When it comes to innovation and product development, Suunto have always been one of the pioneers in the GPS watch market. Their range of Ambit watches is a great choice, and the new Spartan Sport series takes things one step further.
I've been testing out the latest release - the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR, for the last couple of months, and it's an impressive piece of tech to have on your wrist.
Optical heart rate monitoring
The Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR moves ahead of other watches in Suunto's range, because it has an integrated optical heart rate monitor. This technology uses LEDs to detect blood pulses in your wrist, and so avoids the need to wear a heart rate chest strap.
I've tested a number of products with optical heart rate monitors before, including offerings from FitBit and Mio. These previously tested units seemed fairly accurate (I compared them to another unit using a traditional chest strap on the same activity); however, both had difficulty with lag time, and when doing vigorous exercise.
I am pleased to say that the latest optical technology used in the Suunto Spartan Sport HR is much improved over these past units. Heart rate readings were accurate for almost all sports, with the exception of cycling, where I suspect the constant vibrations on the wrist cause the watch to have difficulties in reading accurately.
Optical heart rate monitoring is a great development, as I've always found a chest strap a bit of a nuisance, especially for short runs or commutes. The Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR has taken the technology to a more dependable level, making it a very worthwhile investment.
Connected on many levels
Not only is the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR connected to your heart rate, providing constant feedback on performance and recovery; it can also be connected to your phone, coach, and activity sharing sites.
Using Bluetooth technology, the Spartan Sport can connect with your phone, and the MovesCount App. This provides a platform to wirelessly sync your activities to the cloud, as well as analyse and share them to other sites like Strava and TrainingPeaks. You can also plan your training and sessions on the MovesCount website.
The Bluetooth connectivity also allows your Spartan to receive notifications of calls, texts, emails and alerts, direct to your phone. This is great for never missing that urgent "time to come home for lunch now!" text message.
Every Sport integrated
You've probably heard of watches being branded as "multi-sport", because of their capability to seamlessly move between different activity profiles and displays. The Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR takes this to the next level.
Whether it is open water swimming, skiing, running, cycling, weight training, indoor rowing, or almost any other major sport; the Suunto MovesCount platform has a pre-loaded set up for the watch.
Each profile provides unique settings and displays for the specific sport. So for example, if you're doing an indoor run, then the watch will not use GPS, but use the inbuilt pedometer and HR readings to provide relevant feedback on distance, pace, and exertion levels.
You'll never get lost again, with the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR on your wrist. You can upload routes, find points of interest, track your location, and use the inbuilt compass.
I haven't had a chance to fully test this feature set yet, but I can imagine that one events like the Original Mountain Marathon, they would be golden.
To sum up, the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR is an incredibly versatile, reliable and powerful training tool; as well as being a great every-day timepiece.
Whether you're running up mountains, swimming oceans, or just walking around town; the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR will provide you with feedback, tracking and guidance.
This could well be the only watch, and sports computer, which you will ever need.