Earlier this year we spent a month checking out the Suunto Ambit3. And while we didn’t to experience it as long as we’d like, we did spend more than enough time to determine what we really liked and where Suunto has some opportunities to improve future products. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s dig into the Suunto Ambit3 first.
The Suunto Ambit3 Sport Blue
Suunto’s Ambit3 is the next generation of Suunto’s popular Ambit line of GPS devices. The Ambit3 starts with a standard GPS chipset (no GLONASS) and gets a claimed 15 hours of battery life (we didn’t have any IM distance races scheduled, so we never tested the claim). The Ambit3 display is monochromatic and can display up to three data fields at once. Being a next-generation watch, the Ambit3 gets a host of features and changes not found on the Ambit2.
First up is Bluetooth Smart sensor support. Where the Ambit2 supported ANT+, the Ambit3 has switched over to Bluetooth. For some, this is going to be a big win. With many smartphones primarily supporting Bluetooth, the prevalence of Bluetooth accessories is becoming more and more common. Although for others who already own a wide range of ANT+ accessories, this may be a challenge. A year ago we actually would have called this a deal breaker. But to be fair, we see so many Bluetooth-only and hybrid (Bluetooth and ANT+) accessories now that this may not be such a big deal.
Next up is the mobile app and Movescount – Suunto’s online portal. As we spent time with the Ambit3, this quickly became our favorite feature. The amount of integration between the mobile app and the Ambit3 itself is fantastic. You can customize your watch faces on the app, too. No longer must you press buttons on tiny screen. Simply setup the watch faces you want on your phone and you’re all set. It’s a small detail, but Suunto got it absolutely right.
Speaking of watch faces, the Ambit3 allows you to view three pieces of data at once at any given time. The Suunto team took a vertical approach to data display with the main metric taking up the majority of screen real estate, while the two other metrics are positioned above and below. This works very well for some, given how deliberate the main metric is. However, for those who like to see as much data as possible, they may find the limit of three metrics to be a down side.
We spent our time with the Ambit3 during non-peak training. As a result, we mainly stuck to single sport workouts and unfortunately no races were scheduled during this time, either. During training, we were all smiles with the Ambit3. It consistently measured our runs and rides to the expected fixed measurements. In fact, throughout all of our workouts we only had one issue with an incorrect distance, and that was while we were lap swimming—the Ambit3 incorrectly measured the total number of laps.
The Movescount portal was a fresh take on the social exercise experience. The user experience is easy to navigate and felt a little cleaner compared with some of the others we’ve used. We also had a lot of fun constantly tweaking our watch faces. As we mentioned above, this was truly our favorite feature of the Ambit3. Honestly why isn’t this available on all other multisport watches and computers coming to market?
Our only other critique is the lack of vibration alerts on the watch. We have come to rely on vibration alerts when we tune out the world on a long run. The only thing that lets us know we have hit the next mile (or maybe that it’s time for a snack) is that little vibration on our wrist. The good news is that Suunto definitely hears the feedback regarding the lack of vibration, so we hope to see it on a future product.
Short-term reviews are always the toughest – we have just enough time to get a taste of a product, but not enough to really get to know them. With the Ambit3, there is a huge amount of potential. What they have done with the mobile app is really fantastic. In fact, we think its reason enough to heavily consider the Ambit 3. But of course while some features may seal the deal for a portion of our readers, they may be deal breakers for others. At the end of the day it comes down to what is most important for you. And if the Ambit3 checks all those boxes, you may consider adding it to your short list.