On the travel and races channel, I have uploaded a time lapse of my recent trip on Amtrak to San Jose. And I have begun uploading my run workouts as I prepare for the Rock ‘N’ Roll San Diego race weekend.
I already have several videos planned for this summer with the first coming from my weekend of racing in San Diego. The majority of my planned videos will be from my trip to Europe in July. These will include time lapses of the flights going to and coming back from Europe, and train rides throughout Europe.
A couple more videos I will be creating will be a follow up to my blog about my TomTom Spark and a brand new blog post about my newest phone, the OnePlus 3T.
The TomTom Spark is a direct competitor to the Fitbit products. This variant of the TomTom fitness watches has the ability to count your steps and hours slept if you enable either tracking features. Where the TomTom Spark exceeds the Fitbit watches is the 24/7 activity tracking comes with GPS tracking for all of your workouts at a lower price than the equivalent Fitbit watch.
Spark box from the front
Spark box from the back
Spark box from the left
Spark box from the right
Spark box from the front opened
Sports Authority was going out of business this summer and had a store wide sale. TomTom was also having a sale on their website, so this was the perfect time for me to nab a Spark. I went with the plain TomTom Spark because I prefer running without headphones and I own a heart rate monitor (Wahoo TICKR).
As you can see from the pictures above the watch face is prominently displayed through a window. The back of the box shows various features of the watch with the key fitness features shown on the left side of the box. There is a strap guide on the right side of the box: bigger wrists should use the larger strap, smaller wrists should go for the small strap, medium wrists can go with either but should probably go with the larger strap.
The main difference between the TomTom Spark and Multi-Sport watches is the ability for the Spark to track your activity (steps and sleep) throughout the day, not just when you’re working out. Another feature the Spark has (not mine but one of the options) is the ability to play music over Bluetooth headphones, which the Multi-Sport cannot do at this point.
What can the Spark track? Here’s a list
I don’t mind wearing my watch to bed so I have kept the sleep tracking enabled. However, my Asus Zenwatch 2 tracks my steps and is my daily watch so for now I have disabled step counting for my Spark. Before disabling the step counter I had daily and weekly goals set for 9,000 and 63,000 steps. I could have set a goal for any of the active (not sleeping) metrics the Spark tracks, but only 1 goal can be active at a time.
TomTom offers a variety of watches specific to running and the only type of workout you can track is a run (if you export your workouts to external sites like MapMyFitness you can edit the type of workout if you didn’t run). The Multi-Sport and Spark allow someone to track numerous sports:
Run, Cycle, and Freestyle track your location so you can have accurate data on your distance, speed and pace (in real time for each). The other options do no track your location, but the treadmill does estimate your distance while you run and allows you to adjust the distance when you finish your run (same goes for an indoor cycle workout). Swim and Stopwatch do not allow for you to track your heart rate but the other options do via heart rate monitor (or built-in wrist heart rate monitor for the Spark Cardio versions).
The sport types are displayed as an icon with the name of the workout type at the top:
Now, some people go out and just run or ride or swim, while others do those things but also throw in a mix of interval workouts or they want to dial in their pace or stay within a heart rate zone. Fortunately, the TomTom Spark has many different types of training options including:
Run, Cycle, Treadmill, Gym,
Each training option notifies you to either switch to the next interval or update you on your progress, or tells you to slow down. This is done by an on-screen notification and a vibrate if the vibration is enabled.
The “Intervals” option for all of the sports is set up by you setting either a time or distance for the following:
# Sets (how many times [1 and 2] repeat)
I enjoy the “Intervals” for my run workouts because I can have a little fun optimizing my workout for a specific distance like 3 miles. I always do 0.5 mi walking for my warm up and I aim for 0.5 mi for my cool down but I’ll sometimes go down to 0.4 mi. This means my 3 mi workout could be
0.5 mi walk
[1 mi run
.1 mi walk]x2
0.3 mi walk cool down.
Or it can be as simple as:
0.5 mi walk
2 mi run
0.1 mi walk
0.4 mi walk cool down.
If I set my training to “Goal” and set a specific distance, time or calories burned I can navigate to the right of all (but the current heart rate) screen while working out to see my current progress towards my goal. I tried this with a couple runs, one a 4 mi and another for 25 minute, and the follow pictures illustrate what the menu looks like. There is also an alert when you reach milestones like 50%, 90% and 100%.
4mi goal, 0%
4mi goal, 10%
4mi goal, 90% notification
25 min goal, 100%
I also want to show what the three Heart Rate menus look like: the first shows the zone, the next is percentage of time spent in each zone, and the last is a real-time graph:
Heart rate training zones
Heart rate training zones
Heart rate graph
Along with having the option to connect a heart rate monitor (or use the built-in heart rate monitor for the Cardio versions), the Spark allows you to connect the bike sensors TomTom sells. These bike sensors are for cadence and speed. I did not get any of these sensors because I did not buy the Spark version with the sensor bundle nor did I buy the sensors separately.
The strap for the Spark comes in two sizes and there is a guide on one side of the box for determining which strap size to get, as I mentioned earlier. Unlike a normal wrist watch, the TomTom Spark has a rather unconventional method for locking in place. There are the standard holes in the strap, but at the end where one pieces goes through the hole on the other side there are prongs on both sides.
Prongs from top side
Prongs from bottom side
As you can see, these prongs are like nodes that you push through the holes in the strap to secure the watch onto your wrist, first you secure the prongs in the first picture, then the second picture. Finally, the extra piece of strap has another set of prongs like the second picture that pushes through the strap to keep the extra from flapping around while working out.
Overall, I think this watch is great. I have a smart watch that satisfies my 24/7 daily activity tracking so I can turn off the step and sleep tracker on my Spark, or turn it on if I don’t want my phone for a day. Being able to track all my workouts and get accurate distance, pace, speed, heart rate, and have training options all at a cheaper price than other options (e.g. Fitbit) is wonderful. The only thing I would want different would be having the Spark Cardio so I could have the option of recording my heart rate without needing a heart rate monitor around my chest.