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Three days with TomTom's Multi-Sport Cardio Sport Watch (2014)

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TomTom's always made fitness wearables on the side, but now that everyone's in on that action, the Dutch firm has had to up its game. The 2014-era refreshes of its GPS watches now include optical pulse sensors that do away with chest-worn heart rate monitors and keep pace with at least one flagship smartphone. Is this hardware, however, the new gold standard for exercise gear in 2014? We grabbed the TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio Sport Watch, a device so good they named it twice, and put it through its paces.

Gallery: TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio Sport Watch hands-on | 14 Photos

In the looks department, there's no difference between this and last year's model, with both packing a 168 x 144 display and a four-way navigation button below. If you like to wear your timepiece loose and close to the wrist bone, you're going to struggle here, as the unit has to be worn tight and high to ensure good contact for the sensor to work. It's a small price to pay for the use, and we found launching into a training routine to be tremendously simple.

The unit is capable of accompanying you when you run outdoors, cycle, swim (it's waterproof to depths of 50 meters) and when you hit the treadmill, as well as just behaving like a standard stopwatch. There are also options to add in interval, lap and zone-based training programs to each of the functions. When we took it out for a ride, it found a GPS signal within 20 seconds and offered up very accurate location, elevation and speed data. The only place we found fault was when it came to calculating our calories, which we found skewed heavily toward the pessimistic side compared to other systems we've used.

You can dock the watch on your desktop, or share your data with the companion iOS app over Bluetooth, although we found that transferring files was horribly slow and the app itself offered nothing more useful than placing our vital statistics beside some colorful icons. Considering that the watch has a vibration motor, we were hoping that it would offer up some smartwatch features like call alerts, but alas, this is a fitness-only device. If you're in the market for a new unit, this is certainly one to consider, although we're not sure we'd upgrade if we'd already shelled out nearly 300 clams on last year's model. Speaking of which, the Multi-Sport will set you back $300 (£280), with the Runner priced at $270 (£250) and both will arrive toward the end of the month.

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