Remember my review of the TomTom Spark Cardio+Music+Headphones watch? Well TomTom have now bought out the Spark 3, which comes with amazing new features which will be loved by runners. For the last two weeks, I've been putting the Spark 3 Cardio + Music GPS watch to the test. As with the earlier model, you'll need to check which one you buy as there are different configurations (not all have a heart rate monitor, and not all have the music function).
What makes the TomTom Spark 3 different from the earlier version of the watch?
The newest and most exciting feature to set it apart from the earlier model is Route Exploration, a feature which comes in two modes. Now you'll never have to worry about getting lost as your watch can show you the way back to your home using the Breadcrumb Trail mode and with the Preloaded Trails mode, it's like having a sat nav on your wrist when you want to explore new places. As a little niggle, I will say that it is not immediately obvious, from playing around with the watch straight out of the box, how to use the route exploration features, so I've tried my best to explain this below.
How to use the TomTom Spark 3's Breadcrumb trail feature
To use this mode, you must enable the breadcrumb trail feature before you set off. To do this, you'll need to start an activity which uses GPS, such as Run, Cycle or Freestyle. The activity screen is the one that shows you your heart rate, speed, distance, calories burn etc. as you use the 'up' button to scroll through. If you press the right hand side of the multi-directional button you'll be taken to the heart rate zone screen (which tells you which zone your workout is in). It's from this screen that you need to press up to begin your breadcrumb trail. Press up again and you'll see a little arrow in the middle of the screen to represent where you are now. As you run, you see a thick line behind you, this is to show you the route you've taken so you'll be able to follow it back to get home.
How to use the TomTom Spark 3's Pre-loaded trail feature
With pre-loaded trails mode, you can use your watch as a mini sat nav. First, make sure you have some trails stored on your watch. There are two ways to do this. The easiest way, is to save one of your previous runs as a trail, you can do this on the MySports site after syncing your workout data. You might argue that there's little point in saving one of your past runs as a trail, as surely you already know where you're going. A valid point, but what it does mean is that you choose a trail based on distance, so say if you set off knowing you want to run 5 miles, you can choose one of your past 5 mile routes to follow.
The second method is to download a running route in a GPX file format from various websites (Strava. MapMyFitness, Endomondo and Nike Plus) and add this to your watch via the 'planning' tab on the MySports website (pictured above). This means you'll be able to explore new areas on your runs, without the worry of getting lost. I've found this very useful when exploring new areas in my own town (and I feel shamed that in 25 years of living in the same area, there are still places I had no idea existed until now!).
Got a trail synced to your watch? Great, now to get going, you'll need to go to the activity selection screen, choose either run or cycling and in the settings screen (press down to access), select 'trails' and chose the trail you want. You can also use a zoomed in view by pressing right and return to the complete view using left.
Music On The Go
Alongside having a mini sat nav on your wrist, you also have your chose running playlist right there with you! Like it's predecessor, the Spark 3 also stores music for you to listen to on the go (so you don't have to bring your phone along with you!). The Spark 3 stores up to 500 songs with 3G storage. You can use the watch with any bluetooth headset, I've been using it with Supertooth headphones, but you can also buy the TomTom Spark 3 with it's own set of TomTom headphones. Unlike it's predecessor, the Spark 3 doesn't come pre-loaded with Running Trax. There's just one track stored on the watch so that you can test your headphones work etc.
It's easy to turn your playlist on and sync your headphones, simply press 'up' while on the watch screen and the watch will seek out any nearby headphones (you'll need to put the headphones into pairing mode first). Once connected, you're playlist will begin!
- Audio Feedback During Workouts - if you have headphones connected, you will hear a voice over during your workouts
- Heart Rate Tracking
- Multisport tracking, including Swim tracking - as well as running, cycling, gym workouts and other indoor exercises, the Spark 3 can track swim workouts as the watch is water resistant to 40m (5 ATM). Be sure to configure the pool size before you track your workout. This is easily done by pressing 'down' on the swim activity screen before you start the tracking.
- 24/7 activity and sleep tracking
- Sync your data to your favourite apps - my main criticisms when I last reviewed the Spark, was that I couldn't connect it to MyFitnessPal, which I use to track my food. This is no longer the case, and I even prefer how the data shows up in MyFitnessPal, compared to syncing with my FitBit. With FitBit, my exercise data was reduced to importing extra calories under the heading 'FitBit adjustment'. With the Spark 3 however, workouts are imported as exercises (along with a calorie burn) - so my walks show up as walking, and my weight training now shows up as circuit training. I much prefer this!
- Goal setting - set yourself goals for the
day and the week. You can review your progress at any time by pressing
left while on the watch screen.
- Removable strap - a range of different colours available in the same style. The strap is easy to fasten, is comfortable to wear and stays put all workout without getting sticky and sweaty. It's also easy to clean, which is handy as mine seems to be a dirt magnet!
- Backlight - this will turn on if you hold your hand over the screen, there's also a night mode for when you're running at night time, but this does drain the battery quicker.
Easy Set Up
I find the Spark 3 easier to plug in and charge than the earlier version, the connection on the Spark was a tad fiddly in comparison but thanks to the removable strap it's much easier. Straight out of the box and plugged in, registration on the website and initial set up took just a second with an existing TomTom Sport account. You must download a desktop app during set-up, this is for sync playlists and updating the watch's software. When it comes to pre-loading trails, reviewing route maps and other info however, you will need to use the TomTom MySports website. For me, this isn't too much of a problem, but I would like to see this function added to the desktop app in the future. That said, the webapp does have a nice clean layout.
Overall, I'm really happy with the Spark 3 and its huge list of features. It's fantastic being able to listen to music and get directions from my wrist instead of having to carry a smartphone with me, long gone are the days of arm-strap phone pouches and headphone wires! Swim tracking is another feature that is often neglected by the tracker market, so I'm please to see this included too.
The watch looks sporty, it's comfortable and lightweight and I like that there's just one button to press. Generally, I prefer a button to a touch screen when it comes to sports watches as I often wear gloves when exercising outdoors, in the winter.
The removable strap makes it pretty easy to plug in to charge and sync. I like the selection of colours available (you can find these on Amazon), but I would like to see a wider selection of styles, so that the watch could blend into office attire easier, since it is also a 24/7 all day tracker.
A minor criticism too, while the Spark 3 does offer sleep tracking, I would prefer to use a smaller device or even a sleep tracker that I don't have to wear, from a comfort point of view, I'm also not convinced on it's accuracy as it doesnt't report on the time I spend awake with my son. This is nitpicking really, as I've struggled to find faults with such a great sports watch!
Prices and Configurations
24/7 activity tracking, GPS tracking, Multisport mode, Built-in heart rate monitor
TomTom sport bluetooth headphones
24/7 activity tracking, GPS tracking, Multisport mode, Built-in heart rate monitor, Over 500 songs of music storage
24/7 activity tracking, GPS tracking, Multisport mode, Built-in heart rate monitor, Over 500 songs of music storage, TomTom sport bluetooth headphones.
Bought separately - £49.99