Garmin is a brand that everyone will have heard of because of their SatNav devices but you may not know that they also moved into the wearables market with their range of Smart Watches. The Gramin Vivoactive 3 which retails at €338 is expected to be one of their big sellers and is coming into Apple Watch territory as it costs more than the Apple Watch Series 1 and less than the Apple Watch Series 3.
So when I was given the Gramin Vivoactive 3, I did not know what to expect as this was the first Smart Watch that I have ever used. Setting up the watch was a bit tricky as I had to download the Garmin Connect app onto my iPhone 7 and then set it up by connecting my phone to the watch via Bluetooth, which should be straightforward but sadly isn’t. Once you are finally setup, you can add a myriad of apps to the Vivoactive 3 via the Garmin Connect app on your phone.
The apps that you can download on to the Vivoactive vary from apps that allow you to find your car, apps that work with various sports such as golf and apps that help you meditate.
Before you download any app it is best to read any reviews of that app as there is no point in downloading an app and then finding out it does not do what it is supposed to do. You can also change the watch face by downloading a new one and they can vary from a normal watch face through to a chronometer watch face.
The main downfall of most wearable devices is their battery life and the Vivoactive 3 is a revelation as I was able to get 4-5 days usage before it had to be recharged. The Vivoactive 3 is also able to mirror the notifications that appear on your phone which can be very useful if you are in a meeting or if you don’t want to take your phone out.
Sadly if you are an iPhone user you can’t choose which notifications can appear, you can’t respond to texts or social media message and you can’t interact with Siri. If you are an Android user you can setup which notifications appear on the Vivoactive.
The Vivoactive 3 tracks your heart rate, your stress levels and how many kilometres you walk per day. The heart rate monitor might not be as accurate as the one on the Apple Watch but it’s still pretty damn good and the stress monitor is great for letting you know that you have to take a break. Once you have walked/run 5 kilometres you are told that you have reached your daily goal and you can see on the Vivoactive a bar chart showing how much you walked/run per day.
Anyone looking to purchase a smart watch should have this on their shortlist but the main bugbear for me is connectivity. I have already mentioned how tricky it was to connect the watch to my phone and if you have to put your phone in airplane mode or turn it off and then back on it does not automatically connect to your phone. The screen quality is not as colourful or detailed as the one on the Apple Watch or Samsung Gear, but this sacrifice allows the amazing battery life, which is useful if you plan to go away camping for a few a days. If Garmin can fix the connectivity issues and also offer you the option of connecting via Wi-Fi then Garmin have a watch that can take on the Apple Watch and the Samsung Gear.