With a few GPS watches now under their belt, TomTom unveil their biggest, baddest release to date. It seems to heaven sent with useful tech features an exercise enthusiast actually wants and will use. Let’s take a preview look in more detail…
Many of the latest GPS smartwatches (Garmin Vivoactive, Fitbit Surge) let you control volume or skip tracks with your wearable. Whereas many only work within range of the smartphone the tracks are hosted on, the TomTom Spark is one of the few watches which actually lets you store music on your wrist. It’s a huge win for runners who don’t want the inconvenience of carrying a phone or iPod just to listen to music on the go.
TomTom claim up to 500 average length songs can be stored on the Spark with its 3GB storage inside the watch. That’s enough variety to keep you motivated through weeks of workouts at a time. Compatible with both iTunes and Windows Media Player, uploading your playlists to the Spark should be pretty straightforward if you use either of the widely available programs.
Some versions of the watch are pre-loaded with Ministry of Sound album “Running Trax” which features hits from the likes of Jess Glynne, Rudimental and Guetta. You’ll enjoy this more than a surprise album from U2.
There are no music speakers on the watch itself, to hear your playlists you need to hook up to a pair of Bluetooth headphones. If you don’t own any, look out for the
TomTom Spark Cardio + Music GPS Fitness Watch + Bluetooth Headphones bundle which includes a pair of earbud headphones with controls built into the wire.
Heart Rate measured from the wrist
This feature first appeared on the TomTom Cardio Runner back in 2014 and in terms of features its pretty similar. As you exercise your heart rate can fall into one of five training zones, helping you to maintain an intensity which achieves your goal.
Measuring from the wrist using a LifeQ optical sensor (last time around it was Mio who manufactured the sensor), the TomTom Spark uses LED lights and an optical sensor to measure blood flow and calculate heart rate. The end result is a convenient method which removes the need for a restrictive chest strap.
On release heart rate will only be measured during exercise bouts, however future software updates may open this up optionally to lifestyle tracking such as resting or sleeping. Should this happen, it could be at the expense of battery life.
Activity Tracking new to TomTom
Many wearables out there already give you a flavour of step count, estimated walking distance, and calories burned. Whereas many wearables measure stats daily, TomTom appears to place greater emphasis on a weekly step goal. This actually makes more sense, as a weekly period is more cyclical and will account for rest days and routines on days where aerobic activity is lighter. A well deserved rest day won’t be taken out of context.
Also inside the Spark is automatic sleep tracking, which will estimate the hours you spend in the land of Nod.
Where do TomTom watches upload data?
Data from your run can be wirelessly uploaded via the bespoke MySports app.
From here it can be transferred to Runkeeper, Nike+ and Strava? meaning you can keep using the apps you already love to use if you made the switch to a TomTom.
Verdict – (4/5)
It’s a decent effort from TomTom who show innovation with the Spark release. Music, wrist Heart Rate measurements, GPS and activity tracking all crammed into the Spark mean users can enjoy a good mix of useful features.
Let’s be clear, no Garmin let’s you store music straight on the device, it could only be a matter of time with a Vivoactive 2 or Forerunner 230 in 2016; essentially an age away in terms of tech development. Great work TomTom.