When you are looking for a good activity tracker, the Garmin Vivosmart 3 is one of the great choice under $200. I don’t want to go into the specifications of the watch. If you want to know the full details of the watch, go to Garmin site.
So let’s go straight to the experience. So far the the Vivosmart 3 withstand my daily lifestyle. The usual 8 hours desk job and after work, I run for an hour. I never took off the device unless I have to charge it every 4 days. On the 5th day, I get the 10% battery notification. That’s how long the battery last. I charge it for an hour and it will last for the next 4 days.
It is true that the display is a little bit cloudy due to the rubbery material that covers the screen. But I like discreet design to hide the screen and look like just a baler band so I can wear it on my left hand and wear a regular watch on my left. If you are not fun off the cloudy display, I found a hack to make the display more clearer. You just need to cut out an acetate cellphone screen protector and lay it over the display part and it will look like a regular screen and the digits are sharper.
The display unfortunately does not have an option to stay always on, perhaps they want to save on the battery life. Although, you do have an option on how long the display would stay (Short, medium, long) Auto-On is also available but it’s a hit or miss. If your wrist came from a downward state and you check your watch, mostly you won’t miss it. But if your hand is raised or in level with your body and then you check your watch, it could miss to display the watch.
This is the same with the double tap, but it’s better than the Fitbit alta or charge. The Vivosmart 3 is more sensitive with regards to the double tap wake of the display. What’s nice is that the watch has an ambient sensor, which adjust the display brightness automatically according to lighting conditions. Auto-on Gesture will be disabled during sleep mode.
Step count Accuracy
I have counted my steps while walking 100 steps and it was on point. What is amazing about the Vivosmart, compared to other cheap activity tracker band, is that, even no matter what your hand position is it will accurately count your steps. I was able to use a mi band 2 step tracker but it doesn’t count steps if your hand is not swinging. But the Vivosmart 3, even you are watching the display, it will almost real time update your step count.
Since the Vivosmart 3 does not have a GPS tracker, it will calculate distance through the number of steps. Unfortunately, you have to manually input your stride length to get an accurate distance through the app. I tried the Vivosmart 3 on my first run and worn my Garmin FR15 on GPS tracking on my left. My FR15 reads 2Km while my Vivosmart 3 already got to 4km.
What I did is that I tried to do a short run (make sure not to walk- it will mater) Tracked the distance through my FR15 by GPS, and track the number of steps on my Vivosmart 3. The formula is ( distance in FT so you need to convert km to ft. – divide it by the number of steps = the stride length in ft.) I did the same steps on setting my stride length for walking. Lastly, I tried to track my run both with the FR15 and the Vivosmart 3, now they have the same distance measurement. Sometimes, they won’t match at point, but atleast differs at maximum of .04km distance.
If you checked with Garmin, you will see a chart that you can refer to. The Vivosmart 3 is rated 5 ATM which means you can swim with it, but not for high pressure water activities. So far, I shower with it, swim with it in the pool and still all good.
Heart Rate Tracker
So far the heart rate provides a real time heart rate reading. I tried to check my heart rate manually and compared it to the reading on the Vivosmart 3, and it’s on point. I saw a video on Youtube, that CNET did a comparison on the accuracy of the heart rate monitor on difference activity tracker brands. So far, Garmin was the closes if not on point reading compared to a medical device. Check the video here.
I got the Vivosmart 3 because of the Stress monitor feature. Because I want to track my stress levels on a daily basis. Although I don’t know how to read it but I guess, it says you are on Low, medium or high stress. I guess this is based on the heart rate reading and some formula to get the Stress reading. So far it is helpful for me, because it also has a breathing guide counter to lower down your heart rate.
This feature is mostly placed on high end Garmin device like the Garmin Fenix. You can’t have this on the entry level devices. But Garmin decided to put it on the Vivosmart 3. This will read the maximum amount of oxygen that your body can utilize during an intense activity. It is measured as milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight. This is one of the feature that help me decide to get the Vivosmart 3. I have read a blog but forgot the source, that so far Garmin is the most accurate in monitoring VO2 max readings compared to other device who offers this feature.
Vivosmart 3 also offers Rep counting if you are doing weight lifting or if you do push ups. I don’t do weights but I did try it on push ups. It’s also a hit or miss. It does not count your first or second reps most of the time so it will give you a lower rep count about 1 or 2 missing counts.
All in all the Vivosmart 3 is one of the best you can get under $200 for a fitness tracker if you are trying to get fit as a beginner or a regular jogger, this is the best watch you could get.
- Discreet design – looks just like a baler band and it’s not too thick like the VivoFit and Fitbit charge.
- Step count is very accurate even your hands are not swinging it will still count steps.
- It has stress monitor which can be useful
- VO2max is a plus for an activity tracker under $200
- Comfortable band, Stretchable material
- The best heart rate monitor so far according to CNET
- Rep counts not accurate
- Battery life
- Stride length needs manual input and calculations
- Display is a hit or miss on Auto-On gesture
- No GPS
- The watch could use a “toggle display with wrist gesture” to make it hands free.