Working for People with Sight Loss

Labs Product Reviews – Garmin VENU SQ GPS Smartwatch

Garmin Venu Smartwatch in black

In the latest of our Technology Product Reviews, Dereck Carolan in the NCBI Labs team provides us with an insight into the Garmin VENU Smartwatch.

Item Name: Garmin VENU SQ GPS Smartwatch
Reviewed by: Dereck Carolan

Description

Venu SQ is a budget-friendly fitness smartwatch that combines daily style with premium health monitoring features.

The Garmin Venu SQ has everything! It tracks your heart rate and footsteps, monitors sleep, has an in-built GPS, tracks and guides you through workouts and can also read SpO2 levels.

The smartwatch offers about six days’ worth of battery life and is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.

Unboxing / What are my first impressions of the item?

The smartwatch came in a Slate Aluminium Bezel with Shadow Grey Case and Silicone Band. In the box it came with a charging / data cable and usual documentation.

The silicone band is very comfortable on, the watch does not feel clunky on my wrist.

I did have concerns about the size of the face of the watch and the size of the notifications when out and about and hoped I would be proved wrong.

I have been using this for a few days, how do I feel about it?

Using the Garmin VENU SQ GPS Smart Watch for the two weeks has left me with mixed feelings about the device. Like a number of Garmin devices, the Health tracking and constant reminders and notifications are top drawer and encourages me to keep moving and meet my fitness goals.

The device is extremely comfortable to wear while exercising and the battery life is excellent compared to other similar products. It lasted about 6 days which included 4 runs, two short and two long which used GPS and I expected would be a bigger drain on the battery.

My fears regarding the screen were proved right as all notifications are tiny and difficult to read at a standstill not to mention on the move.

Is it accessible?

The app on the iPhone is accessible but the watch itself is not.

One of the key features of the watch is to provide updates on movement and steps throughout the day. These notifications pop up on the screen but without any speech or magnification they are of little use to anyone with little or no vision.

I also feel to get the watch setup and gain a full understanding of the watches capabilities some sighted assistance may be required.

What did I like?

For the 2 weeks I used the device the battery life was excellent.

The feedback in the app is super and it is worth taking the time at the start to go through all the information and get an understanding of what it means.

What didn’t I like?

I found the screen size, font used and the amount of text on the screen difficult to read when exercising.

Did it meet my expectations?

From a Fitness & Health perspective the Garmin VENU SQ GPS Smartwatch ticks a number of boxes.

Accessibility wise, the app works fine on the iPhone but the watch itself is not accessible.

What improvements, if any, would I like to see in this product?

I would like the device to have a clearer font on screen. It would also be a major addition if the watch had speech output and was generally more accessible.

Would I recommend this item to others?

If you are into fitness / health tracking this is a good entry level smart watch to start off with, on the other hand if you require a device that is accessible, has a large screen and large font, then there are better options available.

Is there other/competing technology you have tried, similar to this item?

I have used a Fitbit Versa device and found it to be a better watch for my needs. Accessibility-wise it is at similar level to this Garmin which is not great. Screen-wise the Fitbit Versa is bigger and clearer. Both Apps are straight forward enough to download onto an iPhone and work quite well with VoiceOver.