Tech-infused wristwatches will remain a niche market for the unforeseeable future. Millions of people are just fine with their smartphone and the next separate gadget they are likely to purchase is a tablet. Still wearable tech enables you to glance at data the fastest and there might be situations where it isn’t a good idea to take out your smartphone especially if it isn’t waterproof. GPS watches are a good example and they are popular amongst runners as they can quickly see key statistics like distance and time. Some GPS watches target other crowds like golfers. It can be difficult to pack so many features in a device with a small screen. The closest athletes can get is the multi-sport watch category. TomTom, a company for making decent GPS navigators, has its own multi-sport watch naturally called the TomTom Multi-Sport GPS watch. It may look like its cheaper sibling – the TomTom Runner but the multi-sport version is a more complete 3-in-1 package.
TomTom is taking a unified design approach with their watch products and that’s a good thing because the TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch is handsomely designed for a sports watch and is comfortable too. The comfort is attributed to low weight. Surprisingly, the Multi-Sport GPS watch has the same design specs as the Runner from the 1-inch display and 144×168 resolution down to the 0.45-inch thickness. The display may not look tough but it can actually withstand a lot of abuse as the glass is resistant to both scratches and impact. The TomTom Multi-Sport GPS watch is a reliable swimming companion too being waterproof up to 50 meters. You can remove the display from the strap and mount it on a bike using the included bike mount or you can purchase additional straps if you want to change style. Removing the display is also needed to charge the device through the separate docking station.
The TomTom Multi-Sport GPS watch features an interesting interface that revolves around a single button. TomTom calls this system the “One-Button Control” and designed it so you can quickly access statistics and select the mode you want in just a few steps. With no labels on the watch, you might have to read the manual or watch a video tutorial to get a feel of the interface but it gets real simple once you are acquainted with it. Basically, the single button on the bottom of the display is a directional pad where tapping the button on one of the four sides takes you to another screen whether it is the stats screen, settings menu or mode selection. Even experimenting can be enough to fully understand this interface. A touch-sensitive control can be found on the right of the screen which activates the backlight.
Like the TomTom Runner, Graphical Training Partner powers the bulk of the experience. The “Race” mode is a cool feature to try out because it allows you to race yourself. You simply run or bike your way through a set path and record your distance and time. Then you can do it all over again while constantly tracking your progress in comparison to the previous run all in real-time. It feels like playing those racing video games where you are racing your ghost in a practice mode. The “Goal” mode is highly motivational as well. You just set a particular goal such as a calorie goal or time goal and you move along from there. Lastly, you can set a target for heart rate or pace. The Multi-Sport GPS watch does a great job in tracking your position and it has a built-in technology called QuickGPSFix which ensures top precision.
While the TomTom Runner is waterproof too, the TomTom Multi-Sport GPS watch is more suitable for swimming because of its special swimming functions. The watch can monitor things like the number of strokes made and lengths done based on the length of the pool. The swim sensor, which needs to be purchased separately, is required if you want to obtain data on your strokes. Upgrading the watch to the latest firmware is highly recommended as it fixes the bugs associated with this feature.
The recorded data on the watch can be uploaded to the Internet through the TomTom MySports service. It is a well-designed website that lets you track your goal progress using any device.
One of the main weaknesses of the TomTom Multi-Sport GPS watch is its incompatibility with ANT+ peripherals. You have to settle with the Bluetooth accessories instead although they pair just fine with the watch.
On its own, the TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch with the included bike mount serves the purpose. The $199 price tag makes it significantly cheaper than owning 3 devices separately and the innovative One-Button Control seamlessly ties these functions together in an accessible interface. But to really make the most of the features, you have to spend a little bit more on the cadence / speed sensor and heart rate monitor. If you already have ANT+ accessories and you are on a tight budget, you may have to seek an alternative.
Update: There is a newer model > Tomtom Spark 3