I have been using the Suunto Spartan Ultra now for around 3 weeks for all my exercise activities. This has mainly consisted of cycling and hiking, with one or two runs and a 5 mile swim.
In my first review of the Spartan I kept it pretty basic and went over the my initial impressions of the watch, as I had literally worn it several times.
As I have used it a little more now, in this review I will go over my thoughts of the watch thus far in a little more detail, including: how it looks, the menus, using movescount (Suunto’s online facility) and its battery. In the final post I go over the activities I have done with the watch.
It is probably worth noting here what I want in a GPS watch. To be fair, I have never owned or used one. I have always used my phone. Why would I buy a GPS watch? For ease and practicality – what I love about a GPS watch is that you are already wearing it (practical), and I just need to push a button a couple of times and it records what you do (easy).
It’s also pretty awesome that you have a record of your training without having to log anything on maps, and if you do want to look into specifics such as Heart Rate, exact route, altitude climbed and lost, how hard you were working etc then you can.
Looks and Size
So the watch is pretty good looking for a GPS watch. Most of the ones I have seen before are so techy you wouldn’t want to be seen wearing them in light of day (unless training). I think the spartan ultra just manages to pull it off. I mean, you can still tell it is a techy sports watch, and it does look kind of like a space aged medical instrument, but it is also quite cool, and you can wear it in day to day situations without standing out.
The screen, as shown in the picture above, is 50mm in diameter, and is made from toughened glass. I am yet to bash it, but whilst trekking and scrambling in Snowdonia I was worried that if I hit the screen it may scratch or even worse crack. I am sure the boffins at Suunto have prepared for this, but it does look really inviting for a rock.
It is big. Like massive-big. I recently bought a huge G-shock watch for expeditions, and the Spartan matches it for size. This isn’t a massive issue for me, I don’t mind a bigger watch. But for some it might be.
Interface & Menus
I have got to say that the menus are incredibly easy to use. Unlock the watch by clicking the middle button, and naviagte to where you want using either the touch screen, or the buttons on the side. I don’t really have much more to say on this, as it isn’t something that greatly interests me.
There are a range of different ‘watch faces’ you can use. I went for the most minimal. And it looks pretty swish, but if you look mega close you can see the pixels. I guess this is the problem with everything becoming HDHD4K, we expect everything to be of a supremely high resolution.
An issue I have found though is this. Usually when you’re doing an activity, you tap the screen, and the time flashes up. If the screen is wet, this doesn’t seem to work, and I can’t seem to find a way to check the time otherwise.
Suunto’s online facility – movescount – is user friendly, and neatly lays out all of your recorded activities. It is easy to find an activity, and then look at it in more detail. I have been using Strava for the last few years. and I would say that Suunto’s site is just as good.
So Suunto claim to be able to give you 26 hours of battery on the ‘good’ setting. I haven’t used the watch for 26 hours on good setting, but have found the battery to last much longer than I expected.
There are three GPS settings. Best, good and OK.
- Best speaks with the satellite constantly, giving you a super accurate reading.
- Good speaks to the satellite every second, meaning that things are still very accurate, but battery lasts longer.
- OK speaks to the satellite every 60 seconds, meaning the track is not as accurate, but battery vastly improved.
I haven’t tested this to the max, but have found that it easily recorded for 11 hours on ‘Best’ setting, which a good chunk of battery to spare (sorry can’t be specific on how much). I have used it for trekking also, which recorded at OK setting. I wore the watch for four days, and used GPS for 30 hours in total, and it came back with a good chunk of the battery, I think around 20-30% – again, sorry I can’t be more specific on this.