It's fair to say that we weren't blown away by the Vivoactive smartwatch last year. But Garmin's recently announced Vivoactive HR feels a lot better. Functionally, it shares a lot with its predecessor. It has a similar low-res color touchscreen LCD and comfortable watchband, the same built-in GPS, the same week-long battery (Garmin says eight days in activity tracking mode). But it's all in a smaller, more attractive package.
In case you hadn't guessed from the "HR" suffix, the new Vivoactive has a heart-rate monitor built in. Given last year's watch required you to don a chest strap for your daily run, that's a big convenience, and makes sense now that a lot of smartwatches have tracking built in as well.
The Vivoactive HR is still a niche device. It's meant for fitness enthusiasts. If you're the sort of person that wants a activity tracker that also does notifications, rather than a smart watch that does activity tracking, the changes Garmin's made this time around make a lot of sense. We've only had a fleeting moment with it so far, but things look promising so far. It's due out in Q2 for $250, at which point we'll hopefully have spent a lot more time with it.