TomTom just announced their latest Runner and Multi-Sport GPS watch, speaking volumes to their re-dedication as a GPS hardware provider, particularly in the fitness tech sector. This isn’t the first time they’ve played in this sandbox. A couple years back, they partnered with Nike and developed the Nike+ SportWatch, which has been a big seller. But today, TomTom intends to march forward with their own brand of sport watches, and offer features exclusive to TomTom’s famous GPS technology.
Both models, the Multi-Sport and Runner, are based on the same hardware but feature different wristbands, accessories and software. Both units uses a big, high-contrast, monochrome LCD display covered with Gorilla glass, so both are very durable….an important attribute for an exercise companion. The LCD is not touch-sensitive, but has been designed for easy viewing in direct sunlight, and both models are among the thinnest GPS sports watches on the market. Both are also waterproof, up to 50-meters, and features a vibration motor for silent, haptic notifications. Other hardware features include an accelerometer and a GPS antenna.
Device input is extremely simple, thanks to the one large, multi-function button below the display on the wrist band. This button can be tapped or pushed in four directions, much like a d-pad, to make onscreen selections. The GPS receiver is embedded beneath the button, so the signal is stronger and doesn’t interfere with the watch’s internals.
Bluetooth is also onboard. This helps the watch to position itself faster when paired with a smartphone, running a companion app. The signal is stronger because it uses the phone’s location and network data to speed up GPS pairing. The TomTom app also lets you make changes to certain watch functions and presets and perform data synchronization. You can also connect the Multi-Sport and Runner with a Web-connected PC or Mac to sync run data with TomTom’s online community or with other fitness communities such as MyFitnessPal and Runkeeper. The built-in accelerometer allows you to keep track of indoor running on a treadmill without the need for a separate foot pod. The accelerometer also measures the swing of your arms, and you can access a plethora of training modes.
The difference between the Multi-Sport and the Runner has to do with the accessories and the software. The Multi-Sport has a more robust wrist strap and a handlebar mount that can be used to affix the core unit to a bike when removed from the strap. It also has metrics for tracking swimming strokes and laps, as well as cycling performance. The Runner does not have this, however, it does feature programs specific to running.
Besides the main units, both models can use their built-in Bluetooth to connect to a variety of accessories, including cadence sensors, bicycle speed and heart-rate monitors. They will be available separately or bundled with the watches. Pricing and availability will be announced soon, but both models are slated for this summer.
Check out the video demo from TomTom…