WHAT IS THE TOMTOM SPARK?
The TomTom Spark is a GPS enabled sports watch by the well known satnav brand, featuring daily activity tracking and a built in music player. This review focuses on the Spark Music, but there is also a Spark Cardio model that has built in heart rate monitoring. TomTom fans will already be familiar with the previous partnership with Nike (Nike+ Sportswatch which launched in 2011).
Compared to the previous TomTom Runner model, the new design has made way for a slimmer, more comfortable fit. Out of the box, you get a durable rubber strap and the watch module – which slots in and out of the strap, when charging. The strap comes in small or large sizes, and secures firmly in two places.
The watch has a large monochrome display with a good backlight (activated by covering your hand over the screen). It’s not the best resolution, but with such a large screen, it’s hardly noticeable.
Below the screen is a large navigation button that allows for left/right, up/down scrolling through the different menus. The button is a little temperamental and clunky, but doesn’t hinder operation too much.
The attention to simplicity makes this a great watch – you can pretty much figure out all functions without looking at the manual. The key features to look at for the discerning exerciser are the GPS, fitness/sports tracking, and the music player.
As you would expect from TomTom, the GPS is quick to pick up a signal, even in built up areas, so you’re not hanging around when going for a run or cycle.
Daily activity tracking (sleep monitoring) is aliased by the accelerometer and gyroscope. Because the watch has a large screen, it can display a number of useful metrics, without the need to open an app. A simple click of the button can bring up step count, sleep time, calories burned, distance and total activity time; a second click brings up your weekly achievements. This is certainly an advantage over smaller watches that require an app to display activity.
Activity monitoring can also be specific – choose from running, cycling, swimming, treadmill, and freestyle activity options. Just choose your option and wait a few seconds for the GPS to pick up – then off you go. The Spark will log everything for you!
Of course, the Spark can also sync your results with the TomTom Connect app. Unfortunately, this is where TomTom is a little disappointing. While the software is simple – which may appeal to some – it is very basic with a less than inspiring dashboard.
Possibly the biggest attractor is the music player. Once paired (easily) with Bluetooth headphones, you can listen to the pre-loaded Ministry of Sound playlist, or quickly upload your own playlists from iTunes.
Data tracking (steps,, distance, activity time, sleep) is accurate and responsive. Run tracking is probably one of the best and most appealing features, with all the usual metrics – as well as a Race feature that puts you against your previous best time.
Battery life depends on how you use the Spark. With simple activity counting and the occasional music, it will easily last a week between charges. As you add GPS, regular training and music, this will drop to 2-3 days, before you need to charge again.
The TomTom Spark Music currently retails for around €120-150, which is great value for the functionality and features.
VERDICT: While it may not be an all singing, all dancing sports watch, the TomTom Spark is a solid, functional watch, and strong enough to handle all you’re activity tracking needs, and music playback. A definite buy for those who demand simplicity in form and function.
OVERALL SCORE: 4.5/5