Fitness culture is slowly but surely emerging in India with each passing year. This is much more prevalent in Metro cities where one can see a lot of people, early morning and late evenings, in sports wear sweating it out near India Gate in Delhi or Marine Drive in Mumbai. What remains common to all these people is the fact that almost every one of them is wearing some kind of a special sports tracker to keep a tab on their progress and to motivate themselves to beat their previous timings. In comes the solution to (almost) all your fitness woes, TomTom Spark Cardio + Music. The name does not mention it, but it has GPS functionality too.
TomTom Spark Cardio + Music Review
If you have been into the whole fitness scene for a while now, you would know TomTom as the company who partnered with Nike in 2011 to come out with Nike+ GPS sports watch. The company has moved on since and now has entered the Indian market with its extremely popular Spark series of sports watches.
I was a state level long distance runner during my school and college days. If you wished to enjoy music while jogging back then, you would have to carry a separate MP3 player and there was ofcourse no way to check your heart rate. Also, to time oneself, you had to rely on the stop watch in your digital watch. A lot of gadgets to fulfill a couple of important functions.
But this is 2016 and the futuristic feeling I get while using the TomTom Spark Cardio + Music is amazing. The bundled bluetooth headset which I got with this device gave me a good 4-5 hours of music on a single charge and was quite comfortable to wear during jogs. Lets get into the details of this device now.
TomTom Spark Cardio + Music Review – Build Quality and Design
The TomTom Spark Cardio + Music comes in a multitude of variants and it is really hard to distinguish one from another solely based on looks. The cheapest variant is priced at Rs 13,999 and the most expensive one at Rs 25,999.
The TomTom Spark Cardio + Music is an extremely lightweight device. With its always on display it also doubles as a everyday, digital wrist watch.
However you would not like to wear it with formals, just like you wouldn’t wear your favorite G-Shock with that Armani Suit. The TomTom Spark Cardio + Music has been made for fitness fanatics and athletes and it should be used in that manner and for that purpose.
The watch itself is quite sturdy. The band is made of a comfortable albeit a little stiff plastic material and I had no problems wearing it for prolonged duration or during my everyday 5-7 kms jog. The band features a 3 step clasping mechanism which makes sure that your TomTom Spark Cardio + Music is fastened tightly on your wrist irrespective of the exercise you are doing. At Rs 21,999 you certainly wouldn’t want to lose the watch during a swim in the pool or a cross fit session for that fact.
The bands on the TomTom Spark Cardio + Music are replaceable, but proprietary. They come in two sizes and you can opt for either depending on wrist size. Both differently sized bands will fit the same watch sans issues. While charging the band module, I found it easier to just take the module out of the band and charge it.
The screen is black and white which serves its purpose and also conserves the battery of the TomTom Spark Cardio + Music. The always on Display shows the time, date and a couple of pairing notifications. Beneath the screen is a square 4 way button which would remind you of one of those popular E-Series Nokia business phones that once were. This is the main control for all your actions on the TomTom Spark Cardio + Music. Unlike the FitBit Charge HR 2 or the Garmin Vivosmart HR+, this device does not feature a touch screen and you would have to resolve to Left-Right-Up-Down buttons to carry out your functions.
The protruded button on the front also contains the GPS module inside of it.
TomTom Spark Cardio + Music Review – Multisport
The TomTom Spark Cardio + Music is apt in tracking both cycling and swimming.
But I would not go as far as to call it a high end multisport watch. Unlike many top multi-sport watches there is no multi sport mode on the TomTom Spark Cardio + Music. So triathletes would have to switch another sport and start it again.
Also keep in mind that open water swimming is not supported for recording. However swimming in the local pool was recorded perfectly with laps. Thus this list of functions puts the TomTom Spark Cardio + Music more in league with the above stated Fitbit and Garmin rather than the higher end triathlete watches like the Garmin Fenix3 HR, Garmin 920XT, Suunto Ambit 3 or the Polar V800.
TomTom Spark Cardio + Music Review – Activities
For this particular review, I used the TomTom Spark Cardio + Music to track runs and it does a great job of this. I went for jogs with this device several times and the results were fairly consistent with Garmin and Fitbit ones which I had worn at the same time. TomTom gives the information that it has tracked in a fairly straightforward and simple manner. You get your overall distance, total duration, calories burned, pace, elevation gain/loss, average heart rate and cadence.
The web interface is quite simple to use and useful once you get the hang of it. On the bottom of the Web interface, one can look at their run graphed out. This also regularly gets updates and in turn updates the software on your device to keep it upto date.
You can simply click anywhere on the graph and move your mouse to show you a detailed breakdown of that point in time and see where you stood while at that point on the map. The map also does a good job of showing where you had the highest HR and quickest pace. This can be of immense help to anyone who is trying to one better their previous performance, especially atheletes.
Most of my jogs started around 80-85 heart beats per minute during warm up and went up and stayed steady around 170-180 bpm during my whole 5 km jog and for the last 200mts that I sprinted, it went higher to 190-205. This can be seen by a spike at the end of the graph. Such detailed information can really help one optimize their running regime and get more out of it.
The android app shows much of the same data. TomTom does a very good job of delivering most data that a general recreational runner is seeking from his day to day fitness regime.
TomTom Spark Cardio + Music Review – Intervals
Intervals are very straightforward and work will with basic repeats. Like, 400mts x 6 with a 1 km warm-up followed by a 10 min cool down.
While this works out quite well with basic repeats, it is not as some of the other options out there as you are unable to have multiple set types. These are useful for things like pyramids or ladders.
Other options which are available in the Training menu can again be used to one’s benefit. One of these is “Goals” where you set the watch to a specific metric of Time Distance or Calories and get alerts at 50% and 90% of your target.
This feature was very useful for out and back runs. You can simply plug in the distance and run a direction. So just as you are notified that you are at 50%, you can just turn around and head back. The 90% is useful in cases where you are thinking of changing routes or perhaps finishing your set with a sprint.
TomTom also includes the ability to base your training on Zones – Heart Rate, Pace, Speed, and Cadence. Whenever you leave your prescribed Zone, you will be alerted that you have left it and whether you are above or below the zone. One nice option is that you can set up a percentage for deviation. That can keep alerts down when you only drift for a second.
A third training option is the ability to Race against a previous workout on the watch or an activity on the MySports Website. You will see where you are in relation to your competition while you running.
TomTom Spark Cardio + Music Review – Battery Life and Charging
The device lasts upto 5 days on a single charge IF you are not using it for Music or tracking your runs. But wait, that is exactly what it is meant for. So if you go for a nice 5-10km run with the GPS on and also the music streaming using bluetooth, expect to charge the device every night.
Minus the music, maybe 2 days max. But that should not be a problem considering that the TomTom Spark Cardio + Music charges to full in around just over an hour. So perhaps put it on charge as you dine and watch some TV and it can be back on your wrist before you go off to sleep. If you do not want to use it for sleep tracking and are unhabitual to having a large device strapped onto your wrist while you try to fall asleep, leave it on charging before you sleep.
A thing that I though TomTom could really work on was not just telling the total sleep time but instead breaking that information into Deep sleep and light sleep. Why, you ask? Well simply because every other brand is already doing that. A little extra info will not hurt. It could help one understand their sleep patterns and ideal sleep time. Another thing with this device is that it comes with its propriety charging cable which also doubles up as a data syncing cable. The problem with that is that if you go on a trip and forget to pack this extra piece of cable the device is as good as dead in a couple of days and there is no way of charging it. Unfortunately most other fitness bands from any other company too come with their own propriety charging cables.
TomTom Spark Cardio + Music Review – Pros and Cons
The TomTom Spark Cardio + Music is an awesome device and it gets done most of the things that it claims it can. But it does come with its shortcomings and plus points.
- Convenient phone-free running
- Simple, intuitive interface
- Extremely athlete friendly
- Accurate heart rate monitoring
- Plugs into RunKeeper and Strava
- Lots of training modes
- Same old design
- No smartphone notifications (Still!)
- TomTom MySports app isn’t the most user friendly fitness app.
- Adding music is a bit of an extra chore
TomTom Spark Cardio + Music Review – Conclusion?
Now comes the mighty question. Should you buy the TomTom Spark Cardio + Music? Well if you are regular with your physical activities like jogging, swimming and cross fit and like to carry your music during work outs, while hate carrying your bulky phone, this is the perfect device for you. The GPS can work great if you like to go on uncharted hikes. The always On display means you do not have to tap the screen everytime you wish to check the time and lack of touch screen also means added battery life.
However if you are just a casual brisk walker who jogs once in a blue moon and only needs an activity tracker to check their steps and perhaps HR then you might wish to go for something cheaper and less professional than this device, maybe the TomTom Touch. We are yet to review that piece of tech though.