From Suunto to another brand, and back to Suunto. My experience :)
I’m a runner and trail runner (just a passionate amateur) and had always been a Suunto fans.
I used Ambit 2, Ambit 3 Peak, Suunto Spartan and Suunto 9 baro… then a year ago or so I was attracted by a new premium outdoor gps of an American brand (guess who?) for a few of great features:
- 60 hours battery at best GPS
- Long time battery in smartwatch fitness mode, 21 days
- Cartographic maps
- Pulse Ox reader
Despite these great features, after 1 year I was really unhappy with the brand and the product, for some critical items (at least for me):
- Firmware unstable and continuously update… looks like they use the users as beta testers. While to some degrees it’s nice involving passionate beta testers if they want… on the other side a company must provide usable products since the launch, and not developing the product once on the market. If I buy a product I want it usable with all the features in, and not waiting that these are fixed along.
- I experienced an high degrees of new features released, with instead few attention to the reliability of the basic ones… I don’t pay a premium price for a dog tracker or hearing music on Spotify while the altitude gain was completely wrong! Every new app released is strongly appreciated naturally, but only if the existing ones are working correctly and not affected! (looks like the concept of regression tests is not clear there )
- Bad an complex UI… I am an IT engineer but had difficulties to use it
On the end, I got a rid of the swatch for the completely unreliable altitude quote gain (I had hundreds of meters elevation on flat run) that in one year they were not able to fix, although I sent them a great analysis of the problem and the root causes…
Furthermore, problems like mine were affecting a partial number of users, likewise other users had different set of issues. Again it’s not acceptable a so unpredictable\unreliable software in the premium product of the market.
With this experience I would like to underline some items that I would expect in the next Suunto 9 generation to keep the pace:
- Larger battery for 60 hours minimum gps (battery techs great improved in the last years)
- Cartographic maps (memory is no longer a barrier)
- Pulse OX
- Thinner form to improve the experience for fitness and continuous use
In the current product there are a few improvements I appreciated into the other swatch that would make the Suunto experience much better:
- Backlight with wrist gesture (SB9 has a gyroscope so should be easy)… clicking buttons on a run it’s very annoying!
- Some more settings to save battery in the “fitness mode” requiring continuous FC: Wrist FC to be turned on night only to enable the sleep measures, FC with continuous use but less samplings
- A face swatch to see the graph of the barometer pressure profile over the last X hours (3 6 12 24 hours to be selected) instead of 10 clicks to go into the proper screen
- A face swatch that can be customized to add the values I want (steps, temperature, altitude, current FC…)
I would say that at this time these 4 software features are the only things that I would miss compared the other gps swatch waiting the new Suunto 9 generation!
@pacos Great ideas, one is already implemented since you left, a barometric trend on the watchface is there. Thanks for your insights.
@Brad_Olwin Oh yes, I’m really back very recently, and yes I’ve seen the barometer trend! Appreciated it, this would have been by 5th point Above I rather mean the graph with the barometer “profile”, I correct to make more clear. Thanks
@Brad_Olwin Oh yes, I’m really back very recently, and yes I’ve seen the barometer trend! Apprecieted it, this would have been by 5th point Above I rather mean the graph with the barometer “profile”, I correct to make more clear. Thanks
On the new watchface there is a graph of sorts, the barometer trend is shown in a lighter color so I think what you asked for is there. Barometer trend arrows that show last 3h change and the values in a half circle showing the current pressure vs. past pressure (light color vs. dark color).
@Brad_Olwin mmmh interesting so are there any documentation that you’re aware somewhere of this new watchface, looks like I’m not clear on the functioning so! Thanks
Hey thanks for this post.
Just for my own questioning , since fusedtrack provides up to 40h of running (if I recall correctly) those 20+h matter so much ?
Just wanna know why on a 40h run a precice pace is needed (1s resolution).
Hello @Dimitrios-Kanellopoulos, mountain trail races of 100 miles or 170km (like UTMB) may have time limit for “human” runners longer than 40 hours… UTMB is 46 hours for example (and my SB9 last year died aaargh! as I used the map)
In long trail run naturally 1sec resolution is not needed for precision, but looks like BEST gps is needed to use the map or the altimeter profile which are very important instead for mountain running.
I also note that in general product specifications such as 40hrs are considered at optimal conditions (i.e. clear sky) while in real conditions you may be in woods, low temperatures, canyon etc etc and battery last less…
That’s why to me 60hrs at max. resolution of 1 sec would be the perfect specification for every use
It’s also true that in long running you can bring a power bank… but that’s another story, we like a perfect gear
I have been a Garmin user for many years (even had a Fenix 6 this year), and I agree with your analysis of the downsides.
Looking at old activities with my Garmins, it seems like they did not implement any altitude filter, or a very low one (maybe 1 meter) on barometric devices. No other way to explain how I can get 60/80 meters of ascent running in my Amsterdam neighborhood. Also, altitude readings on the mountains were hundreds of meters off most of the time.
Well written. Garmin watches are so stuffed with features that most of users are not even aware of them or do not know what to do with them. Another problem is that more features means more possible bugs. Furthermore, if measured data are bad because sensor is not precise enough then any further analysis with such input data is pointless. To have features supported by bad data just for the purpose of marketing is useless. Suunto should focus on features that can be measured and analysed solidly plus are attractive also for casual athletes not only for super serious athletes.
@isazi yes, same experience. Spikes on the elevation profile when I started sweating (probably drops in the barometer holes which are in un unfortunate position… to me a design flaw) that cumulates in hundreds of meters, depending on temperature, in flat run.
Even worst, is that many problems like this look also random among the user community, symptom of a complex architecture (firmware vs hub and hw sensors) not totally under control, and chasing customer claims with patches and fixes while marketing reasons pushes to continuously stack in new features (how can you stay without the SUP activity? ).
Naturally this is just my feeling and take away from the experience, not arrogance that’s the truth… although it shouldn’t be too far
I gave it up to the brand.
@dulko79 that it is, I agree 100%
@surfboomerang oh yes, thanks. I read it.
@pacos got it.
Take a look at this recent discussion here.
Might help for the next utmb.
@pacos FusedTrack is unreal, you will get tracks that are very similar to 1s fix. I use this on my long races and my long outings. Load a route and waypoints for aid stations, then set in Endurance mode. If you are using an HR belt you should get near 50h, you can also set up a custom battery mode to help maximize battery. I often do not need the screen on all the time in long races so I set the screen to time out, this can save a lot of battery.
@Brad_Olwin can you set it to time out even in best recording?
@stromdiddily yes you can. It then can bump up the best performance to something like 40h if not hr or belt is used.
I’ve been using the same competitor watch (Fenix 6X) since January and wanted to share my take on it compared to Suunto 9.
Strengths compared to Suunto 9:
- Battery life (obviously)
- Maps - overall useful, but somewhat difficult to use when trail running due to not optimal contrast. It feels maps are optimized for hiking rather than running, because maps details are too tiny. There is high contrast option for maps as well as an option to reduce the level of details, but I feel even that isn’t sufficient.
- GPS accuracy - Fenix had better GPS / distance accuracy at the time when I bought the watch in January, but after several updates I think it became less useful for trail running. It seems GPS was tuned to reduce wobbling and increase smoothness which made it quite a bit less accurate on trails. I remember Suunto had done the same in November or December 2019, and at the time that quite irritated me. I don’t know how GPS accuracy compares now.
- Vertical ascent/descent accuracy is better for me on Fenix. Suunto algorithm is way too conservative.
- Customizability - Fenix UI is quite complicated, but the flip side of that is that everything, literally everything can be customized. And that can be done in a middle of an activity while not interrupting recording. If you don’t like screen layout or data fields, that is actually quite easy to fix. Also Fenix supports mixed units, and units can be customized for most major metrics separately, which I quite appreciate. Also many things can be customized separately for day and night. Also different options can be customized separately for different sport profiles.
- I liked the idea of automatically adding a few customizable screens when Navigation is turned on. For example when I start a route navigation, I also automatically get a ClimbPro screen, but also an additional screen that I customized to show name of the next waypoint, distance, and ETA to next waypoint, and I don’t see that screen when there is no navigation.
- Power profiles are more flexible than on Suunto 9.
- Fitness features are implemented quite a bit better than in Suunto, and integration with the app is better.
- Much more flexible API which allows custom apps, widgets, and custom data fields.
- 5 physical buttons
- Screen contrast and readability is better on Fenix (this is comparing sapphire Fenix to sapphire Suunto 9)
- Garmin Connect App is more polished.
- Integration with Strava - for example a Strava route can be automatically synced to Garmin by just starring it on Strava.
- Strava live segments, although the implementation is messy
- Ability to access the watch storage directly via USB and not depend on software to download activities or upload routes.
Suunto 9 strengths compared to Fenix 6X:
- Style - Suunto are better looking watches.
- Instant pace is far more accurate on Suunto 9. Instant pace is borderline unusable on Fenix 6 when running on trails - super unstable and biased towards slower than actual pace by 0:45-3:00 mile/min.
- I like Suunto button layout better
- Zooming map/navigation screen is cumbersome on Fenix. Suunto did that better.
- Directional arrows on navigation route are quite useful on Suunto 9, especially when going off route and re-joining route again. Fenix doesn’t have that.
- I really disliked that that on Fenix 6X button lock prevents changing data screens. Suunto did that better.
- Out of box the Fenix 6X UI was quite messy, which tons of popups and data screens changing seemingly randomly on their own. It was difficult to figure out. Fortunately the watch allowed to turn off or disable all of that. Suunto UI is more streamlined, especially when in activity mode. Although to be honest, I liked Ambit UI even better.
- I really disliked the way turn-by-turn instructions on Garmin make user waypoints unusable. Basically, turn-by-turn instructions are auto-generated by Garmin Connect when uploading any route and cannot be disabled, but they are implemented as waypoints, which makes my own waypoints not usable. And on trails the watch ends up giving your turn notifications for every bend of a trail, which is a lot. Fortunately, all of that mess can be bypassed by copying a route directly to the watch via USB. Suunto implementation of waypoints is better.
- Route builder is much better in Suunto App. The mobile version of Garmin route builder is borderline unusable, and the one on website is quite bad too. But Garmin is better compatible with various 3rd party route builders such as plotaroute.
The funny thing it is,
When you say American outdoor gps brand, I’ll never recall garmin in my head,
You should know garmin has another name as the light of Taiwan.
Nowadays the. Marketing is so powerful
You should know garmin has another name as the light of Taiwan.
What do you mean? You know sometimes too much stuff :_D
to be honest i also wondered if Coros was american
Garmin had been created by a Taiwanese and an American. Its biggest factory should be in Taiwan for long time.
When Garmin makes its marketing in Chinese\taiwan market, it always says we are Taiwan’s light blabla, but in other countries, they are American fuxing yeah.
Coros has been created by the owner of WeLoop which is a Chinese brand.
WeLoop has had some bad reputations as no customers support or no firmware updates etc.
The same story, in Chinese market, they say you should support OUR brand, but in overseas, they are American fuxing yeah again.