Suunto Ambit reviewed by a hunter/outdoorsmans perspective.
I am going to try to do a review of the new Suunto Ambit Black GPS navigation training watch. This is going to be difficult because the Ambit is a evolving product with many firmware updates planned by Suunto for additional features. As a longtime multiple ABC watch owner, I can safely say that the Ambit is in another league. Its a “game changer” for outdoor watches.
It is so much more advanced over my beloved Suunto Core, that it would be like comparing a 8 year old basic Cell phone to the latest iPhone smart phone. The Ambit, even as just a ABC watch, uses all new sensors and does the ABC thing better and more accurately than the Suunto Core. Up till now the Suunto Core was the gold standard of ABC watches.
The Ambit is a big watch. It is not heavy and is very well balanced. The strap is very good and has a waffle pattern that allows your skin to breath and allow water to escape when swimming. It is long enough to strap over a light jacket or just over your skin.
It is worth noting that the strap is now connected to the head of the watch with allen head screws and not the typical flat head screws of the past. The size of the Ambit is thicker than the Core but if you can wear the Core as a every day watch, you can wear the Ambit as a every day watch. Its that simple. I found it slips under my winter jacket cuffs without any problems.
The Ambit is designed and manufactured in Finland and is Suunto's halo watch. Its build quality is a tank and notch above anything Suunto has produced previously. The button push is solid and smooth. The watch oozes quality and feels very reassuring if you were to use it in the real rough stuff. The display is another feature that blows any other digital display away. It has a very high dense pixel count and is crisp and sharp. The closest analogy I could use would be the Core's display is standard def tv, the Ambit is like a 1080P LCD hi def. Its that good and is a major feature to this watch. Your main interface with this watch is its display and having the sharpest display available gives the user a giant advantage over anything before. The unprecedented feature of this display is its ability to switch display from positive to negative display with a push of a button. No longer do you have to buy a separate watch for two great looks. The negative display is very cool looking and is way more legible than any negative display by any manufacturer. The positive display is just as impressive. I can read the negative display from 8' across the room and can read the positive display 10' away across the room.
The adjustable back-light may be the brightest I have ever seen and was only at 50%. Its so bright you can read by the light. (no joke) I have not seen how bright 100% is. I lowered the back-light to only 30% and its still brighter than any back-light I have ever used. The Cores back light would be a 3-5% in comparison. Very impressive.
The Ambit has a screen-saver to save battery life. If the Ambit doesnt sense any movement in 30 minutes, The screen is turned off but all measurements are still active. The slightest movement brings the Ambit's screen to life.
The alarm has a very high quality multi tone chime. When the alarm sounds, the light comes on and stays on 10 seconds after you push a button to either turn the alarm off or activate the snooze. Of course, you can adjust features like the light during the alarm,etc...
Its hard to narrow down the Ambit on who and what it was designed for. It is so versatile and can be custom tailored to about any and all activities. Its a training watch that can be easily linked with a heart rate or bike pod strap.. It has very detailed training logs that go way beyond my use. The Ambit is a navigation watch for trail running, mountain climbing, hunting, and any sport you might find yourself doing in the mountains. Its great for motor-sports like motorcycle riding, ATV riding, Boating, etc... You get the picture? The Ambit can be custom designed by the owner through Suunto's free downloadable software called “Movescout”.
You can totally adjust all features and settings via Movescout on your computer if you want.
The watch is powered by a internal lithium-ion rechargeable battery that is charged through any usb power source. The Ambit comes with a alligator clip adapter that clips to the watch and makes contact with contact points on the bottom of the watch. Simply plug into any USB plug on your computer, AC adapter, car adapter, or even a solar USB charger. However you would charge your iPod, you can charge the Ambit. Battery life depends on how hard you run the gps. As a standard ABC watch the battery life is 30 days. When using the gps the battery time is 15 hours with 1 sec GPS fix and 50 hours with 60 sec GPS fix. The watch always remains sealed and Water Resistant to 100M. The Ambit has more in-common with a iPod than a watch. Even the way the Movescout mirror syncs between the computer and watch parallels Apple's iTunes and a iPod. That should open up a lot of endless possibilities.
How does it perform?? Lets dive into only the ABC functions. The Ambit is using a totally different sensor than the Core. It finds its altitude quicker and doesn’t bounce up and down as much. I set the altimeter to a reference of 997ft. I then would run up and down three flights of stairs in my house. The Ambit changed as fast as I could move and when I would stop half way up, the Ambit's numbers would stop. It was like it was locked into a gps signal but it wasn’t. The set up is similar to the Core but with many more features to set. The Altimeter now has a 12 hour graph. The Barometer graph is 27 hours long. Like the Core, the Ambit has a Altimeter profile for hiking and telling the altitude. A Barometer profile that tells the weather trend and a automatic profile that lets the watch decide the correct profile for the activity. The compass is another major upgrade. The compass no longer has to be held flat and still for a correct reading. It has 3D compass which allows for readings on the move. The temperature reading still has to be removed from the wrist for accurate readings without your body temperature effecting it. A side benefit helps keep the Barometer more accurate knowing a approximate temperature internally.
Now the big news,..The GPS. The ambit uses the latest SiRF star IV technology. Cold lock up times were very fast and compatible to my cars Garmin Nuvi 3490 at 14-20 seconds. After that lock-up times were almost instantaneous. Lock-up times inside my 3 story brick house on the first floor is 3 seconds. Thats about as good as it gets and is outstanding on a wrist gps. In car performance on the wrist was just as good. The internal memory holds 100 waypoints that can be set on the watch in real time or in the Movescout program. It is very easy and intuitive. Perfect for marking your parked car before entering the woods and then mark a few landmarks along you days journey. The watch has a long list of icons and preset labels that can be personalized more detailed if you like.
The Ambit has custom profiles that Suunto calls “training logs”. A training log is a custom set of priorities you design your Ambit to do. The possibility are endless.
As you can see by my pic I set my Ambit up for ATV riding and any motorsport that looks and locks onto the gps signal and records a waypoint every 1 second. A general Hunting stopwatch timer that mirrors features similar on the Core like altitude,etc...but doesn’t look for a gps signal. Trekking that looks for a gps signal and marks a waypoint every 60 seconds. These are very very basic exercise modes I have designed on Movescout. I cant stress how many options and tasks you can custom tailor and store as a “exercise log” in your Ambit.
I am going to wrap this review up because I could go on and on with the features of the Suunto Ambit. Remember many new features will be released as firmware updates for the Ambit like storm alarms, count down timer, and who knows what else??? Suunto is currently asking what features its users want at Ambit@suunto.com. This shows the company has great plans for the Ambits future. It's an exciting and brand new world for Suunto and the Ambit. It could be Suunto's most significant watch and is certainly their most complex and versatile ABC/GPS Navigation/Training watch.
Very custom profiles.(activities are endless)