If you are like me, not an avid runner, you might only rely on running app (like Runkeeper, Endomondo) on the smartphone to keep you company during a run. However, thanks to TomTom, I was provided another option, the Runner Cardio GPS Watch.
What is this TomTom Runner Cardio GPS Watch?
So, what is this bulky looking watch? First, let me introduce you to its strap. It is very colorful (I like it) and in my opinion, very sturdy. You might wonder why would someone built a watch with such a strap.
Now, here is a reason why the strap is built like this. You see, this watch is not just a GPS watch. It has a heart rate monitor built in. And in order for the heart rate monitor to measure your heart rate correctly, it has to be stable and always monitoring the heart rate. The sturdy strap provides the stability as it wraps around your wrist.
And by now, you should realize that I have not answered my own question of what is this watch. It is actually a runner’s watch that can track your running via GPS and monitor the heart rate.
Actually there is one more usage (which is not stated in the manual 🙂 ). I wear it as an accessory watch with its bright red and white combination.
What is good about it?
You might now wonder, how different is this watch compared to those wearables that are so common now. I could not give you a definite answer but I have a few things to say about this watch.
Battery Life – It has long battery life (as compared to current wearable devices). If you use GPS and heart rate consistently, I can say that it will give you 8 to 10 hours of battery life. But if you just wear it as a watch, it will last for days as it is not always connected to the phone which is a plus point.
Standalone – Since it has a built-in GPS, it does not rely on the smartphone when you go out for running. You can wear your watch, complete your run and sync the data later. It has built in internal storage. Moreover, it can connect with third party apps (more about that later).
Just a watch – It is a simple watch to tell the date and time, and free from all those clutters (apps, notifications and etc) and it is very focus on it’s main purpose. That is to track your running and heartbeat.
How difficult it is to use it?
You know, as a consumer (not a Tech blogger), I wish all devices are easy to use. That is why when I do review, I try to imagine myself as a typical consumer.
Is this watch easy to use when you take out of the box? Must I set a lot of things when I first use it?
The answer is No and Yes. If you use it as a watch, yes, take out the watch and use it. If you want to use it to track your activities, I suggest you spend some quality time with it. In any way, before you start, you will need to charge it. Here is the cradle for charging it and for data transfer. IMO, it is quite a big cradle for a watch.
To familiarize, you need to know the big square module (shown below). It is a directional pad to navigate to different menus. It may sound difficult at first but when you get a hang on it, it is super easy to navigate to the menus (not so many of them).
Using the TomTom Runner Cardio GPS Watch
- Needed: On PC: TomTom MySports that can be downloaded via http://www.tomtom.com/123 .
- Recommended: On smartphone: Download it on iTunes or on Google Play Store.
For my review, I installed the TomTom software that you can download easily. To get the program for your PC, I believe TomTom has tried their best to make the link as easy to remember as possible: http://www.tomtom.com/123 . As easy as 123, right?
After connecting, you will be able to download the latest Quick GPS data and any firmware updates for the watch. Most importantly, it transfers all your data in the watch storage to the PC and upload them to websites like TomTom MySports and MapMyFitness (You need to setup account with them).
Here are how the websites look like with some sample data.
Using it for the first time
I tend not to look at the instruction manual when I review products. I like to explore. In my case, I actually at a bad experience on my first try that I almost give up using it.
As I did not update the watch with the latest Quick GPS data, it took me more than 5 minutes (in fact I think slightly less than 10 minutes) to secure the location whereas my Runkeeper app has locked on to the position in less than a minute. It was so frustrating. However, once GPS is locked, you are good to go.
(see picture below) After your run, to stop the tracking, you have to use the directional pad to press and hold the left key until it go to the previous screen. Press and hold the left key again to fully stop the tracking.
Pardon for the shakiness of the pictures as I had just completed my run and still panting from it. One advice before I forgot. As I use it on multiple runs, I forgot to charge it and as a result, this happened (No battery and device stop). Do not be caught in such situation.
Using the TomTom MySports App on Android
In my initial testing, the Android app wasn’t available. Thankfully, it was released recently. Of course, I quickly downloaded the app. With the app, you can use it to update the Quick GPS data (but for firmware update, you still need your PC). Here is the pairing screen. Very straight forward.
Once you are paired with the watch, your watch will display a paired sign (the icon just above the 5 Sep wording).
I did a short video on how to update the watch with the MySports App.
As mentioned, you don’t actually need to constantly pair your phone with the watch. It is only for updating purposes but the app is really of great help (to me) as I can update the Quick GPS data immediately. Here is a screenshot of the app with my activities.
Working with Third Party Apps
One of the features of the watch is the ability to connect with existing app like Runkeeper or MapMyFitness. It took me a while to understand that you can only do that with the program on your PC. As a standard, you can connect the watch to TomTom MySports website and to MapMyFitness website. Here are some screenshots for easy reference.
If you wish to connect to other third party, just go to “Upload & Export tab”. You can see what are the websites that are currently connected.
If there is an app that is not there, you can try to add it by pressing the “ADD” button. You can choose from the selection.
The reason why I am talking so much on this is because it took me a while to understand the way they (third party apps) are connected. So, in simple explanation, to update third party sites (In my case, they are Runkeeper and Endomondo), you will need the cradle to sync your watch with a PC.
How accurate is the GPS and Heart Rate Monitor on the Watch
The answer is I am not sure too. I can only say that the results from my Runkeeper app and the watch does not match. Which is more accurate, I did not verify.
Who should buy this TomTom Runner Cardio GPS watch
I have to be very frank. This watch is not for everyone. If you are just a casual runner, you DON’T need this watch. The price of this watch is not cheap (S$449). If you don’t make full use of it, don’t buy it.
Here is a summary of the features of the TomTom Runner Cardio GPS watch.
Train in one of five intensity zones:
- Sprint: mostly used as part of interval training.
- Speed: high tempo training to improve your speed and fitness.
- Endure: moderate to high tempo training to improve your lung and heart capacity.
- Fat Burn: moderate tempo training, great for weight loss.
- Easy: easy tempo training, mostly used for warm-up and cool down.
The Runner Cardio and Multi-Sport Cardio include advanced features that are designed to address the needs of runners and multi-sport enthusiasts:
- Extra-Large Display: Track time, distance and pace on an extra-large, high resolution display.
- Full Screen Graphics: Achieve goals with the help of the TomTom Graphical Training Partner.
- One Button Control: Navigate easily through menus with the intuitive One-Button Control.
- Indoor Tracker: Accurately track indoor runs using built-in sensors to count strides, so that users can monitor pace and distance even while running on a treadmill.
- Ultra-Slim Design: Run with a lightweight watch designed for runners. The slim design comfortably fits all wrist sizes.
- QuickGPSFix: Get started faster by using the latest in GPS and GLONASS satellite technology to quickly find their precise location.
- Multi-Platform compatibility: Sync, analyse and share stats on popular running sites and community platforms, including theTomTom MySports website, MapMyFitness, RunKeeper, TrainingPeaks and Strava.
- Super-Tough Display: Run with a durable, scratch-resistant display. Super-tough scratch and impact-resistant display stays easy to read, run after run.
- Weather and Water resistant: Run in all kinds of weather. Waterproof up to 165 feet / 5ATM.
- Long-lasting battery: Run more, recharge less, with up to 8 hours battery life (GPS+HR), up to 10 (GPS only)
- Bluetooth® Smart: Connect to sensors using the latest wireless technology.
What I had reviewed is just the tip of the iceberg. I will continue to explore it. If you want to have it, it is now available in leading retailers. More information can be found at http://www.tomtom.com/en_
Overall, I feel that the pricing is a little steep. Usage wise, it takes a little while to get accustomed to it. The good thing about this watch is that it has its own GPS, and with the ability to connect to other third party apps. That means, you can go running with it and it will help to update other apps on your progress.
In terms of design, the watch is very trendy but I would prefer that they improve the light feature. It cheapens the watch as the light is just a small LED from one corner spreading across the screen. I feels that the watch is made during the 80s. Don’t you think so?