watch face. It comes with a standard digital face but via the connect IQ store you can personalize the watch with apps. I chose this face which makes it look like a standard watch, which I love.
To start an activity, you touch the activity on the touchscreen, then touch button on the right of the watch and wait for the GPS to pick up. The GPS is incredibly fast to pick up. I haven’t waited more than a few seconds for it to pick up. Then you press the button again to start your activity. To stop the activity, you press the button on the right and tap the screen. It will ask you if you want to save the activity or delete it. Once saved it automatically saves straight to connect. The mileage has been incredibly accurate. I used to plot my runs on Mapmyrun, Mapometer, sometimes using google maps and the mileage always proves to be equidistant to that plotted.
The watch has a step and calorie counter. I’ve found that compared to the Fitbit Flex I’ve been using the steps have been substantially different. Some days incredibly under and some days over (by around 1000 steps). I have noticed that whilst I am at home and moving around more slowly it doesn’t tend to pick the steps. Even whilst I was cleaning the watch kept at the same step total for 30 minutes. Swinging my arms seemed to increase the chance of it starting up. As I am back at work next week I will monitor the step counting on the watch against the Fitbit Flex.
Having never used a chest strap to monitor my heart rate, I was bit apprehensive about using one. I’d received some advice and done some reading regarding women and chest straps and learnt that there can be issues with chaffing and the strap sometimes falling down. I’ve worn the strap on three runs and although every time I have taken it off there has been a slight pink mark, I have yet to find any substantial rubbing. The first run I was conscious of it being there, but the other runs I really did forget it was there. One of the runs being a long run of almost 3 hours.
The watch is completely waterproof and can actually be used to track swimming as an activity. One thing I have noticed is that in heavy rain the touch screen does get slightly less sensitive.
The watch can change music whilst you are listening to it as it connects to your phone via Bluetooth. The music player of choice can be personalized in the Connect App.
The watch can also give me notifications to which I can personalize via the Connect App. I chose to only be notified of Whatsapp, Text and Phone Calls however you can choose Facebook and Twitter and other notifications. There are also alarms which can be set and a separate calendar screen which syncs from your phone calendar.
The battery life has been great. The watch has needed charging every few days. After a three hour run with a lot of GPS and Bluetooth used, around 50% battery remained.
It also has a handy in built weather app that shows you the day’s weather and breaks it down on an hourly basis.
If you choose you wear the watch overnight in bed if can analyse your sleep patterns and tell you when you are in light and deep sleep. It analyses your movements on a graph also. I have found this quite a useful tool especially when noticing why I feel especially tired when it appears I haven’t had a lot of deep sleep or a very disturbed sleep the night before.
The only real major issue I have had with the watch since I have had it has been Bluetooth connectivity issues. On my second run, about an hour into the run, I went to change tracks as Spotify stopped playing and there was no response. When I got home I noted that the phone has unpaired to the watch. I saved my run but it did not upload to the Connect App. Googling this I noticed that there are a few people that have had this issue. I solved the issue by plugging the watch into my laptop and restarting the watch. There have been times since that the Bluetooth will drop out intermittently despite the watch and the phone being only a couple of feet apart. It hasn’t affected tracking my runs, just I cannot change my music or get notifications etc. which is one of the reasons I bought the watch. This is something I am going to monitor on the next few runs to see if it is a blip and I will update on here next week.
I am happy with how simple and easy the Garmin Vivoactive is to use. The Connect App is also great and works with Strava to upload runs automatically. The only niggles I have are with the steps not being picked up inside easily and the bluetooth issue. Both of which I think maybe temporary, fingers crossed. Definitely the best sports watch I have tried so far.