Hands-on: Garmin Vivofit is a long-lasting and affordable fitness band
Wearables are everywhere. But when a company such as Garmin, renowned for its fitness and GPS products, announces a new product it's time to stand up and listen. Welcome the Garmin Vivofit, a wristband fitness device that we got to see at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. First impressions are lasting, so is the Vivofit just what we've been waiting for?
Priced at £100, Garmin has opted for affordable. But even so, the build of the Vivofit doesn't look cheap by any means. The rubberised band is slim and contains a bulkier main section with a non-backlit LCD panel to keep an eye on how performance is going.
The display can present the day's steps, distance (miles), calories burned, time exercising, as well as the time of day via a 24-hour watch face. There's also heart rate monitoring via a compatible monitor - Garmin makes a straightforward chest-based one that can be bought for around £40, or there will be a band plus monitor package with an unknown price. It's ANT+ compatible, though, so you can use third party ones too.
The display might look more like a retro digital watch, but that's to the benefit of sharp, easy-to-read numbers so you'll always know where you stand within a given activity. Better still it's very easy going on the battery. Garmin claims the replaceable cells in the Vivofit will last for a year or more, so less faffing around charging up all the time. The only problem is that such LCDs aren't back-lit, meaning when it gets dark you won't be able to see it or have a clue how well you're doing.
On the controls front things are kept simple - there's a single button that can be pressed to toggle between what's on the display or sync to send data to Garmin Connect. It's as simple as that.
Connect has also been redesigned for 2014 to include more motivational goals. And with Vivofit if you're inactive for an hour then that red arrow part of the display continues to build up to show that you've been sat on your arse for too long. The suggestion is to just walk for a couple of minutes each hour to refresh your brain, you needn't go into hardcore exercise every 60 minutes.
Vivofit looks like a great entry-level product to us. The long-lasting battery is a definite positive, even if the device is next to useless in the dark due to the display type.