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GPS watches that deliver at-a-glance performance information for runners, cyclists and swimmers

by Editor
Wednesday 26th February 2014
Tags  TomTom   |   TomTom Runner   |   TomTom Multi-Sport   |   GPS   |   Heart rate monitor   |   altimeter

Product review: TomTom Runner & Multisport GPS Watches, including Heart Rate Monitor, Cadence/Speed Sensors and Altimeter

TomTom Runner & Multisport GPS Watches, including Heart Rate Monitor, Cadence/Speed Sensors and Altimeter

  • Running - Track time, distance and pace outdoors or on a treadmill.
  • Cycling - Use the specially designed bike mount to help you easily see your stats at-a-glance.
  • Swimming - Track your swim metrics in indoor and outdoor pools.
  • Cadence/Speed sensors – Monitor your cadence as you ride.
  • Altimeter – Monitor your elevation while you ride.
  • Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Monitor – measure the intensity of your workout.


TomTom now have their own GPS fuelled sports watches in the market (HERE). Available in two varieties, one for running and the other for multisport. Prices start from around £140 for the basic Runner GPS moving up to just over £250 for the Multisport with heart rate monitor, cadence/speed sensor and altimeter.

Both watches are pretty identical in appearance with it being down to the menus to differentiate the items.

For the money I’d obviously grab one of the Multisport units but if you don’t do much cycling you might want to save a few pounds.

I have been using the unit now for a few months and it has proven to be a very reliable watch and easy to use when on the move.

The watch is actually made up of two elements, the screen and the strap come apart, meaning you can swap straps should you wish.

I normally use a Timex Run 2.0 with heart rate as my main data capture device as the menu is simplicity itself and it also allows for the fact I cycle a bit. This is the device I measure against  for ease of use, reliability and performance. Just so you know.

The TomTom I tested came without the heart rate strap but if I was buying one I would invest the little extra and get all the bits. The strap you will need is Bluetooth Smart and TomTom provide a suitably compatible item if you decided you needed one later on.

The watch is quite a slim device, with the GPS technology built in, just in case you were thinking it might have a separate receiver or use your phones GPS elements. Not so, it’s all built in and I suppose after all these years TomTom might have a few ideas about trimming down the size of GPS receivers!

Now the thing with GPS watches and similar devices over the years has been the complexity of using them! Think back, arm pods, fussy set up, calculating zones and simply hopping around your front door for about 5 minutes waiting for the signal to lock on!

Well the latest wave of watches seems to have all listened to its users and given us faster acquiring of the GPS signal and menus that make sense!

So what of the TomTom? It has a nice big screen with clear text and numbers and all activated by a four way button below the screen. There is also a touch sensor on the right hand side of the screen to activate the backlight.

One thing I have noticed over the past few months is that TomTom have been very proactive in getting out updates to the watch. This has been a very simple process, as I connect the unit to the computer it informs me of any changes and gets on with it. It has been simplicity itself.

Some of these changes have been software tweaks, some have been visible useful additions like adding a stopwatch for example. This is the great thing about the recent watches on the market, the ability to update and develop a unit to offer a better product through use and feedback.

How you use this watch will determine how much you need to know about its menus and workings. I for example have mastered its start and stop function. From this I can output all my route and timing data to the TomTom software to analyse later. In practice I have found the software pretty straight forward to use and understand but I have been using Training Peaks for sometime and prefer to keep all my log data in one place. Thankfully this is quite a simple process to link my TomTom data to TrainingPeaks and keep it all consistent.

In fact you can export into the following formats:
TrainingPeaks.com, RunKeeper, MapMyRun

Mapping has proven to be very accurate and test runs on the same cycle route have been consistent enough to give me confidence in its performance.

Where the TomTom wins over the Timex Run 2.0 is clearly the swim element. I can’t criticise Timex for this of course! In test the watch has proven to be a good guide to your performance. Just remember to correct the watch menu for the actual pool length or it will get confused. As I write this, the data is not reported to be accurate in open water but I have not had the chance to test this and see how it faired! My fault, not the watch, but it is not sold as an open water swim watch.

So all in all I would be very happy to recommend the TomTom as a regular training partner. From my use it has been a great asset proving accurate and dependable to date. The other elements of the unit such as the Training Partner, zoned training and its race mode will be of interest to many of you as an incentive to your training.

For me the benefit has been its functionality and ability to export data to TrainingPeaks and monitor my overall performance. This watch, in its Multisport guise offers you two levels of use. For me a simple and easy to navigate tool to track my performance. The more advanced will be able to track more data and really use it to develop as an athlete. Currently information such as cadence, altitude and ascent for example are just not necessary for me and in keeping with my needs are not tracked. So if you are looking to use it as a development tool, the full package with all the toys is going to be well worth it, especially as it does not add hugely to the price.

Would I buy a TomTom? From what I have seen so far and assuming that the tech guys keep updating the units to add performance and functionality to the watch then I suggest it has to be up there on your consideration list. It has been simple to use, easy to understand and logged a good few rides with accuracy and enough data to keep me happy.

For simplicity it would be hard to fault. The menus make sense and are easy to find. Each sport element has its own menu option making it fool proof to operate. You can log indoor swims with ease and it has a little vibrate function that is at first a little surprising but in practice very useful.

TomTom announces availability and pricing for its new range of GPS watches that deliver at-a-glance performance information for runners, cyclists and swimmers

You can find out more here: www.tomtom.com/en_gb/products/your-sports/tomtom-multi-sport-gps-watch/

Run247 were at the TomTom Runner launch here www.run247.com/articles/article-4081-tomtom-runner-gps-watch.html


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