1. Tomtom runner Cardio: The fitness tech pill

Tomtom runner Cardio: The fitness tech pill

A fitness watch that indulges you and turns you into a workout fanatic

By: | Published: February 12, 2015 12:06 AM

The emerging fitness and health segment in India has attracted a lot of players who are bringing on the plate some wearable gizmos whose USP is to plug right into your daily routine and stay there. TomTom, a Dutch firm that provides navigation and mapping products, also couldn’t resist from dipping the finger in the sauce. The firm recently launched a GPS sports watch range in India consisting of four devices. The products were segregated into entry level and top level segments with the addition or deletion of the cardio feature. Here is a look at the TomTom Runner Cardio, one of the top level models.

According to TomTom, the Runner Cardio is targeted to ‘Challenger Runners’, who are fitness-oriented adults who run to keep fit and who are looking for tools to help keep them motivated. Let us assess how much juice the device squeezes out.

Design: Unlike most fitness brands who are looking to minimise the size of the fitness watch or band, TomTom has kept the watch on the bulky side especially to accommodate the cardio inside although the watch is just 11.5 mm thick. The watch available in red or black pucker-holed design straps is segregated into two parts. The watch can be removed from the strap and the user can choose to change the strap after it goes through wear and tear. The watch has a sporty as well as a geeky smart look.

Connectivity: Unlike the majority of existing GPS watches on the market that have multiple small buttons, the Runner Cardio features a one-button control. This makes it easier to operate while moving, and enables the user to easily control the watch in all weather conditions and while wearing gloves. Coming to its display, the high-resolution, high-contrast display is clear, crisp and non-pixelated.

TomTom’s claims that its QuickGPSFix technology delivers a faster GPS fix than other watches available couldn’t be confirmed although it showed a faster reaction time in the GPS fix process once turned on. On the connectivity front, the watch as most fitness band operates through an app and a website. The user signs up and loads all data from the watch via the app to TomTom’s servers for future reference. But the problem seems to be the Bluetooth module 4.0 in the watch. This limits the devices that could be connected to the watch but TomTom claims that are working towards it to solve the issue. The app is free in the iOS and Android platform.

Functionality: This is what sets the Runner Cardio apart from all the other fitness watches. The watch delivers real-time information such as time, distance, heart rate, pace, speed and calories burnt to runners. The other model does the same for cyclists and swimmers too. But the most intriguing is the graphical training partner feature that builds a relationship between the watch and the user. It uses analog representations (graphs, dials, meters, etc), which are proven to be the most user-friendly way of visualising data.

The training partner offers three modes—race, goal and zone via which the user can set a goal for their workout, and check how they are performing at-a-glance throughout the workout. In the race mode, the user can choose to race against himself or a friend. The Race mode uses full-screen graphics to show real-time performance info. The user gets a glance, how far ahead or behind the competition he or she is and how much distance remains to be traversed.

The watch alerts the user when the position changes so the user can keep your eyes on the prize instead of on your watch. Unlike most other products, users race in real-time versus the exact speed profile of your prior workout instead of just a simple average pace. So, if your prior workout included a steep hill where you slowed down on the way up and sped up on the way down, the Race mode will represent so that you have an accurate comparison of how you are performing.

The goal mode is self-explanatory. The simple display shows the user’s progress at-a-glance, and the watch alerts the user at key milestones along the way. Next follows the Zone mode and the watch has a cardio inside. The cardio helps the user to pace their exercise activity. It allows to set both a specific target (example 130 heartbeats per minute) and a range (example +/- 20 beats per minute).

Battery and other features: The battery of the watch is really good. It ranged from 7.5 to 8 hours when the GPS was turned on. It also comes with an indoor tracker. The tracker accurately tracks indoor runs using built-in sensors to count strides, so that users can monitor pace and distance even while running on a treadmill.

Verdict: The watch is a perfect buy for athletes and workout enthusiasts. The consumer of this device would be someone who runs 3-4 times per week and a total of about 13 miles per week. The price seems a tad higher than the newer rivals but the other features in the watch sort of balances it out.

Estimated street price: R20,999

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