A measure of 'happiness' on VivoWatch
ASUS is no stranger to the smartwatch market. Its ZenWatch is one of the classiest Android Wear smartwatches out there. But its newest wearable, the VivoWatch, targets a very different type of smartwatch user: fitness freaks.
The VivoWatch is all about health and wellness. It also monitors steps, calories burned, heart rate, sleep quality and even UV level. In fact, with the exception of caller ID and SMS alerts, you will not be getting any notifications from your phone.
In other words, the VivoWatch is a fitness wearable first and a smartphone companion second.
The VivoWatch shares a similar shape and design to the ZenWatch, with a curved Gorilla Glass 3 touchscreen encased within a slightly rounded stainless steel frame. The frame has a mirror-finish, which is a bit of a fingerprint magnet. It is not the most sporty-looking smartwatch, which jars slightly with its intended usage, but that might actually be a good thing if you are looking for a fitness wearable that will not look out of place in an office environment.
On the frame's right, there is a small squarish button that lets you unlock the watch or to begin Exercise Mode.
As a fitness wearable, the VivoWatch boasts a decent IP67 level of water resistance, meaning it is both dust-tight and has been certified to remain intact under 1m of water for 30 minutes. The strap is also made of rubber but you can swap it with any standard 22mm strap.
The VivoWatch uses a 1.28-inch monochrome Sharp Memory display, which looks very similar to the e-ink display found on the first Pebble smartwatch. It has a 128 x 128 pixel resolution and a pixel density of 141 pixels per inch, which definitely is not the best, but is suitable for the information displayed on screen.
The main benefit of a monochrome display is its fantastic battery life. You need to charge it about once every ten days - something that is vital for a good sleep tracker. Unlike some LCD displays, the screen also works very well under sunlight, and it is backlit for indoor usage.
Flip the watch around and you will find the back of the watch is made from plastic, which does not feel as premium or tough as the watch face. There is the optical heart-rate sensor as well as the charging connector on the rear of the VivoWatch as well.
The VivoWatch runs on Asus' in-house KoodOS. To use the watch, start by pressing the button on the right to unlock it. From the watch face, you can swipe horizontally to cycle through the pulse reader, alarm, daily activity log (for steps and calories) and the UV level detector (a feature also found on the Microsoft Band and Samsung Gear S).
If you swipe vertically, you can scroll through the daily exercise log (total exercise time and period of aerobic activity), daily sleep log (total sleep time and period of comfort sleep) and a happiness index based on a combination of exercise quality and sleep quality.
As a fitness wearable, one of the main features on the VivoWatch is, not surprisingly, Exercise Mode. You can turn it on by holding down the right button for a couple of seconds. In this mode, the display will indicate whether your heart rate is within the optimal range (green) or is too intense (red, with vibration alert), according to your profile.
In this mode, you can also swipe horizontally to see a live data chart of your heart rate, burned calories and steps taken. That said, Exercise Mode is really just a running mode, as it will not accurately track other forms of exercise.
Unlike many fitness trackers, the VivoWatch also lacks a built-in global positioning system (GPS), so it will not be able to track the distance you have covered.
One of the more unique features on the VivoWatch is VivoPulse, which measures your heart rate around the clock, even when you are sleeping.
To view the statistics the VivoWatch has tracked, you will need to install the HiVivo companion app on your Android or iOS mobile device and set up your profile before pairing the device with the watch. The app provides you with all sorts of data, like number of steps you have taken daily, your sleep log and the calories burned.
For recreational runners, the app does not really offer you much information on how to improve your fitness or burn more calories.
However, the VivoWatch does have a statistic called the Happiness Index, which could be a source of motivation. Based on a combination of regular exercise and good quality sleep, you will score higher on the Happiness Index and, presumably, feel better. It is a pretty simplistic view of happiness, but it does help that regular exercise has been shown to make people feel better in general.
The Asus VivoWatch is an interesting alternative to the numerous fitness trackers available on the market like the Fitbit Flex or the Jawbone Up24, thanks to its smart looks and touchscreen display, for quickly and easily checking your statistics and progress. At $249, it is priced fairly similarly to top-of-the-line fitness trackers like the Jawbone Up24.
Do not forget that it comes with a built-in sensor that tracks your heart rate 24/7, which many fitness trackers lack. However, the lack of GPS and the ability to track the distance you have run will probably turn away hardcore runners.
If you are expecting more smartphone companion functionality, you will be disappointed with the VivoWatch, as it does nothing more than inform you of incoming messages and calls.
In short, it is designed for someone who wants the styling of a smartwatch, but with the features of a fitness wearable; more specifically, a fitness wearable for walking and running.
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