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Fitness watch that's a perfect fit for workouts

The Straits Times | Trevor Tan | Thursday, Feb 18, 2016

If the TomTom Spark GPS Fitness Watch is used only as a fitness tracker, its battery can last for two weeks before it needs to be charged.

Photo: Tom Tom

The TomTom Spark GPS Fitness Watch comes in five different models, ranging from the basic version ($249) to the flagship model ($479).

I reviewed the flagship model, otherwise known as TomTom Spark Cardio + Music GPS Fitness Watch + Bluetooth Headphones. This model includes a built-in heart rate sensor, integrated music player with 3GB of internal memory for music storage and a pair of Bluetooth headphones.

There is also a version of this model that excludes the wireless headphones, priced at $399.

Its predecessor, the TomTom Runner + MultiSport Cardio, was my favourite GPS running watch as it does away with the need of a heart rate sensor chest strap by having a wrist heart rate monitor.

In terms of looks, the Spark does not differ much from its predecessor except that it looks slimmer.

It still consists of a watch module and a strap. The watch module has a square four-way button just below the display. The strap feels more secure than previously.

Like its predecessor, its multi- sport mode means that users can track all of their indoor and outdoor sporting activities.

But the Spark is also a fitness tracker that automatically monitors steps taken, calories burned and sleep duration. With the new 1.2 firmware update, it also tracks your heart rate all day.

To put your songs into the Spark, you need to connect to your computer via the TomTom MySports Connect software. It recognised my iTunes playlists and I needed only to add the playlist I want into the Spark with a click.

Pair it with its Bluetooth headphones - it not only plays music, but also gives you audio feedback on when to speed up or slow down, so you can get your heart rate in the desired training zone.

I found its step-tracking results to be similar to my calibrated Fitbit Charge HR. The difference? A mere 0.4 per cent. For all-day heart rate tracking, too, it did not differ much from my Charge HR.

For automatic sleep tracking, I found the Spark to be less accurate than the Charge HR. It often mis-recorded the time at which I fell asleep and woke up.

For outdoor runs, I tested the Spark and its predecessor at the same time. Both took around 10 seconds to get a GPS lock. In terms of distance tracking, the differences came down to only a few metres. Heart rate readings during runs were closely matched as well.

The Spark cannot track your heart rate during swims. You need to input the length of the poolto have the number of laps recorded. But the readings were quite accurate, in terms of distance swum and lap count.

Battery life is about 5 hours when you utilise Spark's GPS, heart rate monitoring and music playback functions all at once. But if you use it only as a fitness tracker, it can last for about two weeks before you need to charge it.

•Verdict: The TomTom Spark Cardio + Music GPS Fitness Watch might just be the only fitness device you need with its accurate fitness and workout tracking.

trevtan@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on February 17, 2016.
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