So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
TomTom Multi-Sport GPS watch
An GPS watch that's suitable for novice runners and bikers to marathoners and triathletes alike
- Single button for easy menu navigation
- Watch face & button slip out of band as one unit
- Price comparable to other entry-level GPS watches
- Battery life could be improved
- Heart rate monitor is an extra cost
The TomTom Multi-Sport is reliable, durable GPS watch suited for runners, swimmers and cyclists of all levels. We feel it's on par with other entry-level models for a similar price.
Price$ 249.00 (AUD)
Many novice and experienced runners use GPS watches. They're great for keeping a close eye on your average pace throughout a run, particularly during those last few kilometres when you're striving towards the finish line.
Runners would be forgiven for thinking that American company Garmin is dominating the GPS watch market. Every runner we know uses a Garmin. We've used a Garmin Forerunner 110 for two years now for short runs, half marathons and marathons — it's a reliable entry-level sports watch.
But other manufacturers are creeping into the fitness market. The latest is TomTom, best known for its in-car navigation systems. It has just released its first range of GPS watches in Australia. We got a hold of the entry-level TomTom Multi-Sport GPS watch, which retails for $249 (or $319 with a heart rate monitor). It's targeted at athletes who might include swimming and cycling in their fitness routine.
Attractive design, easy operation
The TomTom Multi-Sport GPS watch is an attractive piece of kit, and like the other models in the range, it is unique in two ways.
Having a responsive 'one-button control' is useful.
Firstly, underneath the display there’s a large button, which makes it very easy to navigate the menu before you get moving. GPS watches from other manufacturers generally have four buttons (two on each side of the watch) so having a responsive 'one-button control' is useful.
Secondly, the watch face and the button slip out of the watch band as one unit, which is easily slotted into a small cradle and plugged into a USB connection for charging. The TomTom Multi-Sport model also ships with a bike mount so the watch face and button can be easily clipped onto the handlebars of a bike.
Operation is relatively easy. Simply push the button to the left to view the watch status, including battery level, amount of available storage and the 'tick' that indicates TomTom’s QuickGPS technology — claimed to find GPS satellites fast — is operating.
Pushing down on the button let's you set the clock, activate the heart rate monitor, view the runner's profile (weight, height, age, gender and language), and change options (kilometres or miles, and backlight for running at night). Pushing the button to the right presents four options: run, cycle, swim and treadmill. These options are selected by pushing the button up and down.
The 'race' option allows the runner to try and beat a previous time.
We selected the 'run' option and the watch started searching for GPS satellites. In this mode, pushing up shows activity history and pushing down shows training and display settings. The 'race' option in the training folder is useful as it allows the runner to try and beat a previous time, or select one of five pre-set races on the watch and compete against them.
'Goal' mode allows the runner to set a distance, time or calorie goal before running and view their progress; while the ‘zone’ feature allows the user to set a target pace for pace or heart rate and view how they are going throughout a run.
Good performance, average battery life
The TomTom Multi-Sport was first tested during an 11km run along bush trails, 50km outside of the Sydney CBD.
It's always good to give a GPS watch at least two or three minutes to find the GPS satellites before setting off on a run. On this occasion, the watch took about 30 seconds before the word 'Go' appeared in the middle of its monochrome LCD display, indicating the GPS was ready. So we pushed the button to the right to start the clock and set off.
During the run, the display was easy to read and as expected, the distance, average pace and time seemed accurate on a course that we have been running almost every week for a few years.
The watch was used a second time during a 21km run, or half marathon. The evening before the event the next morning, the watch battery was about 60 per cent charged. We figured that would be enough power for the half marathon with the GPS, so we didn’t charge it overnight.
Make sure the thing is fully charged before any run, particularly if it’s a long one.
Unfortunately, about 2kms from the finish of the 93 minute run, the battery ran dead. This was surprising, given that TomTom quotes 10 hours of battery life.
We’ve been caught out before with other GPS watches, so the moral of the story here is make sure the thing is fully charged before any run, particularly if it’s a long one.
Read more: TomTom Runner Cardio GPS watch
After both runs, we connected the watch to our PC's USB port and installed the TomTom MySports software. This allowed us to view all activity details: distance, duration, calories burned and heart rate (when using the heart rate monitor), and activity lifetime totals. It even shows a map of route of each run.
It's a simple piece of web-based software that enables the user to export data into several different applications, which is particularly useful if you are sharing times and other data with an online community of runners.
Overall, the TomTom Multi-Sport watch is easy to operate and suitable for all athletes, from novice runners and bikers to marathoners and triathletes. Pricing is also similar to competing models in the GPS watch market.
There are other models in the range, depending on your fitness needs. The TomTom Runner GPS watch retails for $199 (or $269 with a heart rate monitor) and is purely for runners, obviously. For those who want more, the top of the range TomTom Multi-Sport includes a heart rate monitor, and cadence, speed and altimeter sensors. It retails for $379.
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