Initial thoughts on the newly announced TomTom GPS Triathlon Watch

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Preface: This is going to be a super quick post, mainly to stem the sweeping tide of e-mails, tweets, FB messages and smoke signal communications that I’ve received over the last 48-72 hours from folks asking about the new TomTom multisport (triathlon) GPS watch and whether I’d heard of it.

Fear not, I’ve heard of it, and have been talking with their team about it.  I’m at the top of their list for folks to have a new unit, and we’re just working through some logistical details on when said unit will arrive.  Somewhat interesting is that they’re actually going to come to me (in Paris) and give a walkthrough and talk-through of everything, as well as bring the units for me to start using.  We’re working through the complexities of my travel schedule over the next bit of time to try and make this happen as quickly as possible.  But I really do appreciate them coming to me to help fit things in (though, I suppose everyone likes a trip to Paris).

With that super-quick ‘FYI’ out of the way, here’s some initial thoughts based on limited information at this point.  I’ll definitely fill in with more detail as soon as I meet with the team. But this at least serves as a starting point for my thinking and for discussion.  Here’s the rundown of things that were notable beyond just a normal running/cycling watch:

Not a Nike product: Unlike the last watch that TomTom helped produce (the Nike+ GPS Sportwatch), this one won’t include Nike.  Hopefully with leaving the Nike+ camp they’ll be more open with the data.  Ideally placing the files in an open and accessible format that already exists so you can do as you please with your data.  Not a “new open format”, but one that is in wide use today.  For sports files, there’s really two options that are widely accepted: .FIT and .TCX.  Virtually every 3rd party app on the planet supports those file formats.  As I caution strongly to companies each year, if you create variations of those files and call it “almost .FIT” or “mostly .TCX”, it’s no different than saying “not compatible to the entire userbase today”.  Luckily, every new product that’s been launched on the market recently except the Polar ones have followed this standard (and to be fair to them, while their dual-file standard is terribly wonky for 3rd party apps to deal with, it’s at least semi-widely supported).

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Swimming support: Probably the biggest one is that this unit supports swim stroke recognition, and thus can report distance within a pool or outdoor setting.  It doesn’t appear to recognize stroke types, but does recognize strokes, distance, and laps.  The unit is logically also waterproofed to 50m deep (or more than plentiful for the swimming activity it is designed for).

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No foot pod required for indoor running: This is an interesting nut.  This is somewhat similar sounding to what the Motoactv has, along with a few other units on the market today that provide speed and distance using an internal accelerometer.  In general, accuracy thus far on other units in the market tends to be mixed here for athletes looking for reasonably accurate data.  However, I’m willing to see how this works in real life.  For those curious on why they don’t just support a foot pod, the answer is somewhat simple: There exists no Bluetooth Smart foot pods today on the market (neither in product form, or even in specification form from a standards standpoint).  But like I inferred above, if it works well on treadmills – then sweetness!

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Bluetooth Smart Sensor Support: This is the very first running/cycling/anything watch to support connecting to Bluetooth Smart athletic sensors.  Despite a handful other display units on the market having Bluetooth Smart within them (i.e. the Garmin Fenix), none of them (including the Fenix) connect to Bluetooth Smart sensors.  They only connect to phones for uploading of data.  Within the Bluetooth Smart sensor world, there are three types of official sensors on the market today: Heart Rate Straps, Cycling Speed & Cadence Sensors, and Power Meters.  There are not foot pods as a recognized Bluetooth Smart device type.  At present, a slew of companies make Bluetooth Smart HR straps (though, they’re almost all the same strap under the branding).  Only one company to my knowledge makes Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence sensors (Wahoo Fitness), and only one company makes Bluetooth Smart Power Meters (Stages Cycling).  I fully expect this landscape to change and grow quickly, but this just gives context on where things stand today.  And of course, looking at the information thus far, it appears TomTom will be selling both the Speed/Cadence and HR sensors with their branding.  Bluetooth Smart is notable because it means you can use the same sensors with both your phone and your TomTom unit.  Further, it means the TomTom unit should be able to connect to apps on Bluetooth 4.0 capable phones (with apps coded to support it).  However, the video at present seems to imply USB uploading over any mention of phone connectivity.

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Barometric Altimeter: Inside the unit is a barometric altimeter.  This is a nice step-up from a GPS based altimeter which tends to be common in lower end and older triathlon watches. This would join the Magellan Switch Up and the Garmin FR910XT as the only triathlon-focused GPS watches with barometric altimeters.

Not ANT+ Compatible: Just as it’s a big deal that the unit supports Bluetooth Smart sensors, it’s also notable that it doesn’t support any ANT+ sensors.  This means that if you have existing sensors from other watches (HR strap, speed/cadence sensor, power meter, footpod, etc…), they won’t work with the TomTom multisport units.  This is a really risky gamble for them, and I’m not 100% sure they can afford to do so at this point in time (Summer 2013).  A year from now, I’d say it’s a different story, but today it’s really a tough stance to take.  I do however understand why they are likely doing it.  The dual-ANT+/BLE chip that was supposed to be out months ago is still delayed, now saying summer at best.  This is impacting virtually every company in the space that I’ve talked to, and one of the major reasons you actually see very few new running/cycling units coming out this year.  Companies are in a huge pickle until this comes out (they either have to implement two chips, or make sacrifices on dual-connectivity – like the Motoactv).

Battery Life: The battery life that is currently being advertised (10hrs of GPS-on) lands the unit at an interesting crossroads.  It’s good enough for all major running events up to a marathon (and some shorter ultras – like 50K’s), as well as good enough for anything up to a half-iron distance.  But, for most users, it won’t be long enough for an iron-distance triathlon, where the bulk of the field comes in between 10hrs and 17hrs, with typically less than 5-8% finishing faster than that mark.  As such, I do wonder how much of the functionality of the unit will be more targeted at the non-pointy end of the pack, rather than the elite athlete.

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Vibration Motor: The unit does include a vibration motor, which is a huge benefit for those of us who run in the city and/or noisy places.  Only a handful of watches on the market today have this (surprisingly).  Though it is slowly becoming more popular with companies who are innovating rather than following in their products.

With that, we’ll have to wait and see until more information slides out as to all the features in the watch…and all the caveats.  But, I’m pretty excited to see how it shakes out.  The platform (having an accelerometer and Bluetooth) does give them quite a bit of flexibility for the future (and potential updates to the watch).

In the meantime, thanks for reading!

(Oh, and while this should be obvious, please don’t consider this post a ‘Product Review’.  My product reviews typically have about 200 more images than this post, and about 60-70 more pages.)

72 Comments

  1. Hubert

    Thanks Ray! I was wondering what was inside : great to see that it has a GPS, barometric altimeter, bluetooth and accelerometer. Looks great!
    Hope the next software update will integrate ANT+.

    Reply
    • Baba replied

      Great. Many thanks. I believe (hope) this is what the rumored apple iWatch will be based on too... Still using the forerunner 405, this would be a nice contender when I upgrade.

      Reply
    • Mike replied

      Ray can correct me, but I think that it won't support ANT+ and it will never be able to support it due to a lack of the Ant+ chip. It looks like it's not a software issue, but a hardware one.

      Please correct me if I'm wrong.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      That's correct, it's a hardware chipset change. I outlined some of the issues it would present them - not an easy course to change unfortunately.

      Reply
  2. Thor R

    Not sure what happened to my carrier pigeon as it's not mentioned, I might have to resort to smoke signals.

    When you eventually get around to the review can you evaluate how well the TomTom works with the ANT+ to BLE bridge (4iiiis Viiiiva)?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Dah! My dear carrier pigeon. Forgot him!

      (Fear not, he doesn't forget me, tromps around on our metal roof every morning as my alarm clock. Astoundingly loud.)

      As for the Viiiiva, that's a very good point, and may be a great way for TomTom to offer power meter support to ANT+ users (since the Viiiiva does convert that).

      Reply
  3. Lieven

    Thanks for the non-review. It includes 10 times more info and insights than any other site covering the TomTom announcement!

    Reply
  4. Stephen

    Really looking forward to your review. Hoping TT made the right choices. The vibrating motor is indeed a nice feature.

    Reply
  5. Eli

    I second Lieven's post. Much better info then the other sites I've seen. Thanks

    Am I the only one who thinks the people flying out to paris just want a free trip to Paris (company pays) combined with this blog's reviews having a major impact on how well something can do on the market? And while I know Ray isn't biased in terms of wanting one company to suceed over another there is a bias in terms of a device fitting the way he does things (I think that type of bias exists for everyone) so maybe they want to be sure there is an understanding of how they envision the watch to be used?

    As to creating a variation of FIT instead of using the standard, that is how FIT is meant to be done. You can have manufacturer specific messages and a proper FIT parser should just ignore those it doesn't know what to do with. Sure you should try and stick with things in the global profile as if it is generic info it will make it easier to parse. The problem is many FIT parsers don't seem to parse correctly and don't handle unknown messages, see the problem timex had on their launch.

    There is a BLE spec for a footpod:
    link to developer.bluetooth.org
    But don't know if anyone implamented it yet as I can't find anything.

    Seems like there is no power meter standard yet, guess it hasn't been ratified yet. See: link to developer.bluetooth.org

    For BLE heart rate monitors while I'm not sure how many OEMs there are for the devices (i.e. how different the real hardware is) there is a difference between the ones that do exist. While Ant+ straps can all do r-r/HRV measurements (old straps and maybe some of the new straps can't handle dropped pages of data (Timex and Garmin do everything)) the BLU profile for heart rate straps left some things like r-r timing optional. So some straps like the Wahoo strap can not give you HRV while other straps can. There is no way to easily know what opional parts of the profile a device supports.

    I like the mention of the vibrator after the battery life as vibrators tend to use up a large amount of power.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Interesting on the footpod, nobody to my knowledge has made one yet (though I get tons of requests).

      For the variations of .FIT (or even .TCX), I was mostly referring to companies which do things that break 3rd party apps. In my opinion, if you break 3rd party apps, you defeat the purpose of fit.

      I think the site may however be out of date on the power meter side, as that did get ratified in the 2nd week of February based on my discussions with a few companies. That spec is used today in the Wahoo KICKR, Stages Power, and Kinetic inRide.

      For BLE HR monitors, the spec is good (was the first one finalized in June 2011), and similar to the ANT+ straps they're almost all made by the same company. However, where we see differences are extra capabilities. For example, Polar with the legacy transmissions, or 4iiii's with the ANT+ bridging.

      Thanks for the comments!

      Reply
    • Eli replied

      I agree breaking 3rd party apps is bad, but if the 3rd party apps don't follow the FIT SDK and roll their own FIT file parser that breaks when someone else is following the FIT format correctly then the 3rd party faces some blame for not supporting FIT correctly. Going by discussion's on Ant's forums it seems like FIT is a very future proof standard where new things can be added and old parsers should easily ignore it but seems like people including garmin have not implemented FIT correctly. (people there have way more knowledge than I)

      Polar with the legacy transmissions, or 4iiii’s with the ANT+ bridging is not part of the BLE HR standard so not really what I'm talking about. I'm talking about actual heart rate data the BLE straps send out: link to developer.bluetooth.org

      The spec for BLE HR is good in that its well defined, but bad in that there are three optional data fields. Sensor contact (I think that means in the strap is attached to a person), energy expended (measured in Joules), and RR-Interval. To me energy expended is kind of useless in that it is not a direct measurement the strap is doing but some internal estimating the strap is doing which could obviously done by whatever is receiving the data from the strap. Sensor contact is a nice to have to now if the strap has a good contact but you can estimate that based on having a pulse vs not having a pulse. RR-intervals? Why have that be optional? Seems like there is no way of knowing if a strap supports that or not. That leaves apps that do HRV with a BLE strap in a hard place. So apps like ithlete only work with certain BLE straps:
      link to myithlete.com

      HRV seems like a majorly untapped data point that I think can be very useful but feel like if BLE has it as an optional component and BLU strap manufacturers don't add it to their straps then will be harder for others to make use of that data. (For those who don't know HRV kind of shows the sympathetic and parasympithetic nervous systems working together. It can be used to show fatigue level at a more sensitive level then just looking at resting heart rate and seems like it can be used during performance too to see how your body is handling the stress put on it)

      Reply
  6. Manuel Arguelles

    Thanks for the info Ray! With all the ANT+ equipment I already have, and the battery life I would see this as a dealbreaker for me. Anyway I am eager to read your review of the product.

    Reply
  7. dries

    hi Ray,
    when can we expect a Bryton review?
    i have a rider 50 and recently bought a Cardio 60.
    Would love to see an in-depth review!!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Bryton products arrive this week. I've set expectations with them for June/July for a review. There's a lot of stuff in the queue (both announced an unannounced) at the moment.

      Reply
  8. Jason

    I was hooked until no Ant+ :-(

    Reply
  9. Interesting that you see the trend go towards BLE versus ANT+.

    I would consider the 1 to n connectivity of ANT+ a big advantage, whereas the lack of HR during the swim is the only downside of ANT+. Not sure if BLE allows transmission of HR in the swim?

    Since I have 3 bikes with 2 speed/cadence sensors, 1 Powertab, 1 Footpod, 1 HR monitor and 2 ANT+ USB sticks I can not see myself going to a different platform than ANT+ anytime soon.
    Exchanging all the above would set me back over $1k (mainly due to the powertab).

    Also the 10hr charge limit is not only an issue for long distance tri-athletes. The causal runner on a business trip might run 8hours a week. With a 310xt/910xt you can travle and not worry about the charger. Though with only 10hrs of battery life a week of travel will require to pack the charger.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It's funny, there's actually no way for me to test BLE HR transmissions today for swimming - mostly because there's no watches that receive BLE HR today. I have pondered doing tests underwater with the Hitcase for my phone, but there's no place to mount it on my person that's close enough - so it's more or less just an academic/geek test (which of course is half the fun).

      If they supported Viiiiva as a means for getting that data into the TomTom watch, then you'd be good for the sensor side (though no battery).

      Reply
    • Eli replied

      2.4GHz signals don't travel through water. Ant and BLE both work at 2.4GHz so both will do poorly under water. The underwater support that Polar has is when using a 5kHz signal that can penetrate water.

      I kind of agree that in the long term it seems like BLE will win. Sure Ant+ is way more popular now and I think the technical side of it is better but market share is on BLE's side. The market of people with smartphones is way larger then the market of people with sport watches and the like. So if 1% of the smartphone market gets a heart rate strap to go with their phone and 100% of sport watch people get an Ant+ strap there will be many more BLE straps out there.

      I really wish more phones then just a bunch of Sony phones supported Ant+ but doesn't look like that is happening. Yes, TI's wilink chipset support Ant+ but they aren't the popular chipset. Phone companies for the most part want a single chip SoC in their phone that can do everything and other the TI non of them support Ant+. Seems like the Ant+ people need to convince them to add Ant+ support onto their radios for Ant+ to do well in the long term.

      Reply
    • Seb replied

      As Eli noted, same frequency, so it should work as badly as ANT+ does when underwater. However, I'm wondering if the drawback here is that the strap transmits BTLE / ANT+, or that the HR data comes from a strap: I don't see the strap as a practical option when swimming.

      Maybe someday technology will be such that we'll get something close to a Garmin Swim (or a 910XT) with (reliable) strapless HR :)

      Reply
    • Eli replied

      I'm confused. HR straps work fine underwater, its just getting the data from the strap to the watch thats hard.

      Reply
  10. Scott

    What is the benefit of BLE over Ant+? Is it purely based around built in connectivity to a number of mainstream consumer devices?

    Ant+ works really well for what it's designed for. BLE is still emerging, I know, but still has a ton of driver consistency issues in Windows (see Wahoo KICKR).

    Say someone has zero existing fitness devices and is just jumping into the market. Hypothetically, Garmin offers the 910XT in two models - one ANT+, one BLE, and that the market is saturated with equal numbers of ANT+ and BLE sensors and power meters. Why would this person choose one communication protocol over another?

    Reply
    • Seb replied

      Well, if you check the "thisisant.com" website, BTLE is actually inferior to ANT+ in many respects. While they make a few good arguments, I wouldn't go as far as calling them independent, however...

      link to thisisant.com

      Reply
    • Eli replied

      The only advantage BLE has is that the radio is built into way more devices as it is part of way more chipsets. Almost all smartphones need Bluetooth so adding support for BLE is relatively free as its built into the hardware they were already using to make their phone. Yes, android has software/driver issues right now but I'm sure they will be fixed. Adding Ant+ is not free as its not already built into the chipset of the phone unless the phone uses TI's WiLink chipset.

      Ant+ seems technically much better. Seems like TI's Ant+ and BLE radio share most of the same hardware and just run different firmware depending on what its connecting to so Ant+ could be built in easily but doesn't seem like there is enough interest in it. Also does seem like Ant+ can remain in the same state its in now in terms of marketshare, just the market will be getting much bigger.

      (I'm not working in the field and these are just my opinions, I have no influence or insider knowledge on anything)

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      (In the interest of not turning this into an ANT+ vs BLE post, I'll just focus on the mainstream areas)

      The singular attraction for BLE is the ability to connect to mobile phones without additional adapters/dongles/keys. While some Android phones do support ANT+ today, they are unfortunately few and far between.

      There are some technical challenges that BLE has that ANT+ doesn't, though most don't impact end users in 99% of use cases. The one case that (if any) will slowly creep up is the inability for more than a single device to connect to a single BLE sensor concurrently. Today, multiple head units can connect concurrently to a single ANT+ sensor (i.e. HR strap, power meter, etc...). The use case here is fitness studios/clubs, as well as teams with separate coaches monitoring the data stream. Very common in Pro Cycling with team cars/motopacing and coaches. I've been told by folks in the know that in order to support multiple sensor devices, it wil take a hardware change and the timeframes is 18months +.

      Again, the impact here is relatively small in the grand scheme of scope.

      We'll see the two technologies continue to get more and more similar from a fitness perspective over time however.

      Reply
  11. tobor

    My guess is that a great number (if not a majority) of people who read this blog are (like me) endurance athletes who favor an 18-20 hour battery life. However, I think it's great that Garmin is finally getting some real competition across their entire Forerunner line. The battery life on the TomTom will make it a non-starter for those of us who need that additional battery life, but if they price it right, it'll siphon off 50K'ers and Half-Ironman athletes.

    I'm of the mind that we--as athletes and consumers--need more competition in this space. Not to cast aspersions on Garmin, but they really need to innovate more, fix their buggy firmware more rapidly, and either improve Connect or get out of that space. Garmin just hasn't been bringing their "A-game" over the past few years--hopefully more competition will jar them out of complacency.

    Reply
  12. psywiped

    No ant+ is a deal breaker for me, the short battery life just makes it worse. Look at where motoactive went and that had ant+ as well as wifi. Well at least it can survive contact with water.

    Reply
  13. Harrison

    Very interesting.

    The battery life expectancy is the kill for me on this one, but promising nonetheless. I'd like to see where it goes in a few years time (as well as where Garmin goes). Glad to see someone competing with Garmin triathlon watches finally.

    The bluetooth use is very intriguing for mobile phone connection as mentioned several times. I refuse to go to the iPhone for the ANT+ adapter, which means I can't connect to my phone (currently: HTC Thunderbolt. Upgrade: Samsung Galaxy S4). The mobile phone connection would be very cool to be used essentially as a Garmin Edge 800/810, as I'm also sure an outdoor/hiking app could be created to have data and details on hikes without splurging on another Garmin watch.

    Reply
  14. Harrison

    The watch also seems slimer, although stiffer, than the Garmin 910XT, which could be cool if the curve fit your wrist, or bad if the curve of the directional pad did not form fit your wrist.

    The Bluetooth connection could also sync up with Google Glass, which features a bluetooth connection. The potential there is pretty dang promising.

    Reply
  15. Kevin H

    Thanks for all your reviews, Just an FYI Topeak has a line of Blue Tooth Smart devices out called thier "PanoBike" I have the ride case for the iPhone and just purchased the Mobile PowerPack that connects to your iPhone and worked great for a 6-hour ride.
    I use Wahoo Fitness HR Blue Strap and Wahoo Speed&Cadence Sensor which are great, however would be interested in review on the Topeak (PanoBike) equipment.

    Reply
    • Ben replied

      I also just discovered the panobike. I'm on all wahoo ant+ stuff now and since moving to the iphone 5, have been thinking about going all BT smart. This would be a much cheaper way than wahoo. Does anyone know if the panobike sensors (HR, Speed, Cadence) work interchangeably with all the apps that the wahoo blue sc would work with (wahoo/strava/runkeeper)?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      They should be, assuming they follow the BT Smart spec (I see no reason they wouldn't).

      Reply
  16. NB

    Ray

    Polar have a Bluetooth Smart Stride Sensor hitting the market soon. Have you seen this?:

    link to heartmonitors.com

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Not available on the market yet... ;)

      Reply
  17. SVENGREANY

    Was sounding great until you stated no ANT support. This is totally dumb. I would buy one, not know!!

    Reply
  18. turnthedarncranks

    Ay word on a TomTom bike computer? Would love to see them in effect press Garmin on the Edge 500 and 510.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, nothing that I've heard of. I'd suspect they'd focus resources on this unit first, before branching into other areas.

      Reply
  19. andrew

    Wow. A personally delivered unit! If you had not already realized how important your reviews are - I'm sure you do now :-) I have no doubt that you will remain objective and not let the personal training session affect your review, but man, for a company rep to fly to Paris to help you get started with the unit - that's huge. Goes to show how badly they want/need the DCR stamp of approval and will do all in their power to increase their chances of it happening.

    Reply
    • Chris replied

      Not that it's not cool that they're personally delivering them to him, but TomTom is headquartered in Amsterdam. Only about 300 miles away.

      Reply
  20. What sort of price are they talking about?

    Reply
  21. Although this product seems impressive - especially for its display - I became skeptical about it based on my experience with the Nike Sportwatch. I mean, that product is chronically flawed, which is a pity. I'm talking about the problem that it (the Nike watch) has plagued with: not being able to sync with the computer after a while. If one gives a quick look on Nike forums, it will be seen that hundreds of people had problems with their Nike GPS watch.
    I wish I could trust this TomTom, but having my Nike watch replaced and presented the same problem that the older one had, I became skeptical and decided that my next watch will probably be a Garmin. The data openess is important, but with Nike's latest versions of their website, this is not even the point. I just want a watch I can rely on and sync everytime I run. Unfortunately, this basic feature is not present on the Nike GPS Sportwatch, and I don't want to risk hard earned money on a product of the same (TomTom) brand.

    Reply
    • TriAbel replied

      I couldn't help not noticing that, based on the picture and video, controlling the watch seems rather inefficient (for example pausing/starting your timer for a 50 meter sprint in the pool (that is if it doesn't have an auto-pause)). Nonetheless I have to admit that the watch looks very sleek, but it would be pity if its nice appearance has to come at the cost of functionality.

      But I guess I shouldn't rash to judgement just yet. I'm looking forward to see a review on this watch from you Ray!

      Reply
  22. George

    Ray -

    Thanks for the insights. Any idea on how well it will locate satellites - my wife and I each had the Nike+ GPS (w/ TomTom), almost a year apart, and they were utter garbage when traveling - if you did not sync it to a computer, it could not locate satellites quickly (or often, ever, even in clear areas of major cities - NYC, Houston, etc.). The Nike+ folks kept repeating how important it was to sync with a computer, but that's not always a reasonable expectation when traveling (especially on vacation).

    Thanks for all you do!
    George

    Reply
  23. tobor

    Pricing for this unit is going to be critical. Although I've found Garmin's 910XT to be riddled with bugs and lacking promised functionality (e.g. Courses), the TomTom unit will have to be priced significantly less if it hopes to compete. Garmin remains (deservedly or not) the industry leader, plus they have the retail space. This new TomTom might be good, but with battery-life already half of the 910XT, they're going to need more than just a few unique features to justify a higher retail price. If they could release this watch at $250-$325 they might pull it off. No way they can go higher than $325 and really make a big impact. And that is predicated on the watch being a good, functional product right out of the box (i.e. not buggy).

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I agree. These days, the FR310XT is priced at $210US, and the FR910XT is still at $399US. The next nearest non-Garmin competitor would be the Magellan Switch/Up which floats between $190 and $250 depending on tidal patterns.

      Given the feature set sits between the FR310XT and the FR910XT (lack of ANT+ and lower battery life being the biggest drawbacks), I'd say it'd best be priced between $199 and $275. And that $275 would be about as high as one could go.

      (All prices without accessories)

      Reply
  24. Matthijs

    Interesting how everybody seems so focused on the technical features. What, to me, seems to be a big potential improvement area in these sports watches, is the UI layer. Meaning how easy it is to use. With the Garmins I have used, the buttons are not intuitve at all, you really need to study the manual to know how things work. What I did see in the short clip, the TomTom seems to have a very easy to use menu system.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I suspect the concern is over features first only because from what I've seen of other units with the highly simplified UI (good UI), is that they largely lack features of the watches that this unit will ultimately compete with.

      In the case of the Nike+ watch, it has a fraction of the features of something like the FR610 (running) or even the FR910XT (triathlon). I'd guess in the range of 10% of the total featureset, maybe less.

      That's not a bad thing mind you, as having differing levels of products is good. It's only a challenge if they're priced the same. ;)

      Reply
    • Matthijs replied

      True. However, it's still interesting how these gadgets are "valued" so much by how many features they have and how little value seems to be placed on UI. While in practice, both are important. And I bet that in reality, a lot of these features aren't even used. I know my watch has interval training, but I've never used that. And the reason often these features are not used in full is (at least partly) because interfaces are so difficult.

      I've never had to read a manual to use my iPod or iPhone. Just flip through the menu's and discover things. Contrary, I have had to look up things in the manual of my FR210 several times, had to do google searches for things, and even then I have made mistakes using it (lapping instead of pausing, forgetting to save, not knowing how to enter history or turn it off, etc).

      So my point is, that it's funny how devices are almost only compared by number of features. Device A has 20 features, device B has 30. People then conclude: A has to be cheaper then B. While I would say: not if A has other advantages over B. If the device with less features is easier to use, I would be glad to pay the same price or even more.

      Reply
  25. TommiP

    Regarding your comment "...waterproofed to 50m deep (or more than plentiful for the swimming activity it is designed for)" I would like to highlight that this to me sounds like minimum waterproofing for swimming activity. If you read link to en.wikipedia.org and especially the last chapter "Water resistance classification" you probably get the point: 50m (most likely) means that the unit stands 5ATM pressure or overpressure when stationary - and that you can match or even top with speed even when swimming on surface or very close to it.

    It seems to be a very common misconception that you can actually swim up to 50m depth with it, but obviously that is not the case. Thus, I would skip the words "more than plentiful" there and just say it is waterproofed for swimming. And in the end, depending on TomTom-specific waterproofing criteria, testing methods, design and materials the unit will actually hold water on the outside both when out-of-the-box and after some years of wear and tear.

    Reply
  26. I'm going to be following this very closely. I just got into triathlons and my RC3 GPS is completely inadequate for the task. I have put together a list of watches that could meet my needs and that list seems limited to the 310XT and the 910XT. As much as I have always liked the idea of HR training with Polar, I feel they're always a little behind on technology and RCX5 with its million pods is not the way to go.

    I like some of what I see here. I've got no Ant+ accessories since I've mostly been using Polar so that's no issue for me and I like the thought of Bluetooth. The swimming capabilities for in a pool seem awesome which only the 910XT can match and the podless pedometer is interesting too. I think that could potentially work fairly well as I know my Fitbit is amazingly accurate when I take it on a run with me.

    My only concern is 10hrs battery life. But that would only be an issue for doing Ironman races and while I forsee that in my distant future...its not something I plan to do soon. Assuming the price is right here, this could be a great watch for someone like me who dabbles in Tris and likes to run a lot. But I'm waiting for the DC review on this watch before deciding!

    Reply
  27. Brian Thompson

    Like most who have posted here, I am very interested and will be following this closely. I am most certainly an amateur age group triathlete but I too like having access to my data and features on a watch. I purchased the Nike+ Sportwatch primarily due to price point at the time. I like the watch but have been disappointed in the Nike+ seemingly lack of interest in making firmware or even software upgrades to add features as well as their refusal to allow access to "my data". That being said, I am curious to hear if you know anything regarding why Nike is not associated with the new Tom Tom watch. What happened to their relationship and does that signal Nike's departure from the category?

    Reply
  28. giorgitd

    So interesting. Ray, thanks for your attention to this product. I have a Garmin 305 - totally bomb proof, go-to device for duathlon racing and run/bike training. Also have an ancient Polar S720i - totally bomb proof, go-to for bike power. I can see both of these devices expiring in a year or two. What to buy to replace? THAT is the Q for many tri/duathletes with older devices and all new tri/duathletes. My bias - I don't care about compatibility with phones (I'm not running/cycling with my Galaxy GS3 or my depreciated iPhone 3) and I don't care about compatibility with existing sensors (cheap, overall, compared to the primary device). BUT, I do want a TERRIFIC data download/analysis tool. We're not there yet. I'd like something that would ask me what my goals are and assess my activity relative to those - a 'virtual coach'. The tools I am aware of are fine at recording events, but very limited in interpreting those events. First one to help me improve gets my upgrade $.

    Reply
  29. Tim

    My Garmin 405 has recently died and I don't think it's a good investment to repair it at the moment. I've picked my MotoActv back up and the that device has so much going for it that it saddens me that it was so quickly abandoned.
    The single most missed feature on other devices (for me at least) is the audio feedback via BT from the watch. I know a lot of the smartphone app's do this but having the feature (and my music) on the Motoactiv meant my phone didn't run out of juice on very long runs.

    I can't wait to learn more about the TomTom!

    Reply
  30. Rebekah Allen

    Ray, I am an average woman who moderately exercises. I am looking for a watch that will track my walk/jog routes; distance; tracking my pace/cadence all the while showing me which route will give me the best "calorie burn" for which route. This way I can vary up my workouts. I also have started swimming and would like for the watch to compute pace; stroke; distance. I am a hard core walk/jog exerciser and have never done a triathlon. I am more interested in tracking my workouts and varying up my workouts. Here is the kicker....I want it to also serve as a watch that I wear daily. Any suggestions? I did purchase the Garmin FR 910xt but have not been impressed as it doesn't meet all my needs. Please help.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi Rebekah-

      Check out my recommendations post here: link to dcrainmaker.com

      However, given some of the rumors around the new Suunto offerings, based on your requirements I'd see if anything materializes in that space.

      Reply
  31. barry

    Ray good review! If you talk to TomTom and they change their mind, by the way Nike GPS said its going to be their new watch, go figure. So maybe it will be a NIke watch. But if TomTom makes another Nike Plus watch or this one see if the light can stay on for night running. Its hard to tap the watch to keep the light on for 5 seconds. I do night races and its pitch black. Any suggestions. The NIke stupid reps say to change the background color (white/black) but that does not help anything. thanks Ray!

    Reply
  32. Arnaud

    Hi Ray,
    I'm curious to see how it compares to the FR 610... (which is awesome)
    I can't see any mention on "advanced" training like intervals. Any ideas if it will support it? My first watch was the Nike+ GPS watch and while the interface was way better than Garmin's it was really minimalistic when it came to features...
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Not that I'm aware of. But I have a feeling that they may be slowly announcing things as they see fit/ready.

      Reply
  33. Arnaud

    That's what I initially thought! ;( Thanks

    Reply
  34. Anton

    I really hope they will not use proprietary software for handling uploading of data. BLE support would be great if you could just send the fit(?) file to your phone/PC. Even better would be a simple USM interface so that you can just hook up the watch to your PC as a removable disk. I'm soooo tired of all ant-agents, movescounts etc that makes your watch useless with the wrong equipment.

    Reply
  35. James

    Hi Ray, any word on strava support from TomTom? Cheers.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Nothing at this time.

      Reply
    • James replied

      Ok, thanks. Looking forward to seeing more on this watch. As a starting watch it looks pretty promising.

      Reply
    • Shane replied

      'TomTomOfficial' wrote this in the comments of one of the youtube videos:

      "Indeed, the watch will be compatible with a number of popular running community platforms/websites."

      link to youtube.com

      Reply
  36. Querfeldein

    In a promotional video, TomTom seemed to suggest that you could "race yourself", implying (as I read it) that you can load workouts or tracks onto the watch.

    Do you know anything definitive on this, and whether the watch supports either a breadcrumb track display, or a "get me home" function? For a frequent traveler who likes to go on (long) runs in unknown places, but doesn't like to get completely lost, that's the most important feature in a GPS running watch.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I don't have anything more definitive on this at the moment.

      Also - the next solid update I'll have on the Tom-Tom unit will be towards the end of June. Thanks all!

      Reply
  37. ASR

    Hi there!

    It´s the end of june now. Any news on this?

    Reply
  38. Noemie

    Can we swim open water with this watch ?

    Reply
  39. Martha TriGirl

    Any News? Christmas is fast approaching and am stuck between the TomTom and the Garmin 910.

    Reply

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