First Look: Garmin Adds Music to Vivoactive 3 Smartwatch

Updated

The Garmin Vivoactive 3 debuted last year and impressed us with its responsive touchscreen, a strong GPS signal that quickly locks in your location, and the addition of mobile payments. But the watch had a couple of drawbacks — namely that it lacked advanced sleep-tracking analysis and offline music storage. That’s about to change.Credit: Tom's GuideCredit: Tom's Guide

What’s New?

The $300 Vivoactive 3 Music is on sale today with the exact same fitness features as the original, but now includes on-board music storage for up to 500 songs.

Garmin also plans to roll out a more advanced version of its sleep-tracking feature that takes into account heart rate variability as well as movement and heart rate. The new feature, which is coming soon to the Vivoactive 3, Forerunner 645, Forerunner 935, Fenix 5, Vivosport, Vivosmart 3 and Vivomove HR, will measure time spent in light, deep and REM sleep.

The sleep-tracking feature isn’t yet ready for primetime, so I didn’t get the chance to use it. I did use the new Vivoactive model to work out and listen to music directly on the device.

Music: Limited, But Solid

The process of adding music to the Vivoactive 3 is exactly the same as on the Forerunner 645 Music, which was Garmin’s first watch to offer on-board music storage. You can sync iHeartRadio playlists offline if you subscribe to that service’s premium tier, which is $9.99 a month. A similar partnership with Deezer is coming soon, but we’d like to see Pandora (available on the Fitbit Versa) or Spotify.

Alternatively,  you can add MP3 files (remember those?) to your watch using Garmin’s Express desktop software. I used Garmin Express for Mac to transfer my favorite Beyonce tracks to the Vivoactive 3, which took just a few seconds to sync. I then paired my Bluetooth earphones to the watch (any will do — even AirPods). It’s not a difficult process, though it’s not quite as easy as syncing Apple Music playlists to the Apple Watch, for instance.

Outlook

The Forerunner 645 Music offers far more advanced running metrics than the Vivoactive 3, but it’s also $150 more and lacks a touchscreen. With music and more advanced sleep-tracking, the Vivoactive 3 Music could be the GPS watch that’s useful for most people.

Stay tuned for our full review of the device.