Review : TomTom Touch

TomTom Touch and TomTom Runner 3 / Spark 3You can see from the photos that this is a fitness band or activity tracker of some sort. You probably already know that there is quite a lot of choice in that area. Yet here we have another one, this time from TomTom with their first foray into this particular format of device.

What is it and why is it different?

It’s a connected, 24/7 activity tracker with optical HR. It’s nice-enough looking and also covers fitness activities too.

So far, so good. Of course we’ve seen all that before and yet we know that TomTom usually have an interesting take on the market.

It’s different because it looks at BODY COMPOSITION

Indeed it’s the first and only mass-market device that I know of that can do that.

It also has 24/7 HR monitoring which is not unique but certainly an often-requested feature that products are just starting to offer.

It’s simple to use.

Some thoughts

The muscle and fat monitoring is a genuinely good concept. It’s hard for me to say how accurate it is as I have nothing to compare to but the concept of a device sensing a signal through your body and measuring the resistance it encounters to determine fat/muscle is not new; for example using electrical bio-impedance in weight scales. It’s just putting it into a real, wrist-worn, consumer product that’s the new bit! Clearly if you are on a diet it’s great to get actual feedback on how you are progressing with fat loss. Clearly if you are going to the gym a couple of times a week to put on muscle mass then it’s great to get the same sort of feedback on muscle.

There’s also a very useful nuance to this. Many diets essentially involve controlled starving because running a calorie deficit is the ONLY way to lose weight. However when your body is in this ‘mode’ it tends to panic and tries to INcrease fat stores more than it normally does, consequently muscle mass can be depleted at the expense of fat. So your body gets better at storing fat for an evolutionary ‘rainy day’. You finish the diet and your body keeps on being good at storing the fat. You then find it harder to do exercise as you have less muscles. Oh dear, muscles burn nearly EVERY calorie in your body.

Put another way. What you really probably want is not weight loss but rather FAT LOSS or BODY SHAPE CHANGE. Looking at your weight every day won’t tell you either of those.

TomTom TouchAnyway the point of that digression was to point out that the TomTom touch will help you monitor and control what is happening to your fat/muscle levels. When you diet you REALLY DO want to at least maintain or increase muscle mass otherwise you will learn soon enough why most diets eventually fail.

Some other devices have VO2max guestimates for fitness. To be honest that is all a load of nonsense in this level of (competing) device. At least the fat/muscle composition is a logical and sensible measurement for TomTom to include.

TomTom have rightly put their marketing behind the body composition ‘unique selling point’. That also means that they, perhaps intentionally, missed another marketing trick for the Touch. To me, the Touch stands out as a device that some TomTom Runner 3/Spark 3 users might prefer to wear most of the time whilst using their Runner/Spark 3 for fitness and sporting activities. The two devices are nicely complementary. The obvious benefit for someone owning both devices is that they can use the same online platform and avoid duplication – only one device can be paired to the app though so you’d have to use the USB cable with the Spark 3/Runner 3.

Perhaps even some more serious athletes who want body composition information cold consider this as their activity tracker or even just as a one-off tool to measure fat/muscle. Just a thought. I’d certainly rather wear this than my expensive but ugly Garmin 920XT high-end tri watch!

TomTom TouchTomTom Touch Features

  • It takes 5 seconds to use the one-touch button to periodically measure fat/muscle percentages
  • 24/ HR monitoring
  • 24/7 activity tracking – steps, calories, distance and sleep-time.
  • Set and achieve goals eg 700 daily steps
  • Basic sport mode logging and the device vibrates when it starts the rudimentary sports mode.
  • Basic iOS/Android phone notifications
  • Straightforward app which does the job without the complexity of many others.
  • Battery life is about 5 days, which is more than good enough for an optical based HR device of this size. The necessary compromise is the lack of GPS and low-res display.
  • It’s comfortable, for me, to wear and I like the aesthetics enough to consider a true 24/7 tracker.

Accuracy

I have only undertaken relatively rudimentary accuracy tests on the Touch over a couple of days. It is in the same ballpark as similar devices for activity tracking and is up to the job for which it is intended.

However as you can see from the images below, the optical HR unit is the same piece of hardware as found in the Runner 3/Spark 3 and, as you can see <here>, that is one of the most accurate optical HR units I’ve tested. Although I have not specifically tested the oHR in this hardware. It could be different.

Drawbacks

App/Website: It’s good for what it is. Whilst I would criticise the TomTom app/website for more serious sports usage, the app is more than fine for activity tracking – probably even better than many for delivering key stats in a simple way that do not need to be complicated and made confusing.

The fat/muscle reading is quick to take but often needed to be repeated. I would have liked to have been able to see the body composition on the device. Instead it can only be viewed on the app/website.

You will only see changes to your muscle/fat composition if you are on a specific regime to try to achieve that, otherwise your body composition will only change subtly week-by-week.

It’s tricky to remove the pod from the rubbery band surrounding it. You need to do that to access the USB port for charging and data upload. However that is a GOOD THING as other similar devices have been known to lose the ‘POD’. TomTom cleverly design this so it can only be remove inwards ie when not worn..

Despite some degree of splash-proofing, this device is CANNOT be recommended by me for swimming. Any similar device that has a built-in USB charging port will ultimately have problems if you swim.

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Alternatives

Many.

Putting the unique fat/muscle to one side there are many other activity/fitness trackers – see the SHOP MENU at the top of this page where I list and link to some other, more noteworthy, ones.

Price and Availability and Value for money

At around £/S/Eur130 it justifies its value by the fat/muscle tracking rather than by it’s optical-based activity and fitness tracking. Although the addition of the 24/7 optical sensor deserves a worthy mention too.

As a new device it is unlikely that there will be any price changes this side of Christmas 2016. So you might as well buy one now if you plan to. Here are some links and apologies to the Brits for the exchange rate.

flag-icon-usa-the5krunner-37x37 US : $130  flag-icon-uk-the5krunner-37x37 UK : £125.  flag-icon-germany-the5krunner-37x37 DE : EUR133

flag-icon-spain-the5krunner-50x37 ES : EUR150  flag-icon-france-the5krunner-37x37 FR : EUR150  flag-icon-canada-the5krunner-37x37 CA : CDN$160

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