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Review: TomTom Runner GPS Watch

Thank to Caryn DeCrisanti for sending this great write-up in!

I bought the TomTom Runner watch at BestBuy for $169.99 a week ago. I also paid an extra $30 for the extended warranty. So far I have run outdoors, indoors and through an OCR. The watch is still going, despite several submersions at the race (it *is* waterproof afterall). I was concerned how it might react to mud, but it came clean at the hose station and synced just fine after the race.

To start this review, here’s a little bit about why I bought a running watch: I wanted to be able to track all of my (meager amount of) running. I run indoors on a treadmill at work, and outside at home, as well as run obstacle course races. This watch tracks indoor running by calculating your pace and distance based on the swing of your arms. There is no footpod or additional equipment required. Outdoor running is based off of GPS satellites.

Accuracy: I’ve run twice on the treadmill twice with the watch so far. Both times I have needed to calibrate the watch to the treadmill’s distance. This is not surprising, and every treadmill run comes up with this option when you attempt to save the run, so it’s easy to correct any errors. Not that the watch was excessively different, but if I ran 2 miles, I wanted it to show exactly 2 miles, not 2.10 miles. The first time I ran outdoors with the watch, I turned on the GPS running app on my phone that I had used for about a year and compared the two. They were not significantly different at the end of the run, only a couple hundredths of a mile. Good enough for me! I also used the watch during Muckfest MS Boston and noticed that Paul Jones’ GPS watch had about the same distance as mine. Again, it was close enough. In both cases, I have no idea whether my watch or the comparison was more accurate, but because they were within hundredths of a mile of each other, I feel that th
e watch is accurate.

Ease of use: The watch is controlled by a four direction controller, just below the watch face. I thought it seemed weird, but quickly got used to it. From the time screen, a press to the left shows the battery status and software version. Down goes into the settings and right is to start a run. It’s really easy to start a run, you press right, then select either “Run”, “Treadmill” or “Stopwatch”. Press right again and the run is ready to go for the treadmill. If you select “Run” and press right once, it acquires the GPS signal. I have no idea whether this is fast or slow compared to other watches. It’s not so long that I get annoyed, so it’s good enough for me. After the signal is acquired, another press to the right starts the run. When you’re done, you hold down left to end the run. Very easy. With both indoor and outdoor runs, you can set a goal, such as distance, time or calories.

Other comments: The default watch band is kinda wide, but I have little girly wrists. I haven’t had a buildup of sweat, water or mud beneath the strap, however. The watch vibrates and beeps, so you can feel things like goal completion, which is nice. The watch uses either the TomTom MySports website, or mapmyfitness.com (or both) to upload your results. Typically, you have to plug the watch into a computer to sync, but it also has bluetooth, so Iphone users can download an app to sync wirelessly. An Android app is forthcoming, according to the website. So far, the battery seems perfectly capable. After a run, when I sync my data, I leave the watch plugged in until fully charged, and it has been ready for me, even if I don’t run until a couple of days later.

So far, I’m satisfied that the watch will do what I bought it for and will withstand the conditions I intend to put it through.

Rating: 4 star (good)