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TomTom Runner Cardio review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £220
inc VAT

With its built-in heart rate monitor, this is the best running watch available, even if charging it is a little fiddly


Pedometer: Yes, Heart-rate monitor: Yes, Display: LCD, Battery life: 8 days


TomTom has added a lot of features to its sports watches since they launched, so the heart rate sensor isn’t the only thing that’s new since we reviewed the TomTom Multi-Sport back in January.

Some of the updates have just been handy little extras, such as the addition of a stopwatch that you can fire up without triggering an exercise session. But there are some that really help make the TomTom Runner Cardio and its siblings better training partners. One of those features is the ability to configure interval sessions in your runs.

Interval training is a great way to push your body hard, during shorter workouts. Rather than running at a steady pace, you throw in bursts of extreme effort, followed by recovery periods. Interval training on a treadmill is easy, since you can configure the treadmill itself to switch the pace up and down as required, but it’s a bit more tricky out in the real world.

TomTom, however, has made interval training incredibly easy. If you select intervals as your goal, you can then fully customise your warm up, your high intensity intervals, your recovery period, and how many sets you want to incorporate in your run. You can configure your cool down too.

You can choose to base your intervals on either time or distance, and the Runner Cardio will vibrate when it’s time to switch up or down, so you don’t have to keep checking the watch even if you’re listening to music while you run.

But what is that integrated heart rate monitor like? Pretty awesome actually. For a start you can shave a few minutes off your preparation time, since you won’t have to find the chest strap, wet the electrodes, secure it around your chest and snap on the heart rate sensor. And not only is the HRM built into the Runner Cardio more convenient, it’s also every bit as accurate as a chest strap sensor.

We tested the Runner Cardio alongside a chest strap sensor over a 10km run, and for the most part the results were near identical. Not only that, because there’s no wireless transmission going on with the Runner Cardio, your heart rate measurement isn’t subject to the spikes and drop outs that can sometimes affect chest strap sensors.

TomTom Runner Cardio heart rate zones 

TomTom has made it easy to make the most of that HRM functionality too, with a very simple implementation of training zones. The zones are split into Sprint, Speed, Endure, Fat Burn and Easy, and each has a default value assigned to it. You can customise the zones to suit your own needs though.

You can easily check what zone you’re in while you’re running, and if you’re embarking on a set of intervals, you can make sure you’re in the correct zones for your intense and recovery periods.

TomTom claims around eight hours of use from a full charge, assuming that you’re using both GPS and heart rate functionality. Battery life isn’t really something that bothered us during testing though, since we tended to leave the watch in its docking cradle between runs, ensuring that it was fully charged the next time we needed it.

Like the previous TomTom watches, the Runner Cardio uses a proprietary docking cradle for charging, which means that you will have to carry that cable with you if you want to charge away from home.

TomTom Runner Cardio web portal 

When TomTom launched its GPS watches last year, its web portal was a major weak point. It was something of a work in progress, and couldn’t really compete with offerings from rivals such as Garmin or Polar. Today the TomTom MySports portal is a much better product, though still a fair way behind Garmin Connect, especially since Garmn updated its service recently.

But the best thing about TomTom MySports is that you don’t have to use it. You see TomTom makes it really easy to export your data to third party services. In fact, TomTom MySports is based on the Map My Fitness portal, with the two sites even sharing the same login.

The first thing we did when setting up the Runner Cardio, was pairing it with Strava. So now every time we sync our data with TomTom MySports, that data is also exported to Strava. And since Strava is our preferred activity logging service, we don’t even need to look at TomTom MySports unless we really want to.

TomTom Runner Cardio MySports Run 

You can also sync your data using the TomTom MySports app on your phone. This is pretty handy if you’re out and about, but still want to log some activity. To initiate the sync you need to navigate to the Phone setting in the watch menu and select the Sync option. The Runner Cardio will then connect to your phone and start to transfer its data.

The app isn’t the best we’ve seen, and layout, design and usability could be better. It also takes an absolute age to sync the data from the watch and upload it. That said, it’s not like the Garmin Connect app is much better when it comes to design and layout, although it does seem to sync data with devices far more quickly.

TomTom Runner Cardio Conclusion

The TomTom Runner Cardio isn’t cheap, but it’s one of those rare products that’s stuffed full of really innovative features, but is also incredibly easy to use. And when you factor in that no other sports watch offers heart rate monitoring without a chest strap, then that £220 asking price starts to look pretty reasonable.

There are sports watches with more features that will appeal to serious athletes and hardcore runners, but for the most part the TomTom Runner Cardio provides everything that you could want from a training partner.

There are a couple of niggles – the proprietary cable and slow syncing with the app – but they can’t take the shine off what is an undeniably great product. Ultimately, if we had to spend our own money, this is the running watch we’d buy.

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Wearing modesWrist strap
Heart-rate monitorYes
WaterproofYes (50m)
Smartphone connection
OS supportiPhone 4S+
WirelessBluetooth 4.0
Battery sizeNot disclosed
Battery life8 days
Buying information
Price including VAT£220
WarrantyOne year RTB