TomTom jumps into the fitness watch pool with the Runner and Multi-Sport

TomTom announced Monday that the Runner and Multi-Sport watches they rolled out to the press in Amsterdam on April 17, 2013 will begin shipping this month in the United States.

The Runner and Multi-Sport feature slightly different modular straps and are operated with a “one button control.” That button, located just below the watch face, makes it possible to scroll through menus up and down as well as left and right, making it easy to get to the data while eliminating the button clutter that plagues other watches in the category.

The Runner and Multisport versions both read and record time, distance, speed, and with an optional sensor, heart rate via Bluetooth Smart. Treadmill runners need not worry because the data is tracked both outdoor and indoor without needing that pesky foot pod that Nike+ requires. One of the cooler features is what TomTom calls a “graphical training partner.” Almost like the ghost racers on many video games, this function will allow users to race against a previous performance, train against a specific time, distance or calorie goal, or stay within a pre-designated pace or heart rate zone.

Where the Multi-Sport configuration stands out is with its added cycling and swimming functionality. For cyclists, TomTom added Bluetooth Smart cadence and heart rate sensor connectivity as well as an altimeter. And in the pool the Multi-sport will keep track of distance, speed, efficiency, laps, and strokes.

The watches ship in July, however, runners get to jump the gun on the tri-athlete crowd. The Runner version went on sale July 1 for $169.99 on the TomTom website. Those hoping for the $199.99 Multi-Sport will have to wait until the end of July what’s another 30 days? It’s not like these things are targeted at type-A folks who are probably super easy going, right?

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