The SUUNTO SPARTAN SPORT WRIST HR BLUE

I have logged 799 activities with my Suunto devices. This includes hikes, via ferrata, climbing, swimming and scuba diving. I like Suunto devices because their battery life is good enough to last through entire days of hiking and the battery lasts for weeks between charges when used as a simple watch.

Spartan HR

I like to track my heart rate but I often feel self conscious about putting the heart rate monitor belt on. With the latest Spartan watch I no longer need to worry about the belt. At the same time as I start the activity I will be able to keep track of the heart rate. This is especially good for group activities when you do not want to keep people waiting and in winter when you’re wearing layers of clothing.

I like that devices like the Fitbit Charge 2 can be worn at almost all times and track heart rate effortlessly when at the climbing gym and during other activities. I look forward to the same simplicity with a Suunto device. I especially like that Suunto devices survive swims and showers.

I like that the Suunto Ambit 3 tracks how many steps I take during the day. It’s a shame that the step count is not logged and visible on Movescount. I like to see how energetic or lazy I have been on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. It’s not unusual for me to go from a 21,000 step day to a 6000 step day. It depends on weather, work and other factors. If you go for a bike ride your step count will not be high.

I will wait to see whether they apply this technology to the Suunto Ambit watch collection. If they come out with the Suunto Ambit 4 Wrist HR then I will be tempted to upgrade. With 799 tracked activities I believe Suunto devices have demonstrated that they are reliable.

Suunto and Sports tracker collaborate.

I have been using sports tracker for years. I first used it on the Nokia N95 8GB several years ago. This was an excellent app that allowed you to track your moves using the mobile phone as a GPS. The limitation of such an app was battery life on mobile phones. The battery usually did not last more than an hour at first and eventually progressed to two hours or more.

The first Suunto Device I used was for diving. I used the Suunto D9 dive computer for many months before upgrading. As I satisfied with this device I bought the Suunto Ambit 2 and eventually the Suunto Ambit 3. The reason for buying these watches is battery life. As normal watches they can last for 100 days, losing about one percent a day. If you use them as fitness watches then they easily last for a day or more.

When you’re doing via Ferrata, hiking, cycling or doing other sports you want the device you use to track your fitness efforts for as long as you’re going. That’s where Sports trackers and other mobile phones had their weakness. Mobile phone apps sometimes crash. If you’re pushing yourself hard during a workout you do not want to reach the end of a workout with no data.

Another frustration I often encountered was with Movescount, Suunto’s social sports app. At the end of quite a few workouts, I was unable to sync my workout data and analyse my progress. At the time,

I wanted to see Suunto and Sports tracker combined. They’re both Finnish companies and they both excel at specific tasks. Suunto for the hardware and Sports tracker for the analytics. By combining the two we have the best of both worlds.

Communications between Movescount and Sports tracker has been available for several weeks at this point and it works flawlessly. I have hiked, cycled, walked, sailed and climbed and each activity has synced without problems.

Amersports and Sports tracker

Today Amer Sports announced that it has bought Sports tracker. Sports Tracker is an application that I have been using since I had the Nokia N95 8GB. I used it on symbian, iOS and Android devices over the years. What I love about this app is the way it displays information about the work out. It gives you several screens while you are exercising with the option to select which information you want to see most.

Once you arrive home and synchronise the workout with the web interface you can see the information displayed above. You can choose whether there is a topographic map, a normal map or satellite imagery. It is simple and intuitive to read.

Suunto make devices that I like using. I have used the Suunto D9 diving computer, the Suunto D4i diving computer, the Suunto Ambit 2 and the Suunto Ambit3. Suunto dive computers are small diving computers that you can wear in day to day life. When you are passionate about diving this is nice.

The Suunto Ambit family are more interesting for people who do land based sports. I used the Suunto Ambit 2 and 3 when doing via ferrata, hiking, cycling and other sports. The advantage of these fitness watches is that they have long battery life. This means that you can be active for two or three days before worrying about the battery dying. In this respect they are far better than mobile phones for fitness activity tracking.

Suunto products and Sports tracker do not communicate natively. Suunto products synchronise with movescount. From movescount you need to export the GPX workout files and import them to Sports tracker. I would like to see Suunto devices communicate directly with Sports tracker. In my eyes the best option would have been for Sports tracker to buy movescount and for them to take over the web interface for Suunto. They both provide interesting web interfaces and combining the two would have been mutually beneficial.

Time will show whether Amer Sports with links to sports tracker, precor and Suunto will come out with an interesting amalgamation of the three products/services. I look forward to finding out.

 

The Apple Watch does not fill a niche

The Apple Watch rather than fill a niche provides a fifth screen. According to Wikipedia the four first screens are the cinema screen, the television screen and the mobile phone and tablet screen. The fifth screen is the smart watch as designed by Apple, Samsung, Sony and others. Apple and others have designed phones that bring the mobile phone experience to the wrist.

Energy efficient

Suunto, Garmin, Fitbit and other brands fill the wrist worn niche effectively because they have designed devices with energy efficient displays that provide tracking whilst at the same time giving extended battery life.

Extended battery life in use

Health trackers by fitbit and other companies have been designed to last for a week or more whilst tracking movement 24 hours a day. Suunto, Garmin and other brands have designed watches that can track activities for hours or even days before they need charging.

Long stand by time

When not in use all of the devices mentioned above can last for weeks. In the case of the Suunto Ambit two I have found that it loses one percentage of charge per day. As a result of this it can be used as a watch for three months before I need to think of charging.

Data analysis

All of these tools are for collecting data about the route you took, the intensity of the exercise tracked, heart rate and complementary information. When synced on the computer or website a lot of information is presented. Garmin syncs with Runkeeper, Strava, Garmin connect and other services, Suunto syncs with Movescount and Strava intuitively. Fitbit syncs with the fitbit site and other fitness apps. The most interesting data is analysed on a computer rather than the wrist unit. This leaves the device to track information cost effectively, where cost is battery life, and effective is defined by how long you can track an activity.

Conclusion:

My passion for “smart watches” stems from scuba diving. I bought a Suunto D9 to track dives and loved taking dive data and analysing it in view of improving my diving ability. I tracked training at the gym, hiking and other activities with various phones and their weakness was battery life. When you go for a hike in the mountains, go for a via ferrata or do a number of other sporting activities for extended periods of time you want a device that can last as long as you do.

Suunto’s Ambit 2 filled that need very well, so well that I upgraded to the Suunto Ambit 3. As an android user I can’t  take advantage of all the features yet but that will come soon, this month in fact.

The Apple Watch does not fill any of the requirements I have listed above and for this reason I am not tempted. I see it as a fifth screen that does not fill a niche. Fitness trackers, fitness watches and other devices cost the same price or less and fill niche requirements effectively. Why would I want a gimmick?