how to really #GetAtHome in this world

Suunto Ambit3 Review, Part 1: It’s all Connected, but Is It Smart Enough Yet?

There’s no wifi in the forest, but you’ll find a better connection” goes the sentiment, but we sure like our technological connections, too.

The Suunto Ambit has, from its start, been a connecting device:
From the heart inside you to your position on this Earth as calculated via GPS satellite signal, from your speed/pace across the surface of the land to the differences in altitude you climb and descend, it connects many a data point speaking to many a connection between a person and the world.

It is for this reason, as a tool that supports the everyday adventure, an exploratory lifestyle, and the thinking about connections that make one at home in a place, as a body, in this world, that it features on these pages.

Ambit3 Sport BacksideIt’s all connected, and now so much more so, in a way we often talk about as such, that Suunto speaks of the “connected family“. In that product line, BTLE/Bluetooth Smart provides the link between the heart rate sensor, the watch, and the Movescount mobile app.
But, it also comes out just as smart watches are beginning to emerge and rumors about a forthcoming iWatch circulate again, raising the question whether we and/or the Ambits are smart enough to stand their/our own…

This review will spare you the nice but ultimately useless things like unboxing pictures to focus on the value in the device and its best use, instead.
First, here and now, we’ll have a look at what’s new about the Ambit3 line (also for those who already know the Ambits).
Later, we’ll compare how the Ambit3 performs, before it’s time to re-visit what the current Ambit models offer for training, sports, and navigation. That latter part will be for those who haven’t used an Ambit before, but should also include a few tricks which may well come in handy for those who have.

The information given is based on and shows a white Ambit3 Sport Sapphire, which I had the opportunity to test for Suunto since the end of June (and which, I should mention, will probably come out with a somewhat different look from this pre-production model).

The videos are not always in the proper place in the text, given that they talk about a few things each, but follow a logical sequence from introductory thoughts to a run to the syncing and review of the ‘move’ afterwards.

Little Change to See

Suunto Ambit3 Sport Sapphire

Suunto Ambit3 Sport Sapphire (Note that the design is likely to change; this is a pre-release version)

The Ambit3 generation is both another merely incremental update, meaning that there is not much of a need to upgrade from an Ambit2 to an Ambit3, and a very different hardware, making for a completely different foundation.

If one just looks at the outdoors and/or training-related functions on the watch, there is very little change.

FusedSpeed (and FusedAlti on the Peak models) are still there, meaning that both GPS and accelerometer (or GPS and barometric altimeter) are used to determine speed/pace (or altitude, respectively) more accurately than either alone could.

Heart rate measurement and calculations based on R-R values are there, mainly meaning heart rate in beats per minute or percent of the (user-set) maximum HR, peak training effect and recovery time.

GPS is used for distance and speed/pace measurement, track recording, and navigation (with routes to create on Movescount, Suunto’s online platform, or with find back or track back).

Training plans can be created in Movescount and synced to the device to get reminders and (heart rate or speed/pace) guidance, too, same as the second generation Ambits have been offering since their last firmware upgrade.

And, of course, the various sports modes can be set up to work with the GPS fix and recording rate, and to give the data fields, the user decides to be the most useful for him/her.

Active Recovery

Suunto Ambit3 Recovery Time Display

Suunto Ambit3 Recovery Time Display

The only truly new functionality directly visible on the watch is the “active recovery” monitoring whereby the accelerometer (otherwise used for putting the watch into its power-saving mode and waking it, to measure cadence, and to provide FusedSpeed) works like an activity tracker.

It does not, however, count steps or distance covered in daily activity, but rather uses the data on daily activity to adjust the recovery time calculated via heart rate monitoring during activities, based on whether one has really been recovering/relaxing or moving around a lot.

On a side note, two ‘upgrade’ pathways to this functionality come to mind, but these are just my personal thoughts.

The one, obvious-seeming possibility, is that Suunto could give activity trackers a run for their money by making the active recovery feature also work like the various FitBit, Jawbone, etc. bracelets. It would only need to count the movement as steps, calculate a probable distance – or maybe be more exact and just use it as a a measure of activity(?) given in a number, like it is done with NikeFuel – do sleep monitoring, and sync that data with Movescount.

So far, though, Suunto has rather gone the way of making it possible to turn off that activity monitoring in case one does not feel a need for it, keeping with how they are about real training and outdoor activities rather than the couch potato’s need to see data on his/her having moved at least a bit.

The other idea around active recovery monitoring is that R-R values may actually be rather more indicative of one’s state of stress or recovery, and this could also be used. There is an (attempt at doing so via an) app for that, actually, in the form of the “orthostatic HR test” app, but it could probably be improved.

A Different Platform: Bluetooth Smart

While the outdoor and training functions and, even more so, the design may look pretty much the same, the hardware that underlies it all has changed quite a bit.

There is (or should be, Suunto is never very forthcoming with these details) the latest Sirf GPS sensor and double the memory. Most noticeably, however, the communication protocol used is now Bluetooth Smart instead of ANT+.

Suunto Movesense

Suunto Movesense

With that change in connection technology, old HR belts or Suunto PODs will not work with any Ambit3 anymore. If you have used an ANT or “Dual” HR belt, a Suunto FootPOD or BikePOD, therefore, you may want to give them away. It may be a bit confusing, then, that the menu to pair the Ambit3 with such PODs is still there, but it makes sense because it should be possible to use (any) other Bluetooth sensor with it (and perhaps Suunto will start producing new BT-equipped ones).

Suunto’s own heart rate belt provided with the Ambit3 models packaged as “HR” versions (they can also be bought without the HR belt, saving some money but missing out on major functionality) has naturally been changed to run Bluetooth Smart.

Not only that, but it also introduces a new concept and sensor, Movesense.

Movesense

Right now, it is only noticeable that this heart rate sensor comes in a slightly different form factor from the earlier heart rate sensors/belts, as it is smaller and lighter and gets clipped onto rather than into the heart rate belt. The battery, too, changes from the earlier (larger) CR2032 to the smaller CR2025.

There are indications, though, that this is part of a new concept where the Movesense sensor could either, perhaps, also record data other than the heart rate or, definitely, be used for measuring data not just on this breast strap, but utilizing sensor-equipped clothing as well. (This has been mentioned by Suunto in the press release, so something on this front is to be expected, probably from Salomon.)

Where one can see the greater smartness of the Movesense pod already: Its software can now be user-updated, and the remaining battery charge is visible, via the new Movescount app.

Not to forget that it can continue to record heart rate data by itself and sync it with the Ambit (or app) later, meaning that it can be used to record HR data while swimming.

One should note, though, that it is not like the earlier “Memory Belt” because it cannot start recording data and download it by itself; it still needs to be connected to an Ambit3 or the Movescount app for a move / HR recording to be started and stopped. In between, however, the connection can be lost (e.g. being in water) and the HR data will still be stored and then synced when the connection is re-established.

It is here where a, if not the, major reason for the changed communication protocol becomes visible. New and interesting things become possible with BTLE/Bluetooth Smart, chief of all the interaction between the watch and the (new) Movescount app.

Movescount in Your Pocket

A Suunto Movescount app for iOS had been around for a while, and it had been rather badly received. Stand-alone as it was, it just did not provide much of any value. It was just another way of recording a move to have it show up in Movescount, but there were other and better apps for recording one’s training – and if you had an Ambit or other Suunto watch, you didn’t really need to lug your iPhone around while training.

Suunto Movescount app

Suunto Movescount app

You still don’t need to do that, but the all-new Suunto Movescount app offers quite a few improvements.

One simple and basic, but rather nicely implemented, feature is the display of the training summary.

Start the Movescount app, and it gives you an overview of the last ‘moves’ that you recorded and uploaded to Movescount (or didn’t upload yet; see next section). Usually, this is done for the last 30 days, but more moves can be loaded for display.

The topmost section of this “Me” display just gives your Movescount account name, profile picture, and a background picture (if there are photos associated with moves).

Below that, there is a visual summary with total training/’move’ time recorded, calories expended, and distance covered. This is shown for all activity types at first, but slide it to the right and you can select individual training categories and get the summary for just that category.

Moves, shown below with the symbol for the type of move and a summary of the time, distance, average heart rate, and how long ago that move was done, are also shown according to whether “all” or individual types of activity are selected in the visual summary.

Touching one of the moves in the list, provided it is synced to Movescount (and you’re online, of course), opens the individual move display where more detailed data can be seen, in a summary table at the top and graphically at the bottom. In between, there is a ‘media’ display where photos are or can be added to that move and where the Suunto Movie (see video) can be started and the map display where the recorded track is displayed.

Syncing on the Move

An oft-heard complaint about the Ambits had been that one would require a PC (or at least notebook) with Moveslink running on it and preferably an internet connection in order to download (and view) the recorded data.

Especially on long tours away from it all, which are just the ones you’d want to have a record of, and just the ones most in danger of getting an older log deleted before it has been synced, this would be a problem. (The Ambits run a looping memory: rather than make the user delete old logs – and not get a new log stored if there isn’t enough free memory available, the oldest memory gets overwritten automatically as new logs are stored.) Try finding an internet café that lets you install software somewhere in the Andes or Himalayas – or Alps or Appalachians, for that matter…

The Ambit3 has obviously been designed with these users in mind – with more or less success.

The new Movescount app now functions as another tool, aside from Moveslink running on a PC or Mac (and still needed to update the watch firmware when there are updates – and of course, the watch still needs to be recharged via the cable, from USB), with which the logs of saved exercises can be stored on Movescount.

So far, there is one potential wrench in the gears of that system, at least for the power-users:

The Ambit3 can be synced with the app even when there is no internet connection, and the app will then show that there is an unsynced move (displaying duration and distance, if that data was gathered, and how long ago that ‘move’ had been started, but no average heart rate and no detailed view); such a move/moves are shown in grey rather than color in the list of moves.

As it also works on a computer, moves are only synced to Movescount when the watch is synced while a connection to Movescount is active. Whether this also works, especially via the app, when a move that would still need to be synced has been overwritten on the Ambit, however, is still a bit of a question.

On a computer, it seems to work (frankly, I don’t think I’ve ever faced that problem, but Moveslink certainly tells when there are unsynced moves, keeps locally stored files for them, and asks the user to reconnect the device so that they get synced).
When the Movescount app showing unsynced moves gets closed down, however, the unsynced moves are not displayed anymore in the app (until the watch gets synced with it again, anyways) upon re-starting it. This makes it look likely that a move has to still be in the watch memory/logbook in order for it to get synced to Movescount via the app…

[Update! Answer from Suunto is:

The app can show as-yet unsynced Moves on the Ambit – this is indicated by a grey Move row in the iPhone app interface. Moves are not marked synced until they have been verified to exist on Movescount by the app. 

If the Ambit3 has been synced to an iPhone the moves are physically synced to the iPhone. When the iPhone app has Internet access the app will then sync the moves to Movescount on next sync. The move, once synced to iPhone, will not disappear. ]

Here, too, I have to be frank: I also don’t see myself running out of memory on the Ambit before getting a chance to bring it online and sync moves any time soon… especially now that all it requires is a data connection on an iOS device; an iPhone is rather easier to carry than a laptop, a phone is not the worst thing to have with you when you go out, and mobile internet or wifi are competing with food and water as the essentials of daily life.

Syncing, by the way, can be set up to either run automatically or not, in the main menu’s “Connectivity” settings, reached by holding the “Next” button for a few seconds. The manual “sync now” is accessible in the sports menu, reached by pushing “start/stop” and going to “MobileApp”, where new notifications can also be looked at and leaved through.

(One thing to note: The Ambit3 cannot multitask. While a sync is running, a ‘move’ can only be started by pausing the sync. So, if you want to go for a run, newly turned on the app, and thus have a sync running, when you push “start/stop” to go into the sports menu, the Ambit will ask if you want to pause the sync. Similarly, when Movesense is used by the app, it can happen that it is not discoverable by the watch – which seems to be what happened when I went out for the run, as you can see in one of the videos.)

Notifications

In the connectivity settings (in the main menu), one can also turn on or off the notifications.

Having them turned on, an Ambit3 performs one of the, until now main, functions of a smartwatch, which is to show when there is a call or new e-mail or other event for which the iOS device gives a notification.

Depending on how you’ve set up your notifications and how busy that is, it can be a godsend or a nuisance, especially with such an outdoor device. Sometimes, seeing quick info about messages on one’s wrist is a really nice thing to have, especially when it gives the added feeling of security from knowing one’s still in touch with the world. On the other hand, it can be quite the nuisance to get reminders of work while out for some training or fun.

The smarter thing may well be to sometimes turn it off or even leave the phone at home…

If you really want to use notifications and get more than one per hour, I suggest setting the “view” button as shortcut into the “notifications” display: From the main time display, push “start/stop” to get into the sports menu, go into the “MobileApp” menu, highlight the “Notifications” menu item (which is only shown when you do have at least one notification!), and hold the “view” button to define that menu item as shortcut.

Then, provided there are notifications, long-pressing “view” in the time display will lead you straight to the notifications. (If there are none, it will only tell you “Shortcut inaccessible,” though.)

The reason I suggest doing this is because notifications will be shown for a while on the main display, but then disappear – and if there were two and/or you just quickly got rid of it, you will need to get into the notifications display, which is quite a tour through the menu without the shortcut. The lowest line in the time display will default to showing the number of notifications (when there are some), but there’s no fast way of reaching them – as far as I’ve seen yet – natively built in otherwise.

This way of defining a shortcut can be done for all but a few of the menu items and from/for all the different normal (time mode) displays (and also on the Ambit2 models), by the way.

New “Ambit3” Move in the Movescount App

One of the more-interesting interactions between Ambit3 and Movescount app is the possibility of using the iOS device as an extended display for the Ambit3.

To do that, one goes into the “(new) move” menu of the app (in the lower right), selects “Ambit3”, and hits “Next”.

Then, when you start your move on the Ambit3 (with active bluetooth connection between Ambit3 and Movescount app, of course), it is also started in the app, and the app’s data display shows data straight from the Ambit3, its map display shows the position according to the Ambit3’s GPS, overlaid on a (Google) map.

(The third display/function of the “(new) move” section of the app, the one for taking photos, is also active but does not – currently? – offer data overlay and thus not save photos taken here to the move.)

[Update! Data overlays will be available for 2nd screen/Ambit3 mode. Combining photos taken in 2nd screen mode with the eventual Ambit move is under development. ]

(Right now, I’m also seeing a bug here where the map view on the app seems to think that all my moves start and stop in Helsinki; while doing the move, the position is shown correctly, though, all data is recorded correctly, and it is all shown correctly once the move has been synced with Movescount, too.)

[Update! Suunto confirms:

This is under development – Helsinki was chosen as the default location to display until the Ambit starts sending GPS data. The actual Move will have the correct track as recorded by the Ambit.  ]

This has its limits where maps are not the most exact (such as many places in the mountains) or where maps don’t agree with actual coordinates (the problem I’m having here in China now, as street maps have an offset from the real positions) and when no internet connection is available.

It’s been working quite well even with maps that have only been saved locally, though (as on the iPhone touch 5G I’ve been using with my Ambit3).

After a fashion, it may well be the best of two worlds:

The Ambit3 still shows nothing but a route for navigation, with views giving the distance and heading to the next waypoint as the bird flies, the overview of the whole route, or a zoomed-in view with zoom level set automatically (and still no closer than 200 m).

But then, showing a map with any more detail on such a small display does not appear particularly useful – and now, one can always check the map, plus the position as given by GPS, on the phone. There, given the possibility to zoom in or out and get the view updated, it makes a lot more sense.

Moves, With the App Alone

This “(new) move” section of the Movescount app also makes it possible to use the app as a stand-alone training recorder, without an Ambit3.

To do that, you just need to select the type of activity you will be doing; data such as speed/pace and location are taken from the iOS device’s sensors, and data overlays (for heart rate, speed,…) are offered when taking photos in the app.

One new thing here is that the Movesense sensor/heart rate belt can be directly connected to the Movescount app, so that heart rate can also be displayed and recorded using the app alone rather than an Ambit3.

[Addendum/Update: Creating a Move on the app by choosing an activity (Running, Cycling etc) is always a new and independent Move, except with the Ambit3 mode.  ]

Movesense and the Movescount App

Talking of using the Movesense sensor with the app: Not only can it be connected to it to record one’s heart rate; the “Heart Rate” display in the app (accessed via the settings wheel symbol in the upper right corner) also shows the firmware version running on Movesense, checks for updates and offers to update the Movesense firmware when there is an updated version of the software, and displays the charge status of the (CR2025) battery in the Movesense pod.

So, no more guesswork on when it’s time for a new battery for the heart rate belt.

(One thing to note, though: There can be problems when/if both the Ambit3 and the Movescount app try to connect to the Movesense sensor. This, I think, is what happened when I started the move in the video and the heart rate sensor could not be found. If something like this happens, try turning off your iPhone’s Bluetooth, connecting Ambit3 and Movesense, then re-starting Bluetooth on the phone.)

Ambit3 Settings and the Movescount App

Another way that the Movescount app provides a link to Movescount in one’s pocket – well, on one’s phone – concerns settings and customization of the Ambit3.

The same settings that can be changed on the watch, via the options menu (hold “next” to enter into that), can now also be changed via the app – and it’s rather more comfortable to change them there. These are available whether there is an internet connection or not.

With an internet connection to Movescount, sports modes can now also be customized via the app rather than just on the Movescount website. This mainly applies to the sports mode displays, which already offer a lot of customization options, but it does not (yet?) extend to the advanced settings such as GPS fix rates. To change things like these, one still has to head to the Movescount website (settings done there get updated to the Ambit3 whether it gets synced via Moveslink and cable or Movescount app and Bluetooth, though).

[Update: Advanced sport mode settings are under development. ]

To be frank here, too: It is nice to have this additional option for changing exercise displays on the go; many people will still end up complaining that a) not every setting can be changed via the app and, even more so, b) the sports modes cannot be changed without a connection to the internet/Movescount; yet, it remains as it has been ever since the t6c running watch from Suunto started giving the opportunity to customize data fields to be displayed – the best thing to do about sports mode customization is to figure out what data field one wants, set one’s modes up accordingly, and then run with them, not constantly change things around.

Smart Enough?

Like I say in my introduction video, the big question for the near future may be just how smart watches are and get, and how smart we ourselves are and will be about it all.

The Ambit3 line is connected in a way that the earlier models hadn’t been, and this enables it to offer some possibilities that we haven’t had before and that are nice to have. Essential, however, they are not.

On the other hand, the smart watches that we have been seeing so far, even as they offer more possibilities as long as they are connected, fall short on their own. The Ambit3, just as the Ambit2, shines there exactly because its “connected” abilities are not strictly necessary.

For the user – and first of all, the potential customer – the question is what they want, as always.

If you are usually at home at your own PC and hardly ever anywhere where you couldn’t plug in your Ambit to sync it, then an Ambit3’s expanded connectivity may just be another source of techno-frustrations that could just as well be avoided. (Sorry, but the more connections there are, the more potential for trouble there is.)

If you like your tools/toys to sync automatically, use the latest in software (well, apps) and hardware, but also be able to hold their own without constantly needing all the connections, giving training advice and guidance as well as offering navigation capabilities that are great for city (and) trail exploring, as I have set out to do in Beijing, then the Ambit3 is well-worth considering.

 

So much for this look at the new capabilities of the Ambit3 line.

Next up: a look at the evolution and state of the Ambit3’s capabilities as compared to the Ambit2.
Later still [now getting online]: a guide to using an Ambit2 or Ambit3 to its full potential.

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to put them in the comments…

    • Brad Olwin (aka martowl on Watchuseek) on 2014/09/05 at 15:11

    Reply

    Geral, thanks for your review. I need to be able to get the move onto my iPhone without an internet connection as I do multi day trips in the mountains here in the US or Canada where there is no cellular and I will run out of watch memory. So I am disappointed but appreciate your review. Thanks

      • Gerald on 2014/09/05 at 15:32
      • Author

      Reply

      You’re welcome. And as I said, I’m waiting for a bit of feedback, for it may look worse than it is. Some of the smaller problems that can be seen in the videos are already being addressed…

    • Nigel on 2014/09/05 at 15:52

    Reply

    Great review Geral – just one quick question, does the movescount app have to be running on the phone in order to receive notifications?

      • Gerald on 2014/09/05 at 16:04
      • Author

      Reply

      Short answer: yes, in my experience.
      Upon first start, there was a question whether the app should have permission to send notifications also when it’s not running, though.
      So, maybe I overlooked something…

        • Nigel on 2014/09/05 at 17:22

        Reply

        Thanks for the quick answer! Need to remember to start that app up if you want notifications, then again it makes it easy to turn them off too :)

  1. Reply

    Thanks a lot for the first part of your review about the Ambit3 Sport. I have linked it from my blog. I hope it`s okay for you. Expecting more to read in the next days ;-)

    Salut
    Christian

      • Gerald on 2014/09/08 at 05:57
      • Author

      Reply

      Not sure how quick I’ll be, but it’s certainly okay. More than okay ;)

  2. Reply

    I really wanted to ask you guys if you would consider this watch a good Birthday gift. My boyfriend wants this and I just don’t understand the hype about this watch. I guess it’s no different from men not knowing the importance of women shoes and purses but I just needed an opinion on this watch.

      • Gerald on 2014/09/14 at 00:27
      • Author

      Reply

      I think you’ve got the perfect analogy there. You can even add in how the latest in technology is as desirable as the latest style in women’s fashion, if a person is so inclined – no matter if the new thing may also cause some headaches while the older one would still work.

      But, to answer from a total (cartoonish) male perspective, it’s something completely different and much more important and worthy, too, for it won’t just make you look good, but help you in exercise and fitness and outdoor pursuits which will be fun and help in staying healthy, keeping fit, maybe getting in/a better shape… ;)

      Hype, frankly, isn’t the best guide for a purchase. But if it’s wanted and the money’s there, it sure does make a great gift.

    • Andy on 2014/09/15 at 04:30

    Reply

    Great review. A few issues I have experienced with my Ambit 3 peak are incorrect temperature (believe sensor is to close to arm to give a true ambient reading) and POI longitude resetting to all 0s after a sync. I like using navigation logbook for those times I’ve gone to far enjoying the scenery and not quit sure how to let back (would use the POI but again, sync always reset the longitude).

    I have no desire to get the new watch from Apple. I’m hoping Suunto steps it up a little with the activity monitor. I would like to see hourly reminders, steps taken, and sleep patterns in future updates.

      • Gerald on 2014/09/15 at 05:14
      • Author

      Reply

      Thank you; part 2 will be online this week…

      The temperature reading is something I now see I don’t look at anymore. Yes, it does pick up too much body heat; instructions actually say/said that you’d need to put the watch somewhere off your arm and wait for (quite) some time if you wanted a true reading. Has been like that for forever ;)

      The POI issue is interesting, though. It doesn’t affect the “track back” or “find back”, does it? What exactly is it that you are doing? Using the “save location” function and getting that changed after syncs?

    • dave on 2014/09/25 at 17:25

    Reply

    is there any way to delete a logbook entry from the watch?

      • Gerald on 2014/09/25 at 17:42
      • Author

      Reply

      Two ways:
      1, force a complete reset of the watch.
      2, make enough ‘moves’ for the log in question to get overwritten

      In other words: no, not really, but neither should you even have a need to do so

    • cullons on 2014/10/05 at 06:15

    Reply

    android compatible suunto ambit 3?? wait ??

    sorry bad inglish!)

    thanks

      • Gerald on 2014/10/05 at 10:22
      • Author

      Reply

      It will come, but it seems there is still no release date for the android app

      • Gerald on 2014/11/01 at 03:08
      • Author

      Reply

      So, there’s (both good and bad) news: “@Movescount: Hello friends,we’re happy to announce that an Android Lollipop version of the Suunto Movescount App will be released in March 2015.”

    • Ahmed ELZayady on 2014/10/15 at 01:05

    Reply

    Can it be used with any custom or generic sport e.g. weight lifting using an app? for example, on my phone, I have installed Endomondo and it gives me number of calories burned during my exercise which I understand is just an average but it can’t really track my activity. It will be great if I can use it for all sports either running or at gym carrying some weights !

      • Gerald on 2014/10/17 at 10:05
      • Author

      Reply

      Well, depends on what you mean. You would likely get a much better estimate of your calorie consumption if you record the exercise (including heart rate!) with an Ambit than just Endomondo, but you still can’t e.g. track how many repetitions with weights you’ve done – unless, of course, if someone happened to come up with an Ambit app for that.

      Sorry about the late reply.

    • Paul Rutter on 2014/12/16 at 09:41

    Reply

    Great review – thanks! I’m very interested in the ambit 3 and have a quick question. I believe the watch has a vibrate function. Can you set it to vibrate when you get a smartphone notification from iOS?

    Thanks,
    Paul

      • Gerald on 2014/12/16 at 11:02
      • Author

      Reply

      Careful, NO, it does not have a vibration alarm of any kind. Easily the most requested hardware upgrade, but also the one that no Ambit is yet offering. (I was told it was not added because of the impact on battery life; still can’t imagine it not being added to an Ambit4… if the next gen model still uses that name.)

        • Paul Rutter on 2014/12/16 at 11:05

        Reply

        Thanks Gerald! Much appreciated. That’s annoying. I get so many notifications during the day I’d probably drive my colleagues mad with an audio alert. Is there a choice of sound/volume for the notifications on the watch? I saw a youtube video where the alert appeared to be a siren sound!?

        I’ll be ordering from wiggle in the UK who state it has vibration alert in the product specs – so that’s obviously an error! http://www.wiggle.co.uk/suunto-ambit-3-sports-with-hrm/

          • Gerald on 2014/12/16 at 11:23
          • Author

          Reply

          The sound isn’t too annoying, just a little three (I think, and I just got one.. well, actually, two notifications about your reply ;) ) beeps. No way of adjusting that, though, and I wouldn’t want to have it in a quiet office environment (though admittedly, I wouldn’t even want a vibration in such a situation).

          One could adjust the number of notifications by changing one’s smartphone’s (currently just iPhone’s, of course) notification settings…

          Honestly and very frankly, I think the notifications feature was just added because it was easy enough to add it and would have caused complaints if it hadn’t been there. I wear my Ambit everywhere, but it’s still less of a timepiece and more of an outdoors as well as/or training watch.

          Wiggle is also wrong about the barometric altimeter. The Ambit3 Peak has that, but not the Ambit3 Sports.

            • Paul Rutter on 2014/12/16 at 11:27

            Thanks Gerald – that’s very helpful. I’m a long-term forerunner 405 user – but also borrowed a pebble recently and loved getting notifications on my wrist when my phone is in my pocket.

            I’m trying to find something that does both – which the Ambit 3 pretty much does.

            Thanks again for helping.
            Paul

        • Paul Rutter on 2014/12/16 at 14:15

        Reply

        Sorry – me again. One last question. Have you used the Ambit3 to navigate a cycle route? I know it won’t do map based turn-by-turn like some of the Garmin edge units – but can you follow a route and have the device prompt you turn right/left at waypoints?

          • Gerald on 2014/12/16 at 14:30
          • Author

          Reply

          I’m more of a runner, but there I’ve used them (various Ambits, starting from the first model) quite a bit with navigation along routes.

          (In fact, I’m working on some – now, more sensible, I hope – new videos showing how to use pretty much everything an Ambit3 can do, navigation among that, of course.)

          First off: yes, right, an Ambit is not a GPS in the sense of a device giving turn-by-turn directions.

          The main thing you get from/for navigation is a) the view showing the route (either the whole thing or a zoomed-in view) and b) the display showing the bearing and distance to the next waypoint (as the crow flies).

          So, what that means is that the easiest way of using it is to navigate with the route view, simply making sure you stay on track.
          There, it’s some help e.g. where important turns or stops are, to set those up as waypoints so you know you’re coming up on that.
          Some people have set up waypoints with names like “turn left” so that, when approaching that waypoint, the Ambit will give a notification that you are “approaching turn left”. (Only problem: when you have reached that waypoint, it will display “continue to [name of next waypoint]” meaning that you don’t get the instruction/name for the point where you are, again.)

          The outdoors/running heritage shows, there. For me, it’s all that I’d want, typically works well – and where it doesn’t work so well, I’ll need or want a map, anyways.
          I’ve gone through some nights following nothing much but the route shown on my Ambit and the trail in front of my feet (as far as my headlamp illuminated it) and it worked pretty well.
          On roads, where Google maps are probably better, it should be even easier, but it does take some getting used to.
          Of course now, with the Ambit3 line, there’s also the possibility of checking out the (real) map view on the smartphone, when in doubt (and especially on the road)…

            • Paul Rutter on 2014/12/16 at 14:48

            That’s really helpful. Thanks again Gerald!

    • Olli on 2015/01/11 at 23:35

    Reply

    Hi together. I can’t find the push notifications in the Sport mode. So if i am in Sport Modus and there is an incoming call it is signed on the watch for a few second and i you will not look at this Moment, you will not find it again only when you stop the Sport mode, you will see the short signs at the bottom of the Display like in Time mode. Even the shortcut is not avilable in Sport mode, it is automaticly to invert the Display. You can’t Change to look for your Pushs like in time mode.
    Please can anyone help me????????

      • Gerald on 2015/01/12 at 04:55
      • Author

      Reply

      Made me look… Yeah, the sports mode is (currently?) set up to only show the quick notification display, but not to give access to the notifications page accessible from the time mode. So, no help unless someone at Suunto changes the firmware to allow access to the notifications page while in a sports mode.

      As usual, it’s one of those things one could perfectly quarrel about. It’s a definite oversight for those who’d like it. At the same time, if you really need to know what’s going in your online life will you’re out training, you could probably just as well get out your phone and check there ;)

    • Reto on 2015/01/19 at 08:30

    Reply

    Hi all, silly question but my Ambit3 display never turns off / goes into sleep mode. Do I have to activate that feature in order to safe battery time?

    Thanks,

    Reto

      • Gerald on 2015/01/19 at 13:29
      • Author

      Reply

      No, it’s just that one has to put it somewhere really stable and sneak up on it ;)
      It’s pretty sensitive, so if it’s lying somewhere where your footfall makes it tremble in the slightest, that can be enough to turn it back on.

        • Karan Arya on 2016/04/21 at 09:38

        Reply

        Hi all, I am facing the same problem. My watch’s display also never turns off/goes into sleep mode now. It used to do that earlier when it was new. Every time I used to keep it on the table it would go into sleep mode in 10-15 mins. But now it doesn’t at all. Coz of that the battery life has also reduced. Plz advise!!!

          • Gerald on 2016/04/21 at 09:46
          • Author

          Reply

          Strange. Shouldn’t be a problem anymore if it’s on the latest firmware (I think)

  3. Reply

    Too great this watch, my review (completely independent) on my blog: https://verslesommet.wordpress.com/2014/10/04/test-suunto-ambit-3-peak/
    Arnaud

    • Pierre on 2015/03/22 at 12:46

    Reply

    Hi Gerald,

    I’m interested in buying a smart watch for moutain expeditions (1 to 3 weeks). The ambit3 seems nice but there’s one point I’d like clarify.

    Although the battery looks good to me as the watch can be charged every night via USB (thanks to an Anker E5 USB battery charger for example), I was wondering if the diaries can be stored in the iPhone app without internet connectivity (Airplane mode with bluetooth only).

    The point is the Ambit3 won’t be able to store diaries for 10 or 21 continuous days, the first diaries will be overwritten and lost.

    I see your update with Suunto words saying the diaries are synced physically into the iPhone even when there’s no Internet connectivity.

    Did you have the opportunity to check if this works perfectly? If this can be confirmed then the Ambit3 is certainly the good watch for expeditions purposes.

    Thanks.

      • Gerald on 2015/03/22 at 20:14
      • Author

      Reply

      Sorry, I’ve never been without internet connection for long enough to have moves overwritten on the watch and not yet synced to Movescount.

      Two thoughts:
      a) I should very much hope that one can trust Suunto on that point. (And I have never heard any complaint regarding this point – I mean, the sync/stroage – from anyone.)
      b) I personally would have a mini-notebook which I’d probably bring, also for connectivity – and Moveslink on a notebook definitely stores all unsynced moves.

      I’m testing new firmware now, so can’t not sync – but I guess I really should get around to this ;)

        • Pierre on 2015/03/22 at 20:46

        Reply

        Thanks :-)

    • JenC on 2015/03/31 at 12:02

    Reply

    Hi Gerald, your blog has been very very helpful, thank you. Unfortunately my watch will need to go back to Suunto sometime as the tones don’t work at all (I see this has been complained of a few times with this device) but other than that it has been a great training tool.

    I have a question regarding the HRM connectivity. Over the weekend I did a long 97km cycle and when I stopped halfway to refuel the watch and HRM lost connection and for the rest of the ride I did not have a HR reading. I had the watch on my handle bars and walked away from it to get a few nibbles. Is there a way to re-establish the HRM connection without having to exit the sport mode you in and restarting? Kind regards, Jen

      • Gerald on 2015/04/01 at 06:29
      • Author

      Reply

      The HR signal should actually be picked up again automatically – but the emphasis is on that unfortunate “should”.

      On the latest firmware (for both Ambit3 and Movesense, the HR belt), I have seen the Ambit3 drop HR sometimes, but it has come back (and never was more than a few minutes… which is quite enough when you notice it). It can happen, though.

      The one thing you could try is holding the “lap” button to make a multisport ‘move’ of what you’ve been recording, just picking the same mode again. This will make the ‘move’ that you get recorded a multisport one, i.e. show the switch as the start of a different segment/sport, but at least it’s one single (multisport) ‘move’, not two completely separate ones. (And the switch from one sport to the next, even if it is actually the same, definitely tells the watch to search for HR again).

      It could still be that the problem is with the HR belt (Movesense) not picking up the HR however…

        • Jennilee on 2015/04/01 at 12:04

        Reply

        Hi Gerald, thanks a million, I will try that out if it happens again (Hopefully NOT during my ironman 70.3 race next month). If it does I will add it to the list of faults to this device, when I send it back under the warranty. Also, do you have a video/blog on effectively using the triathlon sport mode? I want to practice using it before the race. Kind regards, Jennilee

          • Gerald on 2015/04/01 at 17:01
          • Author

          Reply

          During an Ironman, you have multisports switching anyways… and I’d be more concerned about just getting through, try not to worry about things like the HR recording during, and its pick-up by the Ambit3 after, the swimming part of it.
          Funny you should ask; I was just wondering if I should get any deeper into that. There’s a little mention of that sort of mode in the video on customizing (multi)sports modes. It seems so easy and straigthforward to me – side-effect of having used Suunto products for so long – I haven’t been wanting to show that. Should I?

    • Jennilee on 2015/04/01 at 22:20

    Reply

    I think that’s a great idea (if not only for my own benefit)! But yes I haven’t found much either on the specifics of customising sport modes and I am sure the greater Suunto community would benefit from a video :)

    • Maria on 2015/07/12 at 17:55

    Reply

    Thanks for such an insightful review. I am very happy with my Ambit3 but can’t seem to sync the bike cadence pod with it. Bought a smart Bluetooth polar to match since I was told that Suunto does not produce them anymore. When I installed them the pairing seemed to work but once it’s running, it doesn’t read the cadence. Is there a trick? Am I not pairing correctly?

      • Gerald on 2015/07/12 at 22:12
      • Author

      Reply

      Thank you.

      Hmmm, could be that this particular sensor is not supported, though that seems rather strange. Otherwise, I’d want to make sure (even if it sounds like I’m taking you for a fool, sorry about that) to ask that you have the data field for bike cadence set up to be displayed.

      That’s pretty much all I can suggest, unfortunately. Sounds like you did the pairing right, and as long as it said “pairing successful” and you paired a cadence sensor as such, that should have done the trick. Don’t have one myself, so can’t check anything more. If you tried the pairing again and set up the Ambit3 display to give you bike cadence, I don’t see what it could be except for an incompatibility issue. You may want to ask on the Suunto forum over at watchuseek.com; there’s lots of highly active people with lots of gear in different combinations there…

    • William on 2015/08/09 at 01:13

    Reply

    hi Gerald

    How do I delete or manage pics in the sunnto movie apps.

    Also I accidentally deleted a move from the ap. It is still I. The ambit3 log. Ho whole I restore that move into sunnto movescount app.

    thanks

      • Gerald on 2015/08/09 at 07:17
      • Author

      Reply

      You should be able to add or delete photos associated with a move in the app easily enough (just open the move and then its photos section); I think they should then also get added to / deleted from the Suunto movie automatically…

      Getting a move to re-sync after it was deleted is one of the things that are, unfortunately, next to impossible. There were workarounds (complicated ones) for the Ambit2, but I don’t think I’ve heard of any for the Ambit3 line… I’d honestly just count it as a loss, be more careful next time (yeah, easy to say) and perhaps, if I really want the basic data in my calendar, enter it as a manual(ly entered) move.

    • Andrzej on 2016/03/09 at 16:51

    Reply

    I do not have “MobileApp” in sport menu after pressing STARTSTOP button. Do you know what Settings should be done to activate MobileApp option in sport menu. Ambit 3 Peak.

      • Gerald on 2016/03/09 at 18:20
      • Author

      Reply

      There is no “Mobile App” entry in the sport menu on an Ambit (or other Suunto). There is in the general/options menu, e.g. for pairing and for setting up auto-sync and notifications.

      What are you trying to do?

      Use the mobile app as the “second screen”, maybe? (If it’s that, you only… only, if it works… open the Movescount app on your smartphone, go to “Move” and select “Second Screen” there. A move that you have started / start on your Ambit3 paired with that app should then also be visible on the phone. … It’s all a “should” because some of that has been working quite alright when used with an iOS device, but I still haven’t seen it work with Android, or not as well as it should.)

      Hope that helps :)

    • Aliosha Nicolás Behnisch on 2016/08/05 at 04:02

    Reply

    Hello Gerald, I saw your Ambit3 manual on YouTube and thought you might be able to help me. I have an Ambit3 Peak since last week and today I went off for a 10 km run (5 forth and 5 back through the same trail), and I found out that the altitude information was completely wrong, it even wasn´t symmetric. After that I read about Fused Alti and tried to activate it, it always seems to be working until after 10-15 minutes it says “Fused Alti failed”, over and over again. Any idea what might be happening?
    Thanks in advance,
    Best!

      • Gerald on 2016/08/17 at 22:05
      • Author

      Reply

      Altitude is always a bit difficult when there are problems… FusedAlti should be on during most moves, anyways, and activating it manually, it takes long and tends not to work when not standing still, in my experience (though others have said that you need to be moving for it to work – go figure…).

      My recommendation would be to simply try and enter a reference altitude (the correct altitude where you start), then see how it works. What you describe, not getting it symmetric when running back and forth the same trail, however, sounds like either there was a lot of barometric pressure change – or something is buggy…

Feel free to contribute