Vivomove Style: I really wanted to like it, naively thinking, that the new HR sensor would perform better than the prev. gen. one in Vivomove HR. Reasonable expectation at double the old price, don’t you think? No such luck. The HR monitor is as inaccurate, as ever, on top...
Vivomove Style: I really wanted to like it, naively thinking, that the new HR sensor would perform better than the prev. gen. one in Vivomove HR. Reasonable expectation at double the old price, don’t you think? No such luck. The HR monitor is as inaccurate, as ever, on top of serious glitches reported by others. A real shame – how one mediocre internal software module can ruin a brilliant and passionate product design. All advanced metrics work off that HR sensor. It’s a deal breaker.
- Elegant and light.
- Sharp design and passionate engineering e.g. hands moving out of the way and two hands forming an analogue needle.
- Step counting is accurate and on par with Fitbit.
- Straightforward setup and more or less intuitive menu.
- HR monitor is not accurate at all: 20 points higher than fitbit’s
- Stairs/floor counting improved over the prev. gen., yet not as accurate, as Fitbit’s.
- Sleep duration is off one hour compared to Fitbit.
- Pseudo-advanced features like stress level and body battery are gimmicks, especially pathetic, since they work off the inaccurate HR monitor.
- Plasticky look of black models (the Style I bought), $550 to get the decent looking model (Luxe) w/ overkill features like Sapphire glass and clearly overpriced “Milanese” band.
- The mobile app could have been simpler and slicker (again, compared to Fitbit’s).
Conclusion: wait until Garmin fixes its software glitches: the HR monitor module, and the touchscreen sensitivity. I suspect there’s more to it, as it shouldn’t be too sensitive. The other commonly reported issue: screen image glow is probably related to Sapphire glass in Luxe models (not noticeable in Style w/ Gorilla glass). Which further proves that dual-display Style should have been more stylish and practical (bright hands on black face, etc.), instead of Garmin reserving those looks for the top model at additional $200. Gorilla glass is enough for a watch that’s expected to last for 5 years anyway - like any other mobile device due to the battery charge cycle issues.
IMO both serious issues are fixable via a firmware update – the main reason I am writing this review. It only depends on Garmin’s willingness to listen and fix them. Unfortunately, according to their official support Web pages, they like to blame the user, and even the skin tone and tattoos for the poor HR detection. I don’t have tattoos, but I have moderately hairy arms and live in Cali, meaning tan. Somehow, it’s never been an issue for Fitbit.
If you want more details, here’s the full story. I never cared about smartwatches due to the tiny screen, I stopped wearing an old-school watch 10 years ago in favor of a smartphone. Upon returning to the corporate world with its boring meetings I felt the need for a watch I can discreetly glance at instead of my phone.
I’ve also been a big fan of fitness trackers, though unfortunately lost my first Fitbit 5 years ago. So, I bought another one: Charge 3 recently and have been very happy with it feature-wise. It functions as a watch, counts steps, measures HR, tracks sleep, has connected GPS, automatically recognizes common activities like running and biking, and acts as a phone companion showing notifications: texts, calendar reminders, etc. I’d love music control, though it’s a nice to have. I am not comfortable with electronic wallets (not even in my phone). As for SpO2, “body battery”, stress level, and other gimmicks, an average diet-conscious fitness-minded individual, who periodically runs and road/mountain-bikes, can live w/o them. Neither Fitbit Charge, nor Vivomove are athlete gadgets.
Then comes the form factor. For the life of me I do not understand, why a digital watch should be round. More so “tactical” and other dedicated GPS ones – Garmin’s specialty. It’s way more natural browsing a map or viewing critical data on a square or rectangular screen. But, those utilitarian watches (namely Apple’s) look anything, but pretty – a square screen on some strap. Fitbit and other trackers (not their failed attempt at a full smartwatch) look better because they are basically just straps/bracelets themselves instead of an awkward piece of glass on a strap.
However as refined and state of the art it is internally, Fitbit Charge is low-tech screen-wise with its huge bezels in our age of curved edge to edge phone screens. If the current (and hopefully next) Charge had such bezel-less screen, fitting a bit more text horizontally, I wouldn’t be looking for a more traditional smartwatch – that is not a copycat of Apple’s, nor an LCD panel inside a round housing. That led me to the only analogue smartwatch with digital display on the market: Vivomove. The only smartwatch that deserves to be round. Everything else e.g. LG is a joke. Garmin nailed it - unfortunately, only aesthetically.
Vivomove is nothing, but a Fitbit-like tracker, overlaid on an average looking analogue watch. I’d call it Fitbit+, and pay up to $100 for its additional features not found in the current Fitbit Charge. Not so much for gimmicks like “body battery”. Styling-wise, don’t get me wrong, it is stylish (the few clean versions w/o the bling). And there is nothing remotely comparable on the market like I said. But feel- and materials-wise it is not even a poor imitation of the most conservative Rolex or Bvlgari. Which brings my next point – target demographics.
Did you notice how everyone here starts his/her review with something like “I’m glad I went the Luxe”. Like if they weren’t really sure it was worth it. Neither am I. Since the basic 3/3S look plasticky, and due to the Luxe being the only one available initially (until that tiny supply ran out anyway), it was clear Garmin wanted to steer buyers away from Style. Is Sapphire glass worth $200 over already pricy $350 with virtually impossible to scratch Gorilla one? I’ve never ever had a phone case. I take care of things I buy with my hard-earned money.
Which is my point here. The one-percenters who got richer in the last two decades, are going to stick to their Rolexes. Now, if Garmin makes something in that league (provided it works at least as well, as a $100 Fitbit), I’ll consider paying $2K+ for a truly upscale hybrid watch, Vivomove Luxe is not. Otherwise, stuck in the middle class with 20-year salary stagnation (that in absolute numbers, not adjusted for inflation) I am watching every penny unlike 20 years ago, when six-figure income meant something. Watches are jewelry, plain and simple. Want to be smart – get a well-engineered fitness tracker like Fitbit.
I’m sure Garmin spends a lot on marketing. Here’s my honest customer feedback. A $350-550 watch is going to attract techy middle-class e.g. software developers like myself. A few of us, employed by Google and the handful of top tech employer, do enjoy late-90s upper middle-class compensation, indeed adjusted for inflation, meaning doubled. Others – like me: corporate IT employees, startuppers, etc. live on low six-figure salaries, comparable to 1999’s $70K. $550 (Luxe) is a lot for a lower and middle middle-class income. For $350 (Style) I’d be willing to cut Garmin some slack, if let’s say the HR readings were 5 counts off Fitbit’s instead of 20. How do I know, that Fitbit is accurate? Because I counted my heart rate manually. And because a relatively fit person doesn’t have a resting 120 heart rate. At $550 though I am going to scrutinize everything: from a 5 point HR error to 10-minute sleep detection one. Now of course if I wasn’t wearing Fitbit on my other wrist for the last day and night, I would have never known, just like someone buying a $16 Chinese fitness tracker that claims to measure the blood pressure (apparently by using a random number generator) wondering why to pay a $100 for a Fitbit.
Lastly the colors. I’ll skip the female-targeted bling: copper and gold. White text on silver is unreadable. That only leaves black faces with silver markings and hands. I hoped the “graphite” Style I bought would be readable during dawn/dusk. Not really. I can care less about the 200% marked up Milanese band. And how much more stainless-steel costs? Make that $550 silver on black Luxe available as $350 Style (w/ Gorilla glass), and I’ll think about buying it. Or fix the HR software: the internal module that interprets the sensor readings adjusting for the skin tone, hair, irregular/skipped heartbeat (my case), which $100 Fitbit cleverly does behind the scene, and I’ll think about parting with $550 for a Luxe. The click responsiveness is clearly a software glitch too, though unlike the flawed HR module shared by I believe all Garmin watches, it is unique to Vivomove. I cannot believe a company that makes serious athlete gadgets didn’t figure out the HR issue. Or perhaps athletes don’t have irregular heartbeat like people with mild heart conditions trying to exercise and live a healthy lifestyle.
Thanks for reading. I am returning my graphite Vivomove Style to Amazon.