Product: TomTom Cardio Runner
Running watches start cheap (well those china ones) and can stretch all the way up to expensive and really expensive. The trick is to find the right one for you. Do you need a heart rate sensor? Is design important? Do you need a GPS? Is there too many features for your liking?
The folks at TomTom were kind enough to provide the SportSanity team with one & having never had a running watch before, I was asked if I would like to try it out. I mean why not? How can one turn away something that might help me with my runs? Especially when this one is one of the more fancy ones and comes with a heart rate sensor.
Even though I was a new user of running watches, I was well aware of TomTom as they are the ones that power the Nike sports watches so I did have high expectations for it. One think I must say is that it definitely did not dissapoint, in fact, it actually exceeded my expectations!
Before we move on to what I didn't like about the watch (because nothing is perfect), lets start with the good points so we don't spoil the mood
Unboxing the Watch & Using a GPS Watch for the first time
Just as what TomTom promised, the watch did help me move towards my fitness goals. The one thing that I liked the most about the watch was that whether I was running outdoors, in a park, along PCN (Park Connector Routes) or on a treadmill, the watch provided me with real-time running information like the distance that I had ran & my running pace allowing me to better train in a zone of optimal heart rate. This helped me better plan my training & allowed me to achieve more. The watch's ability to store my past performances, further acted as a source of motivation for me to run not only faster, but further so as to outdo myself for each of my training sessions.
PS: For the night owls or early morning birds (AKA me sometimes), you can still see all the features and functions even in the dark by simply tapping the 3 dots on the right of the display screen for the night light to come.
With such a wide variety of GPS sports watches out there for us to choose from, one of the most important factors for me personally is the ability of the watch to provide “ essential performance information at a glance”. (I mean, when we are running at a fast pace trying to better our timing, every second counts so being able to see everything easily while on the move will certainly help). The TomTom Runner Cardio certainly aced in that. With an extra large display screen and huge numeral display as shown in the image below, it was easy for me to get the necessary information with regards to my running performance just at one glance allowing me to better pace myself.
Moving on to personalisation, the second most important factor for me. Lets start with languages. There were 5 to choose from (English, Spanish, French, Italian, German and obviously because I don't know the rest, I choose English.
Moving on to deeper personalisation. The Runner Cardio allowed me to adjust the watch's various features specifically for my body and running type allowing me to key in my weight , height, age and gender into the watch itself. This was something cool to me never having owned something that catered specifically to me.
Heart Rate Sensor
I hear from friends that one of the main draws of the watch is the in-built heart sensor on the strap so I definitely had to try it out. I previously got to try another GPS watch from a friend that has separate wireless sensors you have to strap around your chest and it wasn't really pleasant so having one built-in was definitely good. One less thing to worry about. Before you jump in to question the accuracy of the reading, don't worry I've got that checked out. Strap sensors tend to detect electrical impulses and this often doesn't work well on the wrist but the TomTom Runner Cardio instead uses a clever system that measures the colour of your skin. The two green LEDs shine onto your wrist and the optical sensor analyses the reflection. So when your heart pumps, the blood changes the of the skin slightly and the watch calculates your heart rate from it. Brilliant? Well, I thought that was.
Moving on to battery life.So how long can the TomTom Runner Cardio last? Well... pretty long. The watch lasted 8 hours for me on a full charge enough for about 2 to 3 runs. Checking the battery was also easy, a simple tap of the right side of the button below the display did the trick.
With regards to its durability, it would be needless to mention that with its tough outer appearance, it can sustain runners’ careless dropping of it. Not to forget, with it being waterproof, swimmers are able to use it too. I dropped it once so far and it worked like how it did out of the box.
I must say this watch is definitely for those with small wrists! Can't comment on those with big wrists though.The TomTom Runner Cardio came with a 3- pronged strap, this was great for me especially since I have a tiny wrist. The strap allowed me to ensure it was tightly strapped onto my wrist.
The Not Very Bright Side of the Watch. (Suggested Improvements)
Yet, for everything, there is always room for improvement. So, here are some things well more of difficulties I faced when getting the watch to work that did put me off a little.
For people who are not tech-savvy, the requirement of you to download the TomTom software so as to charge it can be quite a hassle. I for one aren't very good with tech stuff so it took me over an hour to figure it out but that was cause I tried freestyling for the first 30 mins. This was solved awhile later the booklet of instructions (with a variety of languages provided) provided as seen in the image below. Ah, that was my hero.
In addition, after charging the watch, I had difficulties trying to unplug the charger from the watch.
Not to forget, at $449 it is on the high side for a GPS sports or rather running watch compared to the others in the market.
After analyzing the pros it has brought into my training sessions versus the cons, I still think that TomTom Cardio Runner is a watch to get for any runner or athlete out there who is eager to find a motivation to perform better than before. Before I got the watch, i was averaging about 1km/ 6 mins but since getting the watch, i've seen my timings drop gradually and now i am about 1km/ 5 and a half mins althought sometimes i'm back to 6. So, thats a yes for me. Most of it came from the ability to track my time and pace throughout the run allowing me to better push myself.Thank you TomTom once again for the opportunity. To the more experienced people with other GPS watches, my apologies if the review wasn't deep enough.
Written by Chelza Chong
Chelza is a graduate from NTU’s Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty and a major in English and English Literature. Her passion for running and her enthusiasm to take part in a variety of races, from 5km Fun Runs to 21km runs, started since she was in Junior College with the annual Nike run as her 1st race. Besides running, she does a variety of sports too like swimming, badminton and netball. In her free time, she enjoys sharing race reviews & running tips.