Garmin vívoactive 3

This is the top of Garmin’s wide range of trackers, and it is one of the most complete fitness watches we’ve ever used. It tracks a variety of activities, including swimming, gym and even yoga, but it stops short of being a full, professional-grade triathlete piece of kit.

Need more guidance? Read our guide How to buy a health tracker in South Africa and see our line up of Top 5 health trackers in South Africa.

It has an excellent GPS radio, as you would expect from Garmin, but also a host of other sensors to get you more accurate data than an entry-level tracker. The heart-rate sensor is Garmin’s most advanced, and the barometric sensor measures your stair climbs more precisely. It also measures VO2 Max.

Aside from tracking over a dozen sports and workout types, you can also upgrade its functions and faces using Garmin’s ConnectIQ app store. I tried a biorhythm app and the Uber app that notifies you, with details, when your ride arrives.

The screen is not the traditional colourful backlit affair you’d get from a smartwatch, though, but that’s down to carefully managing the battery life of the device, which was an astounding five days in our case. It’s much less if you’re doing a lot of GPS-based workouts.

The music function is the standout feature of this model, and it brings Garmin up to speed with its major competitors – the Fitbit Ionic and the TomTom Spark. Upload the music files and folders directly from your PC, or as playlists (there are other music services none of which currently work in SA).

We like that you can connect the watch with any other Bluetooth device such as headphones, obviously, but also a speaker or your car stereo. Circular watch faces never seem to display data as efficiently as square shapes, but for a device that you’ll be wearing all day, this definitely looks the part.

We especially like the stress-level measurement based on Heart Rate Variability, which appears to measure a rising heart rate without any physical activity

Specifications

GPS, step/sleep/heart tracking, on-board music (3 GB), colour touchscreen with hardened glass, waterproof, 39 g, R6 000

Rating

Features 8/10
Build 7/10
Price 5/10

Verdict

If you like top-notch tracking of all your activities from mountain walks and bike rides to gym sessions, and you want some through-the-day wellness data, then this watch is a strong contender. And now you can have your favourite tunes in the car or when pounding the pavement.

Need more guidance? Read our guide How to buy a health tracker in South Africa and see our line up of Top 5 health trackers in South Africa.

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