An alternative to the popular Garmin, this GPS watch offers all sorts of features to satisfy the geekery in runners. It also has an in built heart monitor, using a clever sensor to measure your heart rate at your wrist, getting rid of the need to use a sweaty strap round your chest. I’ve never been bothered about measuring my heart rate, mostly because I can’t be bothered to mess around with chest straps, so I can see how this is appealing. The TomTom is also waterproof to 50m, so no need to worry if you get caught out in the rain or drop it in a puddle.
I have decided to start doing some intervals once a week to build my strength back up and to hopefully start getting gradually quicker again. Yesterday was my first attempt and this seemed like the ideal opportunity to try out the TomTom. The “run” menu boasts all sorts of fantastic options such as “race”, “zones” and “intervals”, which I will be trying at some point, but for the purpose of the first try using it, I just wanted to click go and run.
TomTom took a long time to pick up a GPS, but I suspect this is more to do with where I happen to live as both Runkeeper and my Garmin also take a long time. Finally, I started my run which consisted of a short jog over to the park, followed by some short sprints, with walking recovery. When I had finished, I couldn’t work out how to stop the workout. I eventually worked out how to hit pause – let this be a lesson in always reading the instruction manuals as it really wasn’t obvious. When I got home, I then had to look up how to turn it off. Unlike the Garmin which is a simple click of the button to pause and then end a run, TomTom involves holding down buttons for 20 seconds to pause and another 20 seconds to turn it off. It may not be really difficult, but it’s time consuming and annoying.
TomTom has a dashboard called “MySports” where workouts are uploaded to. I was looking forward to seeing the breakdown of my run, but this is where the problems really started. First of all, despite being installed, up to date and registered, the TomTom would not sync. I restarted the laptop, uninstalled and reinstalled, unplugged and replugged. I shouted at it. I ranted on Facebook. Eventually, 5 hours later, the workout synced. I was then finally able to log in and look at the stats.
A lot of people have been commenting on the simplicity of MySports. I personally like it as the information is clearly laid out.
You will notice a few things:
- It did not really take me a pace of over 45 minutes a kilometre. I stopped my workout at about 17 minutes as I’d only intended to do it for a short time as I’m not used to it. Despite the fact that I paused the run and then turned it off at home, it still seems to have carried on tracking.
- I took the watch off when I got home, yet it still has monitored my heartrate, oddly making it even higher than it was when I was running. Even though I wasn’t wearing it.
- I did more than 2 sprints. I assume it isn’t showing properly on the graph due to the apparent length of the run.
It then took me a while to disconnect it from the USB charger and I eventually had to get Jimmy to do it for me. It slides out, but is fiddly.
So what are my first impressions of the watch? Let’s sum it up with some pros and cons.
- It’s rather smart and easy to get a snug fit, even on a small wrist
- The screen is very clear when running
- Strapless heart rate monitor
- Lots of useful features
- Waterproof to 50m
- Clear and easy to read MySports facility
- Not user friendly. I don’t want to spend over half a minute ending my run
- Fiddly USB
- Took a long time to sync
- Although set up was straight forward, it was time consuming
I’ll be using this over the next few weeks to give a more accurate view of what it’s like. I’m impressed by the features offered, but my initial thoughts are that it isn’t very user friendly and had it not been for the fact that I wanted to try it out for review purposes yesterday, I’d have gone out without it. I will be trying out the “race” feature at parkrun on Saturday and will report back then! I suspect that this will be a brilliant piece of kit once I get used to it…the problem is getting used to it.