TomTom Spark 3, First Take: Sports tracking, music and heart-rate monitoring

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  • $189.99

TomTom's foray into the sports watch market has taken a new turn with the Spark 3.

This chunky specimen comes in several variants, and is also known as the TomTom Runner 3. Spark and Runner are basically the same device, with the Runner simply coming in brighter colours. If TomTom was looking for ways to confuse potential buyers, the company found it with this odd naming system. Still, there's much about the Spark 3 that pleases.

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The Spark 3 is a chunky device with a D-pad for navigation rather than a touchscreen.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

The entry-level Spark 3 costs £119 (inc. VAT) and includes GPS, multisport tracking, and 'route exploration'. At its most sophisticated, this lets you upload running maps in the widely-used GPX format. At its least complex, it lets you set up an 'out and back' route by tracking where you go and then guiding you back to the starting point.

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The Spark 3 model with a heart-rate monitor costs £169, or £219 if you also want 3GB of storage for music tracks.

Image: TomTom

Pay £149 and TomTom adds in 3GB of storage for music tracks, which it will play through Bluetooth headphones. Go to £169 and the bundle includes a heart-rate monitor built into the back of the watch, while £219 buys you both the heart rate monitor and the storage. The full-price £249 includes Bluetooth headphones too.

There aren't too many design changes from the previous Spark model. In fact, this unit fits into the earlier model's strap, so anyone who has a range of straps can still use them. The whole thing is a bit large for my wrist, but it feels quite comfortable to wear.

The user interface is very nicely thought out, and I found it easy to switch between the multitude of options and settings. This is partly down to good menu design, partly to good graphics and use of screen space, and partly down to the D-pad sitting beneath the screen. Yes, this does make the whole thing slightly more chunky than side buttons would, but it's a far superior navigation system compared to multiple side buttons. Thank goodness TomTom shied away from a touchscreen.

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The strap has three 'plug style' fixing points that anchored it nicely in place all the time I was wearing it. I'm quite a fan of the charger too. It's proprietary of course, so you'll need to carry it when you're away from home, but it anchors very solidly in place.

Battery life could be an issue if you want to take the Spark 3 away for a few days without its charger. TomTom says you'll get up to 10 hours if using the GPS for tracking, and less than this if you're also using the heart rate monitor and/or listening to music. It'll keep going for 21 days if the device is just used for everyday steps tracking. Real-life experience, then, will depend on how much you use the GPS and, additionally the heart-rate monitor and music playback functions.

Activity tracking supports seven different modes: run, cycle, swim, treadmill, gym, indoor cycling, and freestyle (and anything else that benefits from GPS and heart-rate data). You can also use the stopwatch independently of these. Step and calorie counting is also catered for. You press left on the D-pad and then use the left and down pad edges to see daily and weekly step, distance, active time, and calorie stats.

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TomTom's MySports app is available for iOS and Android devices.

Image: TomTom

TomTom has also come up with its own app, MySports, for iOS or Android. Limited time spent with this suggests it has enough features to cover the basics, but anyone wanting to use the Spark 3 for serious fitness work might want to consider taking the data into a third-party app.

As a relative newcomer to the fitness tech world, TomTom has made significant advances with each iteration of its Spark product. Features like mapping and the heart-rate monitor, alongside step counting, should give version 3 wide appeal. A bit more attention to eking out battery life in GPS mode would be welcome, though.

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Specifications

Miscellaneous
Sensors accelerometer, digital compass, gyro sensor, heart rate
Included Accessories Charging clip
Color Category black
Color black
Max Depth of Water Resistance 131 ft
Protection waterproof
Battery
Run Time (Up To) 10 sec
Style
Product type GPS Sport watch
Header
Brand TomTom
Product Line TomTom
Model Spark 3 Cardio
Packaged Quantity 1
General
Tracking Data distance, pace, speed
Features
Sensors accelerometer, digital compass, gyro sensor, heart rate
Dimensions & Weight
Depth 0.5 in
Weight 1.66 oz

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Where To Buy

TomTom Spark 3 Cardio (black, small)

Part Number: 1RK0.002.01
Price
$189.99

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