Garmin unveils new Venu smartwatch, plus adult Marvel watches

The Garmin Venu, VivoActive 4, VivoMove 3 and Legacy Heroes Series all aim for the Apple Watch, arriving this month with premium looks (and prices).

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
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  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
3 min read

Garmin's new Captain Marvel and Captain America smartwatches look pretty neat.


Wow, Garmin has a lot of watches. September is the time for flagship fitness watches: Fitbit Versa 2, Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, the Apple Watch and now Garmin. The company's just launched a handful of Apple Watch competitors: the Garmin VivoActive 4, and a step-up Garmin Venu, which adds an AMOLED display that has an optional always-on mode. Garmin also just announced a hybrid analog/digital watch, the VivoMove 3. Oh, and Garmin has some cool-looking Marvel fitness watches, too.

Garmin already has a numbing array of watches to choose from, so these new models don't make the choices easier. All of these new watches are aimed at everyday fitness, versus Garmin's more runner-centric and more expensive Forerunner and Fenix lines. Garmin's newest watch models also sound like they're pushing for extra health features and nicer designs, but at slightly higher prices.


Garmin Venu looks like a VivoActive watch, but nicer.


Garmin VivoActive 4 and Venu: Fancy and fancier

The Venu and VivoActive 4 are follow-ups to Garmin's VivoActive 3 smartwatch: Basically, Garmin's flagships in the everyday connected-smartwatch territory. The new additions aren't that dramatic: there are now pulse oxygen readings via the rear optical heart rate sensor, much like some other Garmin trackers already have (which isn't cleared for medical accuracy, but can be used for estimates), plus estimated respiration and sweat loss measurements during sleep and workouts, and added yoga and pilates exercise-tracking modes.

Like the other VivoActive models before, there's NFC-based Garmin Pay contactless payments, music storage compatible with Amazon Music, Spotify and Deezer, GPS (five to six hours of use while listening to music, according to Garmin), and seven to eight hours of battery life, per Garmin. The VivoActive 4 starts at $350, with two different sizes (the 40mm VivoActive 4S and the 45mm VivoActive 4), which is higher than the VivoActive 3's recent sale prices by a considerable margin.

The step-up Venu costs more, but adds an AMOLED display, much like Apple and Samsung's watches and the Fitbit Versa 2. It'll have fancier-looking animated watch faces, and a new always-on watch mode, but expected battery life for the Venu is only five days. It's also more expensive, starting at $400.


Garmin's VivoMove watches: Those are real watch hands.


Garmin VivoMove 3 looks like a real watch, adds luxury models

I got a kick out of the original VivoMove watch when I reviewed it a few years ago: It did a good job of looking like a normal watch with full fitness tracking hidden inside. The VivoMove 3 and 3S add Garmin Pay and that pulse oxygen-measuring capability to their heart rate sensor, but they need a phone nearby to activate connected GPS for runs.

The VivoMove 3 and 3S, which have monochrome displays, start at around $250. But the new VivoMove Style and Luxe are step-up models that add domed sapphire or Corning Gorilla Glass and dual color AMOLED touch displays, which pop info all over the watch face when activated. But that'll cost more, possibly as much as $590, Garmin says.

And a fancy Marvel watch?

Garmin's "Legacy Heroes Series" are Marvel watches aimed at adults. The two designs -- one Captain America, one Captain Marvel -- actually look damn nice and somewhat subtle. These look a lot better than I was expecting them to.

The Captain Marvel Special Edition Smartwatch (40mm) and First Avenger Special Edition Smartwatch (45mm) are design riffs on the VivoActive 4, and have the same features, plus new watch faces, two special bands (leather and silicone) and cases, and apps that have Marvel-themed challenges. They're coming in October for $400.