Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Suunto X series

After my post on Garmin vs Suunto, I thought I'd better write a quick bit up about the X series watches by Suunto as they are another type of watch that is comparible to Garmin by virtue of the fact they have GPS.

The previous version was the X9, which you can still find on sale in various places at a discounted price since the X10 came out. (note that there is a minor cosmetic defect to these in that the actual watch itself can break away from the plastic surround. Make sure you keep the recipt as you can take it back to the place you bought it from. It'll be sent back, and you'll get the new X10 surround- which looks pretty cool, however, you do still have the X9).

So the X9 was a pretty good watch as far as it went, but it had much the same issues as the Garmin 205- which I spoke about before- in that it was a little tempermental in getting GPS signal. Sometimes it got it really quickly, and other times, it was like the thing didnt even realise there were satellites in the sky. Slightly annoying.

The X9, X9i and X10 do not have Heart Rate monitors, and as such, I would not call them training devices as such. Personally I would put them in the GPS tracker bracket- it lets you know where you have been, rather than helping you find your way.
I know that you can put waymarks into watches, and theoretically you can use them to find your way to specific points, however, I would not like to use this feature in the Lakes on a claggy night. There are a few too many precipitous drops that might appear in front of you.

The series does include a compass within the watch, which is a useful addition. It is not waterproof (but it is water resistant).

The X10M is a much improved version, and takes much less time to find satellites. I see that the battery life is meant to be up to 2 months without recharge if used as a normal watch- but again- like the Garmins its about 12 hours with the GPS on.
One of the things I like about these watches- over and above the Garmin 305 is the fact that as well as Lat/long, they also do British Grid, which I do tend to get along with a lot better than lat/long.

The official line on the battery life is that it is good for 500 discharge/recharges, and if the battery shows any signs of wear, not recharging properly etc. to get in contact with suunto and they will sort it out.
To be fair, the customer serice I have had in the past from suunto has been absolutely fantastic, and I have no doubts that they would be fine with anything you send back which is warranty.

So generally- Id say this series is a good bet if you are wanting a watch that does GPS, that is actually pretty much watch shaped and sized. I wouldnt use it as a training device, and I wouldnt use it as a GPS to tell me where to go.
Im not sure who would actually buy one, unless just to say, yes, I own a GPS watch... but then, some people want that.

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