2011 was a pretty significant moment for TomTom as it was the year when TomTom partnered with Nike to launch the Nike+ SportWatch. It was a pretty decent fitness watch with an attractive design but it was forgettable because of its high price tag and buggy GPS features. TomTom then went solo and launched its first purely company-made product known as the TomTom Runner. Once again, the watch had a few GPS issues but it was still pretty comfortable to wear. More recently, TomTom with a few more GPS watches with the TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio GPS Watch being the most expensive out of the batch since its functionality extends well beyond running. With other multi-sport watches available on the market, the TomTom Cardio GPS Watch needs a closer look to see if its fitness capabilities and GPS functionality is up to the challenge.
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TomTom didn’t alter the design of the TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio GPS Watch and that is quite an achievement given the fact that this watch offers extra functionality. In fact, the watch itself has the same dimensions as the other TomTom Multi-Sport model, which means that any previous straps you own will fit perfectly on the Multi-Sport Cardio. The watch does have a feeling of newness as it comes in more exciting colors including white with red strap, black with red strap and white with green strap. Some minor improvements were made to the design so the watch doesn’t easily slip out. As for the overall look, the square display and rugged appearance really makes this look like a sports watch. It is made for swimming too so making it 50m waterproof (5 ATM) is no surprise.
The main addition of this refined version of the TomTom Multi-Sport GPS watch is obviously the cardio feature. It is possible to add such feature to the original TomTom Multi-Sport by means of a heart-rate monitor strap but you have to go through the tedious process of licking the pad and sticking it to your chest. Thanks to the optical heart rate monitoring technology developed by Mio, you no longer have to do that with the TomTom Cardio GPS Watch. It works by activating a light on the back of the watch face that then tracks the blood flow and heart rate. When activated, you should see the heart rate on the small display and you can configure it to issue an alarm once the rate exceeds a certain threshold. Once set, you can proceed to doing your run not worrying about anything else. The heart rate monitor is very accurate and makes achieving your goals feel a lot more rewarding.
Once you tested the heart rate monitor, you may try setting an actual goal and the TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio GPS Watch offers five intensity zones that each have different objects and rewards. You can try Sprint which most people do during interval training or you can give Speed a shot. Then there is Endure, which improves heart and lung capacity, and Fat Burn if you need to shed a few pounds. Finally, you have Easy, which is great for warm-up and cool-down sessions.
Because this is a multi-sport GPS watch, the TomTom Cardio GPS Watch can yield cycling and swimming statistics in real-time. Like the heart rate monitor component, you can set specific goals that involve calorie, time, distance or pace. The functionality of the TomTom Runner is included as well, so you can really be productive whether you decide to go swimming, biking or running indoors or outdoors. You still have to pay extra if you want accessories like a bike mount or speed sensor but you no longer have to get a heart rate monitor.
Stats can be shared online through TomTom’s MySports mobile apps, which are free to download for Android and iOS users. Setting up the app is a bit awkward though as you need to connect the watch to a computer first via the included desk dock so you can update the watch’s software. After that, the TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio GPS Watch should easily sync to the mobile device where you can then see all your activity stats on a prettier screen. You can even use the QuickGPSFix function to let the watch pinpoint your exact location quickly.
For TomTom, the third time is definitely a charm as the TomTom Cardio GPS Watch performs nicely as a fully functional fitness watch that has great statistic tracking and a pretty comfortable design. Having the heart rate monitor as part of the unit should have been something that TomTom did with their first model because monitoring your heart rate opens up all sorts of training possibilities. It may not provide much “smartwatch” functionality when paired to your phone but it is a better fitness companion than all of the existing smartwatches. You just have to stomach that fairly hefty $299 price tag.