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Smart Fitness Watch Update Video - Vivoactive 3

In this Smart / Fitness Watch Update video I talk a lot about Fitness / Smart Watches. I go over some of my experiences using them and what features I look for when I'm considering a Smart / Fitness Watch. Everyone's needs are going to be a lot different for sure! Some people are strictly looking for fitness data, some people love the SmartWatch capabilities like notifications, access to Apps and other tech, and even being able to make a till payment with your Smart / Fitness Watch. And then some people want a Smart Watch with a certain style to it that matches their personality. You may want a little bit of all these things?

I did end up buying a Garmin Vivoactive 3 mainly because my Amazfit Stratos is not working properly when it comes to tracking workouts and for me this is a huge deal breaker. I'm pretty sure something is wrong with my Amazfit Stratos since it worked flawlessly for many month and only recently decided to give me problems. I'm working with Amazfit to try and resolve this problem but so far it's not going well?

I am liking the Garmin Vivoactive 3 but I don't think I will be keeping it since I am expecting to get my new Amazfit Verge very soon and hope this will become my new daily diver Smart Fitness watch.


Garmin VivoActive Activity Tracker and Smart Watch Review

This isn’t going to be one of those product reviews that go over every detail about a product, you can go to the Garmin Website or read some other very detailed and well written reviews for the info if that is something you are interested in? I will focus on my own personal experiences with the Garmin VivoActive and point out my reasons for buying it and what I like and don’t like so far after my time using the Garmin VivoActive. Also make sure to checkout my Unboxing Preview video to see what comes in the box along with some of my initial thoughts on the Garmin VivoActive.

What does the Garmin VivoActive Activity Tracker and Smart Watch do for you?
The Garmin VivoActive works like an Activity Tracker and also doubles as a Smart Watch. The activity tracking side of the VivoActive senses your motion and steps all day long, and for when you get really active you can start a GPS enabled workout for outside activities like running, waking, biking hiking and many more. For high intensity indoor activities like weight lifting, cardio, CrossFit, martial arts, yoga or what have you, you have the option of wearing a heart rate monitor to track your heart rate for optimal calorie burring information.

Flipping over to the Smart Watch capabilities of the Garmin VivoActive, when paired with your Smart Phone, you will received notifications like text messages, emails, phone calls and pretty much any other notification you have setup on your Smart Phone. You can quickly see if there are any upcoming events in you calendar, look at the weather forecast and even customize your watch face or install new applications on your VivoActive. All this data is available via the touchscreen color display that uses ambient light for super clear viewing in virtually any lighting situation including darkness by using the built in backlight when required.

The Garmin VivoActive only comes in one size but it is not bulky at all so it should fit both men’s and women’s wrists nicely. You can also get the Garmin VivoActive in black or white and there are options to customize the watch band to a different color or even a leather strap.

With so many Activity Tracker Smart Watch options out there why did I choose the Garmin VivoActive?
It was a tuff decision but when it came down to it, the Garmin VivoActive had everything I needed and nothing more, the nothing more being a key component since a device so accessible can be a real distraction at times. The more it does the more I want to play with it and I already have enough trouble keeping my iPhone in my pocket at times ;) One of my biggest fears I have with the Apple Watch is simply that it will become a distraction with so much going on onscreen. And the other problem with the Apple Watch is that it is just so nice looking, perhaps too nice to feel comfortable thrashing it during a workout! I wouldn’t want to scratch up my $500 watch now would I!

What I was really looking for in a Fitness Tracker Smart Watch combination was of course my daily activity readings to get a good overall idea of how many calories I am burning just doing my normal day to day routine. But what I really like is the ability to throw on a dedicated Heart Rate Monitor when I want to perform my more intense activities or workouts. A persons heart rate is a really great form of data when calculating exactly how much energy they exert during a workout. Yes the Apple Watch has an optical heart rate sensor, but at this point in time optical heart rate sensors are just not accurate enough for high intensity training sessions that include a lot of arm movement or up and down heart rate activity.

There are even several areas where the Garmin VivoActive wins out over the Apple Watch. Features like having a built in dedicated GPS, being water resistant down to 50 meters, having up to three weeks of battery life on a single charge and an always on display. Not to mention a much cheaper price tag than the Apple Watch! 

In terms of Smart Watch capabilities the VivoActive has everything I need to be aware of, I get notified with a vibration of all my iPhone notifications including incoming phone calls. I can set alarms, quickly check my calendar events for the day and see what the weather forecast is going to be. Garmin also has the Connect IQ App Store where I can get custom watch faces, download new Apps and install widgets.

Is the Garmin VivoActive the perfect Activity Tracker and Smart Watch Combination?
For me it’s pretty close but there are a few areas I would like to see improved. Number one, Garmin needs to listen to their customers and offer more Event Naming options, I often perform CrossFit workouts and marital arts while wearing my Heart Rate Monitor to record my workout session. The only option I have that even comes close to this activity type on the Garmin VivoActive is indoor walking (on a treadmill I presume). The reason I choose the indoor walking option is because I don't need the GPS to be turned on during my indoor workouts.

The good news is, I can go into the software after the fact and change my workout type to a more appropriate name other than indoor walking, the problem is that there is no option for some very popular indoor activities like: CrossFit, martial arts, yoga, HIT training, boot camps, aerobics… There are however some rather obscure outdoor options for Activities like: stand up paddle-boarding, wind kite surfing, snowshoeing… go Figure! I really don’t think it would be all that difficult for Garmin to add a few more Activity Names to the Garmin VivoActive data fields to make it even more versatile and appealing to current and potential new customers.

For the most part my Garmin VivoActive has worked really well but I did have a few instances where the Bluetooth failed to work, during these times I was not able to pair with my iPhone or my Heart Rate Strap via Bluetooth. A simple restart of the Garmin VivoActive was all that was needed but I found it strange that this happened at all. I imagine that a firmware upgrade at some point should fix this small inconvenience and to be honest this Bluetooth disconnection has not happened to me for a while so perhaps it has already been addressed?

My Garmin VivoActive seems pretty decently built overall and so far the screen is holding up well, I have noticed a bit of a nick on one of the sides of the watch case since the watch case is made out of plastic. Perhaps a metal band around the watch case would toughen up this area and make it less prone to damage.
The Garmin Software:

In general, Garmin has a really nice software package, their online and Smart Phone Apps work well and show you just about everything you are going to need to see. You can access all the important information like steps, calories burnt, distance walked or run, how well you slept the night before, any activities you have done along with specific detailed information about that workout. Garmin also plays nicely with MyFitnessPal, and since I have a Fitbit Aria WiFi scale that tracks my body weight, this information is automatically updated to the Garmin App via MyFitnessPal. Of Course any food related info I am entering in MyFitnessPal shows up in the Garmin App as calories consumed so I can figure out if I need to eat more or get more active to meet my daily goals.

When using the Online Garmin App you can generally drill down into the information a bit more but other than that you have access to a lot of the same information.

Garmin has Developed their Connect IQ Store which so far is all free! You will find downloadable Watch Faces, Applications, Data Fields and Widgets to customize your Garmin VivoActive. The Connect IQ Store is open to 3rd part developers so we should see lots of new software added over time.

Again I would like to see Garmin add in more indoor type workout activities to their naming conventions, not that it changes how many calories you burnt in a given workout, but I think most people like to keep an accurate record of what exactly they where doing during an activity.

In Summary:
Is the Garmin VivoActive the perfect Activity Tracker and Smart Watch combination? Well even for me it’s not perfect but it is the best option for me right now in terms of offering complete and comprehensive activity tracking and the ability to interface with my iPhone and send me the information I really need to see.


Garmin VivoActive Activity Tracker and Smart Watch Preview

I have been humming and hawing as to if I should get the new Apple Watch since it looks like it could be the best Smart Watch and Fitness Tracker on the market and I am sure in many ways it may in fact just be. That said I have come to the conclusion that the Apple Watch is just not right for me.

One of my main focuses for having a Fitness Tracker Smart Watch combination is to monitor my workouts as accurately as possible so I know to near precision how many calories I am burning and how much effort I am putting in. So this means I need to go with the most accurate heart rate monitoring available and that is still going to be a chest strap based Heart Rate Monitor. Believe me I have tried many variations of wrist based Optical Sensor heart rate trackers and none of them cut it, including the new Fitbit Surge. I am still waiting to see how the Apple Watch stacks up in this department but I am not optimistic to say the least.

The other concern I have with the Apple Watch is... Well it's just too nice and too expensive to be worn on my wrist while I beat the living crap out of it during my weight training and other fitness activities.

So that brings us back to the Garmin VivoActive. How did I get to this point and why did I go with the Garmin VivoActive? I have used many Fitness Bands and Fitness Watches in the past including some from Fitbit, Polar, Jawbone, Mio and Basis. Many of these Fitness Trackers worked well for me but once I tried the Polar Loop with its super accurate chest strap based Heart Rate Monitoring, I decided that this combination was the way to go at least for me. That led to trying out the Garmin VivoFit with HRM, which led to the Garmin VivoSmart with HRM, that led to what I am using now which again brings us back to the Garmin VivoActive Activity Tracker and Smart Watch bundled with a chest strap based Heart Rate Monitor.

Each new rendition of Garmin products has offered more built in technology and connectivity making each device more and more useful to me. At this point the Garmin VivoActive does what I need it to do, no more, no less and it does it really well.

Here is a breakdown of what I find most useful about the Garmin VivoActive Activity Tracker and Smart Watch:

  • It's a 24 hour Fitness tracker that tracks my basic movements and figures out my daily caloric output.
  • The VivoActive can be paired over Bluetooth with a Chest Strap Monitor to accurately read my Heart Rate during workouts.
  • The Garmin VivoActive has a built in GPS that tracks my outside walks, runs and bike rides along with elevation, pace, speed distance and more...
  • The Garmin VivoActive is water proof to 5 ATM (50 meters) so you can swim with it.
  • The VivoActive has a very readable "all the time on" color touch screen with backlight when required.
  • The Garmin VivoActive can gets up to 3 weeks of battery life. (Or a Solid week for someone like me using many of the power draining features.)
  • The VivoActive is very light weight and low profile.
  • The Garmin VivoActive is stylish and looks more like a watch than a fitness tracker.
  • The VivoActive is also a Smart Watch with vibrating Text, Email, Social Media, Calendar and incoming Phone Call notifications.
  • The Garmin VivoActive can also control your Phones music playback, show you the Weather conditions and of course keep you updated on your current daily activity output.
  • The Garmin VivoActive can take advantage of the Garmin Connect IQ Store where new Watch Faces, Apps and Widgets can be downloaded to the VivoActive for personal customization.
  • Good hardware is one thing, Garmin has also done a nice job with their software for both your Smart Phone and when using Garmin's Web Based Interface.

So for now I am sticking with my Garmin VivoActive over going with an Apple Watch. Well at least until the Apple Watch 2 comes out ;)