TomTom Cardio Multisport review

A multi-talented tracking watch, perfect for the triathlon crowd
TomTom Cardio Multisport

The latest GPS running watch to join the growing TomTom team, the TomTom Cardio Multisport follows the Adidas miCoach Smart Run in offering real-time heart rate tracking without the need for a separate chest strap.

The built-in optical heart rate sensor detects your BPM from your wrist, helping you tell which training zone you're in - whether you're burning fat or boosting your aerobic capacity as you run.

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All of your data syncs over Bluetooth Smart to an easy-to-use smartphone app and TomTom's MySports web tracking tool. This Multisport waterproof version bundles in lap-tracking for swim-bike-runners but there's a pared down version – the TomTom Cardio Runner – that comes for at a more palatable price without the waterborne skills.

So is TomTom's latest tracker the complete package? Read our TomTom Cardio Multisport Review to find out.

Features and design

The TomTom Cardio Multisport is the follow up to one of the most promising running watches of last year – the TomTom Multisport. The watch is almost completely redesigned with an added optical heart rate (OHR) sensor thrown into the mix.

These sensors use a super-bright LED to monitor blood flow through the skin, saving the bother of a potentially chaffing chest strap.

Essential reading: Adidas miCoach Fit Smart review

The watchstrap (which comes in either red and black or red and white) is much more comfortable to wear for longer periods, while the watch face now stays in place, a considerable improvement on the previous model that was prone to coming apart in a gym bag with little provocation.

One slight disappointment is that the face isn't a touchscreen; it's actually controlled from a mini thumb stick control. This is perfectly practical, especially in light rain or very sweaty conditions, but still feels a little archaic.

Software features are clearly aimed at triathletes, with easy-to-use interval training setups for both pool work and running - sadly the heart rate smarts don't work in the pool though. Cycling accessories like cadence, power and speed sensors can be paired via Bluetooth Smart to add professional-levels of data on two wheels.

Versus: Garmin Forerunner 225 v Fitbit Surge v TomTom Multisport

All your collected stats can be transferred online via unique USB dock and some slightly clunky web tools. Alternatively they can by synced to the iOS app via Bluetooth. Android users will sadly have to wait patiently for theirs.

Activity tracking

After a short setup session, where you enter language, height, weight, age and gender as well as metric or imperial units (essential), you're good to hit the track.

The TomTom Cardio Multisport Running Training mode has six settings: Free Run, Goals, Intervals, Laps, Zones and Race. In Zones, you can select Pace or Heart. Pace can be set with a minimum and maximum to the second.

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Heart rate zones come with a range of pre-set functions: speed, endure, fat burn and easy. Alternatively you can choose custom heart rate zones where a minimum and maximum heart rate can be set to a range of a single beat. This is also an improvement on the original TomTom Runner that had less specific bandings.

The watch vibrates on the wrist differently depending on whether you're over or under your pace or heart rate. At the same time, an arrow appears on the screen, although this isn't quite so intuitive with the 'You're running too fast' and 'Your heart rate is too high' arrow pointing up. However, once mastered it's an easily followed system, and you have the vibrations as a guide too.

There's less good news in interval training mode, however. It's easy to operate but doesn't offer up a separate stopwatch feature or reset the clock so that you can see the time of your latest interval.

This makes it harder to use on the track than it should be, and we're hoping that this will be considered in any firmware updates.

Additionally, no lap data is displayed on the watch, so you need to sync your watch to see what your splits are. On the track you just get time, distance, average pace and calories. It's enough for general information, but not enough for specific training, which is a shame as the data is all there.

In general there's a lack of post-run data available on the watch itself. Unlike the Garmin Forerunner 620 or apps like Endomondo or RunKeeper Pro, you're limited to a few basic stats; frustrating if you're the kind of person who likes instant feedback on some of the more detailed analytics.

When we tested it, on several occasions the heart rate also took a considerable amount of time to settle down. Up to two miles in some cases. However, we also put it up against a medical grade ECG and the BPM read outs were impressively within a single beat, allaying fears that wrist-borne heart rate monitoring might lack accuracy.

App and web tools

The free TomTom mobile app for iOS is easily downloaded via the app store. You'll need a compatible phone (iPhone 4s or newer, or the 2nd generation iPad or later) due to the requirement to support Bluetooth Smart.

Once synced via Bluetooth, the app will display your most recent stats, while simultaneously uploading all the data to your TomTom MySports site. The other option for uploading is via USB, which is a far more fiddly process requiring you to download TomTom MySports software.

The web tools have a pleasing simplicity to them. They're easy to navigate and nice and clear for those who want the more accessible topline data from their runs. However, if you're after detailed analytics of the sort you get from Polar and Garmin, you'll probably be disappointed.

Battery life

Battery life is always a big tech question, especially for watch-sized GPS devices. The TomTom Cardio Multisport hit a runtime of 8 hours in our testing, so slightly down on its predecessor's 10 hours.

However, there are a series of key tricks needed to spin it out. Engaging flight mode as often as possible when not actually tracking an activity is not only wise but almost essential, as annoyingly there's no way to turn this device off.

Using night mode (which keeps the screen illuminated) sparingly is smart too.


TomTom Cardio Multisport
By TomTom
The TomTom Cardio Multisport is an enormous improvement over its predecessor, but there are still small niggles that makes it far from perfect. We loved the convenience and accuracy of the built in HR monitor, and the improved strap and simplified interface were a pleasure to use. However, finding a GPS signal to begin your workout can take longer than you imagine and battery life has dropped, although it still delivers a decent period between charges. Overall, it's an excellent triathlete tool, but could be improved significantly with very minor tweaks.

Hit
  • Built-in heart monitor
  • Improved strap
  • Simple interface
  • HR accuracy
Miss
  • No micro-USB charging
  • No heart rate summary on the watch
  • No heart rate in the pool
  • No Android smartphone app

1 Comment

  • Moi says:

    No Android support, no watch. How can TomTom ignore the largest phone community?

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