Fitbit Blaze vs Garmin Vivoactive (HR): Which One Delivers What You Need and is Smarter?

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Weight loss isn’t easy, and neither is choosing a tracker to help you do it– trust me, I know! Having been on the winning and losing sides of the scale, I understand first-hand how crucial and exasperating it can be to choose the right wearable. If it doesn’t fit your exact needs and propel you forward toward your goal, the  it is a wasted investment, and worse, a missed opportunity to become healthier. So while Fitbit’s new Blaze device is exceptional, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better, especially when comparing it to the Garmin Vivoactive.

Compare Fitbit Blaze vs Garmin Vivoactive

Both are quality devices, but there are some marked differences in key areas, like GPS and styling, that need to be examined. My in-depth Fitbit Blaze vs Garmin Vivoactive review will do just that. It will examine strengths and weaknesses, make an unbiased comparison and give a full breakdown of their features , all in an effort to help you choose the device that is going to get you where you need to be.

The Fitbit Blaze: Putting Fitness First

Fitbit Blaze 2016

The Blaze is being called a smartwatch, and while it is smart in how it functions, it is not a smartwatch in the traditional sense as the emphasis here is on fitness. Your typical smartwatch tracks your activities and is packed with “smart’ options, like Bluetooth, music controls and other extras, which are the main attraction.

That’s not the case with the Blaze. Even though there are “smart” features here in a really attractive package, those points take a back seat to the fitness features, which I must say, are pretty impressive. This is the first tracker I’ve seen that does more than track. It actually offers instructions and guidance via the FitStar app. That’s a big plus for anyone who struggles to lose weight or needs guidance and motivation.

For that reason alone I would recommend the Blaze to those starting out or those who need help focusing, but there are plenty of other reasons. Let’s take a look at what makes the Blaze tick:

  • Exceptional Design: The Blaze is a far cry from Fitbit’s other models thanks to fashion options that make it as trendy as the Apple Watch. To start, it has a color, LED touchscreen for an exceptional display that is easy to see, and makes it look both smart and classy.
  • FitStar App: Don’t be confused by the name- this isn’t your traditional app, or really an app at all. It is built right into the watch and you don’t need a phone or any other device to use it. Just access it from the menu and you’re ready to go. FitStar has three coach modes, with different exercises and step-by-step guides.
  • Smart Track: This is another fitness feature sure to grab your attention. Smart Track is an exercise recognition feature that recognizes activities (running, hiking, basketball, soccer, and tennis) and records stats that reflect those activities. Therefore, calories are calculated according to precise motions for more accuracy.
  • Improved PurePulse Technology: PurePulse is a Fitbit staple, measuring your active and resting heart rate 24/7 for an accurate analysis of your cardiovascular health, and now it’s even better. The Blaze is now fitted with an optical sensor, for better readings and improved stats.
  • Upgraded Smart Notifications: There are your typical notifications for calls or texts, but in an effort to put fitness first there is also an option to turn those notifications off, allowing you to work out with no distractions.
  • Price: With all these features it is surprisingly affordable at $199.

In addition, there is the option of switching out the elastomer band for leather or stainless-steel, taking the Blaze to a whole new level. Anyone who loves fashion will love the look and choices (ladies you can switch it up as often as you do your shoes!)

Garmin Vivoactive: Technology That Makes A Difference:

Garmin Vivoactive Black and White

Garmin’s Vivoactive has been around for a while, but that in no way diminishes it’s impact. The Vivoactive is a best-seller with consumers for a reason: it is a state-of the art tracker that does it all. Packed with technological smart features and fitted with a grade A GPS system, it is a a high-end device geared towards sports enthusiasts (especially runners and outdoor lovers) and those who need to stay connected.

The GPS capability is what really puts it in a class by itself, allowing you to explore new trails and make each day’s routine new and exciting. Personally, I think it helps to keep you engaged and challenges you, making weight loss and maintenance easier. It also makes exploring different areas safe and simple.

What I also like is how it caters to all different sports. It’s rugged, sturdy and water-proof design lets you run, hike and swim without a care. When you add in the smart features,  it is easy to see why hikers and businessmen alike love this device. Here are some other key feature to note:

  • GPS Navigation: The GPS feature can monitor your health stats based on the activity you perform, as well as track the area and route you’re on. It works together with the sports program you input to give you info you can’t get anywhere else. For instance, if you run it can tell you the route as well as the length and intensity of your strides.
    Basically, you’ll never get lost and you can customize and tweak your routine- a huge advantage for serious athletes, or anyone who wants to improve.
  • Smartphone Features: The Vivoactive doesn’t just alert you of an incoming message- it displays it right on the screen. Messages can be read directly and it can also be synced with your phone for social media alerts, giving you a one-of-a-kind interaction through your device.
    You can go for a walk and keep up with friends on Facebook and other media outlets if you hate being unplugged even for a minute. It also is cool for parents who need to be accessible for their kids.
  • Connect IQ: This is a cool feature that lets you customize what data pages appear on your screen instead of being stuck with the ones that are pre-set.
  • Quality Design: With a sharp OLED display and flexible, sturdy band you can wear it anywhere and do anything. but the most amazing feature is that it’s water-proof up to 50 meters, so it is a score for swimmers. Few, if any trackers let you swim and record with it, so the Vivoactive gets an A+ for this feature alone.
  • Price: For a GPS watch it is priced competitively about $200.

The Garmin Vivoactive HR: Taking Tracking to the Next Level

If the Vivoactive impressed consumers, then the Vivoactive HR will floor them. Building on Garmin’s commitment to excellence and their forward-thinking technological features, the HR just might be the quintessential smartwatch that gives users full control. With the ability to show full notifications and messages, as well as track multiple sports and monitor heart rate, this is a device everyone can appreciate.

The combination of a heart monitor with GPS and the fact that it’s waterproof really sets this device apart. Plus, as with the original Vivoactive, it also has Connect IQ and the ability to connect and display all smart notifications right on the screen.
So what else makes the Vivoactive HR so appealing?

Check out what other Customers rate about this.

Let’s take a look:

Intensity Minutes: The HR doesn’t just track your activity.  It also analyzes the quality of your workout and lets you know if you are on track in accordance with guidelines from health organizations like the American Heart Association.

This is a genius move. Many people don’t know how hard they should be exercising and this feature tells them, reducing the risk of injury and making it easier to achieve goals.

Customized Design: You can download different faces and apps to customize the look and function of your device.

I love this because if you need the numbers to be bigger or want certain apps to make exercising easier you can do it 1,2,3. Fact is, trackers tend to look similar, so this is a fun way to make it your own.

Built-in Sports Apps: The GPS feature works with programs for running, biking, swimming, skiing, snowboarding, golf, rowing, paddle boarding and more, giving you a wide range of exercises to perform and monitor.

This is big because most trackers monitor activities but don’t differentiate between them, so you don’t get the proper readings for what you’re doing. For instance, soccer works different muscles than swimming and uses different amounts of energy, which the Vivoactive HR takes into account.

Fitbit Blaze vs Garmin Vivoactive HR: Different but The Same

As you can see, these devices both have a lot to offer and it can be hard to sort it all out- but don’t worry, that’s what you have me for. To give you a full comparison we will see how they are the same, then highlight their differences. Here is a basic rundown of what they have in common:

  • Tracking: Both devices can track calories, distance, steps and record sleep cycles. This means that no matter which one you use, you can monitor your activity for each day- the difference lies in how they track.
  • Smart Notifications: Each device can alert you to incoming messages and make sure you can be contacted no matter where you are. This ensures your safety and makes it easier to concentrate on your routine.
  • Color Touchscreen: They both have a color touch screen, simplifying how it’s used and providing clarity when reading stats.
  • Fitness Features: Each one makes fitness a priority, although to different degrees. No matter which one you choose, you can perform a wide range of activities and get precise readings.

The Blaze vs the Vivoactive HR: What Sets Them Apart

  • Display Size
  • Steps, calories, distance
  • Clock
  • Sleep quality & silent alarm
  • Floors climbed
  • Caller ID
  • SMS / Text Message
  • Email & Calendar Notification
  • Continuous Heart Rate
  • GPS
  • Water
  • Price
  • 1.25"
  • Very important feature for me.
  • With Phone
  • Water Resistence
  • $$$
  • 1.13"
  • Water-Proof
  • $$$$

Now that we have pointed out their similarities, we need to compare their differences in the key areas to really figure out which one fits you best:

  • Design: The Blaze and Vivoactive are both attractive, but there are some big differences in design. The Blaze has the color LED screen that is easy to use- just swipe and all your information comes up. The quality of the images is beyond that of your average tracker. It also has a wide variety of bands to choose from, so it can be sporty or classy with a simple swap.I will say the one downside here is that it is sold with the elastomer one-size-fits-all band- you have to pay a little extra for the others.The Vivoactive has a sporty, but timeless look and could easily be mistaken for a standard watch, so it can be worn in a casual or business setting.

    It comes in several colors and their band can be swapped out for a leather one, upgrading the look a bit- again, for just bit extra. It is also water-proof and adjustable, for a bit of a more comfortable fit.

    Due to the more updated look, the Blaze gets the edge in this category.

  • Fitness Features: Each has different, but attractive fitness features that can be tailored to you. The Blaze has FitStar, Smart Track and a persistent idle alert, making health and weight your only goal. FitStar practically gives you a personal coach you can access via your device and the idle alert mimics a coach as well, bugging you–I mean buzzing you–until you start moving.Plus, Smart Track can help you fine tune your moves and with the ability to silence notifications, the Blaze is great for getting and keeping you on track.

    The Vivoactive has GPS and is waterproof, allowing you to track a wider array of activities with pin-point accuracy. You can swim, hike and play basketball, as well as get tailored readings, analysis and advice. It is a perfect companion for athletes and those who like to try new things, as it gives you the ability to conquer whatever you set out to do.

  • GPS: This is major difference between the two and an important factor to consider when buying.
    The Blaze has no built-in GPS. If you need to use GPS you have to access it through your phone. While some may not mind, if you love to run you may want to think twice as it can be cumbersome running with your phone.The Vivoactive and Vivoactive HR have an integrated GPS, making them perfect for runners or anyone else who wants to explore and elevate their work out. It allows uses to safely navigate wherever they go and gives important stats like mile splits, distance and more, as well as allowing more diversity in the types of exercises you perform.

    The edge here is clear: the Vivoactive wins due to an elite GPS system you can access directly.

  • Heart Monitoring: Heart rate monitoring is also a significant factor and done quite differently by each.
    The Blaze tracks heart rate using PurePulse. It monitors around the clock and uses high quality sensors to give accurate readings, putting it at the head of the class in my book. The new PurePylse often sends stats more frequently throughout the day.The Vivoactive does not have heart rate monitoring, but does use GPS to improve heart rate readings. GPS allows for a better analysis of stats, but is not on the same level as real heart monitors.

    One of the biggest advantages to owning th Vivoactive HR is that it has 24/7 heart rate monitoring, so you can get accurate statistics for whatever activity you do. I like this because it lets you see how intensely you are moving and how your body reacts, so you know if you are hitting you mark.

    The Blaze gets the nod here, as heart rate monitoring is the best way to tell if your routine is working or not and helps monitor your overall health.

  • Water-Proofing: The Vivoactive and Vivoactive HR are water-proof, so it is the clear-cut winner here.
  • Price: Both are priced fairly, but the Blaze is under $200 and with the heart rate monitoring that gives it a slight edge, despite the Vivoactive’s GPS.

Overall this is a tie that can only be settled by you- what you need will determine the winner here. If you are a swimmer it’s the Vivoactive. If you have commitment issues then it’s the Blaze.

At the end of the day, when you compare the Garmin Vivoactive vs Fitbit Blaze you must weigh all the factors and incidentals, as they are both incredible wearables. Reviews for both have been positive, with runners and swimmers gravitating towards the Vivoactive and fashion-minded but serious about their health people are leaning towards the Blaze.

Personally, I think they both do what matters most if you choose right: help you get in shape. they each have the features to get you over the hump and looking your best. whether you love the Blaze’s fitness features or need the Vivoactive’s GPS, know that in the end whichever you choose will take you to the next phase of your fitness journey. They are great trackers and worth the investment.

The Vivoactive HR, with a built-in heart rate sensor and GPS, is the most accurate of the three. The GPS compliments the heart sensor, so users get clear, precise readings on how they perform.

The Vivoactive HR gets the nod here, as heart rate monitoring and GPS capabilities make it easier to tell if your routine is working or not and helps monitor your overall health.

Personally, I think it’s a toss-up: The Vivoactive HR has heart rate monitoring, GPS and is waterproof, so I think the additional $50 pays for itself and makes it a real value.

All three are priced fairly, but the Blaze is $50 less and with the heart rate monitoring that may give it a slight edge over the Vivoactive HR for some consumers.

Check out the Fitbit Blaze at Amazon and why customers love it here.


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      • Ken L. says

        Bizzle, I am sure that you enjoy Blaze which is so thin and cool. Vivoactive HR is a little bit thick to me.

        • C. Holt says

          Ken, the Garmin Vivoactive 3 and the Vivoactive HR are different things. I own a Vivoactive, and I think that it is about the best watch I have ever had. The only thing is that it does not track heart rate like the HR. It is the same thickness as the Fitbit Blaze.

  1. blam says

    I have the vivoactive, and really enjoy all the different watch faces, and downloadable widgets and app available.. very happy with it!!

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