Battle With Fitbit & Garmin - Suunto’s Spartan Ultra GPS Watch
It is generally recognized that the Spartan Ultra is the latest premium GPS watch from Suunto, and looks set to give other sports-watches a run for their money. The rugged watch combines GPS and all-day activity tracking, and has enough sport-specific modes to cover you whether you get your kicks jogging around the park, competing in triathlons, or skiing.
The new multi-sport watch comes two years after Suunto's Ambit3, and is aimed at a more general athletic and adventure audience than the adventure-focused Ambit line. While it does offer all-day activity tracking, the Spartan Ultra is a more serious sports watch than most activity trackers, even the Fitbit Blaze, and is probably better compared with the likes of the Garmin Fenix 3.
In addition to logging activity data such as steps, calories and active time, the Spartan Ultra can track training and offer insights across a multitude of sports. These include triathlon, swimming, cycling, running, adventure racing, and various snow sports, to name a few. Suunto is keen to point out that even within a sport there are different options – like in cycling you can have interval, race, long ride or indoor.
With GPS and an in-built accelerometer, the Spartan Ultra is said to offer accurate and responsive speed readings via Suunto's FusedSpeed technology. Other key features include barometric altitude, digital compass and guided route navigation. Heart rate tracking is also possible with the optional chest-worn Suunto Smart Sensor.
Designed to survive in any conditions, the Spartan Ultra has a glass fiber reinforced polyamide casing, sapphire crystal glass and a titanium or stainless steel bezel, which all sounds pretty tough. It will be hand-made in Finland, and boasts water resistance to 100 meters (328 ft). A color touchscreen will be paired with three physical buttons, which will be important to fans of watersports, and the sweaty-fingered.
Sunnto hasn't revealed the full specs of the Spartan Ultra just yet, and says it will provide more details next month, ahead of an August release. For example, while we know the watch will have a "durable color touchscreen" we don't know its resolution, or what tech is used. Equally, other features like "smart mobile notifications" have been left somewhat vague, and the only word on the all-important battery life is that it's "competitive."
The watch is designed to be used with a companion iOS/Android app and the Suunto Movescount service, which is also getting an update. The headline improvements there appear to be a simplified interface, and the inclusion of sports-specific heatmaps based on millions of user-generated activities, letting users find the best places and routes for workouts.
What's more, the Suunto Spartan Ultra will be available from August, in four options: All Black Titanium, Stealth Titanium, Black and White. The titanium duo will retail for US$800, and the standard versions for $700. Adding the Suunto Smart Sensor for heart rate monitoring will cost an extra $50.