Su­unto Spar­tan Sport Wrist HR

PACKED WITH INFO TO SHOW OFF YOUR MET­RICS, CAN THIS POWER UP YOUR RUN, RIDE, SWIM – AND 77 OTHER SPORTS?

Australian T3 - - SELECT -

$699.99, su­unto.com

Su­unto is one of the big­ger brands that bat­tles for the wrists of ath­letes. Its Sport Wrist HR is a tier down from its beastly Spar­tan Ul­tra, but still packs enough tech to make triath­letes, ad­ven­tures and week­end war­riors con­sider wrap­ping one of th­ese around their fore­arm. Your com­par­a­tively sim­ple fitness tracker will look pos­i­tively diminu­tive next to this chunky num­ber. An an­gu­lar chas­sis dis­tracts from the height, and while it looks heavy it’s very com­fort­able.

New to the se­ries is an op­ti­cal heart rate mon­i­tor built into the body of the watch, which will tempt any­one who doesn’t want the in­con­ve­nience or dis­com­fort of wear­ing a chest strap. This de­pends on how se­ri­ously you take your sport­ing pur­suits, as any op­ti­cal heart rate mon­i­tor isn’t as ac­cu­rate as one that hugs your vi­tal or­gan. Su­unto it­self says that the op­ti­cal sen­sor is ac­cu­rate to within five per­cent of a chest strap, 89 per­cent of the time. This seems fair, but it de­pends on which sport you do. Run­ning was some­times out by more than 40%, show­ing a rate of 200plus BPM when it was closer to 135 BPM. Cy­cling fared much bet­ter, and in side-by-side tests the Sport went beat-for-beat with an­other watch paired to a chest strap. The Sport is com­pat­i­ble with Su­unto’s own op­tional chest strap for flex­i­bil­ity, mit­i­gat­ing this con­cern.

There’s an op­tion to have the heart rate mon­i­tor on 24x7, which is very handy for mea­sur­ing your rest­ing heart rate. Keep­ing tabs on this is a good in­di­ca­tion of how well rested you are, and whether it’s time to take a break. Un­for­tu­nately, the watch goes to sleep when you do, so check­ing your heart as soon as you wake up means be­ing awake and ac­tive, dis­rupt­ing your rest­ing rate.

Bat­tery life is a claimed 12 hours at low GPS power and eight at high power. We got a touch un­der six dur­ing a triathlon, with the Sport un­ex­pect­edly dy­ing on the run, which was far from ideal.

Dis­ap­point­ing re­sults aside, the Sport gives some truly use­ful met­rics, plus it’s one of the most ac­cu­rate at re­port­ing dis­tances. Run­ners will love how quickly the watch picks up the satel­lites, and see­ing a rolling list of lap times that in­di­cates run­ning pace. The GPS also re­ports al­ti­tude, so you get a pretty good idea of your as­cent and de­scent as you go. In­cred­i­bly, the watch caters for up to 80 sports, though with­out test­ing them all we can say it’s a great run­ning watch, a fine cy­cling com­pan­ion but flaky in the water. Any­thing shorter than an Olympic-size pool of­fered wonky re­sults to our ben­e­fit – a nice ego boost but no good for con­sis­tently mea­sur­ing im­prove­ments.

Still, it has one of the bet­ter screens in its class, and a use­ful, friendly app pack­ing a cool func­tion that pro­duces a fly­over video of your out­door es­capades. For the price, it’s a con­tender.

ABOVE The screen’s a touch­screen, and it works well even in pour­ing rain. ABOVE RIGHT Wear the watch as far up your arm as is com­fort­able, so the op­ticl sen­sor can ‘read’ more of your skin.

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