Description: The passage contains the topic on activity tracker. The content is a review of the new TomTom Spark 3 GPS watch which focuses on GPS tracking when you’re running, cycling or doing any kind of outdoor activity. You can see some good and bad aspects of SPARC 3 and four different models of it.
This is Valentina Palladino for Ars Technica and today I’m here with the new TomTom spark 3 gps watch, so this is one of the newest devices to come from TomTom and it is a daily activity tracker, but it focuses on GPS tracking when you’re running, when you’re cycling or doing any kind of outdoor activity.
What’s a little bit interesting about it is that there are four different models of the SPARC 3, you can get in a GPS watch where there are no frills, you can get with GPS watch and there’s a space for music on it, so onboard storage, you can get it with GPS and a heart rate monitor and you can get it with GPS a heart rate monitor and onboard storage for music.
So TomTom gives you a range of options depending on how you like to work out, what your needs are and those are all of course in a range of prices, what I have here is the most expensive one, so this has an onboard heart rate monitor when onboard GPS and space for music.
It also came with a pair of tom toms wireless earbuds that will work with this device, so you can go out, you can run, you can cycle with the GPS on and listen to music and you don’t have to have your phone with you, so it’s been a little bit of time with this.
I’m going to tell you some good things and some bad things about the SPARC 3, so one of the good things about the SPARC 3 is that the GPS is great, TomTom is known for its GPS capabilities, so they put it into this wearable and it works well, you can go out running, cycling, doing whatever kind of activity you want.
Turn on the GPS and you do have to wait a little bit for it to turn on maybe about 30 seconds for it to grab your location, but after that, it will stick to you and it’s extremely accurate the distance calculations are very accurate in my testing and the battery life is good too.
When you’re on GPS, it’s about 11 hours TomTom estimates and with that, you’re also going to get about three weeks of battery life, if you were to track activities without using the GPS which is an awesome battery life compared to some Garmin or Fitbit devices to have a much lower battery life.
When you want to track things like indoor activities, treadmill runs, all that kind of stuff, it will last you a very long time, another good thing about the SPARC 3 is that if you choose a model with onboard music, you’ll get 3 gigabytes of on-board storage where you can put music, put play lists from your computer using them, my sport tom-toms desktop app and also it will come with these wireless headphones that TomTom makes and these are guaranteed to work with the spark three.
There’s a little bit of a downside too, because the list of compatible wireless headphones that you could use like these are small, but if you were to get one of the models with onboard storage, you’ll get the wireless headphones, so you know they’re not the best headphones.
But they certainly provide decent sound and they stay on well, another good thing about the spark 3 is that it connects to tom-toms, my Sport app which you can get in the desktop version and you can get in the mobile version.
I like the mobile version of the app, because it’s refreshing ly simple, a white background with a couple of things on the homescreen that show your steps daily activity and then there’s a list of all of the workouts that you tracked and synced with the TomTom spark 3.
When you tap on it, you can see a full breakdown, you can see duration line graphs for your pace and your heart rate or depending on the model that you have, there are maps in there, but when you use the GPS to track your routes, it’s very basic, but it’s easy to understand.
There are not a lot of frills and you know when so many different workout apps are trying to be flashy or to offer something different, TomTom goes back to the basics and the same thing when you’re tracking an activity from the watch itself, everything is very simple, it’s not very hard to understand whether you’re a beginner or an expert.
So I enjoyed using the my sport app and I also didn’t find myself sinking every single day, but that wasn’t a problem, because I could sync once every two days, once every three days and all of my activities were there without it, being intrusive and I need to sync something or it’s going to go away forever.
It was very easy to understand app and I would like to use it over time, so let’s move on to the bad things about the spark 3, one of the bad things about it is that it’s not a touchscreen and I was a little confused by that, because on the spark 3, you have this kind of touch paddy thing that you have to click around on to navigate the screen, it was a little confusing at first.
Sometimes, I felt like I didn’t know where I was clicking or I didn’t want to go to a certain place, but it took me there, but after a while, I learned the up and down and left and right and also the corner presses that you could do.
Overall, I wish that it was a touchscreen, I think that would be much easier to understand and much easier for other people to understand since so many of these devices have touchscreens, they are so great thing about the SPARC 3, it can’t receive any smart phone notifications and it is a daily activity tracker.
So you know its design is bulky, it’s not very flattering, I did wear it all day every day when I was testing it, but I wouldn’t want to do that on a regular basis, I’d rather wear a watch, but I think if it did have smart phone notifications that would add another feature, another value that you could use all day long.
So another great thing about the SPARC 3 is that model that I have the GPS, the heart rate monitor and the on-board storage, the heart rate monitor was OK, I was using an Apple watch series too at the same time and that one is accurate in my experience.
So when I was testing them against each other, the sparks 3 was a little slow to catch up to the Apple watch and that’s not uncommon with a lot of risk based heart rate monitors, some of them are on point, some of them are bad and the ones that are in the middle usually take awhile to catch up to the ones that are good.
So would sometimes be 15 to 20 BPM off of what the Apple watch was saying, but if you gave it probably like 30 seconds a minute to level off, it would get up to around with the Apple watch of saying within five to seven BPM which isn’t bad.
It takes a little bit a while to get there, so overall, I enjoyed my time with the SPARC 3, I think that if you’re looking for a fairly affordable dps watch, this is the way to go, because if you want the model that has GPS only, it doesn’t have any onboard storage or anything like that.
It’s $130, that’s not that bad and since GPS for some people if you workout outside a lot, you want that, you want it to be accurate, this is definitely a good device to do that and I also think it’s interesting, because TomTom gave you a lot of options with the SPARC 3 without making different products.
So if you want to spark three and you want that accurate GPS and distance calculation, you’re going to get it across the board whether to get the 130 dollar model that says GPS or if you go with the one that I have which is about $250 and has the heart rate monitor as well ending onboard storage and the included wireless headphones that package in itself is good considering.
You can get a Fitbit device, a Garmin device, a polar device for the same amount $250 or more and you’re not going to get some of those features, I think if you want to wear something every day, I personally wouldn’t want to wear this every day.
But that doesn’t mean you have to use it that way, if I were to keep this, I would probably use it when I want to track my indoor workouts and especially my outdoor workouts in that sense, if you’re looking for a reliable device that can go indoor to outdoor quickly, the SPARC 3 is a good device to go with.