by James A. Martin

4 reasons to consider Garmin’s new vivosmart 3

Apr 24, 2017
Computers and PeripheralsConsumer ElectronicsGadgets

Garmin's vivosmart 3 activity trackers has a lot going for it — but you may find it to be too much of a good thing.

The new vivosmart 3 ($140) has a lot to offer Garmin fans looking for a new fitness gadget. And if you’ve never bought an activity tracker, smartwatch or fitness-focused watch, you might be tempted by vivosmart 3’s features.

But after a week of wearing the device, I’m not tempted to jump the Fitbit ship. I’ll explain why in a second. First, here are four reasons to consider a vivosmart 3.

1. It’s packed with features

Garmin’s done an excellent job integrating useful features into this lightweight, and comfortable to wear, wristband. I’ve already outlined many of the most important features. So, suffice it to say here that vivosmart 3 offers a lot for the money.

2. Vivosmart 3 is for data freaks

Can’t get enough activity data? The Garmin Connect app and website are your platform of choice, and vivosmart 3 is a solid device for capturing most data. Higher-end and/or speciality Garmin devices can record more specific information, however. Garmin Swim ($150), for instance, records swimming distance, pace, stroke count, stroke type and swimming efficiency. By comparison, you can wear a vivosmart 3 in the pool and it will automatically track swimming workouts but without as much detail.   

3. Vivosmart 3 tracks the week’s Intensity Minutes

Health organizations like Mayo Clinic recommend at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity. Unlike many trackers I’ve tested, vivosmart 3 measures activity intensity and adds up the week’s total. The Garmin Connect app also shows you how many more intensity minutes you need to complete your weekly goal. It’s a handy way to stay focused not just on steps or on individual workouts, but the bigger picture.

4. Vivosmart 3 tracks your reps

Gym rats will appreciate vivosmart 3’s Strength Training activity, which counts reps, sets, and rest times. During those workouts, the device also captures your heart rate data and graphs it (in the Garmin Connect app and website). This feature sets the device apart from many activity trackers.

In my tests, vivosmart 3 didn’t capture every single rep I did initially. But once I read the manual (which, by the way, never hurts), I realized I may have thrown it off by looking at the device screen a few times. How did I know? The manual specifically says: “Do not look at the device while performing reps.” Whoops.

What’s not to like?

For some people, all the information Garmin provides in its Connect app and website may be overkill. What’s more, navigating through all the data can be challenging. The Garmin Connect app and website are, in my opinion, not streamlined or intuitive. And Garmin’s vivosmart 3 product manual doesn’t always come to the rescue.

Also, Garmin’s Move IQ feature automatically detects exercises such as walking, biking, swimming, and elliptical training. These workouts are displayed in your Garmin Connect timeline but not in your activities lists, snapshots, or newsfeed.

vivosmart app Garmin

When you manually track an activity, you get more data, such as heart rate information. But the vivosmart 3 only lets you manually track running, walking, cardio activity, strength training, and ‘other’ activity types. By comparison, with Fitbit’s Charge 2 ($150), you can manually track a wider variety of exercises that include yoga, pilates, bootcamp, kickboxing, and elliptical.

Buy or skip?

As I mentioned, vivosmart 3 has lots going for it, especially if you’re already ensconced in or attracted to the Garmin Connect ecosystem. But it’s not enough to lure me from Fitbit’s platform, which offers devices and software that are easier to use.