Upgrades from TomTom have made Spark a better device in terms of functionality over the past year. The weakness is the smartphone app, which could be a little more appealing and stable and really replace the needed PC connection.
- Good heart rate performance
- Good GPS tracking
- New route tracking is useful for travellers
- Shares data with other platforms
- Gives you phone-free music
- Design is getting a bit stale
- No play to wider smartphone connectivity like notifications
- MySports app isn’t great
- Still needs a connection to a PC for full functionality
The early waking up in the city offers the city runner many unique benefits. It’s a chance to walk while the local population wipes sleep, prepares for the day, prepares for the day, goes to work, goes home in the evening, builds market stalls and opens stores.
An awakening city is something to experience and offers a different perspective. And for those who travel, it feels early in the morning as if you had actually gone somewhere and done something. With the TomTom Spark 3 sports watch focusing on running, cycling and swimming, this is much easier.
TomTom Spark 3 review: Design and build
TomTom has stuck to a single design formula for a few iterations of its sports equipment. In Spark, the body is a piece that fits into a rubber band. The Spark 3 is a new belt that is softer and more comfortable to wear, but no big change from the previous version.
If you want to buy new straps, this is easy enough, because TomTom offers many options for around 20-30 euros. Yes, the old Spark also fits in the new straps, if you think so.
The design features a 22 x 25 mm display on the top of the case. The curved tongue provides a four-way controller for easy navigation of menus and screens. There is no touchscreen that you can work with, and the controller is unique, so you know you’ve pressed it, making control easy and simple.
The downside to this design is that you need to remove the strap and connect it to the custom charger attached to the bottom of the tongue to charge the watch. The advantage of this equation is that the charger is securely fastened. There is no danger that a magnetic charger will not be connected properly.
The Spark 3 is identical to the older devices, so there is no difference, and the user interface is simple, hierarchical, and monotone as before. Little has changed since the introduction of the TomTom Runner in 2013, and even the new adventurer repeats this design, so things change a bit.
There are no adjustments to the offer, and although TomTom offers activity tracking around the clock, you can, for example, Set goals for steps or distances and sleep tracking. This is strictly a sports watch that is not limited to other connected options, such as smartphone notifications.
TomTom Spark 3 review: Sports performance
At previous Spark iterations, we liked the accuracy of things like the heart rate monitor. There are now many devices that monitor your heart rate, but many are inconsistent, inaccurate, and often fail and produce undesirable results.
The TomTom Spark 3 provides sound heart rate monitoring and offers a variety of statistics, such as: B. the heart rate zone. So you can easily see what you are doing in relation to your personal capacity and what effect you have on the training effect that is and how it can fit into your fitness plan.
This sharp HR tracking is also coupled with good GPS results. We’ve found this to be consistent with other devices, such as our standard Garmin Forerunner, so the range is recorded pretty well, for example.
The record of the route may be slightly different, although the distance is usually slightly closer to the actual route distance, even if the track line you see crosses roads, rivers, or corners. We suspect that this is due to the frequency with which the Spark records the GPS position – which is not unusual for GPS devices.
However, the Spark 3 can be a bit sluggish at times to query a GPS location. To resolve this, the connection to the MySports app on your smartphone is transferred via QuickGPSfix data. This can vary somewhat in performance, especially when traveling. We have arrived somewhere new, have connected with the app and were well on the way. When we returned, we sometimes waited a long time to find the location – even after syncing with the app.
One downside is that in normal operating mode, you can not even run without GPS fixation. The treadmill option allows you when you do not have to wait.
The best advice (and we had to do that with other devices as well) is that you let your clock look up into the sky early, so you do not have the delay when you stand there to run.
There is no option for a footpod that could increase accuracy under these circumstances, but there is support for a cadence sensor and a chest strap heart rate monitor that provides better support for cyclists who may want to mount the Spark 3 on the handlebars.
Thanks to the high-contrast display of the data, you can easily access your Spark 3 and see how it works. There are many screens that you can flip through using the four-way controller to get the statistics you want. For those who walk in the dark, there is also lighting so you can see what’s going on.
TomTom Spark does not automatically recognize your sports, which some smartwatch devices will try, but we’re happy with it. If you want to swim or ride a bike, select these options and the statistics you get are tailored to your view. However, there are no opportunities for swimming in the open water. Instead, the Spark 3 relies on lengths by manually entering the size of the pool.
Although various types of activity are supported, there is no combined multisport option. Therefore, it is not good to track your triathlon, unless you want to constantly stop the clock and start the clock, which you forget when you take off a jersey wetsuit and quickly put on the helmet. This is a criticism we have had from the beginning on the Spark series, but since auto-detection is not possible, we can see why this feature is still missing.
We’ve found that battery life is good for three to four runs before you charge. Of course, this depends on many factors, such as whether you are playing music, how long you are running and how long you are running, and whether you are using it all the time for tracking or just for certain sports. The official numbers of TomTom say five hours of HR, GPS and music. 11 hours GPS coverage; or several weeks of activity wear.
TomTom Sports Bluetooth headphones review
Some of these Spark packages include TomTom’s own headphones. Designed for the sport, these headphones fit into your ears, are passed over your ears and connect around the back of your head. There is a rubber band that you can add and move for a secure fit.
We found the fit really comfortable and with a variety of tips in the box it is very easy to find a secure fit. They are light and water repellent and therefore ideal for work.
The right earphones have controls that cover a number of functions, such as power, play / pause, volume and skip tracks. Pairing with the Spark is easy enough – you just have to ascend from the dial to search.
The quality of the playback is also good. There’s enough volume and we’ve got a sufficiently good fit to provide some isolation for good bass reproduction, which is often missing because you do not get a secure fit while running.
The Bluetooth connection was also pretty good, although occasionally there was a short-term loss of contact.
One downside is that you can not get music on your watch when you’re not using your computer. You can not just collect and move multiple files from your phone, it has to be a playlist from your computer. This playlist can only be an album and can be automated, but we really want to manage things over the phone.
Earlier, the combination of music and heart rate monitoring is good, but we would discount on the price of the TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + headphone if the Bluetooth headphones were not as good as we found them. However, at this price, there are many more competitors – from Garmin to Polar, even Android Wear pendants and the Apple Watch – although few offer the combination of phone-less music, heart rate monitoring and GPS with the same battery life.
This makes the TomTom Spark 3 a device that is worth considering if you are looking for a running or general sports companion. Garmin’s competing gadgets may be more appealing, with colors and advanced features, but they’re also quite expensive by comparison. The same goes for Polar: In some places there is a bit more excitement, but also at a higher price.
Thanks to TomTom’s upgrades, the Spark 3 is a better device than its predecessor in terms of functionality. Her weakness is the smartphone app, which could be a little more appealing and stable, and should really replace the required wired connection between the device and the PC.