The holidays are upon us, and if you’re like me you probably haven’t started your Christmas shopping yet. Why do it now, when the real fun comes from waiting in line for four hours to get your mom something she asked for three months go!
Odds are someone on your list probably wants to be more active come 2017. Get outside. Smell the roses. Lose some weight. Pump some iron. That was me back in October when my fitness journey began. I needed something sleek for my arm that would help me monitor my progress and it had to come in black. That’s why I picked both the TomTom Touch and Spark 3 (Note, you don’t need both devices. 1 is more than enough). Looking back at my decision, it sure is a good thing I didn’t go buy a Pebble now, isn’t it?
Let’s take a quick look at both products before I dive in.
TomTom Touch: The first fitness tracker that combines the full set of activity tracking – steps, sleep, heart rate 24/7 – with body composition. Measure your body fat and muscle mass percentage right from your wrist to better understand the impact of all your diet and workout activities over time. Find out not just how active you are, but also how your activity affects your body.
TomTom Spark 3: Integrating both cardio and music, the new GPS fitness watch has a slimmer, sleeker profile equipped with a built-in heart rate monitor and on-board music player. This latest product in the Spark family also comes equipped with the all-new Route Exploration. This means that when you get lost in the music or decide to explore a new route, the Spark 3 will always guide you home. Set goals and explore new tracks, trails, and routes and never take the same path twice. The TomTom Spark 3 comes in two sizes to ensure your watch fits perfectly. Multiple sports modes let users track their activity for running, cycling, swimming, treadmill and gym workouts.
So do they work?
I found myself using the TomTom Spark 3 at the beginning because I loved the size and look of it but switched over to the Touch when I found I wasn’t using the on-board music player and I wanted something smaller. Call me old fashioned but I still prefer having my headphones plugged into my iPhone at the gym. This is so I can hear when an email comes in and I prefer using the Spotify app. Downloading the music to the included app was too much of a hassle. More on that later.
Also, the big thing about the Touch that makes’s it unique is, to put it bluntly, it tells you how fat you are. It’s simply a rubber band, removable module, and a clasp. I like that. It’s hardly noticeable on my arm, which is also helped by the fact my arms are covered in tattoos. When I wore the Spark 3 out people would assume I wanted to talk about going to the gym where I wanted to do the opposite. I wanted my new body to do the talking.
The OLED screens shows the time and a small circle with the amount of steps you’ve taken for the day. This circle becomes a star when you’ve hit your goal. You go rockstar! The screen is touch enabled, but you must press the metal button to activate the screen. There is no tilt-to-wake function which is a bit of a nuisance.
Controlling the device takes a little getting used to, and it’s easy to miss things. The first swipe upwards you will see the activity screen, then up again for body composition, and finally one more swipe for live bpm readout. If you swipe down you will see your steps for the day, active time, calories burned, etc.
The TomTom Touch also will show you texts and phone calls, but I opted to turn that feature off. I couldn’t do anything with that information and would have to use my phone to respond anyways. I wanted this thing to help me track my weight loss (or gain, god forbid).
I set my goals into the app but was disappointed to find that the app really doesn’t push me to achieve them. I’m not a guy who needs that extra push, I’m extremely self-motivated but a lot of people are going need that extra push. Goals include, step, sport and weight, and the app enables you to set a number and figure and a time period to make your goal. At first, I was curious about how I was doing but over time my interest in making sure I put the watch on each morning dwindled. This is due to the fact that the app doesn’t adapt with you. It would have been nice for the app to keep up with my constantly changing body. I was hitting my 10,000 steps a day goal consistently and was hoping my watch would encourage me to step it up.
The big selling point for the Touch is knowing your percentage of body fat and muscle. The technology isn’t exactly new, scales have done this for years, but it’s good to see it being implemented through a watch. On a scale, an undetectable electrical pulse is sent from one foot, through the body, and back through the other foot down to the sensor. Then a bunch of science happens, and the scale will be able to report how much of your body is lean muscle or cheeseburger fat. Magic.
The Touch does the same thing but with your finger. Simply place a finger down on the top sensor and your new watch will tell you how you’re looking. I used a scale at my gym and checked how accurate this watch really was and can happily report it’s nearly right on the money. That’s a big selling factor right there.
Now speaking of the gym, just how good is the Touch when working out. The watch has a Sports mode which is essentially a stopwatch that tracks time, distance and heart rate. I get to the gym, turn on the Luke Cage soundtrack, hit the stopwatch and away I go. I found it did a good job charting my progress and was a handy companion at the gym. Well, the watch and my trainer.
The biggest downfall of my experience with the Touch is the app. It’s called MySport and needs some serious work. The design is bad. Really bad. It’s extremely outdated looking and neither intuitive or easy to navigate. Hopefully, this can be improved in the future as in its current state it’s certainly not amazing.
As far as battery life goes on the Touch, I found it decent. I’d wear it around the clock and would have it last an average of 3-4 days. On my days off from the gym, usually Wednesday and Sunday I would throw it on the charger. There is also no way to check your battery on the watch, instead making you go to the app, which is a bit of a pain in the ass.
It’s also worth mentioning that yes you can shower with the watch on. You CAN NOT swim with it however, which is a letdown. I was hoping to get back in the water come the new year but this won’t work for me.
I do like the watch, but there’s so much that can be improved. Some motivation notifications, a better app, increased battery life, and easier usability on the watch itself would really make this device stand out. With Pebble out of the picture and an iWatch that is expensive and catered to a very certain crowd, the TomTom Touch isn’t a bad way to go. It’s also not going convert FitBit users either. The FitBit app is lightyears better than the buggy MySport. I don’t owe it to helping me lose pounds over the last 8 weeks but it did help me keep track of my progress especially on weeks when looking in the mirror didn’t show much change.
As for the TomTom Spark 3, I preferred it when I was biking for the route exploration mode. Essentially it makes sure I get back to where I started thanks to the built-in compass. Otherwise, I found it mainly the same as the TomTom Touch. It’s great if you are looking for something with a bigger screen and built in audio, but a lot of the problems I had with the Touch live on the Spark 3 as well. If you are a runner you will probably want to go with the Spark 3 because of the built in audio player, eliminating the need for you to bring your phone. The battery life is also a bit longer on the Spark 3 and I managed to get about 9 days out of it without a charge.
There you have it. Good luck losing that extra bit of flab in the new year. If you ever wanna talk about fitness hit me up on Twitter. With my big change to gaming this year, and getting older, I really pressured myself to get to the gym as much as I can to stay fit. Eating Doritos and pizza all day does eventually catch up and it’s not pretty, and hell I love a good reason to take off my shirt!