Garmin's black-on-black Vivofit shows the influence of the Nike+ FuelBand.
The plastic tracker is set on a rubber wristband that comes in two sizes. The band is easy to strap on and is fairly comfortable to wear. Additional wristbands cost $41 for a pack of three (purple, teal and blue), if you want some colour in your life.
To cycle through the status panels on the tracker's always-on display, press the only button you will find on the device. This will take you to steps taken, calories burned, distance travelled, date and current time. Hold down the same button to cycle through sync, sleep and pairing.
The display is sharp and easy to read. So it can be used in place of a watch. But it lacks a backlight.
Setting up the device is easy. Plug the ANT+ USB dongle (included) into a computer, download the Garmin Express software (PC and Mac) and follow the on-screen instructions.
Or download the Garmin Connect app (Android and iOS) to your smartphone and pair it with the Vivofit via Bluetooth. Either way, you have to sign up for a Garmin account or log into an existing one.
Once paired, the Vivofit quickly syncs with the app to download your latest activities.
Vivofit differs from other trackers in that it remembers your activity level for the current day and, if it has not been met, assigns you a more attainable goal the next day.
If you meet or exceed your goal, it will set a more challenging target.
By default, it sets you a goal of 7,500 steps. You can change it using the software or the app. Did not meet it? The next day's target inches back to 7,300, then 7,000, and so on.
A red progress bar shows up on the tracker when it detects lack of movement. Start moving and the bar slowly recedes. What it really could use is a vibration alert or even an alarm to nudge you into action. Unless you look at the display, the reminder is ineffective.
The device also tracks your sleep patterns, but not automatically. You must set it manually to sleep mode and switch it off when you wake up. The sleep chart shows only how much you move about while asleep. Unlike Jawbone's Up24 or Withings' Pulse O2, Vivofit's tracking does not differentiate between light and deep sleep, or tell how many times you woke up during the night.
However, it can be unexpectedly and unaccountably generous. Where other trackers in this round-up counted 2,800 to 2,900 steps for a day, Vivofit awarded me 3,200.
On the bright side, it can be worn when you shower or swim, as it is water-resistant up to 50m.
The biggest plus of the Vivofit is its battery life. It uses two CR1632 batteries that should last about a year.
The Garmin Vivofit might not be a looker, but its ease of use, automated customised goals and long battery life will spur you to walk more.
Material: Rubber wristband with plastic tracker
Water resistance: 50m
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0, ANT+
Value for money: 3/5
Battery life: 5/5
This article was first published on July 30, 2014.
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