I've had GPS sports watches in the past with heart rate monitors where you wear a strap around your upper body. All good but sometimes temperamental in keeping satellite signals under trees and buildings and often losing heart rate readings while on the run.
Well what if you could have watch that doesn't lose signals under trees and can measure your heartrate without a chest strap....Enter the TomTom Runner Cardio sports watch!
The watch measures heart rate with a Mio optical sensor, which monitors changes in blood flow by shining a light at the rear of watch through the skin on your wrist. It's amazing and you are oblivious to this taking place. I'm aware of the Mio sensor technology as I have reviewed the Mio Alpha heart rate monitor in the past. Billed as the worlds first strapless heart rate monitor the Mio Alpha was a great watch but did not have any GPS built in or software to be able to download data.
But now combined with TomTom's GPS expertise, this is now a serious piece of kit.
The strap is the same design as the Mio Alpha, which I'm glad, as this was a good feature. It's soft and secure with no fear of coming loose on the run.
The watch was easy to set up out the box and comes with a USB cable for uploading to a computer and for keeping the watch software upto date through the TomTom MySports website.
Once the watch is set up, you're ready to go. Navigating around the watch is simple. Moving left with the Joystick opens the status screen, Down opens the settings menu, Right opens the activities menu. The only touch screen capabilities work the back-light for the screen.
The joystick looks quite obtrusive but it actually does not get in the way, and is easy to operate whilst running.
To start a run is simple, a click to the right highlights the run option, another click to the right and the watch will begin to search for satellites using the latest GPS and GLONASS technology. Initially this may take a few minutes, and if you run from a new location it will be the same, but once it has located the satellites and if you run in the same area again the fix is almost instant. The watch will vibrate and display the word 'GO'. Pushing the button once more to the right begins the run. To pause a run, press and hold the button to the left, from here you can either continue your run by pressing right or finish the run by pressing and holding to the left again. It's all very simple.
Whilst running the large screen displays information of the current run: distance, duration, pace, average pace, lap time, lap distance, lap pace, calories, heart rate and heart rate zone. By pressing the joystick down you can scroll through each of these items....Now for my one criticism of the watch, once you've scrolled through to the end, to get back to the beginning you have to go back up through each item again. It would be nice if whilst continuing to press down you went back to the first item after the last. Other than that the information is clear and very accurate. I've run with the watch under heavy tree coverage and the satellite signal never weakened making for accurate results.
The furthest I've run with the watch is around 2 hours and battery life was hardly touched. The watch is recharged via the USB cable through the computer. When not being used the watch does not turn off but displays the current time when not in use.
One of five intensity zones can be selected to match your training goals and the watch will send alerts letting you know whether to speed up or slow down.
The five zones are:
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 watch is very durable and has a scratch and impact resistant screen and is weather and water resistant.
Uploading your runs can be done connecting the watch to a computer via the USB cable or by Bluetooth onto any Apple device with the TomTom My Sports APP downloaded. The APP should be available for Android devices in September 2014. As well as the My Sports Website the data can be synced on popular running sites and community platforms, including MapMyFitness, RunKeeper, TrainingPeaks and Strava.
Syncing with my IPAD is the easiest and my favourite way of uploading, wireless and through the APP.
Once uploaded, Your run can be reviewed on the MySports website. I must admit I'm not a great fan of the layout of the site but all the information you would expect and want from your run is there. I would like to see a calender layout of my runs rather than a list that you get when entering the site. Also viewing the laps of the run is not clear.
The TomTom Runner Cardio sport watch is priced £219.99 and UK retail stockists include Sweatshop, Runners Need, Up & Running and John Lewis – also available from www.tomtom.com/sports