Garmin tweaks its entry-level exercise band and adds even more features.
A little over a year ago I reviewed the Garmin Vivofit, a fitness band with the claim to fame that its battery lasted for a whole year.
Garmin is back with the Vivofit 2 which builds on its predecessor with new features while maintaining the impressive battery life.
While I really liked the original Vivofit (and am still using one today) it has a few minor flaws.
For one thing, the display is not backlit so it’s rather difficult to view, say, when driving at night.
The other issue is with the clasp as the design makes it a little too easy for it to get caught in my pocket or when I put my hand in between the bars of my gate which would cause it to come undone.
Fixing these issues and a few more are essentially the main changes Garmin has made to the Vivofit 2.
For instance, pressing the only button on the fitness band for about two seconds will turn on the sidelight, allowing you to see the display for a few seconds in the dark.
More importantly, Garmin has added a rotating lock for the clasp to prevent it from accidentally coming undone.
However, in making it more secure, Garmin has also made the Vivofit 2 a little harder to put on and take off – I had to press really hard for the pins to engage. It could be because it’s new and will loosen as I use it more.
Also, the Vivofit 2 has audio alerts unlike the original Vivofit which featured vibrations.
There’s very little difference in size between the Vivofit and the Vivofit 2 – both have a fairly large daylight readable screen and interchangeable bands that you can swap out for more colourful options.
In the box, you also get a little Bluetooth dongle for connecting it to a PC but chances are you won’t need it as you will be syncing the Vivofit 2 to your Android or iOS smartphone. To do so, just install the Garmin Connect app and sync the data wirelessly.
Also, now the Vivofit 2 will automatically sync with your smartphone without you having to manually initiate it. It syncs at specific times such as when you meet your daily step goal or once you hit a significant number of steps since your last sync.
With the original Vivofit, Garmin made the decision to preserve battery life by not including automatic sync.
Talking about battery life, the Vivofit 2 still runs on two CR1632 non-rechargeable lithium batteries. They are easily replaceable – you just have to remove the device from the band, unscrew the housing and insert fresh batteries.
In terms of functionality, it has all the same features as most fitness bands – you can track your daily steps and it will set higher or lower goals based on your daily activity.
Apart from step counting, you can also turn on an activity timer when you’re engaged in specific exercises.
Of course, like the older Vivofit, you can monitor your sleep as well.
One and only
My one complaint is that the Vivofit 2 adds a number of new features without increasing the number of buttons – without a touchscreen, all interaction with the band is via its sole button.
So to do different things you have to hold down the button for shorter or longer periods.
Pressing the button quickly will cycle between the different display screens such as time, date, steps taken, step goal and calorie burn.
Hold it down for about two seconds and you turn on the sidelight. Hold down for longer and you start to cycle between the three option screens, namely Activity timer, Sleep tracking and Sync.
When you are in the option screens, you select any one of the options by just letting the button go. As you can see, this can get quite confusing at times, but you will get used to it.
There’s always an element of error when it comes to fitness bands. As they are worn on the wrists they can register “steps” when you are, say, washing your hands.
The Vivofit does a good job of recognising false positives and will discount hand movements like when you are typing on a keyboard.
While the Vivofit 2 we got for review does not include a heart rate monitor, you can buy a heart monitoring chest strap as an optional extra or as a bundle. The band will display your heart rate once paired with the wireless chest strap.
Like every Garmin fitness band, the Vivofit 2 has an Activity bar which slowly lengthens the longer you sit down – you can make the bar disappear by standing up and walking around for a few minutes.
Every time the Activity bar grows by a section you get an audio alert as well. It’s actually quite a good motivator and I often found myself standing up and moving every time the Vivofit 2 beeped at me.
The changes from the Vivofit to the Vivofit 2 are modest and don’t warrant an upgrade if you already own a Vivofit.
That’s a good thing though as there was actually very little wrong with the original Vivofit and those issues have been addressed in the Vivofit 2.
If you’re in the market for a fitness band, the Vivofit 2 is a good entry-level choice. It works very well and the fact that you don’t have to worry about charging it every day is a bonus.
Sure, you will have to change the battery eventually but I’ve had my original Vivofit for more than a year and the battery is still fine.
Overall, a good (but modest) update to an already well-featured fitness tracker.
Pros: Always-on display; has a backlight; audible alerts are handy; long battery life.
Cons: No vibration alerts; clasp can be a bit difficult to attach and remove.
Connected exercise band
Specifications: Daily step count, goal countdown, distance, calories, time of day, heart rate and heart rate zone (requires ANT+ heart rate monitor)
Other features: Bluetooth sync, supports ANT+ devices
Dimensions (W x D x H): 25.5 x 10 x 175mm
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review unit courtesy of Aeco Technologies (M) Sdn Bhd, (03) 9285-8062