The TomTom Spark has retro style that reminded me of an 80s Casio calculator watch. While it doesn’t have a calculator, it makes up for it by packing an impressive array of sensors that track all your workout information.

The watch monitors your heart rate, distance, speed, pace, duration and calories burnt.
The watch monitors your heart rate, distance, speed, pace, duration and calories burnt.

It monitors your heart rate, distance, speed, pace, duration and calories burnt. Only the swimming mode has limited tracking options. It also has an optional cadence sensor for biking. While these modes worked well, it was hard for me to see all the information while I worked out.

The Spark doesn’t have a touchscreen. Instead it has a large raised button that recognises up, down, left and right, but an opportunity to include a central OK or select button was missed. To select an option, you click right, and to go back you click left. But the way some options were nested meant you had to click right at least three times before you could start your activity tracking.

I have small wrists, and while it was comfortable, the watch looked bulky on me. The upside was the screen is large and easy to read. The strap closed in three places so I was confident it wouldn’t fall off.

The Spark’s GPS lets you track your routes, however, it could be slow to connect. I found in downtown Wellington, connecting could take up to five minutes as the buildings interfered with the GPS.

Even while you’re not working out, the Spark monitors your steps, calories and sleep. Being an insomniac, I found the Spark’s sleep tracking helpful for getting a good night’s rest.

The charger plugs in underneath the band.
The charger plugs in underneath the band.

The Spark’s built-in music player only connects to Bluetooth headphones or speakers. It’s easy to activate while walking or running, but I found the controls too fiddly while biking. Annoyingly, the music couldn't be stopped or paused on the watch, but fully compatible headphones have this function.

If I worked out and took two runs every day, a single charge lasted three days. The charger isn’t the easiest to use as I had to push it quite hard for a connection. Also the charger plugs in underneath the band, not the most accessible of places.

All the software the Spark needs can be downloaded from TomTom’s website. I found it easy to view my progress in the online and app summaries, which provided great motivation for my next workout.

Verdict

Overall, the TomTom Spark is a great sports watch, though it had a few quirks. The activity modes were useful and accurate, but the music player disappointed and I found myself not using it out of frustration.

Essential specs

TomTom Spark Cardio + Music fitness watch

  • Strap size: Small (121-175mm) and large (143-206mm)
  • Display size 22 x 25mm
  • Weight: 50g
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Tracking: Heart rate, steps, duration, calories burnt, sleep and distance travelled (GPS).
  • 24/7 tracking: Sleep, steps, active minutes and calories burnt
  • Claimed battery life: While tracking activities – up to 3 weeks; Using GPS – up to 11 hours; Using GPS, monitoring heart rate and playing music up to 5 hours.
  • Music format: MP3 and AAC
  • Storage size: 3GB
  • Waterproof to 40m

Our writer received a TomTom watch on loan for this First Look. First Looks are trials of new or interesting products from the perspective of our product experts. Our lab-based tests offer truly objective product comparisons.

by Erin Bennett