Wednesday, September 7, 2016

First week with the Suunto Spartan Ultra

I've had the Suunto Spartan Ultra for about week, and I've used it for my training as much as possible. I'm feeling very lucky to have been chosen by Suunto to use this brand new multi sport GPS watch, all wrapped up in personalised packing for me specifically. :-)

First of all, let me point out that two software updates have been planned for September, hence what I write about may be different for the fully updated version of the watch.
(Based on software release 1.1.24)

So - what's been happening? 
Stroke rate when kayaking
Till now I've been using the watch for running, kayaking and a bit of circuit training/strength training, casual biking and walking. In general the watch seems quite robustly build - this version has Sapphire glass and grade 5 Titanium. The wrist strap is very soft and flexible and the watch feels great on my arm. It weighs a little less than my Garmin Forerunner 310XT - 72 grams - and is similar in size, though a bit thinner. Hence, the watch feels quite normal to wear for me. 

Overview of my activities
The colour touch-screen is great though you can experience a tiny delay in the response. Great resolution and good viewing angles. The watch menu seem fairly intuitive to use, though there are places where the "back-stroke" (to go back in the menu) on the touch screen has not been chosen to be implemented, hence one need to use the buttons or scroll your way back to the top. But this is no big deal - it's probably just me not understanding, how the menu should work. But consistency would have been nice...

Back-tracking is possible
I wanted to use it for my long run in the weekend, but had some glitches. Firstly the watch froze displaying "Starting..." after I had started the session. For some reason the timer does not start immediately when the button is pressed, but displays "Starting..." for a brief moment and then starts the timer and logging. I find that a bit annoying - I want it to start when I press the button, and not a few moments after... Anyways, I had to reinstall the software on the watch via my laptop to get it going again. These issues will hopefully be solved with the software updates.

Later on my long run same day, I noticed that the watch had lost the connection to the heart rate monitor. I had to stop the session and start a new one to reconnect. Here after no problems were found. I also hope this is solved with the updates.

The chest strap is great - nice and soft, and so far, I haven't had any issues with chafing. It is barely noticeable. Of course an optical HR monitor would be great, but I have not had the best experiences with this technology while testing the Epson Runsense SF-810, where the HR at times could not be detected in cold weather or were faulty due to movement - especially in interval-sessions and hill-repeats. I believe Suunto is planning on launching an optical version around Christmas 2016. 

Clock shown in the white field.
I was about to bitch about the lack of displaying a clock when using the watch in a session. But I found out that I only needed to tap the screen, and a temporary clock appears for a few seconds. 

In the web app, you need to specify your level of activity. This I would have preferred to be estimated automatically - after all, the watch is measuring my activities 24/7, so why is this not automatically estimated?

Heat map
The web app can show maps of your exercise coloured relatively to how tough your workout were. It can also show a heat map displaying where most people in your area (or in other places) exercise the most, coloured in dark orange for running, and hereby discover new places to workout.

It would be great if I could transfer the watch data to my laptop without having to connect it via the charging cable e.g. via Bluetooth, which is already in the watch for connecting to your smart phone. However, the Android version for this is not yet ready. 

I love that the watch can be used for many different sports, especially kayaking where it estimates my stroke rate, but it is hard to test it's full potential when there are two updates waiting to be released. I'm looking very much forward to play around with the watch after the updates have been installed.

So far I'd say it's a great piece of gear, solid build, great display, support for multi-sport activities, though expensive, and it has the potential to be awesome once the updates are released :-)

See you out there...

#Suunto #SuuntoSpartan #SpartanUltra

Best M.

PS: Views are my own! The watch has been provided by Suunto for me to test for a month, after which it has to be returned.

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