The competition for your health and fitness data is heating up. Not only do you have traditional players like Polar, Garmin, and Suunto bringing great new products to market, but now there are new comers from the mobile industry like Apple, Google, and Samsung working hard to deliver great platforms and hardware to consumers.
TomTom wants a piece of this market as well, expanding from its core business of GPS navigation into fitness devices. The TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio watch is a strong contender for your hard earned dollars with a number of features to recommend it.
I recently bought the TomTom as a GPS watch to cover off some of my main summer sports like cycling, running, and hiking, as well as to provide an alternative to wearing a heart rate chest strap—something that becomes much less interesting as we enter the hot months of summer and early fall in Northern California. Although I enjoy using the Mio Link, having a single device to remember to charge, particularly when I am packing to travel, definitely appeals to me.
The TomTom watch uses a pulse oximeter on the underside of the watch in order to capture your heart rate data while exercising. The company did a great job designing the detachable watch unit from the strap, which uses soft rubber and is wide enough to make the watch comfortable to wear. An innovative bike mount allows you to attach the watch unit easily to your handlebars.
Inside the TomTom you will find both a 3D motion sensor, common in fitness bands like the Jawbone and Fitbit, a compass, and optical sensor. Of course, since this is TomTom, the watch takes advantage of the company’s proprietary QuickGPSfix technology that locks on to satellites in a matter of seconds. Finally, the watch is bundled with a combined speed and cadence sensor for the bike.
Setting up the Multi-Sport was very easy—once you have downloaded the TomTom MySports Connect app, you enter personal information and preferences, and can manage your files and data on the device. When you have finished your workout, you can transfer your data to an app on your phone or to the web using the proprietary charging cable included with the device.
Viewing your data couldn’t be easier, as the MySports app allows you to share your data with third-party social networks like Strava, in addition to the MySports and MapMyFitness websites. The mobile app is surprisingly well designed with a clean and easy to read layout. I did find the transfer of data slow both on the mobile and to the computer, but nothing that affected my ability to enjoy the fruits of my labor.
Battery life was truly impressive, with only 20% battery used during a recent 4 hour ride up the coast. One reason for this is TomTom’s decision to implement Bluetooth Smart as the only wireless protocol the device supports. This may anger some who would like to see legacy ANT+ sensors supported, however, covering multiple radios has a significant impact on the performance of watch. The increasing number of Bluetooth Smart sensors coming onto the market is a direct result of the implementation of the standard in mobile phones, and makes the Multi-Sport Cardio a future focused device.
The Multi-Sport is a compromise device, trying to provide the best functionality for a number of sports such as allowing you to track your runs both outdoors and on a treadmill. However with cycling, the device is currently limited to tracking heart rate and speed/cadence only, without the ability to record power data as seen in more cycling specific devices. The good news is that the TomTom watch easily connected to other Bluetooth sensors such as the Mio Link and the Wahoo RPM.
The simple black and white screen used on the Multi-Sport Cardio helps with battery life and is easy to read while you are working out. The watch allows you to scroll through a number of data fields with a single prominent number on the screen and two smaller fields located above. I would certainly recommend that TomTom consider a slightly larger screen, as the two smaller numbers were small enough to make them less useful while riding.
- Comfortable on the wrist.
- Mobile app well laid out and intuitive.
- Easy to set up with PC/Mac.
- Good third-party integration with apps such as Strava.
- Easily connects to other Bluetooth Smart sensors.
- Long battery life and quick GPS connection.
- Only Bluetooth Smart—so not compatible with your ANT+ sensors.
- Data transfer slow to handset and PC.
- No power meter connection for cyclists.
- The included speed and cadence sensor is bulky and touchy to set up but works well once it is paired.
- Screen size-hard to read all numbers.
- Processor is a bit laggy.
In general, I would strongly recommend the TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio as a single device for many of your cardio based activities. The watch retails for $299.99 and is available now.