Garmin goes after Apple, Fitbit with new line of smartwatches

Garmin. Remember them?

Chances are that if you had a dashboard GPS mapping unit in your car a few years ago, it had the Garmin name on it. The company hasn’t disappeared — it still makes GPS technology devices for everything from cars and boats, to planes and your wrist.

Yes, that’s right. Garmin does make fitness devices and wearables. But with all the noise made by the likes of Apple, with its Apple Watch, and Fitbit, with everything that it puts out, one could be forgiven for not putting Garmin into the smartwatch conversation.

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Garmin is looking to change that. On Thursday, the company unveiled a new family of fitness smartwatches intended to compete better with rivals, both in terms of capabilities and price.

Garmin is branding its new smartwatches under the “Vivo” tag, with Vivo coming from the Latin for “within the living.”  Each watch has a second part to its name that is, ostensibly, meant to reflect the device’s purpose.

There’s the Vivomore HR, which is Garmin’s first hybrid touchscreen smartwatch. The “more” comes from the watch combining a traditional analog watchface with a sub-display that is digital.

There’s the Vivosport, which, like the name suggests, is designed more for fitness functions. It also can operate for up to seven days in its smartwatch mode, and can run up to eight hours when put into GPS mode.

Finally, there’s the Vivoactive 3, which is probably the crown jewel of the bunch. The watch comes with GPS tracking,  a heart rate monitor, seven days of battery life in smartwatch mode, and 13 hours when constant GPS tracking is enabled. The Vivoactive 3 comes in a choice of three different colors, and has support for both of its built-in sports apps for up to 15 different activities.

And it also comes with Garmin Pay, which is Garmin’s own contact-free payment system that lets users pay for things from their Visa or MasterCard accounts via a number of U.S. banks.

Unfortunately, you can’t use Garmin Pay to purchase one of the new Vivo smartwatches (You have to buy the watch first before you can link Garmin Pay to your credit card account). But, if you want what Garmin is selling, the new watches are are listed at between $199.99 and $329.99, depending on the model.

Photo: Several versions of Garmin’s new line of smartwatches. (Courtesy Garmin)

 

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