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Suunto Ambit to get full ANT+ functionality in November 2012, additional features in September 2012.

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There’s some pretty significant news coming out of the Suunto camp around the Suunto Ambit – their GPS integrated watch focused towards ultramarathon and hikers that they released back this past spring. The unit is unique in its 50+ hour battery life with GPS enabled. As previously announced, Suunto had planned a May 2012 update (which they came pretty close on delivering, only a few weeks late), and a September 2012 update.  However, they’ve now added a November 2012 update as well.  I’d guess that they’ve simply moved features from September to November – but nonetheless, it’s features I actually care about – so I’m happy that they’re simply committing to them.

Without question – the biggest one in here in my opinion is the addition of ANT+ functionality/compatibility.  This instantly takes the watch from being an industry loner (previously they used their own closed variant of ANT, not ANT+) to being totally compatible with a metric crapton of ANT+ accessories. I have confirmed with the Suunto team that initially they’ll support ANT+ footpods (running), HR straps, and bike speed/cadence sensors.

It’s very clear that many of these changes are in response to the Garmin Fenix unit – which from a functionality standpoint far eclipsed Suunto Ambit – as well as undercut it in price.  The addition of the below features put the two watches pretty close to each other from a functionality standpoint.

However, as is always the case – we’ll have to wait and see how both the final Fenix firmware and the final Ambit November firmware functionality looks.  As is often the case in sports watches and functionality, the devil is in the details.  But for now – these details look pretty sweet!

Here’s the information sent to me by the Suunto Ambit team:

September Updates:

– “With the September 2012 software update you can download routes to your Ambit from Movescount. Select from thousands of routes made by others and share  your own. Use the new on-screen route navigation to view your progress and the detailed path to your next destination.”

– “The new local grids in the September 2012 software update include among others the
American (UTM/ NAD27 & 83), British (BNG), Swiss (CH1903) and common European (ETRS89) grids. With local grids  Ambit will match the GPS coordinates with those of your local hiking map.”

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November Updates:

– “In addition to the already existing training features – such as Peak Training Effect and Recovery time – the November 2012 software update brings new training features such as chrono, countdown timer, interval timer, ANT+ compatibility and Foot POD support.”

– “The November 2012 software update will take your Ambit to a totally new and unexpected level of functionality and customization. You can create your own features or select from hundreds of community-created applications/features and download those to your Ambit. For example: Do want to know your speed in knots? The gradient of the slope? Your arrival time on your run? Your imagination is the limit!”

– “This was only the beginning…More to come in Fall 2012”

One interesting note I picked up on with the various Outdoor Retailer press pieces that have floated around is the messaging Suunto is repeating to the media that they will be continuing to improve the Ambit ‘at least annually’ adding new features.  While it’s often considered normal and expected to see firmware updates in watches, it’s rare that a company comes out and says they will absolutely be adding new features each year to a given watch already in market.  That’s positive – I wish others would do the same.  Both Motorola and Suunto appear to be the only ones able to set a firmware release schedule and nail it.  I’d personally love to see Timex and Garmin also switch to something like a quarterly firmware update schedule – rather than adhoc.  Known and consistent updates are appreciated by all.

That’s all folks, thanks for reading!  Go forth and discuss!

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98 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    I love the ambit…but it needs sunris sunset/ storm alert and stopwatch/ count down functions and a world time with on off switchable daylight savings. sexy watch…I took mine to bed the first time I met it!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  2. Matt

    I have a really basic question. What does ABC refer to? I assume it means altitude/barometer/compass, but I really don’t know. All of the searches come up and just say “ABC” watch but no one says what ABC means!

    (I found this site looking for reviews on Ambit which I just ordered and expect to receive tomorrow–thanks for all the discussions here! Even though I don’t know what ABC stands for, I know this is the watch I’ve been looking for.)

    Reply
  3. i hate my 910xt for always loosing the hearrate so i will return it tomorrow :-) and i think i will get an ambit.

    one question, do you think after the november upgrade it will be possible to connect my garmin runnig sensor and my wahoo caycling one?

    thx, i really love your tests

    Reply
  4. Hmm, I don’t suspect switching watches will fix that honestly – since it’s actually the strap transmitting and the watch just reading.

    Have you checked out my guides for how to fix HR strap issues like that?

    Troubleshooting your HR strap issues Part I:
    link to dcrainmaker.com

    Troubleshooting your HR strap issues Part II:
    link to dcrainmaker.com

    An interium solution using the Polar strap with the Garmin transmitter:
    link to dcrainmaker.com

    The best possible solution:
    Pickup the new Garmin 2010 Premium Soft Strap HR strap. Any of the individual straps you buy off of Garmin.com will be the correct/new version. And in 99% of the cases, if you buy it off of Amazon.com it’ll be correct too. The new strap is pictured here (in the accessories section):
    link to dcrainmaker.com

    Reply
  5. thx for that fast reply, i already have that strap. it was working well the last 2 months. i am just think of switching because it´s a shame that you get a crappy belt for the 400€ i spent.

    with my girlfriends polar belts it works well.

    lucky that i bought the 910 at amazon so switching is not a problem, the garmin support is unbeliveable slow, i am scared of sending the garmin for replacement to them.

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

    oI have owned a number of Garmin watches, most recently the 310Xt and 910XT and have changed over to the Suunto Ambit due to the after market service of the Suunto products.

    My Garmin’s all developed issues and Garmin was very slow in responding and resolving the problems whereas my Suunto products never failed despite some serious hammering.

    I have several bikes and kayaks – worth 20 or 30k (may my wife never discover this) so a premium of $100 over the Garmin or other brands is not relevant.

    Not having a working HRM for 2 months because Garmin’s support is very poor – that matters a lot.

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    I am pretty much worried about the comments stating that the ambit gets shorter distances than reality. I thought there was nothing simpler than an algorithm to determine the distance between two points! And if there is an error in determining the points, the overall estimated distance should always be bigger than reality. Has this maybe something to do with the corrections from the accelerometer?
    I was decided to buy the ambit until I learned about this.
    Someone could bring some light on this and chase away my fears!?
    Thanks

    Reply
  8. We are at 26 sep.
    Any news when the update will be available?

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    Yes they are. Right now movescount is being updated and is unavaliable, watch should be updated by the end of week…

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    I would love to have a timer on this watch, 99h. And i use metric format for distance, but would be awesome to have different parts in different format, like distance in meters, temperature in F, elevation in ft.

    Reply
  11. Anonymous

    You can specify custom units using Movescount, I use a mix of Imperial and Metric.

    Reply
  12. Anonymous

    yeah, i found it the other day. only thing is missing for my satisfactory is timer

    Reply
  13. Anonymous

    Sorry for the long post. I tested my T6 with a friend’s Ambit with the same HR belt (paired with both). While most of the things were very similar, PTE and calories were underrated on the Ambit. All body metrics were identical, EPOC peak was nearly identical on both watches (79.2 vs, 80.2), yet results differed:
    T6:PTE 3.2, 646kcal
    Ambit: PTE 2.9, 502kcal
    Ambit and Movescount have identical results, yet in the EPOC graph I can see the peak is well into 3rd zone (which starts at 60), while the calculated result is 2.9.
    Why the difference? I could understand if there were differences between Ambit and Movescount due to processing power and algorythms, but surely RR data from these two watches should produce identical results.
    This is just one example, but all are similar.
    Any ideas?

    Reply
  14. same activity class?

    Reply
  15. Glajda

    Yes, same activity class, weight, max HR. Everything identical. As there was only one HR belt it means even RR data should be close to identical. EPOC peak confirms that.

    I believe Ambit computations are wrong and Movescount just takes those results. As I mentioned, I can see on the EPOC graph background that level 3 starts at 60 ml/kg, EPOC peak is 80.2, yet Movescount and Ambit think this is 2.9.

    Reply
    • Ted

      Moves count recalculates TE as uploaded data from my T6 attests to

      Reply
  16. Anonymous

    Hello,

    I am planning to buy a ANT+ powermeter for my bike and would like to use the Suunto Ambit. Does anyone know if the November opdate will make this possible. Thanks for your answer.

    Greetings from the Netherlands, William

    Reply
  17. Johnbee

    Hi Ray, nice Review.
    I’m a trailer (not long distance though, moe around 15-20 kms), looking after a GPS watch for my runs in the mountains. I already train with a Garmin FR60, great watch wih the foot pod for instant pace, put it lacks precision in the trails. No GPS there, and no altimeter, which is becoming more and more important for me…
    Well, I’m interested in the Ambit and I wonder if the ANT+ upgrade will get the watch compatible with my Garmin foot pod and HRM belt.
    Cheers !

    Reply
  18. Ben

    Hello.

    I’m trying to decide whether to buy an Ambit and have enjoyed reading these reviews and comments – many thanks to all.

    I’m based in the UK and my main use will be for hillwalking/hiking. So I’m really pleased to see the recent software update adding the British grid datum, which for me was a showstopper.

    Really grateful for any comments/answers on the following to help me make up my mind:

    1. Does online Movescount also support the British grid format? i.e. can I enter waypoints on my laptop in this format and upload them to the Ambit ready for use on the hill with my maps?

    2. I see that now there is the ability to enter waypoints directly on the watch for locations other than current. Again, can I enter these in the British grid format?

    3. Finally, as Movescount is based on googlemaps, (a) is there an overlay available that, for any cursor position in Movescount, will give me the British grid co-ordinates (e.g. to check that I’m entering the summit spot-point)?, and/or (b) can I connect Ambit to other third party software (e.g. MemoryMap) on my laptop in which I already have my maps installed and upload waypoints in British grid format from there?

    Many thanks for any advice – apologies if I’ve missed the answers to these somewhere else.

    Reply
  19. Anonymous

    Hello I have called Suunto customer service 1 minute ago and they confirmed that with the new software update there will be Ant+ compatibility.

    Reply
  20. Anonymous

    Last week I was not aware of the planned features of release 2.x of the Ambit firmware and I decided to write the Suunto customer support email asking about ANT+ compatibility. I just received this answer 2 days ago:

    “Thank you for contacting Suunto Customer Support.

    We apologize for the delay in our answer. Please be informed that currently the Ambit is not ANT+ compatible. It should be used with Suunto ANT and Dual belts and Bike Pods. Should you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.”

    They are correct in saying that current support is not available but they sure didn’t tell me about this soon to be released 2.0 firmware.

    Maybe they hope to sell one more proprietary bike or cadence sensor! My road bike has a Duotrap sensor embedded in the frame. I will change watches before I attach external sensor to the frame…

    Reply
    • jopefully the ANT+ support will come soon, i just returned my secong 910xt last week becuase once again it worked like the cheap crap which costs you 90% less.

      any new infos are pretty welcome on my side :-)

      Reply
  21. Thomas

    I just picked up an Ambit and a Suunto foot pod mini. This morning I decided to test the foot pod on a indoor run. I wanted to log the cadence on my FR 305. And that when well, no problems there. However when I uploaded the data from the Ambit I found that I had speed and distance information as well. Can anyone explaine that?

    Reply
  22. Darren Smith

    G’day Team i have a Suunto Ambit and I’m trying to pair my Bike Pod and Cadence Pod I’m running software version 1.8 any helpful tips would be greatly appreciated

    Reply
  23. insane news :-)

    i just received via facebook:
    Hi Stephan, the forthcoming firmware update will make the Suunto Ambit compatible with ANT+ heart rate belts, bike, foot and cadence PODs from Suunto and other manufacturers. / Naoko ftom Suunto

    Reply
  24. PanamaJack

    Rainmaker,

    I am extremely impressed with your reviews. Very thorough yet concice without coming off as a Britanica.

    I look forward to more knowledge…

    Keep up the great work!

    PJ

    ps. sending email to Suunto about the ANT+ update and compatibility with Tanita BC-1000 so will report back soon

    Reply
    • Rainmaker

      Thanks!

      Indeed, they don’t support the ANT+ enabled scales (Tanita and others) at this time. Though hopefully with folks asking for it they’ll support them. It’s honestly be pretty easy for them to do.

      Reply
  25. Patrick

    Hi,

    Great reviews, Ray !

    Any news on the swim- part (counting laps in the pool, tracking outdoor swimming like the 910xt) and multisport incl. transition times??

    Thanks :)

    – Patrick, Denmark

    Reply
  26. Dan Liddiard

    Yeah! I’ve got an email from FirstBeat

    The call for beta-testers and Athlete feature poll resulted in a lot of good feedback and tons of beta-tester candidates – we really appreciate your dedication!

    First Beat Athlete: Suunto Ambit support. Your feedback has already had the effect that Suunto Ambit / Movescount compatibility is going to be included in the next release of the Athlete. Release is scheduled for Q1/2013.

    Reply
  27. Daniel Reynolds

    Wow. About time they released a countdown timer. I’m buying it now. That was the only missing feature holding me back.

    Reply
    • That is good. But I’m missing bluetooth, wifi, graphical find back function with map, activate background light when holding the watch near your hr belt, easier GUI, more modification/settings within the watch without need for external computer, vibrator (difficult hearing the low beeps), fast transfer speed between ambit and computer, etc.

      Reply
  28. René

    Hello
    Wow great reviews, I read a few and I’m impressed. I currently own a Polar AXN 700 that served me into many adventures for almost a decade. Unfortunately, it had an impromptu rendez vous with the ceramic floor… I’m now looking for a wrist top computer that will do everything my polar did and add the GPS… I was wondering if there is a better “aftermarket” HR strap that would be compatible with the Ambit. Or even a cycling pod /running pod/HR strap package ?
    Have a great day
    Thanks a lot

    René

    Reply
    • Rainmaker

      Yes, you can use any ANT+ HR Strap now with the Suunto Ambit. And likewise, any cycling ANT+ sensor and/or running ANT+ sensor. Generally HR straps are about $30-40, footpods about $40-50, and bike sensors about $25-45 (all ANT+).

      Reply
    • Here you can see all the ant+ compatible accessories: http://www.thisisant.com

      However, as mentioned below, lot of professional stores here in Sweden still tell their customers that Suunto Ambit2 is not compatible with eg Wahoo ANT+ belt, they claim you need a special device for Suunto. But…I am thinking they must be wrong. Have not tested this my self yet, but the whole idea with ant+ is that it should be compatible with all other ant+. Sales reps I talked to claim that even if its the same protocoll, the different manufacturers create different mappings, so data sent from ant+ garmin to ant+ suunto does not necessary match each other.

      I hope they are wrong. But Im not sure yet. Would be cool to have a HR belt that could be used both with my iPhone and Runkeeper and Suunto Ambit2.

      Reply
  29. Robert

    Hi, all. Good discussion. Today I had a chance to try my friends Suunto Ambit. Without HR strap, just used it for biking in our quite hilly forest. GPS seems to be working just fine, but not sure whether the altimeter works correctly – seen difference in comparision to what was marked on tables during the trail and also GPS co-ordinates at my home seems to be off – in Latitude by about 6.9min and Longitude by 4.5min. I did compare it to my Garmin handheld navigation 62stc as well as Runtastic’s Altimeter Pro on iPhone. But other then that it works great. Easy to use, very good display. I had for few years a Suunto Core and agree with others it just works fine and I’m using it almost every weekend – skiing, hiking etc.

    What I’m missing is a virtual partner for running and at least some features for swimming other then water proofe – though that’s already something compare to other GPS and not just GPS multisport watches. Does anybody has an idea whether they are planning to improve the running and swimming features?

    P.S. and obviously the watch is large – in comparision to my Polar 400 and even Suunto Core.

    R

    Reply
    • Rainmaker

      Hi Robert-

      Hopefully you didn’t pickup the Ambit over the last 36 hours. Check out the new Ambit2 – I think it does what you’re looking for:

      link to dcrainmaker.com

      Enjoy!

      Reply
    • Bengt

      The new Ambit2 does work with swimming metrics. It is quite difficult to measure exact meters and lengths, but that goes for Garmin 910xt as well.

      I am also missing “Virtual partner” from Garmin. I know there are some apps in Suunto store that tries to do something similar, but non of them have worked for me and lots of comments about that the app is not working. And you can not compare the Suunto app to the Garmin VR, as Garmin has a real animated picture of you in the display. The home made Suunto app does only show your pace in numbers, and how long before or after you are from last run. Or thiat is at least how it is supposed to work :) The suunto apps are not like iPhone apps, they are VERY simple and lots of bugs.

      Reply
  30. Scott

    Hello all, great comments here, I’m considering the Ambit for back county skiing/ mountaineering but I also spend a lot of time in the ocean surfing. The tide app looks pretty cool too but does anyone have feedback on if this watch holds up in surf and the inevitable occasional pounding?

    Thanks
    Scott

    Reply
  31. Bengt

    Hello, nice reviews! Googled “Suunto ANT+ compatible with Garmin” and came here. Just bought a new AMBIT2 from Suunto and went down to Stockholms largest bike store (Cykloteket). They are claimed to be no 1 in Sweden when it comes to race bikes and accessories. I asked them if I could buy a cadence meter and connect to my Suunto GPS-watch. -No, sorry! That is not possible, they answered. We stopped selling Suunto because there was no demand for Suunto. Now we only have Polar and Garmin. Ok, I said. But is it possible to buy the Garmin cadence meter and use it with my Suunto Ambit? No way, you cant do that. It wont work! Ok, I said. But, I bought this watch with ANT+ protocol just because it is claimed to suite all accessories using ANT+? No, you cant do that. You have to find a store that sells cadence meters that suites Suunto. Ok…so I left the store and started to google. ant that is when I found this site. And what I can see this site also claims you can use all accessories with ANT+ protocoll, not to care about if its Garmin or Suunto? Have I misunderstood something or what?

    I also found out that it is not possible to connect your Suunto HR belt to your iPhone and Runkeeper. But it is possible to connect your Garmin 910xt HR belt to Runkeeper/iPhone. Strange as well. But maybe the Garmin HR belt transfers via bluetooth as well? I do not know.

    But it is a little bit scary that the largest bike store in Sweden said they stopped selling Suunto due to poor demand and that you cant buy accessories to Suunto in this store. It made me feel like, “oh…maybe I should have bought a Polar or Garmin anyway”.

    However, it is a good looking watch. Neither Polar or Garmin can compete with that :-)

    Reply
    • Hi again, I made some further research and discovered a site that names all the compatible ANT+ products there are. And… it did have Suunto on its list. Both Ambit2 and Ambit2 S, actually it even had the old Ambit there for about 83 products. The new Amibt2 is compatible with 157 ANT+ accessories including wahoo ANT+ that Garmin and iPhone uses.

      So…I have not bought them yet or tried them my self. But it seems like they should work with Suunto, even to both Addnature (that sells Suunto) and Cykloteket (do not sell Suunto anymore) claim they are not combatible with Wahoo and other ANT+. They claim you need to buy special Suunto ANT+ accessories and that sound so strange. They might be right, coz I have not tried this my self yet, but why should this site (www.thisisant.com) say it compatible if it was not?

      I think Suunto should go out there and educate their dealers and resellers. I dont know how many people and potential customers that are getting false information today, and therefor chose other products?

      Keep it up!

      Reply
    • It really does work, despite a few retailers not understanding it.

      Here’s a full post on how it all works on the Ambit1:

      link to dcrainmaker.com

      And within this post I talk in detail about how it works with the Ambit2:

      link to dcrainmaker.com

      Enjoy!

      Reply
  32. Bengt

    Tried the new “route” function today. It is amazing! Just paint your route at home, transfer the route to your Ambit2 and then push “navigate – routes” and chose the route you just created. It is very easy to follow the route you made. Chose between 5 km view or 500 meter view. I love this function – and I really hope Suunto will make this function work in “Find Back” mode as well. Currently the Find Back function only shows the direction to where you started, as the crow flies. So…that will make it complicated when running in cities, where buildings will be in your way, or rivers, or when hiking mountains, you might want to go back in the same footsteps, but Suunto have not solved this yet it seems. If they do, it will be so cool. Just go out for any activity on unknown soil, and then just go back again exactly the same road.

    Reply
  33. Hagai

    Hi everyone. Just got my new suunto ambit 2s. How do you insert the distance you plan to run in the watch?? Totally lost here. Tx

    Reply
  34. Any update on where Suunto is developing / releasing a firmware upgrade for the Ambit 2, to work with a Tanita BC-1000 scale? Just returned my Garmin 910XT back to EMS and picked up the Ambit 2. After running the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc 100km in France, I need a watch that has longer battery life while providing critical data (distance, elevation, barometric pressure (nice to know the weather may turn shitty), etc.

    Thanks, Alex

    Reply
    • No word there. It’s never come up in any discussions.

      Reply
    • PanamaBikeStar

      I’m in weight reduction mode getting ready for the 2014 motorcycle racing season and same as Alex I would like to be able to pair my tanita with the Ambit 2 the way I did with my Garmin 310xt.

      Really annoying to have to memorize or write down weeks worth of data that then has to be plugged into a spreadsheet for analysis.

      Reply