TomTom is a name that sometimes gets lost in the GPS market amidst the Garmins and Magellans. The company is hoping that it will stand out against those names in a new segment of the market: fitness watches. Its new range of GPS-powered fitness monitors is designed to provide a sleeker look and fit while giving athletes all the information they need to perfect their training.

TomTom has worked with Nike in powering the Nike+ Sportwatch GPS in the past, but this new series comprises its first home-brewed sports watches. They look similar to the Nike watch in size and shape, but there are several distinguishing differences.

We've handled fitness monitors enough to know that manufacturers' ideas of "ultra-slim" are much different from ours. That said, the TomTom's tall, rectangular chassis does appear less cumbersome than some of the other wrist-mounted CRT monitors out there. It's 0.4 inches (11.5 mm) thick compared to 0.6 inches (15 mm) on the Nike Sportwatch + GPS. The face measures 0.87 x 1 inch (22 x 25 mm).

Another key point of the new watches is what TomTom defines as "the industry's first one-button control," which cuts some of the clutter and complication off the face. The button is larger than some of the tiny buttons on competitor watches, and TomTom says it can even be operated with a glove.

TomTom will launch two primary watch models this summer. Designed for runners, obviously enough, the Runner watch uses QuickGPSFix technology to start your training as soon as possible, tracking the standards like speed, distance and time. It also has a sensor set that can track your steps, pace and distance indoors and on treadmills. It includes Bluetooth Smart technology for connecting to accessories like TomTom's heart rate monitor.

The Multi-Sport (looks like whoever was in charge of TomTom product names had an easy day) includes all of the features of the Runner but adds a dedicated bike mount and swimming monitor, which tracks laps, strokes, time and speed. It will be offered in three packages: watch only, watch plus heart rate monitor, and watch plus heart rate monitor and cadence sensor. The last package will include an integrated altimeter.

Each watch offers three training modes. "Race" lets users compete against their best time or a recent run; "goal" allows them to set a time, distance or calorie-burning goal and get progress alerts; and "zone" provides full-screen graph tracking for a pace or heart-rate target. Some options require the use of a heart rate monitor. The watch includes both vibrating and audible alerts.

The watches are designed to work with multiple platforms so that you can analyze and share your data on fitness websites like TomTom MySports, MapMyFitness, RunKeeper, TrainingPeaks and MyFitnessPal. Battery life is rated at 10 hours in GPS mode, and the watches are waterproof to 164 feet (50 meters).

TomTom has yet to announce pricing but does encourage interested parties to sign up for an availability notification.

Source: TomTom

View gallery - 5 images