I have been using a simple HR watch for about 10 years. My family is sporty – especially the males. They have been doing some running, cycling and ski-mountaineering on regular basis, so they have been the first who started using this stuff. On our joint sport activities, I was always the slowest one and also the one complaining about being exhausted. I have been blaming them for pushing me, naturally. But then I have bought a watch for myself to take my heartbeat under control and be able to enjoy the activities.  The first model I owned was a simple model by Polar [1]. After some good years of service, the heart belt broke down. And I have got my second model by Polar [2]. Again, it was a plain model, I was able to monitor my HR and this one was already able to count Calories. However, it was not satisfying my growing demands. I have got a smartphone, and started to document my runs and rides with GPS and upload them on strava.com. As the time went by, I have got lazy to write down the HRs into a training diary (I acctually never had a proper oner!) and after some time I got to know myself good enough to train without watch. I put it on only for special occasions, e.g. going on a run after a long break or so. I have been going on like this for about a year, and was thinking about getting a proper watch. I wanted it to communicate with computer, I wanted HR and GPS, and of course it was supposed to have good battery life. The problem with my smartphone was, I was also using it for taking pictures, and combine it with GPS running, it would not survive on longer rides. So when my B-day was coming up this year, I have rudely asked for a present. I have already knew, I wanted to go on the long roadtrip from Germany to Slovakia, and I have planned to take the comming time to get into shape and lose some kilogramms. Hence, a lot of sport activities were popping up on my scedule and I would find plenty of opportunities to put the new watch into use. So I have started my search for the perfect HR and GPS watch. As a girl (it is mostly a girly thing to say), I wanted a nice one. However, I was well aware that I will be buying a big watch. The guys (reffering here to those sporty males in my family) started with Polar. However, my brother has recently switched to Suunto. I have to admit, their models look very appealing – bold, yet not bulky. So I went for it! And there, I have picked the Ambit3 Sport in coral. [3]

THE LOOK

First of all, the watch looks great. I have picked the coral version and I have been a bit frightened when the package arrived. I was not sure, how the colour is going to turn out. I have seen plenty watches in colour and most of them looked so cheap. However, I do not regret taking this risk. The coral version is so beautiful. The surface is matt (even after 3 months) and the touch feels so great. It is hard to put it in words – I am excited every time I put them on! And the best part, the HR belt is in the colour of watch which I did not see coming.

THE COMPATIBILITY

When I picked that watch, I was curious about the Bluetooth connectivity. Transfering your data, expecially if you are on a longer trip like my latest roadtrip was, might get tricky. There was no way, I would carry a laptop with me for a 12-day-long journey and 100 hours of memory would not be sufficient either. So the possibility of saving the data through movescount-app into my smartphone (you need internet connection to do that) is a trait I learnt to appreciate very quickly. I rarely connect them to my laptop.

What I did not know when buing them, the movescount-app has been primarly developed for iOS. And there is only a beta version for android users. Plus, it is able to communicate only with Android 4.3 or higher. When I have got the new watch this summer, my Samsung S4 Active was still running on Jelly Bean (4.3) – so it was a close call. Although, I think the most devices are alreary running on Lollipop (5.0) these days. Be aware, the open beta version has still its bugs, e.g. my phone can only syncs one time, if I try to sync them next day and I have not restarted my phone in between – it will not work. I have no idea why. (If anyone does, pelase let me know.) So it is upsetting but I guess it will improve with time and I believe the iOS users do not experience this kind of problems.

THE BATTERY and CHARGING

The battery life is quite poor, it is only about 10 hours if you let your watch run GPS in 1sec intervals. Unfortunatelly, the GPS-sender is working even when the excercise is paused. So I usually record two excercises on longer rides – one before lunch and then the second for the afternoon part and I save 2hours battery life of the lunch pause. This is quite ridiculous and if there is a better way (or can I set it somewhere to shut down GPS while pausing, please?) I would be happy to hear about it.

Nevertheless, I have mentioned before, I rarely connect my watch to laptop for syncing. So you are probably asking, how do I charge them? The charging/connecting cable is a simple USB, so you basically need a wall-plugin-thingy (what do you call it?). However, and this took me long time to find this p[articular piece of information, you should only charge it from USB 0.5 – 1.0 A and 5.0 V. The voltage is not a problem but the standard wall-plugin-thingy from your smartphone usually works on 2.0A. So you either find a thingy which only provides you with less Amperes or you can get an external battery. The latter is my case. I need an external power cell for the longer trips anyway – if you cam in wild, there are no power sockets. So I have been looking for one which had the proper amount of Amperes. I got one from ALLPOWERS and it has 1.0A and 2.0A outlet, so I can charge my phone as well. So I charge my watch from it even when I am being home because you do not want your power cell to rot.

THE FUNCIONALITY

This is a hard part for me to write. I have obviously had much experience with similiar products. However, I can judge form an amateur´s point of view. I either run, bike or swim – only for fun. I have been very excited about the openwater swim – the HR belt has its own memory, so it remember your HR and can sync with watch after you get out of the water (as the transmission under water is not possible). In the same fashion, your GPS works only above water surface, so I got used to  stick the watch out for a few seconds when I was making a turn. The internal memory of HR belt  is also very usefull when the connection between belt and watch get lost – it has happened few times. It syncs as soon as it get reconnected (I have seen the Calories count to jump up and there were later no holes in the record).

Otherwise, the watch works well. I have not had any problems with GPS and no trouble with navigation functions. I have appreciated the planing your route in advance through POIs, or the tracking back function. There is no way, you will get lost with this watch in the woods. The HR belt  is comfortable, I have even slept with it when trying to do recovery tests in my sleep. However, it has stopped working few times (like four times so far) but then restarted on its own and I am not talking about lost connection between watch and belt this time.

THE RECOVERY TESTS

This is the most conrfusing part of all to me. The watch tends to exaggerate in my opinion. I have also tried to run the calibration tests several times in order to imoprove the precision of my recovery status – unfortunatelly, without any further success. It has been three months and the watch has nto been calibrated yet. Maybe, I am doing something wrong – no idea.

THE SUMMARY

Nothing is perfect. So even this watch is not without its faults, e.g. the short battery life or the occasional glitch of movescount app. On the other hand, I am very pleased by it. It has so many wonderful funcions and I can keep track of all my activities (incl. swimming).  All in all, my enthusiasm is to be expected as I have been using only the simple versions such devices for so long and it has been a great upgrade for me! It has been a lot of joy for me. If you are thiniking about getting one for yourself, I would recommend going the extra mile and buy even a more expensive model, you will not regret it later.

 

[1] Polar FS 1 in black. I was only able to find a blue model online, strange. link: http://images10.newegg.com/ProductImageCompressAll300/A0AJ_POLARFS1_129624707124601587pvNXQcakQ9.jpg

[2] Polar RS 100 in link: black. http://www.polar.com/e_manuals/RS100/Polar_RS100_user_manual_English.pdf

[3] Suunto Ambit3 Sport in coral. link: http://www.suunto.com/Products/sports-watches/Suunto-Ambit3-Sport/Suunto-Ambit3-Sport-Coral/

 

GALLERY

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