Garmin Venu Review: Elite Version Of The Vivoactive 4
, by Sona, 9 min reading time
The Garmin Venu smartwatch focuses on sports and is all set to compete with the Apple Watch. It is the first smartwatch from Garmin with an AMOLED touchscreen display. Garmin watches are in general a great option for sports lovers and Garmin Venu has stuck to the tradition.It is sold at 40,000 INR. The price is lower than the price of Apple Watch Series 5 but is higher than its main competitor, Fitbit Versa 2. The company, rather than going for Google Wear OS, has used the Fenix and Forerunner experience to build a stylish touchscreen smartwatch with the mechanics untouched.
Even though Garmin Venu is built to compete with the Apple Watch, the design has not departed too much from the Forerunner and Vivoactive series. Venu is not remotely close to the Apple Watch in its design or in the material used to build it. It is basically a more elite version of the Vivoactive 4 that was simultaneously announced with Venu.The bezel on Garmin Venu is thinner and has a premium feel compared to the Vivoactive series. It is a unisex smartwatch with 43mm case size. Made of polymer, it weighs very less and has a range of colors to choose from -- blue, gold, black and grey with rose gold and black. It weighs only 46.5g. It is so light that you will not even feel that you are wearing it. The 20 mm straps can be swapped.The availability of buttons and UI are different for each Garmin device which causes an inconsistent experience. This depends majorly on whether a touchscreen is offered or not. In Garmin Venu, there are two buttons on the right-hand side. The touchscreen interface is not a user-friendly experience and can get complicated on the tiny screen and many false presses can happen.Daily stats can be viewed by swiping down the screen. The menu can be expanded by a tap and the physical button will help you exit to the home screen. During workout, swiping up and down will bring more data to you. The experience can be a tad difficult for beginners and during intense workouts. If you arrange the most used features in a convenient way, swiping gets a lot easier. Shortcuts to important features can be set such that it can be accessed by swiping left or right. The touchscreen sensitivity is adjustable.
Garmin Venu has the best display among all the other Garmin fitness watches till date. The touchscreen is 1.2-inch and has a resolution of 390x390 pixels. The AMOLED screen offers an easy to read, clear screen with lively colors and deep blacks like seen on recent Apple Watches.This display brought to Garmin is altogether a different one from the transflective memory-in-pixel(MIP) seen on other recent Garmin devices. The latter needed backlighting to see the screen in dark. The text displayed on the screen can be read without much difficulty. Whether it be a notification or checking data while working out, it can be done without hassle.Garmins display choices are special in the sense that with lesser technology, the always-on display is included without affecting battery life. In Venu, even with the always-on feature, battery life is five days. The always-on display, when not in use, turns to a minimalist watch face. It is designed such that only a limited area of the screen is lit. This is similar to what is found in Apple Watch Series 5. The watch face goes on when your wrist is raised.
Sports and activity tracking
Garmin smartwatch is inseparable from sports tracking. The physical button on the top will take you to the list of sports tracking available on the watch, which can be customized. Indoor and outdoor running, cycling, treadmill, strength training, cardio, golf, skiing and treadmill are among the 20 pre-set activities. There are options to set customized indoor and outdoor workouts. It is the same kind of tracking you will find on other Garmin devices such as Vivoactive 4.Metrics is where Garmin stands taller compared to its competitors. The algorithm used in Venu is the same as the one in Fenix. The readings and feedback on Fenix 6S and Venu are found to be similar during HIIT sessions. This means sports tracking is indeed a serious business for Venu. The default screens display limited data. However, every activity can be customized and multiple pages can be added for the required data.Customization is useful to view lap times and other metrics for sessions like HIIT. The rep tracking which is automatic for strength training is a hit or miss. However, you can edit it later on. The Connect app is the absolute source for your fitness and health data which are derived from GPS, motion sensors and heart rate monitor. It provides all the information and insights needed for you. In addition to activity tracking, the Connect app can design new customized workouts, frame courses as well as create challenges.The Garmin Venu sports smartwatch also tracks steps, body battery(your energy level for workouts), sleep, respiration, calories burned, pulse ox and VO2 Max. The daily activity data can be viewed by swiping the home screen down and tapping on each menu for more descriptive information. Here, you can also compare your days data to a weeks or even months. These features are undoubtedly brilliant once you get used to it.
New animated workouts are available on Garmin Venu and Vivoactive 4. In addition to guided step-by-step workouts, a human figure will execute exercises which you can see and follow -- whether it be yoga or strength training. It is of great help for beginners to understand postures correctly and execute flawlessly.The haptic feedback, reps required and written description of the next exercise, all works impressively. The real-time heart rate can be viewed on the screen. A swipe on the home screen provides heart rate zones, rate of respiration and many other stats.
Heart rate accuracy and GPS tracking
Garmin, in general, has a GPS that performs well. The GPS on Venu works pretty well without complaints for runs and cycling. The heart rate readings on Garmin Venu are closer to the readings found on Polar H10, which is regarded as the most reliable chest strap. The readings for an elliptical workout were 182bpm on Polar H10 and 185bpm on Venu.The data on both the devices were similar for long and steady runs as well. The good thing is that Garmin Venus on board ANT+ support allows you to add a chest strap in case you are particular about accuracy. Garmins smartwatches are not too accurate underwater. However, the OLED display works perfectly underwater and the color of the data display can be changed too.
Garmins claim that it is a 24/7 smartwatch is proved by the sleep tracker packed in it. It tracks your sleep stages, pulse ox, movement and respiration rate. There are many graphs that represent your sleep data in Garmin Connect.It is a good sleep tracker compared to many others. Garmin has added more data to the already available ones. The Sleep Score from Fitbit gives a straightforward and actionable outcome with a lot of sleep tracking.
Hydration and body battery
The new feature, hydration logging tool allows you to add the quantity of water you consume with a single tap. Also, the loss of fluid through sweat is estimated for every activity you log. A moderate level of yoga for 75 minutes is found to lose 453ml of sweat. These features make sure you are consuming sufficient water regularly.Garmin Connect has a fluid net as well. The feature, body battery, was introduced in the year 2018. It helps you learn how energetic you are for activity based on your stress level, rest, physical strain and seep.The measurement of heart rate variability ranging from 0 to 100 gives insight on whether you can indulge in some heavy exercise or go for an easy workout. The low value of the body battery implies you need a light nap which will get you back on your feet. The data on body battery gain versus drain helps you understand your energy level throughout the day.
Respiration rate and breathwork
Similar to the options available in Fitbit and Apple, a new breathwork app has been added by Garmin. It is seen as one of the actual activities and is placed within the UI. Many options of various lengths such as Relax and Focus to Tranquility are offered in this. It gives haptic feedback depending on how you breathe in, out or hold.You can perform activities without staring at the watch. All these features together are clubbed with the new feature on 24/7 respiration rate. It measures the breaths per minute throughout the day, sleep and a few workouts. The breathwork exercises are capable of bringing the respiration rate down when performing mindful exercises.Since 2017, Garmin smartwatches have on board HRV-based stress trackers. The increase in stress level can be brought down with breathwork exercise.
Battery and charging
The presence of OLED screens, in general, will reduce battery life drastically. Surprisingly even with the AMOLED screen, Venu performs pretty well. With Venu, you get 5 days of battery life on smartwatch mode and with GPS and music, it goes on for 6 hours. Battery life reduces to four days with Bluetooth music playback, GPS off, always-on display at work and smartphone connection.The always-on display and pulse ox tracking enabled continuously, battery life diminishes quite fast. Recharging the smartwatch through the mains takes approximately 80 minutes.However, considering the battery life, Venu is better than the Apple Watch. With the new display enhancements, the battery offered is a commendable work from Garmin.
Smartwatch featuresSmartwatch features in Venu are similar to the standard ones used in other Garmin smartwatches. Notifications from your preferred applications are pushed through and will stay within its own segment in the UI.While Android users can respond to text messages, iOS users lack that facility. The AMOLED screen does not promise any media on the smartwatch. You will need your phone to view images and videos. For music, Venu supports third-party apps such as Amazon Music, Deezer, Spotify and iHeartRadio.Once a Spotify account is downloaded on your smartwatch, a pair of headphones is all you need to sync music for offline playback. Another great feature on board is Garmin Pay which frees you from your wallet.
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