The Garmin Vivoactive 3 is an innovative running partner.

THIS review of the Garmin Vivoactive 3 is by someone who is neither a gadget or a tech expert nor a professional athlete. It is done by someone who, since 15 months ago, decided to take up running to reduce health risks and keep himself fit.

That someone is me. I was introduced to Garmin fitness trackers by my running buddies in mid-2016.

The first one I tried was the Garmin Vivosmart. It was a cute little gadget which let me know my step counts and heart rates and how well I slept.

However, it did not record my running distance accurately.

I then tried the Garmin Vivoactive HR. It was a big upgrade, which motivated me to record my running performance and improve my timing. With a GPS, it could also map my runs. For a casual runner like me, it was a good enough gadget.

Recently, I was asked to review the Garmin Vivoactive 3, the latest edition in the Vivoactive stable. Naturally, I was very excited.

Launched in September last year, it is an upgrade from the Vivocative HR. Design-wise, the circular Vivoactive 3 looks sleeker than its rectangular predecessor.

The unit I am reviewing is black with slate circle design. It looks like the more expensive Garmin fitness trackers such as the Fenix 5 and Forerunner 935.

My first impression of the watch is that it is light. The Vivoactive 3 weighs only 43g while the HR variety weighs 61g.

The back of the watch — where the heart rate monitor is located — is flatter than that of the HR, which means the new one will not leave a deep square-button indentation on the wrist.

Moving from menu to menu is done by swiping on the surface of the chemically-strengthened glass or by swiping the bezel of the watch.

It has a side button that functions as an activities menu. When pressed longer, it becomes the watch settings menu.

I find the glass surface to be very sensitive, a problem that becomes apparent when I wear long sleeves. A slight touch of the sleeve and the menu changes. To overcome this, I have to use the lock screen function.

Like the HR, the Vivoactive 3 is a hybrid of a smartwatch and a fitness tracker. It communicates with the smartphone via the Garmin Connect app and Bluetooth.

It is able to receive notifications from the smartphone, which means it vibrates when there are incoming calls, text messages, meeting reminders and a host of other notifications.

I can choose to disable the notifications. Having these notifications on the watch allows me to put my phone on silent mode during meetings and classes.

In addition, I can also control the smartphone’s music functions — start, pause, next, previous — from the watch.

An innovative running partner.

The main reason one would buy a Vivoactive 3 is its fitness tracker function. For a start, it records steps and stairs climbed. The default for steps count is 10,000, as prescribed by experts.

Using the wrist heart rate monitor, you can also estimate the calories burnt. This may be useful for those who are on a weight-loss programme.

The Garmin Connect app is also connected to MyFitnessPal app, where you can record your calorie intake.

It can also track multiple sports, for example, running, walking, cycling, swimming, treadmill, indoor tracking, strength workouts and cardio workouts.

In addition, through the Garmin Connect app, you can download other activities apps.

I use Vivoactive 3 mostly to record my running and hiking activities. Transitioning from Vivoactive HR to Vivoactive 3 is quite smooth as most of the functions are quite similar.

I used Vivoactive 3 to train for the 2018 Twincity Half Marathon on Jan 21. Well, the larger screen and fonts immediately became plus points.

The most important data, i.e., running time, distance, pace and heart rate, are on the same screen. I can also swipe the screen down and see other data such as lap pace, overall pace, heart rate and heart rate zones. All these are important to make running efficient and safe.

Techies and professional athletes may question the accuracy of the wrist heart rate monitor and the GPS. Well, they may not be accurate but the approximation suffices for me, an amateur runner who is trying to stay fit.

The run records are important as they form the numbers for which I have to improve. It records running time, pace, speed, heart rate (average and maximum), run cadence, elevation and calories burnt.

Functional and easy to use.

During the Twincity Half Marathon, running with the Vivoactive3 was a pleasure. The watch is light and the data spurred me to increase or slow down my tempo depending on my heart rate. It also helped that I knew the distance covered.

These numbers matter to an amateur runner like me. Incidentally, I actually ran a kilometre more than the supposed 21.1 km distance for the half marathon (yes, I checked with friends wearing fitness trackers or mobile apps). For these features, I love the Vivoactive 3.

For daily use, I find the battery life to be shorter than the HR. It could either be because the watch is connected to the phone all the time or it has more functions. The manufacturers claim that it can last seven days on smartwatch mode but mine lasted only for an average three days on a single charge.

It is not a big deal to me as all it needs is a quick charge. Yes, in terms of battery charging, it charges faster than its predecessor.

To sum up, the Vivoactive 3 is a very good, mid-range fitness tracker.

A very good mid-range fitness tracker.

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