Test TomTom Runner 3, still a little more all in a

the TomTom Spark (also known as Runner 2, history of herring) managed to dig its hole in the landscape of the cardio GPS watches. Not only thanks to its optical sensor cardio, but mostly because that she joined a music player which allows permanently from my smartphone to go to the gym. Whatever we can go to the gym without music, I grant you. Notice also that you can go to the gym without GPS watch…

anyway, the Runner 3 incorporates all the features of the Runner 2 and adds the route tracking. A feature usually reserved for watches outdoor rather upscale.

the Runner 3 has everything to become a training partner even more useful. And above all, it confirms that TomTom is not simply a small player in the wearables for the sport, but arises in serious competitor of the big guys like Garmin.

versions of the 3 Runner / Spark 3 tomtom-runner-3-versions

Unfortunately, TomTom has taken over the marketing idea to market the same watch under 2 different names. The 3 Spark being marketed rather through fitness channels and Runner 3 via running signs. But it is the same watch that it is.

TomTom has added a bit of confusion from the Spark to the Spark 3. While there is no such thing as the 2 Spark.

there is always a version with a thin bracelet and a version with a large bracelet.

as if that wasn’t enough, there are several versions of Runner 3, including some without music player! So make sure before ordering on what seems to be a good price… There are 5 versions of the 3 Runner. Or rather 3 versions and 2 packs with Bluetooth headset.

  • Runner 3-129: the version entry level, with GPS and that’s it (still compatible with a heart rate belt)

  • Runner 3 Music + helmet – €179: GPS, music player and Bluetooth headset. But be careful, not cardio optical sensor.

  • Runner 3 Cardio – 199: GPS + cardio optical.

  • Runner 3 Cardio Music – € 249: GPS, optical cardio and music player. This is the version that I tested for this article.

  • Runner 3 Cardio Music + helmet – 299: the previous version with a Bluetooth headset and more.

presentation of the TomTom Runner 3 tomtom-runner-3-presentation

not much new on the design, you might recognize the features of the Runner 2. The only difference is the level of the bracelet. The 2 was equipped with a wide strap and a single loop and a double loop, either with a fine bracelet. On 3, the bracelet is one loop in any case. There are additional guts at the end of the bracelet, which is firmly set in the bracelet. It is a system still too ingenious to fix this piece of bracelet that exceeds well.

the case is removable from the bracelet and can therefore be changed, if you want to vary the colors. It goes from the classic black strap, black/green goes everywhere, until combinations more flashy Orange, pink or red which will hardly pass as everyday watch. The charger is the same as that of the Runner 2.

in regards to the screen, there is no surprise, since TomTom has used the same black and white screen on all its watches (22x25mm, 144 × 168 pixels). Download of data is now classic, either by USB or Bluetooth to a smartphone. Use in swimming, it is waterproof to 50 m.

she weighs 50g wide bracelet (47 with the end bracelet), which corresponds to the template of all TomTom GPS watches. It’s lighter than a M400 (57g) but a very little bit heavier than a Vívoactive HR (48g). But it’s much bigger than the Forerunner 35, which does show that 37g on the balance.

the autonomy is average for this range of GPS watches: 11 h GPS, 9 h if mode active optical cardio and more. And this autonomy is still divided by 2 If you enable playback of music during your workout.

new inside the box: a compass and navigation for a route. This is a first on a TomTom GPS watch.

as Runner 2, it is easy to make a training in music. Pressure upward and the watch is trying to establish a connection with a Bluetooth headset. Just wait 10 seconds. The Watch has a 3 GB space to record music. The only limit, is the same as that of the Runner 2. The transfer of a playlist is easy, but you can’t add songs to music one by one. Only playlists. Connect the 3 Runner with the USB cable, TomTom MySportConnect starts and will search playlists stored on your computer. Then, you control the music with your earphones or the button of the 3 Runner. Compared to the Runner 2, I have noticed no mute, TomTom has the exploit the feedback from users and improve this point.

for each session, you can add a route tracking. This is the only reason to spend the 2 Runner to Runner 3. But right now, there is a little subtlety compared to what is done with the competition. Yes, you can import a route (a file. GPX) on the 3 Runner. But that TomTom does not say to you, that you will not be able to trace it yourself on the TomTom MySport website. You have 3 options:

  • find a file GPX everything done on the Internet (the route of a race for example), download it, import it into MySports then transfer it to the 3 Runner.

  • use one of your old sessions on MySports and convert directions (honestly, route tracking then lost a little interest, since you will have already covered this route but well, it is a possibility).

  • draw a route yourself on another platform (personally, I like Movescount and its heat maps), export it to your computer and then import it on MySports who transfer it to the 3 Runner.

once it’s done, it works very well. There are 2 views of the itinerary: an overall and accurate a zoomed for navigation. Compared to what is happening elsewhere, here, the North is always near the top of the screen. Which means you’ll maybe come by following the route of the right to the left and go to next from the left to the right. There are no exit route alert if you ever miss a turn and you move away. So attention must be paid. Personally I use a lot navigation in ATV, because it allows me to vary my routes without risk losing me. In running, I use it when I run out of place I don’t know, on holiday for example.

but even if you don’t download route, you still a screen to view on-line course you have drawn, that you can use if you need to find your way back to your starting point.

for the altitude, it will however settle GPS altimeter (a barometric altimeter, to look at the Adventurer ) and no live display on the screen. We can visualise the altitude on the site, after the transfer of the data.

Note that there are no smart notifications on the 3 Runner. It can seem surprising end of 2016, but personally, not what I’m looking for. In fact TomTom announced smart notifications in an update of the Spark… which never arrived. So don’t feed false hopes with the 3 Spark.

run tomtom-runner-3-course-a-pied

on the watch, almost nothing has changed. We find the square button joystick which allows you to easily navigate through the menus, either to the left, down, up or right. There are also (unfortunately) very limited customization of the display of the data. The screen is divided into 3 areas of unequal sizes: a large central and 2 small bottom, left and right. The advantage is that the main data is written in very large and therefore very readable. Boredom, it’s can customize that these 2 fields of small size. For the rest, you have to scroll the screens either upwards or downwards (time, distance, pace, average pace, calories, heart rate, cardio box). So if the time is displayed and you want to see your cardio, it will scroll through 5 screens. A force, you get lost. The watch measures speed of stride, but this data is not displayed on the screen. We find only the average cadence on TomTom MySports.

then, by a pressure to the right, you can access most graphic screens: an instant positioning in the cardio areas, a histogram of distributedtion of the time spent in each cardio, a chart of the cardio area. For more precision, you can pair a Bluetooth heart rate belt and deactivate the optical sensor cardio.

after pressure on the right pressure to top displays the full itinerary, more zoom to 100 m, then the distance that remains to be done and the compass.

to the level of training, it is possible to program different types of sitting directly on the Watch:

  • objectives (distance, time, calories)

  • split (warm-up, work, rest, repeat count, recovery)

you can set automatic lathes, but can display no data in the round (lap distance, lap time, cardio medium tour (, etc). So it can serve as a benchmark (with an automatic turn of 1 km for example) but that’s all.

you can see the statistics of the past sessions, but how to do it could be simpler. Here, you can go in the specified activity to access the list of sessions from this activity. It’s still a little more complicated than a widget accessible from the main screen.

other sports tomtom-runner-3-velo

the Runner 3 is waterproof (5ATM) and can be used in the pool for swimming. At the level of metrics, it will count the number of length, will calculate the distance and will count the number of arm movements. But there is no mode open water swimming. The distance is calculated simply by multiplying the number of lengths by the length of the pool, that must manually enter the watch before you go. And the cardio sensor does not always work in the water.

with the bicycle mode, you can use a cadence/speed sensor. But no power sensor. The profile is almost identical to the profile of running, the only difference is the display of the speed (in km/h) instead of the speed (in min/km). For once, the display system of the data on the screens (2 small customizable fixed data and 1 data basically that changes from one screen to another) is not really convenient to use bike.  If you want to see data in particular, either they will be written in a small field (so not practical to read by bike), is spread over several screens (even though we know that it is not easy to manipulate the buttons by rolling to scroll the screens). In short, not top. By experience, follow-up cardio with an optical sensor is usually not great, because of the vibrations and wrist muscles that are bound to tighten the handlebars. Hey there, the Runner 3 did better than cardio without belt watches I’ve experienced before.

there is no mode triathlon for combining several sports on a test.

the other available profiles: running room on treadmill, bike room, cardio (cardio turned on but turned off GPS, for indoor sports) and freestyle (cardio and GPS turned on, for outdoor sports).

on a treadmill, the Runner 3 uses its internal accelerometer to calculate the distance. Suffice to say that it is not as accurate as GPS. On first use, it had 4km while the carpet indicated that I had travelled 5km. It is that the accelerometer has to be calibrated (that’s how on all sport watches). So at the end, she asks you what was the distance actually traveled, in order to correct for the next time. In fact, the accelerometer is used to count the number of strides and an algorithm to multiply that by your stride length. However, the length of stride generally varies depending on the speed at which you run. So it may be that even after calibration, the distance is still imprecise the next time that you run on a treadmill.

precision cardio / GPS runner-3-precision-cardio-optique

I of course tested the accuracy of the optical sensor cardio by comparing it with a classic heart rate belt. And below, you’ll see that even if the results are not perfect, the LifeQ sensor is quite effective to track the heart rate. TomTom had abandoned my cardio GPS watches Mio sensor to the Spark. TomTom had opted for a partnership with the optical sensor cardio specialist, preferring to focus on the GPS part. Each my job. Looks with one extra year, they have improved their software part dealing with the data from the sensor.

runner-3-cardio-3 the follow-up of cardio with the optical sensor is not perfect, there are sometimes a few hiccups at the start.

runner-3-cardio-2 but he still manages to follow intensity variations, sometimes even above 180. But not always.

runner-3-cardio-1 side GPS, 3 Runner no longer has the same GPS chip as my ancestor. And it shows. The GPS fix is still a bit long, of the order of ten seconds, but its traces are very loyal.

runner-3-foret the only weak point that I found him, it’s on sharp turns in the forest, where it tends to be more cut than the Spartan Ultra .

runner-3-trace-gps-foret for the rest, the straight lines are beautiful and don’t zigzag. And on a meeting of 4 round trips on the same road overhung of branches of trees, tracks deviate a muscle.


Activity Tracker tomtom-runner-3-tracker-dactivite

screen time, simply a pressure to the left to navigate to the area of activity tracker. Several data are measured: number of steps, distance, calories, active minutes and sleep time. For each of these data, we can display the daily data or the total of the week. It is then possible to set a target on any of these data. You choose which you set the goal.

with respect to the follow-up of the cardio, it’s special. The 3 Runner doing cardio 24/24 monitoring, but does not display any data of cardio on the watch. He must go on MySports to visualize the graph of the cardio on the day. We can’t say that it is very convenient.

the measures are fairly consistent from one day to the other. Basically, for me, a typical day of work without sports session, revolves around 9 000 not. As I already mentioned in other articles, we can discuss the absolute accuracy of these measures, but what counts most is consistency from one day to the other.

on TomTom MySports, sleep monitoring is more limited than on other platforms. It only shows the sleep time. But there is no viewing of the sleep cycles.

website and application tomtom-mysports

a good cardio GPS watch is not everything, the data analysis platform also account for some of the features. There are 2 ways of presenting things. It is said that it is the weak point of TomTom either that it is a simple to use interface and without superfluous. We can still look at the kilometer-by-kilometer statistics, define graphic visualizations for example cardio or speed. So there’s something for largely the majority of athletes, without being overwhelming useless statistics.

there are small details to be noted. For example, if you used the route tracking, you will find 2 tracks on the map, the mapped route and the track actually followed.


and if you don’t like it, you can set up an automatic transfer of your activities to Strava, Runkeeper and MapMyRun.

which may be missing the most, given the target of the 3 Runner, perhaps quite training programs, as proposed by Polar on its platform. Kind, what workouts would be useful in order to prepare a 10km race?

the application for smartphone is very similar, we find the same data as on the site. It can also be used to download your data wireless via Bluetooth connection.

conclusion tomtom-runner-3-musique

on the balance sheet, there is no radical change on the 3 Runner. This might disappoint some. It goes mostly to disappoint those who bought a Spark and who say that track route could simply be added by software update. On the contrary, those who rejoice are the followers of music sportsmen who will now be able to take advantage of the 2 price of the Runner drop since the release of the 3.

is a sports watch, unadorned watch or connected functions. But the TomTom Runner continues to improve with time. Initially simple GPS watch, then with light cardio, then with music player and now with the navigation. Remains there weird choices, like showing the aftermath and 24/24 on MySports cardio but not on the watch. Above all, by report to the Runner 2 (then), I enjoyed the improvement of the accuracy of GPS and optical cardio. To the top! I would say that it is the best optical cardio I’ve tested so far.

there are still few options of GPS watch with music on the market (there is the M600 , but surprisingly not Garmin). And there is not a lot of GPS watch with high route outside the outdoor GPS watches follow-up of range. And with its different versions, the Runner 3 offers track route from €129! And for this price, it’s even a GPS multi-sport watch you.

it is aimed so athletes who are looking for a watch with a good package of features for a reasonable price. And specifically, with the version integrating a music player, to those who can’t do without music to do the sport.

you found this useful test? You want to buy a 3 Runner?

I hope you found this article useful. I’m a sportsman like you who try to have as much detail as possible before you buy a new sports equipment. I spend usually several hours to do these tests, it’s quite a job.

If you are interested in buying a 3 Runner, you can find it on Amazon and enjoy free shipping. At the same time, using one of the links below, Amazon will pay me a commission, which will contribute in the future of this blog (and thank you).

If you still have questions, feel free to ask them in a comment below. I will take the time to respond.


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