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Garmin Vivofit 3 Review

The Garmin Vivofit 3.
Price:   $100 List | $49.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive, slim, waterproof
Cons:  No cycling or workout specific data
Bottom line:  A good option for those that want an easy to use and waterproof tracker on a budget, but lacks some capabilities
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Garmin

Our Verdict

The Vivofit 3 from Garmin is an entry-level fitness tracker that did well in our testing, earning a 59 out of 100. While this model didn't score well enough to garner an award, this model was easy to use, was comfortable to wear, and had a good display. However, it was missing some features and functions pertaining to fitness and health impact that precluded it from being a top scorer. This model does have an attractive list price, and can usually be found at a discount, which can make it attractive for someone who wants a basic fitness tracker and doesn't care about heart rate monitoring.


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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
David Wise and Austin Palmer

Last Updated:
Wednesday
January 11, 2017

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This slim, wrist-mounted fitness tracker offers a few simple reminders to keep you moving and set goals, and helps you track steps and sleep. Lacking any specialized features for other activities besides running or walking, this model basically amounts to a stopwatch. It is waterproof to 5 ATM of depth, making it suitable for swimming, snorkeling, splashes, or showering.

Performance Comparison


The Vivofit 3 didn't take home any awards  but does have its merits.
The Vivofit 3 didn't take home any awards, but does have its merits.

Fitness Impact


The Vivofit 3 was about average when it came to fitness impact, earning a 5 out of 10. We evaluated the scores for this metric based on how accurate the counter tracked steps in our tests, whether or not it calculated stairs climbed, and what other activities it monitored. In addition, we also looked at the ability of each tracker to compare your stats with your friend.

This model seemed prone to registering false steps off random arm movements, but it was exceptionally accurate when it came to counting steps while walking. We compared the tracker's step count with our manual count using a crowd clicker over a mile. This model was an average of only about 0.3% off, our manual count, making it one of the most accurate models in our test.

The step count on this tracker was extremely accurate.
The step count on this tracker was extremely accurate.

This model, along with all the other Garmin models, allows you to sign up and share with your friends your progress in steps, running, cycling and swimming. You can also opt in to weekly challenges with people in your step range to add some competitive flair to training.

The step leaderboard on the Garmin app can add some friendly competition to your training.
The step leaderboard on the Garmin app can add some friendly competition to your training.

This model doesn't do anything for tracking high-intensity workouts, or for other activities besides timing it, and this model does not track flights of stairs climbed.

Health Impact


This metric was to determine how this product could potentially impact your health in a positive way, specifically if it reminded you to get up and move, helped track and control your calorie intake, if it tracked heart rate, and if it tracked sleep. The Vivofit 3 continued its trend of being average, earning a 5 out of 10.

This model does not track heart rate, but it can be paired with a chest strap to add this functionality. This model also lacks any dedicated dieting aids, requiring you to use the third-party app, MyFitnessPal.

MyFitnessPal is an app that pairs with many trackers and allows you to monitor your calorie intake and maintain that diet you are working on.
MyFitnessPal is an app that pairs with many trackers and allows you to monitor your calorie intake and maintain that diet you are working on.

This model alerts you when you have been inactive for too long, and has a movement bar that will appear on the device. This bar will grow the longer you are inactive, and will gradually decrease if you get up and start being active. This model has automatic sleep tracking, but in our experience it fell a little short, and did not seem that accurate or reliable.

Ease of Use


The Vivofit 3 did better in this metric, earning a 7 out of 10. This model was easy to use and put on, had a great battery life, and had the added bonus of being waterproof to 5 ATM. This model uses a coin cell battery for a claimed battery life of up to 1 year.

It was very easy to navigate through the menus on this tracker, and it would sync with your mobile device in a reasonable amount of time, around 10 seconds. We weren't as thrilled with the app, which required you to manually re-connect the tracker to your phone every time you signed out of the app, instead of automatically doing it like other models. The app was also a little overwhelming with all of the graphs and various settings, and felt significantly less intuitive than some of the other model's companion apps.

Ergonomics


Our panel of users felt that this was great when it came to ergonomics, earning it a 7 out of 10 and putting it in a tie for the second highest score in this metric. We rated the comfort of this tracker when worn, its aesthetic appeal, and its profile.

Our panel of users thought this model was very comfortable to wear.
Our panel of users thought this model was very comfortable to wear.

This model was small and comfortable when worn, keeping it from being a nuisance when sleeping. It also has a low profile design, minimizing the times it would get caught when putting on a jacket or backpack. This model rated about average when it came to aesthetics, as it's your typical, black, rubberized rectangle — a common theme among fitness trackers.

Display


The final metric that we looked at was the display for each of these models. This model had a good display, earning a 7 out of 10. It was visible even in bright light, clearly displayed the time and date, and was extremely responsive. This proved to be a critical feature, as models that were fickle when it came to responding provoked tons of frustration. This tracker also has an extended display to show you your current steps, daily goal, distance traveled, and calories burned.

We like the ease of reading and the high level of responsiveness of this display.
We like the ease of reading and the high level of responsiveness of this display.

Value


This watch can be a good value if you are primarily concerned with step counts, or with swimming. It has a low list price and is often on sale.

Conclusion


The Garmin Vivofit 3 is a basic fitness tracker that performs surprisingly well for its cost. While it wasn't one of our favorites, it is a comfortable model that is easy to use, and has the added benefit of being waterproof.
David Wise and Austin Palmer

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