GPS Connectivity: GPS Altitude, Compass ANT.
ANT+ Pod compatible Heart Heart Rate monitor
- Has a bit of a learning curve
- This may be the last multisport watch you will ever need.
I’m getting older. I always knew this would happen, and when I was more of a lad, I even welcomed the thought. Actually, I still do, except for the paunch that is slowly starting to form around my midsection. More and more, I am realizing that the solution to this is exercise, and while 1 was quite active in my younger days, busier and busier personal and work schedules have rendered me sedentary. I needed a kick in the pants to get started, and finally one came in the form of a friend’s wedding. I needed to get started.
Fortunately, around this time, a Suunto Ambit 2S landed on my lap for review. This wrist-mounted coach, as I have come to see it, gives you one thing that separates someone who is serious about getting fit from someone who is just playing around: science. The Ambit 2S lets you track everything about your workout, from distance, pace, and speed, to power output on your bike and heart rate, with the necessary accessories.
The Ambit 2S has a lot of features. The basic stopwatch functions need no explaining, but of note is the huge display that is extremely readable, even after miles of running. When ambient light drops, a quick button press enables the backlight, giving you clear visibility of the menu and device features. Navigating through the numerous menus is easy, thanks to huge buttons and a fairly straightforward menu structure. Buttons will always serve as “back” and “enter,” and others will serve to scroll up and down through menu Items. It takes a little time to find what you are looking for, but once you are familiar with everything you usually use, it only takes a few button presses to get where you are going.
For the purposes of getting back into shape, for example, I wanted to run. I hit the top button to get the main menu, scroll until I got to “Exercise,” and then hit the middle button to enter. Once there, the watch prompted me to pair the device to the included heart rate belt by placing them side-by-side. Having completed that, it then locked on to a GPS signal, and I was ready to go.
The time it takes from the first button press until you start pounding pavement is about a minute. You can, then cycle through the different modes, from current time, to HR, to distance covered and workout time just by hitting the middle button. Everything is a tap and a press away. The device has three planes of view that you can configure to display whatever metric you want, so you don’t have to keep cycling through the different screens to see what you need.
From there, you can stop or start the workout, and then choose to save the session into the device’s memory. This can then be synced to your computer via an app available online, so you can look at the figures, chart your performance and compare it against other notes that you (hopefully) keep regarding pre-workout conditions, to figure out what you’ve been doing right.
In practice, it is just as easy. The huge buttons, secure strap and light weight make the Ambit 2S easy to use, even in the middle of your workout. Once you get used to what screen tells you what, it’s a quick glance, and you have all the info you need.
The same is the case for other exercise modes. It’s a simple process of picking the exercise, connecting peripherals and out the door. Other modes will collect different pieces of data, such as strokes per minute for swimming and power/cadence while cycling (as long as you have the correct accessory.)
Indoor swimming is of particular note, as the device is smart enough to figure out what stroke you are employing, and can give you the relevant metrics pertaining to each.
Being a multisport watch, it also supports the swim-bike-run order of the triathlon. Just select”Triathlon” mode, after which the watch figures out that you’re about to go for a swim, and starts recording the appropriate figures. A long press of the “Lap” button on the top-left of the device switches to “Bike” mode and bike-related figures, and the same goes for “Run.”
The real power of this watch becomes apparent once you run the accompanying Movescount app. Just download the software, plug in the device and run the app, and you have access to all the metrics the watch has aggregated. You can also see your GPS data displayed on a map, and create tweaked workouts such as a running workout with GPS disabled for treadmill work. This ability gives the device increased flexibility to cater to your workout needs. There is also a very rich pool of apps that one can download onto the device to cater to virtually any need that the user may want. Just head over to the Movescount site and select the “Apps” tab under “Plan & Create.”
Suunto has been in this business for a while, and they know how to get things done. The device proved accurate, as long as you use it properly, remembering to pause and restart whenever you jump in and out of your workout. GPS lock-on and signal holding are also quite solid, and the only time I really experienced any trouble was at an indoor pool in a condominium surrounded by other buildings. This watch is going to serve you well, should you go with it, and give you all the figures you need to reach your goals.
My only complaint is that it takes a little getting used to. You really have to use it often so that you can, if you so choose, switch between functions on the fly. It can be a little confusing to jump between menus at first, but, as with anything, repetition makes for perfection, and before too long, you will not even have to think about navigating through the menus to get where you are going. It’s a great multisport watch, and just the kick I need to get back into shape.
Words by Ren Alcantara
First published in Gadgets Magazine, August 2013