The TomTom MultiSport Cardio Watch is available now for £279.99
- Built-in 'Mio' heart rate monitor
- GPS tracking (with improved fix speed)
- Large 'HD' display
- Water resistant
- 8 hours tracking battery life
- Indoor tracking
- 'One button' control
Despite the ever increasing focus on wearable technology from the big-hitters like Samsung, Google and (presumably at some stage) Apple, the options for gadget-minded fitness freaks are still oddly limited. It's not that there aren't products out there designed to track every kind of activity and sport, and every level of athlete.
The problem is that most of those products are stuck in the valley between having enough features to be useful, and a simple enough design to be usable. You have Garmin on one side, producing rock-solid but nearly incomprehensible fitness supercomputers (plus optional accessories, stands, straps and cases), and Nike on the other, making products so simple the data they provide is almost meaningless.
The new TomTom MultiSport Cardio watch is an attempt to cross that divide, and provide a simple all-in-one watch for all kinds of sports, workouts and uses. The idea is to include as much hardcore data tracking and analysis as you need -- but not to overload you with options, difficult-to-read displays and extra doodads in the process.
In the main it fulfils those ambitions. Smartly it does away with the traditional chest-mounted heart rate monitor, instead option for a built-in version which uses pulses of light to work out your heart rate on your wrist. It also integrates GPS into the watch, as well as a swimming monitor and an indoor exercise tracker. With its big, easy-to-read display, colourful and durable construction and slim design, the result is an attractive gadget with enough options to conceivably replace the rest of your fitness tech.
The fundamentals are strong too. The device is accurate and our calculations showed roughly correct distances for runs, swims and a long cycle. It also coped well with indoor training, through the fact it relies on wrist movement and not GPS in that case means it's not quite as accurate as when it's outside. Similarly the device features a range of neat motivational tools, such as splitting your training automatically into 'heart rate zones' based on how hard you're working, and a range of full screen graphics that helpfully display that data.
Other elements you'd expect are present and correct too - the device is compatible with sites like MapMyFitness and Strava, meaning your data doesn't have to remain inside TomTom's own limited walled garden. Data is transferred via Bluetooth, too, which wasn't the case on the older Cardio running watch.
There are some downsides, though. For one, the design of the brand places the big 'one button' control in an awkward place for cyclists, and in our test meant we constantly moved the screens along and weren't able to use it for at-a-glance data. It's still quite big, despite the slimmer design, which can be unhelpful when swimming in particular. The GPS lock is still relatively slow, and there are some types of data you can't yet track compared to some of the more OTT competing products out there.
Oh, and there's the price - £279 isn't insane compared to the rest of the market, but it's a lot. You'll have to really think about why you need to track your workouts in such detail, rather than it just seeming like a good idea, before you plunk down the cash.
On the whole, though, this is a strong example of a training watch that is both simplified and full-featured. It's not perfect, but it proves you can have both. If TomTom stays on this path it has a good shot at staying relevant even when the big boys of tech turn their full sites on fitness wearables in the next 12 to 18 months.