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Review: My new Garmin Venu Smartwatch

Garmin Venu Boxed

Anyone who knows me will also know that I don’t conform to the norm just because everyone else does. I also don’t conform because it’s the trendy option or it’s written in ‘the rules’. Hence why I’ve never chosen to invest in a Garmin computer for my bike. I’ve never understood why I’d want to spend more money for less functionality; so I bought an android smartphone instead. It does the same job only better. So, a Garmin smartwatch; have I had a change of heart?

Nope. Absolutely not.

On this occasion after researching the options out there on the market, the Garmin Venu came out as the best possible solution to suit my needs. I have always liked the idea of having a fitness watch, which will track the amount of movement that I do, steps, flights of stairs, calories burned, all those types of things. And something that could double up as a GPS trip computer to record my cycling. And when I go hiking. And when I go kayaking. And track my lengths when I go swimming. And function accurately as a heart rate monitor while doing all of those activities.

The spec on the back of the box
The spec on the back of the box

Of course once you start looking into items of tech, you start to realise there are a lot of other useful functions that you might like to use. Sleep tracking. Blood oxygen measurement, VO2 Max, Notifications from my phone. Alarm, stopwatch, timer etc. Lots of downloadable watch faces, additional apps. The list goes on.

It turns out that the Garmin Venu can even monitor your body stress level and in conjunction with this it can keep track of, what Garmin call, your Body Battery. Want to know if your sleep last night was effective – what did your Body Battery recharge to? Want to know if you’ve recovering from that long cycle ride yet – what’s your Body Battery on? Want to know how much 4 or 5 pints of beer (or glasses of wine) affects your sleep quality? Yep, you got it – check the Body Battery the next morning!

Brand new watch - still in the shop car park!
Brand new watch – still in the shop car park!

The Venu watch has a round face with an amoled screen and a detachable strap. Also important to me. I don’t much like the look of the square watch faces; you know like the Apple ones. And I certainly didn’t want to be chained to a moulded silicone strap. Having the ability to swap it out for a leather or fabric strap was another feature that I was after!

Another thing I like about the Garmin Venu is it’s ability to track gym workouts. I can start the ‘strength’ activity, pick up my dumbbells and 20 reps later it’s registered not only that I did 20 reps, but also that I was doing curls. I can then enter on the watch what the weight was and it counts the resting time for me before I move onto the next set. So far it’s recognised curls, shoulder presses, squats and sit-ups while I’ve been doing them. Nice.

I can also pair sensors with it. Bluetooth smart and ANT+. I haven’t tried this feature yet, but I will do for sure. I have a cadence sensor and a speed sensor, both ANT+ and having the ability to record cadence is certainly something that I would like to have. I have also considered buying the Garmin temperature sensor too and a power meter would be nice if I ever had the money or if prices dropped significantly.

Update: You can’t add a power meter. Even though the device has the ANT+ Garmin in their wisdom have chosen to restrict this particular watch to speed and cadence – no recording of power or electronic gear shifting. Such a shame to limit devices by means of software function.

Garmin Venu on my wrist
Garmin Venu on my wrist

One thing I won’t comment on is comfort. I’m happy with it but comfort is one of those things that’s very personal. A watch that I’m happy wearing may be really annoying for someone else. Maybe it’s worth mentioning that I didn’t have a watch previously, well not for the last 20 years anyway!

In terms of the all important GPS tracking of my cycling. So far so good. I’ve had the watch now for just over a month (Since 31st Jan 2020) and although I’ve not done loads of cycling what I have done has been tracked well. I’ve not had any issues getting a GPS fix, I’ve had no issues with heart rate tracking either. In fact all in all I think I’m pretty pleased with my purchase. Now all I need to do is finally decide on a new strap to buy for it!

4 thoughts on “Review: My new Garmin Venu Smartwatch

  1. I had the Garmin Vivoactive 4. It was a great watch spoilt by Garmin firmware updates always ballsing something up. Battery life isn’t great either.
    I now use a Coros pace watch. Battery last almost a fortnight, gps is accurate, auto pause works better than Garmin, it syncs to Strava quickly and without fail.

    Very impressed

    1. Well I’m impressed with the Venu so far. Updates was a concern of my before buying, having heard of other people’s problems with Garmin head units but I’ve had several updates and no issues.

  2. Hi there, how did you get that watch face/what’s it called? I’ve had the venu for a year and love it but I’m just starting to get more into cycling and some of its more complex data/features.
    And do you need the power metre for zwift?

    1. Hi. The watch face is called ‘VenuSpiral’ but it seems that it’s been taken down from Garmin Connect IQ now so you won’t be able to get it. If you search ‘Spiral’ then you might find some similar ones. The one I’m using right now is called ‘Lachesis’.

      I have never used Zwift or indeed any indoor trainer but as I understand it you don’t have to have a power meter (you can use heart rate and cadence sensors instead) but it’s much better if you do. A smart direct drive trainer with in built power meter such as the Wahoo Kickr is best. Worth remembering though that the Garmin Venu watch won’t connect to a power meter at all – it has all the necessary hardware but Garmin won’t add it in the software.

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