While some runners prefer the sounds of nature while running, rock and roll motivates me to go faster while keeping my mind off the miles going by under my feet.
TomTom announced its new Spark GPS series. These four new devices all provide GPS tracking, 24 hour activity tracking, automatic sleep tracking, Bluetooth for connecting to your smartphone, and 5 ATM water resistance. Two models provide an integrated heart rate monitor and two models provide 3GB of storage for offline music playback.
Back in 2012, I was banging out the miles with the MOTACTV GPS running watch with integrated music player. I still have it, but the battery only lasts a couple hours and it's not easy to get your GPS data from the old MOTOACTV system into RunKeeper or other modern tracking service.
Few others have tried to provide this same GPS capability with offline music support since the MOTOACTV set the bar. Adidas has one, but it has horrid review ratings and is not a device I would consider. I thought my Sony SmartWatch 3 might replace the MOTOACTV, but I found the GPS a bit limited and there is still no compelling running application for Android Wear.
Lately, I've been running with my Apple Watch on one wrist and the Polar V800 on the other. The Apple Watch has no integrated GPS so I'm just using it to provide music while the V800 provides extremely accurate GPS tracking. I've also been known to run with my smartphone, but as they continue to grow in size this becomes more of a hassle and running with a single wrist-mounted device is the most convenient. As you can see, I have yet to find a true MOTOACTV replacement, but that may soon change.
We know that music plays an important role when it comes to motivating and improving sports performance, but relying on a smartphone is all too often an uncomfortable experience. The unique combination of an integrated music player, built-in heart rate monitor, 24/7 activity tracking, multi-sport functionality and GPS in TomTom Spark makes it easier than ever for people to get more from their workout, and improve their overall fitness level.
I'm still hoping to see Garmin, Suunto, or Polar release a GPS sport watch with integrated music, but at least we finally have TomTom stepping up first to offer this support.
The four new models from TomTom include the following:
TomTom Spark: Base model GPS watch that provides GPS, daily activity, and sleep tracking.
TomTom Spark Cardio: Adds an integrated heart rate monitor to the base model.
TomTom Spark Music: In addition to the features of the base model, 3GB of storage is available for offline music.
TomTom Spark Music + Cardio: Top-of-the line model that includes 3GB of storage for music and a heart rate monitor.
The TomTom Spark Cardio + Music, the one that might finally replace my MOTOACTV, is priced at a reasonable $249 and will be available for pre-order on 1 October. Pricing for the other models has not yet been announced, but they should be available to order in mid-October. In the past, there was a difference of $100 between the models with and without a heart rate monitor.
TomTom will also offer up two retail packages of the Spark Music models that includes a set of headphones. An update scheduled prior to the end of 2015 will add smartphone notifications to all four and continuous heart rating monitoring to the two watches with an integrated monitor.
TomTom previously used a heart rate monitor with proven Mio technology so it remains to be seen how accurate this new monitor will be. I personally don't mind running with a chest strap if it provides more accurate data so if that saves some money I may choose that option.
I enjoyed using the previous TomTom Multi-Sport Runner, but desktop software stopped working for me so I gave up on it. Fortunately, TomTom makes it easy to export data to various services, including RunKeeper, and I am hoping that its new desktop software is improved.