If you like counting steps and monitoring heart rates, you’ll love ASUS VivoWatch SP. This activity tracker is designed for the fitness-minded who are more concerned with the quality and accuracy of their data rather than the quantity. The VivoWatch SP leads the market in this regard; it offers advanced activity tracking and heart rate monitoring while maintaining a slim profile and long battery life—the VivoWatch SP’s predecessor, the VivoSmart, has garnered praise for its accuracy and is still being used by many fitness fanatics today.
For those who have been following the wearable technology market over the past few years, it is clear that there has never been a better time to be a consumer. It is no longer a question of whether or not a wearable is useful, it is whether or not you even need one at all. With devices like the ASUS VivoWatch SP, the answer to that question is a resounding yes.
- Good workmanship and appearance
- A well-designed portable health device
- Beautiful stripes and an extra size on the inside
- A terminal charger is a smart idea
- Energy-saving display that extends battery life
- The mobile application needs a major overhaul/repair
- Not for users looking for a portable device focused on social needs.
As for portable devices in general, there are too many these days and consumers choose what fits into their budget as long as it works as intended. But the fact is that these laptops vary in price, and believe me, just because one is cheap doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better.
In our opinion, there are two types of wearable devices: true smartwatches and wearable fitness devices. In general, these products do one thing better than another, but never both. The ASUS VivoWatch SP is not a true smartwatch with features like the ability to talk from the watch, etc., but it is a true wearable fitness watch, and a good one at that. To be fair, it’s no match for fitness-oriented brands like Garmin. Here’s a review of the ASUS VivoWatch SP.
Looks and feels
The Vivowatch SP looks like a real watch, and a very thin one at that. It’s getting harder and harder to find a wearable that isn’t flashy and doesn’t look like a Diesel watch with a big face, which I like, but it’s not something I want to wear every day. In addition, ASUS has opted for a glossy finish all around, with a brushed aluminum chassis. As for the band, the Vivowatch SP uses a medical-grade silicone band, which is slightly different from the regular band. Instead of putting the belt in a loop, the rest of the belt falls into the slot when worn, giving it a neater look. Remember that this increases reliability, as the heart sensors need to work properly – hence the extra reliability. Overall, it’s a very simple looking device, and yes, it has a touchscreen.
I have worn it every day for the past two weeks without any discomfort or allergic reaction. An extra length is included so users with smaller wrists can easily swap them out. Since the bracelets can be interchanged, you can always choose a leather bracelet online or a bracelet of your choice to make it different and more beautiful, depending on the occasion in which you wear it.
What I liked about the Vivowatch SP was the simplicity and intelligence of the watch. No need to beat around the bush, it’s very simple. The watch has functions on the front, and you can access them all with a simple swipe left or right – 10 screens in total, including the watch face.
Unlike lifestyle wearables that have a heart rate and claim to track anything under 100 ringgit (which is still compared to normal consumers, though that’s very unfair), the Vivowatch SP has additional sensors to track not only heart rate but synergy as well.
- 2 x ECG sensors and 2 x BCP sensors
- Gravity, GPS and altimeter sensors
You may be wondering what this ECG and PCA sensor is – I will explain and make it as simple as possible.
What are ECG and BCP?
Here’s how. Reading your heart rate is not an easy task and you need a sensor called an ECG sensor. This sensor now measures the electrical impulses of your heart through electrodes placed in contact with your skin. On the back of the Vivowatch SP is the heart rate sensor, and the metal plate around it serves as the electrode. Unlike medical devices that use multiple wires to get accurate readings, this device uses only one wire. This is not to say that it is not accurate, but it is accurate enough to get accurate readings. With this value, the transducer calculates the number of beats per minute based on the R-peak on the ECG.
The PPG is a very different sensor and should not be confused with the ECG. PPG, short for photoplethysmography, measures changes in blood volume by light transmission. The sensor projects a light and tries to get a reflection (similar to SONAR, but here light is used). You can count your heart rate with the PPG, but it is not accurate. But do you know where it is used instead?
To check the O2 pulse. When you go to the hospital or clinic, doctors attach a clip to your finger that looks like a device called a pulse oximeter, which measures the oxygen level in your pulse. That’s exactly what the PPG sensor on the side of the Vivowatch SP does. Enough of the introduction, let’s get back to the review.
Health monitoring functions
The sensors in the Vivowatch SP, as mentioned, push the boundaries of health tracking, not only by heart rate, but also by other parameters such as. :
- Exercise heart rate and heart rate transit time, where ECG and PPG sensors work together to calculate heart rate transit time and measure heart rate, respectively.
- Body Harmony Index: to determine the sympathetic and parasympathetic responses of the body, calculated from the vitality index and the relaxation index for one minute. It shows how high your stress level is.
For the rest, you get features like activity data, including a pedometer, reminders to get up, get on the floor, a calorie counter, stress levels, sleep quality, and tracking of women’s periods, which I consider a big win because there are very few trackers geared towards women. Unfortunately, we were unable to evaluate this post, and I think you know why.
And if you use an Apple iPhone or Android, you can sync with the fitness app for both platforms: Google Fit and Apple Health.
Sometimes health-focused wearable devices in general can be overwhelming because of their complexity – especially halfway through this review, I’m sure at least one of you must have felt that way because of the jargon in the article, which I understand, and it’s largely up to the brand to make it as user-friendly as possible. In this case, ASUS has been rigorous in its approach. Unlike other portable devices of the past that don’t guide you or give you information about what exactly you’re doing, ASUS has made the whole process mandatory from the start when you set it up.
You don’t need to set up the app to use the VivoWatch SP, but you do need it to sync and see your progress. Unfortunately, during the time I used it, I found that the app is not very successful because it does not sync very well, sometimes the simple app update is slow and does not sync. The required data is displayed during synchronization. Honestly, the app should be better, and that’s my biggest problem with the VivoWatch SP. ASUS has promised that it will be improved in future updates, so I agree with that.
As for tracking data on a portable device – where to start, because it’s pretty good. Overall, tracking with the VivoWatch SP is better than I expected. Steps detection, which is a big problem for most wearable devices when they detect extra steps just by shaking your wrist. It follows with a deviation of two steps more or less. That is a pretty accurate number, which you can accept because it is very realistic. Viewing the various readings in the watch itself is very easy, simply slide to the appropriate page to view the readings. A simple guide to reading the O2 heart rate reading is a good thing, as some users don’t know how to use it. As an owner of a Fitbit Sense and with experience with Garmin wearables in the past, the VivoWatch generally offers good and accurate tracking. This is definitely much better than the portable devices with large tracking errors.
The Vivowatch SP’s screen won’t appeal to users immersed in the world of LEDs, but it won’t matter to fitness-minded users. The screen is of the same order as the Garmin Fenix 6X, which has a similar low-resolution screen, but it works well enough. Despite this, the VivoWatch is beautiful and has enough customization options on the watch face to keep you busy every day of the week. On a clear day, it’s easy to see, and when it’s darker, the backlight can be turned on at the touch of a button, and don’t worry, the light won’t burn your eyes.
Battery life and charging
Instead of a magnetic charger, we opted for a clip-on charger that charges via the pogo pins on the back. This seems like a more reasonable solution, as my own experience is that devices attached with magnets lose the conductivity of the pogo pin over time, whereas the Vivowatch’s charger is a mini-clip that attaches to the connector. The charge time is pretty quick considering it takes about 30-35 minutes to go from zero to 100. As for battery life, the brand claims the watch will last about 14 days, which is equivalent to 2 weeks, but in my use I managed to use it for a little over a week (about 9 days) and the watch just went out, so I had to charge it.
The good thing is that it doesn’t take long to charge, that’s one thing, and number two, because they chose a low power screen that doesn’t consume much battery, 8 days of battery life is still a win in my books, and I give it a B+.
The ASUS Vivowatch SP surprised me with its potential, and as someone who would rather buy a watch to monitor their health and rely on their phone for messages and calls, this is the device I want on my wrist. If you expect this smartwatch to be socially oriented, it’s not for you.
There are some things that need to be improved, like the app design, and overall it needs to be improved, maybe a collaboration with other fitness apps like Strava would make it more appealing, but hey, for RM1499, considering I’m getting something that is almost on par with Garmin and Suunto in the fitness world, it’s money well spent and I sincerely recommend it to consumers. I can’t wait to see what ASUS brings to the healthcare market.
Thanks to ASUS Malaysia for providing the VivoWatch SP for our review.
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