Garmin Vivoac­tive 3

A SUB­TLE SMARTWATCH BUILT FOR LIFE AND FIT­NESS.

TechLife Australia - - WELCOME - [ BECCA CADDY ]

IN KEEP­ING WITH Garmin’s sports tech legacy, the Garmin Vivoac­tive 3 has a heart rate sen­sor, GPS track­ing and a se­lec­tion of built-in apps ded­i­cated to keep­ing tabs on a range of sports ac­tiv­i­ties, from run­ning and in­door cy­cling to ski­ing and snow­board­ing. At around half the price of the brand’s high­end de­vices, like the Fenix 5X, the Vivoac­tive 3 is a more af­ford­able op­tion. It has on-board life­style fea­tures, like sleep and stress track­ing, but is also geared up to com­pete with sim­i­lar multi-pur­pose smart­watches with its no­ti­fi­ca­tions and pay­ment sys­tem.

The watch isn’t oc­cu­py­ing this ap­peal­ing space all on its own. Re­tail­ing at $449, it’s en­ter­ing at a sim­i­lar price point to new de­vices from some of the big­gest names in wear­able tech. There is also a Mu­sic ver­sion, which will cost $50 more — this adds in mu­sic play­back ca­pa­bil­i­ties but main­tains the same func­tion set of the base model re­viewed here. You could ar­gue it ri­vals the Ap­ple Watch 3, as well as the Fit­bit Ionic. They’re in no way iden­ti­cal, but all three are driven by fit­ness, look good, are de­signed to be worn 24/7 and are smart. Garmin may be a firm favourite among those se­ri­ous about fit­ness, but the question now is whether a multi-pur­pose smartwatch like this has the on-board specs, style and main­stream vis­i­bil­ity to com­pete with Ap­ple and Fit­bit.

At 43g, and made with a stain­less steel cas­ing, the Vivoac­tive 3 feels weighty enough to be pre­mium, but like a nor­mal watch once strapped on. That’s the run­ning theme when it comes to the de­sign — al­though packed with smart fea­tures and a bevy of sen­sors, it looks and feels like a ‘nor­mal’ watch.

The screen mea­sures 1.2 inches and has a 240 x 240 pixel dis­play, a size that suits wrists both big and small, and yet still serves up in­for­ma­tion without you hav­ing to squint. It has an al­ways-on colour trans­flec­tive screen, which, at first looks a bit dark, but it’s been cre­ated that way in or­der to make it eas­ier to read, even in di­rect sun­light. Al­though it may not be as im­pres­sive as some of the brand’s older mod­els, Garmin claims the Vivoac­tive 3’s bat­tery will last seven days of nor­mal use and 13 hours straight if you have GPS on.

There’s a small bezel round the edge of the screen with lines on it to show where the hours are, and there’s just the one but­ton. Some are bound to love the min­i­mal ef­fect this pro­vides, others who are used to multi-func­tional sports watches with lots of but­tons and di­als may find it lack­ing.

The in­ter­face can at times feel ever-soslightly laggy. But oth­er­wise the ex­pe­ri­ence is mostly seam­less. It comes with a whole host of work­outs, called ‘apps’, from swim­ming to golf to ski­ing to weights. If by some ex­tremely bad luck your favourite ac­tiv­ity isn’t pro­vided, there’s a ‘cre­ate’ op­tion to tweak the de­vice’s set­tings and cre­ate your own.

Garmin has cre­ated a smartwatch that com­bines fit­ness track­ing with health and life­style fea­tures, as well as smart no­ti­fi­ca­tions. The ex­er­cise and heart rate track­ing are ac­cu­rate and su­per de­tailed, which makes them fas­ci­nat­ing for those with an in­ter­est in their own bio­met­ric data. But it’s data like this that’s bound to feel over­whelm­ing for those who just want ac­tiv­ity track­ing, the odd run and lit­tle else. If you want a Garmin de­vice, there are cheaper op­tions, it just de­pends on your level of fit­ness fo­cus.

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