Fitness trackers are the new sunglasses – everyone wants the latest and greatest in order to get an edge on their sporting performances, but with so many on the market, which is the best? TomTom claims their latest innovation, the Spark, is real contender for the crown. We put it to the test to find out if that’s true.
These days, most fitness watches all have pretty similar features, but what makes the Spark stand out is that it includes GPS, heart rate monitoring and built-in music playback all in device. It’s aimed at runners, cyclists and gym-goers fed up with taking their smartphones along for the ride, and we’re definitely in that category.
From an aesthetic point of view, the TomTom Spark isn’t anything out of the ordinary. It’s a pretty standard-looking LCD watch, however it’s more compact size and lack of obtrusive side buttons are welcome traits.
The strap is primarily rubber and features a loop with two poppers that click into holes in the band for an extremely secure fit. First impressions won’t blow anyone away, but it’s the usability and what’s beneath the monochrome screen that counts – and the Spark has a lot going for it under the hood.
The Spark doesn’t use a touchscreen and all control is done by a four-way button under the display, which is an absolute success in terms of functionality. The menu system is really well designed so browsing is logical and easy, and when you’re out on a run the big buttons are easy to manage with sweaty hands, making it easy to find the information you want on the big screen.
In fact, the UI is superbly well designed in all aspects of the watch. It’s easy to show the desired metric while running by tapping up or down, and you can flick into the music you want to listen to and even change elements of your workout just using forward and back to slide effortlessly through the menus.
While the tracking is on point, TomTom also does a good job of presenting data. You can see daily and weekly totals of the activity tracking by hitting left on the watch’s control pad and then down through the different metrics (steps, distance, calories burned etc). However, the real hook of the Spark is the sports tracking.
The TomTom will track interval training, running and cycling, as well as swimming, treadmill, gym workouts, indoor cycling (with a cadence sensor) and open training.
All the usual metrics are present (distance, pace, heart rate and time) and are all displayed on the watch, and you can press the left and right buttons to swap between views mid-run. You can then press down to get advanced analytics on those, too.
There are two platforms to the TomTom Spark’s ecosystem. The first is the web app, which is connected to the app when you connect to your PC and the TomTom MySports Connect mobile app.
The TomTom MySports web app is the best way of looking at your post workout data, and you get a full breakdown of all the metrics you’d expect: distance, duration, pace, calories, heart rate and cadence are all listed, and you get a graph on which you can plot different elements. You also get a map of your route as well.
Another of the TomTom Spark’s hooks is its ability to play music via a pair of wireless headphones, negating the need for runners to strap up a phone just to play some beats.
You add MP3s via TomTom’s software TomTom MySports Connect, which is available for PC and Mac – however, it must be said that a drag-and-drop feature would’ve been appreciated, as adding new music is quite a procedure.
For those looking for an all-in-one device that ticks the necessary boxes, the TomTom Spark is the standout option. The combination of a robust activity and sports tracker, along with a serviceable music player, all in a single sportswatch is a comprehensive package in a world filled with too many one-trick-pony gizmos.
What do you think of the TomTom Spark? Let us know in the comments section below and tweet us@MenStuffZA!