Garmin or Fitbit

Tests done and concluded

Should I go for Garmin or Fitbit? As mentioned earlier, I wanted to give the Garmin Vivosport GPS a second chance.
During several days I used both Garmin (left hand) and Fitbit (right hand), comparing each morning the data.
Garmin has indeed improved its software and the sleep tracking is totally updated.
My final choice is … the Fitbit Alta HR. The Garmin is back in the box; if the Fitbit dies, I might still use it.
The choice is very personal, for some the Garmin could still be the first choice.
See here the details.

Three series of tests

See the different screenshots of the Garmin and Fitbit for 3 dates: 29 July, 30 July, 31 July.

29 July

30 July

31 July

You can check the date and band type in the name of the picture, with the pointer on top of the thumbnail to see the filename.

Sleep tracking

The Fitbit is very sensitive and often counts as “awake” when I am actually sleeping. But I can check the details and I usually add like at least half of the “awake” to the sleep total. The advantage of the Fitbit: great detail and pretty accurate for sleep start and sleep end. The Garmin does record “awake” and is overall much less sensitive. Start and stop are however not always right: if I wake up and stay in bed to check my mobile, for Garmin that is still “bedtime”, not for Fitbit.
I also like more the overview of the days for the sleep tracking.
As sleep tracking is for me the focus, Fitbit wins.

See as example for reading on 29 July:

Fitbit: start 00:24 – stop 08:03; asleep 6H40 and awake 59 min, so that is some 7H20 sleep for me
Garmin: asleep 7H57 (no start stop in the pics)

And for reading on 31 July:

Fitbit: start 23:03 – stop 06:54; asleep 7Hr9 awake 42 min so total sleep for me like 7H30
Garmin: start 23:14 – stop 07:22 (wrong!) asleep 8H6 – awake 2 min

Stairs climbed

I am interested in this reading but as said earlier, Garmin totally under-reports, so useless. I do a lot of stairs…


See readings 30 July:

Fitbit 7,016 steps
Garmin 4,232 steps.

Why the big difference, no idea. I do trust more the Fitbit readings.
Fitbit gives a clear overview on many days for the steps; Garmin does not, you need to check day by day.
Fitbit wins here for me.

Resting heart rate and heart rate

Fitbit gives a much more clear overview for the past days of the resting heart rate and it allows you easily to check heart rate for every day, in detail.
Garmin does not give a good overview, one needs to check day by day. The only advantage (not important for me): it show record for cycling. Fitbit is not really reliable for cycling (my rides are also pretty short).


For some users the many sophisticated features of Garmin, such as to track cycling (using the GPS) and other activities might appeal. As I usually do short bike rides, switching on and off the GPS is too much trouble.
For me the focus remains with sleep and resting heart rate.
Thus Fitbit it is…

From Garmin to Fitbit again

Looking for the “best”

How I went from Garmin to Fitbit again…
As I was totally disappointed by Fitbit, I thought this time I would do some research and chose the best and most suitable health band for me; little did I know it would end up with Fitbit again!

After a lot of googling, the choice fell on the Garmin Vivosport GPS. So I thought I was clever.
The Garmin was  RMB 1299 and I registered the band on 20 June 2018.
It took quite some efforts to understand and use the many features, I could even register my bike ride, check the time and distance etc. Well, all a bit too complicated for me, as my rides are rather modest.

Website horrors

The same horrors with the Garmin websites, as with Fitbit. As I am normally either on a Chinese, Korean or Japanese IP address, all came only in those languages with no way to change the language and country. Also as a result, totally erratic registration and password issues. Actually when I tried now to use the Garmin again, password did work on a Belgian server but not in China. What a mess. I was forced to re-register the band (yeah with another email address because this they apparently knew about the other one used). All from scratch. A real ordeal.

Sleep tracker not working

The Garmin Vivosport is a great tool to track your fitness, exercises, biking, … Even a bit too complex and complicated for my taste, but surely impressive.

But my major focus is on sleep tracking as well as resting heart rate, heart rate, among other. As I found out soon, sleep tracking was a major problem with Garmin, it fails to correctly monitor your sleep. It seems that the software was not working properly, as I found out in the many discussion forums complaining about it. And a solution was apparently not to be expected anytime soon.
For me, the Vivosport was a total disappointment and I stopped using it.
Right now as mentioned, I took the Garmin again out of the box to see if the problem remains.

Back to Fitbit

In life never say never. With the total disappointment of Garmin, new search.
So I settled for the Fitbit Alta HR, cost in promotion RMB 988.
The band is really simple but meets exactly my main requirements: Sleep monitoring, resting heart rate, and less relevant for me step counting (because I bike every day and that does not register). The only feature I miss is counting stairs (I do quite a lot…).


I did then the tests with both Vivosport and the Alta, each on a different arm. Results were pretty obvious, as you can see in the pics dated 2 August 2018 and 5 October 2018. The Vivosport is totally wrong and for no apparent reason.
Overall the Alta is rather correct for sleep monitoring, while the Alta often marks some sleep as “awake”. But this I can check easily: registered “sleep” 7 hours and “awake 1 hour: so I know real sleep was close to 8 hours if I know I did not get up in the middle of the night. It also does register an afternoon nap if it is at least close to one hour.

More testing

After some frustrating trial and error, a new registration, the Vivosport is working again. Still some issues remain. Now comparing, one on each hand, the first readings:


Still further improving settings on the Garmin, not easy. Work in progress.
It seems Garmin did improve the software.

Stairs climbed

As for stairs climbed, the band is totally underreporting, yesterday I climbed close to 30 floors but it barely registered. That seems to be an issue with most bands. Doing a search it seems many people complain about this.

Says Garmin:
Your device uses an internal barometer to measure elevation changes as you climb floors. A floor climbed is equal to 3 m. Locate the small barometer holes on the back of the device, near the charging contacts, and clean the area around the charging contacts. The barometer performance may be affected if the barometer holes are obstructed. You can rinse the device with water to clean the area. After cleaning, allow the device to dry completely.
In my case I found one small hole only and on the other side of the charging contacts. Maybe because my model is older?

I will test for a few days and report back!

More sports for the old – and the young

“Sport for all: China’s plan to cope with ageing society”
See the article 24 June 2016 in SCMP:

“It is a shift in mindset as encouraging exercise is seen not only as a route to Olympic glory, but to a healthier and economically more productive nation.”
Not only seniors need more exercise, the young people are becoming more and more obese (and with bad eyesight).
Still sports are not so popular as parents do not encourage their kids to participate: they should just keep to studies, 7/7. As a result sports such as soccer, rugby and other fail to take off. Just pumping money in soccer is not enough.
Seniors are actually often exemplary as they do exercise on the streets and I see grannies coming back on their bikes, loaded with vegetables bought on the market.
I normally only use bicycle (or subway) in Beijing but as I have said publicly, riding a bike is tough with the traffic chaos and the total lack of enforcement of traffic rules, a sad joke.

See my comment on SCMP:
First China needs to change its typical “face problem” and jump on a bike or walk instead of taking the car. I am told it is “loss of face” to go to an important meeting on a bike, or to visit a 5-star hotel. I ignore it completely but most Chinese have this (stupid) issue, while even ministers in Europe use a bike. Then obviously we also need traffic police in a city like Beijing, to enforce the traffic rules. Now they are non-existent and totally useless. On the other hand hold up a protest sign and in 10 sec ten security people jump on you.

At the same time, while schools are trying to promote sports, there are wide-spread reports of toxic running tracks and fake grass making children sick, as reported also in the mainland media. In China anything goes to make quick money and purchasing methods are often riddled with shady deals and total lack of oversight. As I always say, don’t mess with kids because Chinese parents cherish their children and become ferocious if one tries to harm them.

See more about this:
“China halts construction of synthetic running tracks in schools after report alleges some were made using industrial waste”

Children have also fallen sick, with tests confirming some tracks and playgrounds contain high-levels of noxious chemicals.
And, in China Daily 23 June 2016:
“School’s artificial grass found to be highly toxic”.
“Kindergarten sued over running tracks”.