Happiness is replacing your old running watch with a new running watch. Until it all goes horribly wrong.
I bought this a couple of years ago. Within the first 8 months, I had problems. Here’s all about it:
Through the miracle of international shipping my Suunto Ambit2 R GPS running watch with heart rate monitor, made in Finland, arrived in Krabi, Thailand via United States Postal Service from Newton, Massachusetts this morning after purchasing on eBay nine days ago.
I have had Timex Ironman Triathlon watches since they first came out more than a decade ago. There is no GPS, there is no heart rate monitor, ambient air temperature, etc. It’s basically a stopwatch on my wrist that keeps track of my laps whether running, swimming, or cycling. The Ironman has served me well, but I’m way overdue for a serious upgrade. Lately, I’ve been checking out the SUUNTO Ambit2 R running watches and finally, I pulled the trigger on one last week when I found it for a good price.
As I write this, it is charging via USB from my notebook computer, and at 63% charge. I’ll do a full review, or a “Vern Review” in the next couple days, but just some initial thoughts, first impressions.
The SUUNTO Ambit2 R is HUGE. It’s a beast. It is a full half-inch wider at the face. The display is 3/8″ wider than the Ironman and about the same in height. The band is much thicker, and the watch sits higher off my wrist by about 1/4″.
The heart rate monitor sensor is HUGE. If you’ve been looking at photos of the Suunto Ambit watches and heart rate monitors, you’ve probably seen a photo of them that looks like this:
It’s a trick. The sensor on the heart rate monitor is NOT a fraction of the size of the face of the watch, it is in reality, BIGGER than the face of the watch at 2″ in diameter.
Comprehensive Review of Suunto Ambit2 R here.
Here’s my photo, minus the hocus-pocus:
So, don’t think you’re getting this little micro-sized sensor. It’s as big as a big piece of pepperoni. Mmm. Speaking of which… tonight is looking like a pizza night.
After 25 minutes of charging, I’ve gone from 34% to 68%. I know I need not wait to play with it, but I’m stuck in that late 1990’s mindset where it was taboo to stop the charge before it got to 100% when you first purchase an electronics item. My mind won’t let me set it free from the charger clasp and play with it yet.
The information on the display is easy to read. It isn’t as easy as I hoped it would be. The info is not that dark. It isn’t anything like true black. It’s more like 70% black. One thing I’d hoped in buying this upgrade was that I’d be able to read my time very easily as I ran. With the Ironman watch, it was quite difficult. The contrast just wasn’t there. The brightness of the light just wasn’t there. I’m anxious to try reversing the background to black and the info in a light color to see if it’s any better. If the light helps tremendously, I can get along using that. I just need to see the time instantly when I look at my watch, not hold it nine different ways to catch ambient light or avoid reflections.
73% charged. Tick tock…
I just popped the battery compartment open on the ANT heart rate monitor and was surprised to find a battery in there. Nice.
Garmin has a very similar product – but probably better made overall.
More on why I chose this watch over some of the others in the Ambit series:
1. It’s black. I like black. I don’t want blue, lime, white, or pink. I don’t want silver on the watch face, I just want black.
2. The Ambit2 R is specifically for running. I don’t need a watch that works in the pool to record my heart rate. If I’m in a pool or the ocean, it’s because I’m trying to recover from a running workout, not trying to work out some more.
3. Cost. Even the older Ambit2’s are still way out of my price range. I couldn’t justify spending $400 on a watch. The Ambit3 Peaks are $500+. They work with iPhones. I don’t have an iPhone. I don’t want one. I love Apple’s MacBook Pro and Air notebook line, but their phones suck IMHO. Give me a Galaxy S3, S4, S5, or Note anything, and I’ll be much happier. And I am.
4. GPS based altimeter readings, not barometer. I saw a great review where a guy in Australia took his Ambit2 to various elevations alongside his other GPS device. The Ambit2 was off GREATLY every time. I couldn’t imagine paying extra money for the Ambit2 or Ambit3 Peak and then having it feed me bad readings one after another. I’d be disappointed in the device and probably return it. The Ambit2 R doesn’t have an internal barometer, so it just goes by map data for elevation. I think that’s good enough for me because that’s what I’ve been using for years.
78%. Man, this wait is killing me. When I started charging the watch, it allowed me to choose English, set the time and date, my weight, and my date of birth, but that’s about it. Right now it’s showing time, date, and percentage of battery charge. It won’t allow me to do anything else while that charger is plugged in I guess. That sucks a bit.
Reading the PDF manual I found online. It says fully charging the Ambit2 R takes 2-3 hours. Yikes. It also told me the buttons are locked while charging. Bummer.
I just found out I can increase or decrease the display contrast! HA! Perfect. My faith in mankind has been restored. That’s what every electronic device with a screen needs. Really looking forward to tweaking that.
86%. Seems like it is charging quite quickly. I’ve added 50% or so in 48 minutes. Not sure it’s a steady charge, but if it is then it should fully charge from zero to 100% in less than 2 hours.
97%. Just went through the entire PDF manual. Good information there. Can’t wait to play with it.
Full review coming within 2-3 days. Stay tuned.
99%. Now, watch this take like 25 minutes to hit 100%!
It took 10 minutes. Now I’m out the door to try it out.
Comprehensive Review of Suunto Ambit2 R here.
Here is a video of the unboxing: