Garmin’s Sophisticated Vivofit Fitness Band Is Goal-Focused, Never Needs Recharging [CES 2014]

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I think fuchsia is your color. Photo: Eli Milchman

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LAS VEGAS — It was only a matter of time before the behemoths of the fitness world jumped into the fitness-band fight; although considering Garmin has been making wrist-borne fitness gadgets for ages (in the guise of their Forerunner line) one might have expected their new Vivofit to have arrived much sooner.

Don’t expect anything too radical here. It does what most fitness bands do: tracks steps, burned calories, distance walked/run and how often you toss and turn while sleeping. Like some other wearables, the water-resistant (think shower or rain, not swim Garmin says you can, indeed, swim with the Vivofit) device can be popped out of its band and into one of another color, or into a clip for wearing on a pocket. The Vivofit doesn’t measure heart-rate on its own, but will when paired with an ANT+ heart-rate chest strap.

But being Garmin, the company has added levels of sophistication to the Vivofit, like adjusting your fitness goals automatically based on the day’s activity levels, then presenting them to you the next morning when you wake up. As a reminder to get up and move once in awhile (Garmin says being sedentary for long periods isn’t healthy) a red line grows across the screen the longer you’ve been inactive. And everything can be uploaded to Garmin Connect, the company’s catchall cloud compatible pretty much across its entire line.

There are a few other things that set it apart. Like LifeTrak’s bands, it has a one-year battery that doesn’t need charging (unlike with LifeTrak’s device, the Vivofit’s battery if replaceable). The device itself is one of the most attractive we’ve seen, with its curved form and large, handsome display.

Expect the Vivofit by March or so at $130, or $170 bundled with a heart-rate strap.

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About the author

Eli MilchmanWhen he was eight, Eli Milchman came home from frolicking in the Veld one day and was given an Atari 400. Since then, his fascination with technology has made him an intrepid early adopter of whatever charming new contraption crosses his path — which explains why he's Cult of Mac's test editor-at-large. He calls San Francisco home, where he works as a journalist and photographer. Eli has contributed to the pages of Wired.com and BIKE Magazine, among others. Hang with him on Twitter.

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