TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch Review
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First Thoughts of the TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch
Everything about this watch seems to convey a sense of simplicity and ease. As you can see from the photos, this is a very elegant looking watch devoid of large screens and buttons. The initial startup went off without a hitch, and I scrolled through the basic functions like I’ve had this watch for months. The TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch seems to be an easy to use watch, but has functions that will satisfy a multitude of users for an even wider variety of athletic ventures. The really cool thing is that this watch has a built-in heart rate monitor. No more chest straps! I am an avid multi-sport endurance athlete, so the excitement level to take this watch and test it out for my training and races is super high.
Out of the box and ready to go
I want to start off with the directions for this watch. As you can see in the “out of the box” photo, there is a small square booklet with instructions. I am a man, and I have a new toy: that usually means not reading instructions, or looking at “how-to” videos. Since I did not want to miss anything in my review, I set aside an hour, found a quiet moment to sit down, and really read through all the features and functions. Turns out that little booklet with exactly 100 pages only had pages 2-8 dedicated to the English language. 6 very small pages with some diagrams and explanations of how to use the watch. That took all of 5 minutes. That left me with plenty of time, so a run around the park would probably be more beneficial and definitely more fun.
TomTom MySports Mobile App
TomTom has their own platform for tracking, analyzing, and using the ToMTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch to the fullest. Many GPS watch companies have this and I think it is great. When you connect your watch to your computer it will automatically download your latest workouts. The MySports website will open up for you to view all the pertinent information. Before you start panicking, you can be at ease that it will also allow you to connect and download to your favorite and more comon athletic, community and social websites. I, like many, use Strava, and have it set for it to also automatically download to my account. When comparing the two, they are very similar, and I don’t have a bad thing to say about the TomTom MySports mobile App, but my community of friends are on Strava.
|Weight and Dimensions||Battery lifetime||Up to 8 hours (GPS+HR), up to 10 hours (GPS)|
|Display size||22 x 25 mm|
|Location||Location||GPS + GLONASS|
|Sensors||Sensors (internal)||Motion sensor, compass, optical heart rate monitor|
|Sensor (wireless)||Bluetooth® Smart|
|Alerts||Beep & Vibrate|
|Water Resistance||Waterproofing||165 feet (5 ATM)|
|Heart Rate||Yes (Built-in Heart Rate Monitor*)|
|Cadence||Yes (Cadence sensor – optional accessory)|
|Dedicated Bike Mount||Yes|
|Training||Race||Past activities + favorites|
|Goals||Time, distance, or calories|
|Zone||Pace or Heart Rate|
|Laps||Pace or Heart Rate|
|Supported languages||Languages||English, Spanish, German, French, Italian|
Main Features of the TomTom Multi-Sport GPS watch
- One Touch Button – This is the do-it-all feature of this watch. On the back is where you connect to charge and download activities. The middle or main face of the button is the actual GPS receiver. Push the left side, and it opens the status screen. Hit the right side, and it opens the activities menu. And the Down portion opens up the settings menu.
- Mulit-face display – You can easily display multiple aspects of your activity in the settings. Distance, time, heart rate, average pace, or calories burned based on your specifications. 2 smaller windows on the top can be viewed when taking a quick look. The larger display would be your main focus (for me that is usually Avg. Pace on the run, Laps on the swim, and Speed on the bike).
- Heart Rate Sensor – The chest straps are slowly but surely becoming a thing of the past, and the TomTom Multi-Sport GPS watch is no exception. There are optical light sensors located on the back which read your heart rate. This is pretty cool because it captures your heart rate through the capillaries in your wrist. The veins in your body are the main blood carriers, and the capillaries are the second tier. They recommend ‘warming up’ before starting the watch, but that really only means a bit of activity to get some blood flowing. When in action, the watch will tell you your Beats Per Minute and you can view various things when running or biking (not while swimming though). You can set the various heart rate zones based on your personal information.
- The TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch is equipped with QUICKGPSFIX Technology. As the name would suggest, it is advertised to help your watch find your location quickly to get you going faster. I have a variety of GPS watches, and they all took a considerable time to get you on your way. I would get in the habit of putting the watch on the porch for it to find a connection. I’d say 85% of the time I was ready to roll in 5-10 seconds. Super impressed with that! At other times, I would say it took upwards of about a minute. Due partly to the fact that it was looking for a pulse, and weather conditions weren’t optimal with clouds or rain. All in all, not bad.
- The band is only slightly slimmer then the watch face, but transitions smoothly for a consistent look. Most of the band has stacked rows of 3 holes for the 3 pronged clasp to fit into. In addition, the end of the strap can be fastened back onto the wrist band with 3 little rubbers prongs. This takes the place of the more typical slot to slide the strap through. I haven’t decided which way I lean on this, but for the moment, it can be pushed into the band fairly easy. When on the move it makes it a bit more challenging, but otherwise it performs adequately and has stayed put when inserted properly.
- Settings – You can have a click, buzz, click and buzz, or simply off for every time you push the button. I went with the click and buzz thinking that it was subtle enough, and when running hard, I could use as much notice when a change takes place.
- The TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch even has an alarm clock. It’s not overly loud (unless there’s a hidden volume control I haven’t found), so you could sleep right through it. Maybe have a back up plan if you are a sound sleeper.
I made a point of wearing the TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch a few times in a casual as well as a semi-formal setting to see what people’s reactions would be to the watch. Because it is a rather slim watch and not overly obtrusive, the watch was well received as a casual every day watch. Let me be clear that I really have no intention to use this watch to monitor anything other than the telling of time in this manner. I know the daily activity (or non activity) and fit monitoring devices are all the rage these days, but after having seen my resting heart rate a few times, there’s really nothing else the watch could offer in that regard. It’s a Multi-Sport training watch, and I will use it as such.
Running with the TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch
I’d say the majority of testing was done while running. Hence, I will talk about it first, and after having tested this pretty extensively, my initial thoughts are that this is the strongest aspect of the watch. An aggressive marathon training plan has me running 5-6 times per week to get some serious mileage in for an upcoming marathon. The watch was used for easy runs, speed work, tempo sessions, and long runs.
The QUICKGPSFIX technology worked well for the most part. I’d say the timing to connect to a satellite took a little longer a handful of times, but for the most part I was connected within 5 to 15 seconds. The requisite ‘warm up’ was needed anyway to get my blood flowing.
I paired my watch with another watch, and my Strava account on my Smart Phone to simply verify the basic distances and paces. Over the course of 3 runs anywhere from 3-6 miles they were all within .02 miles of one another. I will take that is accurate. GPS can be finicky. Case in point was when I competed in a half marathon with a handful of switchbacks to throw off every single watch for the runners I spoke to. The course was correct, but my watch was short .18 miles. It’s the switchbacks and climbs that threw it all off, so I wasn’t too concerned.
I like to have my overall average pace displayed to give me a decent idea if I am meeting my goals for a speed workout or a longer race. Trying to maintain a 6 minute pace for a mile takes all my energy and focus, and the occasional glance at my watch gave me an idea of where I stood. I like this approach better than having the realtime pace. ‘Real time’ pace always seems to be slightly behind and can be affected by slight rises or downhills.
The Lap function is one of my favorite features. In the Training setting, select manual, and you simply tap the screen to start/stop the next lap. I have been working in numerous speed and tempo sessions. The one that was the most challenging was the Jacobs Ladder or pyramid to run a 400, 800, 1200, 1600, 1200, 800, 400 at zone 4 speed or a designated pace for each with a 1/4 mile jog thrown in for recovery in between. As the rest period ticks to the next speed session, simply tap and go. I can see my pace and distance as I go to push myself to the limit. Afterwards, I am able to sit down and analyze my runs to see if I accomplished my goals.
I have enjoyed the ease of being able to quickly scroll through the various settings while running just to mix it up if mileage, time, pace, or heart rate is something you’d want to look at.
First and foremost, I have not taken this watch out into the Open Water. It’s late Winter/Early Spring, and the temperatures just haven’t looked to appealing for me to even think about trying. The watch isn’t really made for Open Water swimming which is a bit of a downer as you do want to be able to train and use it for a triathlon. You sure can, but it won’t quite meet all the functions you’d like. And also keep in mind that the Heart Rate Function does NOT work while swimming. It would be nice to have that as you are training to see where you harder sprint-like efforts fall, but that may be something for the future. There are a multitude of training options, but you’ll first want to set the pool distance and training options. Below is a succession of screens to get you on your way.
Admittedly, my swimming has taken a back seat as I’m coming out of the off-season. A marathon where I intend to snag my Boston Qualifier has been the main focus. And after that, I will hit the triathlon training with more seriousness. With that said, I have made an effort to get in the pool at least once week to keep some semblance of pace and conditioning. Below is a shortened workout from my swim to get an idea of laps and times. I was amazed that the lap count was dead on every time I reached the wall. I took many glances at my watch to see how it was working slowing me down a bit, but giving me the peace of mind that all was working to my satisfaction.
Taking the TomTom Multi-Sport GPS out on the bike
The included handlebar strap takes a second to figure out, but there is a small diagram in the booklet which will help you get it correctly fastened. The main watch portion slips out of the wristband and fits snugly into the bike strap. At first I was curious to see how secure the closure would actually be? If I head East from my house to get the rolling plains I have to go through an industrial warehouse district, and the amount of train tracks I crossed put that theory to rest. No jarring, shifting, or adjustments had to be made.
I went out on numerous rides during the testing period, but my weekly group rides is a good indicator of how accurate the watch would be from a distance standpoint. Although I start my ride from my house I meet anywhere from a dozen to 50 of my closest and very fast friends. From that point on, we are all working and pushing the same course and distance. My times, distances, speeds, elevation, speeds, etc. were all in line with my cycling pals.
As a cycling watch it works great either with the attached strap or on the wrist. In an actual multi sport or triathlon event, I would not worry about getting the watch attached to the bike. Simply keep it on the wrist and change the functions. If you get into the habit of changing the watch from the armband to the bike strap, this exchange gets easier. It does take some doing if you are in a rush or in transition. There are two slips or settings to be able to comply with different bar sizing, and with the flexibility of the strap, you can pretty much find a home for the TomTom Multi-Sport GPS watch on any bike. I tried it on my Tri, Road, and MTB without any issues.
The TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch on the Treadmill
I tried the TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch out on the treadmill 3 times. It works to a point. You do have to add the distance run upon completion. There are a multitude of ‘Training’ options: None, Goals, Intervals, Laps, Zones, and Race. I have done much of my speed workouts on the treadmill, and wanted to see how the Intervals and Laps function would function. Keep in mind that most Treadmills have a pretty good and accurate monitoring system, so I wouldn’t call the Treadmill feature a vital function of the watch. It wouldn’t prevent me from buying it either.
My main use for the watch on the treadmill is the heart rate monitor. On the treadmill, I have a rather controlled testing ground when I set a speed or pace, and the distance I cover. I now know within a few heart beats where I am at and at what pace I can function for how long.
Multi Sport Mode
This is the TomTom Multi-Sport GPS watch, but alas a function to allow you to quickly switch between a swim, bike, run for your standard triathlon is not an option. The lack of open water swimming computing is probably the factor playing into this omission. With that said, the ability to hold the pause button to stop the watch takes 1-2 seconds, and then to hit the start button for the next activity would also take a few seconds. This does require your focus as you make your way in or out of transition. This does not give you transition time, and/or overall time, but the breakdown for the bike and run is there in all its glory.
Final Thoughts on the TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch
Having had the opportunity to test this TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch for the past few months has truly been a pleasure. I am definitely not the most tech savy person in the world, but the ease of figuring out this watch was child’s play. Simply switching activities was easy, as well as setting up various programs to aid in my quest to train more efficiently. This watch can be used independently for any of the three sports, or in conjunction with one another. The price point is actually not bad considering what you get for your money. The complexity of GPS and multi-sport watches has really gotten quite sophisticated and pricey, so I would hope that once you’ve settled on a watch that you’d get to enjoy it for numerous seasons. The TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch delivers on many fronts.
For more information and purchase please visit: www.TomTom.com