Asus VivoWatch: Features aplenty but tracking a bit off

The Asus VivoWatch looks like its smartwatch cousin, the ZenWatch. But it is not exactly a smartwatch. Instead, it is more a fitness tracker - one that automatically monitors your physical activities, sleep, heart rate and ultra-violent (UV) light exposure.

With design cues from the ZenWatch, the VivoWatch has an almost-similar rectangular face with a curved stainless steel case that has only one button on its right. Its square 128 x 128-pixel touchscreen display is protected by Corning Gorilla 3 glass.

Apart from its large bezel, VivoWatch is almost faultless in terms of looks. It can easily double as your timepiece. Furthermore, the display is easy to read, even under bright sunlight.

You need to press the button for backlight, unlike other smartwatches and fitness trackers, which require you to just raise your wrist.

You also need to press the button before using the watch. Only then can you swipe the display horizontally to toggle through heart rate, steps taken, calories burnt and UV level panels. Swipe the display vertically to toggle exercise, sleep and happiness index (HI) panels.

The HI is calculated by Asus' HiVivo app (Android and iOS) using your physical activities, sleep, heart rate and UV light exposure. I would take the HI, which goes up with more exercise and sleep, with a big pinch of salt, though.

The VivoWatch is rated IP67 water-resistant, meaning you can wear it in the shower, but do not go swimming with it.

For some reason, Asus has decided to partner the watch with a plastic strap. It felt uncomfortable and left marks on my skin, no matter how loose the strap was. Fortunately, it uses standard easily-replaceable 22mm watch straps.

Once paired with your smartphone, the syncing of the fitness data starts immediately when you power up the app.

However, step-tracking accuracy could be better. On some days, the watch showed readings that are only around 5 per cent less than my calibrated Fitbit Charge HR. But the readings dipped to nearly 30 per cent less on some occasions.

It was the same with sleep tracking. It consistently tracked around one to two hours less sleep, while Charge HR was pretty spot-on every night.

The VivoWatch has all-day, passive heart-rate monitoring or, rather, it takes your heart rate every 15 minutes. Comparing the readings with those from the Charge HR and my Apple Watch, I found it to be inconsistent at times. It even recorded no heart beats a few times.

The VivoWatch can track only runs, and not other workouts. It reads your heart rate continuously during your runs. When compared with my trusty TomTom Runner + MultiSport Cardio running watch, the VivoWatch readings were off by about 20 beats per minute or more.

Battery life on a full charge is supposed to be 10 days. But the review unit lasted around a week. That is still better than most fitness trackers in the market.

• Verdict: The Asus VivoWatch looks good and has plenty of features for a fitness tracker.But its overall tracking ability needs to be more accurate and consistent.

PRICE: $249



This article was first published on Jan 27, 2016.
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