My usual running companion is a Nike+ SportWatch GPS, which is powered by TomTom. So, I was keen to see how well TomTom's own GPS watch fared.
TomTom's Runner consists of a watch module and a strap. The watch module is just 11.5mm thick and can be easily inserted into and removed from the rubber strap.
Everything is controlled by a square four-way button sited just below the watch display. Personally, I find that the button detracts from the aesthetics of the watch.
The review unit came with TomTom's Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Monitor. It is bundled with the Runner for $369.
To set up the device, install the TomTom MySports Connect programme on your computer, enter details such as your age, weight, height and gender and sync with the Runner via the included USB connector.
But inexplicably, you are still required to input all this information into the watch again. Hopefully, a firmware update will rectify this issue.
The high-contrast display is clear and crisp. It could be seen in bright sunlight with no problem. At night, tap it to light up the display. However, I found that swiping the display seems to do the trick better than tapping on it.
Even without referring to the manual, you can get up to speed with the interface. By default, time and date are on the main page. Press the left side of the square button for battery status, firmware version and other statistics.
Press down on the square button and you are presented with a host of settings, such as Airplane Mode, Options and Profile.
Use the Sensor setting to pair the heart-rate monitor. It takes less than a minute to do so.
Depress the right side of the button for Run, Treadmill or StopWatch. In Run, you can select Race, Goal or Zone. Each represents a different objective. So, for example, you can race against your previous 5km timing or set a different goal.
The Runner uses TomTom's QuickGPSFix technology to get a fast GPS location lock. Its built-in accelerometer can be used for indoor or treadmill runs.
It was much faster getting a GPS fix with the Runner than the SportWatch - the Runner took only 10sec, while the SportWatch took up to 3min. This is no surprise, considering TomTom made a name for itself in GPS.
On my usual 5km route, I found the Runner came up about 200m short, compared with my calibrated Nike+ SportWatch. On indoor runs, the Runner registered 300m more than I actually ran.
While the distance tracked might not be spot on, it is well within the margin of error associated with GPS watches.
You can sync the Runner's data with your computer or iOS devices via Bluetooth. There is currently no app available for Android devices.
Display: 144 x 168 pixels
Value for money 3/5
Battery life 3/5
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