Despite attempts by companies like Apple and Fossil to improve their looks, no one really wears a smartwatch as a fashion accessory. Devotees of connected timepieces wear them as either a genuine devotion to fitness, or an unhealthy addiction to notifications. But Garmin's new vívomove HR looks like like a classic analogue watch, and only reveals its smarts when you want it to.
Garmin is probably one of the last companies that comes to mind when you think about fashion accessories. Its Fenix line packs a ton of outdoor functionality into a durable timepiece, and its vívosmart fitness trackers look perpetually gym-ready, but neither are watches you'd want to strap on to accompany formal wear.
Garmin vívomove HR
The company's new vívomove HR, however, looks like a traditional analogue watch with a clean face, leather band options, and a svelte case that's not bulging with a weather station's worth of sensors awkwardly hidden inside.
The original Garmin vívomove featured a similar design, but with a pair of permanent gauges on the watch face that displayed fitness and activity metrics at all times. The vívomove HR has replaced those with an LCD touchscreen (the watch's hands automatically move out of the way so you can tap on it) that completely disappears when not in use. As a result, the vívomove HR only looks like a smartwatch when you get notifications, or when you're checking health metrics like stress levels or your heart rate.
Available in two versions — a sport model for $US200 ($252) featuring a silicone strap, and a premium version for $US300 ($377) with leather bands and a steel housing — the vívomove HR can be worn while swimming or during showers, and has a rechargeable battery good for five days while using its smart features, or up to two full weeks when used as a simple analogue timepiece. If you know someone who likes the functionality of a smartwatch, but wouldn't be caught dead wearing an Apple Watch or something running Android Wear, there's finally a full-featured alternative you can recommend.
Garmin vívoactive 3
The vívomove HR comes in stark contrast to two other smart wearables that Garmin also announced today. The vívoactive 3 is an update to Garmin's original vívoactive from a few years ago that was noteworthy for being of the first wearables to bridge the smartwatch/fitness tracker divide. But it's now back with a much-needed facelift.
Despite a new design with a round face, the vívoactive 3 is still a fitness-focused smartwatch that will look more at home in the gym than the office. It boasts GPS for tracking your running or jogging routes, a heart rate monitor for performance and stress monitoring, and it now includes Garmin Pay so you can buy a bottle of Gatorade after a workout without having to carry your wallet. It will be available for $US300 ($377) for the stainless steel models, or $US330 ($415) for the more exclusive slate on black option.
If a clunky smartwatch just isn't your look, but you want as much functionality as possible packed into the sleeker form factor of a fitness tracker bracelet, Garmin's newest vívosport includes a heart rate sensor, motion and fitness tracking, GPS, vibrating smartphone alerts, and an always-on colour touchscreen. Because it now includes onboard GPS connectivity, instead of relying on your connected phone's hardware, battery life for the new vívosport is only rated at about seven days before you'll need to tether it to its charging cable.
It's also $US200 ($252), which makes the vívosport about $US50 ($63) more expensive than Fitbit's excellent Alta HR, and Charge 2. However, neither of those wearables has built-in GPS, so if that added functionality, and a colour screen, are worth half a Benjamin to you, the new vívosport might be worth considering.