TomTom Touch review: Too basic for its own good
TomTom’s fat-centric activity tracker is simple to use, but it’s perhaps a bit too simple.
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While Fitbit has all but defined the category, especially with Jawbone effectively leaving the market, TomTom has a wide range of fitness-centric devices, covering everything from sports watches to more classic fitness bands. The TomTom Touch most definitely fits into the latter category, delivering a range of fitness stats to help you along your health journey.
TomTom Touch: Design
If you asked someone to design a fitness tracker band, chances are they’d come up with something that looks like the TomTom Touch. That’s the nice way of saying that this is a particularly bland looking wearable, although that may be to your taste if bling isn’t your thing.
The TomTom Touch is a plain black rubber band (other colour bands are available) with a central activity module that pops out in the style of most fitness bands. The activity module weighs in at 10 grams with a 5.58x22.38mm 128x32 pixel display flanked by a single silver button.
The module itself is IPX7 rated as "splash proof and shower proof", although TomTom’s notes mention that you shouldn’t swim with it. Charging can be done via microUSB with a supplied cable that connects when the module is popped out of the primary band. The band itself is available in two sizes with a simple two-prong clasp to seal it shut. We tested out the large band, which has holes that run most of the length of the strap, so fitting it to your wrist shouldn’t be an issue.
TomTom Touch: Why you’d want one
- Tracks body composition: The TomTom Touch’s big selling point is the inclusion of body composition tracking. It does this by sending a small electrical pulse from the band through your body, comparing that against your stats and then presenting you with a body fat and muscle mass percentage based on the figures it gets back. It’s a more in-depth metric than just steps walked or hours slept and it could be a good motivator for anyone looking to improve their fitness. We didn’t have any competing instruments to track how accurate its readings were, but then the key benefit of this kind of data is in trend tracking rather than absolute numerical accuracy.
- Good battery life: TomTom’s claim for the TomTom Touch is that it can manage up to 5 days of activity tracking from a single charge. Based on our two-week trial, it can live up to that claim pretty easily. Given that it also handles simple phone notifications (but not more complex functions like answering calls) you could skip out on a smartwatch and simply wear a TomTom Touch instead.
- Simple interface: You couldn’t accuse the TomTom Touch’s interface of being overly complex. Swiping in one direction takes you to activity tracking, while swiping in the other direction shows you your current stats. The single button activates functions such as measuring body composition. And that’s it. If you don’t want a range of complex features, this could be a good fit.
- Covers the basics: Aside from body composition, the TomTom Touch will also track your steps, sleep and heart rate through its optical heart rate monitor built into the base of the tracker module. In terms of step accuracy, it tended a little high when compared to a Samsung Galaxy S3 Frontier worn on the opposite wrist, although both devices recorded near identical heart rates during heavy exercise. In any case, the best use for this kind of fitness data is in keeping an eye on your trends rather than absolute numbers, so a little over-counting isn’t a massive problem.
TomTom Touch: Why you might not want one
- It’s very basic: Aside from the body composition score, the TomTom Touch covers the kinds of features you’d expect from a fitness tracker in 2017. The problem is that this is all it does and it does it in a frame that’s no better or worse than any other for the most part. In order to recommend it over any other fitness band it would need to stand out and ultimately it doesn’t.
- Body composition counting is buggy: In theory, you can get a count of your body composition at any time by activating the feature from the tracker. In practice, what happens about half the time is that it will sit there, spinning a dial around the percentage marker for a minute or so before delivering a cross, indicating that the reading has failed. This doesn’t fill me with confidence for the times that it did work or for the accuracy of its analysis.
- The band can be hard to fit: While there are plenty of holes with which to attach the TomTom Touch to your wrist, actually getting both prongs to sit nicely and stay put is a tough ask. All too often, and especially while running, I found it would pop open and flap about annoyingly. The TomTom Touch never actually fell off my wrist, but this is still less than ideal.
- App and web interface are bland: TomTom’s sport app does a perfectly serviceable job of presenting your core stats, but that’s about it. There’s nothing wrong with a plain approach, but at the same time, in such a crowded market, there’s just not that much that’s all that exciting about TomTom’s approach.
Who is it best suited for? What are my alternatives?
The TomTom Touch is best suited to those who want a tracker that will ostensibly track your body composition alongside the regular trio of steps, sleep and heart rate. It’s another metric that you could use to inspire you to increase your fitness, albeit one that I had trouble getting to work all the time. Equally, if you're already in the TomTom sports watch space and thus have transferable stats but no longer want to wear a full watch, it could be a serviceable option.
The Fitbit is the obvious competitor in this space and at the price point of the TomTom Touch you could opt for bands such as the Flex 2 or the Alta. There are countless other options in the sub-$200 space, especially if all you want is simple step and sleep tracking.
Where can I get it?
The TomTom Touch sells in Australia for $179 through TomTom’s local website, or from selected retailers.
TomTom Touch specifications
|Sensors||Motion (accelerometer+gyro), optical heart rate sensor|
|Battery||Up to 5 days|
|Weight||10g (tracker only)|