Tag Archives: Amazon

TomTom Spark Cardio + Music

31 May

I love my TomTom Spark Cardio + Music! And a disclaimer from me—this review is fairly glowing, because I genuinely love my TomTom. I didn’t get anything at all for writing this review and I don’t work for the company or anything—this is just an ideal product for me and it took a LOT of trail and error on my part to find it. This is also NOT my first rodeo with fitness trackers. Prior to this I had a FitBit Zip and a Garmin ____ 2 (as well as various phone-apps). I like this tracker best, and here’s why:

I hate carrying things. I’m the gal who will forget my jacket or purse in the booth at a restaurant. Pockets in women’s clothes are not large enough to accommodate a phone, and will look like an ugly bulge if you do. Also, I’m afraid the phone will drop out of a pocket. Once, I tried an arm band to hold my i-pod (and in theory you could use one for a phone) and liked it at first. But the tan lines were crazy, and it started rubbing in a bad way because of sweat—so I loved the arm band less. Also I couldn’t see my upper-arm well enough to skip songs or skip the volume, especially without breaking stride. And the number one reason arm bands don’t work, is eventually mine got bigger and became a leg band, then when it grew large enough to become a belt, I tossed it. So I bought a legit, moisture-wicking running belt to carry my phone. I like it for walking around the city hands-free, but for running it has too much weight bouncing around, and I’m paranoid my phone will fall out. So the option of just wearing a watch and stringing cordless headphones through my hat—awesome!!! The number one, greatest thing over every other tracker is my ability to run/sport hands-free. I absolutely LOOOOVVED running with nothing in my hands and no cords, but still having all the data and my tunes!

tomtom spark cardio plus music

The band is about the same size as the one I bought in order to have my FitBit Zip on my wrist. And the TomTom’s band is negligibly larger than the Garmin’s. What makes it superior, is the fact the band goes through a watch-like mechanism and the loop latches down, the through end latches down, and there is a third latch that locks the band in place. My FitFit arm band just hooked one end to the other and had a cheap little plastic portion that went over that. The Garmin was slightly better then my FitBit watch because it _____________, but this is the most secure. I am not afraid it will come open at any time. Also, just like the FitBit, you can trade out the band for fancy colors or when your first one looks a little worse for wear. There are a lot less options right now then there were for FitBit, so I’m hoping for some power yellow, or patterns to come on the market soon.

The face of the tracker is very large. This is great for display purposes, because I can see it without breaking my stride too much during a run, whereas I had to really peer at the tiny FitBit Zip and sideways Garmin displays. This is only OK for wearability, so I put the face on the inside of my wrist so every outfit doesn’t scream, “fitness nerd!” and it is a little. . . Less. And yes, it still seems to track my heart rate accurately worn that way.

Speaking of the display, I didn’t think I would like the color of the numbers on the TomTom. My Garmin’s digital with backlight had made me pretty happy. I compare these to white road paint—they just sort of glow, but not by indiglow. And it goes without saying the tiny, unlighted/unglowing digital font in the FitBit fares worst—you have to peer at it in every scenario. Aside from the reflecti-color, the font is very large on the TomTom, and if you really can’t handle not having light, you just hold your hand over the face for a few seconds and it will light up. I found I usually don’t have to go to that extent, but it hasn’t been a nuisance when I’ve had to. Also, I think there might be a setting that let’s you trade all-the-time backlighting for battery drainage.

As for battery, I have not had a problem. I wear my TomTom all day as a pedometer and watch as much as for fitness tracking. It lasted a 12 hour work day just fine. My FitBit was constantly needing a new battery (like every 2-3 weeks) and the garmin was supposed to last a year. I just charge my TomTom through the night while I sleep and it’s worked out OK for me.

The music—is awesome! I used to run with my i-pod. It was one of the thin ones and help 16GB so it wasn’t terrible. But I had to hold something, and my headphone cord had to be tucked through my clothes. Then, the cord was too short for a full arm swing, so I was constantly fighting to keep my arm swing from pulling the ear buds out of my ears. This was a horrible nuisance on long runs and on the timed, sprints absolutely slowed me down. How can you sprint your fastest without having a full arm? And you either had to slow down to re-tuck the headphones in the top of the sports bra or just continue on with one ear bud getting pulled out. My TomTom, isn’t that different of a set up from the i-pods. I physically hook it to my computer in the same way. I pick some (but not all) playlists from i-tunes, which I had been doing with my i-pod anyway. The display will accommodate ____________ playlists and the music itself can’t exceed 3 GB. My i-pod held 16GB, but I rarely used all of those songs on my run, and I can just soup up my “workout” playlist if I want more variety. I bought the combo TomTom/headphones package for just-in-case, because I wanted to be certain I could play my tunes—because let’s be real, this tracker’s main selling point is its ability to play music. Then, all I had to do was navigate “up” one screen on my watch and hold the middle button of the headphones until it flashed red/blue. They paired very quickly and that was that. The headphones screw into your ears and I just pull them through my running hat in case the buds fall out of my ears during a run (there has never been even a threat of that). I can play any individual playlist straight through, shuffle any individual playlist, or shuffle all the music I imported. The sound is just as good as my i-pod. If I am not feeling a song that comes up, I can navigate “up” on the watch then “right” to skip, “left” to re-play. The only thing I don’t like about that is, IF you’re already in the middle of tacking an activity, you have to go back passed the start menu for said-activity to change the song. That ends the activity and once, I was in the middle of a timed mile and accidently ended my time/distance by skipping a song. Now, I just use the controls on the headphones—hold the front button for 2 sec to change the song without messing up my running stats.

The data does pretty much everything I want and more, and I read numerous times the heart monitor is the most accurate on the market—and bonus, no chest strap required! You can even see your bpm while you’re running and on a graph with your speed/pace later. And there is a setting for you to run in a certain heart rate zone with voiceovers that make sure you do.

The sleep tracker is not really a thing. It pretty much gives you the hours slept and leaves any other information out. The Garmin showed movement and told me when I was in light sleep vs. deep sleep with a graph and I found that very useful. This one just wants to name sleep as a feature—so I just charge my TomTom to my computer at night instead. To improve the sleep function the need to track movement and give me graphs like the Garmin. And allow me to write notes on the night like the Garmin. Oh, and have a smaller band to trade out for sleep purposes, because I slept fine in this, but it could have been more comfortable. Never mind—if you want in-depth sleep analysis get a tracker specifically for that, because even the Garmin, which was better, was still not that informative. Or best yet, get a sleep study.

I like that it will sync automatically to the phone app or I can do it at the computer. I really HATED having to always manually sync the Garmin, because my FitBit had always auto-synced if I was in proximity to my computer. So the TomTom’s syncing has been working out. The only thing I like less about the TomTom, is the MySports computer program isn’t as souped up as my FitBit program had been. For instance, I can’t invite friends to see their progress and I can’t track (or sync) food and water. If I could see my mate’s and mom’s step count and link MySports to LoseIt—my TomTom would be absolutely perfect for me.
My favorite thing about FitBit—the huge array of replacement bands and the data-heavy social website. My favorite thing about the Garmin—the tone telling me I had been sedentary too long . But don’t let the TomTom’s mediocre reviews scare you off. If you hate carrying things (even a phone) and love exercising with music I highly recommend this tracker!

Saga of the Desk

16 Dec

This is taking me 8 months to write, because that’s how long this saga FELT at the time it was unfolding!

I can’t unpack 10 boxes (TEN!) until we buy a desk.  Right now, those boxes are lining the front wall of the living room.  Expensive items lined up right in front of a window.  In the main area of the house.  First thing you see (and trip on) when you walk in the door.  The cats jump on the important files and computer accessories.  This is not optimal.

I’m super-motivated to get a desk to finish unpacking.  I would have been finished after one week, if only I had somewhere to put office/computer/school items.  BUT I don’t want anything too big.  This desk has to fit in the living room, so it can’t be too bulky.  It also can’t be too heavy.  Because there is one LAST move in our future.  So it has to be light enough for Cool and me to carry, and a non-awkward shape that can also fit in one of our cars.  And since the rest of our cheap, WalMart furniture in the living room is black–it has to match.  And it would be ideal if the desk could fit in a corner–and store a lot.

Needless to say, this is a tall order.  And I didn’t want to settle on the wrong thing just to unpack quickly.  So we looked and looked.  And I found a really nice, black corner model.  And it was composed of cubes.  Which we have 3 cube shelves in the living room.  It provided 12 storage cubes and a desk space.  And best yet, this same desk was on Amazon, WalMart, Office Depot, and Target–widely available.

But I didn’t order it right away.  You see, we had just moved.  I had all the moving expenses on my debit and credit cards, and the same day we were looking for a desk–I bought a washer/dryer.  The latter purchase has been my ultimate dream-fantasy since I moved out of my parents’ house.  Coin-op is no way to live.  But it was nearly $2,000.  So I had to give my psyche (and wallet) a rest before making another big purchase.

No big deal.  The desk was in at least 4 places–a week’s wait would mean nothing.

So I waited a week.  Then when I went to the WalMart (cheapest of the 4 sites) to buy it–they were sold out!  Oh no.  But that’s OK, it was just a little more expensive at Target.  The black?  Sold out also.  What?  How could it possibly sell out at different stores in one week?!  But the white was available.  Not perfect, but maybe we could paint it?  Never-mind, nope.  That one was sold out too?  Office Depot had been pricey, but it wasn’t an option anymore either–sold out.  Why was there a run on our desk???????  Normally, I trust Amazon best and they have the best customer service and return policy–but the desk had always been double the price there.  It was through an outside seller.  Did we want it bad enough to pay DOUBLE?  No.  Not after moving.

We tried to forget the desk.  Couldn’t.  We tried to find something similar.  Not a thing.  We went to the manufacturer website.  They don’t make it anymore?  We though about building the same desk ourselves.  Cost of tools would out-price Amazon–then we’d have to store and move them.  Ugh this desk.  This dream desk. . .

The boxes remain unpacked. . .

So we decided this desk was the perfect desk and we couldn’t get it out of our heads, so we were willing to bite the bullet and pay the Amazon price.  This desk was PERFECT.  So I bought it from Amazon–at double the price, because that’s the only ONE we could find anywhere.

Then a week later, out-of-the-blue I get an e-mail from WalMart:  The desk is back in stock.  WTF?!!!!!!!!!!  At first, I didn’t even want to open the e-mail and look.  But then I knew the price was bound to be lower.  And sure enough, WalMart’s price was even lower then it had been the first time.

This time I could not hesitate.  I bought the WalMart desk at the discount price–I knew Amazon would do a return/refund.  I even had WalMart ship it to one of their stores in the hopes someone could even build the desk for me.  Then, I went to pursue the refund and was happy to see the Amazon desk was “preparing for shipment.”  It had NOT been shipped yet!  Lucky me.  So I merely canceled my Amazon order before it even went anywhere.


Was short-lived.  I get an e-mail the next day, “Your item has been shipped.”  And it wasn’t WalMart is was Amazon.  Mother-fucker!  They had shipped my item even though I canceled it.  Now I would have to deal with the shipping companies-ugh.  The seller e-mailed me an apology (I’m suspicious they kinda on purpose didn’t see my canceled order) and told me to just refuse delivery.

Easier said than done.

But I didn’t know what carrier they used.  If it was USPS things were going to be stupid and slow.  If it was Fed-Ex, they would fling my package on my stoop and run before I ever got to the door. . .  I waited for the tracking info, but it never came.

When I checked my spam folder, I saw it was Fed-Ex–oh no.  I hate their service–Fed-Ex doesn’t care.  They rush and over-extend their employees so much that they just try to do the fastest thing.  I would never have a chance to refuse delivery.  I had to create an online account.  My desk was supposed to be delivered the next day.  So I changed the order so it would be held at a certain Fed-Ex location.  And I got a confirmation e-mail and everything.  Now, I could just call and refuse delivery, then get my refund.

But that’s not my luck.

I came home from work to a desk delivered to my apartment.  A giant, heavy desk.  I think the specs on Amazon said 140 pounds.  This was not going to be easy.  And for me–nothing ever is.

Ugh–now Fed-Ex had disregarded my instructions and I would have to deal with wrapping, carrying, and paying for this giant thing to be sent back.  It would be a real hassle, eat up MORE money, and I didn’t want to deal with it.

I e-mailed the Amazon seller and asked if they could just give me the lower price.  Because now, not only did WalMart have it in stock, Amazon itself had 9 of them–at the WalMart price.  No sense in jumping through hoops to return it when everyone else had it for the lower price anyway.  The seller said they just weren’t big enough to accommodate the prices that huge companies like WalMart and Amazon could do–which is understandable, but unfortunate.

And then there was this.

I didn’t want the cats to knock over the humongous box and squish themselves–it weighs a lot.  So I laid it on the floor.  And when I did I noticed a WalMart receipt?  Did the Amazon seller get the desk from WalMart then re-sell it to me?  Nope, sure enough there was a WalMart.com return address.  What happened?  Could this have coincidently been shipped to my house (instead of the store, and a week early) on just the day Fed-Ex was supposed to deliver my Amazon desk to the apartment?  Certainly not. . .

But it did!  I knew this because then the Fed Ex desk came–from the Amazon seller.  Now I had TWO desks.  Heavy, heavy desks.

I complained to Fed Ex.  They said sure enough they saw my “hold at office” request, but ignored it and delivered it to my door anyway.  Delivered and ran–before I could refuse it.  They didn’t care.  I complained to the Amazon shipper again.  To his credit, he made things relatively easy on me by arranging for Fed Ex to pick the desk up at my apartment.  At least I would not have to haul the heavy thing anywhere. . .

When the (same) Fed Ex guy came to pick it up, he said he saw the “hold” request, but his boss said to deliver anyway.  WTF?!  And he hauled the desk away.  And I got the very expensive price refunded.

But the story is not over.

We had to build the desk.  And as soon as I opened it, I saw it was CHEAP.  But after all that trouble, we were keeping the crummy thing, dammit!

So I start following the sparse and convoluted picture instructions.  It said glue this to this, and glue that to that, glue, glue, glue.  But the glue was CHEAP.  And messy.  And even when you held things in place for a good 5 minutes, they came right apart when you let go.  Or came apart while you were gluing the next items.  I supplemented with Guerrilla glue or some-such superior product.  Then I noticed the camber (whatever the lock-screw thingies are called)  hanging out.  The directions were written in a backward way!  No wonder the cheap piece of crap wouldn’t stay together–it should have been cambers first, then glue just for added insurance.

I had to rip apart everything I had done (for like 2 hours) and start over.  AAARRRRRGGGG!

I tried to take it apart without damaging the cheap, cardboard-like pieces.  Which was too easy in most cases given the time it took to glue it in the first place.  And start over.  By this time I was over it.  And those camber things are always a frustration.

So I started the assembly over.  And did I mention I was OVER it?!  So it wasn’t built carefully and with eye to detail.  It was forced together in the way it should have been from the start.  But everything about the desk, the instructions, and the supplies were cheap.

So what did we end up with?  A black cubby desk that looks nice (from afar) and matches the living room, that allowed me to finish unpacking.  Is it functional?  NNNoooooo.  Don’t put any weight on the desk–it’s unsturdy.  Don’t touch it, because the glue that was supposed to hold on prominent pieces was crap.  So if you come close to the desk, try to put something on the wrong shelf, or heaven-forbid try to move the desk–you quickly see/feel it’s hanging together by a thread.

It’s not going to make another move, that’s for sure.