It's been barely two months since Garmin presented Vivosmart 3This Vivosmart 3 does not include GPS, and probably Garmin will not venture to launch a version that does, given the result harvested by that model.
As we are used to with the latest releases of the American manufacturer there is no revolution in their proposal, but there are always continuous evolutions. In this case Garmin gets a smaller device with this Vivosmart 3, mainly thanks to the new Garmin Elevate optical pulse sensorAlong with it, a new gym training mode with reps counter and exercise identification, pulse variability metrics to measure stress or VO2max estimation.
As I always like to clarify, in this test you will see two units: a purple bracelet that has been provided temporarily by Garmin (and that will be returned after the publication of the test) and a black one, that I have purchased directly through Amazon. The manufacturers do not make any payment for appearing in these tests, nor is there any kind of counter performance in exchange for a positive valuation from me. Moreover, I do not even let them advertise on this page.
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I've been trying out the new Garmin bracelet for a few weeks now, so I'm ready to tell you all the new features it includes. Shall we watch it together?
What, you want to know what's in the box of Garmin Vivosmart 3? Well, I don't make you wait any longer.
Presentation... the usual one of all the latest Garmin models.
Once the box is opened you can take out all the contents. Now it comes around a cardboard that indicates what you should do. First download the application Garmin Connect And since the wristband has no buttons to press, it tells you how to turn it on: connect the sync cord to the power.
Inside we find the bracelet, the synchronization and charging cable and some paperwork. No, it is not the Vivosmart 3 purchase deeds, it is simply a quick guide in thousands of languages.
Presiding over the back of the bracelet is the new version of Garmin's Elevate sensor. It is now thinner and barely stands out from the back. The diet the sensor has been on also shows in what it needs to feed itself, as it now spends considerably less.
Despite seeing two screws, the strap is not directly replaceable, but is an "all one" design. So take care of the strap...
The cable is new. The Garmin Vivosmart 3 did not arrive at the party of the new cable presented with the two models mentioned above and which is called to be the common cable for the whole range. So we continue with the traditional clamp system of the Vivo range.
Charging is done as you expect, simply by connecting the clip to the back of the wristband and to the charging connectors.
I'm not going on any longer, let's get on with the basic functions.
Garmin Vivosmart 3 at a glance
There are three different colors to choose from, along with two sizes. The large size is only available in black, while the S/M size can be purchased in blue, purple or black.
When it comes down to it, the difference between one and the other is not very noticeable, there are no big differences between the different colours. For example, here you can see the bracelet in black and purple. Together and with good lighting you can see the change in tone, but on the wrist it is practically imperceptible.
The two bracelets I've been trying out have been in size S/M, which I think will be perfect for almost everyone. I have fairly wide wrists and I've still been able to wear the smaller size of the Vivosmart 3 without too much trouble. There's not much of a strap left, but it hasn't been uncomfortable for me.
Vivosmart 3 is the latest model in the Vívo range, which has been part of activity monitoring of Garmin for several years. It's essentially a activity monitor that will record all your movement throughout the day. That's their main mission and what these devices have been doing for several years now.
With such a lax experience, one would naturally expect it to behave impeccably in its operation. And so it is. The bracelet acts as a clock throughout the day even displaying your phone's notifications, but internally it is recording all your movements which will ultimately translate into steps taken, estimated distance and calories consumed.
That is the basic function of any activity meter, but in the case of the Vivosmart 3 there is more information that we can see on the screen. Thanks to having a barometric altimeter will be able to count how many floors you have climbed the stairs throughout the day. And not only stairs, if you walk up many slopes, will also count as floors ascended. So avoid the elevator and make use of the stairs, you will have a prize.
There are goals to be met. These goals will be set in the app settings or through the Garmin Connect website.
The steps can be set manually or automatically. If you leave it on automatic, the number of steps will be adjusted to your daily activity to try to be demanding enough to stay active. If you usually walk 15,000 steps, having a goal of 10,000 won't do much good, and it will be adjusted to that number. Similarly, if you usually only walk 3,000, the wristband will try to ask you to do a little more than you do every day, but not to go from 3,000 to 10,000 in a single day. In the end, it's all about the trend and staying active.
The weekly intensity minutes may also be modified, but 150 is the recommended minimum. This is what Garmin says about it.
All the warnings made by the bracelet (daily alarms, notifications, goals accomplished, etc.) will be by vibration, the bracelet does not emit any sound.
You can display a variety of data on the screen, from the basics of the activity monitor to other widgets you can activate from the app. Accessing phone notifications, controlling music, or viewing the weather are some of the options it presents.
The logging function of Vivosmart 3 is totally synchronized with Garmin ConnectOne without the other would be meaningless, as the bracelet is simply the means to feed Connect with all the information of the day. And believe me, it can be overwhelming.
Like most activity monitors, it will also display sleep information.
It is not necessary to activate any specific mode on the bracelet, everything is done internally at the server level, determining when you are asleep and when you have woken up. I will not tell you that the record is always at 100%, but in my particular case usually corresponds quite reliably with reality.
Some of these metrics are new, so let's see what the main novelties of Vivosmart 3 are before we get into the training possibilities.
New from Garmin Vivosmart 3
Like every renewal that Garmin makes of a product, in addition to changing the design by improving it over the previous one, it always tries to introduce some new function. These can be things that we have already seen in another model of the range before and that is added for the first time to a device of this type, or completely new features. In the case of Vivosmart 3 we have both.
24-hour stress monitoring
Vivosmart 3 presents for the first time a function that monitors your stress throughout the day. constant pulse measurement which allows the renewed Garmin Elevate sensor, together with the pulse variability.
It is possible to access the function through the menu, where we will see our level of stress in a score between 0 and 100, in addition to categorizing it in rest, low, medium or high.
By clicking on the screen you can see the trend in the last hour.
The Stress function is not something you can simply check at one point on your wristband, but throughout the day it will synchronise all the data with Garmin Connect, so you can see in a graph how stressful your day has been and when it was most intense.
Of course, it is also present directly through the web.
When you introduce this kind of functions you always have the initial impression of being mere artifices. Excuses to put graphs with a lot of color that seem to give a lot of information but that at the moment of the truth serve for little. But if I stop to analyze carefully what I did during the day of yesterday (in the image below), the records match quite well with what I was doing.
For example, my stress level during the night is practically nil. Normal, since I am resting. Around 7 in the morning, even though I was still asleep, lately it is my usual time to start training. That day I was training in the afternoon, but my body still doesn't know it and it starts to activate as it usually does.
It's something that is striking to see it represented in a simple graph and so clearly. Now you know why, although you can sleep until a little later on the weekend, you always end up waking up at the same time every day. Your body knows what time it has to get going.
After waking up you can see that my activity and stress is increasing. Picking up at home, walking the dog, preparing the child for school and heading to the office. After preparing all day and sitting in front of the computer, the stress level is clearly reduced. I certainly had a quiet day at the office yesterday.
At three o'clock in the afternoon it's time to start the weekend, go home again for lunch and again increase the activity. A little break before going to the gym (walking, and detected by MoveIQ) and do my workout of the day (swimming, detected again by MoveIQ). And after finishing, to the fair with my son, with a new increase in stress level.
Surprised by how you have interpreted the day by recording data every few minutes, then the important thing will be to see the daily and weekly trend (in a picture you can see above).
Along with stress monitoring, a relaxation function is included, logically designed to lower your state of arousal. Through on-screen indications, the bracelet will guide you through breathing exercises to inhale, hold your breath and then exhale.
By default the exercise will be 2 minutes, although you can select between 1 and 5 minutes.
It's a new training mode designed for your gym exercisesI've saved a special section for this profile, so I won't dwell on it for long.
In this mode, the wristband will count the repetitions and identify the type of exercise you are doing in weight lifting. Logically, for upper body exercises, if you are doing leg exercises you will have to write it down manually later.
It's also possible to activate a mode for automatic detection of the breaks and separate the series, which by default is done manually. But as I say, I have a whole section dedicated to this new profile, so I'm not going to tell you twice.
Automatic activity recording
MoveIQ evolves, being able not only to record different types of exercise without you starting an activity, but now it will also be possible that, even if you do not start the activity manually, it will be recorded separately.
Stopwatch and countdown
Little to say about that. Stopwatch and countdown timer function.
And it's new because, unless you installed something through Connect IQ, it wasn't available on Garmin devices.
We enter the terrain of functions already seen in other Garmin devices but which for the first time are present in the Vivo range. VO2Max estimation makes use of the same FirstBeat algorithm already present in the high-end Garmin models, including the Phoenix 5 and the Forerunner 935.
VO2Max will be recorded automatically throughout our workouts, or 1TP10We can perform a test at any given time to perform the calculation. But unlike other more "athletic" models, in the case of the Vivosmart 3 you only have to walk for 15 minutes.
Remember that just as with watches, it takes a few weeks and you need to record different exercises so that the device has enough data to show a more accurate record. For example in other devices I have a higher VO2Max, but the type of training I have been doing with the wristband has simply led to this figure.
It usually starts with a somewhat lower than real figure, gradually rising until it stabilizes.
Constant heart rate monitoring
As with the Fenix 5 and FR935, the updated optical sensor allows you to stay on for 24 hours without significant battery drain, which means you can get constant heart rate data with much higher graph resolution.
Just compare a heart rate graph taken with the Garmin Vivosmart HR, where the data collection is very spaced in time.
Now look at the record made by Vivosmart 3.
There is nothing to do with one graph over the other, but one thing that should be noted is that although heart rate data is recorded every few seconds, the data synchronized with Garmin Connect is the 2-minute average.
On the bracelet you can also check the trend of the last hour, along with highs and lows.
I think you already have a pretty accurate overview of the Garmin Vivosmart 3. So let's go a little deeper into some of its features.
Training with Vivosmart 3
Garmin Vivosmart 3 offers different modes of sport so you can perform different activities, focusing on the data that matter in each of them. There are not many, but almost completely cover the needs that may have most of its users. They are as follows:
- Strength training
- Fitness in general
Except for the strength training profile (which I reserve for the next section), there are not many differences between the modes, it is more the categorization that will be made of each activity after the synchronization. But perhaps more important, what allows us is to configure each of the modes differently, so if you are going to do some running you may be interested in having a completely different data on screen than when you do a spinning class.
Each sport mode allows you to configure 4 pages (except the strength training mode, which remains at 2), with two data for each one. This configuration is done from the mobile application or from the web, but it is not possible to do it directly on the wristband.
The options offered are not very extensive, which is logical given the type of activity Vivosmart 3 is geared towards. You can set stopwatch, distance, calories, heart rate, HR zone or steps. In strength training you will not be able to select distance or steps as usual, but you will be able to see the reps.
There is no possibility to show instantaneous pace or speed, because as Vivosmart 3 does not have GPS Garmin prefers not to enter data that will not be accurate. You will see the distance traveled. Personally I have not had much luck with the distance, although it is true that I had a fairly old custom step configuration. The good news is that you can enter custom data in the user settings, also differentiating between walking and running.
It is very easy to obtain it. By placing yourself at the beginning of a known distance (athletic track, mileage point, etc.) you simply write down the accumulated steps that appear on the screen. You walk the appropriate distance and look at the steps again. All you have to do now is enter the distance and steps to be covered in the Garmin application and it will automatically calculate the step length.
In addition to the data pages you can set up basic alerts for time, distance, calories or a heart rate zone.
When you finish an activity, it will be recorded and synchronized with Garmin ConnectYou can access all the data both in the mobile application and on the web.
There is no map with the route, because Vivosmart 3 does not have GPS and does not get positioning data from the mobile, as some competitors do.
Something that works really well in the new Vivosmart 3 is MoveIQ. It is not something new in the latest model, but includes a new function that, in addition to detecting the exercise, is able to record all data as if it were a normal activity.
Previously only one indication appeared in the daily activity graph, but Garmin Vivosmart 3 has a new automatic start of activity function. Only valid for walking or running, you can set a minimum time for each of these activities. By default it will be 10 minutes walking or 1 minute running. And from that time of exercise is when you start recording the exercise (so the previous time will not be recorded).
Now what it will do is, if you activate the option, it will warn you on the bracelet that it is recording the activity. And when you stop walking, it will be saved and will appear in the activity summary as another exercise, with the same details as if you had recorded it manually.
Now let's take a look at the new gym profile, something that Garmin is premiering in this new Vivosmart 3.
Strength Training Profile, Repetition Counter from Garmin Vivosmart 3
Of all the new features of the Vivosmart 3, perhaps the most notable is the addition of the strength training profile. When using this training mode the wristband will be able to count repetitions of wrist movements. In the sense that it will count, for example, how many biceps repetitions you perform. Or how many sips you take of a beer. You choose.
You can use this mode when you are doing strength exercises in the gym to track any activity that has arm movement. Or at least the arm where you have the bracelet. So there is no record of leg exercises or, if you wear it on your left wrist, it will not be able to count repetitions you do exclusively with your right hand. But this is obvious.
This mode has two "screens". That of the series, where the number of repetitions you are doing will be counted on the screen, and the rest between the series.
By default, the operation is manual: you start the series, perform your exercises and press on the screen to confirm that you have completed your exercise and are at rest between series.
But it is possible to enable an automatic logging mode, in which without any interaction on your part it will detect exercise and rest periods automatically. This can be activated in the application's options.
Although it indicates that it is in beta mode, the automatic recording has worked quite well for me, at least when I have performed the exercise technique quite clearly and distinctly. Obviously if the grip is not good, it will be much more difficult for the wristband to record the reps and breaks. The exercise recording will continue until you finish the activity, jumping between sets and breaks.
As for the accuracy of the recording, as I say if I concentrated on doing the exercise correctly (something we should all do regardless of whether a bracelet is tracking), the count was accurate. But if I slackened on one or didn't perform the grip correctly, then one of those reps didn't count.
In addition to counting repetitions, you are also able to identify the type of exercise. And I'm sorry to be repetitive, but the accuracy of recording it depends on the good technique you use. And it's true that working in a gym is not what I'm most excited about or take seriously...
All of this, of course, will be synchronized with Garmin Connect and you can review the activity with sets, time, rest and reps, and then add the weight used in each exercise.
In this example the identification of the exercise has been correct, except in the series 7 that were abdominals. Again I blame more to my bad technique. As for the repetitions, in some occasions it has eaten the first one.
When you are going to edit the weight used in each of the repetitions, you can also add other exercises that by their nature have not been able to record correctly, or correct the series that have not been well defined.
Not that it's impressive, but it's quite practical, and I have to say that it worked a little better than I expected, especially considering my technique.
Optical Pulse Sensor in Garmin Vivosmart 3
The Garmin Vivosmart 3 bracelet uses the new optical sensor Garmin Elevate that we can find in the two brand new Garmin models, such as the Fenix 5 and the Forerunner 935XT. The behaviour of these sensors during a sporting activity has not changed too much, but there are other differentiating aspects.
Starting with the size, the sensor is now much smaller, being almost flush with the back of the wristband. Although I personally did not find the Vivosmart HR uncomfortable, it is logical to think that this new model offers greater comfort simply because it has less overall height. Compare both sensors in these two images.
And compared, also with the sensor of the Fitbit Charge 2.
In addition to size there is another fundamental aspect, and that is that as you have seen previously the rate of recording of heart rate at rest is much higher.
There is a difference in construction and that is that in the case of the Vivosmart 3Compared to the above models (Fenix 5 and FR935) it only has two LEDs for three of the largest watches.
But the absence of this extra LED I don't think is a major problem. In all the time I've been using the wristband I haven't noticed any problem with the recording, neither in the 24/7 pulse mode nor during the training.
In this image we can see for example the comparison of the heart rate at rest taken with the Garmin Vivosmart 3 first and a Garmin Forerunner 935 below it.
The trend is very similar. There is no accuracy in the graphs because, I remember, the data recorded in Garmin Connect are those taken over a period of 2 minutes. And, for example, although with the Vivosmart 3 I did not record the swimming training done in the afternoon, it did record heart rate data, making it clear that the intensity was higher.
So, if I already know the sensor well, why do I test it again? Because even though the sensor is the same, the behavior can be very different.
You see, not everything is the quality of the sensor, there are also other things to be assessed, such as the weight of the assembly (the more weight, the more parasitic movement), the adjustment of the strap (a strap that does not adjust correctly will offer less accuracy for its sensor), the size of the device (as it may let light into the sensor area), etc.
So, let's go with some comparative tests. I have focused on doing softer activities, which I understand are the ones that the owners of a bracelet of this type will do. That is, running at constant and not very high rhythms. That I could do series at 180 pulses or hour and a half training with a lot of variation in intensity, but I think that the type of user who does those exercises will look for something more advanced.
I will start by comparing the Vivosmart 3 with another optical sensor (that of the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR), along with a sensor in the chest.
The result is that, at this intensity, it is traced on all three devices. Always obvious the first moments because until we get warm there can be reading errors, both in optical sensors and sensors in the chest. Still both the Vivosmart 3 and the FR230 with the HRM-Tri sensor coincide almost from the beginning.
And for the rest of the training, a nice graph traced by the three devices.
In short, despite its small size I have found good results both walking and running at a constant pace. In case of changes in intensity there will be some problems, as with other Garmin models, but keep in mind that in the case of the Vivosmart 3 is not possible to add an external pulse sensor for days of training series (if performed).
Already from the beginning we can see that the Vivosmart was not going to be about the task of providing a good record. Despite this, in the 14th minute it decides to join the other two sensors and makes a pretty good record. Al meons, for what is usual in optical sensors when riding a bike. I am particularly surprised by the result of the FR935, but I will leave that for your test.
But this is not usual. Usually the optical sensors suffer a lot when we are riding a bike, not being able to provide accurate data, as for example here.
Bad result all the time, little more to say about it.
This is on outdoor outings. If you take a spinning class you won't have such a problem. There are no handlebar vibrations to worry about, usually the wrists move less and the light is not as intense inside the gym. In my experience of use, when I do roller training with the bike the optical sensors are usually moderately reliable.
And what about gym activities? Again, it is complicated. Firstly because of the intensity of the exercise, the pulses do not usually rise very much. And secondly because when lifting weights there will be movement of the wrist, muscle tension, etc. All this complicates the reading by the sensor. Anyway, I do not consider that these are exercises where controlling the pulses is important, beyond helping in the calculation of the calories consumed.
Opinion Garmin Vivosmart 3
Garmin has launched its annual renewal for its Vivosmart bracelet. With the third edition there is no revolution, but a mere evolution over the previous product, something that Garmin has already gotten used to.
The new bracelet is thinner and has a new screen, more readable than the one used in the Vivosmart HR. After the improvements made to the software, perhaps the screen was the only thing left slightly limping. This new screen is more visible and easier to read, although by contrast now does not remain on at all times.
Yes, you can turn the screen on by turning your wrist to see the time, but in the time I've been using it we haven't understood each other very well. If I did the usual turn of the wrist I'd be left waiting without anything happening, and I'd have to repeat the gesture in a more exaggerated way. I guess it's just a matter of getting used to it.
But the screen has more visibility than you can see in the images. It's a very bright screen, but incredibly difficult to photograph.
But far from being a mere aesthetic renovation, there are also interesting additions on the software side. The new strength training profile and 24-hour stress monitoring are exclusive features of the Vivosmart 3. They will come later in the Fenix 5 and Forerunner 935, but for now we can only enjoy them on Garmin's small wristband. And both features work better than I expected.
Although there are things that the competition has but that are not in the Vivosmart 3, for example the possibility of using the GPS of a phone you are connected to to expand the information in the training modes of running and walking. It is something that Fitbit for example introduced in the Charge 2 and that Polar has also added to its new Polar A370. It's the new trend in activity wristbands, so it's strange that Garmin hasn't added it.
This is a segment where the forces are fairly even and there is no one manufacturer that stands out clearly above the other; Polar has the bracelet with the best display; Garmin has incorporated the optical pulse sensor functions of its high range and new exclusive features and it is the one that works best when showing mobile notifications; Fitbit continues to have the best online platform, but it sins in the lack of complete notifications and in the absence of resistance to immersion of almost all its devices. And then there are other manufacturers with different proposals, such as TomTom with its Touch model.
If you have five friends with a Garmin wristband, that's the choice you'll make, because you'll be able to take advantage of the platform's social features and that will help you increase your activity level.
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