When last we checked in on Garmin's fitness trackers early this spring, we saw the Vivofit present some good ideas but ultimately fall short of being a good product. Well here comes take two: The Vivosmart, which packs in the good stuff of an activity tracker, plus the notifications of a smartwatch. It definitely sounds like an improvement.
For starters, Garmin fixed our biggest problem with the Vivofit: the total lack of of a vibrating alert system. This meant that anything the band was trying to tell you essentially fell on deaf ears. The Vivosmart now vibrates, not just when you're being lazy and need to get up, and not just to act as a silent alarm, but also for incoming calls, texts, calendar reminders, emails and more from your smartphone. Once it's got your attention, it displays these through a new OLED display, which replaces the basic LCD screen on the previous version. We love OLED, and it can certainly display more detail and information, but it sucks a good deal more power, too. The Vivofit would go a full year before you had to replace the battery. The Vivosmart needs to be charged once a week. Maybe it's worth the tradeoff.
Of course, you also get the fitness band features you'd expect, like steps taken, active time, and calories burned (though there's still no altimeter), and you can upload all of that data to Garmin Connect where you can analyze it or push it out to a third party app like MyFitnessPal. The band's last iteration was limited in by which smartphones it could pair with, and Garmin hasn't so much as mentioned whether this is for Android, iOS, or both, but we're hoping it learned from its previous fumbles. Lastly, the band will once again pair with a heart rate monitor, which should give you a better estimate of calories burned when you're working out, and it's still rated waterproof to a whopping 50 meter (164 feet) deep, which is a good deal more than any of its competitors.
It will be available in berry, blue, and black at Best Buy in mid-September and you can pre-order now, should you so desire. It will run you $170 for the band alone or $200 for the band bundled with a heart rate monitor. Basically, it seems like this is Garmin's shot at the Samsung Gear Fit, which is also a notification-displaying OLED smartband type thingy. Samsung's band, however, is limited to working with Samsung's own phones, so there may be some room for Garmin to wiggle its way in. We'll definitely check it out and let you know if it's worth your time and wrist real estate. [Garmin]