TomTom Touch, Spark 3 and Adventurer review (hands-on): New tracker wants to know how fat you are

After teasing us mercilessly with a redacted press release and YouTube video, TomTom unveiled its latest fitness wearables at IFA 2016 – the TomTom Touch, Spark 3, Runner 3 and Adventurer sports watches.

The Spark 3 is the latest in TomTom’s long-running (excuse the pun) line of running watches, and takes the product on another step. Where last year’s iteration added the ability to store and play music tracks on the watch itself, this year’s Spark includes mapping facilities, with the ability to upload new routes from the TomTom app and retrace your steps if you get lost.[gallery:2]

The function, dubbed “Route Exploration”, is also being added to TomTom’s running-specific Runner 3 GPS watch, and should add an extra dimension for fitness fans who like to like to venture off the beaten track.

Otherwise, the Spark 3 (and Runner 3) retains all the features I liked so much in the previous version. It has built-in GPS tracking and heart-rate monitoring, the ability to play music over Bluetooth headphones, a simple-to-use interface and great battery life.[gallery:6]

It’s a shame that TomTom hasn’t seen fit to refine the design at all, though. The watch is still a little bulky and ugly to my eyes with its large four-way button and monochrome, non-touchscreen LCD. It’s a watch I’d love to wear all the time, but one that doesn’t slide beneath the cuff of a shirt very easily and it still doesn’t look particularly attractive.

TomTom Adventurer: A fitness tracker for the slopes

The TomTom Adventurer takes a similar approach is a new addition to the range this year. It adopts the fundamentals of what makes the Spark and Runner watches so great and adds a dash of rugged, outdoorsy charm. The key difference, aside from a £50 price hike, are that it adds a barometer/altimeter to the Spark’s list of capabilities.[gallery:7]

These two new features allow the Adventurer to detect elevation changes more quickly and accurately than straight GPS, so you can see how far uphill you’ve hiked and run in a day. There are new trail-running and hiking modes as well, but it’s the skiing and boarding modes that most interest me.

With automatic lift detection, these should be able to give you stats on your day on the slopes without you having to fumble around with your gloves in the cold, plus there’s live tracking so you can see how fast you’re travelling, what your altitude is and the gradient of the slope you’re skiing or boarding down. You probably know it’s steep, though, don’t you?[gallery:10]

Fitness tracking – with a difference

TomTom most intriguing announcement at IFA this year, however, is that it is now venturing into the fitness-tracker market for the first time. The new TomTom Touch is far from your standard step counter, however. It claims to be the first fitness tracker to combine “body composition analysis” with step counting, sleep tracking and heart-rate monitoring.

That sounds fancy, but in essence what it’s attempting to do is to measure the amount of body fat and muscle mass in your body in a bid to track both what you’re doing and whether it’s having the desired effect.[gallery:13]

Want to depress yourself with how little effect hitting your steps target is having on your body? This is the fitness tracker for you.

On the wrist it looks good, too. It’s much slimmer and sleeker than TomTom’s sports watches, yet it offers many of the same functions. It tracks your steps, sleep, heart rate and calories burned, plus its monochrome LCD display is capable of displaying smartphone notifications. Unlike the sports watches, the screen is touch-sensitive, and you can also cycle through the TomTom Touch’s various screens by clicking the circular button on the wristband.[gallery:17]

The TomTom Touch will be available for pre-order from 8 September for £130, and will hit the shops in October, so it isn’t cheap, but for a tracker that does this much, it’s certainly an interesting proposition. The TomTom Spark 3 and Runner 3 are available now for £200.

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