Review: TomTom Spark Cardio +music

 

I did it!

I did it!

One thing is for sure, this year I’ll have covered more miles on foot than in any other year in my life, thanks to all this running. I must admit, now the Race for Life has happened, I didn’t do nearly as much training as I would have liked to have done in the past few months. Partly this is because I’ve got a new job to keep me busy!

There is nothing like a new bit of kit though to encourage you to get out there and this past couple of weeks I’ve been trying out the new TomTom Spark Cardio + music.

The watch itself was easy to set up and the app seems easy enough to use. I  like using sports apps purely because they really incentivise me. However, it isn’t immediately clear how to connect it with Runkeeper which is my favourite way of monitoring what I’m doing and I have to admit I did have to ask tech support (my husband) for help

In terms of the look and feel of the watch, does sit on the wrist a bit better than my Fitbit Blaze. However, again, like the Blaze I don’t think it looks quite as nice as a conventional watch. I think as I have a black strap it just doesn’t look all that great with workwear, which for me is quite a big thing as I find tracking my activity through the day quite useful now I’m in a desk based job.

Unlike the Fitbit Blaze, the Tomtom Spark Cardio +music is a full on GPS watch. That means it doesn’t just act like an activity tracker but it can also be used for sports tracking because the GPS accurately logs your run and all the split times. Yes, something like Runkeeper on your phone can do this but it does mean you have to carry your phone on you when you are running. This is where the Tomtom Spark Cardio +music plays its trump card- it can do the full run tracking but also has a built in music player and storage, which means as long as you have a pair of compatible bluetooth headphones (I used a pair of Creative Hitz WP-380s) , you can listen to music and track your run without having to carry your phone with you!

It’s been a few years (6 in fact) since I had a GPS running watch; my husband bought me a Garmin Forerunner just before I got pregnant with Ned. I never really got to use it as I had really bad SPD but the one thing I do remember from using it was how long the darn thing took to lock on to a satellite signal. The first time you use the Tomtom Spark Cardio +music, it takes a while to get a lock but every other time you use it, satellites were found much more quickly. This is because the Spark has a smart find function that remembers where you start off from so the app can download three days worth of satellite locations in advance. That’s clever.

The Spark is a compact unit that slips out of its strap to to enable charging. It’s no more bulky than a lot of the fitness trackers that don’t have GPS but if you do use the GPS, it will obviously need charging a lot more frequently.

Rather than relying on a number of different buttons, the Tomtom Spark Cardio +music has a four way rocker button at the bottom that lets you navigate the various menus. It’s not the easiest thing to use initially as there isn’t a way to click the middle, just up, down, left and right but after a while it becomes easier to use.

The app tracks all the sort of things that you would expect:

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And you can drill down in to the actual activities too:

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Overall I was impressed with the Tomtom Spark Cardio +music. It deals with the issue that if you’re taking your phone with you to listen to music, you might as well just use your phone to track your run by being a pretty cool music player into the bargain. It’s also good to be able to monitor your heart rate while running, since this gives a more objective measure of how you’re pushing yourself.

The Tomtom Spark Cardio +music retails for an RRP of £189.99.

 

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