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How's It Working Out?: Garmin vivoactive 3, Part 1

November 29, 2018

Now that I have had the vivoactive 3 for a few weeks, I thought that I would chime in with a little detail on how it's been working for me. I have used it as my only timepiece, and I have been rather happy with it so far.

 

Replacing my Withings Steel was no easy decision, but the more full-featured vivoactive 3 makes the change an easy one. The Withings Steel was great at tracking sleep and steps, but the addition of heart rate and the altimeter really push the vivoactive 3 out in front by a mile. This is probably not even a fair comparison, as the Steel was never really made to be a full featured activity tracker, it is more of a stylish watch with step and sleep counter. A better version of the simpler Garmin vivofit, maybe?

 

 

So, what is so great about it? For one, I found the watch faces to be really quite nice. I liked the stock analog-style watch hand look that the vivoactive 3 came with, but I also like the simple digital watch face I am using now. I like to have the date easily accessible for work. I notice that I have been able to keep my phone tucked away a lot more.

 

There are however, multiple watch faces to choose from, but I have been keeping it simple. Explore the Garmin app store and see what you like. I see no reason to really mess with a nice clean interface. Having ten metrics on the screen really doesn't seem to help my failing eyes very much. 

 

The heart rate sensor has really been great. I have found it be be extremely useful for quick activities and for running. On the indoor trainer, it pairs wonderfully to Zwift via the broadcast mode. Just set the watch to broadcast the data, and any external ANT+ computer will pick up what vivoactive is laying down. I have only had it get glitchy on me once, and that was when I was putting down some serious wattage on Zwift's virtual Box Hill. The watch held steady at 108 bpm when I was clearly above 150 bpm.  I stopped and switched to my Scosche. I am not sure what was to blame, but that has been the only time it has acted funny. 

 

I am going to continue to use the vivoactive 3's heart rate sensor for running, casual riding, and for other non-race or serious training activities. For the bike, I am going to continue to use the Scosche on Zwift and sometimes the Wahoo TICKR for outdoor races where the Scosche armband under sleeves or a thick jacket is not comfortable nor convenient. 

 

The activity tracker of the vivoactive 3 has been pretty flawless for running, walking (the dogs mostly), and casual riding. I have found the heart rate and the GPS tracking to be pretty in line with what I had once needed my phone or Wahoo Bolt to track. The watch acquires a GPS signal rather quickly, so I have had little to complain about. It's nice to be able to track stuff with just a few button pushes on the wrist. Garmin Connect quickly uploads to Strava and TrainingPeaks for me. Maybe tracking the nightly dog walking is dumb, but I like it! I am looking forward to it for snowshoeing in the coming weeks. 

 

A trend I have noticed is that having the vivoactive 3's data so easily accessible has caused me to compete against myself a little more. I like that it tracks my intensity heart rate minutes over the course of the week. It is interesting to see how active I have been, and as the weeks pile up, it will be interesting, especially when I am not doing heavy training. In the past, I only really had my cycling TSS score to look at, and I like that the vivoactive 3 gives me a better look at my overall day to day fitness. Not everything is a hard workout.

 

Yeah, I try to move when the MOVE prompt shows up after I am sitting still for too long, but I also have found that I have been prone to take some extra stairs in when I can. The flights of stairs tracker is pretty accurate, and I have been trying to get lots of them in at work. It helps that I am on the top floor. I admittedly walk to the office instead of calling to find out info. Hopefully, no one blames me for wasting time.

 

The MOVE bar just came up as I am typing this. I am going to go and walk a bit. More tomorrow!

 

 

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