TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio full review
TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio sport watch review: what it is
The TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio is a watch with a built-in heart-rate monitor. This sits neatly in the base of the watch in order to accurately measure your heart rate from your wrist, meaning you don't need one of those weird chest-strap things. A built-in GPS receiver provides real-time speed and distance information, so you can track distance, time, pace, speed and calories burnt as you run, cycle, walk or even swim. Then you can store activities on your watch, or share them via TomTom's own desktop software.
TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio sport watch review: price and value
The RRP of the TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio is £199.99. But this is one of those happy occasions in which the RRP is merely a guide. A quick look online shows that the TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio is available from John Lewis for just £149.99.
Hop over to Amazon and you will pay only £179.99 too.
This puts the TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio in the upper echelons of fitness wearables. Creeping toward smartwatch pricing, without being quite there. Which is important, because this is a fitness gadget, and not a smartphone extension. The Microsoft Band retails for around £145, for instance, and offers some smartwatch features such as email notifications. But it isn't waterproof, and can't be used for swimming as can the TomTom.
You will pay the same of more for the Fitbit Surge, which is the equivalent FitBit fitness device. So the TomTom is well priced, but only for fitness enthusiasts. See all smartwatch reviews.
TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio sport watch review: before you start
Setting up an using the TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio is not a seemless and slick experience. Far from it. You are warned on the box, and in the instructions, to always connect your TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio to a computer before you start exercising, using the desk dock provided. The desk dock is a slightly clunky plastic nugget to attach, which then connects to your PC via USB. You then visit the TomTom Get Started web page at www.tomtom.com/123 and download the MySports Connect desktop software, and it in turn updates your watch.
This is important, because if - like me - you decide to find out what happens when you don't update the watch, you will find yourself pounding the streets running 6.45s and being told by your stupid useless watch that you are crawling along at nine minutes a mile. Pah.
A little irritating that you have to go through this rigmarole. I mean, it isn't 2003 and this isn't an iPod. But it wouldn't be a reason not to buy the TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio.
In line with the slightly old-school nature of requiring a physical connection to desktop software in order to upload and download to the web, it is from the desktop software that you can update stats for your activities. You can also, however, install the MySports mobile app and pair your phone direct with your watch via Bluetooth.
TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio sport watch review: design and build
Robust and waterproof up to 50m, the TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio is designed to be used when out and about, and it is built to last. It's also lightweight and comfortable to wear, and despite being rubbery and plastic, the design is sufficiently holey to allow sweat to simply drift away.
We shoved it in water to know obvious negative outcome, and for more than a month it has been either in a rucksack or in use, without coming to any ill effect. Also see: Best activity trackers 2015.
The TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio turns heads. It is, it is fair to say, an aquired taste. It is also unlikely to sit on your wrist at the Lord Mayor's banquet. A bright plastic strap with wholes punched out of it, the wrist band element of the TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio is more than 3cm wide at its thinnest point. (Compare that to your watch, it's wide.) This is a device that screams out to be noticed, which is fine when you are running or cycling, less so in civilian life.
The clasp itself works well, which is important. You don't want your watch slipping around as you, well, slip around. Those wristband holes allow you to affix the strap at multiple levels of tightness, too. Overall TomTom has done a good job of building a watch around a clunky, sensor-heavy device.
There is no touchscreen. Instead you navigate the TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio using a four-button pad that sits below the display. It is perfectly intuitive, if a little clunky at times.
The charging and connecting cradle is mildly awkward to connect and disconnect. We have been using the TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio for over a month, and I have still never managed to get it off- or on without a sweary struggle. Perhaps I am just clumsy.
TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio sport watch review: display
A 1.5in backlit greyscale display (22x25mm technically), the TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio's screen has a resolution of 144x168 pixels, which makes for a pixel density of around 148ppi. This is pretty decent on a watch face.
When on the move the TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio is clear and easy to read even when bouncing around in front of a face full of sweat. It isn't a touchscreen, but we can forgive that. See all wearable tech reviews.
TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio sport watch review: in use
After our failure to update false start, we have been impressed by the TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio. The GPS locks on quickly, and is very accurate. Moreover, we like the viewing options: even on the same run it is good to be able to view, at different times, speed, average speed, distance travelled, and heartrate. Throughout you can see time taken, distance travelled and heartrate on every screen. You simply choose the big figure in the middle.
We like that you can store a certain number of previous activities. We did find stopping an activity a little counter-intuitive (you have to hit back, which does have a pause sign in place), but accept that was likely our stupidity.
Battery life has been good. We usually charge it once a week, and use it several times in that period. Although it is worth checking: on more than one occasion the battery has run out whilst we were on the hoof.
We can't comment on the accuracy of the heartrate monitor, but when in use it is always on and always giving us a number.
TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio: Specs
- Battery lifetime: Up to 8 hours (GPS+HR), up to 10 hours (GPS)
- Display size: 22x25mm, Display resolution: 144x168
- 13.8 x 233mm
- 63 grams
- GPS + GLONASS, QuickGPSFix
- Motion sensor, compass, optical heart rate monitor
- Waterproofing: 5 ATM
- Languages: English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Finnish, Portuguese, Dutch, Czech, Polish