Following on from it’s successful predecessor, the Suunto Ambit 2 is a feature packed GPS watch with a multitude of uses across many different sports. Over the last few months it’s been with us through good times and bad, here’s how it faired…
Modern GPS watches are like the Swiss Army Knives of training, navigation and exploration. With a long list of uses they end up helping you everyday in someway. It’s difficult to know where to start with the Ambit 2 (it’s worth checking out the Suunto Ambit 2 specification list for full details), so lets start with the basics:
As a watch: Special features aside, the Ambit 2 is great just as a watch, it looks really good, tells the time accurately (with GPS synchronization), has the date, day of the week, an alarm clock, stopwatch and holds it’s charge well.
As a training/competition aid: With a long list of activities (including custom modes) you can track a lot of useful data on the Ambit 2 to hit your targets and give you feedback when training. I used it extensively when training for various distance running events where sticking to a certain minute-mile pace was important, I genuinely would have struggled without it.
The Swimming (or Triathlon) mode is also worth mentioning, which works out your stroke rate, rest time and even the number of lengths you’ve swam if you’re in a indoor or outdoor pool, all our tests on counting the lengths were 100% accurate, very impressive.
Another nice feature for training, when connected to Movescount, is the ability to create and download training plans, we’ve got an in-depth section on Movescount a little later on.
As a navigation aid: I spent a good portion of the summer getting lost on approaches to crags, I’m not great at navigating but I think we’ve all been there at some point. Using Movescount, you can create routes online and download them to the phone then follow the waypoints to your destination.
As a life saver: How many wilderness horror stories could have been obverted if the person in question knew where they were, had a compass or could follow a trail back home? The Ambit 2 provides all of these features, with the ability to provide GPS co-ordinates on demand, follow waypoints back to where you started and a fairly accurate electronic compass to get you out of trouble. Unless you’re stuck by the arm in the slot canyon (please see our Swiss Army Knife review).
Ease Of Use
After over a month of use, we haven’t once had to refer to the Ambit 2 user manual, everything is so straightforward. With 5 clearly marked buttons around the face (that are easily depressed, with and without gloves) the Ambit 2 menus are simple to navigate, and it’s features easy to use. We liked this out-of-box functionality with no need to read through endless user guides.
At first, we did find the Suunto Ambit 2 a little uncomfortable; the area where the strap meets the body has quite a sharp angle to it (unlike the Garmin Fenix) especially on smaller wrists. It’s probably worth trying the watch on in-store if you do have small wrists (which I do) however the size and weight is something we got used to.
We’ve tested a few GPS watches from different brands and they all share a certain bulk to them. That said, considering the impressive array of features built into these units, the fact they are (the Suunto Ambit 2 included) a little on the heavy/large side can quickly be forgiven.
- Garmin Fenix 82.9g (2.9oz)
- Suunto Ambit 2 89g (3.1oz)
This version (the HR) comes with a Heart Rate Monitor that bands around your chest to provide even further data wirelessly to the unit. It does take some getting use to, we found when exercising it tended to move around a little (rising up or down), and if tightened constricted the breathing just a little. I think, this is more to do with us not being use to the device rather then a bad design.
The GPS tended to locate quickly and did not drop out during use, this did vary considerably depending where you are: When in the mountains in good visibility the Suunto located almost immediately (under 5 seconds), however in more built up areas in town it takes a little longer when amongst buildings and obstructions. Overall we were pleased with the speed it located the required amount of satellites.
During all our tests the Suunto Ambit 2 did not freeze or crash, the firmware seems pretty solid and reliable on this unit. The internal menus also load quickly without lag. The GPS accuracy is difficult to test, however we are working on a few methods and will update this review when we have the results.
We found the screen to be clear to read in both dull light (it has a backlight) and very bright sunlight. You can flip the format of the screen from black text on a clear background, or clear text on a black background, which is a nice feature.
The Ambit 2 also had a good battery life; with the GPS system running, the manufacture claims 16-50 hours is possible, (the broad range is dependant on the GPS accuracy). The Ambit 2 is also water resistant to 100M (or 10BAR) it will take the surface impact of swimming without damaging the unit.
The unit comes with a USB cable with a little crocodile faced connector that clips easily onto the body of the watch. This both charges the watch reasonably quickly and provides connectivity with Suunto’s software Moveslink and Movescount.
Moveslink is an application that connects your Suunto device to the very useful online sports community, planner and tracker called Movescount (which we will cover in the next section). Unlike the Garmin Fenix we tested, the Moveslink software that the Suunto Ambit 2 requires is compatible with both PC and Mac. You simply connect the watch via USB to your computer (as shown above) and Moveslink exchanges data between the watch and Movescount.
Moveslink is just the intermediary software between the watch, and the main online platform, Movescount. We absolutely loved the extensive features of this platform, not only can you download all the data from your watch and view your activities in a detailed and rich interface, you can also send data back to the watch, including custom apps and training plans. As it’s online, we’d recommend checking out the following:
Value For Money
With an RRP £410 (or £360 without the HR belt) the Suunto Ambit 2 isn’t cheap, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fantastic value for money. Due to it’s feature packed design and multiple uses, we think it’s worth the price tag. Do shop around though, we have seen it cheaper online then the RRP.
Occasionally you come across a bit of equipment that makes a big impact on your day-to-day life, or is simply incredibly useful. Many of us that enjoy an active lifestyle have similar hobbies that reciprocate through the things we do, from climbing, to running or swimming. The Suunto Ambit 2 is your personal coach that you can always take with you, whatever you’re doing. Hands down, our favourite GPS watch.