Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

Garmin Vivosmart HR+ Review

A couple of years ago I tried out the Apple Watch. To be honest I did not get on with it very well, mainly because it was doing things that are not a high priority for me - for instance telling me what notifications had come in. I find notifications really annoying so to get them on my phone and on my watch just annoyed me even more.

However the idea of something which can track my activities and help me keep fit does interest me and so I spend some time researching activity trackers, smart watches and running watches having had agreement from my husband that he would buy one for me for Christmas if I could decide which one.

Although the Apple Watch had had some activity tracker type screens, I found they did not go into the detail I was looking for.

With such a massive range to choose from I had to start by working out what I was looking for.

Watch showing time screen.
My new watch

I am aiming to run a marathon this year and so I wanted something which could help me with my training but also with my over all fitness. I needed something that could give me enough data about my runs to be useful but also cover my evening walks with Milo or a lunchtime walk round the lake.

So I needed something a bit more than an activity tracker but was not too bothered about a full on running watch.

The next issue I had was finding something I would actually be happy to wear 24/7. Most of the watches are designed for men and so are way too big for me to wear comfortably. Making it pink does not really help.

After months of research and a trip to John Lewis to try some on, I finally decided on the Garmin Vivosmart HR+.

Annoyingly the first week I had it I had flu and so all it could tell me was my pathetic step count and my heart rate, but now I am back on my feet and running again and it is performing well.

To get all the data you have to create a Garmin Connect account, with an app on your phone or access via desktop. The app is a bit of a mess, but not quite as bad I was I thought it might be based on the reviews I had read. My biggest issue is waiting for it to sync.

Connected to my phone via bluetooth, it also wanted to show me notifications. It did not get the chance, and although it took me a while I also worked out how to stop my phone asking to connect too.

Even with flu I could work out my walking stride to make it a little more accurate, along with adding details like my weight, height and age. However although I wanted it in miles and celsius, I can only have celsius if I change to kms!

I have been very impressed with how quickly the GPS normally connects, so much better than my phone when I was trying to track my runs with an app.

And although it does need charging, so far it is about once a week and only takes about 30 minutes. This might change when I am fully into marathon training and doing three hour plus training runs.

And then there is the data. So much data. Right now I am still learning how to read it all and which things I should focus on. I love the data I can see on my wrist as I run and when I finish, meaning I can see straight away if it was really as hard as it felt when I was running!

But this is the main problem with the app, there is so much data squashed into it, it can be hard to find the bit you need.

The only slightly annoying thing is it beeping at me if I have not ‘moved’ after an hour. Fair enough when I am sitting at my desk, but cooking dinner or vacuuming apparently does not count, but rubbing in fat for pastry didz32w. I also think the message is slightly rude! If it annoys me too much I can just turn it off but I quite like the challenge.

So all in all I am very pleased with my new watch. The research and asking random people about their watches has paid off and I have a device which so far seems to be doing everything I need it too, plus I think it looks quite nice.

Now the only questions are can it deal with 9 months working up to a marathon and all that dog walking? Will I still be wearing it this time next year?

A quick side note. When I attended the General Assembly Design Thinking workshop last year, I found it really interesting that it was noted that most people in the class were not wearing a watch. I have not worn a watch myself for maybe 10 years seeing as I am normally working at a computer which displays the time or have my phone with me.

However where I work, not wearing a watch is actually the exception. A lot of people at Wiggle are interested in their health and fitness and so many of us wear activity trackers and smart watches.

⟨⟨ Previous | Blog home | Next ⟩⟩

Contact Me

If you have any questions about my work please feel free to contact me.

Email me on or find me on Twitter or Linkedin.