how to really #GetAtHome in this world

Watching as/if/when Suunto Spartan Gets Stronger 2

A look at the Suunto Spartan Ultra at firmware 1.6 (released Dec. 19, 2016); after entry #1 which looked at performance during runs.

Overview: All the Watch

There are still features missing on the Suunto Spartan (Ultra) if one goes by all the functions of an Ambit3 Peak as the standard.

At the same time, it becomes possible to see more clearly again the direction in which the Spartan Ultra wants to go, seemingly: To become a training progress tool on the wrist (plus, with quite a bit of online interaction of a somewhat social / digitalized kind … Amer Sports now doesn’t just follow such a drive as core program, the CEO of Suunto is out to be replaced by a “President Connected Devices and Digital Services”…)

Sports Mode Customization, Phase 1

Suunto now speaks of a phase 1 of the sports mode customization. Here, since the requisite update to Movescount (the website) and the 1.6 firmware on the Spartans, one can set up one’s own sports modes…

However, it is yet limited to one display with 4 fields, one display with 5 fields, one lap table display*, and the breadcrumb track in activities which use GPS.

*I figured out later why autolap should have been on in the “trail running” mode I customized for the video: Of course, if you have a lap table as a display, you’ll also want to use laps… (Still shows the need for this to get developed further; who really uses laps on trail runs or wants to be forced into having a lap table…).

Next Up

Suunto has already said that they are mainly working on finally getting the GPS performance fixed now, still. Even beyond features, of which many should be added, and fast, whether they manage to do so or not (and how well, compared to the Ambit3 Peak, which ended up as the gold standard for many a runner and ultramarathoner) will be pretty decisive for the Spartan (Ultra)…

Especially now (January 4, 2017) that Garmin has released its lineup of fenix5 models, which are evolutionary but have a loooong list of features, up to topo maps displays on-watch with the X models, Suunto will struggle.

Suunto at least had the advantage that the Ambits were very trustworthy (and usually, cheaper), but that has been pretty destroyed for many people with the Spartan’s GPS performance and the talk of the Spartan line as successor to the Ambit3, followed by its release with far fewer functions.

Interesting times.


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    • James on 2017/01/05 at 08:39

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    I’m still waiting for the Interval training function which is supposed to be in the next update. When will that be is anyone’s guesses. Now that Fenix 5 will be available shortly, I don’t see any reason to get the Spartan Ultra. Fenix 5 offers map and longer battery life (at least on paper). Oh, and interval training without any update :)

      • Gerald on 2017/01/05 at 10:37
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      You like the looks better and you prefer a more focused device. That’s about it for reasons I can come up with, why one might get a Spartan Ultra over a fenix5, at the moment. Which, indeed, isn’t much.

      Still have to wait and see how the Garmin will perform in real life, though. The feature list is really enticing, but its usefulness in actual practice, I don’t know.

      That’s one of the big problems everywhere tech now, though… It’s just too easy to get excited about (seemingly) do-it-all devices, and at the price points they’re at, we’d rather have those. It might not be the most sensible approach, but it’s still the more enticing one… ;)

  1. Reply

    hi. re your youtube video and IE11 and firefox on win10. I can’t change any of the datafelds on either watch (both have latest firmware). simply not given the choice of other data fields. any hints?

      • Gerald on 2017/01/05 at 10:40
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      Don’t use IE?

      Seriously, I can come up with a few too many possibilities. Movescount has recognized that you have the latest firmware on the watch? You are going the “Create new … sports mode” route?

      Finally thought to link to you for the (Garmin) news ;)

      1. Reply

        ty. The “create new sport mode” has only just appeared (I know you don’t believe me :-) ). I had to collapse the master sport, at which point a communication error occurred and then when I re-expanded the sport VOILA the option appeared. I’ve been moaning to myself for the last two weeks about that

          • Gerald on 2017/01/05 at 18:19
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          You should have written to me sooner, obviously ;)

    • Jack on 2017/01/05 at 18:00

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    Thanks for your blog and the reviews of this watch, especially this post with the videos of the most recent update. It is nice to see what the watch looks like for someone who hasn’t purchased one yet (still on the fence).

    With the planned updates, specifically the altitude graphing mentioned, is that similar to the vertical’s functionality of weekly accumulated ascent, or is it the functionality of showing the vertical progress along a route (like what was just added to the A3 Peak), or none of the above.

    Keep up the progress updates, there are few places to follow along with the progress of this watch after it received low marks in initial reviews.

      • Gerald on 2017/01/05 at 18:22
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      Thank you; it’s great to hear that. I’m all about noticing things which are too obvious (that whole #GetAtHome shtick, and also searching for *good* products, long-term, not just the latest), but still often fail in that. So, very helpful to have a comment like yours.

      The altitude graph they speak of will be like that recently added to the Ambit3 Peak. Many things still to come (which is to say, no idea how long it will be until that comes out)…

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