REVIEW: Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music Watch

As I wrote recently, my Garmin activity tracker watch stopped allowing me to record bike rides and walks. Those are my two main activit-ease, so I had to do something besides record everything as a run then edit it. My Strava friends were beginning to think I had taken up running. A Dude Don’t run. I can’t have people believing that! I have a reputation to ruin, sully, destroy, etc. So, after much Libra back-and-forthing it, I couldn’t pass up the steep discount offered for an upgrade. And voila! (or as we say in Tejas “voy-luh”) the new watch arrived. And it is GOOD!

Even the box looks cool and sleek.

The first thing I noticed was that the new watch was lighter weight, fit more comfortably on my wrist, and had a narrower band. Those all came as a relief, because I hadn’t been able to go check it out in a store. The heart rate monitor on the Vivoactiv HR is rectangular and the heart rate monitor is raised, so it made for a bit more of a clunky experience. A round watch is what I wore before making the switch, so it’s just a better feel. And that’s important for something on my body for 23.5 hours a day.

Second, the face is bigger, so it’s easier to read. I recall reading that the contrasts are better, too, and it does seem like I don’t have to squint to see the display in the Central Texas sunlight. Scrolling through the various settings and data screens is curved, so a bit odd, but feels logical. Another big plus is there’s just one button to push as opposed to two. So some thought went into upgrading the model. The start, done and save screens are much easier to read.

Third, the added fields for capturing V02 (the maximum aerobic capacity), stress levels plus REM sleep (though the latter is likely not terribly accurate). These are all cool things I will use. You can hit the stress readout and the watch coaches you to breathe in and breathe out to a four-count, slowing you down and reducing the stress number. Very cool, say if you are biking and you get cut off by a car in a close call. Just pull over, chill out, and then remount and pedal on! Of course you don’t need a watch to do that, but it’s there if you want it. The Garmin Connect app on my phone, which is needed to view the data, was updated to accommodate these things.

Navin Johnson gets the excitement of new phone books. He wasn’t a jerk, he was just looking for his special purpose. Copyright Strava and whoever owns that movie.

There are a few down sides. When my old bike glove velcro strap comes loose and touches the screen, it can actually pause or change which screen is showing. That is no bueno, as bike shop friend T often says; new gloves should fix most of that. Several times I noticed my ride had been paused. The USB charger cable is difficult to tell which end to insert into the watch and either it’s the same either direction or I may mess it up and need a new one. It’s a small thing that shouldn’t be an issue. Other concerns like trouble making swimming go down the list (til I can get pool access again) probably have more to do with me not knowing how to operate the watch totally yet. Oh, and it still doesn’t record naps. But these are small things compared to the many other features I haven’t even had time to explore so can’t explain yet.

Granted, I’m a few years late and they’ve moved on to the Vivoactive 4 and their higher-priced lines like the Fenix. But I’m a simple dude and this watch has plenty of features. Many of them I didn’t use before I may now, like notifications when I get a text. Some I have yet to try like the music functions, which I’ll probably have to get a Bluetooth speaker for and possibly a Spotify account to download up to 500 songs. I also need to research using Garmin Pay, the touchless system for buying stuff. It should use the same equipment and it’s really not a big deal to stick a card in the back of your phone if you have one of those little card holders. But cash doesn’t fit in there so if you have a bank card to link to it, it cold come in handy.

Getting ready for my first ride with the new Garmin.

As I use the watch and get the music and other features up and running, I’m sure I’ll come to appreciate it a lot more. In the meantime, the point is to track activities, and that’s what A Dude does, tries to stay active on the bike as well as walking, yoga, and of course, writing these wonderful blog posts for you my dear readers. We aim to be very, very good here at A Dude Abikes. We offer you something tremendous, it’s really one of the best bike blogs in Austin, so tell all your friends and come back with cash. After you buy a Garmin watch, let’s go ride bikes together but apart. I wouldn’t touch you guys with a six foot pole. Because, coronavirus. Just kidding. It’ll be 10 feet to be safe. Sorry, I was momentarily infected with Trump Delusional Syndrome.

What do you use to track your activities? How much of an activity tracking geek are you? Or not at all?

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12 thoughts on “REVIEW: Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music Watch

  1. I had Garmin 800 something bike computer… but several years ago just switched to using strava on the iPhone 6 to track rides. Doesn’t give me cadence or heart rate, but it’s a few less things to clean, charge and mount for every ride.

    That and going back to flat pedals and riding in tennis shoes has greatly reduced the “piddling around” time before and after a ride. Really don’t miss the detailed data as I’ve given up on trying to go faster and just looking to “go” at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Makes sense. I resisted upgrading but I needed a new watch figured I’m worth it, even though I’m still three years behind the newer technology. I probably should have a bike computer, but they’re too much moolah and don’t work on walks or swims.

      So I thought what the hell, I like to track everything, it’s a pandemic and we’ll all be dead soon anyway. Much of the data I don’t look at either. I appreciate your approach for its simplicity, and that’s what works for you. Just getting out the door is a victory.

      But I figure as long as I am, I’m documenting the shit out of my activities. No, they can’t take that away from me. My doctor recently told a nurse to tell me to take a half hour walk every day. Been doing that two and a half years, doc! And I can prove it if I have to. Maybe someday I’ll stop caring about miles and so on, but for now, it motivates me.


  2. When my FitBit passed on, I decided to go without for the first time in more than five years. No tracking. I gotta say, I thoroughly enjoy the naked venture. I’ll no doubt go back to tabulating at some future point because I enjoy that as well, but for now it’s just me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have the non music Vivoactive 3 and really like it having upgraded from V1.

    One tip – set the face so the control button faces towards your body rather than your wrist to avoid accidental pauses when cycling. I also have the side swiping option disabled as I found it was accidentally activating also.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice review! I use an older Garmin Edge Touring computer to guide me through my rides and record them. For hikes and such I use the STRAVA app on my phone. I also use the Ride with GPS app but mostly for planning and sharing routes. Enjoy the ride Dude!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks or reading and sharing Kursten! I do try to enjoy although a lot of my rides are at to get places in the city, not a lot out of town these days on this 9-speed like your nice touring rides. Be well.


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