TomTom's newest fitness watch plays music too

As sales of satellite navigation units slowly dry up, TomTom is making the gentle transition into a fitness and wearables company. That's why the firm decided to smash up its existing range of bulky running watches in favor of a ground-up rebuild. The result is that TomTom is launching the Spark, which looks pretty much like the previous generation of devices, albeit after a very good diet. The most notable addition to the range this year is Bluetooth music playback, although that's made matters a little more confusing than in previous years.

Rather than selling just one or two variations on the same watch each year, there are actually four, with a barebones GPS and sleep- and activity-tracking model at the bottom. Then, you can opt to get a version with an optical heart rate monitor, or 3GB of built-in storage, while at the top of the range you can get both. There are also two extra models that come with a pair of company-branded Bluetooth headphones if you don't already own a set. The company's Walter Hermsen isn't worried about confusing his customers, however, saying that this way it's easy for people to only pay for the things they'll actually use.

The hardware itself looks like an evolution of last year's model, shrunk down to better hide under your shirt cuff. The charger's been redesigned, too, with a clicking latch that makes enough noise so there's no longer a risk that you'll think it's connected, but isn't. Unfortunately, the four-way joystick button remains below the watch itself, and it's still as obviously fitness-orientated as before -- although Hermsen feels that that's the point. After all, as he says, "If you're spending your days sat on your couch, this watch is not for you."


The company has also tweaked the way it represents activity tracking, giving you a seven-sided polygon to represent your working week. "The idea is to walk 10,000 steps a day, but really people don't behave like that. Instead, they walk more on the weekends and less in the office." As such, you're given a weekly view of your movement so you can fill out the shape rather than feel guilty of failing to hit the target during the 9-5. You'll be able to track two weeks at a time before you need to re-juice the Spark, although that battery life drops to 11 hours if you use GPS and just five if you're using GPS, optical HRM and the music playback at the same time.

TomTom is promising that smartwatch features will come to the various Spark models before the end of 2015, although it'll be limited to just caller ID and message ID. It was felt that anything more would be a distraction, even though the watch comes with a Pebble-esque 168 x 144 high-contrast LCD display. There's also no option to change the face from the default, which is something of a disappointment.

Pricing isn't yet set for each of the more granular models, although we can all probably work it out on the back of an envelope. All we know so far is that the flagship Spark Cardio + Music that comes with all the trimmings will be priced at €249 / £190 and that the range will hit stores this October.

Check out all the news from Berlin at our IFA 2015 hub.