Review: TomTom Multisport Cardio

Just about everyone knows TomTom for their car navigation systems but they have now started poking around in the sports watch market. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with the TomTom Multisport Cardio watch.
TomTom Multisport green.jpg

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.

TomTom Cardio Multisport 2.jpg

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.


Getting wet


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
  • Speed
  • Distance
  • Time
This meant that I found I was lacking at least one measurement along the way; also the two smaller metrics on the watch were not easily readable and I really had to take my eyes off the road to focus on these values to see them clearly.

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.


TomTom Cardio Multisport 1.jpg

TomTom Cardio Multisport 3.jpg


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.


13 Comments

Davey_Jones, Apr 30 2015 07:41

Awesome Article thanks.  Looking around for a multisport watch so this really served me!

Rocket-Boy, Apr 30 2015 08:40

Something to add is that while it claims to be a "multisport" watch it doesnt actually have a multisport mode.

So in a triathlon you have to first log either a swim(which doesnt use gps) or a freestyle(which does use gps)

Then in transition stop the event and start a cycle event.

Stop that in next transition and start a run event.

 

It hasnt been a problem for me due to the crazy fast gps lock but then you end up with 3 separate events that make up the triathlon.

 

The bike mount is really solid though, I have done some serious trail riding with it and its never been a concern.

skipperw, Apr 30 2015 08:50

I had two of these devices...both were faulty and Tom Tom eventually refunded me. 

 

It felt like they rushed the release. 

IceCreamMan, Apr 30 2015 09:48

I like my TomTom multisports watch. It works well and is relatively cheap. Battery life is only an issue when I am doing Ironman distance which is only once a year, half ironman no problem. I get around 10 hours of use out of mine without the Heart monitor. Its NB to switch of the sensors otherwise it looks for the monitor and this uses battery life. Battery life is the only negative in my opinion and non entity for anything but ironman.

ZandoLinx, Apr 30 2015 11:24

Anyone look at the pending VivoActive from Garmin?

Due for release here next month

MarcL, Apr 30 2015 01:45

Hi

Personally, I really like the TomTom because its simple and gets the job done.

I agree its not for elite athletes, but there are other products the cover that genre.

 

For me the biggest issue with the TomTom is when uploading data to the computer. For some reason it purges the data off the watch (storage space I guess) - before confirming its actually on the computer.

I have lost a few session because of this and gone back to my Garmin.

 

For example, if you plug it in to charge via USB on computer and your computer is not online or sleeping, it then connects to your computer and uploads the data - but as you not online the data goes nowhere but is still purged off your watch... and lost forever.

I have flagged this with TomTom, but lets see how that goes.

 

In summary - Great watch, nice a simple and does what it says on the box.

However there are some gremlins and its certainly not for elite athletes or endurance athletes, due to battery life. To be fair my Garmin 600 only gets around 8 hours too.

 

Hope that helps?

 

Marc

Rocket-Boy, Apr 30 2015 02:39

I like my TomTom multisports watch. It works well and is relatively cheap. Battery life is only an issue when I am doing Ironman distance which is only once a year, half ironman no problem. I get around 10 hours of use out of mine without the Heart monitor. Its NB to switch of the sensors otherwise it looks for the monitor and this uses battery life. Battery life is the only negative in my opinion and non entity for anything but ironman.

100% agree, my only slight gripe is battery life.

Feature wise its as good as watches more than double the price.

Rocket-Boy, Apr 30 2015 02:41

Hi

Personally, I really like the TomTom because its simple and gets the job done.

I agree its not for elite athletes, but there are other products the cover that genre.

 

For me the biggest issue with the TomTom is when uploading data to the computer. For some reason it purges the data off the watch (storage space I guess) - before confirming its actually on the computer.

I have lost a few session because of this and gone back to my Garmin.

 

For example, if you plug it in to charge via USB on computer and your computer is not online or sleeping, it then connects to your computer and uploads the data - but as you not online the data goes nowhere but is still purged off your watch... and lost forever.

I have flagged this with TomTom, but lets see how that goes.

 

In summary - Great watch, nice a simple and does what it says on the box.

However there are some gremlins and its certainly not for elite athletes or endurance athletes, due to battery life. To be fair my Garmin 600 only gets around 8 hours too.

 

Hope that helps?

 

Marc

Cant say I have ever had that problem. I charge mine using my iphone base when its not syncing.

Maybe check your documents folder, if the bin is in there you can double click to reprocess it.

RohanM, May 04 2015 03:17

Thanks for the article and all the comments! Have scouted the market for a while now in search of something between a watch that tells me when to eat, sleep, urinate and text my girlfriend and a 10m water resistant casio wrist calculator - therefore have been referred to the TomTom. I guess the TomTom is still too new and under-developed ito multisport capabilities...

Dubsymike, May 04 2015 04:02

My big frustration with the TT watch is that it has no stationary bike mode. It has a treadmill mode but despite hundreds of users requesting the additional feature for stationary bike, TT seem to have ignored the request. Thus i have to use the HRM with the Wahoo app when I'm in the gym. 

 

Apart from that though, it works well and I'm largely happy with it. I had a problem with my original watch freezing, so contacted TT. They collected it and delivered me a brand new watch 24 hours later. So i was really impressed with that.

 

Battery life is limited for genuine endurance events, but so far the watch has lasted for each day of my multi-stage races (including the long ones where i have had technical issues), so I haven't really found that a limiting factor. But I've no intention of being an Ironman!

Botha1962, May 06 2015 11:41

Awesome device, I use it and it serves it's purpose 100%!!

shawn, Sep 18 2015 08:34

awesome product. I love mine.

keithbe, Sep 29 2015 10:18

(Strapless) Simple UI. Effective and reliable measurements. Synching to TomTom app and STARVA is seamless.

Well worth the buy - currently prices are dropping as gen 2 is about to hit the streets.