Garmin Vivoactive 4 Review

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Here’s yet another watch in my arsenal.  The Garmin Vivoactive 4.  I try not to perform the typical review that you can find by the dozens.  Basically somebody will cover the spec sheet and tell you how great it is.  I like to use the things and tell you what its strengths and weaknesses are.

First of all I’m a bit of a Garmin fanboy and have been using their products for many years whether it be a dedicated automobile GPS or a bicycle computer.   They work and they have an excellent software suite.

 

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 seems to be no different.  Even though I have read specs that say the Vivoactive 4 is not compatible with Garmin Basecamp………it seems to be.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 in Basecamp

The way to just see one track on the map is to create a new List which I named Vivoactive Clean Map.  I can then drag and drop one track in the folder at a time to view just that one track.  Then you can create routes or whatever you want to do.  Cool!

Right away that is a gigantic plus for me. It works with the very excellent mapping program Garmin Basecamp.  Sure Garmin Connect will show you your ride on a map but you can do so many more things such as creating a route or an adventure or make corrections if you have any issues.

But how does it work otherwise?  By my estimation…….GREAT!  In comparison my Amazfit watch is buggy and the app has connection problems especially with Strava from time to time.  My Fitbit Charge 4…………I can’t see the screen in direct sunlight.  This doesn’t have a fancy AMOLED screen which everyone loves.  What it has is what they refer to as a sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display.

While you are indoors it may seem dim and you may have to tap the touchscreen to see it well and it looks a bit washed out………..HOWEVER COMMA………..when you get out in direct sunlight YOU CAN SEE THE SCREEN PERFECTLY.    When I’m riding my bike on public roads I want to make quick, and sure movements when I’m looking at my watch screen.  A quick glance is all I want to dedicate to see my heart rate or how far my ride has been.  Same with running.  Lift wrist for a second and see my heart rate.  No problems.

So your initial impression of the display may be “meh” but go on and take it for a run or ride in bright sunlight.  You’ll change your mind.

I have noticed however that if I get the phone away from the Vivoactive 4 that I have to manually reconnect it to bluetooth to get my activities to upload to Garmin Connect.  Most devices just hook back up when in range.  Not sure what is going on here.  It’s not a huge deal and only slightly annoying.

Now.  There is one glaring deficiency in this watch.   Listen carefully Garmin:

“THERE IS NO MEANINGFUL PAUSE FEATURE ON THIS WATCH!  IF YOU PUSH THE TOP RIGHT BUTTON AT THE END OF AN ACTIVITY YOU HAVE A CHOICE BETWEEN THROWING THE WHOLE THING AWAY OR FINISHING.  IF YOU DO NOTHING, IN 5 MINUTES IT WILL SAVE AND COMPLETE THE ENTRY.”

There are ways around that like shutting off the watch completely but I find that to almost be unacceptable.  Garmin, PLEASE let us manually pause our activities.  If you ride your bike and take more than a 5 minute break you will have two entries.  Not the end of the world but not very intuitive either.

The watch has an auto pause feature but boy oh boy does it kick in fast.  When I walk my dog and he stops to do his business the watch stops quickly then starts again not that quickly.  Very annoying.  When riding it does the same thing at stop signs and stop lights.  It need a longer pause and to be quicker on resumption of movement.

The watch does have a Pulse Oxygen sensor which is cool but right after Heart Beat, Pulse Ox, GPS tracking……….I don’t have many requirements.  I don’t want to see my texts or phone calls when I ride or at least I don’t want to respond to any.  Spotify doesn’t thrill me as I ride with a transistor radio in my pocket.  Yep you heard that right.  A transistor radio.  We have a decent Classic Rock station here that keeps my mind busy while working out.

I know others love all that stuff but my needs are simple.  I am not a professional athlete.  I don’t care if tomorrows run is 4 seconds faster than today’s (although it is nice to see that).  I like to track my progress and make sure the old ticker isn’t missing any beats or running a little too hot.   And I like to see my resting heart rate at a nice low rate.

Features are cool, they are sexy, they probably sell a lot of watches………..but I’m just a plugger.

Last comment.  It’s an attractive device.  It looks like a watch.  It doesn’t look like a geeky fitness watch.  I’d wear this watch with a suit.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.