So back in August I got a message on twitter from the lovely people at Suunto asking me to message them about an ‘opportunity’. So I did and it turned out they wanted me to test their new top of the range exercise watch, The Spartan Ultra.
You’ll find the specs here:http://www.suunto.com/en-gb/sports-watch-collections/suunto-spartan-collection
Suunto are a company from Finland that are well established in the watch/gadget world. Anyone that’s into diving will know that. And increasingly with their Ambit range they are converting runners/triathletes etc away from Garmin. I’ve been using a garmin GPS now for over 10 years so I was really interested to see what Suunto could do.
The box arrived, and I was instantly impressed as they had gone to the trouble of personalising it. How cool is that?
They had sent me the Titanium version which comes with a sapphire glass touch screen. Putting it on it instantly looked and felt better than my garmin 920, but looks aren’t everything. I had to take it out for a test. Unfortunately I had done my training for the day so I had to wait until the next day.
Having connected the watch to my suunto account and their app Moves Count I put on my running shoes and took it out for a spin. The screen was easy to read on the move, and I could scroll through the screens to see different data. I also wore my garmin and it was reassuring ( and has been since ) to see that they were pretty much both beeping within a second of each other to show another mile had passed. The GPS was reliable. Mine came with the optional heart rate strap which was handy as readers of my blog will know that I do most of my running to heart rate targets. The strap was very comfortable to wear and unlike my garmin one it didn’t drop signal which has been an issue for me.
I got back an uploaded the data to the moves app using my ipad and a Bluetooth connection. There is also a usb connector for uploading and charging. It gave me a whole new world of data – unfortunately it hasn’t made me quicker yet. Although it has motivated me to get out and use it.
Moves also draws pretty graphs of every metric and using the app it creates flybys (animated maps of your exercise route) which is really cool.
It supports over 80 sports, I’ve even used it in the pool – anything that gets me swimming is a good thing right? And it records heart rate data when you swim which is certainly interesting to look at.
I’ve also used it extensively on the bike and in the gym on the indoor rowing mode. With the bike it paired in seconds with my stages power meter which was much less of a faff than it was with my garmin. Have a look at my twitter feed for a video of the pairing process.
The watch has had its second update this morning with more scheduled in the coming month that will add to its functionality. I think its good that these updates keep coming and Suunto has obviously listened to the comments on its support site as features of the update deal with some of the issues that the first release watches had.
I can genuinely say that I have had no issue with mine.
I’ve had great fun testing the watch and I guess at the end of this week I’ll get an email asking me to send it back as the month is up. I would love to be able to keep it and yes I would consider buying the Suunto Spartan Ultra if I could afford it. The model I used at around £600 is out of my price league, my wife would kill me. But if money was no object I’d buy one.
Obviously if you want a more technical review I suggest you check on DC Rainmakers blog. This has just been my thoughts as someone who sees the benefit of using this type of training tool.
I’d like to thank Suunto for firstly considering me worthy of testing their product and for trusting me not to break it. I have been very nervous about falling over my own feet and smashing it up. Thankfully at the end of the trial we are both in one piece.