Spent 15 minutes with five Apple Watch bands, left Apple Store and ordered a Garmin Vivoactive

Matthew Miller made a try-on appointment with an Apple Genius to make an informed purchase decision. After his testing, he decided to ordered something that better fits his needs.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer
(Image: Garmin)
Since I am in New York City for the week, I decided to visit the 24-hour Fifth Avenue Apple store late last night and have an Apple Genius take me through the formal Apple Watch fitting process.

After trying on five different bands and both the aluminum and stainless steel Apple Watch, I went back to my hotel room and ordered a Garmin Vivoactive.

I had originally planned to preorder an Apple Watch, but several factors changed my mind. Now that I am using the Apple iPhone 6 Plus again, I figured the best way to make an Apple Watch purchase decision was to visit an Apple Store to see if it was the smartwatch for me.

The aluminum Apple Watch Sport model is extremely light and I could hardly even tell it was on my wrist. The stainless steel Apple Watch model felt a bit more substantial and I personally preferred it over the Sport model.

The 42mm version fit my wrist perfectly so then I was just trying to decide on a band. The sport band was smooth and didn't appear to be a lint catcher, the link bracelet slid around too much for my tasts, the Milanese loop felt and looked good, the classic buckle was fine, and the leather loop just looks ugly to me.

I was thinking the 42mm stainless steel Apple Watch with Milanese loop and a sport band was what I would buy if they were available right then and there.

While the watches used during the fitting were in demo mode, there are other almost fully functional models sitting around that you can interact with via the button, crown, and touch.

The UI is smooth and everything seems to flow quite nicely. It reminded me of the way I felt when I used the very first iPhone and compared it to my Windows Mobile devices.

However, I also questioned why I would want to interact so much with such a small screen on my wrist when I had a massive display and long lasting battery in my hand or pocket. Without integrated GPS I couldn't use it for running or biking, the battery has to be charged each night so you can't use it to track sleep, and it only works with my Apple iPhone.

The Garmin Vivoactive just started shipping and after reading the excellent DC Rainmaker review it looks like this device fits my needs better. I've been using and enjoying the Fitbit Surge, but it is a bit chunky and has very limited smartwatch functionality.

Garmin's Vivoactive allows the installation of applications via its Connect IQ store. Various notifications and apps are supported out-of-the box as well. You can connect your Android or iPhone device with the Vivoactive, similar to the Pebble Time.

Reported battery life of three weeks for daily usage and 10+ hours of GPS monitoring on the Garmin Vivoactive is a major benefit as well.

The Apple Watch is an impressive piece of technology, but I cannot justify the extremely high cost of entry and outrageous price of the bands. The Garmin Vivoactive is only $250 and looks to meet my desire for a GPS sport watch, daily activity tracker, and basic smartwatch. We could see many more apps come to it through the Connect IQ store as well.

Stay tuned for my full review of the Garmin Vivoactive after I spend some time on the road with it.

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