Fitbit Blaze vs Garmin Vivoactive HR: Which Fitness Tracker Will You Love More?

By | January 30, 2018

With a new year comes new resolutions, many of which will include something to do with weight loss, fitness, or health. A helpful tool for encouragement, tracking, and reminders of your resolution are the fitness tracker.

Choosing the right wearable can be a frustrating experience, and you want to make sure you choose one that fits your needs. Two such devices are the Fitbit Blaze and the Garmin Vivoactive HR.

Both devices are fantastic in their ways, yet also have specific differences. Fitness trackers like the Fitbit Blaze and the Garmin Vivoactive HR are making significant strides in the smartwatch market. These two devices can track the vast majority of activities and are loaded to the brim with sensors that can monitor your heart rate, distance, time, calories burned, and personal records.

Smartwatches and fitness trackers have long offered different features but fought over the same real estate: your wrist. Instead of donning two devices, Fitbit and Garmin have created a single device that combines these functions. How do these two stack up against one another? Let’s take a look.

Design

When it comes to looks, these two fitness trackers couldn’t be any different from one another. Let’s start with the Fitbit Blaze, which checks in at a sleek 8mm deep. When compared to both fitness trackers and smartwatches, the Blaze is one of the thinner wearables available on the market.

A key feature of the Fitbit Blaze is its customization capabilities. The tracker is a screen that locks into a frame which holds the band. This allows for the exchanging of straps or frames, which gives users the option to choose between leather, metal, or sports bands. There is no shortage of straps to select, as the popularity of the device means there are plenty of options available.

The touchscreen features two buttons on the right side of the display, used for stopping and starting activities. It consists of Corning Gorilla Glass, which makes it scratch resistant. Fitbit’s Blaze wristband comes in three sizes: small, large, and extra large, and comes in black, blue, and plum.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Vivoactive HR. The Garmin device could be considered clunky at best, as the black plastic hunk sits in the band, which doesn’t leave much in the way of customization. It’s thicker than its Fitbit Blaze counterpart and comes in both regular and extra large sizes.

The color screen on the Vivoactive HR offers a 205 x 148-pixel resolution. It is touchscreen and provides two buttons below the screen which can start and stop activities and workouts. With water resistance of up to fifty meters, Vivoactive HR users aren’t stuck on dry land and can jump in the pool when the mood strikes.

Users can buy the Garmin device in three colors: white, black, or special edition slate. It offers the option to swap out the band but does not include the options the Blaze has available. However, while the Vivoactive HR doesn’t come across as a smartwatch, it makes up for it by taking on the appearance of a fitness tracker.

From an overall perspective, the Fitbit Blaze comes out on top in nearly all design categories. It is lighter, thinner, and offers more customization options than the Garmin Vivoactive HR. When it is all said and done, the Fitbit Blaze is a more elegant device, which the Garmin Vivoactive is sleeker.

Sport Tracking

From a sports tracking perspective, the Vivoactive HR device stands out. Users can press the right-hand button on the bottom of the device, which provides specific activity modes like swimming, running, biking, walking, and many others. The list is exhaustive and offers many more activities than the Fitbit Blaze, which only provides a handful of workouts.

Aside from the list of activities, the most significant difference between the two devices from a sports tracking perspective is the GPS. Fitbit’s Blaze only offers ConnectedGPS, which will not track workout distances. The Vivoactive HR, on the other hand, has built-in GPS, allowing users to measure the distances of their activities.

Both the Blaze and the Vivoactive HR include built-in technology for heart rate monitoring. Fitbit’s PurePulse and Garmin’s Elevate technology are both technologies that were developed in-house. Each device is accurate between 60 and 120 beats per minute; however, at higher rates, the Blaze did not perform as well as the Vivoactive HR.

From a pure sports tracking perspective, the Garmin Vivoactive HR is the device of choice. The built-in GPS and wide variety of activities it tracks provide for a high-quality experience. If a user’s primary activity is just working out in the gym, either device will work just fine, but those serious about their sport will go with the Garmin.

Activity Tracking

Activity tracking is where the Fitbit Blaze can set itself apart from others. The Fitbit device tracks steps and sleep, and make it a point to continuously monitor the user’s heart rate, emphasizing resting heart rate. Daily goals are easily visible on screen, with essential stats like heart rate, stairs climbed, steps, and active time accessible with a simple swipe.

Garmin’s Vivoactive HR provides many details similar to the Blaze, including heart rate data, steps, and amount of time a user has been active. Users can adjust their step goals as needed, and as habits change over time, the device will begin making suggestions for new goals and activities.

The Blaze records sleep better than the Vivoactive HR. However, both include automatic sleep detection. The Fitbit presents sleep patterns and related information in a more digestible manner, but both are relatively accurate, and meet realistic night time tracking expectations.

One feature which moves the needle in Garmin’s favor is the Move Bar. The bar builds up when the user is static or stationary, and then empties out when they move around. It’s not intrusive to the user, and is beneficial in that the user can see it as the bar fills up, then can watch it empty when it is most convenient to the user.

Application

The Garmin Connect application is not the most well-developed app on the market, but it is a better option than what the Fitbit Blaze has to offer. The Vivoactive HR provides plenty of screens to view information, particularly for running or cycling where in-depth charts and graphs provide valuable workout metrics.

On the other hand, Fitbit’s application is more user intuitive but does not provide the level of detail that the Vivoactive HR does. Users heavily into their respective activities will find that post-workout feedback is severely lacking.

Additionally, the application does not provide an area for measuring workouts. This is fine for those who only exercise on occasion, but won’t work for users who require more information.

Both devices provide web applications through a browser which offers more options, but in this area the Vivoactive HR wins out. Garmin’s device platform features creating workings, the ability to plan workout routes, training plans, and more.

Smartwatch Features

For devices primarily meant for use as fitness and workout trackers, it is easy to forget that they are smartwatches as well. Each does a great job of tracking activities and fitness workouts, but how do they stack up when it comes to smartwatch features?

The Fitbit Blaze provides notifications and alerts for calls, text messages and calendar appointments from Android or iOS applications. While this isn’t a horrible list for an activity tracker, it’s counterpart provides a much more robust smartwatch interaction.

For the Garmin Vivoactive HR, any notification or message that shows up on your smartphone will display on the device. It handles nearly everything. The messages are easy to read, and the previous four are stored, and the missed ones can be recalled. Of course, the drawback to receiving every notification is the constant wrist buzzing and quicker draining battery.

Here is a rundown of some of the features each device has to offer:

Model Fitbit Blaze Garmin Vivoactive
Clock face Digital Digital
Shape surface Rectangular, Flat Rectangular, Flat
Screen size 25.38 x 19.04 mm. 20.7 x 28.6 mm
Screen resolution 180 x 240 pixels 205 x 148 pixels
Display technology LCD Sunlight visible
Screen protection Yes Corning Gorilla Glass Chemical strengthened glass
Materials used Elastomer, stainless steel Glass, silicone and polymer
Connectivity Bluetooth LE Bluetooth Smart
Able to download apps to watch Yes Yes
Smart notifications Yes Yes
Calendar Yes Yes
Weather No Yes
Music controls Yes Yes
Find my Phone feature No Yes
Mobile app Fitbit app Garmin Connect
iPhone compatible Yes Yes
Android compatible Yes Yes
Web app Yes Yes
Time and date display Yes Yes
Sync with GPS time No Yes
Automatic daylight saving time No Yes
Alarm clock Yes Yes
Timer Yes Yes
Stopwatch Yes Yes
Create your own watch face No Yes

Sensors

As mentioned previously, the Blaze has many sensors that allow it to perform as well as it does. However, it does not provide the GPS functionality that lets users leave their smartphones at home. It does, however, offer heart rate monitoring, an accelerometer, an ambient light sensor, gyroscope, and altimeter.

These sensors enable users to count their steps and track many other activities on a regular basis.

The Garmin VivoActive HR provides an accelerometer that measures movements, and unlike the Blaze, offers GLONASS and GPS sensors that will provide accurate tracking information without users needing to lug their smartphone around with them.

Here are a few additional comparisons between the two from a sensor viewpoint:

Fitbit Blaze Garmin Vivoactive
GPS                No Yes
GLONASS                 No Yes
Heart rate monitor                Yes No
Altimeter                    Yes No
Accelerometer Yes Yes
Ambient light sensor Yes No
Gyroscope Yes No
Calories burned Yes Yes
Distance Yes Yes
Sleep quality Yes Yes
Active minutes Yes Yes
Heart rate Yes No
Steps Yes Yes
Hours slept Yes Yes
Reminders to move Yes Yes
Automatic goal setting No Yes
Guided breathing Yes No

Additional Details

The Garmin Vivoactive boasts that its device can last up to twenty-one days on a single charge, but this only allows for smart features when the GPS functionality is not on. This means that no activity tracking is occurring, which allows for longer battery life. When monitoring is on, the battery life drops down to four or five days, which falls in line with its counterpart.

Here are a few more details on the Blaze and Vivoactive HR:

  Fitbit Blaze Garmin Vivoactive
Battery life 5 Days 5 days
Water resistant Safe from splashes 5 ATM
Activity tracking data storage 7 days 14 days
Price $199.95 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here) $219.99 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here)

Verdict

The Fitbit Blaze and the Garmin Vivoactive HR are two distinct devices – one for the sports and activity enthusiast, and one for those who prefer a more casual exercising experience. The Vivoactive HR caters for those that need an ecosystem which will support their non-stop fitness lifestyle, while the Fitbit Blaze meets the needs of those that are more lax about working out.

Those that are interested in a customizable experience will lean more toward the Fitbit Blaze. It’s sleek appearance, and interchangeable watch cases and straps are perfect for those that prefer style in their fitness tracker. Additionally, the Blaze is going to provide a quality mobile application that provides easy access and insight into user activities.

The Garmin Vivoactive HR, as mentioned, is going to appeal to users who take their fitness seriously. It was designed specifically for those that want to improve their swimming, running, or biking performances.

Another difference between the two devices is the application quality. The Blaze application is much better than what the Garmin Vivoactive HR offers, however, the Vivoactive HR makes up for this deficiency by providing waterproof capability and built-in GPS functionality.

There is no natural choice when it comes to these two devices, only because of the great features each offer. The differences, however, will make the decision easier for users, as those serious about swimmers and runners tend to gravitate toward the Vivoactive HR, and those more interested in design and style prefer the Fitbit Blaze.

No matter which route users decide to go, they will be making a good investment in a life of better health and fitness, which is a good decision any day of the week.

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