Reviews: Wearables

Reliable GPS running watch packed with lots of features

The TomTom Runner 3 Cardio + Music stands out from the crowd with its value.
The TomTom Runner 3 Cardio + Music stands out from the crowd with its value.PHOTO: TOMTOM

From smartwatches such as Apple Watch Series 2 to hardcore running watches like Garmin and Suunto, runners these days have plenty of tech options for their training.

The TomTom Runner 3 Cardio + Music differentiates itself from the rest of the pack with its value.

Priced at only $299, this GPS running watch packs in the features - built-in heart-rate monitor, digital compass and integrated music player with 3GB of internal memory for music storage.

It also doubles as a fitness tracker that automatically monitors your steps taken, calories burnt and sleep duration.

Like its predecessor, the Runner 3 is not much of a looker and screams running watch from a kilometre away with its watch module and strap.

The watch module has a square four-way button just below the display. It does not have a touchscreen display, although using the four-way button to navigate the menu is quick and intuitive.

The strap feels thinner, softer and more comfortable than its predecessors. The watch is water-resistant to a depth of 40m, so you can wear it on a swim.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $299

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth

    WATER RESISTANCE: 40m

    WEIGHT: 47g

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

However, the Runner 3 cannot track heart rates during swims, or track open-water swims. But it can count the laps and distance swum in the pool.

While it can function as a watch, there is no way to change the watch face. But you can listen to music from this watch without having to take your smartphone along when you go for runs.

To put your songs into the Runner 3, you need to connect it to your computer via the TomTom MySports Connect software. It recognised my iTunes playlists automatically. All I needed to do was to click on the playlist I wanted to add to the watch.

Pairing it with any Bluetooth headphones was a breeze. However, using a pair of TomTom Bluetooth headphones for this review, I encountered a few instances of minor pauses during playback.

For outdoor runs, the Runner 3 was able to get a GPS lock within 30sec in my Housing Board estate on the first try. Subsequently, it took only 10sec to do so. But it is still slower than the 3sec GPS lock on my Apple Watch Nike+.

In terms of GPS distance tracking, the differences are only around 30m on my usual 5km jogs when compared with my Apple Watch Nike+. Heart-rate readings during these runs closely matched the readings of my Apple Watch Nike+.

I found its step-tracking results to be rather stingy, though. It tracked up to 9 per cent fewer steps when compared with my calibrated Fitbit Alta HR.

For automatic sleep tracking, the Runner 3 correctly pinpointed the time I fell asleep and when I woke up. It does not measure the quality of sleep, like light or deep sleep, which the Alta HR is able to do.

Battery life is around 5hr if you use the Runner 3 for GPS distance tracking with heart-rate monitoring turned on, while playing music through a pair of Bluetooth headphones. But, when used only as a fitness tracker, it can lastfor around two weeks.

Trevor Tan

•Verdict: If you do not mind its dull looks, the TomTom Runner 3 Cardio + Music is an affordable and reliable GPS running watch packed with plenty of features.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2017, with the headline 'Reliable GPS running watch packed with lots of features'. Print Edition | Subscribe