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Published on January 15th, 2014 | by Greg


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.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Appleā€™s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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