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Don’t mistake the Vivomove HR for a full-on runner’s watch, though. Garmin makes plenty of those but this model does not have GPS.
When you record an exercise with the watch, you don’t get a map of your route. However, the Vivomove HR does record your distance, speed and scientific-looking graphs of your heart rate and pace.
Heart rate tracking is fairly accurate, with the usual wrist sensor caveat that during exercise it may take a couple of minutes to reach the peak of its powers.
There were no strangely high readings when just walking about, or any missing of dips during interval-style workouts, though. This is a sound HR tracker.
There’s a juxtaposition to the Vivomove, between the watch’s accessible style and Garmin’s more “hardcore” platform.
Garmin’s Connect app is made with high-end sport watches like the Fenix 5 in mind, so when you dig below the surface you’ll find stacks of data and numbers. Even if they are all recorded using a fairly basic combo of a step-counting accelerometer, stair-counting altimeter and the heart rate sensor.
That said, Garmin Connect is also far more inviting than it used to be. Its front page is a scroll of boxes that show you relevant stats about the day’s activity, and those of the last few days. It’s less jolly-looking than Fitbit, which takes a fluffier approach and lets you do things like take virtual tours around famous hiking routes based on your steps.
There is a weekly steps challenge here, though, which pits you against other Garmin users. You can also challenge friends, if they too use Garmin Connect. Of course, as Garmin’s other watches are made for running-obsessed types, and the Vivomove HR isn’t, you might find it hard to compete.
This does make a great watch for the gym, though. GPS isn’t any use on the treadmill anyway, and there’s a rep counter for those who bounce between cardio and weights.
Given indoor swimming can be tracked with an accelerometer and the Vivomove HR is water resistant to a swim-ready 5ATM, the lack of swim modes is perhaps disappointing. However, it does make sense. Judging by the way the screen stops working properly when wet, it appears to use capacitive touch technology. And that just doesn’t work underwater.
The last fitness-adjacent feature is stress monitoring. It looks at your heart rate level and variability relative to your resting rate, which the Vivomove HR, and spits out a score out of a hundred. Is it useful? We haven’t found it particularly so. But like the guided breathing exercises some wearables offer, it may help if you’re trying to take a more mindful approach to your day-to-day life.
Use the Garmin Vivomove HR for a few runs, walks or short gym sessions and you can expect it to last for about four days between charges, in our experience. Garmin says it’ll last for five days in “smart” mode, which is likely what you’ll get if you lay off actively tracking fitness activities and fiddling about in the interface too much.
You can also switch the Vivomove HR to a watch-only mode, where the screen switches off and you’re left with just the analogue watch side of its personality. It lasts for two weeks like this, telling us it doesn’t have a large battery. Garmin hasn’t released its spec.
To recharge, you attach a cable with a jaw-like clip at one end. This clamps onto a set of contacts on the watch’s underside. It’s not a terribly stylish solution for a watch like this, but it works. You don’t have to worry about the Vivomove HR slipping off a wireless charge pad.
Is the Garmin Vivomove HR a hit or a miss? It depends on the kind of activity you want to track and, strangely enough, where you live.
It doesn’t have GPS, the top feature of many Garmin watches, so is not a great fit for serious runners. And if you live in a part of the world where the sun always shines, you may find the screen just not clear enough outdoors.
However, it’s not too expensive, records the right stats for gym fans and looks good. The Vivomove HR is also the most natural or traditional looking watch that also has a display and a heart rate sensor.
Andrew is a freelance journalist and has been writing and editing for some of the UK's top tech and lifestyle publications including TrustedReviews, Stuff, T3, TechRadar, Lifehacker and others.