Wearables - Garmin Vivofit review

Last weekend I replaced my FitBit Force with a Garmin Vivofit. This week, I'm going to be going back to MEC to return my Garmin Vivofit. There's nothing wrong with the hardware, it's just that the software is so totally unusable and ugly that the user experience of actually syncing the data that this has collected is terrible.

For those of you who don't know, I've had problems with the FitBit line of trackers, namely the fact that I've lost three of them. I've owned two FitBit Ultra trackers, and a FitBit One. The ultra wasn't a bad tracker, but I did lose one a month after I had it. The FitBit One I had for a whole 24 hours before the belt clip caused it to hop off and go down Commercial Drive. After that point, I decided to not buy a FitBit until there was a FitBit with a display for steps and time that could go on my wrist.

I then bought the Force when it came out and I initially liked it, except for this super funky smell that came from the strap. I never showered with it, and I washed it a bit. It was clear that there was something wrong with the material. A friend of mine later showed me her FitBit rash and then I was on the lookout for it. Eventually, I started to get the FitBit rash and I decided to not let it all get disgusting and I filed for my refund. I think that if I wore the device in the shower, I'd probably end up with full-blown FitBit rash.

After the Force Rash thing, I decided to see what else was out there that fit my requirements, and I found the Garmin had their Vivofit. Here's a breakdown of the good and the bad.

The Good:
  • Always-On Display
  • Plastic strap does not smell bad
  • No need to charge the deice
  • Swappable wrist straps
The Bad:
  • Does not track sleep
  • Only syncs manually
  • Does not have any light for reading in the dark
The Ugly (why this will be returned):
  • Garmin Connect has poor UI
  • Garmin Connect clearly uses OAuth, but poorly
  • Garmin Connect Bluetooth LE code is buggy, requiring the phone to be restarted before it works again

I know that Android BLE is not exactly easy, but the fact is that you should be able to close your connections and not end up with your BLE just failing if your sync process is 100% manual. I had very high expectations for this, since Garmin is a big name when it comes to GPS and Fitness Equipment, but this really fell flat. I think at this point, I should just wait until after Google IO and see if the Moto360 will kill fitness trackers by integrating them into the watch hardware.

I'll probably talk about Hardware and Industrial Design more, since it's interesting to see how hardware startups have to make sure to have their hardware and software work well enough for the user. I ahven't seen anyone get this balanced right yet.