Gadget Review: TomTom Spark Smart Watch - Get fit with music

Mar 21, 2016, 09:01 IST | Hassan M Kamal

Here's a fitness smart watch that moves beyond trackers and sensors by adding a wireless music player. Hassan M Kamal gives it a workout

What is it about?
A smart watch-cum-fitness tracker by a Dutch wearable gadget maker, it offers a light-based heart rate monitor, GPS tracker and built-in music player with support for Bluetooth headset. It can be used to track a variety of sports including swimming, working on the treadmill, running, cycling and gym activities.

Who is it for?
If you want to track your fitness and listen to music at the same time on your wireless headphones without having to carry your smartphone or a music player along.

Design (7/10): Packed with features, the watch is chunky. The device is available in two sizes (small and large), with a rubber wrist strap that features a three-step locking system made of poppers that fit into holes. We are told they were specially designed to offer a strong grip, which is done perfectly. The device gets a monochrome LCD unit (22mm x 25mm with resolution of 144 x 168) and a backlit display that turns on after covering its face for a few seconds. We were disappointed to find that the screen does not operate on touch. Instead, it has an archaic, square controller to scroll the
menu. To recharge, you need to dislodge it off the strap and fit it in a proprietary USB cable. Not cool.

Usability (9/10): However, these setbacks didn’t hinder our experience. As we found out during our two-week test-drive, the fitness watch is not complicated. It is big and some might call it ugly, but its features are worth the compromise. The menu design is logical and offers easy access to all the data. The control button enables you to track your performance or change tracks even with sweaty hands. However, we would have preferred more detail, with an option to check records for an activity.

Activity tracking and sensors (7/10): It sports a built-in heart monitor, which uses light reflections passing through your skin to measure your heart beat. The sensor requires a tight grip on your wrist to work efficiently (the main reason for the strap’s design). The device also offers support for multiple sports including swimming, running, walking, cycling and treadmill. The built-in GPS tracker ensures that you get a host of data (time, pace, distance and calories burnt) during any of the activities along with your heart beat count. We were impressed with the accuracy of the heart beat monitor and normal activities like daily footsteps. However, we had a few difficulties in locking the watch’s GPS. When it was set, we noticed a lag of 3-5 seconds in recording the actual speed and that measured by the watch.

Music player (7/10): The device comes with a 3GB built-in storage, which TomTom claims can save upto 500 songs. It could easily be connected with our Bluetooth headset, but unfortunately, uploading songs was difficult; you need to download the TomTom My Sports Connect app. Again, you can’t add single tracks but only playlists, which is frustrating. We
recommend creating multiple playlists, or better, making long mixes for physical activities. Nevertheless, it’s ideal for listening to music on the go.

Battery (8/10): The device is designed to give you a five-hour GPS tracking time, but if you are using only features like steps and heart beat monitoring, it would last you anywhere for four-five days.

App support (7/10): Initially, we were disappointed by the lack of support and material available to guide users while operating the mobile app to track different performances. We spent hours trying to find out how to see a detailed map/chart of our heart beat measured during a cycling activity, but couldn’t find anything on that. It turned out later that all we had to do was scroll up and down.

Overall rating

7.5 / 10

The guide VERDICT: TomTom turns 25 this year, but there’s almost no awareness about the brand in India. In fact, our first guess was it to be a Chinese copycat. This is something that they need to work on. We were impressed with the quality of the product and its execution, but at `22k and without support for features like wireless charging, messaging or notifications built into the watch, it needs more than music to capture the market. Upping its packaging quality might be the ideal starting point.

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