9 Months and counting with the Garmin Vivosmart HR Part 4

Continued from 9 Months and counting with the Garmin Vivosmart HR Part 3

10. Heart tracking accuracy varies regardless if you are using an Apple Watch,  Sony SmartWatch 3, a Fitbit, or the Vivosmart HR. One thing I did notice was that, as with competing products, the Vivosmart HR takes awhile to register your heart rate even while you're working out. Even if you perform several workout cycles or three dozen kettlebell swings at a fast clip, the Vivosmart HR may still indicate a pretty low heart rate even if you're having trouble talking. Stretching, calisthenics, and yoga may register virtually no heart rate change depending on your fitness.

11. Battery life after 9 months for the Vivosmart Charge HR is still very good. In fact, I was surprised that the Vivosmart HR lasted 5 days despite my constant activities during a trip to Ulan Bataar (I forgot to bring the charging  cable). Charging times are also speedy even if I use a powered USB 2.1 port on my openSUSE workstation.

12. Although the Garmin Connect app isn't the best fitness app available, Garmin is dedicated to providing updates regularly. More importantly, Garmin provides more firmware updates than Apple and Fitbit combined. Performing firmware updates to the Vivosmart HR works over Bluetooth, but arguably the fastest and most reliable way to sync updates is over USB using the Windows 10 or macOS desktop application.

13. When the Windows 10 Mobile version of Garmin Connect was released, it was welcome news. It didn't really matter that the Windows 10 Mobile version doesn't have as much features as the iOS and Android versions, but it made syncing the Vivosmart HR easier for WP fans. Remote music player control isn't available and Bluetooth syncing can take longer, but the app is usable for reviewing data. If you're having problems syncing the wearable using an Android mobile device, at least you can switch to a Windows Phone (if you own one).

14. Both the macOS and Windows 10 Garmin Express desktop applications don't really have much functionality since it just connects to the online service. However, installing firmware updates is faster and more reliable over macOS and Windows 10, than using Bluetooth syncing via the apps. You probably won't use the desktop apps as much as the mobile versions, but it's still useful to have around.

Note: Garmin Connect for Windows 10 Mobile doesn't seem to provide firmware updates to Garmin products, unlike the iOS and Android version of the app. If you're using a Windows 10 Mobile device to sync your Vivosmart HR, it might be a good idea to connect via USB to a macOS and Windows 10 machine running the Garmin Express application to check for firmware updates.

15. Users who are aware of how wearables and the IT industry work accept that Garmin has no choice but to use a proprietary cable for charging and data transfer (Samsung, Fitbit, and Apple all provide proprietary connectors). However, it's still terribly inconvenient to be always wary of the Garmin cable, since losing it pretty much means the product becomes unusable. On the plus side, the connector on the Garmin cable is superior to the flimsy contact point found on Fitbit charging cables. Unlike the charging cable for Fitbit products, connection is firm on the Garmin Vivosmart and there's a satisfying click that indicates a physical connection.

16. Even if you're a couch potato, cleaning the Vivosmart HR regularly is mandatory if you want to avoid irritation. Sweat, skin cells, and grime accumulate in the wrist area whether you notice it or not. Taking a bath with the Vivosmart HR does not constitute cleaning the device since soap suds and sediments cling to the product.

17. Despite its bulky design, the Vivosmart HR doesn't cause any perceptible drag if you swim. Swimming with the device is great, though you are tempted to sneak a peek at the display during the arc of your stroke. Unfortunately, the heart rate sensor's accuracy drops quite a bit because water comes between the sensor and your skin, preventing an accurate reading as opposed to when you are on land.

18. If you've worked with Bluetooth documentation and drivers, you're pretty much realistic about the flaws of Bluetooth and Bluetooth LE. Despite the library of troubleshooting steps Garmin provides on their support site, Bluetooth syncing is dependent on the client device as much as the Vivosmart HR. The Lumia 925/950 with Windows 10 Mobile, for example, just doesn't sync with the Vivosmart HR as quickly as Sony Xperia C3. In turn, the newer Moto G4 Plus syncs faster than the Sony Xperia C3 over Bluetooth, thanks to a better chip.

Note: Sadly, Bluetooth syncing is an inconsistent process. Just because your product syncs easily a few times, there's no guarantee you won't encounter problems syncing next week, as I quickly found out with the G4 plus.

In most cases, users will have to trigger syncing manually from the Garmin's pairing screen, especially when the Android or Windows 10 app fails to detect the product. Although it may seem incredibly primitive, connecting to a macOS or Windows PC and syncing using the Garmin Express app is not only the fastest way to update your Garmin data, but allows for reliable firmware updates as well.


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