Reviews: Wearables

The Garmin vivosmart 3 tracks your stress level too

While not much of a looker, the Garmin vivosmart 3 (far left) is very comfortable to wear. Its watch-like clasp provides a secure fit on the wrist.
While not much of a looker, the Garmin vivosmart 3 (above) is very comfortable to wear. Its watch-like clasp provides a secure fit on the wrist.PHOTO: GARMIN
While not much of a looker, the Garmin vivosmart 3 (far left) is very comfortable to wear. Its watch-like clasp provides a secure fit on the wrist.
While not much of a looker, the Garmin vivosmart 3 is very comfortable to wear. Its watch-like clasp provides a secure fit on the wrist.PHOTO: GARMIN

The Garmin vivosmart 3 succeeds last year's vivosmart HR. So what's new with this wristband fitness tracker? Like its predecessor, it tracks your steps, distance covered, calories burnt and heart rate (HR).

But the vivosmart 3 now has a stress-tracking mode that monitors your stress level.

It also gives you your VO2 Max value or maximum oxygen consumption, which reflects your cardio fitness. And it now counts repetition during certain weight-training exercises, as well as automatically recognises activities such as walking and running.

The vivosmart 3 does not have any button and looks like a single piece of rubber wristband. It comes in black - available in regular and large (the version tested) sizes - as well as blue and purple (both in regular size only).

While not much of a looker, it is very comfortable to wear. Its watch-like clasp provides a secure fit on the wrist. It is water resistant down to 50m.

Unlike with the always-on display of its predecessor, you wake up vivosmart 3's display by raising your wrist or tapping on the display. However, I found the display not appearing in many instances when I raised my wrist. I also had to tap a few times before the display wakes up.

But it is very easy to read the display, even under bright sunlight. Swipe up on the display to cycle through different status panels that show time and date, stress level, heart rate, distance travelled, steps taken, flights of stairs climbed and calories burnt.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $229

    MATERIAL: Rubber wristband

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth

    WATER RESISTANCE: 50m

    WEIGHT: 20.4g (regular), 21.5g (large)

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Like all Garmin fitness trackers, the vivosmart 3 sets your daily step target based on your previous day's effort. So, if you hit 6,000 steps today when your target was 7,500, it will modify tomorrow's target to 7,000.

Compared with my calibrated Apple Watch Nike+ and Alta HR, the vivosmart 3 tends to over-estimate the number of steps taken daily by around 4 per cent.

Its HR monitor shows both the resting and current HR. And its readings were roughly similar to those of my Apple Watch Nike+.

But, during workouts, I found the heart-rate readings to be on the high side, compared with my Polar H10 chest strap HR monitor.

With no built-in GPS, the vivosmart 3 was over-generous in terms of tracking distance. On my usual 5km route, it recorded 6.5km.

But it was spot-on in counting repetitions during weight training. It was also accurate in detecting the kind of weight exercises, like bicep curls, tricep extensions and barbell deadlifts, that I did.

The stress-level readings seem to be quite accurate too. When I was busy filing a story during an overseas press conference, it showed my stress level as being really high, compared with when I just woke up that morning.

The vivosmart 3 automatically detects and tracks your sleep. It shows how long you are in deep and light sleep, as well as the time and duration you are awake.

The sleep pattern results I got were similar to what I obtained with the Fitbit Alta HR. However, like its predecessor, the vivosmart 3 assumed that I was sleeping deeply when I placed it on the table.

As I have not taken a motorised treadmill test recently, I cannot say if the vivosmart 3's VO2 Max score is accurate. But it does show that I am in the poor range, which I admit I am.

Battery life is as good as advertised. The battery lasts five days when connected to a smartphone to receive notifications.

•Verdict: If you don't mind its bland looks, the Garmin vivosmart 3 is a feature-packed fitness tracker that provides you with plenty of fitness information, like VO2 Max and stress levels.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2017, with the headline 'The Garmin vivosmart 3 tracks your stress level too'. Print Edition | Subscribe