Garmin Vivoactive 3 – Another Run, 373w, RunScribe, STRYD

The title offers a lot of promise but I’m afraid it’s going to end up being a little bit negative about the Garmin Vivoactive 3. Although not about its touchscreen surprisingly.

Fitbit Ionic Garmin Vivoactive 3 Apple Watch
L-R: Garmin Vivoactive 3, Fitbit Ionic, Apple Watch

I was very excited when the Garmin Vivoactive 3 arrived a couple of weeks back. The previous Vivoactive HR, in its day, had a lot of leading-edge bits in it and I even liked the ‘band’ format of the Vivoactive HR. So I expected new and exciting things from Garmin as, after all, this device is targetting the large ‘middle’ section of the smartwatch market aka Apple Watch competitor. Whilst Garmin might not make as much of a financial killing as they have with the Fenix 3/5/935 there is certainly potential to do very well in this section of the market. True it will never be the best running watch but it MIGHT be the best sport-focussed smartwatch…or not.

‘Obviously’ Garmin’s unique selling point will be something along the lines that “YES, it’s smart but it’s also more useful for sports than the competitors.

Let’s counter that striaght away with how good the Apple Watch actually is for sports:

Apple Watch 3, triathlon kept Garmin Forerunner 935 on charger

Let’s then take a step back and go through the main points of the post’s title:

373Watts with STRYD

I was quite proud of myself hitting 373w on some hill reps after a debilitating week of well over 50 miles of aerobic miles as well as the usual other triathlon stuff. I’m not even quite sure what I ‘m training for right now…christmas? I can get closer to 400w if a bit fresher and the stats say I should be able to do about 420w but my personal reality is that about 350w is where my legs start to fall apart these days and that’s one reason for getting in lots of miles to build up some resiliance.

It’s unusual coming from cycling. Even though my FTP is quite similar for cycling/running the ‘top-end’ for cycling for me is well over double that in running. #weightbearing

STRYD plus the Vivoactive has not been a great experience. On a couple of runs I’ve experienced dropouts only on the Vivoactive with another Garmin device perfectly recording the same ANT+ power stream in parallel. I’m just hoping for Garmin’s sake that I’m doing something wrong (I’m not) and that this is not another Fenix 5 sensor dropout debacle (it might be). To be clear: some runs has been perfectly OK too.

Fenix 5 & 5s RECALL ? – Would you do that if you were Garmin right now?

Along with the dropouts there is also some strange behaviour with the apps. I had been using the STRYD power data field with no problems and then I decided to use the regular STRYD app and the Power Race app…just really for the purposes of this post, as I don’t really use either of them too much. Neither worked; although playing with both now the regular app seems to be OK but not the Power Race. I have only been aware of a Vivoactive firmware update and not a STRYD one…I could be wrong. Strange. I’ve never really had STRYD APP issues on other Garmin devices.

RunScribe Plus Came – Ta Da

I look forward to writing more about RunScribe Plus as the weeks pass (Nutshell: advanced, live running metrics broadcasts to your ANT+ and BLE devices).

But no data today as I paired the STRYD with both devices I was running with…doh.

I hope I can get you guys a discount sorted on the new PLUS version. I think it was $50 with the previous RunScribe model. Anyway, the image link below will be automatically updated if/when avaialble (hopefully next week..clcik now, could be there already…or not)


Runscribe Review Pro
Click for Current Discount off at

Garmin Vivoactive 3.

I was expecting half-awesomeness and I got $300 ‘meh’ness.

I can’t see why anyone is hyping up the Vivoactive 3 or even being overly nice about it. It really is nothing special. It doesn’t even have music (yet? never?).

The screen is nice enough. Same as the Fenix 5 (review here)  I believe (240x240px). That’s fine for a sporty device but it ain’t fine when you compare it to the Apple Watch, The Fitbit Ionic (review here) or Samsung Gear. It looks poor in comparison. Looks are NOT important as a sport watch but they ARE important as a dress watch/smartwatch AND THAT IS PARTLY WHAT THE MID MARKET WANTS…something pretty.

The one-button + touchscreen +slidy-thing-on-the-side is alright. I quite like the slider but would have liked buttons even more. General usage is OK, perhaps a little ‘naive’ in terms of the modernity of some of the achievment badges that graphically seem targetted at 8 year olds with ‘cups’ and ‘lo-res fireworks’ galore.

There are issues with workouts and the inability to insert a manual lap (even though manual laps are now a menu option to double tap the screen). It also seems rather strange that the sport setting for number of data fields per sport applies to ALL screens for that sport…even apps too(? to look closer at)

Fitbit Ionic Garmin Vivoactive 3 Apple Watch

Vivoactive 3 has Garmin Pay. But like Fitbit pay the vast majority of people will not be able to use that until 2018 depnding on their particular bank.

The optical HR seems good for running but, if I’m generous, its VERY average for cycling and doesn’t work at all for swimming.

GPS is fine. But certainly nothing special.

If you want a sporty smart watch then consider the Polar M600 (no NFC payments AFAIK) that has music AND PROPER AndroidWear2 NAVIGATION FOR THE SAME PRICE!! Garmin appear to have been out-featured here for once.

I don’t think this was designed and built by Garmin’s A Team. The A Team (mostly) deserved a holiday after the 935. I’m glad they got it.

Strange. Very. Very. Strange.

Suunto’ SPARTANs

Oh yes. In other news, the Suunto SPARTAN firmware update that first found its way on to the BARO has now found its way onto all the other devices along with that extra watch face that everyone wants (it looks poor on the TRAINER). I only mention that as today I also used the Suunto Spartan TRAINER (review here) and just happened to try out that watch face and the new firmware


Suunto SPARTAN Improved STRYD Support But Needs More

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3 thoughts on “Garmin Vivoactive 3 – Another Run, 373w, RunScribe, STRYD

  1. Vívoactive 3 is a great (or should I say the best) all-round device that delivers the vast majority of what you could want in a general sport watch/fitness tracker.

    1) If you want a powerful smartwatch with sport capabilities go with Apple Watch or Samsung Gear.
    2) If you want a great triathlon/outdoor watch go with Fenix or Suunto Spartan
    3) If you want a great mid-level sportwatch go with Vivoactive 3
    4) If you want a great mid-level sportwatch with insufficient battery and the amazing option to not be able to turn off bluetooth go with Fitibit Ionic.

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