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Fitness band faceoff: Garmin vivofit 3 vs. Fitbit Alta

James A. Martin | July 8, 2016
Garmin is giving Fitbit some serious competition in the activity tracker market today, thanks to its top notch fitness devices, including the new vivofit 3 wristband. Here's how Garmin's new band stacks up to Fitbit Alta.

garmin vivofit 3 fitbit alta activity trackers

A lot of writers have published a lot of stories about how Fitbit should be (and perhaps is) worried about Apple and its Watch wearable. The real story, however, is that Garmin is now a serious Fitbit competitor in the world of activity trackers.

Garmin's new vivofit 3 ($100), for example, shares some characteristics with Fitbit's recently released Alta band ($130) - and in a few ways vivofit 3 bests Alta. Here are a number of important similarities and differences between the two fitness devices, as well as ways in which each wearable outperforms the other.

Garmin vivofit 3 and Fitibit Alta similarities

vivofit 3 and Alta both let you swap bands

Both wristband activity trackers are stylish and sleek. You can swap out their basic rubbery "elastometer" bands for more stylish ones. For vivofit 3 Find it on Amazon -*What's this?* ], you can choose from four Jonathan Adler-designed bands and a number of additional styles, including a camouflage-inspired band. 

Alta Find it on Amazon ] has optional leather and metal bands, and its elastometer band comes in four colors. However, Alta's bands are much more my taste; Garmin's bands are a bit over the top for me.

garmin vivofit 3 colors styles

Alta and vivofit 3 are both slim

The vivofit 3 is noticeably wider than Alta, but compared to other popular wristband trackers, such as Fitbit's Charge HR, both are thin - or thin-ish.

vivofit 3 and Alta both auto-track workouts and sleep

The two devices automatically track your workouts and sleep. In my experience, vivofit 3's sleep stats, when viewed in Garmin's Connect mobile app, are slightly more accurate than Alta's data. In one test, Garmin's wearable ended my sleep session at the exact moment I awoke, but I hadn't yet exited my bed. Alta stopped recording sleep only after I hauled myself out of the sack. The difference in time was minor, but it's still worth noting.

Alta and vivofit 3 both offer move reminders

If you sit for an hour or so, vivofit 3 and Alta both prod you to get up and move. However, Alta's reminders are more noticeable and take a more demanding tone, which I like.

vivofit 3 and Alta don't count stairs or elevation

This particular shortcoming is unfortunate, because once you get used to a device that counts the flights of stairs you climb each day, you really miss the feature when it's gone.

Alta and vivofit 3 don't have heart rate monitors or GPS

The two fitness bands don't monitor users' heart rates or track location, but that's OK with me; they're designed for casual exercisers, rather than serious athletes.


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