It is nice to go on a jog or sprint with statistics at your fingertips. Thanks to advancements in mobile hardware, there are more options than ever before. Chances are you already have a device which is your smartphone. Your smartphone may not have the functionality at first but if it is running on iOS, Android or Windows Phone, it is highly likely that you’ll find a nice app that can use your phone’s GPS capabilities in tracking distance and other parameters. While these apps make good use of the large screens, you still have to take the phone out of your pocket to look at these stats. Plus, leaving GPS on can take a toll on battery life. The idea of the wristwatch is supposed to tackle those concerns and TomTom is one of the candidates in making the perfect GPS watch. TomTom’s approach with their Runner GPS watch is highly ambitious and is worth a closer look.
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The TomTom Runner unsurprisingly has that sports watch look. But not all GPS sports watches are comfortable compared to the ordinary sports watches. You can count the Runner GPS watch out in this category because this particular GPS watch is impressively lightweight. The watch was also designed to be comfortable in such a way that your skin doesn’t come in contact with the rubber strap. Taking off the watch doesn’t feel like a sticky mess as a result. Having a comfortable watch is a big deal since you probably won’t be taking this watch off as it is weatherproof and waterproof up to 50 meters.
The monochrome screen is pretty impressive too boasting a 144×168 resolution that is capable of producing decent visuals and crisp text. It is also scratch resistant making this the kind of watch you can really wear no matter the situation. The display comes in grey and pink styles and you can further personalize the design by swapping the watch band with another. Some watch bands are even more emphasized on comfort. The display and the small control pad below it are both removable to make swapping simple. Unfortunately, removing the display is also necessary if you want to charge it as there is no USB charging support. Instead, you have to settle with the proprietary charging dock that is included with the package.
The TomTom Runner GPS watch may not be in the same category as all the emerging “smartwatch” products coming from reputable smartphone manufacturers but the Runner still packs a bunch of cool features. While you are running, you can access the distance, time and pace statistics all from the same screen. Since the watch is constantly connected to the GPS satellite, the data will continue to update in real time. You can scroll through other statistics as well if you want to see the stride length, calories and other details. You can customize the main screen too if certain statistics matter more to you.
The “Graphical Training Partner” lets you decide what kind of training activity you wish to have a go at. The “Race” mode allows you to record the distance and time in a normal fashion. Once finished, you can perform the same race while seeing how your current statistics compare to your previous run in real time. Having all this real-time information is most convenient when the display is on your wrist. This can be a handy tool to use for other activities like biking although a bike mount isn’t included. You can use the “Goal” mode instead if you want to specify a certain goal such as achieving a certain time, distance or calorie goal. The large screen makes it easy to check your statistics in a single screen. If you are targeting a certain heart rate or pace, you can use the “Zone” mode instead. These modes all work wonderfully with great GPS accuracy. The QuickGPSFix technology works wonders in accurately getting your location. It also features Bluetooth so it can connect with optional accessories.
Perhaps the most innovative thing about the Runner GPS watch is how TomTom managed to tie these features together. Below the display is a single button but it has multiple functions depending on the screen you are looking at and the spot you actually press the button. It is essentially a directional pad where you can press up, down, left or right. TomTom calls this the “One Button Control” and you can try it out right from the main screen which shows the time. Pressing the button to the left lets you glance at the important stats like the battery life. The opposite direction takes you to the activity selection menu. The right side of the button also doubles as a confirmation button. Pressing down will allow you to adjust the settings. This interface takes some time to get used to at first but after prolonged usage, the watch becomes very convenient to use.
The TomTom Runner GPS watch is a terrific GPS watch that has most of the good qualities of a sports watch while serving as a highly reliable graphical training partner. The One-Button Control really puts the statistics at your fingertips. Finally, the $169 price tag makes this a pretty competitive GPS watch.