Review: TomTom Adventurer

TomTom Adventurer Review polar M600

TomTom Adventurer + Polar M600

The TomTom Adventurer is the ‘off-road’ version of The TomTom Runner 3/SPARK 3 and is designed for: beginners-to-fairly-serious runners; trail runners; & hikers who may wander across the odd hill and not wish to get lost. Back home, sure, they will all also delve into gyms, classes and maybe partake in the most modern of pastimes – ‘activity tracking’.

Like the rest of the SPARK 3/RUNNER 3 range The Adventurer is RUNNER-FOCUSSED and then adds features around what runners also do and like – for example listening to music, exploring routes and NOT wanting to wear a pesky heart rate STRAP… :-).

Specifically unique to the top-of-the-range Adventurer are adventure-related activities and features namely:

  • Snowboard & Ski Profiles with new sport-related metrics like altitude delta, 3D distance and lift detection;
  • Trail Run & Hike Profiles, with an extended-life >20-hour GPS mode;
  • Barometric Altimeter; and
  • Superior strap and raised watch-face surround, offering more protection to the screen.

IMO TomTom generally pick key features/technologies and make them work rather than trying to include every feature possible and have some of them failing to work.

Positives:

The optical Heart Rate module is now very good. In my experience it has generally, correctly, handled my Zone 5 exertions (ie hard stuff). Like ALL optical heart rate on the wrist offerings it will have intermittent issues.

The Adventurer has inbuilt music functionality with a clever ability to pull playlists from selected windows/mac music programs. With music stored ON THE WATCH this is great for those of us who like to train with music and NOT carry an unwieldly smartphone. I would also recommend the optical Heart Rate part of the solution to those of us who don’t like to wear or who can’t comfortably wear chest straps (many women, for example).

Don’t forget that the Adventurer boasts a number of new features when compared to the 2015 versions of the Runner 2/Spark including:

  • Routing/Navigation
  • Compass
  • New model GPS chip

oHRM & Music together: Will still remain two highly distinctive features through into 2017.

For the more serious runner, intervals are supported and the GPS-based pace/speed is new and upgraded hardware from the previous SPARK/Runner 2 model, albeit with the same power needs.  The TomTom scores well over my 11 mile GPS test route against top competition <here>.

usa-amazon-price-check

Typically under $349

uk-amazon-price-check

Typically £250

 

 

 

 


ACTIVITY TRACKER: There is a motion-based activity tracker for steps and sleep. Not tested.

TomTom Runner 3 / Spark 3

Pretty Colours, Orange one is the Adventurer variant (covered separately)

 

The Adventurer also features new, straightforward but useful ‘routing’ functionality. Routes are super-easily updated through TOMTOM MYSPORTS. When combined with the on-board compass (also new) then the Adventurer offers a neat little route following-cum-navigational screen with the ability to retrace your steps back to the start via a digital ‘breadcrumb’ trail. This caters for the growing number of ‘explorer’ runners who like to go off the beaten track or perhaps those who might want to run occasionally whilst on holiday and not get lost. I got lost running in Zurich once for two hours minutes at night, ouch; luckily GPS was invented soon after.

oHRM, MUSIC and ROUTING make this a unique product.

tomtom-mysports-runner-3-spark-route

Bizarrely simple

The free TomTom MySports App updates quick satellite fix data on the Adventurer as well as enabling activity uploads to the phone/internet at the end of your session. Equally, like me, you can use the desktop software instead.

The Adventurer supports SINGLE Bluetooth SMART sensors of each of these types – heart rate straps, bike speed sensors, bike cadence sensors and headphones. Not footpods.

As well as cycling and gym/class usage, the Adventurer also supports pool swimming by recognising the number of strokes and turns. I haven’t tested this on the adventurer but when I last used swimming on the Runner 2 it was OK and there have been some improvements since.

The previous version (Runner 2/Spark 1) had some issues with Bluetooth headphone connectivity. TomTom state that this connectivity has also been improved in the new version.

MP3 and AAC format music is supported up to 320bits/sec.

Autolaps can be based on time (yes!) or distance and there are the usual zones fro training.

Negatives: The oHRM is not presently used to assess sleep quality. The oHRM is disabled in water sports, although you could use run mode and change the sport back to swim later. But you would get none of the relatively limited swim ‘metrics’.

No running footpod support, so running pace can only come from GPS.

Does not support pre-planned, structured and more complex workouts. But intervals, goal orientated workouts (distance/calories) and other workout types ARE supported. That is probably sufficient for the needs of the target market in most cases.

Whilst the Adventurer could be used in a triathlon it does NOT have a multiple consecutive sports mode – ie it can be used for multiple sports, singly, creating 3 exercise files. Fine for a bucket-list tri, I suppose.

5 hours official battery life for GPS+HR+Music, 9 hours for GPS/HR, 11 for GPS usage only – extended to over 20 hours in hiking mode by using a form of intermittent signal acquisition.

The Android app seemed to work fine for me but I couldn’t get the notification functionality to work (I frequently have this problem with ALL manufacturers).

usa-amazon-price-check

Typically under $349

uk-amazon-price-check

Typically £250

 

 

Comments: In the Adventurer we have a unique product that, AT THE SAME TIME, will appeal to quite a lot of people with its full feature set. This is quite remarkable that no-one else is offering products in the same space with the same features.

So whilst the Adventurer clearly targets other sports watches with its good optical HR offering it ALSO targets the smartphone market with the inclusion of music. The introduction of routing to this level of watch somewhat democratises route following in what previosuly was the domain of higher end watches like Garmin’s Fenix 3.It ticks a lot of boxes and the SPARK/RUNNER/ADVENTURER series should continue to do well.

TomTom Adventurer Review Spark 3 Runner Garmin 235 polar M600

TomTom Adventurer, Runner 3, Garmin 235 Polar M600

Alternatives: If you want a great GPS, MUSIC and OPTICAL HR then you probably would struggle to find anything else that could do that same job other than the adidas miCoach (2013) which does not properly support cycling and is ‘a bit chunky’. Oh yes…and it’s also discontinued. The only other real alternative choice is the Polar M600 and as I write in November 2016 you really need to be an Android smartphone user to benefit from what the M600 has to offer. The Apple Watch/WATCH 2 may be considered to have similar functionality, in the HR/music respect, but the two products clearly sit in different spaces as a whole package.

Note: An optical HRM is incorporated into several other products such as the Epson SF-810 and Garmin 235 and other activity bands/watches but none of these have on-board music. Music obviously can come from a smartphone and some sports watches can even control your smartphone (eg the 235). BUT, for a smartphone-only solution to match the ADVENTURER, an additional running app and an additional HRM such as a wrist-based optical MIO Link is required….MORE more things to charge up, link up and go wrong.

Similarly you can’t compare the TomTom’s navigational features to those of the Epix, Fenix 3 or SPARTAN. It doesn’t include, for example, saved locations or maps or waypoints or turn-by-turn instructions or back-to-start as the crow files. I expect that the initial navigational functionality will be expanded BY TOMTOM shortly ie 2017. Detailed Review<Here> is the detailed review of the Runner 3 (not the Adventurer). What the Runner 3 can do is matched and exceeded by the Adventurer.

Resources:

Manual: http://download.tomtom.com/open/manuals/watch2016/refman/TomTom-GPS-Watch-UM-en-gb.pdf

Price: There’s a small premium for this quality GPS watch but if you want exactly what this watch can do in terms of the major features, there are no real alternatives.

flag-icon-usa-the5krunner-37x37US$350 flag-icon-uk-the5krunner-37x37 £270 flag-icon-germany-the5krunner-37x37 Eur300
flag-icon-spain-the5krunner-50x37 Eur300 flag-icon-france-the5krunner-37x37 Eur300 flag-icon-italy-the5krunner-37x37 Eur300

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15 thoughts on “Review: TomTom Adventurer

  1. So we have a watch with above average GPS, above average oHRM, barometric altimeter…. and that then makes impossible to look at LAP times in real time….

    Which just cost Tom Tom a customer and probably few more in the “serious” runner community….

    Unreal…

    • lap method – either: fixed time (relatively unusual to have this); distance; or a manual lap.
      lap progress – current lap time / distance / pace
      lap completion – pace achieved over lap as an alert
      lap summary at workout completion – missing

  2. Hi, great reviews on on this website, cheers for that. im looking for a gift for my girlfriend and im trying to figure out whether the adventurer is worth the 100€ extra. I know that she likes the Runner 3 but the adventurer has trail running mode which the runner doesnt. Most of her runs are trail or off-road. But is this mode really that much different over the regular run mode? The only difference I see is that on Adventurer you can see elevation “live” but with runner 3 you can only see it at the end? Is the elevation calculation on runner 3 at least fairly accurate? Also are there any advantages of the hiking mode in adventurer vs freestyle mode in runner 3(besides the obvious battery saving part)?

    • lots of questions! it’s not so different. I haven’t tested elevation (do you want accurate elevation whilst running or after the workout?). no advantages other than battery.

  3. Sorry, and I tried to keep it short:) I dont think elevation whilst running is necessary, she always inspects her phone(which she now uses for tracking) only after the run to see the data. I was just thinking whether missing altimeter has any negative effects during trail running that tomtom decided to omit this mode from Runner 3. If its just to have slightly more accurate elevation and possibility to check it live, I think I’ll go for the cheaper Runner 3.

    Thanks for the quick reply!

  4. I think the most direct competitor to the TomTom Adventurer is the Garmin VivoActive HR, which you oddly don’t mention here. Both have barometric altimeters, magnetic compasses, basic route navigation, optical heart rate, activity monitoring, and multiple sports modes (but not multi-sport). The main difference is lack of music on the Garmin and a savings of about $150 compared with TomTom. I think Garmin probably has better smartwatch and activity monitoring. I’ve never used TomTom MySports so can’t comment on it vs. Garmin Connect.

    • garmin connect is better. oddly I haven’t used the vivoactive hr. with CIQ apps many garmin watches can suddenly have routin eg with dwmap. the tomtom will possibly have better quality componentry eg gps/ohr/alt

  5. Very poor HRM monitoring in my experience over three months of (almost) daily use. I had a TT cardio runner for 3 years and found it great. Been having no end of problems with the Adventurer: it regularly (?30% of the time) shows excessively high BPM during a run – 40-50 BPM over. It showed 230BPM for over 20 minutes on a flat slow jog! I’ve worn it higher, lower, tighter, looser, done factory resets, soft resets and not found they made any difference. I now have to wear the Adventurer (for its features) plus my old cardio runner (for accurate HRM) – frankly it’s not worth the £200+.

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