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