Fitbit and Apple are two of the most prominent players when it comes to fitness trackers and smartwatches, but Garmin, which has been around since 1989 and hosts high-end activity trackers, is still in the game. Take a look at Venu2Plus, the latest active lifestyle fitness tracker / smartwatch, to see how it works as a training companion.
I confess, I’m generally at #TeamApple when it comes to personal tech. I bought 100% of the ecosystem. But I thought it was time to find out what life would be like outside of Appleverse’s infinite loop, so Venu2Plus was the first destination on that journey.
If you’re not tied to a particular phone ecosystem and need a tracker to record almost everything you burn calories, the $ 449 Venu2 Plus has a lot to offer. However, given its extremely complex interface and smartwatch capabilities, most people would prefer to use the Apple Watch, Galaxy Watch, or Fitbit.
Garmin’s luxury Venu 2 Plus looks great. It combines the style of a smartwatch with the toughness of a sports tracker and long battery life. We tested a black model of stainless steel with a great OLED display in deep black and vibrant colors. This was especially helpful for being clearly visible on bright and sunny days.
The Venu 2 Plus is 43.6 mm in diameter and has a 33 mm screen and a stainless steel back cover. It weighs 51 grams, much heavier than the aluminum Apple Watch 7 (38.8 grams). In smartwatch mode, which doesn’t track workouts using GPS, Garmin states that Venu 2 Plus lasts up to 9 days on a full battery. This turned out to be fairly accurate.
Overall, the watch is sleek and sexy, and if it wasn’t for the silicone strap, you could wear this in a formal setting. (For fairness, you can change the band. If you want to be flashy, we recommend the Ritche Quick Release Leather Watch Band or the Ldfas Steel Link Band.)
In addition to the touch screen, the 2Plus has three buttons. The buttons at the top start and stop the activity, press and hold for 3 seconds to see the customized shortcut screen. Holding it any further will attempt to initiate an emergency call to the first responder and the emergency contacts you have set. Press the button below to return to the previous screen, but you can also use it as a lap counter. Press and hold to move to the settings. (See below for details.)
However, the biggest advantage of Venu 2 Plus over previous Venu 2 models is that it can be connected to a phone. This allows you to make and receive calls and access your phone’s smart assistants (Siri, Google Assistant, Samsung’s Bixby). This is the purpose of the middle button. Pressing this will trigger the smartphone assistant to play audio from your watch. I didn’t have an Android device to test it, but using it with Siri … was ok. But, of course, Siri isn’t deeply integrated into the Apple platform.
It integrates well with your phone, but it doesn’t break new ground. In addition to most of the table stake call features these days, Android smartphones receive text messages containing simple pre-made answers such as “yes”, “no”, “call”. You can also reply. later. However, this does not work for iPhone users. Apple wants you to buy an Apple Watch, so third-party replies to text messages are not allowed. Of course, this isn’t Garmin’s fault, but it limits the functionality of the iPhone.
It has many sensors. GPS, barometer, compass, thermometer, gyroscope, accelerometer, ambient light, heart rate, pulse oximeter are all available. This means you can track almost everything you do and support about 25 activity types out of the box. (There are more than 1,400 additional activities available for download.) For some exercises such as strength training and yoga, you can watch useful videos showing the right shape for your watch, but finding these little videos can be a hassle. is. For example, to see the proper form video for a dumbbell fly exercise, you had to press the side button, swipe to the strength training section, and then tap. 6 times Eventually display the video through a chain of icons.
However, one of the great health tracking features is health snapshots. This requires reading key health statistics for 2 minutes, including average heart rate, breathing, stress levels, and heart rate variability. It also includes what Garmin calls a body battery. This is an energy monitoring score that combines how sleep, stress, and exercise affect training preparation.
Speaking of batteries, this doesn’t stop. Well, that would be the case, but only after about 9 or 10 days, as Garmin promised. It will also be charged immediately. I forgot to charge it once and ran it until it was empty. It was charged up to 60% in about 45 minutes and I couldn’t control it for the rest of the day.
Like most fitness technologies today, gadgets don’t exist independently. You need an app, perhaps some store to add new watch faces and activities, and some way to upgrade. Connecting to a smartphone is not surprising as it is the best way to view and analyze the large amount of data these fitness trackers collect.
Unfortunately, the Garmin Connect app on the phone has many layers of nested menus that are difficult to navigate, and it’s incomprehensible. Changing the preferences wasn’t intuitive, so I had to tell Google how to change the watchface after installing the watchface and deciding that I didn’t like it. (You have to do it with the clock. You can’t change the clock face with the phone app like the Apple Watch.) It’s confusing. Some settings need to be done on the mobile phone and some need to be done on the watch itself. However, there seems to be no real clue as to which settings need to be changed where.
Navigating the Venu 2 Plus itself isn’t a bad thing, but compared to the fluid simplicity of the Apple Watch, the basics of swiping the screen, breaking buttons, starting a workout, etc. I often look for. I wasn’t sure if I would use the side buttons or the touch screen. Often I tried both just to see what would happen. I was frustrated.
The app store for devices accessed through the Garmin Connect IQ app is even worse. It seems to be even more free than the early Google Play store, and there are many very complex watch faces for fitness geeks who need data, data, and other data. I’m scuba diving, but the dive computer interface is simpler than some of these watch faces. I just want to know how far I ran, how long it took, when I started, and when I stopped. If you need more data, I would like to find a phone that is easy to find and interpret.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t any basic watch faces, but they are that too Too little data simplifies. Finding the right balance is difficult.
The store also offers downloadable activities and a mish mash of what Garmin calls “data fields.” Most of these duplicate each other’s functionality. Searching for a specific one can be tedious and the entire store can benefit from better classification and sophistication. For example, there is no way to find just a list of all downloadable activities. You have to find exactly what you are looking for — for example kayaking — and you need to get a lot of irrelevant results for your troubles.
Finally, there are lots of Russian and Chinese apps, watch faces and data fields to download. Garmin is an international company with many legitimate coders in both countries who enjoy fitness and want to make a living by selling fruit for their skills. Approximately 99.9% are likely to be legal, but those that can’t shake the feeling that the Garmin app store doesn’t have real quality control and may have access to their intimate locations and health data. I was worried about installing. Call me a delusion, but this is the world we live in.
Overall, the software side of the watch is disappointing. Venu 2 Plus is essentially a fitness tracker rather than a smartwatch, so much of this complexity and hassle exists. For example, the Apple Watch workout app has some basic fitness features, but intensive data acquisition and demo videos are left to third-party developers such as SmartGym. However, Venu 2 Plus doesn’t have the CPU capabilities or developer community to do this.
Garmin Venu 2 Plus is a great looking smartwatch / fitness tracker mashup that can take days to record data about almost any activity you can imagine. But to be honest, I don’t know who this is for. Apple users are attracted to the Apple Watch. Android users may be better suited for Venu2 Plus, but you can also opt for the better Galaxy Watch 4 or get the cheaper Fitbit Inspire 2. You’re back from one of the best smartwatches or the best fitness trackers.
|Compatible phones||iPhone, Android||iPhone||Android|
|Size options||40mm, 43mm, 45mm||41mm, 45mm||40mm, 44mm|
|weight||51 grams||32-37 grams (41 mm model); 38.8-45.1 grams (45 mm model)||30.3 grams (44 mm), 25.9 grams|
|screen||AMOLED, optional always-on mode||Always-on Retina LTPOOLED display||Always on Super AMOLED display|
|Battery life||Smartwatch mode: up to 9 days. Battery saver: up to 10 days. GPS mode with music: up to 8 hours.GPS mode without music: up to 24 hours||Up to 18 hours||Up to 40 hours|
|Connectivity||GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi||LTE, UMTS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, BeiDou||Bluetooth, Wi-Fi|
|sensor||Barometric altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer, ambient light sensor, pulse oxydensitometer, blood oxygen saturation monitor||Compass, always-on altitude meter, blood oxygen sensor, electric heart sensor, 3rd generation optical heart sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, ambient light sensor, Apple Pay, GymKit||Accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, ambient light, compass, optical heart rate sensor, electrical heart sensor, biological impedance analysis|