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TomTom Touch Review – Activity Tracker & Body Composition Monitor | TitaniumGeek

The fitness tracker market is full of different products and designs. Launching a new product can be tough to stand out. As a result, TomTom has decided to add a thoroughly original metric to their TomTom Touch – body composition. In addition, they have wrapped this tech in one of the most stylish packages in the industry. But paper specs and a pretty face don’t count for much in the rear world – so let’s put the TomTom Touch through its paces and see if there is substance as well as style!

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TomTom Touch Review – Activity Tracker & Body Composition Monitor 

Last month in September TomTom update their existing Spark line of watches. In addition, they also launched a completely new activity tracker – the TomTom Touch. Most activity trackers and sports devices have a very similar feature set today; step counting, sleep and calorie tracking whilst not forgetting the ubiquitous 24/7 HR monitoring. TomTom has tried to differentiate themselves from the pack firstly with a gorgeous design (Looking very Space Odessy 2001 to my mind) but also with the inclusion of a touch sensor – hence the name – that allows you to actually measure your body fat percentage on the go.

This is the first mainstream consumer product I have seen which allows body fat measurement without the concomitant use of a set of scales, such as the Withings Smart Body Scales, or the FitBit Aria.

Device design

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Frankly, the TomTom Touch is gorgeous. I’ve always been a fan of the original Garmin VivoSmart, and thought it looked good on the wrist, but think that the latest iteration is a little…tubby.

Inside the box, we’ve the TomTom Touch unit itself, a micro-USB cable (Oh yes, no proprietary charging shenanigans here!) and the assorted leaflets

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Whilst one side of the leaflet just structs you how to charge the TomTom, in case you’ve never seen a USB cable before, the back does contain some very useful information as we’ll come to later

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But enough of the box, let’s take a look at the actual TomTom Touch

From my perspective, the design here of the TomTom smart is utterly cracking, the device is slim enough to fit under a shirt cuff without catching, and actually, with the black band doesn’t look out of place beside said shirt cuff.

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The TomTom Touch is actually a separate module, inserted into a silicon band

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As mentioned the band and Touch module is actually very slim, it appears fractionally slimmer that the Fitbit Charge and the Polar Loop, but not so that you’d notice

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The TomTom Touch is available in four different colours, but black appears best to my mindTitaniumGeek RESIZEDTomTom_SPORTS_Touch_RANGESHOT TomTom Touch Review - Activity Tracker & Body Composition Monitor | TitaniumGeek tomtom step counter Optical Heart Rate fitness tracker fat monitor calories body fat body composition activity tracker

At one of the strap, you have a metal TomTom branded stud disc

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At the opposite end is the loop and the holes for the studs to interface into

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I generally prefer clasps, as you get on the Fitbit and Garmin devices, but I haven’t had any issues going with the TomTom Touch falling off, or coming undone when going for a run. However, I do wonder about the longevity of little rubber loops like this. The Withings Go uses a similar one, however in both cases, the straps should be easily replaceable. I say should, because as yet, I’m not aware of the straps for either being sold independently.

Moving away from the strap, and onto the TomTom Touch itself on the front of the Touch we’ve a bright OLED screen, also touch sensitive which you use to swipe up or down in order to scroll through the different displays

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Then at the very bottom of the TomTom screen, we have the touch sensor, which is the real party piece of the TomTom Touch.

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It should perhaps be noted that you have to use this metal disc to activate the TomTom Touch generally. Simply tapping on the screen when off won’t wake the device up.

As well as waking the band up, the metal touch sensor is used in conjunction with a similar metal disc on the bottom side of the device, when you are trying to measure your body composition

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At the same point, we’ve also got the optical HR sensor, which looks very similar to the unit seen on the TomTom Spark cardio, which is made by LifeQ

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On the bottom end of the Touch, we have a micro USB slot, giving IPX 7 waterproofing, so don’t think the TomTom Touch is going to be recording your swim times

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Specification

  • Battery life:
    • Activity tracking: up to 5 days
  • Dimensions:
    • Display size: 5.58 x 22.38 mm
    • Display resolution:128 x 32 pixels
  • Weight: (excluding band) 10g
  • Communication: Bluetooth Smart, with phone notifications
  • Waterproofing: IPX7 – so happy to play in the rain, and take a shower but do not swim
  • Activity tracker measurements: Steps, active minutes, distance walked, calories burnt, sleep time
  • Sensors: Motion sensor (accelerometer + gyro), optical heart rate monitor, body composition,

Manual

The TomTom Touch User manual is here

Using the device

First things first, there is a need to pair your TomTom to your phone. You are not going to get very far without the TomTom App at this point

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From there is the usual steps to pair the TomTom Touch via BlueTooth to your phone

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It is very useful to have a computer nearby at this point, as the TomTom Touch didn’t ship with any juice, and you’ll be best placed to download the firmware updates with the PC TomTom Connect

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TomTom like a lot of companies today are proving to be very active in updating the firmware on newly launched devices as feedback is returned from users

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Once you are all setup, you are good to explore the TomTom Touch.

We have 24x7Hr monitoring if you enable it through the app. You are also able to check your HR at any point by pressing the metal disc to active the Touch, and scrolling to the top of the menu

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This information is also relayed to the TomTom app so that you can review your average resting HR for the week, total active time, distance travelled, total steps and energy

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However, this data, which you’d expect to be easily accessible, is a little buried in the app. Not terribly so, but I would have expected to find the data more intuitively than tapping on the “Steps Goal” at the top of the landing screen

Sleep tracking is included with the TomTom Touch, but is rudimentary to say the least. You are only shown the actual duration of sleep, and not any more detailed information about the nature or quality of the sleep you had

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On the more specific side of things, we have activity tracking, which is most focused towards running.

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This is very much in the same vein as the Fitbit Charge HR. You start to monitor yourself during an activity, but the focus is really towards running, walking or jogging.

You swipe up into you get to to the graphic of the man walking up the stairs, and then again hit the silver sensor.

During an activity, you’ll be able to see duration, steps, distance, calories and heart rate

On an autumnal run, the TomTom optical sensors, faired about as well as any I’ve seen, only properly finding the tracking correctly, after about 5 mins of running to get me warmed up. The heart rate reading seemed to be in the same ballpark as data from my Fenix 3. I found the HR tracking zeroed in, when doing a ride on Zwift, much faster

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Basically, over the winter period, you don’t want to be relying on optical sensors for heart rate data. But for a casual sports device like the TomTom Touch, the data is strong enough

Interestingly enough when it comes to being out in the cold, TomTom actually highlight on the specs part of their website, that the TomTom Touch won’t work with non-capacitive gloves, which I think really highlights the point that the TomTom Touch hasn’t been designed as the last word in sports monitoring, but as a very good casual activity tracker.

The step tracking is a little variable, by comparison, however, I’ve just downloaded another firmware update, and will update accordingly to see if things improve

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Now for the special sauce!

TomTom Touch Body composition

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Body composition on an activity tracker is a very innovative feature from TomTom, but the feature initially appears a *little* finicky. You swipe through the

You swipe through the menu to the “%” and press your finger over the metal sensor – simples… or so it seems

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This first time trying to get a recording, I think I had about five failed attempts – however once I realised in an almost Steve Jobs-Esq comment I was ‘holding it wrong’, I was able to much more often able to get a reading the first time.

The instruction manual explains how to actually  place your finger on the sensor in order to get a reading – essentially lightly, using your finger tip, not the finger pulp, whilst ensuring that your arms are not touching the sides of your body.

This allows a *very* small current to pass from the top sensor, through your hand, around in a circuit through your body, to be detected by the sensor on the underside of the TomTom Touch.

As I have mentioned before when reviewing various smart scales, accuracy and reliability are two entirely different things. Bioelectrical impedance is considered to have the poor accuracy (is giving a true reading) for single measurements. However is seen to reliable in the readings given (So if you are calculating body fat, the actual figure might be wrong, but the number given will be reliable when looking at trends over time)

Hence why on the TomTom website focus is given to trends in body composition, rather than actual numbers, as we’re hoping to see a gradual reduction in body fat, as someone gets fitter.TitaniumGeek Screen-Shot-2016-10-28-at-00.13.30-1024x712 TomTom Touch Review - Activity Tracker & Body Composition Monitor | TitaniumGeek tomtom step counter Optical Heart Rate fitness tracker fat monitor calories body fat body composition activity tracker

Conclusion

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I like the TomTom Touch. I like it a lot. I think the styling is terrific. I think that the addition of body composition tracking is likely to be a great help to people trying to become fitter. I have been telling patients for a while that your actual weight doesn’t matter, as it doesn’t include what you are made of. Hopefully, the TomTom Touch will allow people to realise that a single reading of weight etc is not the be-all-and-end-all, and move away for focusing on scales. Recognition that, in fact, it is the overall trend of body fat or weight that matters rather than single readings makes getting fitter a much easier mental challenge for many.

The TomTom app isn’t great. It’s not terrible either, but it doesn’t currently compare well with the market leader FitBit for example. Garmin Connect is a bit ropey, but you get a huge amount of information direction on Garmin devices to compensate. I would have liked to have seen feedback about body fat on the TomTom Touch screen directly, which would have reduced the reliance on the TomTom app, improving the user experience.

Micro USB charging is to be championed here in a device that is likely going to see more action as a pedometer than as a hardcore fitness device.

Ultimately, absolutely 5/5 for design and appearance of the TomTom Touch, but 3/5 for the app and software side of things – in 2016, I was surprised by the need to plug the device into my laptop in order to update the firmware.

If TomTom can capitalise on their hardware and design teams, and get their software up to scratch, FitBit had better be looking over their shoulder in 2017!

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James Gill

Author of TitaniumGeek, which started after smashing off my RIGHT elbow. Feel free to drop me a line about sports tech, medicine, or frankly anything that you want to chat about!!

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