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TomTom Multi-sport GPS watch review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £180
inc VAT

Versatile and with above average battery life, but you'll need extras and GPS issues can slow you down

TomTom does far more with its satellite navigation technology than putting it in cars. Its range of sports watches squeezes the GPS receiver onto your wrist to let you monitor your exercise and plot training routes. The Multi-Sport reviewed here is a four-in-one watch designed to track multiple activities, not just running, so could be ideal if you like to vary your exercise.

TomTom Multi-sport

The Multi-sport is actually made up of two parts; a rubber strap and detachable watch face. This makes it easy to swap out the design for a brighter (or more subtle) colour, as well as wipe down the strap if it gets sweaty. The strap is very comfortable, latching firmly in place whatever your wrist size thanks to twelve sensibly spaced holes, and the watch itself is fairly compact. It sits much flatter on the wrist than the competition from Adidas, and we had no trouble fitting it under a shirt cuff.

TomTom Multi-sport

TomTom’s “One-button” control sits just below the watch face, although it’s actually a four-way directional pad rather than a single button. It makes navigating through the menus incredibly simple; Up and down scroll through menus, right selects an option and left returns you to the previous screen. There’s also a touch-sensitive strip on the watch face that activates the backlight, so you can clearly see the screen when out at night.

TomTom Multi-sport

Once you’re ready to exercise, pressing right opens the training menu. The aptly-named Multi Sport gives you the choice between swimming, cycling and running, either outside or on a treadmill.

For swimming, the Multi-Sport is 50m water resistant. However, it uses the built-in accelerometer to measure your strokes rather than GPS. You also have to set pool length, so it isn’t particularly suited to open water swimmers.

TomTom Multi-sport

Cyclists will need to invest in a cadence meter in order to keep track of pace while the watch monitors your route and distance travelled, but this adds significantly to the cost of the watch. The Multi-Sport is compatible with heart rate monitors and bike cadence meters, but only via Bluetooth Smart – if you have existing ANT+ equipment they won’t work here.

If you aren’t planning on buying the cadence meter for cycling, we think TomTom’s Runner watch is a more sensible purchase than the Multi-sport. It costs £200 with a bundled heart rate monitor, compared to £280 for the Multi-Sport and its various sensors.

TomTom Multi-sport

TomTom uses a combination of GPS and GLONASS positioning to track your workout, but we found it often struggled to locate a signal in central London. Out in the countryside we had no issues at all; it synced within thirty seconds and we were good to go, but back in the city we regularly had to wait over a minute. You can’t start running or cycling until the watch has received a GPS signal and the GPS chip is disabled until you need it to save battery, which is the main reason for the delay. Even with QuickGPSFix, which remembers where you were when you last activated GPS and attempts to relocate you faster than having to lock with multiple satellites, it isn’t an instant process. We would prefer the option to start a workout and have GPS drop in once a signal has been locked, rather than have to stand in the cold until your watch gives you the OK to start running.

We spent the majority of this review in the running and treadmill modes. As GPS isn’t enabled for treadmill workouts you can get started straight away, with the screen displaying two measuring metrics of your choosing. We opted for time and distance, with distance taking over the majority of the display and time sitting underneath, but you can swap out either metric for an alternate one such as heart rate, pace or calories burnt. It was consistently in line with the readout from the treadmill, only varying by 10-20 meters at most.

Runners that tackle the same route regularly can race ghost versions of themselves using the race feature, which replicates TomTom’s satnav interface with floating arrows and roads. You can also choose to set specific time, distance or calorie goals, set up interval workouts or monitor particular heart rate zones to get the most effective workout. Whenever the watch needs your attention it vibrates and beeps, although you can disable the beeping if you don’t want to draw attention to yourself while at the gym.

TomTom Multi-sport

The Multi-sport only has a small amount of internal memory, so you’ll need to sync it regularly to TomTom’s MySports website to free up space for more workouts. At the time of writing, the promised MultiSport app had yet to arrive in the iOS app store and there’s no sign of an Android release either, so you’re tied to a PC or Mac for updating and syncing your workouts to the MySports web page. Annoyingly there’s no Micro USB port on the watch either – you have to remove it from the strap and connect it to the bundled USB cradle every time you want to sync or charge. Considering it supports Bluetooth Smart, we wish it were possible to sync wirelessly.

This does at least keep battery drain to a minimum. The display might not be eInk but it uses very little power, so with GPS off we could manage almost two weeks without needing to charge the watch. With an hour of exercise every day, that reduced down to just under a week.

TomTom website

The TomTom website lays out your runs on a map, but it isn’t interactive

The website is fairly minimal, but contains important information and data tracking such as distance travelled, calories burned, workout duration, pace and heart rate – assuming you’re wearing a compatible heart rate monitor. Your totals are split between running and treadmills, with separate pace and distance tracking to see how much time is spent indoors versus outdoors.

Your exercise routes are plotted on to a virtual map, with additional data such as elevation available once you click on a detailed breakdown. You can track your pace at any given minute on a run, but without an HRM the information available isn’t as in-depth as with other fitness watches we’ve tried. Treadmill workouts only track pace and heart rate. We would have liked to have seen some kind of training planner or calendar to book in specific workouts, rather than just review past runs.

TomTom website

You can track your monthly totals to see whether you’ve been slacking off

TomTom has at been proactive with user complaints and issues; we received several firmware updates over the course of reviewing the Multi-Sport, with each one improving or adding new features. A long list of impending features can be found on the TomTom support website, including support for generic sports or activities for anyone wanting to monitor additional workouts. This is great news for anyone that buys a Multi-sport today, as they will be getting extra features at no extra cost.

At £180, the Multi-Sport is a reasonably priced fitness tracker, although you’ll need to spend more on compatible heart rate monitors and cadence meters to get the most from it. If you only need to track running the less expensive TomTom looks like the better choice, while the Adidas MiCoach has an integrated heart rate monitor for anyone that doesn’t want to wear more than one fitness tracker at once, but for most people the MySport is a comprehensive, if finicky way to keep track of your exercise regime.