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Wearable Tech

Garmin Vívofit 4: Entry-level activity tracker levels up

Garmin's new basic tracker features a year's worth of battery life, is fully waterproof, has a slimmer design and a more colorful display.

Like its predecessor, the Vívofit 4 costs $80 -- but it has some upgrades.

David Carnoy/CNET

Garmin has a new entry-level activity tracker and it's done its best to fix what people didn't like about the previous model.

Like 2017's Vivofit 3 ($48 at Amazon), the Vívofit 4 ($80, £70, AU$159) is waterproof -- you can swim with it -- and comes equipped with a coin cell battery that gives you over a year's worth of usage before you have to replace it. But this new model is a little slimmer, has a sturdier metal button for navigation, a slightly more colorful and easier-to-read display and a standard belt-buckle style clasp (there were complaints about the Vivofit 3's notched clasp not staying clasped). 

My review sample came with a blue band that has some speckles in it. It's also available with solid white and black bands, as well as speckled red and black bands. As you might expect, you can swap out your band if you're willing to pay for an additional one (they start at $20, £18 and AU$29). 

While this is your basic activity tracker, with such features as step-counting, distance tracking and calories burned, it does have some extras, including sleep tracking, a weather widget, timers, a stopwatch and Garmin's Move IQ feature that's supposed to automatically detect the type of activity you're doing, whether it be running, biking, swimming or working out on an elliptical machine. It also supports Garmin's Toe-to-Toe feature, which lets you have step competitions with your kids if they're wearing Vívofit Jr. or Vívofit Jr. 2 trackers.

In other words, although it's entry-level, the entry-level activity tracker is more sophisticated than it once was, particularly if you pair it via Bluetooth with your smartphone and Garmin's Connect app for iOS and Android (some of the features, like your weather location and typical sleep hours, you have to set through the app).

Accessing some of the features is a little tricky at first and will require a few minutes of going through the manual. There's no touch screen, you access everything through the metal button on the front with short and long presses. I liked the new color progress bar that lets you know how close you are to achieving your daily step goal. 

The Vívofit 4 comes in five band options.

Garmin

I've been wearing around Garmin's more expensive Vívosport ($200), which features a full color touchscreen and GPS and I found it a slightly more comfortable to wear than the Vívofit 4. It's also worth mentioning that the Vivofit 4's "regular" band is fairly small so those with larger wrists should go with the large band.

I'll have a full review of the Vívofit 4 after I wear it around for a week or two, but my initial impression is that it's an improvement over its predecessor and will once again appeal to folks who want an activity tracker they don't have to bothering charging. I still think these entry-level models should cost $50-$60 instead of $80, but Fitbit's entry-level Flex 2 ($60) doesn't have a screen, so this may not be such a bad deal.     

Here's a look at the Vívofit 4's key specs:   

  • 1+ year battery life, no recharging necessary
  • Swim and shower safe
  • Slimmer than previous model with metal button
  • Available in five colors (bands)
  • Customizable text screen, weather widget, "find my phone" and more
  • Price: $80, £70, AU$159

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