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Hands-on Gear Review
TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + Music ReviewPrice: $250 List | $214.50 at Amazon
Pros: Waterproof to 5 ATM, advanced GPS tracking capabilities
Cons: No smart notifications, mediocre app lacking community, pricey
Bottom line: Great for its niche uses but is missing key features for broad appeal.
The TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + Music has some unique features that set it apart from the rest of the models in this review but it fails to have widespread appeal and is lacking some key features. This large, somewhat standard looking piece of wearable tech is comfortable to wear and has a display that you can practically read from across the street. However, the TomTom app lacks the vibrant community other manufacturers have created, meaning that if you are looking for friendly challenges and competition to help you get up and active, you should look elsewhere.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The TomTom has the most expansive set of route finding features using its built-in GPS out of any fitness tracker that we have reviewed, as well as the ability to pair directly to Bluetooth headphones and act as a standalone music feature. However, this model lacks the ability to receive any sort of smart notifications and doesn't have as much of an online community to help motivate.
We bought 14 of the best fitness trackers you can get to find the best, conducting over 25 different side-by-side tests. These tests were divided among 5 weighted metrics: Fitness Impact, Health Impact, Ease of Use, Ergonomics, and Display. Scores ranged from 0-100, with the TomTom's performance in each one detailed in the sections below.
The most important metric in our test — Fitness Impact — is synonymous with the name of this product category. Making up 30% of the overall score, this metric tested the ability to track walking, cycling, workouts, stairs climbed, and other activities, as well as the community compare features using the mobile app. The Spark 3 did reasonably well in this metric, meriting a 7 out of 10, with the following chart showing how this stacked up against the competition.
The Spark 3 was exceptionally accurate in our walking test, only displaying a 12 step discrepancy from our manual count on the first 1-mile walk and a 3 step difference on the second. The distance was also exceptionally accurate, with the Spark 3 showing 1 mile exactly in the first trial and 0.99 miles on the second.
This performance carried over to our cycling tracking test. The Spark 3 displays similar data to the Fitbit Charge 2 and the Vivosmart HR+, showing the top speed, distance, average speed, duration, and elevation. In addition, the Spark 3 will also show you the route you took.
Moving on to workout tracking, the Spark 3 did an exceptionally good job, exceeding the performance of every other model in our test. This model gives you your active time, average heart rate, estimated calories burned, steps taken, and stride rate, as well as creating a breakdown of your heart rate zones, showing how long and what percentage of your workout you were in each one.
In addition to the above trackable metrics, the Spark 3 can also make use of its internal GPS, depending on what workout profile is selected. For example, "Freestyle" will display all of the aforementioned metrics, as well as speed, elevation, route, and pace. In addition to "Freestyle", there are also profiles for run, swim, treadmill, Gym, Indoor Freestyle, as well as cycling and simple stopwatch. However, this model does not count the flights of stairs climbed throughout the day.
While the TomTom did exceptionally well at tracking workouts and activities, it does a mediocre job at allowing you to share them and compete with your friends. The TomTom has a race mode, which allows you to compete against your past workouts, showing you if you are improving or not.
You don't really have the option to compete with your friends without the use of a third-party app, such as Strava, MapMyFitness, and MyFitnessPal.
The next metric in our test, Health Impact, comprised 25% of the total score. We rated each product's heart rate monitor, how helpful the tracker could be at implementing a diet or other lifestyle changes, if it tracked your sleep, and if it had a silent alarm. The TomTom Spark 3 failed to distinguish itself, earning a 5 out of 10 for its average performance. You can see how this compares to the rest of the group in the chart below.
The heart rate sensor on the TomTom is quite nice, reliably getting a stable reading. However, this model has a somewhat stripped down set of dieting functions, only estimating calories burned while working out and your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). It lacks any way to track calorie input or any other way to help manage a diet. The Spark 3 also lacks any motivational aspects to get you up and active, lacking any indicators or alarms for when you have been sedentary for too long. This tracker does track sleep but really only shows the duration you were asleep for, failing to display anything more detailed in terms of sleep stats. This model does have both an audio alarm and vibration alarm to gently wake you.
Ease of Use
After a somewhat lackluster showing in Health Impact, the Spark 3 boosted its performance in our Ease of Use metric, making up 20% of the final score. The TomTom meriting a 7 out of 10 for its reasonably good performance. The chart below shows how the rest of the pack compared.
We compared the battery life, ease of syncing data to the phone, the quality of the companion mobile app, the ease of navigating menus on the device, the ease of putting it on, and how water resistant the device is.
The Spark 3 had a solid battery life, lasting for up to 3 weeks with simple activity tracking and 11 hours when utilizing the GPS, according to the manufacturer's specs. Unfortunately, this model does not use a standard charger and relies on a proprietary connector.
The TomTom synced relatively quickly, using taking less than 20 seconds. It would periodically sync automatically but usually had to be manually initiated with a down press on the directional pad on the device.
This directional pad can be a little unintuitive to use at first but is highly responsive and useful for navigating through the menus when you get the hang of it. The menus aren't really in an immediately intuitive layout but you do eventually get a feel where things are. However, we weren't terribly fond of the companion mobile app, finding it rather mediocre. It was much more difficult to use than the Fitbit app and had fewer features than the Garmin Connect app.
This model is rated as being waterproof to 5 ATM and is exceptionally easy to put on, using 3 small clips to securely fasten the wristband.
The TomTom continued to excel in our Ergonomics test, deserving a 7 out of 10 for its solid performance in this metric, which made up 15% of the overall score. This compares quite favorably with the rest of the pack, as shown below.
The Spark 3 is comfortable to wear but it is a little on the large side, on par with the Fitbit Surge or Fitbit Blaze. However, for its large size, it has quite a low profile. It wasn't prone to snagging while worn.
We did rate this model as average in terms of aesthetics, as it was overall on the plain side.
Our fifth and final rating metric — Display — accounted for the remaining 10% of the total score. The Spark 3 finished out the test with a strong score, earning an 8 out of 10 for its display. You can see how this ranks to other fitness trackers in the following graphic.
We rated each model on the visibility and responsiveness of the screen, its ability to receive push notifications from your smartphone, and the data displayed on the home screen and on additional screens about your daily tracking info.
The screen on this model is amazingly visible, even in bright light conditions.
The screen is not a touchscreen and is not plagued by the lack of responsiveness that many other models had. However, it will not receive smartphone notifications. The home screen displays the time, date, and month and navigating to additional screens will show sleep, distance, steps, active minutes and calories. It even gives you the option to show both your daily and weekly progress.
The TomTom Spark 3 isn't really a value option but it scores well and packs a ton of features in for its price.
All in all, the Spark 3 is a good fitness tracker for the self-motivated individual. It focuses much more on having a wider set of features for the user rather than allowing you to compete with a community online. It's waterproof to 5 ATM, logs your route, and has onboard music storage — making it a great companion for a solo outing but don't expect it to help you maintain a diet or motivate you to get up and move.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer
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