Don’t call the Asus VivoWatch SP a smartwatch. Although it looks more like a watch than Asus’ previous VivoWatch BP, the Taiwanese firm considers it a “wearable health tracker” that focuses on health and fitness monitoring. A host of sensors, including ECG, PPG and SpO2, are present to gauge your health as well as track your sleep and physical activity.
- ECG, PPG and Pulse O2 sensors
- Up to 14-day battery life
- Water resistance up to 50m
- 62g with silicone strap
Most users should be familiar with ECG (heart health) and SpO2 (blood oxygen level), but PPG (photoplethysmography for short) is probably something new. Well, it turns out that using PPG and ECG together can determine pulse transmit time (PTT). PTT is the time a pulse wave takes to travel between two different arterial points, and can be used to estimate a person’s blood pressure. However, Asus says that the VivoWatch SP is not a medical device, and should not replace the usual upper-arm blood pressure monitor. Measuring my PTT was harder than it should. It works by placing two fingers on the two sensors at the side of the watch. But I was either exerting too much or too little pressure during the measurement. It took a while for a proper reading.
Besides acting as a pseudo blood pressure monitor, the VivoWatch SP measures physical activity, like steps and calories burnt. The built-in GPS was fairly quick at getting a fix on my location while there’s also an altimeter for hikes and climbs. You can also take the watch for a swim. But it cannot identify the exercise you are doing. You can manually select indoor or outdoor exercise, but not a specific type of activity.
Navigating the watch is simple enough. Press the watch crown to bring you back to the main Home screen. Swiping to switch between menus feels fast. Notifications from my smartphone also arrive promptly on the VivoWatch SP. But you cannot reply via the watch. I was also disappointed that there are less than 10 different watch faces. The watch is surprisingly legible outdoors in the sun, but colours are so dull that I initially thought it had an E Ink screen. I also have to tap the screen to turn on the backlight to view it in the dark.
Compared to other smartwatches, the VivoWatch SP has excellent battery life. It lasted around a week with the display always on, and with constant notifications from my smartphone. Using the VivoWatch for a week is also the minimum amount of time for the companion Asus HealthConnect app (iOS and Android) to gather enough data to give advice on improving my wellbeing. In my case, I need more steps and more sleep — nothing revelatory here. At S$459 on Shopee and Lazada, the VivoWatch SP is not cheap, likely because of its numerous sensors. Thus, I would consider the VivoWatch SP more of a niche product for those who are really into health monitoring.
Note: Review set provided by Asus.