(Pocket-lint) - Behold the fitness tracker that will not only tell you how many steps you've taken and how high your heart rate is, but also your body's fat percentage. Say hello to the TomTom Touch.
The Touch was unveiled when Fitbit launched the Charge 2 and Withings announced the Activité Steel HR. Which is important, given how the Touch sits against this competition in both aesthetic, price and capability terms.
Because while the TomTom Touch sounds great on paper, it's out of touch in today's bustling fitness market. Here's why.
TomTom Touch review: Design
- 11.5 x 47.7 x 16.7mm; 10g
- IPX7 water-resistance
- Black, blue, red or purple colour options
- Small and large bands available
The TomTom Touch isn't the best-looking fitness tracker out there. Unlike some companies in its field, TomTom hasn't embraced the fashion angle.
Rather than offer exciting interchangeable straps, or the ability to place the removable tracker within a necklace or bracelet to smarten it up, you are stuck with a plain, pretty-boring rubber band that comes in standard four colours.
TomTom opts for the pin-and-hole fastening for the band, which isn't the most secure option out there. It is also only IPX7 water-resistant so there's no swimming with this device.
An optical heart-rate sensor is positioned on the underside of the Touch tracker, along with a silver metal disc, used in conjunction with the same disc on the top of the tracker for recording body composition.
The Touch tracker itself is secure within the band however, offering a reassuring click when it clips into place. When it is removed you'll find Micro-USB the charging port.
TomTom Touch review: Display
- 128 x 32 pixel resolution OLED display
- Touchscreen control
Despite the Touch tracker being around 17mm wide when in its strap, the monochrome display is only 5.58mm wide, meaning it's significantly smaller than the tracker itself. Unlike the Fitbit Charge 2 or Garmin Vivosmart HR+, the display doesn't wake up at the raise of an arm. Instead, you're required to tap the silver disc to turn on the screen.
Once on, swiping from the bottom to the top of the display will present various metrics - from steps taken to distance travelled - while a swipe from the top to the bottom will display recording options for tracking, body composition and heart-rate.
The touch functionality is responsive, but having to tap to wake the screen is frustrating, especially while exercising. The screen also displays numbers horizontally and text vertically, with no option to switch everything to one orientation or the other, meaning we often found ourselves cocking our head to the side.
TomTom Touch review: Features
- Steps, active minutes, distance, calories burned, sleep, heart rate
The TomTom Touch does everything we'd expect an activity tracker to do. It tracks steps, distance travelled, calories burned, active minutes and sleep duration - all of which are now standard across most fitness devices available.
In addition to these basics, the Touch offers continuous heart-rate monitoring, basic smartphone notifications, and the ability to measure body fat and muscle percentages.
Like smart scales, the Touch uses the metal silver discs positioned on either side of the tracker to send an undetectable electrical current through the body from one disc to the other, measuring body composition.
A measurement is recorded after around 10 seconds, with a tick appearing on the Touch's display when the measurement has been recorded successfully. After which the TomTom Sports app needs to be opened to see the result.
The Touch also offers a sports tracking feature, which starts a stopwatch for tracking activity, such as a gym session. When in this mode, the Touch will monitor time, distance and heart rate, offering a break-down of all three in the Sports app.
TomTom Touch review: Performance
- Three-to-four day battery life
- Micro-USB recharging
As a basic fitness tracker, the TomTom Touch is on par with its competition in terms of accuracy. Its step-tracking, calories burned and active minutes fall in line with the likes of the Fitbit Charge 2, while heart-rate monitoring is also on point.
Body composition accuracy is a harder to determine without having professional tests done. The Touch provides a very easy way to measure composition and monitor progress over time, which is perhaps the more important point than whether you are made up of 32 per cent fat or 34.3 per cent.
Sleep tracking and smartphone notifications both appear to have been more of an afterthought though. Sleep isn't a goal you can set, for example, and it doesn't have a specific place within the Sports app, offering just the average number of hours on the device itself.
When a text message comes through, a speech bubble will appear on the screen and the Touch will vibrate - but it doesn't display the message or sender, like the Fitbit Charge 2 does. It's a similar story when it comes to calls, too. The Touch is therefore much more basic on this front compared to some other fitness trackers.
In terms of the sports tracking feature, it not possible to tag a specific activity, as you can with Fitbit. The silver disc on the top of the Touch is used to start and end the tracking session, as well as wake up the screen, meaning it's very easy to end a tracking session by accident. Most annoying.
Meanwhile, we were only able to get between three and four days out of the Touch before it needed recharging. Not the claimed five days.
TomTom Touch review: App
- Android and iOS compatible
The TomTom Sports app is where the Touch faces its biggest challenge. In its current state, it just doesn't compete with the likes Fitbit, Garmin or Withings, all of which have more user-friendly interfaces and more incentives to achieve goals.
Rather than having easy-to-access tabs, the TomTom Sports app has a menu in the top left-hand corner offering access to the various options: Activities, Goals, Progress, Life Time Totals, Account, Device, Preferences and About. There is no community section or challenge section, as there is with Fitbit, while the TomTom app or device doesn't offer any reminders to move either.
Many of the options within the app are self-explanatory, but some of the great features are just too hidden. The Goals section, for example, allows users to change three goals: sports, activity and body. Within these goals, there are several preference options resulting in a lot more variation for goal tracking than other devices but it not well implemented.
Syncing the Touch within the Sports app isn't always seamless either. It can be very slow at times, while on other occasions the Touch wouldn't sync at all, resulting in us having plug the device into our computer to sync and restart it.
The TomTom Touch ticks many of the right boxes when it comes to features and accuracy - but it is out of touch with the rest of the market when it comes to design and software.
The Touch ignores the growing need for activity trackers to be versatile in their looks. The display is too small, meaning the app plays a more prominent role, but that app is just not up to fulfilling its role.
So while the TomTom Touch has some great features, they aren't good enough to outshine its software woes and, therefore, the competition.
TomTom Touch: The alternatives to consider
If you're looking for a well-designed, accurate fitness tracker with a fantastic app platform, then the Charge 2 fully takes charge. It might not offer body fat measurement like the TomTom, but it's still the platform we would choose.
The Garmin Vivosmart HR+ is an ideal device for someone who wants to track daily activity as well as record runs or walks in more detail, but doesn't want to go the whole hog and start wearing a running watch all the time. You'll need to pay that Garmin price premium, though.
Ok, so it's not a band, but we do rather love the Withings analogue watch approach and digital integration, plus heart-rate monitor.