In principle, hybrid smartwatches ought to provide the finest of analog design and trendy expertise — one thing smooth and stunning on the wrist however succesful of discreetly monitoring your well being and delivering notifications. In observe, corporations are inclined to put a premium on that stylish design, leaving you with a smartwatch that’s not as practical as others in its value vary. But Garmin’s entry-level Vivomove Sport is reasonably priced at $179.99, with a design and characteristic set that matches the value. Finally, it seems like we’re getting someplace.
The Vivomove Sport was simply introduced at CES 2022, and it’s Garmin’s first new hybrid because it launched the Vivomove Luxe, Style, and 3 / 3S again in 2019. At a look, the Sport appears like a Swatch. (Actually, my mint inexperienced assessment unit appears loads like this specific Swatch.) However, a flick of the wrist or a double-tap to the show will reveal your stats, notifications, timers, and different widgets for Garmin-specific health options. The show jogs my memory loads of what AR glasses attempt to do — venture a ghostly, holographic-like info overlay on an in any other case bizarre object. It’s a neat impact, and it’s simpler to see your information and notifications in comparison with the final hybrid I examined, the Withings ScanWatch.
Of course, hybrid shows include limitations. The Sport is sweet if you wish to keep in the loop with out main distractions. You can’t actually learn full messages in the backside half of the display — however you’ll be able to simply see who or what app is making an attempt to achieve you. However, that is the kind of watch that tells you when to have a look at your cellphone. It’s not the variety that permits you to depart it at house. There are not any contactless funds, it opts for tethered GPS, and there’s no speaker or microphone so that you can take calls by way of the wrist. (Android homeowners can use fast replies to texts and reject cellphone calls with textual content.) You can, nevertheless, set timers, begin respiration classes, log hydration, and view well being metrics like coronary heart fee and stress.
To transfer between menus, you simply swipe left and right. To choose, you faucet as soon as. To return to the earlier menu, you simply faucet the tiny arrow that pops up. By default, an extended press acts as a shortcut to the exercise app for simple recording. Is the navigation just a little clunky? Yes. But that is true for each hybrid watch I’ve ever examined. Garmin’s menu navigation is at the very least higher than the one Fossil makes use of for its e-ink hybrids. The solely time it actually failed me was after I had sweaty fingers after a exercise — however then once more, because of this loads of athletes are pro-physical buttons.
Functionally, you may get fairly near a hands-off expertise. Garmin says it has an estimated 5 days of battery life — I acquired nearer to three–4 with frequent GPS actions. That’s good so far as smartwatches go however on the shorter aspect for a hybrid. That stated, you don’t must sync every single day for those who don’t wish to. It shops as much as 10 timed actions and 14 days’ value of information.
Basically, it is a no-frills health tracker in a smartwatch’s physique. What units this specific one aside is its design is each cute and practical, and the obtainable choices are versatile for a number of aesthetics. As a lot as I dig the Fitbit Luxe’s bougie divorcee vitality, it typically appears an excessive amount of like a tracker for dressier events. I’d must get one other strap to repair that. I wouldn’t must with one thing like the Sport. It’s additionally a snug tracker. The 40mm case is smaller than the overwhelming majority of wristables on the market, and it doesn’t overpower my tiny hen wrists. It doesn’t get caught on jacket sleeves, I don’t have to fret about the silicone straps getting groady after a exercise, and it’s very light-weight.
But you don’t must take simply my phrase for it. I’ve a very opinionated buddy who likes to rant how all the smartwatches I take a look at are hulking eyesores which are too uncomfortable for her to ever contemplate shopping for one. But when she eyed the Sport, she grabbed my arm and stated, “Is this smart? Oh, I’d wear this.”
While the Sport is a design-forward tracker, you’d be unsuitable to imagine it skimps on well being options. It has optical coronary heart fee and SpO2 sensors and can present irregular coronary heart fee alerts. It’s additionally succesful of measuring your respiration fee, health age, stress, and blood oxygen ranges — each in the form of steady measurement throughout sleep and spot checks. Stress monitoring on most units can also be nonetheless a piece in progress, however Garmin’s is healthier than most. Body battery is a neat metric that visualizes how a lot vitality you’ve gotten for actions. The gist is it measures a mixture of your sleep high quality, train, stress, and coronary heart fee variability to find out whether or not or not you need to push it or take it simple. While extra wearables provide related “readiness” metrics today, they are often hit and miss. Garmin’s model has grown on me over the years as a useful device for determining when to fit in restoration days.
The Sport can also be correct for a hybrid. Usually, hybrid watches are god-awful at monitoring GPS exercise. However, the Sport was lifeless on with my Apple Watch Series 7 throughout a number of runs. On a 3-mile run recorded by the Runkeeper app on my cellphone, the Sport reported 3.04 miles, and the Series 7 logged three miles. The Garmin stated I used to be about 10 seconds quicker per mile, however that granularity isn’t going to hassle the informal customers this watch caters to.
I’ll say for those who like coronary heart fee zone coaching, this isn’t a good selection. Hybrid watches are by no means that nice in the case of your stats mid-exercise, and the Sport isn’t an exception. That made it laborious for me to judge real-time coronary heart fee accuracy, however in reviewing my information afterward confirmed my max and common coronary heart fee, in addition to coronary heart fee zone information was practically similar to the Series 7.
This watch additionally wouldn’t be my choose for extra intense outside actions like mountaineering or filth biking. This is extra suited to indoor exercises and shorter distance working or biking (5K-10K). You might take it into the pool, because it’s acquired 5 ATM of water resistance, and it withstood showers and dishwashing with no drawback.
Fitness-wise, my large grievance is the similar as each different Garmin watch I’ve examined: the Garmin Connect app is a scorching mess. Editing settings is like discovering extra menus inside different menus — an actual Russian Doll situation. It’s unnecessarily sophisticated to seek out what you’re in search of. Don’t get me unsuitable — I really like how granular Garmin’s information will get. What I don’t love is the way it’s organized. It’s nice for viewing your day-to-day information, however if you wish to get into your historic information over time? Be ready to decipher a color-coded calendar view, at the very least 5 menu classes for well being and health metrics, in addition to dozens of subcategories and graphs for every particular person metric. I like to recommend linking to Strava or one other health app for a greater expertise. If you want the social side like challenges and ribbing your buddies, integrating with one other service might be going to be a greater expertise, even when it means you want two apps.
Overall, Garmin’s given Fitbit an actual run for its cash in the case of primary trackers. Between this and the Fitbit Luxe, I’d choose the Sport. Although it’s dearer at $179.99, you get all this information in the app free of charge. To get the most out of Fitbit’s app, you’ll finally want a Fitbit Premium subscription. Advanced sleep insights and readiness scores, for instance, are one thing you could pay additional for as soon as the free trial interval is over. Over time, that makes the Sport the extra reasonably priced choice. During my briefing with Garmin at CES, I requested whether or not the firm would ever contemplate switching to a subscription mannequin like many of its rivals. Phil McClendon, Garmin’s venture lead for the Venu 2 Plus, stated the firm wouldn’t lock information behind a paywall. “It’s your data,” McClendon stated. “We’re not charging you the ability to access your data, and that’s something we will continue to do and that we feel very strongly about.”
I’ve favored Garmin’s different hybrids, however they have been all the time too expensive to be value it for informal customers, aka the core viewers for hybrid watches. Fossil’s hybrids are elegant, and the e-ink is tremendous cool. However, they’re a ache to navigate after some time, and it’s not a good selection for exercise monitoring or well being options. The Withings Steel HR is the closest various, however its tiny notification window isn’t as useful. Putting apart aesthetic preferences, I’d suggest the Steel HR if magnificence and simplified wellness is extra of your purpose. The Sport is healthier for those who’re a extra energetic particular person — or hoping to change into one.
Basically, for those who’re seeking to decide to usually working or biking 5Ks however not at the expense of type, the Sport is the method to go.
Photography by Victoria Song/The Verge