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?
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.