TomTom is pretty well known among mapping geeks as one of the companies that powers car GPS systems and Apple Maps. The company has also had an unheralded line of sports watches dedicated to running, golf, and general training, and has now introduced a line devoted to what it calls the “any-day” athlete.
The Spark GPS Fitness Watch line comprises five models: a basic unit, a unit that holds 3GB of music, a music unit with Bluetooth headphones, a “cardio” unit, and a “cardio” unit with headphones. All of them include modes for several sports, GPS, and (by the end of the year) smartphone notifications. The “cardio” versions include a heart rate monitor. Engadget has a hands-on from the IFA trade show.
The Cardio version without Bluetooth headset will be available on October 1 for $249, the company said. The others will be available on October 15 at prices that were not disclosed.
GPS, Bluetooth, and heart monitors are tough on battery life. If you run all of them, expect only about 5 hours of battery, the company said. Activity tracking alone will let the battery run for 3 weeks; just as a watch, expect 6 weeks. Using GPS only, though, allows an 11-hour charge, which is notable and may speak to TomTom’s experience with GPS. For most trackers, GPS is the biggest power pig; here, the biggest drain is apparently Bluetooth.
The Spark watches charge via a USB cable; a desk dock is an optional accessory.
TomTom also sells a Multi-Sport Training Watch, which covers much of the same ground. The company says the Spark uses a newer and smaller heart-rate monitor, is more waterproof and less likely to be accidentally triggered, and has a redesigned interface.
[Updated to add product information from TomTom.]