At first glance the watch looks funky, bright and fun with a solid looking strap and rubber outer that follows the latest trend with sport watches by introducing bold, bright colours.
The rubberised casing is unique in that it is skinned and can swapped out. Even more unique is the separate square control panel which is located just below the display area. This panel does away with buttons on the sides or face of the display. The unit also comes with a rubberised skin and strap that acts as the bike mount. This system is okay if you are going to use the watch for an extended period on the bike but it is not practical if you are planning on using it off the bike or even later on the same day for that matter. I would rather prefer to keep the original skin on and use a generic handle bar mount.
The watch itself is relatively easy to use and once you are familiar with the control panel below the display navigation becomes simple. I did notice that it was impressively quick at picking up satellites compared to other GPS sports watches.
I was originally a little concerned about the shape of the watch being uncomfortable because of the separation of the control panel and display but surprisingly this is probably the most comfortable sports watch that I have worn and extremely light at 64 grams.
A feature which I really liked in the beginning was the built-in heart rate sensor which eliminates the need for an additional sensor but the usefulness of this feature in use for multisport soon waned (I will explain later). The sensor was quick and as accurate as the second HR monitor that I wore to make a comparison. The two were out by one or two beats per minute on a few occasions over the 10 minute period that I tested them.
In the pool it accurately tracked distance covered and laps but it did not track heart rate in swim mode, which is not that important as swimmers (well most that I know) don’t stare at the screen while swimming. After a little research, I found that heart rate is disabled in swim mode. To add to the oddness, if you use bike or run mode while in the pool the watch tracks your heart rate with no complaints.
On the bike
I stripped the standard skin off and dressed the watch in its biking outfit which I found a little tricky to position on the bars at first but once it is on it is fairly stable. I would however have my reservations about using the bike skin when riding off road on rough terrain. I don’t think that it would come off but I would be more comfortable using the standard strap with a dedicated bike mount.
This brings me to what in my opinion is a bit of a flaw; by incorporating an optical heart rate sensor into the unit this means that a separate heart rate strap will be required when mounting the watch on the handlebars. Naturally TomTom do have an external strap for this.
In bike mode, the watch again found satellites in a super quick time and operating the unit while riding is easy enough. The TomTom only displays three metrics at a time. While I don’t by any means overanalyse my data on the bike, I do like a bit of info available at a glance, like:
- Heart Rate
The GPS values that I was able to see were true and accurate when gauged next to another unit; the watch can also be paired with cadence and speed sensors.
Time for a trot
Slipping the original skin back on was easy and I moved the watch into run mode; heart rate appeared quickly once I had the unit on my wrist and the GPS distance was spot on. Again I found that the two smaller displays on the watch were difficult to read when running and I had to hold the unit up and still to read these.
On to tech
The device is Bluetooth enabled, so you can upload your stats to the MySports Application through your Smart Phone or PC without any hassle. The dashboard is what you would expect, with graphs and maps of your route.
Battery life was a huge issue as this barely extends to 8hrs and if you have any external devices this will diminish even further. This watch will see you through a sprint or Olympic distance race and is only really suited to that form of multisport racing; it will also make a great running watch and an awesome swimming watch. This is not a watch for Ironman, training for a triathlon or any endurance discipline that requires long periods on the move.
The watch is fun to use but in my opinion TomTom will have to make strides with the battery life and screen layout to really impact the multisport watch market.