Published on January 15th, 2014 | by Greg0
TomTom Runner: A GPS Watch That Won’t Cost You An Arm
Wearables were the big thing at CES this year- ask pretty much anyone who visited the show and they’ll spin you a story about booth after booth of smartwatches. Far beyond Nike and Fitbit, companies like Reebok are releasing their own gear, along with dozens of startups and wannabe contenders.
One company that might not come to mind is TomTom, one of the best GPS firms out there. They’ve taken their engineering and mapping expertise and created the TomTom Runner. Despite the name, it works just fine for other exercises as well, but as with many similar watches it’s got a feature set aimed at joggers and marathoners. It’s truly waterproof, unlike some fitness watches, and better yet is slimmer in profile than most any others that we’ve seen. We mentioned Nike above, but TomTom actually built their well-liked watch, and it shows- the Runner presents everything on a large visual display and it proved more scratch-resistant and durable than some others too.
The coolest feature is the QuickFix tech, that allows very rapid GPS locating. While most competitors, even the Polar RC3, can take a couple of minutes or more to get a fix on your position, the TomTom Runner takes noticeably less. The large screen makes data easy to see, we could run laps and check our time, rates, and more with only a glance. Plus, the menus are simple to use and navigate; we managed without an instruction manual for the most part. Those who want to use a chest strap heartrate monitor might miss ANT+ support though, and cyclists will miss an altimeter.
The wristband itself is comfortable, and comes in two styles/colors for men and women. It’s not too bulky, and is available in dark grey or pink. With a battery life of 10 hours in GPS mode (and much longer with it turned off), one thing to remember is that you’ll need to use their custom charging dock and keep it handy. It plugs in via USB, the same way you’ll transfer data, and charges fast. TomTom’s online tools aren’t yet as sophisticated as some others, but offer most vital information and present it fairly well. It’s not quite as fun as some systems though. Available online and in stores now for $170, we suggest getting the model with the heart rate monitor for a bit extra ($50 more)- it seemed accurate, and there’s no monthly fee or subscription charge.