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TomTom Runner + MultiSport Cardio is an excellent workout companion

Published on Jun 20, 2014 5:00 AM
 

I reviewed the TomTom Runner GPS watch a few months ago and found it to be a capable lightweight running watch, albeit an expensive one. Now, TomTom has released the new Runner + MultiSport Cardio watch.

Like the original, the MultiSport Cardio consists of a watch module and a strap. The new module is slightly thicker at 13.8mm and heavier at 63g (with strap) than the original, which was 11.5mm thick and weighed 50g (with strap). The new strap is also longer and wider.

Overall, though, they look similar.

But the new MultiSport Cardio can be used for cycling and swimming, not just running.

The biggest change is on the back. The Cardio has an optical sensor that monitors your blood flow by shining a light through your skin and on your blood vessels. There is no need for a heart-rate monitor chest strap.

You will notice the Cardio's strap has more rubber around the edges, to prevent light leakage and deliver more accurate readings of your heart rate. Consequently, it becomes more difficult to remove the module from the strap.

As in the Runner, everything is controlled by a square four-way button sited just below the watch display. It is this button and the bigger strap that make the Cardio look less like a watch and more like a tech gadget, even from a distance.

To start, install the TomTom MySports Connect program on your computer. Enter details, such as age, weight, height and gender, and sync with the Cardio via the USB connector included. You will also need to input all this information into the watch. Bummer.

You can sync the Cardio's workout data with your iOS devices via Bluetooth. But there is currently no Android app.

The high-contrast display is clear and crisp. It can be read easily even in bright sunlight. At night, tap it to light up the display. I found that I had to tap it a few times in order to get the display to light up.

To pick your workout, hold down the button's right side for Run, Cycle, Swim, Treadmill or StopWatch.

In Run, you can select Race, Goal or Zone. Each represents a different objective. So, for example, in Zone, set the maximum heart rate you want to attain while working out, and the watch will display your ideal and current heart-rate zone during the workout.

The Cardio uses TomTom's QuickGPSFix technology to get a fast GPS location lock for runs and cycling. Its built-in accelerometer can be used for indoor or treadmill runs and swimming.

In a stadium or other open space, the Cardio secured a GPS fix in under 10 seconds. My personal calibrated Nike+ SportWatch GPS (used here for comparison) took about 30 seconds.

There may be slight differences in distances recorded by the two GPS watches. When I ran 2.2km, Cardio recorded it as 2.15km, while the Nike device recorded the distance as 2.27km. By GPS watch standards, this is well within the margin of error.

When I compared Cardio's cycling stats against those of the Cyclemeter app, they differed little in terms of distance and speed. But the Cardio also provided my average heart rate.

The Cardio's heart-rate monitor is quite accurate. Using a treadmill's heart-rate monitor and my iPhone's Heart Rate Pro app as a comparison, the difference was minimal - about two beats per minute.

The downside: The heart-rate monitor will not work in swimming mode. You also need to input the length of the pool in order to have the number of laps recorded. But the readings were spot on in terms of distance swum and number of laps. It also recorded the average number of strokes I did per lap.

Battery life is close to the Runner's - about 10 hours in GPS mode, or 8 hours if GPS and monitor are used simultaneously.

  • The TomTom Runner + MultiSport Cardio GPS watch is a great companion if you want a convenient way of keeping tabs on workout stats. But that convenience comes with a hefty price tag.

trevtan@sph.com.sg

This article was first published in The Straits Times Digital Life on June 18, 2014.


TECH SPECS

Price: $499

Display: 144 x 168 pixels

Water resistance: 50m

Weight: 63g (with strap)


RATING

Features: 5/5

Design: 3/5

Performance: 5/5

Value for money: 3/5

Battery life: 3/5

Overall: 4/5