The newly released Vivoactive marks a significant upgrade from previous iterations. There are quite a few new features here which make it a significant upgrade from previous Vivoactive wearables, which traditionally lacked many features found in the forerunner series. This new model seems to bridge that gap, making the Vivoactive 3 a serious contender, and possible alternative, to the forerunner and fenix ranges. Let’s take a closer look.
I did not think that I would be writing a review/blog post on another Garmin watch this year. I purchased my fēnix 3 in 2015 (2 years ago) and it has been a revolutionary device for me, both in terms of aesthetics and functionality. When Garmin announced the fēnix 3 HR last year, there was no compelling reason for me to upgrade. Then earlier this year, the fēnix 5 was announced, and once again, I was not convinced and even put pen to paper on my reasons ‘not’ to upgrade. So what changed and why did I decide to bite the bullet? This is not a full review on either of these watches, but more of a comparative analysis if you are struggling to decide which watch (if any) is right for you. You will find this blog post useful if you:
-Cannot decide between buying the fēnix 5 or Forerunner 935.
-Cannot decide which fēnix 5 model to buy (standard vs sapphire).
-Are upgrading from the fēnix 3.
Before I even get to comparing the watches, my purchasing decisions have to be mentioned. This is going to be a long one, but I will try to be as brief as possible! Here we go…
Okay, so it’s been two years since Garmin released the fenix 3. As I’ve gone over in my previous reviews, it is probably the best sports watch money can buy. Last year Garmin released the fenix 3 HR, which was essentially the same watch as the fenix 3, but with a built-in heart-rate monitor. That alone was probably not worth the upgrade, especially for me, as wrist-based heart rate monitors typically don’t work well for me at all. And seriously, I have tried a number of wrist based heart rate trackers, including the Mio and Tom Tom multi sport. But now with the fenix 5 unveiled, is it worth upgrading from the fenix 3?
My first fitness/activity tracker was the Nike+ Fuelband, back in summer 2013. It was an interesting and motivational product at the time, and I used it for the better part of over a year. In the fall of 2014, I started to log my runs with Strava, and left Nike+ behind, purely due to their lack of software updates. As a result, my interest in the Fuelband also dwindled, and I subsequently stopped using that, too. I lead a fairly active lifestyle, and did not consider another activity tracker until fairly recently. I am actually still unsure whether to refer to such devices as “fitness” or “activity” trackers(!), but I digress.
I use a Garmin watch (fenix 3) to record my runs, which does doubles-up as a fitness tracker. However, it is not convenient/practical to wear it 24/7. The fenix 3 is a heavy and fairly bulky watch, and I spend around 50% of my my time wearing it, with the other time using an Apple watch. To this effect, the consideration of a dedicated fitness tracker on my other (right) wrist was a thought that I had been pondering over for a few months, but did not act upon. However, after Christmas this year (2015), I decided to check out what fitness trackers were available. My first thoughts were to get a Fitbit Charge HR, however, the Fitbit software is fairly restricted, and data cannot be shared with Garmin connect or Apple health. A little more browsing led me to the Garmin range, which made a lot of sense as my fenix 3 and Edge 1000 already use Garmin connect.
I was very eager to see how the Strava app would perform on the Apple Watch, having now used the Strava platform to record my runs for the best part of 6 months. I decided to perform 2 test runs of 3.5km, one with the Garmin fenix 3 and the other with the Strava app running on the Apple Watch, and compare these experiences. The main point to note is that the Apple Watch currently acts as an extension of the iPhone, and uses the 4G signal and GPS from the Strava app on the phone itself, and relays that information to the Apple Watch. Quite simply, the watch acts purely as a second screen when you are running.
I will compare a few of the main running parameters between the fenix 3 and Apple Watch.
There have been a lot of comparisons drawn between two of the greatest GPS watches that Garmin has made; the 920XT and fenix 3. Both watches essentially share the same core software and features, with some minor differences. However, the major differences in these watches is of course in their aesthetic appeal. The 920XT was launched in October last year (2014) and after Garmin announced the fenix 3 in January 2015, many early adopters of the 920XT were quick to vent their frustration. And rightfully so, as in short, the fenix 3 is probably the superior between these two devices. In this blog post, I’ll be going over some of the similarities and differences between these great watches, which will hopefully help you decide which watch is better suited for your individual training and social needs.
I recently hopped over onto the Garmin bandwagon with the fenix 3 sapphire edition GPS watch last month, and was intrigued by the range of features available on Garmin watches. Since then, I have been wearing the fenix 3 with the link bracelet and it has become something of my daily watch, allowing me to receive notifications from my iPhone, track my activity (steps, calories, sleep, etc), as well as serve as a beautiful time-keeping device. The only issue I had with it was changing the straps every time I wanted to go for a run, which can be up to twice per day. This involves a process of unscrewing the link bracelet and attaching the rubber strap, because let’s face it, no one wants to be running long distances with a metal band weighting ~120 grams. As a result, I decided that the sheer beauty and convenience of the fenix 3 justified it’s price tag, and decided to keep it for: a) my daily watch b) shorter runs c) trail runs and hiking activities (due to the enhanced navigational functions). This compelled me to look to other Garmin watches to use for those daily longer runs, coming across the Garmin 920XT.
The fenix 3 is Garmin’s latest flagship GPS sports watch, boasting an incredible array of features. It is not only a very capable watch for running, cycling, hiking, etc. but also doubles up as a smart watch, providing the user with notifications directly from their smartphone. I am currently waiting for the Apple Watch, which like many others, I patiently preordered on the 10th of April. Unfortunately, my patience has begun to run thin, and there is no sight of me taking delivery of my Apple Watch. Well, not least until May 27th-June 9th, which is my current ‘shipping window’. But I digress.
I run around 6 days a week, and often listen to music when out for my morning runs. I usually run with an iPod shuffle and a set of wired Apple headphones. Although I can get by with the average sound quality on the Apple headphones, they simply are not designed for sports use, and frequently fall out of my ears. This proved to be a frustrating affair for some months, after which I moved over to some Sony wired headphones. Luck would have it that after a year or so these broke, so I was back to my Apple buds again. Being in the market for a few months now, I tried a few headphones, but could not find anything suitable for my needs. In the end, I simply gave up listening to music whilst on my training runs. Fortunately, I was contacted by Mpow and asked if I would like to try out their new Sport Bluetooth 4.1 Cheetah headphones and write a review for them. They kindly sent me a pair and I took delivery of these on the 18th of April. Having tried them out now for around 10 days, here are my thoughts.
Often on my long runs, pretty much anything over 25km, I find myself making repeated trips back home to refill my water bottle, and maybe have an energy gel or two. I must confess, I am not a fan of strap on running belts, and like to run as free and light as possible. The repeated trips I must make back home also limit the routes I can take, leading to some degree of boredom. A few weeks ago now, I began to look into the possibility of using a light weight hydration pack. I looked into a few different options and manufacturers, but the ones which seemed to click best with me, both in design and functionality, were from Nathan.
Without hesitation, I ordered the Vapor Cloud and Vapour Wrap models, with the intention of keeping one and sending the other back. In fact, they were both so good in their own way, that I decided to keep both. Here is a summary of my thoughts on these vests.