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Suunto Ambit 2 and 2S In-Depth Review


It’s been just over a year since the first Suunto Ambit came out (which for clarity I’ll use the term Ambit1 during this review), and during that time Suunto has made impressive progress on the original unit through a series of pre-announced and predictable (and even on time!) firmware updates.  Today, Suunto has officially announced their latest addition to the lineup, the Ambit2 and Ambit2 S.  With the new Ambit, Suunto is squarely taking aim at not only the ultra-running and hiking market that the Ambit1 targeted, but now – the triathlete.  It introduces both indoor and openwater swimming functionality, as well as multisport mode.  With a slew of other features, make no mistake that this is aimed directly at the Garmin FR910XT.

But, how well does it work?  And can it knock the FR910XT off the top spot?  Well, I’ve spent a lot of miles with the watch recently, and am here to give you all the details: Good, bad, and ugly.

Because I want to be transparent about my reviews – Suunto sent me two final retail units to try out (Ambit2 and Ambit2 S). Once I’m complete here, I’ll send this back to Finland and then go out and buy my own (to be able to support y’all in the comments section down the road). Simple as that. Sorta like hiking in wilderness trails – leave only footprints. If you find my review useful, you can use any of the Amazon or Clever Training links from this page to help support future reviews.

Lastly, at the end of the day keep in mind I’m just like any other regular triathlete out there. I write these reviews because I’m inherently a curious person with a technology background (my day job), and thus I try and be as complete as I can. But, if I’ve missed something or if you spot something that doesn’t quite jive – just let me know and I’ll be happy to get it all sorted out. Also, because the technology world constantly changes, I try and go back and update these reviews as new features and functionality are added – or if bugs are fixed.

So – with that intro, let’s get into things.


Because I’m covering two slightly different variations of the Ambit in this post, I’ll be doing two unboxing’s below, somewhat in concert.

Here are the two models.  The Ambit2 is on the left, and the 2S is on the right. Apparently there was a mix-up and they sent me the original Ambit1 box for the Ambit2 S.  Nonetheless, here they are:


On the back however, you’ll see in the SKU that it does list the 2S on the right side for the lime one.  Perhaps they were trying to recycle old boxes. Shrug.


Taking a detour for just the full Ambit2 model, here’s its inner box removed from the outer shell:



Inside, you’ll find the watch looking up at you:


Below the watch is a compartment with all of the accessories included.  This will vary slightly depending on whether or not you picked up the variant with the heart rate strap.  Otherwise, you’ll still find the USB charging cable, and the manual.


Here’s a closer look at the Ambit2 (Sapphire):


And the back:


Switching back to the Ambit2 S, here’s its inner/outer box:


Inside you’ll find the 2S just like Ambit2:


Inside the box of the 2S you’ll find the USB charging cable, the manual, and depending on which variant you’ve bought – the heart rate strap.



And the backside of the 2S.  You’ll see it’s essentially identical on the back to that of the Ambit1, and the Ambit2.


Looking at the common accessories, you’ve first got the USB charging clip.  This four-pin charging clip simply bites onto the unit itself, and can be powered via any old USB wall outlet you have lying around – or a computer.




Then depending on which bundle you bought you’ll also have the HR strap. This includes the strap piece, and the little pod that snaps in between it:


Here’s how it snaps into place on both sides (in this photo, it’s half-snapped on the left-side):


Note that the Suunto strap included is NOT ANT+.  Meaning the strap included is not compatible with any ANT+ devices you may have, instead, only working with other Suunto devices over a proprietary variant of ANT.  That said however, if you do have an ANT+ strap (say you’re converting from being a Garmin/Timex/etc…. user), then that will work with the Ambit lineup (all Ambits).  Good deal, huh?

Finally, you’ve got the manual.  Unlike most companies in the sports technology world however, Suunto’s manual is actually really detailed and very solid.  And in nine languages.


Now that everything is unpacked, let’s go ahead and look at how it compares in size to other units.

Size Comparisons:


As you can see above, the watch face sizes are actually really similar across the most competitive units in this space: The Ambit’s and Fenix.  Virtually indistinguishable.  On the far sides we have other triathlon-focused watches with integrated GPS.  At the far left is the Timex Global Trainer, then the Garmin FR310XT, then the Garmin FR910XT, then the Garmin Fenix.  Continuing towards the right we have in silver the Suunto Ambit2 Sapphire, then the Ambit2 S Lime, then the original Ambit followed by the Magellan Switch Up.  Both the Garmin FR910XT and the Magellan Switch up in these photos are utilizing the quick release kits.


Here’s a closer look at the three Suunto Ambits.  Again, from left to right: Ambit2 Sapphire, Ambit2 S Lime, Ambit1.


What’s actually somewhat interesting is the height of the display.  You’ll notice that the Ambit1 is the thickest alongside that of the Garmin Fenix, with the Ambit2 following, and the thinnest being the Ambit2 S.  You’re looking at the airgap between the watches and the desk.


(Preemptive question and answer about previous section: If I send everything back, how is it that I have all these units for the rolling pins?  Simply put: I buy them. Supporting the site through the links you see at the end helps with this.  In recent months, Clever Training helps out with the majority of the unit re-purchases from their retail stock.)

Next is to note that the Ambit2 and Ambit2 S are slightly different in terms of thickness.  Not a ton, barely noticeable unless you had them both and something like this to measure them:


As you can see below the Ambit2 (silver) is 1.74mm thicker than the Ambit2 S (Lime) – again, remember we’re talking millimeters here.  I threw in the older Ambit1 (black) as well, which is .75mm thicker than the Ambit2.




Width-wise, all Ambit units are identical – I measured it as 49.89mm (excluding the buttons):


Then if we look at weight, the Ambit2 is heavier than the Ambit2 S as well.  The Ambit2 is 93g, whereas the Ambit2 S is 73g.  This comes from the addition of the barometric altimeter and temperature sensors, which adds 9g of weight between the Ambit2 S and the non-Sapphire Ambit2 (82g – not pictured):



While the above is the Sapphire model (for the non-S Ambit2), the non-Sapphire model is slightly lighter at 82g – identical to that of the Garmin Fenix.

And for reference, here’s the weight’s of the Ambit1 (78g) and the Garmin Fenix (82g):



Many folks ask about smaller wrists, so I always defer to The Girl’s opinion on this given her 5’2” height and small wrists.  Her wrist size is 14cm (or 5.5 inches), my wrist size is 17cm (or about 6.5 inches).  She did a couple of runs with the Ambit2 S.


In her case, she had to have it tightened down to the very last notch in order for it to be snug.  Anything less and it was bouncing around.



For those curious about her thoughts – she actually didn’t mind running with the unit (she ran a few times with the Ambit2 S) ,and didn’t find it uncomfortable or too large (she’s run with the Garmin FR310XT and FR910XT previously, but is currently using the FR10).

In comparison, here’s what it looks like on my wrists.  First, the Ambit2 S:



Then the Ambit2 Sapphire:



With that, let’s start running!


First up is pressing the Start button and choosing exercise.  It’s here that you’ll select which activity type you’ll be using.  In our case, we’re going to go with running:


We’ll dive into all the other activity types later on.  Each activity type has pre-configured device pairings associated with it, for example – a heart rate monitor, or a bicycling cadence sensor.  In this case, I’ve got my ANT+ heart rate strap paired to it, so it goes and finds that first:

Then it looks for satellites.  As I’ll cover in the satellite section, it doesn’t take too long at all – merely a second or two sometimes.


Once that’s done, you’re ready to being running.  Note that you’ll see I’ve got the metrics displayed as minutes/mile (typical running format):


However you can also display them in metric format as well, and that can be easily changed in the settings menu:


After pressing the start button to begin running you’ll see your pace, distance, HR and any other metric you’ve configured on the screen.  To iterate between the different data pages you’ve configured, you’ll use the next button.  Then the view button can be used to change the bottom half of the screen within a given data page.  Sorta like a rotating banner.

In the below screen I have workout time up on top, current pace in the middle, and average workout pace along the bottom:


In the next screen I’ve tapped the view button to keep the top screens but change the bottom screen to BPM (heart rate):


Then I tap the Next button and now I’m in a more heart-rate focused screen.  Current HR in the middle, average HR at the bottom, and the Training Effect at the top.


All of these screens are customizable and I’ll talk about that later on.

To pause the run, you can simply tap the start/stop button which will trigger a pause.  To resume, you’ll press the same button.  Additionally, you can press the lap button to create a lap marker that will allow you to see lap-specific intervals either during the run/ride, or later on within the Movescount site.

While running there’s an option called ‘FusedSpeed’, which effectively blends together accelerometer based wrist movements with GPS speed in an attempt to smooth out your speed and provide a smoother pacing experience.  Note that FusedSpeed doesn’t work indoors because it depends on the GPS speed.

Below is a short video clip I took showing what the instant-pace looks like on the Ambit2 while running.  You’ll see that it’s remarkably stable.  I was pacing against a boat along the river (which I assume was doing the same speed as they almost always do in this section).  My pace was just going back and forth between 6:15/mile and 6:20/mile.  Note that the Ambit2 won’t display 6:17/mile – it displays pace in :05/mile increments.  The number you’re watching is the middle number (that’s my instant pace):

For those city runners you can configure AutoPause to automatically pause the watch when you stop running, and then resume the watch after you start running again.

Like the Ambit1, the Ambit2 and Ambit2 S both support the ANT+ footpod.  The footpod enables you to gather speed/distance data while indoors on a treadmill, or in situations where GPS may be problematic (such as some trail running scenarios and/or canyons).  To pair to the footpod, you’ll go via the settings menu into the pairing menu.  From there, simply select ‘Foot POD’:


The Ambits support two types of footpods: Suunto ANT footpods, and ANT+ footpods.  As I’ll talk about later, it’d be completely silly to buy a Suunto-only footpod when the ANT+ footpods work with every unit on the market today except Polar devices.  Further, the ANT+ footpods are cheaper than the Suunto ones and work just as well (same innards actually).



In any case, once you’ve got everything all paired up, you’re pretty much good to go and calibrate it.  You should do this with a known distance location – such as a track.  You’ll run around the track at your normal pace (min suggested is 400m, I suggest 800m), and then post-activity you’ll adjust the distance of the activity to the actual distance you ran on the track.

Once paired the unit will at this point automatically use the footpod in place of GPS for speed and distance data, as well as provide cadence data.


Now, let me repeat that again – as it’s a pretty big stumbling block.  Instead of supplementing your speed/distance data in cases where the GPS data may drop out (such as a tunnel), it will flat-out replace it for the entirety of the run.  This sucks.  This means you’ve got to have the footpod calibrated correctly, and even then, it still sucks.  That’s sorta the point of buying a GPS watch.

Other units on the market today will automatically failover to the footpod in times of need (i.e. a tunnel), while still using the footpod cadence data and recording that for the entirety of the run.

I’m hopeful that Suunto will change this behavior.  In the meantime, to understand more about footpods and how they work – read my super-detailed post on them here (which applies to all ANT+ footpods).


Cycling with the Ambit2 is in many ways like running.  First you’ll start off with choosing the sport – obviously cycling in this case.


In doing so it’ll attempt to pair to any of the sensors you’ve previously configured via the pairing menu.  The Ambit2 supports three bike profiles.  However, these bike profiles are a little different than most other units in that they apply to specific pods, and not to the whole bike.  Meaning that if you have separate power meters for each bike (somewhat rare today, I do understand), then you’ll have to manually pair the power meter each time as the Ambit2 units today only support a single power meter pairing.


As for the other pods, it can be a bit confusing.  Bike Pods are what Suunto calls any ANT+ speed/cadence combo sensor.  Meaning that when pairing these sensors – be sure you select ‘Bike Pods’ and not Cadence Pods.  As the Cadence Pods are specifically the Suunto ANT (but not ANT+ sensors).


And, since we’re talking about that – remember that Suunto now supports ANT+ sensors from any vendor, but that the sensors Suunto makes themselves (I’ll cover them later) are NOT ANT+ but rather Suunto ANT.  Suunto ANT is private and closed, and only Suunto devices can use it.  There’s zero advantages to Suunto ANT, it’s just how they used to do things before they went to open standards.


Ok, at any rate, once paired up and you’ve got satellite you’re ready to begin cycling.


Note that in cycling mode you’ll see metrics displayed in the format of MPH (Miles Per Hour), or if you’ve configured it for the Metric format you’ll see KPH (Kilometers Per Hour).


Like in running, you can switch through the different bike related fields by simply tapping the Next button, and then the Lap Button to alternate the bottom portion of the screen:


The one challenge with cycling with the Ambit is that by default there’s no quick release system, thus it’s either on your wrist, or you pickup one of the cheap $10 universal rubber bike mounts for your handlebars.  I’ve put some links in the accessories table at the end to utilize for this.  Of course, you can also jury-rig something too.  In the case below I was using my Dad’s bike and it had an older FR305 bike mount on it.  This provided just enough thickness over the slim handlebar to allow me to wrap it around it:



For triathlon bikes, you’re kinda hosed.  You’ll need to pickup not only a universal mount, but also one of the Profile Designs UCI mounts and combine the two together.  All in you’re only looking at less than $20US though.


Indoor cycling is no problem at all any of the bike sensors.  In my case I went with just using the ANT+ speed/cadence sensor.  It’ll then report the wheel speed of my wheel on my trainer, as well as the cadence and power information.


Note that you can configure the wheel circumference for each of the bike pods you’ve configured.

Within the indoor mode, you won’t get any GPS information – because obviously you aren’t going anywhere.  But the rest of the information is exactly as how you’d see it outdoors in terms of detail.


By default the Indoor Training mode on the watch doesn’t attach to the cycling computer pieces, so you’ll either need to use the default Cycling mode indoors (and just tap ‘Later’ for GPS), or simply create your own cycling mode with GPS disabled on Movescount:


Note how I’ve set the GPS fix to off, but left the recording rate at 1s and kept the power/cadence/bike/HR sensors on.

Cycling Power Meter Notables:


The Ambit2 and Ambit2 S are the first Suunto products to support cycling power meters.  In doing so, they’ve supported the ANT+ power meter standard, which is used for virtually every power meter on the market today (except the $2,500 Polar/Look Keo system).  Power meters enable a cyclist to measure their actual output, irrespective of environment conditions such as head winds or changing grade (a mountain).  Output is measured in watts (displayed such as 250w), however comparisons between riders should always be done with watts/kg – as bigger riders will generally put out more than smaller riders.  This enables you to compare the output of a 200lbs rider to a 110lbs rider.  It’s also how Pro Teams compare power output between riders.

Measuring and recording power meter data is probably one of the most fickle things you can do in sports technology today.  While it seems easy, there are literally a hundred ways companies can (and do) screw it up.  These screw-ups often come in the form of incorrectly parsing the data, or more importantly, the drops of data.  How a given head unit handles different power meters, the calibration of such, and the data recording rates are absolutely critical to accurate power data.  Riders can spend an entire season just to move their FTP (Functional Threshold Power) 5-10w, so data screw-ups that have a wider margin of error are simply unacceptable.

Before we get into how the unit performs in the data space, let’s look at the pairing process.  Doing so is relatively simple.  You’ll dive into the settings menu and then within the pairing menu you’ll choose ‘Power POD’:


It’ll find the unit and complete pairing.  Ideally this should only take a moment, though I have seen issues with the ANT+ pairing process taking multiple attempts for no good reason.


Once it’s paired, the unit will then be available the next time you select cycling from the exercise menu.  In doing so, it’ll activate the power meter search process, which searches for your previously paired power meter:


Once found, it’ll notify you of that:


Then, it’ll immediately do a manual calibration of the unit.  This is of particular note, because you generally want to be prepared for such things.  For example, in the case of a PowerTap, you should be off your bike and holding it still.  In the case of the Quarq, you should be off your pedals and not rotating them.



Once that’s complete, it’ll comeback with success or failure.


Now, what’s interesting here is that it actually will track these values for you.  Or at least, the last and current value.  Each time you calibrate it’ll show you the current value to the left, and the previous value to the right.  This is actually pretty cool.  I just wish it went one step further and recorded this within the file for later reference.


If along the ride you wish to manually calibrate (and you should about 10-15 minutes in), you can access the manual calibration menu quickly by holding the middle button down (Next) for a few seconds.  Then, select Calibration.


Like before, it’ll come back with current and previous offsets.


Finally, you can enable Auto Zero for those power meters that support it via this menu.  Auto Zero enables some power meters to effectively self-calibrate in known situations.  For example, while coasting the PowerTap will calibrate.  Or if you pedal backwards on the Quarq while coasting – the same thing.


While doing all of this, the Ambit will continue to record data unless you’ve otherwise paused it.  And I should point out that this is the fastest process for accessing the calibration menu I’ve seen on any cycling ANT+ head unit to date.  Almost all of the others require more steps than the tango to complete.

While riding, power information is displayed with the data pages and fields that you’ve set it up for.  By default this includes instant power, 3s averaged power, 10s averaged power, and 30s averaged power.  Or essentially the trifecta of averaged power display modes.  I find it much more realistic and easier to pace based on a combination of 3s and 30s averaged power.  Note this doesn’t impact the recording rate which by default is 1-second.  This only impacts the display rate, which effectively averages the previous/trailing 30-seconds.




You can however change to a 10-second power recording mode for ultra-long cycling.  However, I’d highly recommend you don’t do so.  At that rate, you’ve largely lost any of the detail necessary for power meter metrics such as TSS/NP/IF to work.

Note that the Ambit2/S doesn’t support TSS/NP/IF within the data fields to choose from, however, with the improved App Zone functionality – it may be possible for someone to create an app to display those data fields manually.  Here’s all that it supports from a power standpoint today by default.


Also of note is that the Ambit2/S will utilize cadence from ANT+ power meters that transmit it.

Finally, I have seen some drops in power (in particular on a trainer workout).  It’s not 100% clear whether or not this was the fault of the Ambit2, the power meter, or some other factor.  I did not see these drops on another device that was recording power at the same time however.


In the coming day or two I’ll be finishing up the ANT+ power meter test suite tests (8 tests in total) that validate power meter collection across a wide swath of scenarios focusing on accurate data collection.  These tests are quickly becoming the go-to method for head unit companies to validate power meter data collection has occurred correctly.  They are put together by the folks at Quarq, but also cover scenarios from other power meter companies.  As time allows, I’ll be going back to previous reviews and adding these as well.

Swimming – Openwater:


Both the Ambit2 (and 2S) support openwater swimming, which enables you to track distance, strokes and swimming pace while swimming in openwater (lakes/oceans/etc…).  This is different from pool tracking, which I’ll talk about in the next section.

While in openwater swimming mode, the Ambit2 will utilize both its internal accelerometer (to measure stroke information) as well as the GPS antenna to measure distance and speed.  To enable openwater swimming mode you’ll go to start an exercise and choose ‘Outdoor swimming’.


Note that the ANT and ANT+ transmission protocols that the Ambit2 utilizes to transmit heart rate don’t transmit well underwater (about 1-2”), thus, you won’t get any heart rate data.

Once satellite reception is completed, you’ll be ready to swim:


While swimming the unit will update distance and time information, as well as pace information in realtime.



Additionally, you’ll get stroke information as well (strokes per minute):


You can press lap and create laps just as you would in any other mode.  In my case, I created one at the outbound of my short swim, so I could see the rough split between the outbound and return.  These would then show up later on in the site:


And again, this works on the Ambit2 S as well:


Once you’re done with your swim you’ll stop it just like normal.  In the event of a triathlon and multisport mode, you’d continue onto the next sport and wouldn’t get summary information until the very end.  But for those of you just doing a single session swim, you’ll get typical post-exercise summary around distance and speed:


Because it’s most definitely the wrong time of year to be swimming openwater in the northern most reaches of the planet, my time with the watch is somewhat limited in this respect.  I have more swims I’ll be able to do in May and will update accordingly.

Thus I only have a single distance test to work with for outdoor swimming.  In this case, I took along a Garmin FR910XT on one wrist, and the Ambit2 on the other wrist (I gave the Ambit2 S to another swimmer to capture data as well, but not for comparative purposes since that was the only device they had on).  I then swam a well known and very well documented course when it came to distance.  While my sighting likely wasn’t an example of absolute perfection, I did probably get very close though.

Here were the two watches upon completion:


The actual distance of the route should have been 704y or .40 miles (this particular route between buoys is well measured by folks repeatedly each year).  I suspect I probably swam closer to .42-.43 miles based on my non-perfect line.  As you can see, the FR910XT came closest at .45, while the Ambit was closer to .55 – a bit high (ok, a lot high).  Now, before one assumes it’s off 20% do remember that in most cases when I look at openwater units (such as the FR910XT) we tend to see cases where the further you go, the better the results get.  This is because of the way it plots points along the way, attempting to average large chunks of distance.

Remember that neither the Ambit2 nor the FR910XT can receive GPS signals underwater, so it’s constantly losing signal during each stroke and then attempting to regain that signal in the split second between when the watch is back underwater again.  Within that split second of satellite signal the actual accuracy may be +/- 50m or 500m.  So the points it is plotting could literally be all over the map.  The watch then attempts to plot the most likely path across this range of dots, ultimately ending up with a track that it displays to you.

You can then see this track (from the Ambit2) later on within the Movescount site online:


Here’s how that compares with the same track as seen by the Garmin FR910XT:


In both cases it overestimates my turnaround point slightly.  If you were to zoom in on the Garmin side, I actually touched all four buoys along the course, whereas both units assume I went a bit wider around them than I did.

On the Ambit side you can see that it’s note quite as smoothed – accounting for some of the differences I see in distance.

Overall, it’s a touch too early to say how accurate the unit is overall, simply because I don’t have quite enough time with it.  Given a bit more time and I’ll be able to have better data.  However I still wouldn’t expect that the unit will be as accurate as the tried and true swimcap method – which is just putting the watch in your swimcap.  This means you won’t get stroke data, but you will get spot-on distance data.  While the Ambit2 is a bit large to stick up there (especially with the harder wrist straps), it does sorta work:


Ok, openwater swimming complete – let’s head indoors.

Swimming – Indoor Pool/Lap:


Welcome to ‘my’ pool.  About one of the craziest I’ve swam in (and I’ve swam in a LOT of places), in terms of everything from the size (33m) to the density of people in each lane (average is 10, maximum I’ve swam in is 17 per lane).  And that’s all before we talk about the locker rooms…

As such – it makes for a great test bed for the Ambit2 and Ambit2 S and their ability to count laps while indoors in a pool.

The technology within the watch that enables this is the 3D accelerometer inside.  The accelerometer measures acceleration and movement on a 3D axis.  This is similar to how your phone understands when you tilt it from portrait to landscape mode, or when you play games by moving it.  The same technology enables the watch to track stroke type and lengths within the pool – ultimately giving you distance and pace information.

Because the unit is measuring changes in acceleration, it’s critical that it understands how long your pool is, along with when you change directions (finish a length).  I’m going to talk a bit later on how to improve your accuracy in these situations – in part based largely on my recommendations for similar watches such as the Garmin FR910XT.  But for now, let’s talk about how to use it.

First up is selecting ‘Indoor Swimming’ from the exercise menu:


Then, you’ll select your pool size.  By default you’ve got four sizes – 25y, 25m, 50y, 50m.



However, you can also select ‘Custom’, which enables you to enter in wonky pool sizes like my 33m one:


The ‘Custom’ setting allows you to enter a pool as small as 15y/15m, and a pool as large as 1,200yd/1,200m.  Yes, those of you in Vancouver with your 120m pool are good to go!  And all of us stuck in short hotel pools can do endless flip turns in style.


Once that’s done, you’re pretty much ready to start swimming.  You’ll notice that your pool size is listed on the right side:


To start, simply press the Start button.  If and when you want to create a lap, you’ll press the Back/Lap button.  As you swim, it’ll provide the distance and current pace, along with the time.  But that does require you to tap the next button. Otherwise it’ll just show this screensaver page of sorts, a picture of a swimmer – with no current split information.  Below though is what you’ll see once you tap it:


You can change the view by pressing either the Next button, or the View button, which alternate through screens as well as the bottom portion of the screen:



The unit will record per-length information, which is then available later on.  I’ve been using Laps/Intervals however to record various sets of mine.  For example, if I do a 500m set, I’ll just create a lap at the start and end of it.

Additionally, the unit will record stroke type – which can be retrieved later on on the Movescount site:


Unfortunately however, the only stroke I ever did was freestyle.  Which means that either my stroke sucks (very likely), or the unit isn’t very good at stroke recognition (also likely).  To be fair, most units on the market suck at stroke recognition, and given the crowded pool I’m in, I’m happy it thinks I’m swimming at all.

As I said earlier, one thing I don’t like though is a strange swimmer screensaver screen that pops up while I’m swimming.  Just a blank screen with a picture of a swimmer on it – like a screensaver.  I then have to press a button to have it go away.  Kinda really super annoying.  I asked Suunto about this and they are looking at modifying this so that the current split shows.  But in the meantime, you’ve gotta look at the empty screen until you tap it.

So how’s swimming accuracy?  Well, surprisingly good.  Keeping in mind that with 10-17 people in a lane at one time there’s a lot of stop and go, a lot of hard and quick passes down the centerline, and just a lot of chaos.  Thus, I was pleasantly surprised that in most of my swims I was within 25m of the actual laps.  And in every case I knew exactly which lap I got it off-count (due to a mid-lane stop).  For this, I really can’t blame the watch.



Here’s a comparison to the Garmin FR910XT one day.  Note, before I remembered to change from 25m to 33m – so paces are super-slow.  In the below comparison, neither were actually correct.  The correct distance was half-way in between (2050y, though in reality 1.3X higher than that if we accounted for the wrong pool length.)


And then a comparison to the Garmin Swim another day.  Note, before I remembered to change from 25m to 33m – so paces are super-slow.  Also note that in this example, the Garmin swim got paused on one set for 100m due to my improper button pushing.  My bad.  Real distance is 100m higher for the Garmin swim.


And finally, another comparison with the Garmin Swim:


Based on what I’m seeing, I have no problems using this watch from an indoor swimming standpoint.  Yes, it’s bulkier than the slim Garmin Swim, but it’s on par with the Garmin FR910XT from a width/weight/size standpoint.

Finally, let’s spend a brief second to talk about improving your accuracy.  The below is an updated variant from my Garmin FR910XT review – and it’s what most folks have been using to help improve the accuracy of their swim data.

Troubleshooting Pool Swim Data

I wanted to quickly cover this, since I’ve seen a number of folks ask about accuracy in the pool.  Some have had the distance issues where the unit reports longer than normal.  And a few people have issues where it reports shorter.  With that, I wanted to provide some tips based on my using the unit.  In all of the cases with the Ambit2, I’ve only seen errors due to stopping mid-lane.  So, I’d consider that fairly accurate.  Along with all of my time with the Garmin and Swimsense products I have a really high level of accuracy.   So I figured I’d share my tricks.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the unit measures distance purely on accelerometer data.  That means that it’s measuring what your wrist is doing, and in particular, changes to direction and acceleration.  Thus, you have to keep in mind that any movement you make while the timer is running is being analyzed.  The watch is constantly thinking “Is this a stroke?”, “Was that just a new lap?”.  Keeping that in mind is critical to accurate data.

1) When you’re not actively swimming back and forth, pause the timer.  I know that there’s some guidance that says you can just keep it going, but honestly, that’s wrong.  If you’re standing at the wall waiting for your next set – just pause the timer.  That tells the watch to stop looking at whether or not you should be swimming.  And thus, it won’t increment the distance until you press start.

2) Separate out your laps/sets using the lap button.  If my workout calls for 1,000y warm-up, then a 500y build, then a slew of 100’s, I’m going to press lap between each section.  Thus, at the 1000y marker I press lap to create that set.  At the 500y marker, I press lap.  And then after each 100y I press lap.  In the case of the 100’s, I’ve got a short rest at the wall, so I FIRST press lap, then I press stop (note: For reasons beyond me, you can’t press stop then lap on the Ambit, you have to press lap then stop. It’s annoying, as I generally recommend the other way because it makes your data cleaner).

3) Be strong on your wall push-offs.  Because the Ambit2/2 S is looking for changes in acceleration, you want to ensure that you push off the wall strongly.  Fast being the key.  It doesn’t matter if you do a flip turn or an open turn (I vary sometimes for fun), it just matters that you do it with conviction.  If you ever-so-slowly do a turn at the wall and make it more graceful than Ms. Daisy, the unit might never actually detect an acceleration change, and thus, no new lap.

4) Be aware that passing someone mid-line is an acceleration change: Folks have reported issues with sudden surges to pass another swimmer mid-way down a lane being counted as a new lap.  I do a lot of this in my new pool in Paris, and I’ve yet to have it false trigger with the Ambit.  By a lot, I mean just about every other length.  My advice here is to try and ‘soften’ the acceleration/deceleration just a touch to not trigger it.  I realize of course that when it comes time to pass someone mid-lane, the most important thing is doing it quickly – but just easing into the pass for that split second longer will help.  Or, do it at the end of the lane (again, not always possible).

5) Pause when in drills: Because the unit is looking for one of the recognized stroke types, it will only be accurate when you’re doing one of those stroke types.  So if you’re doing a bunch of drills with three pieces of swim equipment and look like a fish out of water, it’s best to pause the timer.

6) It won’t work if your arms aren’t moving: This goes hand in hand with the above, but if you’re doing kick-only drills, the unit simply won’t measure that distance.  For these, I just pause the unit.  The time is counted in total activity time, but it doesn’t try and incorrectly record laps (which it will, trust me).

7) Don’t leave the unit running when you go to the bathroom: I only mention this, because I got an upset e-mail from someone that indicated that the unit incorrectly added a lap when they went to the bathroom while leaving the timer running.  I really wanted to note that technically they probably did go 50y round-trip, but decided against it.  Again, remember, as your arm swings, it thinks you’re swimming.  So as you get out of the pool, walk to the bathroom door, open the door, go to the bathroom, and do it all again in reverse, it’s prime time for the unit to think you’re swimming.  Just pause, you’ll be happier later. :)

Hopefully these tips will help you get the best possible swim data from the Ambit2 units.

Multisport (Triathlon) Mode:


Many folks often ask what the difference is between a multisport watch, and a watch that can do both cycling and running.  They key differentiator is the ability for the watch to seamlessly transition from one sport to the next without ending the activity currently underway.  This is critical to any multisport athlete that competes in an event with two or more legs (the very definition of multisport).  Watches like the Ambit1 did support both cycling and running, but didn’t support any way to seamlessly transition from cycling to running.  Whereas the Ambit2 units support multisport mode, which allows you to create multiple segments of a given event.

In this case, we’ll start off with the default sport of  Triathlon, as per the default watch settings.  In this sport it assumes one will first swim outdoors, then cycle outdoors and then run outdoors.  I note outdoors each time because it’s using the GPS in those modes.  Opposed to something such as indoor pool swimming (which I’ll talk about in moment).

After going into the exercise menu and selecting triathlon, it’ll then tell you which sport is up next:


Then, it’ll switch into the display settings for that sport.  In this case with swimming, you’ve got metrics relative to pacing per 100yds and distance (again, customizable):


Once you’ve completed that sport segment, you’ll then hold the upper left button down for about three seconds.  The outer ring will then loop around 360* as you hold it, to prevent just an accidental change of sport.


Once it changes the sport it then displays the new sport – in this case, cycling:


The context would change as well from being pace per 100 yards to MPH (or KPH).  During this it would connect to the applicable cycling sensors – such as power meters.  This is exactly the same way other watches work on the market.

Then, you rinse and repeat again for running:


And now in the running mode you’ll see running-specific stats.


You can create laps just as you normally would within any given sport by simply pressing the lap button as always.  Additionally, you can pause and resume by pressing the start/stop button as normal.

When you’re done you’ll simply pause and then do a long hold of the start/stop button to save the activity in the same fashion as any single-sport activity would.

Once everything is uploaded, the activity data is displayed as a single entity:



In my case I didn’t have any swim-bike-run bricks, but I had bike-run bricks.  So you can see I just used the swim mode for 4 seconds and then switched sports.   What is somewhat interesting however is that I can overlay my heart rate across the entire activity.  In the below example you can see my bike power stop at the 26 minute marker, then a short gap as I paused the unit to get downstairs outside (my transition essentially), and then my HR resume on the run for my interval work.


Note that the unit doesn’t include the ability to set separate transition times between sports (which most units do include), so that’s an area that I’d love to see added as it really makes a lot of sense.  In some triathlons (take for example, the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon you’ve got a really long run from swim to bike (over a half a mile before you even get into the massive transition area).  That time significantly skews your various averages (for example you can likely run much faster than swimming, and you run much slower than cycling).

You can however create your own multisport modes, so if you’re like me and do a lot of bike-run bricks, you can just go ahead and create your own Brick Mode.  The cool part is that it allows you to select your other pre-created sport modes:


And in fact, what I thought about while writing this section is that I could actually create my own transition section. Check it out.  I created a vanilla sport that recorded GPS distance but wasn’t really tied to any other sport, I then called it transition.  Then I just simply layered it in as a sport:


Bingo! DIY transition times!  I’ll have to try it out tomorrow…

Calorie Burn/Count Information, Indoor Training, and Heart Rate Information:


The Suunto Ambit2 utilizes the information you set within the personal profile in conjunction with the heart rate strap to determine calorie burn.  This is true even in cases where you are indoors.

Calorie burn is shown within the activity screens during an activity by default, and can be accessed by tapping the lower left view button (or next button depending on which page you’re on).  Below for example, you can see the kcal displayed – 372kcal at this point.


Additionally, you can see the average HR for this activity and the peak for this activity.  These are all customizable of course from the Movescount site.  And post-activity you’ll see the graphs of your HR displayed as well:


For indoor activities the Ambit doesn’t at this point use the accelerometer for any sort of movement tracking (aside from swimming), such as how the Motorola Motoactv does in terms of activities like basketball or Yoga.  Perhaps some day they’ll incorporate that.

Finally note that activities exported from Movescount online will contain RR information, which is a more detailed level of heart rate information supported by some 3rd party applications such as FirstBeat.

Compass, Routing & Navigation:

First up is waypoints and navigation to waypoints.  The Ambit2 supports the ability to create waypoints or points of interest which you can utilize the magnetic compass to navigate to.  The magnetic compass was introduced on the original Ambit, and allows you accurate navigation with the device.  A magnetic compass is different from the compass found on some other GPS units in that it doesn’t rely upon any speed to determine heading.  Instead, upon rotation you’ll notice that it still gives the correct bearing for magnetic North:



To calibrate the compass it only takes two quick steps of rotating the watch 360* while flat, and then 90* tilted.



Once that’s setup, you’re ready to navigate.

Navigation can occur at any time from the menu.  This can be navigating within the context of an activity, or outside of an activity just wandering around.  To navigate outside of an activity you’ll just press the Start button and then choose Navigation.


From there you can select a point of interest or route to navigate to:


Once you begin navigation to a given point of interest, it’ll provide direct navigational compass directions to that point.  Meaning that it’s ‘as the crow flies’ and doesn’t take into account any terrain features that may be in the way (you know, like a river).  So do keep that in mind.


The unit will then show you a small arrow which helps you navigate to the waypoint.  When the arrow is long, it means you need to turn in that direction before continuing.


Then, once you’ve pointed the correct direction the arrows will shorten up and look like this:


In addition to navigating to already created points, you can create your own POI’s at any time via the same navigation menu.  The system allows you to create types of POI’s, as well as name them (sorta):



Next is looking at routes.  To create a route you’ll go online with Movescount and into the Plan & Create, and then “Routes Planner” section:


Within that, it’s very similar to how MapMyRide or other sites work.  You just click and drag along the route:


You can configure the site to also follow roads as well (I recommend it).  Note that each dot I create is considered a waypoint, and the routes features supports 100 waypoints each.


Once I’m done, I’ll go ahead and click ‘Save Route’.  You can also export the route as well to other formats:


By default it should immediately show up in your account, but you need to go in and edit it within the settings to be enabled:


Just check that box at the bottom that says “Use this route in watch.”  With that, it’ll get transferred over.  You may just want to unhook your watch and re-hook it in to have it re-download.

Once outside you can go ahead and go into the navigation menu.  Again, this is supported on both the Ambit2 and the Ambit2 S.

Once in the navigation menu you’ll select Routes:


From there you’ll select the route in question.  Obviously, mine is pretty important:


After the route enumerates you’ll get a listing of all the waypoints.  You can navigate to any specific waypoint on the route.



There isn’t any concept such as ‘start the route’, rather, you just start at a given waypoint.  Obviously choosing the first waypoint makes sense.  What’s cool though is that you can then select to navigate the route forwards or backwards.  This means that after you successfully hit that waypoint, do you go to the next waypoint in the list, or the one previous to it (ideal for going back home).


Once you choose to navigate to a given point, it’s pretty much just like before as far as the compass goes:


You do also get a map of all the waypoints on it, along with a bit of a breadcrumb trail.  Note that you can’t seem to zoom in any less than .25 miles:


To show the difference between forward and backwards, I had each watch configured to route differently. In the case of one watch it’s telling me to go onto the next logical step in the waypoint towards Ice Cream.  Whereas the other watch is telling me how to get home.  Both watches just checked off the same waypoint however.


Update Aug 30th, 2013: As of the firmware update released today, the Ambit2 does now support a proper trackback function where it retraces your steps back to the start.

Note that the Ambit2 doesn’t support a trackback function.  Trackback is when you go wandering in the woods for 5 miles, and then want to use the watch to retrace your exact steps back to the start.  Instead, the Ambit has the ability to utilize predefined routes (ones that you have to setup on your computer ahead of time), and the ability to navigate straight to a point.  But neither of these is Trackback, and both require you to know exactly where you’re going in advance and to set it up far in advance (at your computer).

Altimeter & Elevation Accuracy:


Elevation accuracy testing amongst sports watches is generally quite difficult to nail down.  This is for a few reasons.  First, is that when testing this, absolute and trusted elevation information about a given location can be hard to obtain.  It’s often marked at various points on mountains, but isn’t usually found outside of mountains (or minor hills in Florida).

Second, is that barometric elevation information typically requires an initial fix – which is then used to help gauge all subsequent fixes.  This is often not at the peak of a mountain, but rather in a place even less likely to have an accurate elevation marker.

And third, as you’ll see – even two devices that should be alike, still aren’t alike.  In general, for me, I’m less concerned with small variations in absolute accuracy as I am concerned in relative accuracy.  Meaning, when I climb up and down a hill on the same route, is my altitude ascent and decent identical?  That’s more of interest than knowing whether I’m 30 feet off at the top of a 6,000ft mountain.

With that, let’s dive into a few tests I did.  First, was a climb a few weeks ago to the top of Mount Ventoux.  This is fabled stage in the Tour de France (here’s a good video of it here), outside of Alpe d’Huez, probably the most famous TdF climb in the world.  During this test, I had four units running.  They were the Suunto Ambit2 and Ambit2 S, the Garmin FR910XT, and the Polar RC3.  The Ambit2 and FR910XT use barometric altimeters, whereas the RC3 and Ambit2 S use a GPS based altimeter.  In an effort to keep all units on a level playing field, I let all units sit outside the night before for about 30 minutes and get both a GPS fix, as well as any automated altitude information.  Given I didn’t have a base marker, I didn’t have anything to manually set (which the Suunto and Garmin units do support).

Then I dragged my butt via bicycle up to the top.  It’s a long way up.


The top was officially marked as 1,912 meters (6,272.965ft).  And all of the photos taken were taken within 2 feet of that marker.  Given how much effort they’ve put into marking every 1KM of the entire route, I’m going to make the assumption that in this case their altitude markings are probably correct. Here’s the results:



To put that in writing (remember the top is 1,912m/6,273ft):

Suunto Ambit2:  1,895m / 6,217ft
Suunto Ambit2 S:  1,899m  / 6,230ft
Garmin FR910XT:  1,907m / 6,255ft
Polar RC3: 1,904m / 6,246ft

And here’s the variance:

Suunto Ambit2:  -17m / -56ft
Suunto Ambit2 S: –13m / -43ft
Garmin FR910XT: –5m / -18ft
Polar RC3: –7m / -27ft

In this case, the FR910XT did better than either of the two Ambits.  More interesting was that the non-barometric altimeter on the Ambit2 S actually beat the barometric altimeter on the Ambit2.  Even further however, was actually how well the RC3 did, which I didn’t expect to be so close.  And in fact, I think it was actually even closer before I took the photo, but drifted slightly downwards.


Now in this scenario I had FusedAlti enabled for the Ambit2 (the 2S doesn’t support it).  FusedAlti combines GPS and Barometric altimeter reading to in theory offer a more accurate representation of situations such as where both environmental conditions change and altitude changes (like ascending a mountain).

Using as a watch day to day:

In addition to sport uses, the watch also functions just fine as a day to day watch. Obviously given its weight (93g), it’s a bit heavy.  So some folks may find it uncomfortable, or even simply too large.  But if you don’t mind the size and weight, then it has a number of functions that cater towards day to day use.


First up is the dual-time aspect.  This enables you to display two different times (as in time zones) on the front.  You can’t specify labels though for them, so you’ll just have to remember what they are.  You can see this above where I have my home time zone shown (Paris), and the time zone I was in (Seattle).

You’ll set these through the settings menu.  Note that unlike many GPS watches, the Ambit2 doesn’t actually automatically set the current time with time zone information.  Meaning if I got on a plane from NYC to LA, it won’t correctly show my new time as 3 hours behind when I land and turn on GPS.  You’ll have to manually set the time zone – though it does utilize GPS to set the time relative to GMT.  I’ve never quite understood why companies do this, as that’s not terribly useful to me.  I generally know the minutes/seconds – it’s the hour piece that can be confusing.  In any case…

In addition to the dual-time zones you’ve also got the ability to set alarms:


You can set one alarm and for the alarm you can use both audible and display alerts.

Also, in using it day to day I went into the tone settings and turned off beeps for both button presses and other actions.  This just keeps it more quiet.   Obviously, for running alerts, you’d want to leave alerts on and just button presses off.


In addition to changing the tone settings you can also modify the display.  First up is the ability to change contrast and brightness, as well as modify the backlight:



Then you can also invert the display such that black becomes white and vice versa:


And, for those curious – here’s the backlight:


And with one unit’s backlight on, and the other’s off:


Finally, the watch does slip under dress shirts fairly easily, so it’s not too bulky in that respect.


Other Random Uses (Flying):

Being that it’s a GPS device, you can use it to record just about anything you can think of.  In my case, since I fly a ton I figured I’d just see how well it tracked on a long intercontinental flight.  This is often an interesting test for me as some GPS devices struggle with it.


Throughout my flight (yes, GPS devices are permitted by the way – read the back of your airlines magazine).

However, perhaps even more interesting is that FusedAlti kicked in here.  Normally on a plane when using a GPS unit with a barometric altimeter you won’t get any altitude numbers higher than about 8,000 feet – which is typically what aircraft are pressured to.  However, with FusedAlti and the idea of using both GPS and barometric altimeter data I got correct elevations all the way up:


Really cool.

Accuracy wise I was getting both altitude and speed numbers that were identical to what the inflight entertainment system was providing:


The only caveat I saw here was that the unit looks to have some data field bugs with the average speed data field not supporting something in the 500MPH range (though, instant speed is fine), and the current altitude field not supporting over 30,000ft (though, total ascent is fine).  Additionally distance over some number of thousand miles isn’t supported (between 1,000 and 4,000m – not sure where as I fell asleep after 800 miles).


Here’s the map at the end of the day:


For recording the data, I simply used the default cycling mode.  When my flight left I was at 98% battery, and when I landed some 9 hours later, I was down to 40% battery.  Not too bad, and of course not in the full battery saving mode either.

Nonetheless, the point of this section being that you can use the unit to record just about anything you can think of.

Satellite Reception and Accuracy:

When it comes to reception and accuracy of satellite, one is easy to measure, and one is like altitude accuracy – fairly difficult.  The first up, satellite reception.  I’ve had no issues running with the unit in a slew of different areas, from the downtown streets of Paris, to the mountains of France, to Seattle.  All work just fine.

Upon first going to a new location, it generally seems to take about 30-45 seconds.  A fair bit faster than most units on the market today.


However, turning on in the same location again, I’ve seen the GPS reception take as little as 1-2 seconds.  Pretty astounding actually.  So fast I really can’t get a photo of it.  Just from 0% to Ready in a flash:


Here’s a quick video demonstrating that.  You’ll see that I tell it ‘later’ for the footpod, since I didn’t have that with me for this run.

Within the context of cities and buildings, I’ve taken a look at some of my track files to see how they tracked.  And in general, things seem to track quite well – they recorded where I ran as expected.


There are case where it’s not perfect around turns even at 1-second, but it’s on par with other GPS units.  The yellow thick highlight is where I actually went:


Now, to show the difference between the 60-second ultra recording mode and the 1-second mode.  Check out these two routes.  Done at the exact same time, one configured for 60-second mode to get 50 hours of battery, and the other in the typical 1-second fashion.  I’ve highlighted again with the highlighter where I actually went:



Now, in August 2013 (yes, this section is updated/new), Suunto introduced a new 5-s recording mode.  In this recording mode the unit records data every 5-seconds, as opposed to either 1-second or the longer 60-second mode.  The idea here being to gain a bit more battery life.  For the Ambit2 this gets you 24-hours, while the Ambit2s this gets you 12 hours.

Over the past few runs I’ve been looking at how this impacts total distance measured.  In my tests of standard city runs (non-trails), I’ve found that it’s in the same ballpark as other devices within 1s recording.  Not perfect, but no more different than what I expect with different units in GPS accuracy.  I expect this might vary a fair bit more in trail running and faster cycling, but not considerably since in the case of trail running you’re moving slower than street running.

To show an example of the differences in data, let’s look at two screenshots.  Focus on the yellow line, where I’m coming from across the bridge/water, and then looping down to the water and back under the bridge:


The second is the Ambit 2s with the 5-second recording.  You’ll see that it’s not quite as smooth, but still gets the general idea of where I was.  Above you’ll notice how I actually went a bit further (to where the trees open) before making the turn, simply because there’s a wall there you can’t see on the satellite.  But because of the 5-second recording below it ‘skip’s that short section.



Thus you see that while it’s not 100% perfect, for running I think it’s perfectly fine in most cases.  In cycling, I’d avoid it for use with a power meter, but otherwise for longer rides, it’s going to cover things fairly well.  Of course, you still have the ‘gold-standard’ 1-second recording available to you, so keep that in mind.

Next is how it tracks relative to other units.  This is where things can get a bit dicey.  For starts, you don’t really know which unit is truly correct.  Instead, you’re taking a bit of a swag.  I’ve done accuracy tests in the past with units, but I haven’t subjected the Ambit2 to this test yet.

In all of my testing thus far, I’ve found the Ambit2 and 2S to be incredibly close to the other units I was testing – be it the Garmin Edge 500, 800, 610, and the Polar RC3.  In most cases I saw them within .1 to .3 miles on longer routes (i.e. over 20 miles), and about .01 to .05 on shorter running routes.

One final item to be aware of is that with the footpod enabled, there isn’t a way to select whether the speed/distance comes from the footpod or the GPS.  This is actually a pretty big gap, as it means it will use footpod over GPS data, which in general isn’t as accurate as GPS.  I cover this more in the running section though.

Battery Life Considerations:

The extended battery is one of the major reasons the first generation Ambit devices got so much attention.  It was the first wrist-mounted GPS device to go upwards of 50 hours while recording GPS tracks.  At the time, the next nearest device only did 20 hours (Garmin FR910XT).

The Ambit2 supports a battery life of up to 50 hours of recording time with GPS enabled.  However in such mode the recording rate is reduced to every 60 seconds.  In standard 1-second recording mode, the Ambit2 gets 15 hours of recording time.

The Ambit2 S has a battery life of upwards of 25 hours with GPS enabled, but also in every 60 second mode.  In standard mode it’s only 8 hours.  8 hours isn’t sufficient for all but the world’s fastest triathletes to finish an Ironman in, so this is one stumbling block.

I wish there was the ability to configure with a bit more flexibility here.  For example, in swimming I’m somewhat indifferent, so a lesser time (say every 5-10 seconds is sufficient).  In cycling with a power meter, 1-second recording is absolute must for useful power meter data.  But back in running, I could probably do with every 5-10 second again and not have it have a big impact in a typical Ironman race.  Ideally you’d want to get to about 17 hours to cover an Ironman event.  But really, I suspect that most power meter users are falling between the 8-13 hour timeframe, thus finding a blend that covers power meter users at 1s and still getting 13 hours of battery would be a good happy median.

Interval Mode:

The Ambit supports a very basic interval mode.  And by basic, I mean 99-cent store basic.  In fact, I wouldn’t even call it an interval mode.  I’d call it alerts.  Because really, that’s what it’s doing.  Here’s the sum total of what you can set:


On the left side you set effectively the work interval.  In my case, I just went with 1-mile.  In the middle you set your recovery, I figured 2 minutes was fine.  And then reps you can set the number of repeats:


Then you save it.  That’s it.

To access it you’ll just hold down the ‘Next’ button and then activate it when you’re ready.

Honestly, it’s not very useful.  It’s not what an interval feature should be.  Ideally you’d be able to set paces/speeds/wattages/anything as a target, and then the number of repeats, along with the targets of time or distance for both work and rest portions of the interval.  You’d be able to set the warm-up, the cool-down as well.  Perhaps in the future they’ll update this area.

Suunto AppZone Apps:

Suunto originally introduced the Appzone concept back in November of 2012, with the introduction of Apps to the original Ambit.  This allowed folks to create basic applications that took variables such as your speed or distance, and then did simple math equations on them. At the time the functionality was primitive, as it wouldn’t allow saving of any of the data or any complex calculations.  Additionally, you could only run a single app at a time, which was really just a single data screen.  You can read more in-depth about my thoughts then.

With the Ambit2 comes an update to the Appzone that enables additional features.  First is that you’ve got a much wider range of data fields to pull from.  Looking at the developer manual, there’s literally pages upon pages of attributes – such as max power, stroke type and various sensor data components.  Tons of stuff.  Second, you can now have multiple app screens on your unit displayed.  And third, most importantly, you can now save your work (these calculations) into various attributes that show up later on.


In addition, the logic is far more advanced than in the past – almost code-like (though, not quite full-fledged).


All of the previous apps are still available, but now you can create (and download new apps).  Ultimately, this is the direction that sports technology is going in, just like phones went in this same direction.

To access apps you’ll go into Movescount online and under ‘Plan & Create’ you’ll select Apps:


You can then search and filter apps.  In general at this point I’d recommend filtering by date, just because the newest ones are those apps likely to be fully able to take advantage of the Ambit2 and Ambit2 S.


Picking one sorta at random, here’s the Aerodrag.  The idea behind this is to calculate drag based on a variety of known metrics.  Of course, being this is somewhat a heavily simplified calculation, I wouldn’t quite use this as the end-all-be-all of aerodynamics.  But still, it shows some of the thinking that’s possible.



Here’s another couple examples of Apps:




To go ahead and add an app to your unit you’ll simply click ‘Save App’, which adds it to your account.

The next step is to go into your device settings within Movescount and add it to a given display field, within an activity profile (I went with Running). In my case I selected one of the 8 display pages available, and then selected ‘My Apps’ and chose the 10K time app.


On the next data page that I had empty, I went ahead and added in the Oxygen one:


With all that set, it’s outside we go to check out the apps on the unit.

Once in the mode you set them up for, you’ll access them just like any other data pages by pressing the Next button:


I encourage you to go check out my much more detailed look at apps. And hopefully once we see a few more Apps out there in the AppZone for the Ambit2 and 2S I’ll revisit this. Right now, things are pretty slim there.

Uploading workouts to Suunto Movescount (online site):


In order to upload data you’ll need to connect the Ambit to your computer (Windows or Mac) via the included USB cable.  Once that’s done, you’ll also need to download the Suunto Moveslink software, which acts as a device agent to upload data from your watch to the Movescount site.


After that’s all installed and configured you can go ahead and connect your watch to your computer and the Moveslink agent will upload the data automatically.


After the data is uploaded, you’ll then head over to the Movescount site (Movescount.com), which is Suunto’s free online site for viewing and analyzing your workouts.  In conjunction with the Ambit2 release, the Movescount site got a pretty significant upgrade – both in terms of functionality, but also some of the UI design.  So if you’re an existing Suunto Ambit user, you may want to swing over and check it out.

After logging in you’ll likely be at your dashboard:


(In case you’re wondering why or how I did 6,000 miles of cycling, it comes from an airplane flight)

It’s here that you can go ahead and dive into any of your latest activities (they call them ‘Moves’):


Clicking on any one of them will bring you to the activity detail page.  Starting at the top you’ll have summary information:


Then as we move down the page we’ll get into the map.  You can click on any point in the map and get further details about that exact point in the activity.


As we slide down the page we’ll get more information in graph format.  You can toggle the different fields via just clicking on the titles.  In this particular case, I do wish ‘pace’ was shown, rather than just ‘speed’.


Looking at a different activity with a few more laps in it, you’ll see the lap data below (and more detail on the bar chart data):


In addition to viewing the data on Suunto’s site, you can also export the data out and import it into other sites via the Export Tools:


I’ll export out a few files and post them later tonight for those folks wishing to try it out on their favorite websites.  Look for them to be posted here in this section once I do that.

[Update: Here’s the sample files from my workouts. Included is a file sample set of every sport type – indoor swim, outdoor swim, bike, run, and multisport workout.]

Data Fields:

Below are the data fields that can be configured within the Ambit2:


Note that for the 2S, you will not get any of the Altitude or Environment data fields except ‘Attitude Current’.  For both watches, you can display heart rate fields as BPM or % of Max HR.

Here are the swimming data fields:







All data fields can be displayed as imperial or metric (but has to be defined on the entire watch). Additionally, compass can be displayed as mils or degrees.  GPS formats that you can select are as follows:


For each ‘sport’ you define (custom or default), you can configure 8 data pages.  Each page can include from either 2 or 3 pieces of information, and apps can display a single piece of information.  You can always create an app to simply display a single value from above.

There is a limitation of 8 active sports loaded onto the watch at at time, but you can have other sports non-active in your Movescount account and sync them as needed.

Compatible Ambit Accessories:

Accessories for the Ambit is actually an unusually interesting subject.  There are effectively two classes of compatible accessories with the Suunto lineup.  The first is their proprietary sensors (they call them POD’s) that only work with Suunto devices).  The second is open ANT+ accessories that work with any device in the ANT+ ecosystem (hundreds of devices and hundreds of phone apps).  One is expensive.  One is cheap.  Branding doesn’t matter when it comes to functionality, for the most part virtually every ANT+ accessory is built in the same factory by the same company and just rebranded to the various companies you know and see.

Thus in the below chart I’ve included both the proprietary accessories, as well as the ANT+ accessories.  It should be obvious though that buying the Suunto accessories at this time would be downright silly (the one exception is the footpod, which actually is both Suunto ANT and ANT+ compatible, but even then that only matters if you have older Suunto devices).  Just buy the open ANT+ accessories that work with any device, should you switch down the road (or add other devices).

AccessoryManufacturerStreet PriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)Clever Training Europe (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)B&H Photo LinkMore Info
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated January 27th, 2018 @ 4:29 am
PowerTap G3 ANT+ Power Meter (Hub)CycleOps/PowerTap$790 (hub only)LinkLinkLink
PowerTap Pro ANT+ Power Meter (Hub)CycleOps/PowerTap$899LinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Classic Plastic Strap) - HRM1Garmin$37.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM2Garmin$69.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM3Garmin$50LinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Running Footpod (Mini)Garmin$45LinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Speed/Cadence Cycling Sensor (GSC-10)Garmin$35.00LinkLinkLink
Motorola ANT+ Speed/Cadence Cycling Sensor (Quick Install) - BEST!Motorola$55.00LinkN/ALink
Power2Max ANT+ Power MeterPower2Max$970 (no cranks)N/AN/ALink
PowerCal ANT+ Estimated Power MeterPowerTap$99LinkLinkLink
SRAM Quarq Cinqo (Original) ANT+ Power MeterQuarq/SRAMDiscontinuedLinkN/ALink
SRAM Quarq Elsa & RED ANT+ Power MeterSRAM/Quarq$1,600 (with cranks, no chainrings)LinkLinkLink
SRAM Quarq Riken ANT+ Power MeterSRAM/Quarq$1,200 (with cranks, no chainrings)LinkLinkLink
Stages ANT+/Bluetooth Smart Power MeterStages Cycling$699N/ALinkLink
Suunto ANT/ANT+ Running Footpod (good for both ANT types)Suunto$70.00LinkN/ALink
Suunto Ambit 1/2/2s Charging CableSuunto$29.00LinkLinkN/A
Suunto Bike Mount Kit (for mounting any watch onto handlebars)Suunto$10.00LinkLinkN/A
Suunto-ANT (not ANT+) Bike Cadence Sensor Pod - Suunto-Devices OnlySuunto$59.00LinkN/AN/A
Suunto-ANT (not ANT+) Bike Speed Sensor Front Wheel Pod - Suunto-Devices OnlySuunto$70.00LinkN/AN/A
Suunto-ANT (not ANT+) Bike Speed Sensor Pod - Suunto-Devices OnlySuunto$59.00LinkN/AN/A
Suunto-ANT (not ANT+) Heart Rate Strap - Suunto-Devices OnlySuunto$72.00LinkLinkN/A

As you can see above, there’s a lot of compatible stuff from companies other than Suunto.  I don’t simply just show you the Suunto accessories. Instead, I’m showing you everything that I use that’s compatible.  I see no reason to buy a Suunto branded item when an identical item branded with a different logo costs half as much (or is twice as good for half as much).  Just the way I am.

Note that the Ambit does NOT contain any Bluetooth or Bluetooth Smart technology/chips in it, thus is not compatible with any Bluetooth Sensors, nor can it connect directly to phones.  Further, it does NOT at this time support the ability to wirelessly transfer workout files (FIT files) to phones like some of the Garmin watches can do when combined with the Wahoo Fitness iPhone/iPod/iPad adapter.

Bugs that I saw:


The firmware that I tested for this review was the final shipping firmware that’s included on units arriving this week to customers.  Within that context I’ve actually seen no critical show-stopper bugs.  There are things I don’t like (i.e. the lack of footpod settings for using GPS over it), and bugs that make using the watch annoying.  But, I haven’t seen or had any incidents where the unit flat-out stopped working or otherwise corrupted my experience (either from a display or data standpoint).

Smaller less critical bugs that I have seen are:

Issues with pairing ANT+ accessories:  Routinely accessories would not pair (initial pairing), across both units and a myriad of ANT+ devices.  The sensor would pair just fine to other units, but not the Ambit’s.  I talked with Suunto about this and they have confirmed they see it as well in some cases, and are working on a fix.

Issues with edge case scenario data fields: As noted in the airplane I saw bugs with lack of high speeds (i.e. 500MPH) or high altitudes (about 30,000ft).  In talking Suunto, they did this on purpose to filter out potential bad data points.  Nonetheless, they are looking to fix this in an upcoming update.

Occasional ANT+ power drop Issues: I can’t be 100% certain that this is an Ambit issue, or some other communications impacting issue in my place.  However, I did see a handful of ANT+ power meter drops where the Ambit dropped the power meter channel, but other ANT+ head units maintained the channel.  This is going to take longer monitoring in controlled environments (like inside where I noticed it) to see if this is a bigger issue.

Inability to see swimming data mid-length: This may not be a bug per-se, but it’s annoying enough to me that I’m declaring it a bug.  As it stands today you cannot glance at your wrist mid-stroke or mid-length and view data on your current interval (pace/split/time/anything). Instead, you have to stop and press the ‘Next’ button to view it.  I’ve asked Suunto about this, and they were open to suggestions on how to handle it.  I suggested they do what everyone else does and simply update the screen shortly after the flip/turn at the end of each length.  That’s all I’m looking for. [Update: The swimming screensaver has been removed in an Aug 30th, 2013 firmware update]

That’s not to say there aren’t more bugs (because I can guarantee there likely are).  It’s just that I’m not seeing any others for the scenarios I’ve tested as outlined in this review.  Just like there were edge cases I found with the airplane flight, there are likely also edge cases that others will find too.

Differences between the Ambit2 and the Ambit2 S:


While I’ve covered the majority of the differences throughout the article, here are the core areas that are different between the two units:

Barometric Altimeter: The Ambit2 has a barometric altimeter via an internal pressure sensor.  The Ambit2 S does not, instead relying on GPS altitude data.  Note that the original Ambit1 does have this sensor (barometric altimeter), but it doesn’t have FusedAlti (the combination of GPS and barometric altimeter).

Temperature Sensor: The Ambit2 has an internal temperature sensor (used in conjunction with the altimeter).  The Ambit2 S does not.  The original Ambit1 does have this sensor.

Screens: Due to lack of barometric altimeter, the Ambit2 S does NOT include the alti-baro screen.  Additionally, current Ascent/Descent and Vertical Speed functions are not present in the Ambit2 S.  However, they are considering adding these back in via firmware update, based on GPS data instead (and the stability seen thus far).

Compass: The compass is not within the main modes of the Ambit2 S, however it is still offered via the start menu as a temporary screen.  The thinking behind this being that the Ambit2 is focused more towards outdoor/hiking, whereas the Ambit2 S is more towards the performance athlete.  Again, the compass is still there, just not as readily accessible.

Size/Weight: As seen earlier in the review in the size comparison section, the Ambit2 is slightly heavier than the Ambit2 S, as well as just a touch thicker (in terms of depth).

Battery Life: The Ambit2 S has a GPS-on battery life of 25 hours (every-60s), whereas the Ambit2 has upwards of 50 hours (every 60s).  At 1-second recording, it’s 8 hours and 15 hours.

Price: The Ambit2 S is the least expensive model, starting at $400, versus the Ambit2 starts at $500 (plus more for heart rate strap or Sapphire versions).

Colors: The Ambit2 S offers three colors (Graphite/Lime/Red), while the Ambit2 offers three slightly different colors (Sapphire/Black/Silver). In this review you see the Lime (2S) and Sapphire editions (Ambit2)

Based on what I’m seeing with the GPS altimeter, I wouldn’t have any problem recommending the Ambit2 S over the Ambit2 for triathletes or cyclists in some situations.  Ironman finishers with power meters are going to have some challenges with the 2S due to the lack of battery.  On the altimeter side, as you saw in my climb data, it was pretty darn close.  And the other functions (temperature sensor) just aren’t of much use to most performance athletes (I’m not saying they aren’t interesting as I’m a data geek too, but I’ve yet to hear a training-specific reason in three years of devices having temperature recorded as to why it’s useful to know the current temperature you’re in).

Note: Because this can be a bit confusing (and really important), I specifically sent Suunto this small section and asked them to validate it ahead of the review.

Existing original Ambit Owners:


If there’s one thing that won’t make existing original Ambit owners happy – it’s the fact that almost none of these new features I’ve discussed are making it to the original Ambit.  In fact, the only feature that will be made available on the original Ambit is additional App logic relate to saving app state and ‘If’ statements in the code (and this doesn’t even require a firmware update).  No doubt, these are great improvements within the App Zone functionality – but in comparison to the wide swath of features being added to the Ambit2, it’s going to come across as a big slap in the face.

While part of the firmware changes are dependent on updates to both the units CPU and GPS chipsets (same type, but just newer versions in the Ambit2), Suunto has argued that many of the changes simply wouldn’t have required additional processing power.  I don’t really buy that.  For example, the recording of ANT+ power meters would have required no more processing power than recording heart rate or cadence data (done today).  I could potentially understand the swimming calculations or dual-app pieces requiring more CPU, but others such as multisport mode are a tough one to believe as well.

The case of not updating the existing Ambit is especially of note due to the age of the previous original Ambit only being about a year old.  Further is that Suunto had made quite a big deal at trade shows, consumer events, and in the media about their plans to ‘continually upgrade’ the watch.  You can see this starting at about the 1:15 marker in this video from a year ago.  Or in this video at the 25-second marker, one of their sponsored athletes working the booth talked about year over year software updates.

And, to be fair – these updates did happen numerous times in calendar year 2012 – with the addition of new features to the original Ambit.  And today’s update to Movescount does extend some of the new app functionality to the original Ambit.  That said, in talking with Suunto, the last firmware update to the Ambit1 will be a near-term bug-fix only update.  No new features will be added to the Ambit1 going forward.

Perhaps with some additional consumer pressure we’ll see a larger set of the features ported from the Ambit2 back into the firmware updates for the Ambit1.

Update May 7th, 2013: As a result of said pressure and feedback, Suunto has announced a series of changes and updates they’ll be making to the Ambit1 (original Ambit).  You can read the full announcement letter here.

Product Comparison Tables:

You can utilize the below comparison table that’s dynamically updated over time (so as features change via firmware) to compare the different watches that I’ve reviewed – including the Ambit2, 2S and original Ambit1. Note the key part being ‘I’ve reviewed’. There are no doubt many other great watches on the market, it’s just that if I haven’t reviewed it, I don’t feel right including it based on some marketing fluff.  However, with that said – I’d also suggest that within the GPS running/hiking/triathlon market, I’ve reviewed virtually every major product that you’d want to be looking at.

Since the Ambit is a bit of a higher end product (actually, the most expensive GPS watch on the market), if you’re looking for a more wallet-friendly option, see my GPS recommendations post from a few months ago.

Function/FeatureSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto AmbitGarmin FenixGarmin Forerunner 910XT
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 15th, 2015 @ 11:45 amNew Window
Price$319$219$400.00/Discontinued$299 (on sale)$399
Product Announcement DateAPR 29, 2013APR 29, 2013Jan 18, 2012JUL 10, 2012OCT 4, 2011
Actual Availability/Shipping DateMay 2013May 2013Apr 2012AUG 2012JAN-APR 2012
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYesYesYes
Data TransferUSBUSBUSBUSB & Bluetooth SmartANT+ Wireless
WaterproofingYes - 100mYes - 50mYes - 100mYes - 50mYes - 50m
Battery Life (GPS)50 hours25 hours50 hours50 hours20 Hours
Recording IntervalVariableVariableVariable1s to variable1s or Smart
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerYesYesNoYes (as of Feb 2014)No
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatGreatGreatGoodGreat
Backlight GreatnessGreatGreatGreatGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceYesYesYesNoNo
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)NoNoNoNoNo
ConnectivitySuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto AmbitGarmin FenixGarmin Forerunner 910XT
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingNoNoNoYesVia Wahoo Fitness Adapter
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)NoNoNoYesNo
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)NoNoNoYes (as of Feb 2014)No
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoNoNoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNoNoNo
CyclingSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto AmbitGarmin FenixGarmin Forerunner 910XT
Designed for cyclingYesYesYesYesYes
Power Meter CapableYesYesNoNoYes
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsYesYesN/AN/AYes
Power Meter TSS/NP/IFNoNoN/AN/AYes
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesYesYesYes (full support added Sept 2013)Yes
RunningSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto AmbitGarmin FenixGarmin Forerunner 910XT
Designed for runningYesYesYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)Yes (internal accelerometer)Yes (internal accelerometer)YesYesYes
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)NoNoNoNoNo
VO2Max EstimationYesYesYesNoNo
Race PredictorNoNoNoNoNo
Recovery AdvisorYesYesNoNoNo
Run/Walk ModeNoNoNoNoYes
SwimmingSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto AmbitGarmin FenixGarmin Forerunner 910XT
Designed for swimmingYesYesNoNoYes
Openwater swimming modeYesYesN/AN/AYes
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingYesYesN/AN/AYes
Record HR underwaterNoNoNoNoNo
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YesYesN/AN/AYes
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YesYesN/AN/AYes
Indoor Drill ModeYesYesN/AN/ANo
Indoor auto-pause featureNoNoN/AN/ANo
Change pool sizeYesYesN/AN/AYes
Indoor Min/Max Pool Lengths15m/y to 1,200m/y15m/y to 1,200m/yN/AN/A20m/22y to 100y/m
Ability to customize data fieldsYesYesN/AN/AYes
Can change yards to metersYesYesN/AN/AYes
Captures per length data - indoorsYesYesN/AN/AYes
Indoor AlertsNoNoN/AN/AYes
TriathlonSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto AmbitGarmin FenixGarmin Forerunner 910XT
Designed for triathlonYesYesNoNoYes
Multisport modeYesYesN/AN/AYes
WorkoutsSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto AmbitGarmin FenixGarmin Forerunner 910XT
Create/Follow custom workoutsNoNoNoYes (As of Dec 6, 2013)Yes
On-unit interval FeatureBarelyBarelyNoYes (As of Dec 6, 2013)Yes
Training Calendar FunctionalityNoNoNoNoYes
FunctionsSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto AmbitGarmin FenixGarmin Forerunner 910XT
Auto Start/StopYesYesNoYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureNoNoNoYesYes
Virtual Racer FeatureNoNoNoNoYes
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)NoNoNoNoNo
Day to day watch abilityYesYesYesYesNo
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoNoSomeYesNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NoNoNoYesNo
Weather Display (live data)NoNoNoNoNo
NavigateSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto AmbitGarmin FenixGarmin Forerunner 910XT
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)YesYesYesYesYes
Markers/Waypoint DirectionYesYesNoYesNo
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNoNoNoNo
Back to startYes (added Aug 30, 2013)Yes (added Aug 30, 2013)Yes (point to point only)YesYes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNoNoNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoNoNoYesNo
SensorsSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto AmbitGarmin FenixGarmin Forerunner 910XT
Altimeter TypeBarometric, GPS (FusedAlti)GPSBarometricBarometricBarometric
Compass TypeMagneticMagneticMagneticMagneticGPS
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYesYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Footpod CapableYesYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Power Meter CapableYesYesNoNoYes
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoNoNoYes
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoNoNoYes
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNoNoYesNo
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNoNoNo
Shimano Di2 ShiftingNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableNoNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoNoNoNoNo
Temp Recording (internal sensor)YesNoYesYesNo
Temp Recording (external sensor)NoNoNoYesNo
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsYesYesYesNoYes
SoftwareSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto AmbitGarmin FenixGarmin Forerunner 910XT
PC ApplicationMoveslink AgentMoveslink AgentMoveslink AgentBasecampGTC/ANT Agent
Web ApplicationMovescountMovescountMovescountGarmin ConnectGarmin Connect
Phone AppSuunto MovescountMovescountSuunto MovescountGarmin Basecamp (iOS)iOS/Android
Ability to Export SettingsYes (online)Yes (online)Yes (online)Yes (profiles XML)No
PurchaseSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto AmbitGarmin FenixGarmin Forerunner 910XT
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)LinkLinkDiscontinuedLinkLink
DCRainmakerSuunto Ambit2Suunto Ambit2 SSuunto AmbitGarmin FenixGarmin Forerunner 910XT
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLink

Remember to click the ‘Expand Results’ button as it’ll show a gazillion more rows than the quick preview above.  Or, you can mix and match your own comparison table here with products that are of interest to you.

Pros and Cons:

As always, I’d suggest that the below pros and cons is highly concentrated, and doesn’t really cover all the details of the 11,000+ words above.  But, with that warning, here we go:


– Multisport mode is now included, and customized creation of these modes is neat
– Supports power meters
– New App Functionality increases ability for unit to be customized
– Now supports swimming (openwater and pool)
– FusedAlti helps in narrowing the gap between GPS and barometric altimeters
– Movescount site updates fairly impressive in some areas
– Route navigation forward and backwards is handy


– Multisport mode needs transition times added (manual workaround is semi-functional)
– Ambit2 S battery is tough for iron-distance triathletes with power meters
– No vibration alarms on any of the Ambits
No proper Trackback feature for getting un-lost  [Update: Firmware update added it Aug 30th, 2013)
Indoor swimming screensaver screen sucks [Update: Firmware fixed Aug 30th, 2013)

Again, there are lots of little details that I’ve sprinkled throughout the review that are worth paying attention to.



It’s been a while since I’ve been excited about a triathlon or multisport watch.  Mostly because most of them in the market today don’t really do all three legs of a triathlon.  Doing bicycling and running and declaring yourself a triathlon watch is like saying you’ve delivered baby after six months of pregnancy.  Both the Ambit2 and Ambit2 S deliver on all three sports for triathlon, and they have multisport mode – critical for racing.

The next area to look at is whether the watch is good enough to hold its own within any single sport that makes up a triathlon.  Meaning, is it still a good running watch?  Or a good cycling head unit?  In this case, I’d give the unit B+ marks from an individual standpoint in running and cycling, and about a C+ in swimming (until they workout the swimming screensaver thing, then it’s an ‘A’ [Update: Fixed in Aug 30th firmware update]).  The main reason I mark it slightly lower in running and cycling is that other units in the market simply have more features (i.e. a real interval feature, workout support, virtual pacing support, nutrition alerts, etc…).  For example in running the inability to choose whether speed/distance data comes from GPS or the footpod is a problem.  And in cycling, the lack of TSS/NP/IF metrics inbox can be an issue for some.

With that said – I’d still have no problems using it as a triathlon multisport watch (either model).  Is it the best overall unit on the market today?  Not yet.  Could it be?  It has the hardware to, just a matter of the software improvements.

When it comes to hiking, navigation and outdoors, I’m seeing minimal improvements over the Ambit1.  The addition of FusedAlti is definitely a helper, but not a reason in my mind to go out and upgrade the watch from an existing Ambit.  Overall the Ambit2 was more about the sport athletic side than it was about the hiking/outdoor side of things.  In many ways, the Ambit as a name for this product may not have actually been a good choice.  In reality the Ambit2 and 2S now compete more with the Garmin FR910XT than they do with the Garmin Fenix.  Whereas in the past, the Ambit competed more with the Fenix.

Going forward, the increased capabilities of the application engine can and likely will continue to produce some really intriguing options.  It’s really too bad though that Suunto didn’t add in a Bluetooth chip to the unit, as that would have significantly opened up the game for connectivity out to the internet.  In that single aspect this watch lags behind something like the Fenix, in the power of the phone app side from Fenix.

Overall though I’m impressed with the Ambit2 and think it makes for a solid multisport and outdoor/hiking watch – hopefully one that Suunto will improve upon for years to come.

As always, thanks for reading, and feel free to drop any questions below.

Found this review useful?  Here’s how you can help support future reviews with just a single click!  Read on…

Hopefully you found this review useful.  At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device.  The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love).  As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers an exclusive 10% discount across the board on all products (except clearance items).  You can pickup the Suunto Ambit’s below. Then receive 10% off of everything in your cart by adding code DCR10BTF at checkout.  By doing so, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get a sweet discount.  And, since this item is more than $75, you get free US shipping as well.

Suunto Ambit2 (with/without HR strap)
Suunto Ambit2 S (with/without HR strap)
Suunto Ambit2 Sapphire (with/without HR strap)
(All colors available)

Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase accessories (though, no discount on either from Amazon).  Or, anything else you pickup on Amazon helps support the site as well (socks, laundry detergent, cowbells).  If you’re outside the US, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top.  Though, Clever Training also ships most places too and you get the 10% discount. Thanks for reading!

As you’ve seen throughout the review there are numerous compatible accessories for the unit. I’ve consolidated them all into the below chart, with additional information (full posts) available on some of the accessories to the far right. Also, everything here is verified by me – so if it’s on the list, you’ll know it’ll work. And as you can see, I mix and match accessories based on compatibility – so if a compatible accessory is available at a lower price below, you can grab that instead.

AccessoryManufacturerStreet PriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)Clever Training Europe (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)B&H Photo LinkMore Info
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated January 27th, 2018 @ 4:29 am
PowerTap G3 ANT+ Power Meter (Hub)CycleOps/PowerTap$790 (hub only)LinkLinkLink
PowerTap Pro ANT+ Power Meter (Hub)CycleOps/PowerTap$899LinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Classic Plastic Strap) - HRM1Garmin$37.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM2Garmin$69.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM3Garmin$50LinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Running Footpod (Mini)Garmin$45LinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Speed/Cadence Cycling Sensor (GSC-10)Garmin$35.00LinkLinkLink
Motorola ANT+ Speed/Cadence Cycling Sensor (Quick Install) - BEST!Motorola$55.00LinkN/ALink
Power2Max ANT+ Power MeterPower2Max$970 (no cranks)N/AN/ALink
PowerCal ANT+ Estimated Power MeterPowerTap$99LinkLinkLink
SRAM Quarq Cinqo (Original) ANT+ Power MeterQuarq/SRAMDiscontinuedLinkN/ALink
SRAM Quarq Elsa & RED ANT+ Power MeterSRAM/Quarq$1,600 (with cranks, no chainrings)LinkLinkLink
SRAM Quarq Riken ANT+ Power MeterSRAM/Quarq$1,200 (with cranks, no chainrings)LinkLinkLink
Stages ANT+/Bluetooth Smart Power MeterStages Cycling$699N/ALinkLink
Suunto ANT/ANT+ Running Footpod (good for both ANT types)Suunto$70.00LinkN/ALink
Suunto Ambit 1/2/2s Charging CableSuunto$29.00LinkLinkN/A
Suunto Bike Mount Kit (for mounting any watch onto handlebars)Suunto$10.00LinkLinkN/A
Suunto-ANT (not ANT+) Bike Cadence Sensor Pod - Suunto-Devices OnlySuunto$59.00LinkN/AN/A
Suunto-ANT (not ANT+) Bike Speed Sensor Front Wheel Pod - Suunto-Devices OnlySuunto$70.00LinkN/AN/A
Suunto-ANT (not ANT+) Bike Speed Sensor Pod - Suunto-Devices OnlySuunto$59.00LinkN/AN/A
Suunto-ANT (not ANT+) Heart Rate Strap - Suunto-Devices OnlySuunto$72.00LinkLinkN/A

And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible.  And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below.  Thanks! Finally, I’ve written up a ton of helpful guides around using most of the major fitness devices, which you may find useful in getting started with the devices.  These guides are all listed on this page here.


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  1. Zen

    Ambit 2 seems so much better than the first version. However 910XT still seems good with a better price IMHO. Thank you Ray for writing this great post!

    • Josef

      Hi ray. Thanks for a great review. I am a marathon/trail runner and I am between purchasing the garmin 610 and the ambit 2s. I have three questions.
      1) I know that the 2s does not have a temp sensor, but will movescount automatically insert the temperature prevalent during the exercise time measured, as garmin connect and sporttracks does?
      2) Do you have any idea on whether the 2/2s will get a virtual pace/racer function. Relevant apps seem poor
      3) I use the Firstbeat athlete app. Is there any discernible difference between the quality of r-r data provided by the ambit 2s and the Garmin 610 that may be used for further analysis? (assuming that both get a decent signal from the measuring belt)

    • Rhino

      Hey, you say one of the cons with this unit is the lack of “trackback”, but I’ve noticed a few other websites mention the Suunto Ambit2’s trackback feature… None of them go into any detail about it though, so I’m wondering if they are mistaken, or maybe they’re just calling something else “trackback”, or maybe – just maybe – Suunto has already corrected this/there’s an app that enables it? Please let me know. Thanks

    • @Rhino – This is covered in the review, above. However, the firmware released today may in fact now support a real trackback function, but I suspect not many have had a chance to test it. Before today’s firmware update, the suunto “trackback” feature would only show you an arrow pointed to the origin of your trek – -which isn’t helpful for tracking back along the trail you took during the way there.

    • Lo
      Thanks for your site
      I am far from beeing an athlete but i like to run ride sail, and record everything.
      I bought in december 2012 the fenix after reading your ambit/ fenix comparaison.

      And you were spot on, i bough the expensive flat in a poor neighbourough
      Meaning its a fantastic watches on paper, but troubesome to use.

      I have used the fenix for 8 months, for skying swiming running, sailing
      -To record data its fine, even if the gps is slow to kick in
      -To configure data screen is a nighmare as you have to do it on the watches
      – its full of bugs.
      – and my unit was not waterprooof,
      Took a swim with it last week, it died ( i had fog before, took a few bath with it)

      So the fenix is a good idea very poorly executed and badly built.

      I bought the ambit 2 last week,
      Ad my god i love it.
      Ok you are missing a few features out of the box, BUT WHAT YOU HAVE DOES WORK
      It looks nice well built, the gps starts in an instant, the conffiguration on move scount is a pure dream

      So high five for ambit2 and lets hope for carmin the fenix2 will be better for them, but i will not go back, i just want the money back

      Thanks for your site

  2. George Harris

    Well I don’t know if I got messed over or not but I just bought the original Ambit at a great price much lower than even the new price. Since all I do is run I guess I am ok with this watch. Right?

    • Steve Gray

      I see from all of your posts that you have all of the top models of GPS watches and have done some excellent review on each of them. What I have not seen is which one you prefer to use, what is your favorite for running?

      Everyone… I will use a GPS watch probably 50% for trail running/road running and 50% for backpacking/hiking. Any suggestions which watch is best for this mix of activity?

  3. Tim

    Is it possible to use the navigation features and track a run at the same time? Do the screens rotate like a Garmin 405 or 610?

    Thx for a great review!

    • Rainmaker

      Yes. You can activate the navigation feature at any time by holding the ‘Next’ button – within an activity or outside it.

      As for AutoScroll, no, it’s manual.

    • Valerie

      Hey! Thanks for this wonderful review! Just bought the AMBIT2 S which is also my first gps watch!! I mostly run but started cycling and swimming and I want to start triathlon races next year 🙂

      I’m so bad with technology so I’m sure I won’t use all the features you talked about haha! Although I was wondering, during your races..I bet you don’t put on the heart rate belt right? (takes time during the transition?) so it just doesn’t give you the information and that’s it?

      Thank you! 🙂

    • Most triathletes will simply put it on before the race, under their tri suit and wetsuit. They are all waterproof. The unit will connect to it as soon as you’re out of the water (automatically).

  4. Big difference though between Ambit 2S and Garmin 910XT. Ambit uses a Sapphire Crystal and steel bezel, so for rugged factor 910XT does not even hold a candle to Ambit.

  5. Scott

    Can you confirm the track back option. Was reading from someone that was doing testing for Suunto (from WatchUSeek forum) they mentioned what I would think is the track back option:
    Distance, “find back”

    • Rainmaker

      The Next > Navigation > Find Back | option goes back to a starting point via the same POI style waypoint. Just a compass straight back to the start of the event.

      To double-check this, I just started from my place, and walked in a question-mark style path around some buildings. At the furthest left portion of the ? mark, I then enabled the ‘Find Back’ option. It directed me straight back to the front door, rather than back around the top of the question mark and back home.

  6. Nathan

    I might change my mind after I read past the first paragraph but I already love the Ambit2 when Ray uses the phrase “predictable (and even on time!) firmware updates.” and the words “triathlete”, “indoor and openwater swimming” and “multisport mode”

    • Tom


      Good to see that someone is doing things right on that front – if I didn’t already have a 910 I’d be seriously considering this product on that fact alone (but I’ll definitely be looking at it’s successor when the time comes to replace the 910). I love Garmin’s products, but they *really* need to commit more people and/or resources to firmware development of existing products.

      It may not drive a lot of direct revenue, but in the long term it pays off as people know that their investment in an expensive piece of equipment will have some staying power. You can short this type of thing when you’re the only player in the game, but this sector is rapidly getting more competitive and variables like this will become a significant differentiator.

    • Tisztul_A_Visztula

      Guys, Ambit 2 is a good news for us, 910XT owners. Its launch will definitely speed up Garmin to fix what should have been fixed for a long while.

  7. Alexander Holbrook

    Is it just me, but is the 910xt currently the top watch to beat. I have a 310xt which I absolutely love, but it seems that the 910xt is so hard to beat that I wouldn’t be surprised if Garmin didn’t bring out a new multisport watch in the next year.(A bit like how the Garmin FR 305 stuck around for a while)

  8. Scott

    Thanks for the explanation of find back. I never thought of it, in the way you mentioned!

  9. Dan

    Thanks, Ray! I’ve been waiting all day to read this.
    (BTW, typo in the “Colors” section. You list the Ambit 2 S both times.)

  10. Dario

    Just bought an Ambit1 last week and find this outrageous as I thought the Ambit would continue to get upgraded for at least a couple more features. Total BS from Suunto, esp. since they repeatedly said they would!!! It was one of the key features for buying the watch. I feel like I just got slapped in the face.

    • Rainmaker

      I’d focus on the bright side for you, with buying last week – you’re likely within the return period. Well, unless you bought it on eBay or from another person. :-/

    • Joop de Hoog

      A petition to Suunto has been started to continue updating Ambit 1. Join and spread The initiative on your forums…

      link to movescount.com

    • Douglas

      Yes I agree with what others have said when they bought the Ambit based on the fact that they said they would be pushing all upgrades through in the future using the ambit 1 hardware watch as a base……Now low and behold they come out with an entirely new watch….THis is total Bs!!! Another company who breaks their word and Me another sucker who bought into their hype….If Sunto is reading this you should find a way to make it up to all the people who bought the ambit based on what you told us as this is nothing more than false advertising and your word has now been tarnished!!!!!

  11. Jackson

    Question: under Cons…don’t you want to include the footpod lockout of GPS. It got a “This sucks” award 🙂

    Great and informative reading

  12. James

    Could you elaborate on the meaning of “Sapphire” that was referenced in this review?

    • Rainmaker

      Oh, sorry. That’s just the color/glass variant and is considered the higher end. Sapphire edition includes “brushed steel bezel” and a sapphire crystal glass watchface.

  13. Ian P

    On battery life , what recording time periods can you set up? I am sub 12hour I M athlete so can I stretch the 2s to work without a power meter, what are my options? Thanks.

    • Rainmaker

      Recording options at 1s/10s for recording, but 1s/60s for GPS pickup. Hence the no-mans land I was referring to within the battery area. I’m optimistic that Suunto can look at changing something.

      Now, in looking at things, you can actually specify different recording rates for the different sports that make up the triathlon. But you’ll need to ‘re-create’ those sports since you’d otherwise impact the 1s recording with those. Almost make a ‘Iron-Swim’ sport, and an ‘Iron-Run’ that have lower recording rates at 10s instead.

  14. Jimlefkas

    About time Ray!!!
    I was surprised to read in another blog about Ambit2 and nothing out of you…..or better reading in your blog about a garmin stap….
    Come on its only a european company(Suunto) but it deserves a beter look….

    • Angelus

      In the other blog, was it a 10’000+ words article and a photo-gallery to impress the Louvre? Or just the announcement the Ambit2 is coming later this year?
      What you probably do is apples to oranges 😉

    • Rainmaker

      It was actually done the night before, but I waited until the final site as up to validate things. Along the way while waiting 15 hours for them to fix/update their site I added a few little things here and there. I’m really moving towards forcing companies to finalize things before I publish reviews, thus allowing me to apply more pressure towards fixes to bugs that are there at release (hence the bug section as well).

      What do you mean on the second part for the straps? I absolutely don’t recommend people buy the Suunto strap. Doing so makes zero sense. It cost twice as much, and does half as much. Buying ANY of the other ANT+ straps on the market is where you want to be, as it gives you compatibility other other ANT+ devices as well as the Ambit lineup.

    • Jimlefkas

      Sorry Ray ,
      but i was only surprised that nothing from your (by far best) blog
      came out about news of Suunto when we were notified of a new(ok better i agree) strap of Garmin.
      I had no intention to embarrass you thogh i like what you do!

  15. Fergus Hammond

    Thanks for the very detailed review!

    Do you know if either of the new Ambits can use a different strap? I hated the strap on the Ambit1 and ended up returning the watch because of it. I’ve got a Fenix now with a velcro strap but I liked the OS of the Suunto watch more.

    • Rainmaker

      I’m not aware of anybody else that’s swapped the strap out (though searching the WatchUSeek Forums may make sense). The strap is simply screwed in, so in theory it could support it, if someone had a compatible one (Suunto doesn’t make any at this time).

  16. Yeah I’ll just go stand in the corner with my 5 week old Ambit 1. Dammit.

    Thank you for the review.

  17. Stanislav

    Well, still no vibration alerts and no GPS recording modes between 1 sec and 1 min.

    Recently I used Ambit in an all day utlra running event and had to use the 1 min GPS mode because I was afraid the battery would run out in the 1 sec mode. Let me say that the distance precision was very disappointing on a trail with a lot of switchbacks – about 25% shorter compared to another Ambit unit running in 1 sec GPS mode. I really hope Suunto will reconsider and add an intermediate GPS fix mode, like every 5 or 10 seconds, and make it available to the original Ambit.
    And by the way, based on my experience so far Ambit doesn’t last 16 hours in the 1 second GPS fix mode, it is more like 13.5-14 hours.

  18. matt

    Wow, thanks for this very thorough review. Looks like a good candidate to replace my 910xt should it die one day… Which I hope it won’t.

    As a trail runner, the course navigation feature is quite interesting for me, and it had it’s issues on the 910xt.

    Training-wise, foot pod data replacing GPS data would have to be fixed before I’d buy an Ambit2…

  19. Klee

    One note: the map zooming issue is Googlemaps feature when using Terrain mode (which is the default selection in Movescount).

    • Rainmaker

      Ahh, sweet! I see. Good, I can go back and swap out a few of those screenshots with the satellite mode to get in closer. Thanks for the heads up!

  20. dennis

    thank you for the very good review!!!
    Can I customize the Data fields?
    Is their an overview which Data fiels are available?
    Thank you

  21. Kelly


    There are many unhappy ambit1 owners as a result of this development. I am one of them. I’ve owned an ambit for less than three months. And I bought it in no small part due to your review and your stated independence. Part of my expectation in buying the ambit1 is that there would further firmware upgrades of the ambit1 to cater for features that now look like they will only be available in the ambit2 (a purchase I will not be making). So I have some questions for you. When did you receive the ambit2 for review? What do you say to someone who bought the ambit1 last week as a result of your review (ie when you were reviewing the ambit2 and your review of the ambit was still online to influence people). Would it be correct to say you signed a confidentiality agreement regarding the release date of your review? How does this reconcile with your stated independence? I suggest it cannot. And when is the ambit3 coming out? Will ambit2 purchasers be able to rely on further firmware upgrades after that? What your thoughts on all this.

    • Rainmaker

      Hi Kelly-

      I’m sorry about their lack of firmware updates.

      As of last week, there were plenty of rumors on the web published in various places about the Ambit2 – and in fact, some folks posted those rumors to various places here (which I let stand). Actually, they’ve been there online since April 2nd or so, due to a company publishing their distribution catalog ahead of time online. I received the units later that week.

      Ultimately, I’m held to a press embargo – which is the same embargo agreement that publications from the New York times, to major online tech sites to your hometown newspaper. It’s common from everything from tech publications to wartime items. The idea behind it is to ensure I have enough time to put together the review accurately for publication on the date of release (good or bad). Otherwise you get rushed reviews from people that aren’t really even reviews at all. Or, you get incorrect information about the product because the media person doesn’t have time to validate facts. In this case, I’ve probably traded 1-2 dozen e-mails during this time period validating facts or getting clarification on why things are the way they are. Here’s more info on how press embargo’s work: link to en.wikipedia.org

      Companies don’t get access to my review pre-release onto the web. They read it the same time you do. I do validate small sections and/or facts with them. For example, the section describing the differences – I specifically sent that to them since the details were so important to get absolutely correct. But even the beginning and ending of that section they didn’t get to see, just the bullets.

      Ultimately, I don’t know when the Ambit3 will come out, or when Suunto will stop supporting the Ambit2. Companies (especially the larger ones), don’t tend to give me product roadmaps. This protects me as much as them. Smaller ones with no products tend to release a bit more (simply because they have nothing). But the likes of Garmin/Polar/Timex/Suunto usually only let me know about a product once they are ready to have me start testing it, which tends to be between 2-3 weeks ahead of time.

      Hopefully this helps.

    • Kelly


      Thanks for your response. The lack of updates is clearly not in your control so nothing for you to say sorry about there. And I do understand the embargo bit with reviews. My concern remains with Suunto’s strategy of leading ambit buyers into believing their will be firmware upgrades when clearly this does not appear to have been the case at least for some recent history. A major feature that led me to buy the ambit was not just what it is today but what I thought it had been represented to be in the future, ie with future upgrades. I did not get what I thought I was buying and so feel duped by Suunto. People considering buying the Ambit2 should be aware of Suunto’s actions here.

      Thanks for listening.

    • Rainmaker

      I completely agree with you. As I pointed out in the ‘loves me not’ photo towards the end, Suunto was very clear in their marketing at numerous points that they planned yearly upgrades…and didn’t deliver on that.

      I can understand some aspect requiring more hardware (or memory). For example, I do believe that the more complex apps may indeed require more memory, which may only be present in the newer watches. But many of the features I have a hard time believing required being restricted to the current watch.

      As you noted, it’s a major backhand to many folks that bought into the unit – specially after the late November 2012 update thinking that more was coming. I can only hope that Suunto is taking note of all the negative feedback being posted to various locations about it. And I suppose not just Suunto, both other companies as well.

    • Wayne

      It’s become the norm now for technology companies to shrug of their existing customers in favour of developing products for new sales. Garmin does it (owners of older watches are left with bugs and missing promised features). Phone companies do it (owners of old HTC phone, for example, get no official support in updating to the latest Android version).

      On one hand it could be said that that 25 years ago companies didn’t send us firmware updates adding new features to our VCR. On the other hand, it was rather difficult to do so back then; now it’s so much easier to roll-out updates.

      I’m an Ambit1 owner who is very happy with the hardware, but was hoping that at an update would for some proper interval training functionality. I was never counting on this coming, but had thought that Suunto might suprise me. Now I understand why Suunto have been so quiet about a possible update since December. It’s because they’ve ‘moved on’ to the new hardware. Now there’s next to no chance that the Ambit1 will be updated. If interval training were to come, it would only come for the Ambit2, The Ambit1 is most likely capable of all the Ambit2 firmware functionality, but it’s no longer in Suunto’s interests to support the Ambit1 further. Very disappointing, but it all comes down to $$$.

      We consumers are caught in this trap, and there’s no way out unless a company were to make a completely open hardware platform with open source software. But in which company’s interests would such an approach be? Not one which wants to maximise profits.

    • Kelly

      I’ve just written a letter of complaint to Suunto Australia asking for a full refund on the basis that their misprepresentations regarding firmware updates misled me into purchasing the Ambit. I’ll let people know how it goes.

    • charly


      great review.

      i am quite new to these training gadget/watch and i am one of many out there confused deciding whether garmin fenix or suunto ambit that is more usefull to me. to be honest i am leaning towards fenix due to the ability to navigate and making more (1000) waypoints or POIs and it can track back. i plan to use fenix for daily watch as well as occasional geocaching and mountain biking. track back feature is crucial to me for mountain biking since there is not much trail sign and there is a big chance for you to get loss. so i need to get back to point where it looks familiar and not the starting point.

      regarding the ambit 2 release does make me a big relief because where i am now i cannot refund or exchange any purchase and the price is almost 20% higher than in USA. anyway the way i see it this watch is a smartwatch and may be becoming like a smart phone nowadays. smartphone gets a hardware upgrade in 5 months but they dont call it the same. however they can use the same os or software. so i am not sure what suunto can’t follow the same way. different hardware but same os/software. these will make ambit1 owner a little happier i think. or call it something else with different watch design so this way not many people will feel get a slap in the face. look at casio or seiko how many watches that are displayed for customer to choose the best to their liking. and nobody cares or complain why they have many new versions. so they end up collecting the watch. comparing all the different brand of watches out there USD 400 price tag is considered an entry level.even tissot T touch that limited to offer compass, alitmeter and temperature is at least USD 600.

      my thinking investing usd 500 ambit 1 and resell it with 1 month usage with say usd 100 discount is still a better cut loss because you invest in something that is health related and you can use for training purposes. so those who feel get a slap in the face quickly refund it or just sell it at a discount and get the ambit 2 that you love. when you invest more you tend to use more. so cheer up.

    • Eli

      Not trying to defend Suunto as I’m sure some of the features could be put on the older watch but a watch is not a phone. The watch seems to be more a realtime OS with way less abstraction. An old phone can run a new OS and run the new OS slow. Realtime OSes start to fail if they run too slow

    • Kelly

      Suunto Australia replied to my email complaint. This is what they said:

      “Thank you for contacting Suunto Customer Support.

      Please note that regarding this matter you should contact the retailer from which you purchased the Suunto Ambit, they will be able to provide you with further information regarding return policy. Should you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

      We would highly appreciate if you could answer to a short survey regarding the quality of our customer support. It will take only 5 minutes.”

      Then they asked me to complete a survey on their customer service. Link to survey deleted.

      Not a lot of accountability shown.

      Next step, contact the retailer to see what they say.

    • Kelly

      Retailer has offered a full refund. They didn’t want an unhappy customer.

  22. Ted

    I bought an Ambit1 a week ago.
    Sure it is a little annoying to have the new version come out now but I can rest easy for two reasons:
    1) I need the watch now. I didn’t have a HRM and tend to overdue it.
    2) Still a great watch.

    I am only missing one thing: suunto.alarmBeep()
    Suunto, please figure out a way to bring this to the Ambit1. I want to make an app that reminds me to eat.

  23. David Chang

    Thanks for the great review. It sounds like from a pure triathlon perspective, the Garmin 910xt is still superior and your recommended triathlon watch. However, if I don’t have either watch right now, would you recommend the Ambit2 over the Garmin 910xt, given that I like to hike or do other types of outdoor activities? It looked like from the pictures you showed, there were a lot of other activity modes that you didn’t discuss, that might be useful. Would either the Garmin or the Suunto be better at tracking a workout like a CrossFit workout?

    Thanks again!

    • Rainmaker

      It’s a tough nugget between the two right now. I feel like the Ambit2 is close, but needs some cleaning up of the multisport mode and the swim mode screensaver to be really on par from a device standpoint. Data-format wise with this update I’m seeing that they broke all 3rd party apps again (noticing that this morning – going to add it in later on today as noted originally within that export section), so that hurts ones ability to use it.

      On the flip side, it’s a really solid day to day watch, and has more functionality when it comes to navigation than the FR910XT – so it’s ideal for those who split time between hiking/outdoor vs pure sport.

      As for activity modes. There are other activity modes, but it’s just display customization using the standard fields. It’s not like something like the Motoactv that actually understands calorie burn or movements for that activity.

  24. frank

    Great Review, thanks a lot.

    I have a question, though, regarding the Ambit 2: while in “Barometer Profile”, how long lasts the battery? For example, if you are going on a sea kayak trip you would like to have some barometric history to be prepared for foul weather. You also don’t want to carry a portable charger with you… Additionally to the “Barometer Profile”, are there any other weather prediction gadgets, like the Suunto Core provides?

    • Rainmaker

      30 days in ALTI/BARO/COMPASS mode (without GPS). There is an App for the Ambit to do some basic Storm Warning stuff, but it lacks the ability to trigger alerts, so it’s display only.

  25. Tom

    Hi Ray,

    Great review as always… As a recent Ambit1 buyer I’m definitely feeling the pain of some of the others on here. We all have to make a call as to when we ‘jump on the technology train’ but Suunto definitely could of done better indicating how long the track was!

    Given the world we now live in, where users expect/demand continual updates to the tech they purchase, who do you think is doing the best job in the sports watch space? Suunto *seemed* to be leading the way in the adoption of this approach, but perhaps not so much now! You think Garmin will continue to improve the Fenix beyond the fixes they’ve already released, or does the limited horsepower in these devices mean we were expecting too much from the likes of Suunto in terms of new features?

    • Rainmaker

      They all focus in different areas a bit. Suunto is a good leader in the less-buggy outdoor side, but from a pure athletics standpoint, no units are as flexible or ‘complete’ as the Garmin units today. The challenge being the Garmin units tend to be among the most buggy units.

      I think you might see some small stuff from Garmin on Fenix, but nothing major at this point. I don’t believe horsepower on the Fenix is a limiter there.

    • SoUnfair

      Beware of the Fenix. I’ve had 2 so far and it’s a great disappointment. My units were riddled with GPS and battery issues. Great on paper, but very poor execution. My 405 was way more dependable, despite the design flaws.

  26. Ryan B

    Great review!

    No vibrate – no deal for me. Still hoping that the Fenix adds more running features to get it up to at least the fr305 and then I’m sold.

  27. anybody

    Thanks for the great review. How long does the battery last in watch only mode?

  28. Adamongo


    Thanks for the in depth review!
    I would have been very interested in the ambit2 if it wasn’t for the lack of interval training features, I’m also a boxer as well as running and high altitude hiking, I regularly use sprint interval training to compliment this.
    Out of interest, which watch in a similar category has the best interval training features in your opinion?

    Thanks for your help 🙂

    • Rainmaker

      In general, the Garmin units have the most flexible interval features and workout features on the market today. Though, not the Fenix (which is what you’d want for hiking).

      Now keep in mind that you can always just press the lap button manually too. So if it were me, I wouldn’t sacrifice the barometric altimeter on a normal-looking watch for the interval features if I were hiking a lot.

    • Ralf


      First of all : thanks a lot for your great reviews, Ray!

      I have bought the Ambit2 as a replacement for my trusted Forerunner 305. I took up the challenge to write an interval training app (for Ambit2 owners: the app can be found on movescount under the name Interval 200m-30s V1). The only thing the app cannot do is set lap markers for post-running analysis. I hope Suunto will add this in a future system update.

      There is no question that getting this kind of training into the FR305 is way easier. On the other hand, the Ambit app environment gives you a LOT of flexibility if you are not hostile to programming (and I am no programmer; my experience in the field is limited to some self-taught MS Office VBA programming). After all I got all what I expected, and I do not regret having sold the FR305.

  29. Great Review.

    Suunto Ambit 2 have much potential, but without vibration, i still with Garmin 910xt.

    • Happy Runner

      Couldn’t agree more. I don’t want to count pool laps nor pause to look at the watch. I want the watch to notify me.

      Also, in a long OWS race (especially point-to-point), it is nice to have a vibration alert a regular distances to keep track of how far along you are.

      Since I think vibration is hardware related (need motor with offset weight), I doubt this is going to change.

  30. Kevin

    First a twofold comment.
    a. Is the suunto dual heart rate belt compatible with the ambit2? I know there was osme back and forth when the ambit came out on whether it was or wasn’t.
    b. You make a solid case about the suunto ant straps not being a good deal and I mostly agree, however having used the suunto dual belt, it is very handy if you have a train indoors often. At work I hit the gym which has the typical indoor equipment all of which will display heart rate if your belt transsmits at the older 5 mHz standard. The suunto dual belt solves this quite nicely transmitting in ant for the watch to record and in 5 mHz for the treadmill to display.

    In a perfect world someone would make an ant+/5mHz belt.

    For that matter, the suunto memory belt serves a niche, not a frequently used niche but a niche nonetheless. Assuming movescount works the same way that Suunto training manager did, you should be able to merge the heart rate file from a swim with the gps track of it, or merge it into a triathlon heart rate trace.

    Another comment is about temperature recordings. You say there is no reason to be able to see the temperature right now. I have one.

    You can replicate microclimates of the races you will be doing, particularly if you have done the race before but to another degree even if you don’t. And that is true whether the watch is affected by skin temps or not, because it will be affected that way on race day as well.

    Spring races are prime examples, you are doing eagleman in June and you know from looking it up on weather underground.com that the temperature can be expected to hit 93 degrees. But it’s april and the temps outside are in the 60s. You need to overdress, but how much? If you are wearing your watch under your long sleeve shirt as you run, (not convenient granted) you can check and see if the temp inside the shirt is hitting close to 92. You can expect yoru skin temperature to approach ambient temperatures on race day.

    This is overlooked and I have told the story of this hitting me like a ton of bricks one day when I looked back at suunto t6 data I had for a few years of racing.

    So there is one very valid use of temperature in my opinion. One which I wish the garmin folks would allow with the tempe sensor on the 910.

  31. Thanks for the grate Review!

    Suunto what is the reason to kick first buyers asses?

  32. Gary P

    I have to agree that the lack of Vibration alerts and the issue witth Footpod overiding GPS are the deal breakers for me.
    90% of my cycling (commuting used for training) and running are done with earphones on so the 910 vibration alert is essential.
    Could vibration alerts be introduced with a firmware/software update? Does the hardware exist in the watch?

    The lack of Virtual partner is a shame, but it seems there might be an app for that? I don’t really use virtual racer anyway.
    The only other issue worthy of comment from my perspective is the lack of ‘proper’ transitions which i guess could be fixed fairly easily in an update?

    If all the above were fixed i would buy the Ambit2 as i have been looking out for day to day watch that performs the training functions of my 910.
    So i too am interested in the battery life in watch only mode?

    • Rainmaker

      The vibrating motor does not exist in the watch. So it would take new units.

      For Virtual Partner, I have seen some apps that come close (mostly older apps), but I think this gives flexibility towards newer apps to be developed.

  33. Randall Wise

    I almost pulled the trigger on the Fenix last month but held off after reading your review of it..I’m a trail runner and do a lot of crossfit type workouts. Been using the 305 for years and it’s on its last leg, but I do use the advanced training for workouts quite often, from race training to custom workouts. I’m still on the fence, maybe you can help me out a little. I like that the Fenix is geared for trails and can be used as a day to day watch, same w/ Ambit2.

    1) does the Fenix support the ability to add training workouts from Garmin Connect?
    2) Does the Amibt2 support the same from Movescount.com?
    3) I’m not a triathlete but I do multisport w/ crossfit. I’ll do a trail run then hit the park for 30 min of cross fit, then back on the trails, repeat. Right now I switch between the 305 and the FR60. W/ the Fenix or Ambit2 can I use those for multisport in this capacity so as not to switch watches? (the 305 only calculates distance based calorie burn, so I have to switch for cross training workouts)
    4) can you expand more on Movescount? Based on your screenshots it looks much better than Garmin Connect, at least the UI…
    5) Can the datafiles from Ambit2 be used on 3rd party sites? Can garmin data be moved to Movescount to bring in my history if I swtich?

    Thanks for the work you do and the time spent on reviews. You do a great service.


    • Rainmaker

      RE: Fenix Workouts:

      No, Fenix does not support workout downloads to the watch.

      RE: Ambit Workouts

      No, the Ambit does not support workout downloads to the watch.

      RE: Multisport in/out

      Yes, you could create that as a custom sport set in the watch.

      RE: Movescount

      It’s a mix. It’s better in some areas (graphing metrics), but not as advanced in other areas (workout creation). I’ll try and get my activities marked public so folks can poke around a bit more on their site.

      RE: Data files from Movescount

      I just uploaded a set of files for folks to try. Any apps that did support the Ambit were probably broken on Monday. I know that the Sport Tracks plug-in that did Ambit support was broken by changes in file structure from Suunto. There is no way to move data into Movescount from Garmin.

    • Ian

      Actually, you can move data from Garmin Connect into Movescount… I’m doing it right now. Just look for MX Activity Mover on Movescount. It’s written in Java so it works on Windows and OS X.

  34. ROB

    Suunto seems not to have learned from its mistakes on the Suunto Ambit (Ambit1).

    -. Suunto did not add extra POI (Waypoints) options, still only 100 (compared to Garmin Fenix that has 1000).
    Seriously, only 100 waypoints for a 500 euro outdoor watch?!
    For people who do very long trekkings Suunto should add at least 10.000 waypoints to the Ambit.
    With all the lowpriced memorychips last years i think it’s not too much asked, specially waypoints are extremely small pieces of information which does not require a lot of space.

    -. Suunto did not add vibration alarm, which is ESSENTIAL for people wearing headphones with music while sporting (like runners).

    -. No “virtual racer” kinda thing like Garmin has.

    -. No “virtual partner” kinda thing like Garmin has.

    -. No way of challenge friends (running same route in competition, etc.)

    If you have the Ambit “1” there is no reason to worry.
    Actually (based on the comparison on the Suunto website) the only new things on the Ambit “2” is a countdown timer and “FusedAlti”.

    • Gary P

      From a Triathletes point of view it includes Swimming!

    • ROB

      Thanks Gary.

      Not mentioned in Suunto’s comparison though….

      link to suunto.com

    • Rainmaker

      I think you see a much great emphasis on the triathlete aspect than additional trek/outdoor, with the Ambit2. It’s somewhat funny in that the Virtual Partner functionality could relatively easily be done within an app, something I would have thought that Suunto could have done an inhouse dev competition to create some of these pieces.

  35. Joop de Hoog

    Thank you for this great review. As an Ambit1 buyer I thought I made a good choice 3 months ago. Now I know better. I even start doubting if purchasing an Ambit2 would be recommendable.
    A company which lacks their own promises/expectations to firmware servicing recent products cannot be truthworthy on their new products as well.

    In fact I bought the Ambit1 on the idea that this watch, with these set of sensors, capacities and movescount initiative would be an excellent platform for further accompanied devellopment. I posted serveral ideas for firmwareupdates. Good luck with it.
    And yes I hope that Suunto return to their former strategy or starts a refund option…

    • Jim Skibo

      What needs to happen is the secondary market develops hacks for the Ambit firmware. I am not enough of a programmer to do it, but some enterprising person will dive into the market.

      I think it is kind of arrogant for Suunto to abandon their Ambit1 owners. Really, what support guarantees does Suunto offer? And why should an Ambit1 owner buy an Ambit2 if Suunto is not going to support what they sell.

  36. tobor

    Ray, I’m curious what your overall thoughts are about battery life in the multi-sport space. Both the Ambit2-S and the announced TomTom Multi-Sport have significantly shorter battery life than either the 310XT or 910XT. As an endurance athlete, battery life is a big deal to me. Am I missing something here or are the non-Garmin watches just not aimed at endurance athletes? It seems that for the premium price these watches fetch that they could make the battery strong enough to last an Ironman or Ultra. Personally, I’m pretty fed up with Garmin and my 910XT (which is still plagued with bugs/performance problems after a year); I’d really like to find a viable alternative. But when neither the Suunto Ambit2-S or the TomTom Multi-Sport has comparable battery life–for me at least–they’re just not an “apples-to-apples” comparison with either the the 910XT.

    • Rainmaker

      They’re aimed at endurance athletes, but they often miss out on the details and tiny features that over time Garmin has added (years of making watches). It’s really difficult for new companies to boil the ocean all at once. Or, old companies in new markets.

  37. Jim Skibo

    Great review, in-depth detail as always! As a long-time Suunto owner, and owner of an Ambit1, I am really disappointed that Suunto has chosen to essentially abandon its Ambit1 owners. For $550, I would have expected at least “some” update to functionality, particularly the problem with pause time.

    That issue might actually be with MovesCount because I can take the Ambit’s XML file output, convert it to GPX, and upload it to Garmin Connect which then correctly analyzes the data (ignores the pause time). If I download the GPX from MovesCount and then upload that to Garmin, the pause time is included.

  38. Eli

    Do you know if there is any advantage to using the Suunto strap over an Ant+ strap? Does their proprietary protocol give more data to the watch? I think I heard that their protocol broadcasts more of the previous r-r intervals so a dropped packet will impact their HRV stuff less (EPOC, VO2, training effect)

    For FusedSpeed wouldn’t that also not be needed indoors? If your arm is swinging and you’re using gps speed then the swinging will impact the speed the gps detects. If you’re indoors then the footpad won’t have any problems caused by the arms swinging that would need to be smoothed out.

    For the Appzone apps, array access to the data to get data from the past is nice but looks like you can’t save data between runs of your app. (Your review last year made it seem like you couldn’t get arbitrary data like that)

    Seems like activities in Movescount has “recovery time” do you know what that is based on?

    As it shows VO2, I’m guessing that is based from its tracking of your HRV but does it allow you to plug in your own VO2max? (I know firstbeat software allows to to plug in your lung capacity and VO2max to give a better estimate.)

    Why do you list the Ant+ usb stick with this watch? doesn’t it only sync with the wired connection?

    Would seem like they could easily support long distance events by making a smaller clib for the device that could be plugged into a solar panel or battery pack to charge the battery without impacting using the device.

    When you are out doing something does it have a breadcrumb map like the edge 305? Can it use GPX tracks and routes like the 305? link to ridewithgps.com

    • Eli

      And thanks for the detailed review as always

    • Rainmaker

      I’m not aware of any advantage of using the Suunto strap over the ANT+ strap. I used the ANT+ strap for virtually everything here and still got the data. I’ll ask them though.

      FusedSpeed doesnt’ work indoors, as it requires GPS. Unfortunately doesn’t work with footpod.

      The new AppZone updates supports saving a data channel for that activity, which is then uploaded.

      They do not allow you to specify your VO2Max anywhere that I’m aware of. Just wieght and age.

      Hmm, good catch on the ANT+ USB stick, that’s an error in my part. Will fix that right now. Thanks!

      It does have breadcrumb trail created from their site, but it only leverages the waypoints, not the ‘crumbs’.

  39. JoggWithoutDog

    thanx a lot for your report … and thanx, too … for your critical remark of Suunto’s behaviour regarding the Ambit-1-owner.
    I am really angry about the whole story:
    Bought one of the first Ambit in Germany last year … when it arrived half of the promised items are really “in the clock” – the only remarkable improvement 6 months later (upgrade to 2.0) and even half a year later the end of development of the Ambit “1” … people like me, who have paid nearly 500 Euros, should treated in a better way than Suunto are doing now…
    Maybe the FR 910 should be the better choice…
    JoggWithoutDog alias Joachim

  40. Tisztul_A_Visztula

    1. “As for the other pods, it can be a bit confusing. Bike Pods are what Suunto calls any ANT+ speed/cadence combo sensor. Meaning that when pairing these sensors – be sure you select ‘Bike Pods’ and not Cadence Pods. As the Cadence Pods are specifically the Suunto ANT (but not ANT+ sensors).”

    What if one has separated cadence and speed sensors? Is Ambit2 able to pair them?

    2. “Now in this scenario I had FusedAlti enabled for the Ambit2 (the 2S doesn’t support it). FusedAlti combines GPS and Barometric altimeter reading to in theory offer a more accurate representation of situations such as where both environmental conditions change and altitude changes (like ascending a mountain).”

    Actually it is what Garmin outdoor units do and they call it automatic elevation calibration. Unfortunately I could not convince Garmin people so far to apply the same for 910XT. Either there is a (pre-activity) manual or (pre-activity) automatic elevation calibration during the activity both type of elevation calibration are suppressed, my pity.

    3. Maybe it is because I am not familiar even with Ambit 1, maybe I just overlooked some sentence, but is Ambit2 like Magellan Switch Up with “indefinite” number of data pages or there are just a couple of pages like 910XT has?

    4. I am not so impressed with the selection of data fields, again Magellan did the right job to make almost 100 data fields available, while Garmin can be considered as an average. Ambit2 seems to lack last lap data, does it?

    5. OK, no vibration alert, because there must be simply no hardware for this feature within the case. But is audible alert customizable? I mean its loudness or sort of sound.

    • Tisztul_A_Visztula

      Re 1. Certainly my question is about having ANT+ speed sensor and ANT+ cadence sensor.

      6. “Also of note is that the Ambit2/S will utilize cadence from ANT+ power meters that transmit it.”

      Strange, both 910XT and Joule 2.0 let you override the cadence data of PT hub with that from a cadence sensor. And as a sidenote, neither 910XT nor Joule 2.0 let you override the speed data of PT hub. At least it is my experience.

    • Rainmaker

      RE: Sep speed/cadence sensors

      Yes, you can pair them. Check out this post: link to dcrainmaker.com

      Where I look at pairing each of the sensor types to the Ambit1, same concept.

      RE: FusedAlti

      Not quite the same. FusedAlti actually blends it, versus just doing an initial calibration check. The airplane flight is actually a perfect example of that. On a Garmin device with Barometric pressure you’ll top out at 8,000ft, but here you saw the altitude up to 35K+.

      RE: Data Fields/Pages

      Check out the data fields section, which outlines the max page combinations (8 page). I do agree that Magellan does the data field configuration the best of anyone out there. So flexible.

      RE: Audio alert

      You cannot customize type or loudness.

      RE: Power Meter Cadence

      I was simply referring to the fact that it would leverage that cadence. Some head units (mostly apps) don’t.


    • Tisztul_A_Visztula

      Thanks for the answers. Just a re-re:

      “Not quite the same. FusedAlti actually blends it, versus just doing an initial calibration check.”

      Let me highlight again that outdoor Garmins like 60csx has a continuous elevation calibration from the very first second of getting a satellite fix until it is switched off or the GPS is disabled to OFF. As I know it is the same for Edge705 and 800,,too. Fenix, too.
      From those Garmin devices which has barometer inside I met only 910XT which does not “blend” barometric elevation data and GPS-based elevation data during recording. So FusedAlti really superior to 910XT (and Ambit as I understood it), but must be pretty close to outdoor and cycling Garmins.

    • Calum Mackay

      I’m not sure I’m understanding this…

      Given that the reason for the barometric altimeter is because GPS elevation data is inaccurate, at least in consumer devices, how can GPS data possibly be used to “calibrate” the barometer? You can’t calibrate a more accurate device with a less accurate one, surely?

      I didn’t think that my Edge 500 did continuous calibration: just manual or automatic calibration at start. And the automatic nature is still really a manual calibration, just using GPS to index into your own lookup table of manually entered elevations.

      You could of course have a global table of such lookups, and indeed that’s how the likes of Garmin Connect, Strava, etc, do “elevation correction”.

      But then there would be no point having a barometer, if you were going to override it with these lookups, since even they are generally less accurate than the barometer. And so the the above sites don’t apply said correction to tracks from devices that have barometers.

      so what do we think this FusedAlti is doing? And what is this “continuous calibration” in Garmin devices, to which you refer, please?


    • Tisztul_A_Visztula

      Concisely: Read this patent: link to freepatentsonline.com

      More detailed: GPS elevation data do not override barometric data otherwise there would long spikes in the elevation chart, but do help to indentify a barometric drift due to weather change. Immagine that you made a perfect manual elevation calibration with your Garmin 60csx typing 150m right after you switched on the unit. After 60csx has a satellite fix it starts to average the GPS elevation data which is likely not far from the actual elevation having typed, lets say the average of the GPS elevation data is 157m after a couple of minutes. So 60csx does nothing with 157m.

      It is the same if you are moving with the unit, because not 157m is important but the average difference of the GPS elevation data and the actual elevation based on your manual calibration and the elevation change measured by the barometer.

      Immagine that in 60 minutes you rest at an actual elevation of 350m for 5 minutes, but at the end of your rest the average GPS elevation iof 5min is 380m. So the difference is too big to believe in the barometer alone, there must have been a barometric drift to weather change. Therefore 60csx starts to carefully increase the actual elevation from 350m. Certainly it wont go to 380m, because even the average GPS elevation data of 5min is not fully trustable, but lets say the algorithm lets it increase to 365m.

      Again it happens all the time, not just when resting. 60csx keeps on calculating the average difference between the measured GPS elevation drift and as it is does with theoretical barometric elevation, and the first data behaves like a glue, or more like a rubber. The former lets the latter rule (that is to be different) if the difference is not too big, but it pulls back the latter if the latter is toooo different.

      I hope it is clear. My further notes are:
      – the exact behaviour of the algorithm likely depends on the quality of the sat fix, in case of an almost perfect sat fix the rubber must be stronger than in case of rather poor sat fix
      – I have only 60csx as a handheld, but its actual behaviour is very close to the wording of the patent, which is not fully transparent, certainly it is a bit secretive as all the patents regarding the values of the different parameters
      -So I never had any Edges, now I checked the manuals of Edge 500,705 and 800 and you must be right, I must have been wrong mentioning Edges too, because there is no explicit wording about continuous elevation calibration. But just to show what I meant with 60csx, page 76 of its manual hints something about it, without explaining it in details, certainly.

      Final thought: if Ray really has some convincing power, he should arrange that all the Garmin sport units, cycling computers or watches work the way, like the handheld launched in 2006(!!!!). I have never seen any sport gadgets of Garmin which is superior or at least equal to 60csx regarding elevation measurement. Maybe it is the same stepback with newer handhelds, because Garmin support told me that they do not use the logics of this patent any longer.

    • Tisztul_A_Visztula

      I forgot something.

      You can test your Edge 500.

      Calibrate it manually (giving a waypoint with an elevation or manually typing an elevation data depending on the method of 500) and use a false elevation data with a difference of 50m. So if your know elevation is 200m, just give it 150m. Wait for 15-20 minutes (subtest a: not moving, subtest b: moving but returning to the same spot) and see whether elevation is still 150m or closer to 200m, like 180-190m. If the latter then Edge 500 has more or less the same method as 60csx. But it is not so likely, because I found a post on Garmin forum.

      “The Edge 305 periodically recalibrated its barometric altimeter using gps information. This was clearly seen on Edge 305 elevation traces over time where summits nicely tended to consistent altitude. There are lots of other problems with the Edge 305 elevation – including the unfortunate Start “hack” which attempted to force the altimeter calibration during activity start.

      The Edge 500 does not do altimeter recalibration during an activity and can show significant drift due to weather and temperature changes.

      I often ride with an iAero which uses non-gps barometric altimeter with initial altitude pre-set possible. I set both 500 and iAero to same start elevation on activity start. I can see the effects of weather by comparing both devices and by post-ride adjustment of the elevation using the separate iAero slope data. ”

      You know I have heard the same about 705 a long time ago, that the poster on Garmin forum stated on 305, so maybe Edge ?05 series had the same methods, but Edge ?00 series does not.

      And a caveat, do not use an overly distorted elevation data for Edge500, like of a difference of 300m or so, because eg 60csx is programmed in a way that if the actual elevation is very far from the average of the GPS elevation data it assumes that you deliberately used another data. Sorry but I do not remember this threshold.

      I hope that my contribution to the elevation measurement topic was of value. 😉

    • Calum Mackay

      great! thanks much indeed for that detailed note, makes a lot of sense – I was wondering about correcting when the baro drift is too big to be realistic (although I also wonder about aviation use, where a large baro change *might* be valid).

      Do we know whether the newer handhelds, e.g. etrex 30, Oregon 6×0, have this useful feature?

      I will test my Edge as you suggest; I have noted drift, however, e.g. quite different elevation when returning after 3-hour bike ride, so I suspect it does not.

      thanks again…

    • Tisztul_A_Visztula

      Re newer handhelds: dunno

      BTW sorry for the typos, missed or switched words of my previous posts. I am glad you could “translate” those sentences.

    • Calum Mackay

      I just looked at the manual for the Oregon 600, and it claims to do automatic calibration at long as it is receiving a GPS signal, which suggests that it might support the continuous method to which you refer…?

    • Tisztul_A_Visztula

      Yes, it is definitely the same approach, although I cant promise that using exactly the same algorithm.

      Nevertheless I would be really surprised if the major elements of the algorithm would be different. Garmin tends to “copy and paste” its solution, so the maximum difference I can immagine to change some values like averaging data of 5mins vs 10mins etc.

    • Calum Mackay

      re: FusedAlti

      Another thought occurs: given that Garmin’s continuous GPS-assisted barometric altimeter calibration is *patented*, doesn’t that imply that either:

      – Suunto are infringing on this patent

      – FusedAlti works in a sufficiently different way so as not to infringe on it

      It would be nice to know.

      Has anyone done any comparison’s of FusedAlti versus e.g. continuous calibration on the fenix?

  41. gunnar christensen

    I would love to love the Ambit 2s. I’ve been waiting for a watch with these features so I could have an everyday watch that is also my work out watch….
    BUT…I’ll have to stay with the 910xt for now since I’ve really become attached to the ability to download my work outs via wireless transfer to my Ant+ enabled xperia smartphone. With the Ambit I will have to rely on a computer to travel with to get my data downloaded from the Ambit. And then let’s talk about the run around to get the Ambit data to Strava….too much.

    This combined with no vibration and no black color option is a deal killer.

  42. psywiped

    guess the 910xt is still the best choice for now.

  43. Happy Runner

    Ray, are you confident in your assertion that laps are detected by “changes to direction and acceleration?” I espoused that in a Garmin forum (based on learning it in your 910XT review) and got hammered by a bunch of posters. A second-level Garmin tech posted that direction/acceleration had nothing to do with laps. He wrote:
    To trigger the count of a new length in the pool, the watch is looking for the pause or gap between strokes. It would basically be the interruption in the user’s stroke pattern. We recommend our user’s to get a strong push and glide off the wall as this helps to keep the length data “clean”. It is not looking so much for the change in direction, just the pause in motion that it takes to push off the wall.
    I had to admit defeat in that forum argument, so if you have something to trump that, let me know and I’ll rise from the dead!

    • Rainmaker

      I think the fact that acceleration changes mid-length while passing someone can trigger it is a perfect example. 😉

  44. gunnar christensen

    Any way that the Garmin Tempe might work withe any of the Ambit apps?

    • Rainmaker

      No, the device doesn’t support connecting to that ANT+ device profile unfortunately. Thus, no development API.

  45. EternalFury

    My usual question:

    For a distance runner, is it an upgrade when compared to the FR610?

    • NordKappler

      I’d say definetly not if you value the workout flexibility and function of the 610:

    • Rainmaker

      I would agree with NordKappler. If you’re using it for workout and/or interval functionality, or, for any sort of footpod support around cadence, the FR610 is a better fit.

      But, if you’re using the navigation features, then the Ambit’s a better fit.

    • EternalFury

      That’s what I thought. Not the same market segment. Thanks for the great review!

    • Brad

      I just switched from the 610 to the Ambit2, even though my primary sport is running. The 610 got slower acquiring satellites and would not upgrade firmware. The 610 has more displays, is far more useful with intervals and workouts are downloadable (uploadable?) to Training Peaks. I am happier with the Ambit2 due to (1) satellite acquisition time, (2) reliability, (3) the ability to read the display, especially at night, (4) battery life, and (5) not losing the strap during a run or a race (yes, I had the 610 drop off my wrist during a race).

  46. Calum Mackay

    thanks for the great review, as ever…

    I also wanted to ask about whether the ANT+ HR strap would give equal functionality: I know that Suunto units offer R-R inter-beat analysis, that e.g. Garmin units don’t… so I wondered whether this required the Suunto proprietary strap, or whether ANT+ straps can in general give the same data, but it’s just that only Suunto use it in this way?

    Also, it’s not only the Sapphire model that has a sapphire crystal “glass”, is it? Surely the black model would too? I hope…?


    • Calum Mackay

      Actually, even Suunto seem to be only claiming “mineral glass” for the Sapphire model, in their “compare” pages, yet I think you said that it was using a sapphire crystal?

    • JoggWithoutDog

      …but just the Ambit (I use Ambit1) often shows “no HR” and in the graph for that time-period (for example three minutes) there is just a straight line between last and the next “first” HR-value. Never seen before on my Suunto t6(c)’s … and, yes, I already have changed the battery…
      PS today I did a 15km run … shown in the logbook of the Ambit and shown, too, an OK regarding download to Movescount … but there is no run listed for the 1st of May … and yes, I already updated the moveslink. Buggy Movescount (bug 1 are icons which only show numbers but no figures on it)
      Suunto … were will you go to?

    • Rainmaker

      Actually…almost every activity here was done with an ANT+ strap. This allowed me to validate distances on multiple devices and not have to wear multiple HR straps to get data to them. 😉

      As far as the ‘glass’ goes, that’s what I’ve been told (only Sapphire). But I can double-check again. Obviously, it’s somewhat difficult for me to independently validate that piece (a jeweler I am not).

    • Calum Mackay


  47. R

    Have you had the opportunity to upload some of the data files yet? I didn’t see them but would love to see if they are compatible with SportTracks.

  48. Stuart Clark

    I have to reiterate what a big deal it is that there is no more control over the GPS sampling rate. Quite simply there needs be more sampling options between one second and every minute. I won’t buy an Ambit till this feature is implemented. I’m slowly coming round to the idea that I might be better off buying a new 910xt rather than an Ambit now.

  49. GPlaice

    With this new Suunto and Timex recently releasign their new RT2, shoudl we expect something new from Garmin very soon, ie update for the 610?

    • Rainmaker

      No, don’t expect a FR610 (or a FR910XT) replacement this spring/summer. Anyone who’s going to ‘play’ this summer has already announced.

  50. Rem

    Thanks for this great in depth review…
    And as Ambit1 owner , thanks for the “love me not” .
    This is exactly how we feel right now at a point were i don’t even want to consider buying a Suunto (or Amber /atomic / Salomon) product anymore, regarless of its quality.

  51. baton Rouge

    Thanks for great review!
    And one off-top question. Will you review another Suunto watch – Suunto Quest? It’s quite interesting to see the comparison between it and Garmin FR70. Both are non-GPS but can use footpod for speed/distance information and can upload data to computer.

    • Ganabu

      Good call. After drowning a 3rd Garmin in 2 years from running in the rain, I have gone back to my old Suunto T6c.

      It is awesome having a day to day watch that is 100m water resistant. The foot pod once calibrated gives me within 2% of the Garmin. Loving never having to charge it. Loving not worrying about the battery life in an ultra. And loving the fact that the heart rate strap NEVER spikes or drops out, and is 3 years old and still working. (I never got more than 6 months off a Garmin HRM transmitter). The extra cost of the Suunto HR strap is worth it.

      A review of the quest vs T6d vs FR70 would be sweet. Ambit is going to wait till there is a 10s or 20s recording rate or for some where around 25 hour battery life.

      Cheers for another great review.

    • Rainmaker

      Hi Baton-Rouge!

      As much as I’d like to do a review of the Quest, I probably won’t at this time (same actually with the FR70). Only because I’m so backlogged on units to review these days than anything else and they are a bit older at this point. Sorry!

  52. Bård

    As a current Ambit1 owner I can say that “a slap in the face” is not near enough to describe my feelings about Suuntos decision to retire the Ambit1 and not give it any more features. I have basically beta tested the unit, sending them feedback regarding improvements they could implement and what reward do I (and several others) get?

    Suunto is treading a really fine line here screwing over the first Ambit1 users. Just read through the Suunto forum at watchuseek.com. I for one will have a really hard time trusting them again and my next device is very unlikely to be a Suunto product. A word of advice to them, if you don’t intend to keep your promises don’t make them in the first place.

  53. Harmless Harm

    In case of Ironman races, is it possible to turn-off GPS completely for all three sports to save power?

    I am thinking to use bike+run POD, next to powermeter, together with HR. With this use case, 1 second interval should capture at least 17h cut-off for IM. Ambit2 S GPS features can be enjoyed during training.
    Only thing missing is height profile and track/route while racing IM, but those maps are already known.

    Thanks for great review!

  54. Gary P


    1 more question if i may:
    Does the unit go into auto standy like the FR610 does. One thing i like about my 910 is that it stays on the screen you put it regardless of how long you leave it idle. Whereas my old 610 would revert from a training page back to normal watch mode if you left it idle for a period of time.
    Really annoying.

    I like the idea of being able to use the Ambit2 as a day to day watch but i’d like to be the one who decides when it’s in watch mode and when it’s in training mode.

    • Rainmaker

      Ok, just tested it. It will indeed stay in GPS mode. I turned it on, put it in running mode, got GPS reception – but never started the unit.

      Then just left it there.

      2.5 hours and counting, and it just hangs out waiting for ya.

  55. Eli

    I wonder how these devices will end up in the long term. Seems like the amount of processing power in these devices isn’t really increasing much as most cpu development money is going into higher power devices like smart phones. Memory size in these devices is also growing very slowly. They claim to want to keep updating this device like the older version but what if the Leikr watch does really well and they are forced to create a competitor? Just supporting a larger color screen means they would need to change physical hardware again.

    This is where the rumored Apple and Android watches could help the athletic watches. If enough of them are sold that would enable better very low power hardware to make new athletic watches with. Something with the power of a Cortex-A7 drawing so little power it could be used in a watch?

    • I don’t expect the first gen Android watches (I am looking for this one) to be on a par with the dedicated devices battery wise but for the vast majority of the market I think 5 hours for a marathon would be good. I don’t expect the out of the box software to be as good either but long term third party apps will make all the difference and the hardware is going to be just far more capable from the start with wifi so full internet access with all the possibilities that that brings.

    • Eli

      I’m not expecting them to be as good in terms of functionality or battery life either. I’m just hoping that it creates enough demand for low power cpus that what is used in the dedicated devices can be much better then they are now.

  56. True, the temperature function isn’t useful for training, but it came in handy proving that the temperature at my feet in my office was absurdly cold when compared to the rest of the office.

    Also good for tent temperature/sleeping bag rating comparisons.

    • Eli

      If you’re camping with it guess it would make it easier to use the excuse “Its too cold to wake up” 😉

    • Rainmaker

      $5 says that (office temp) ends up on someone’s PowerPoint slide justifying the feature. 😉

      On another note, the Chilkoot Trail looks pretty cool – nice pics!

    • Thanks! It was a great trip.

      The office temp trick didn’t succeed in getting the thermostat any higher, but the guys cut out some Styrofoam to put at my feet, so a partial win for the Ambit.

  57. Stéphane Dombret

    Suunto, give us more true Ambit updates or our money back please!!!

  58. Daniel Broadbridge


    Great post, the detail is absolutely astonishing.
    I’m a long time casual runner but I’m starting to get more serious and I’m looking at getting a GPS watch. I would only be using it for running (for marathons mostly) and I don’t know what I’m looking for. This watch looks good but you gave it a B+, are there any grade A watches on the market for around the same price?

    This post is awesome and any advice given is greatly appreciated, as I’m completely clueless in GPS watch world.


  59. Joop de Hoog

    A petition to Suunto has been started to continue updating Ambit 1. Join and spread The initiative on your forums…

    link to movescount.com

    Ambit2 interestees, think again. Suunto promised a year ago a watch with ongoing development. History usually repeats itself.

    Suunto, when will Amit3 be introduced?

  60. Harmless Harm

    Is there a watch out with following characterstics?:
    1. support for swimming
    2. support for ANT+ powermeter, and bike pod
    3. support for run pod
    4. NO GPS, meaning the device has long batterylife, is slim, and can be used as daily watch
    If it is there, I would buy it. E.g. a slimmed down ambit2s.


    • Rainmaker

      No, no such device exists. The closest is the FR70, but that lacks both swimming and bike pod.

      However, keep in mind the 2S does have a 15-day battery life.

  61. Alex

    Thank you Ray for this great review, as usual.

    I agree with you when you say : “It’s really too bad though that Suunto didn’t add in a Bluetooth chip to the unit”.
    Indeed how is it possible today not to add Bluetooth?? What’s the hurdle for them?
    PS : doesn’t Suunto know that Pebble / Iwatch / … are coming and ready for a fierce competition with sport device makers?

    • Rainmaker

      It’s most a re-use of components. It’s cheaper for them to just update the components internally with almost identical versions but at slightly higher CPU speeds and more memory. Minimal hardware re-engineering (almost none). Which is what they did today.

      As far as Pebble and others… the challenge there (and this is what Garmin/Suunto/others know) – is that they all suck. No really, they suck for any sort of athletic activity. Or heck, even day to day stuff. I’ve got a massive stack of them here from every company that’s made one. And all of them aren’t really good at what they set out to do. They feel cheap, or act cheap.

      Now, if the Mythican Unicorn of the iWatch comes out – that could definitely change things. All it has to be is a waterproofed and GPS enabled iPod Nano with App support. Then it’s sorta game-almost-over.

    • Eli

      The iWatch not depend on the iPhone for its GPS? The iWatch will be like the pebble in the sense that it will be an extension on the phone and not a true standalone device.

      There is also a reuse of code. Don’t think any of the Suunto devices use bluetooth to borrow code from.

  62. Alex

    I had the T6C and I loved it.
    1. What I cant understand is when the display sice from the T6C is growing to the Ambit why are the numbers in the 1st and 3nd row are now smaller?
    2. The T6C was able to show the EPOC, the Ambit does not :-(. I do not understand why.
    I have send a mail to Suunto but I do not think that Suunto was interested in this feed back.

  63. Joey

    I bought the Ambit 1 about a month ago from REI and took it back today for a full refund. They are really friendly at REI and stand by their products. As for Suunto, these guys need to some marketing strategy lessons from the other tech companies. They should mostly consider this question. How do you think a client is going to feel when they he has purchased a $550 training watch one month with firmware that is “upgradeable” and then the next month you (Suunto that is) just announce a whole new watch with many more features and state that there will be no new updates for the Ambit 1? There was absolutely no warning and there were not even any winks to the rumors that were floating around the internet about one month ago. The Ambit 1 is now worth about 100 to 200 dollars less than it was last month. Frankly I am not sure why anyone would want the Ambit 1 since Suunto is not going to have any firmware updates. They should be careful because there are many of companies with quality products who have plummeted because they don’t know how to introduce a product and market such an introduction (RIMM comes to my mind).

    • Eli

      So might be some cheap Ambit 1’s at the next rei attic/used gear sale… 😉 (Just trying to look at the bright side)

  64. Thien

    On the positive side, the all black or all silver Ambit1 is soooo much nicer looking than these Ambit2 with the colored rings

  65. Any answer from suunto support sounds like honey with little tar…
    “We are really sorry for the caused inconveniences. Still,please be informed that the first generation Ambit gained +50% of new features during the first year since its introduction and is reaching its limits in performance.”
    See? 🙁

    Meet in your company me – another one user, who spend a lot to learn what to buy and given most weight for firmware upgrades for seems-powerful hardware in Ambit-1.

    With lot of efforts to get ambit-1, just bought and get it, get around earth, it passed few customs and makes long trip, overgrows in price and spend to get it here, also it comes in such unreturnable way for me (I am living in Ukraine). Now to tell so I feel slapped is not that feeling… Boiled, furious, angry, depressed… mixed feeling like that one when you in childhood received long awaited for a year gift and it just-in-that-day stolen, lost, broken, robbed… Deep bitter feeling about injustice of the world. When in childhood you have choice to grow into villain, to beat that world in some way, but now this option unavailable… Ah.

    So guys, let’s join into movescount group:
    link to movescount.com
    and buzz there to get them feel little annoyed and don’t relax on just overthrowing us?

    Let’s stand for our broken hopes at least a little, ah?

    • I feel like I got another un-upgradeable watch like this:
      link to cdn.gollos.com

    • Again, let’s sing to movescount group
      link to movescount.com
      and hopelessly require upgrade.

    • Rainmaker

      Hey all-

      I’m cool with the link to the petition being posted once or twice. Even three times, but by the fourth time I’m gonna ask that folks focus on pros/cons/thoughts/questions of the watch (or the policy). Sound good?

      Simply because over time these review posts become resources for folks trying to find information about the unit in making purchasing decisions, and duplicate bits of information makes it slightly more difficult.


    • Pros as for me: one of them was “future upgrades”, in one of reviews said, I like that comparison, that fenix is like great house in cheap district, and ambit like little worse (before software upgrades) but on growing district which will rise in price and can gain more after some renewal. But suuntro broke that pro into pieces, said to me for example in support message: “Ambit gained +50% of new features during the first year since its introduction and is reaching its limits in performance.”. That means – NO big updates. Not enough processor power to change algorithm of footpod combination with GPS, or add few timers or intervals? Oh, please!

      Cons: no vibration alert (uncurable for any ambits 🙂 ), no normal timers, NO way to combine footpod WITH GPS data (ony one or another, no “fusion”).

    • ah, one more cons: NO BLE (Bluetooth 4.0) in ambit like in fenix, that great feature to get data in road, also great hardware – it even can in future have support for BLE peripherals or to live stream clock HR/speed data to, for example, iPhone in pocket. We often carry smartphone as player anyway.

      P.S. Your’s site reviews and info are deepest and btw your reviews between fenix and ambit lead me to ambit, I hoped more of fenix features will be added as firmware upgrades to ambit, (except vibration 🙂 ), but suunto…


      Also, ambit2 reviews here gives good info so of course if I haven’t get ambit-1 days ago I will ordered ambit2.

      Good side: maybe in future I will upgrade ambit-1 to any newer from any developer, with vibration and ALL feature

  66. LT

    In Suunto’s defense, they have been steadfast in keeping the periphery devices relevant. I use a T6 and memory belt for my triathlon and gym work. It has been a solid part of my training for 3 years. I never upgraded to an Ambit because 1) my T6 was so solid 2) upgrading to GPS would just require me to purchase a POD 3) Ambit was so obviously aimed at backcountry users.

    Today I could upgrade to the Ambit2 and use all the PODs, my discontinued memory belt, and continue to record on Movescount. I would gain GPS and all the swim measurements. I feel pretty good that the investment I made in Suunto accessories has not been wasted since I could use them with this updated head unit.

    • Douglas

      Lt……have you not read anything all the people have been complaining about in this blog about Suunto not standing by the ambit? Spare us the insult of saying that suunto is doing a good job…you must work for the company..I spent over 500 bucks for a lie…

    • actaswu

      I don’t think that Suunto is lying. Indeed, they surprised a lot of people when announcing the Ambit2 and also the statement that some new features would not be ported to the original Ambit.


      Two weeks ago they made the announcement that the original Ambit would remain to be supported, and as a matter of fact, a major update is in the pipeline to be released end of June. This update will bring a lot of new features to the original Ambit, such as storm alert, countdown timer, better apps and autopause.

      There are indeed features which are reserved to the new Ambit 2, but that is because of hardware restrictions.

      So I don’t think Suunto can be accused of lying.

      Read all about it: link to suunto.com

    • over

      I think suunto does his best to be an innovative startup. Smartwatches are renewed very quickly due to a multitude of reasons: technological (reduced component size, memory, processing power, new features and new algorithms for calculations) economical (rising of a market) …. This kind of system at the forefront of technology is focused on geek minded people. When I buy a Galaxy S4 500 €, I know that in a year there will be a much more powerful S5 at the same price. As Apple will soon release its iwatch, this shows that the smartwatch market is close the smatphone market (consumer electronic). To my mind, the key for Suunto is to continue to develop/support “software” of the first Suunto models during the life of the product (commercial life + life of the watch).

  67. gunnar christensen

    I would be curious to know if the ambit 2 or 2s works with a OTG cable? For instance maybe connected to your nexus 7….if indeed you pulled the trigger on that one? I use nexus media importer to get data from my edge 800 to strava from my nexus 7 and if I can use a OTG cable with the ambit 2…then I would be a happy camper.

    • Rainmaker

      Hmm, the challenge is it doesn’t enumerate as a USB Mass Storage device (meaning, not like the Edge 800). Now, if someone were to write a driver like that’s available for the Garmin FR305 downloads on Android, then that’d be good.

      I did pickup the Nexus 7 (though oddly, haven’t even had time to turn it on once). I need more French holidays…

    • gunnar christensen

      Thanks for the reply. Do you mean drivers such as are used with the Sportablet app used to get Garmin data to Android devices?? So maybe there’s hope that this can be developed in the future?

      I actually pulled the trigger on the Ambit 2 through Clever Training (thanks for the discount!), I really like the Suunto weather data and day to day watch features…although its a tie in my mind (at least for now) with the 910xt.

    • Rainmaker


      For example, in order for SportTablet to access the Edge 500/705/800/etc… it just enumerates a USB mass storage device. The most basic of operations. However, in order for SportTablet to access the FR305, it had to load up drivers for it, as that was prior to Garmin just going with the mass storage device side of things.

      So, in this case it would have to have drivers developed for it akin to that. Very possible however.

  68. Hi, great review as usually. I am climber and I am looking for a decent watch with some running features for training. As I can see, Ambit1 will do most likely fine for me in case there will be good sell out in Austria. Do you have any experience with solar rechargers? I would like to use 1s accuracy with solar panel always hooked up (since during climbing there is usually sun :o) except some crazy winter climbs in extreme conditions ). 60s is lame as well as 15h battery life since most climbs takes 2-5 x 12hours. So either 50h battery life or 18h is still too little for climbers.

    Is there any climber who can tell me real time experience with Ambit1 watch on cliffs/rocks? I guess it is same like any GPS device on steep cliffs and deep valleys. At the moment I have got Holux GPS device and it is not bad for price tag of 100€. LIke every device on market I have seen so far. Steep rocks is problematic for any GPS device . I guess Ambit is not different. Of course, I want one device with heart rate and gps tracking. So that I won’t carry sport watch and gps device. All-in-one (despite I’m not a fan of “universal” devices that have all and nothing)

    Thanks for any help or suggestion.

  69. hikertoo

    I like to hike (as well as run and cycle). Which in your opinion is a better watch for hiking navigation (Fenix or Ambit 2)?

    I currently use the Garmin Foretrex 301 for hiking navigation and it is great. (I use it for yacht navigation too)

    • Rainmaker

      That’s a bit of a hard nut to crack. From a pure functionality standpoint, the Fenix has more functions in the hiking/outdoor/navigation arena than the Ambit. But of course, if you value the cycling piece – then the Ambit may offer a touch bit more if you have a power meter. If not, it’s probably a wash in the cycling space.

      In the running space, both are fairly similar (and both under-perform compared to other high-end running watches). The Ambit differentiates itself in the cycling and swimming areas the most.

      Of course, others may have other thoughts from the navigation side.

  70. Jerry

    I am a pretty upset owner of an Ambit1. I chose this unit over the Garmin because I felt that this unit had more long term potential (Suunto commitment to upgrade, programability, etc). After 6 months of ownership I now have a boat anchor strapped to my wrist.

    • Rainmaker

      Hi Jerry-

      I definitely appreciate the sentiment.

      However, I’ve asked above that after the 4th link to the petition in the last 24 hours, we probably have enough links to the petition. Thus, I’ve edited this one out. As noted above, I’m totally cool with folks talking to pros/cons/whatevers of the watch or the policy, but I think four other links to the petition pretty much covers it.

      Thanks for understanding!

    • Ian

      After 6 months of ownership I now have a boat anchor strapped to my wrist.

      You mean that the instant Suunto announced the Ambit2, your original Ambit quit working? Like… poof! No more working! Wow, that stinks. I feel for you. I really do. I mean, I would have figured that your original Ambit would continue to work and all, but I guess not.

    • Jerry

      yes, I am am an avid open water swimmer and was waiting for that functionality to be added.

  71. Asaf

    Heart broken, because of a watch??? I think some ambit 1 consumers are exaggerating in their reaction to the ambit 2 introduction
    Because I bought the ambit 1 at the begining of its cycle, I enjoyed each firmware and was convinced about Suunto’s honest desire to improve. If you buy a watch 6 month after its release and after it had some major firmwares (firmwares you take for granted, like the fact you can use ant+ and save the money on a new heartrate strap or being able to create apps- it wasn’t always like that) what do you expect? By the way, in Israel at least, ambit 1 was sold for less in the last few months… So you buy it for less, get more, and still complain? why can’t a company make a profit, especially an outstanding comapny like suunto that actually gives birth to great products? (no, I don’t work there, although sometimes I wish i was…). If you can afford ambit 1, you can afford ambit 2. I hardly believe someone worked day and night just to buy it… there are enough cheaper alternatives. Finally, do a mental simulation- are you willing to pay 400$ for all the hard work that was put in the R&D of the ambit since it entered the market? If it helps, think about it as the cost for getting the new firmware, only now you have 2 watches at home. Sounds fair to me.

  72. Harmless Harm

    Found ambit2s usermanual already on web. It says you can teach device ones swimstrokes. I expect this will enhance swim stroke recognisation quite a bit! Garmin does not have it yet, as far as I know, so ambit2 could have an edge…
    Any experiences with this?

    • over

      +1, very good question.This feature is probably the most important for swimmers. It seems that swimsense, poolmate, 910XT, swim garmin are not able to give a robust recognition.

      Is it possible to get the HR by the mio alpha and stream the data to ambit 2 by ANT+ during swimming ? I know distance is an issue but if you put them close ? (i don’t like to swim with strap)


  73. Ed

    I recognize the in-flight display. British Airways? My second guess is Lufthansa.

  74. Steven

    Thanks for the review Ray. I was a little nervous when I saw this review posted as I just got a 910XT a month or so ago. Overall I think I am still happy with the purchase as some of my favourite features are the vibration lap alerts (I run with headphones), the quick release it and ease of putting it onto my barfly and the virtual racer/pacer. Thanks again!

  75. Francis

    Hi Ray, really nice review. Just a quick question, im looking for a cycling watch (i know the garmin bike computers are still the best when it comes to pure cycling) but given that im looking at getting a watch, what would be the best cycling watch out there? Armbit 2?, FR610? or somethng else?


    • Rainmaker

      For a cycling “watch’ that you’d wear day to day, this is actually the most complete watch if you have a power meter. No other watch on the market has that except the Motoactv.

      But, as a pure cycling head unit, I’d go with the Edge 500 or the O-Synce Navi2Coach (review this week on that).

  76. Pasi

    Hi Ray,

    and thanks for the great review (as always).

    I know you hear alot of questions like: what is the best watch for me and so forth. But I would still like to ask: What would you think to be the best multisports watch for me currently?

    I train in cycling (both outdoor and indoor (wattbike)), indoor rowing, cross country skiing (in winter), badminton and run occasionally. I also do some track and field training (explosive/sprint training). (I also go to the gym, but don’t wear hrm during my workouts).

    I have been considering mostly between garmin 910 and Ambit2/2s. Maybe I am more prone (as a Finn myself) to buy a finnish Suunto product than Garmin (it also looks like Ambit is a more robust product than Garmin). On the other hand 910 is much cheaper than Ambit2 (especially the Sapphire version).

    Keeping in mind my activities as listed above what is your take Ray as to which watch should you buy in my position? In featurewise does garmin have something extraordinary over Suunto (or vice versa) which I should deeply consider before buying (e.g. virtual pacer/racer, heart rate measuring (vibration isn’t very important for me))?

    Oh, and one question still: How would you compare training effect and calorie count features and their accurary between 910 and ambit2?

    Thank You! And keep up the good work!

    • Pasi

      Oh. And may I add to my post that while reading various user comments/experiences/reviews concerning these two watches, it seems to me that suunto ambit might be a less buggy device than garmin 910. How do you feel of such a claim Ray?

  77. Nick

    Great review as always, Ray. Do you have any sense of how likely (if even possible) it is that a trackback feature will be added via an update? This is really valuable in dense mist or fog (common in Scotland, where I’m located) and at night.


  78. Sebastian

    Hey Ray!

    I’ll join choir of thanks, great review. Finalized my purchase decision. Sorry for eagerly harrasing for this review in the ambit1 thread. 🙂 I’ll click through your links 🙂
    I’m still just getting used to the device, but it seems worth every cent so far! Only issue so far has been that I’ve had to change where and how tight I wear my watch. I was used to wearing it pretty tight and close wrist. That became painful after a few hours. But slightly looser and a about an inch further up the wrist and everything’s fine.

    One question though you might be able to help with. I’m a keen multisporter, speficically adventure racing. Unfortunately it is usually impossible to know before race day how many legs there will be and and also there will be random activities. Mainly I’ll be trecking, cycling, kanoing but also random climbing, crossing water etc. And there will be several legs of all of these.
    Would it be too much to ask that the multisport mode could cope with this kind of activity some time in the future? Ie. the ability to choose on the go which sport I’m am switching to (from a preset amount of options of course) and having and potentially endless amount of these swaps.

  79. Garry

    I just got the graphite Ambit 2S after my Polar watch died from water damage.

    From the review
    “The Ambit2 S has a battery life of upwards of 50 hours”

    It’s 25 hours i believe. But you pointed this everywhere else.

    After my first workout i want to make it known that…

    The calorie calculations is off from my previous Polar RC3.
    Normally a 1 hour jog at the same average heart rate is 700-800 calories.
    On the Ambit 2S it is 900 calories.

    For a 1 hour gym workout calories burned shows 521 on the Ambit 2S
    It is never that high on the RC3 for the same average heart rate. It’s always around 150-250.

    Something is seriously wrong somewhere. I feel like i am losing weight very fast with the Suunto!
    Suunto please fix this? with a firmware update (especially the gym workout).

    Otherwise i am happy with the build of this watch much better than any hrm i have had in the past.

    Previous owners of the ambit 1 shouldn’t worry about the ambit 2 (as it is a sports watch primarily) which was not what the ambit was (they are for different markets?). My guess is that one is targeted for rugged mountain activity etc and new one is for sport as well.

    • Eli

      Why do you assume polar is correct? Doesn’t Suunto license the same calorie algorithm from firstbeat that some units from garmin use? So make sure the user config is right and it will slowly learn your heart rate data link to dcrainmaker.com

  80. gunnar christensen

    Ok, 2 days with my Ambit 2. A few thoughts:

    -I had the Ambit 1 and found it a bit too big to use as a everyday watch…..the Ambit 2 is still borderline for being acceptable as a everyday watch on my (smallish) wrist.

    -Worse is its definitely much more uncomfortable than my 910xt. (Results will very for sure according to wrist size and shape).

    -the display is a bit harder to read in direct sunlight when compared to the 910xt. I had a Suunto Core which I had to return due to the same issue….although the Ambit 2 is not as bad as the Core….just something I noticed when comparing it to the 910xt.

    -for me, downloads to Movescount were pretty slow. Even a short 5 minute walk took close to 2 minutes to download ( on my fairly new Macbook Pro).

    -I love the barometric trend graph and temperature. Just wish the Garmin tempe sensor worked with the Ambit 2.

    -not happy to give up flexible uploading of data via many mobile platforms. My 910xt can upload to Garmin Connect, Strava etc. via my sony xperia smartphone as well as my Nexus 7 tablet (using a OTG cable and Ant+ stick). It seems fairly old school to still have to rely on connection to a laptop/ desktop via a physical cable. If the Ambit 2 mounted via a OTG cable as a removable hard drive then at least it could be used to extract data via some tablets. The Garmin fenix, upcoming Leikr and possibly others (?) Will be utilizing bluetooth, wifi and Ant+ to transfer activities. Suunto seems a bit behind in their downloading capabilities. Serious trekkers and athletes travel light and in this world of smart phones and tablets doing heavy duty tasks that’s where Suunto needs to be.

    -I’m a sailor as well as athlete, so this watch will work well because I can monitor barometric trends (weather) as well as have knots as a choice for speed. 910xt not so good for this.

    So there ya go.

    • Gary P

      Hi Gunnar

      Thanks for the info.

      I currently use a 910xt and am looking for a unit that can come close to it for training purposes and also serve better as a day-to-day watch.
      I know the ambit lacks Vibration alerts (my biggest dissapointment), virtual racer, virtual partner (an app can mimic it?) but from what i gather the Ambit 2 lacks a lot of the HR, Pace and other data fields that the 910 has.
      Specifically things like
      %HR Max
      Average %HRR
      Average %Max
      HR Zone
      Swolf – Average
      Pace – Last Interval
      Pace – Last Lap
      Pace – Last Length
      Distance – Interval
      Distance – Last Interval
      Lengths – Interval

      It seems there are a lot less fields to use on the Ambit than on the 910xt, some on the 910 i do not use anyway but the ones above i do use regularly and could probably be enough to put me off buying an Ambit2. Unless they are likely to be included in a future update.
      Would you be able to confirm the above are indded not on the Ambit.

  81. Fergus Hammond

    I just received my Ambit 2S today and so far I’m pleased with it. I’ve got a Fenix right now and I think I’m going to return it.

    Can anyone recommend a heart rate strap to use with the Ambit? I’m using the one from the Fenix right now but that’ll have to go back to REI when I return the watch.


  82. Garry

    The autopause function doesn’t work for me, because the unit doesn’t resume after stopping my run at a traffic light. I have to go to activate..location..gps found and then it works, so i can’t use the auto-pause feature which i was hoping to use.

    • Garry

      I just realised the GPS fix was set to “off”. I have changed it to 60s, hopefully that will make it resume.
      The GPS only recorded 1.67km out of the 11km on my last outdoor run, i guess that is because the GPS fix was set to “off”

    • Rainmaker

      You really want to avoid setting it to 60s. The recording quality is pretty bad there for short runs like a 10K run. It’s designed more for 100-mile runs where battery life is of concern.

      See the section above with the map showing the triangle route (in GPS settings) to get a better understanding of why.

  83. Garry

    Can i leave one side of the Suunto comfort strap connected after i finish my run or will that kill the battery?

    The Sunnto comfort strap is ok, but the latest polar strap could get a signal all the time. With the Suunto, sometimes the screen shows no reading and the i have to wait a little bit before a reading is shown on the screen.

    • Rainmaker

      Most of these straps will last about a year before you swap out the replaceable $3 battery. So I wouldn’t worry much about a few extra minutes (or even hours) here and there.

  84. Dan K

    Hey Ray. Have you noticed that the Ambit DualTime feature on the Ambit (1 and 2?) is a bit broken in that if you have GPS timekeeping enabled it seems to move the DualTime when it moves the main time. eg. I was in Tokyo and then went to HK. I set the DualTime to be 1 hour behind the main time(HK 1 hour behind Tokyo). I then went to Thailand and used the GPS which moved the main time to be 1 hour behind HK (ie. 2 hours behind TK) but then it also moved the DualTime to be 1 hour behind the main time again so if it was 2pm in Thailand, the DualTime now showed 1pm (when in fact it was 4pm in Tokyo). It seems to just set it as an offset to the main time or something. For me, once you set the DualTime it should stay the same no matter what the main time is changed to otherwise its useless. I guess this is a bug? Has anyone else noticed? Is it fixed in the Ambit2? Minor compared to other issues but just seems wrong.

    While Im posting I will add my 2-cents worth on the Ambit1/Ambit2 debacle. I really think that Suunto screwed up in how they handled the update of the Ambit. I only bought mine 2-3 weeks ago. Too late to return but I “stupidly” bought it and accepted some of the niggles with the expectation that they would likely get around to fixing them (footpod overriding GPS, no ANT wireless support, more granularity in GPS fix, no breadcrumb backtrack, only 1 app at a time etc) based on them pushing hard the “we will continually update the ambit” line. My mistake I accept. Clearly they are not doing that and I dont buy that the hardware cant handle it. Im sure a massive chunk of these could easily be fixed/updated on the ambit1. I dont have a problem with them bringing out a new watch. Totally fine…I would even consider selling mine (at a loss) and buying the Ambit2 except for the fact Im kinda worried they will do the same again in a year having not updated much that I care about. I dont care for the multi-sport features (I already have a 910XT for that) but I wanted the Ambit for ultras. If them ditching 1 year old models is going to be a regular thing then I need to wait until they fix everything I care about before I upgrade. If they hadnt promised the continual updates so much then I wouldnt be so bothered. My issue is that they very clearly promised something and are now pretending that they didnt or that they already fulfilled their promise. Yes, they did a few updates since the release and, yes, they were “kinda” on time with them however…most of these updates I would say should have been in the watch from the start for the $500 price tag…ANT+ support is cool….but it should have been in from the start at that price point…The promise of feature updates is probably a big reason why a lot of people dropped so much on the watch from the start….I guess thats our fault…I will know to be more sceptical in future..Hopefully Suunto reconsiders their decision.

    Thanks for all the great reviews and articles.


  85. JC

    I was looking for a HR watch with gps capabities, but still have doubts about the ambit2. I’m rock climber, I practise Inline skating 2-3 days/week (around 120km/w) and also swimming (4 days/w). I spend many weekends hiking in the mountain, so the gps will work fine for me, but.. questions:
    – Would de Ambit2 be able to manage the inline skating activity?
    – What about charging if you’re up in the mountain for 10 days?

    • that’s what I am looking for as well. I have seen some solutions with portable solar panels. Though, some claim that you cannot be hooked up to solar energy and using watches together.

      Based on my present experience with Holux M-241 GPS logger. Once, you are on climb (90 grad cliff). Any ??? device goes nuts, no matter what since you see only half of the sky. I can send you gps log of via ferrata route.

      It looks like you are climbing, jumping, climbing some more, jumping.

      Only solutions may be that watch is capable of using US GPS and Russian GLONASS satellites. Theoretically, you could have more satellites for fix. But, reality would be same since you don’t have enough satellites for triangulation (or whatever is word in english)

  86. Boris Dauphin

    Un grand merci pour le test exhaustif!

  87. Rainmaker

    FYI: Update May 7th, 2013: As a result of significant feedback, Suunto has announced a series of changes and updates they’ll be making to the Ambit1 (original Ambit). You can read the full announcement letter here: link to ns.suunto.com

    • Eli

      Interesting. My reading of that says the watch separates OS memory storage space from data space and the last Ambit1 update took up almost all the space. Wonder how much extra space the ambit 2 has

    • Dan K

      This is good news and at least they seem to be paying attention to what users/owners are saying. I just hope that the “continuing” support that they talk about for Ambit1 would include simple fixes like finer grained GPS fix setting (eg. 10s, 20s) and footpod overriding GPS config. These seem like simple config options and I hope that if they are added to the Ambit2 they dont try to claim that they arent possible on the Ambit1. If they fix these 2 things then the Ambit1 will basically do everything I want. Then Ill wait for the Ambit3 with vibration alerts.. 🙂

      Lets see what happens next but this announcement is at least a good start.

    • arvin

      after reading that ambit1 will not get the new swim function, is there a possibility that we are not getting the multisports or triathlon function as well? I was really looking forward for this modes when i bought the watch not long ago. sad.

    • Stanislav

      Good news! Enchanced apps would be useful as well as sunrise/sunset times. Just add 2 more features to Ambit1 and a lot of trail runners would be much happier:
      1) FusedAlti. I forget to calibrate the elevation all the time and getting the initial elevation from GPS would be quite useful.
      2) More options for GPS fix intervals to optimize ultra-running use case. I know this has been requested by many.

  88. I am wondering a couple of things if you dont mind me asking. First, is the charging clip secure enough that if I were to attach an external battery pack to charge it during a 100 mile event, will it stay clipped in my pack? Second, with the fuse technology between the acelerometer and the GPS, will it fill in the gaps at all on a 60s fix rate? I love most of the features, even if I have to charge it part way through a race, but I need to make sure I could charge it part way through in my pack without shutting it off if I had to. Thanks so much, and thank you a million for the incredible reviews you put up!

    • Rainmaker

      No, it’s not a tight enough clamp. It works well on a desk, but it can be finicky to attach sometimes to get it to sit right. And in a backpack it’d just bonk around and probably fall off.

    • I’ve used it like that, recharging while on my wrist (with the cable running around my arm) or with the unit in the pack and it worked without problems (though I would say that I wasn’t bouncing around too much by then anymore… was on a 100k).
      One thing to consider is how long the log recording can last. It’s typically as long as the battery, unless settings are different (10 sec recording). I’ll have more on that in a review on my site, shortly.

      FusedSpeed does seem to fill in gaps rather well, also e.g. in tunnels. Or of course, there’s the possibility of using a FootPOD as well (which is, in fact, why I think it overrides the GPS, making the 60 sec fix more useful/less of a problem).

    • Trevor Williams

      Thanks guys! I appreciate the feedback, I am still very much on the fence, but if I can charge on the go then it may be worth while. For the record, I am unlikely to be very speedy at the point I would need to do this in a 100 mile race… 🙂 As long as I can keep it clipped long enough to charge it up for the last 20-30 miles, thats all I need.

  89. Vlad

    How many alarms can be set and how flexible are they? Can weekday/weekend alarm be set separately?
    Is there an hourly chime?

  90. mdf

    My main issue with the Ambit 1 is the inaccurate pace data while running — not only noisy, but biased by 10-15% in the optimistic direction.

    Does the Ambit 2 suffer from this? I tried asking this of Suunto a while ago, but received no response.

    Now, I admit I’m not the fastest runner — 04:30/km — which is probably makes for a hard problem all the more difficult. But still, the Garmin units produce more accurate numbers…

    • Rainmaker

      I didn’t see any issues in that area. From a stability standpoint, you can see the video clip I included running showing it pretty stable (it was in minutes/mile, but same concept).

    • LCP

      I may have been having the same issue.

      Last Sunday, I ran a half marathon w/ a friend. We ran side-by-side from start until finish. We were running at a comfortable 7:50-8 min/mile pace. However, my Ambit was showing at least 7:00-7:10 min/mile. We were comparing paces all the time. I set it to autolap for every mile. It obviously got it wrong. The good part was that there were mile markers for every mile so I hit lap every time we passed one.

      At the end of the race, my watch logged a total of 15.17 miles. All my friends who had Garmins logged 13.26. The course was a little longer. The reason for this discrepancy might be because of my foot pod. But I did calibrate it on an outdoor track. That discrepancy was just too much.

      This is just disappointing for me since I’ve been religiously training with the watch since January. Now I feel like my training log is all a mistake because of the erroneous data the Ambit has been showing me.

      Ray, if you’re reading this, is there a way you can reach out to Suunto to have a choice when it comes to GPS or foot pod logging? I do need the foot pod to keep track of my cadence. I’m not sure how this affects FusedSpeed, too.

    • Rainmaker

      That’s definitely the footpod driving that. It’s tricky because for some units, footpod calibration (and then pace) can be really solid (I’ve seen scary solid spot-on numbers in snow and ice intervals even). But, it’s also finicky. If you move it on your shoe, or things get bonked around, it can impact it.

      I agree that the way Suunto does it today is absolutely an issue (as noted in the review), and in a number of ways, somewhat substantial.

    • LCP

      Ran an easy 3 miles today after my ride. Used my Garmin and Ambit on both wrists (wannabe DC Rainmaker). Same reading all throughout. The only difference was that I didn’t use the foot pod.

    • Chris

      I wrote to Suunto the other day (April ’14) and they have better news:
      “Yes, the Foot Pod data will overrun the GPS data from the watch. However, in a few weeks we are releasing a new update for Ambit2 S and Ambit2 that will you the ability to read your running cadence directly from your wrist. You can read more about it here: link to suunto.com

      (sorry for the multiple posting, just replying to the people that had similar questions to this)

  91. Matthew Todd

    I was looking at getting the ambit 2. Is the extra cost for the sapphire worth it. I’m thinking I prefer the look of the black.

  92. Gil

    I’ve been using a Suunto T6D for some time, and have been pretty satisfied with it. I’ve been thinking seriously about upgrading to one of the Ambit models, BUT:

    Their MovesCount website STILL only graphs speed in MPH… you can’t see your pace displayed in min/mile, which is the metric most runners use. I find this annoying to the point that I will not purchase another Suunto watch until Suunto corrects that. It would be so easy to fix, but they won’t (I’ve requested it more than once, and I can’t be the only one). I just don’t see why Suunto doesn’t get how important pace statistics are to runners.

  93. Ali

    Hi Ray!

    Thanks for the very detailed review!

    Just have one question please ..

    I want to buy a watch for hiking, running and climbing the mountains.

    Which watch do you prefer for me .. Garmin fenix or Suunto Ambit 2 ?? Taking into consideration i am working in the site and I need the watch to be heavy duty for a daily use.

    Thanks alot 🙂

    • Rainmaker

      They are both solid watches. Most folks seem to say that the Fenix is a slightly better mountaineering watch these days, but that (obviously) the Ambit is a better sports watch (especially multisport). I’d agree with that. From a pure running standpoint, but are pretty similar actually.

  94. Jason Muller

    Hi DC
    Awesome review, I am now the proud owner of a 2S. How do you enable or disable the GPS from 1s to 60s?

    • Rainmaker

      You’ll need to do it online using the Movescount site, within the sport profiles (check out above and you can see a few screenshots of it while I’m setting up sport profiles).

  95. Victor Hooi


    Thanks for the awesome review =).

    I’ve just bitten the bullet and ordered one (Ambit2 S in Graphite) – I was going to look at the Sapphire one, but it was $650 versus $400.

    So the normal Ambit2 S is just a glass face, and the Sapphire version is sapphire-coated glass, right?

    Also, I’m wondering – would the navigation feature be useful in open-water swimming? Could you setup waypoints, and use those in the water?


    • Rainmaker

      Hmm, never tried it in the water swimming with navigation before. It’d honestly be really hard because the compass being magnetic and your swim stroke being 360* probably would result in wonkiness.

  96. Joy

    I have a question. What if you are doing something with pace changes? Like speed intervals or walking intervals. If you set the watch to “running” will it still work for this sort of work out?

    • Rainmaker

      No issues. What I do, is simply tap the lap button at the start/end of each work/rest effort. In fact, most of my runs these days are some sort of interval-like thing, and it works out well for me.

  97. Tommy

    With the announced continued upgrades to the original Ambit, is it worth looking at that, considering the prices are dropping ($375 at REI this month) or is the feature set so improved for the Ambit 2 that the Ambit 1 is essentially a lame duck?

    • Rainmaker

      I’m not sure $375 is ‘good enough’, unless you’re specifically hiking focused (over sport), otherwise I’d just get the 2s. If it dropped another $50-$100, then I think it’s worth taking a deeper look at.

  98. David

    Have used an Ambit as a ‘day watch’ as well as for training (3x a week) and half/ marathon races for about 14 months now; generally very pleased with the build and functionality with the reservations set out above in other comments. Previously used several Garmin watches ending up with a 310xt which let me down in a couple of races and had a poorer build quality.

    Would like to ask other users whether they have experienced a dramatic drop in battery capacity after a year? Mine has reduced to around 50% and I will need to contact Suunto to replace the battery soon. This could impact on the Ambit 2 S as it already has half the battery life? Has anyone had their battery replaced?

  99. Ali

    Hi Ray!
    Just one last question please.
    Does the ambit 2 show a graph for the previous temp and pressure readings as the garmin fenix do?

    And which watch has more accurate sensor readings for the temp, atitude and pressure?

    Thanks alot 🙂

  100. Antonio

    Is possible to know more about FusedAlti?
    How it dors functions? Every how many minutes GPS calibrates automatically the Alti value?

  101. With a watch that does not have vibration on alert\notification is not a good idea.

  102. Anderl

    Hi at all!

    I am an owner of the (old) ambit. It is not cool from suunto that the update 2.5 will be the last. For me the ambit is a really multifunctionally watch for many different sports.
    The biggest benefit for me in the new Ambit is that i can use my powertap wheel. I am doing MTB Races and train with my road Powertap as well.
    Before suunto i had an Garmin edge 500 for Biking. For the other sports i tried to put the edge on a selfmade wriststrap. it was Ok, but not pretty comfy.
    what the suunto really needs, is a zoom in Button. you need it when you go out and ride some trails. Also an Heightprofile like from the edge 500 is interesting when you go trailrunning and mountain biking. It makes sense to see how hard the bloody mountain is and how hard you can drive or run it. I think this is much more important than Auto Pause and surise and sunset….
    Greetings from bavaria

  103. Peter

    Hey Rainmaker,

    thanks alot for the detailed reviews!

    If one question, ah correctly two…in the review above you note that the ambit2 does not support the track back function. This is an essentail feature for me. I have checked the web site from suunto (german version). There they show for both suuntos a ‘find back’ feature. Is this now an update for the ambit2? Or are there differents between track back and finda back?

    In a former review for the ambit(1) you have posted about an update to make the users able directly feed in GPS points in the watch – not only via movescout or by saving current waypoints (announced for May 2012). Do you know if this already published? This function would make the watch more flexible for hiking.

    Thanks and a nice day


    • Rainmaker

      Hi Peter-

      See the ‘Find back’ section in the review where I talk about how it works in more detail. But in short, Trackback follows you back along your course, where as Find Back just gets you straight line-of-sight (as bird flies) back to your original point. For trail users, this isn’t terribly useful – for example if a mountain or river is in between.

  104. ShaneC

    Hi Ray, once again great review!

    I am at a crossroads as what device to buy, Garmin 910xt, Ambit2 or Ambit2s. I have been using the Garmin FR 405 for a few years, but I am now getting into triathlons and that does not really work. So I already have Garmin foot and bike pod’s that is ANT+ compatible, what is the best watch to get?

    The 910xt seems still to be best, but the rate of updates on Suunto and having a more “open” platform seems to be a bit more future proof?


  105. Matt

    I don’t know if I’ve missed it, but is there anyway to customise the home (time) screens? I wouldn’t mind being able to view the recovery time without having to go back into the logs or just to add different options.

  106. Harmless Harm


    You mentioned on the powermeter, there is “10-second power recording mode “. Is Ambit doing sampling each 10 seconds, or does it store average power for each 10 second window?
    Actually same question holds with 1 minute speed interval, I assume Ambit does real time speed displaying so it measures speed for each second. This means it can accumulate distance over 1 minute, and store results on a per minute basis (to save memory). I am Afraid ambit (and other watched) jst sample data per the interval set. What is your expert opinion here?


    • Rainmaker

      For power meters, it’s just showing the trailing average (display, not recording) of the last 10-seconds. It has no impact on recording. It’s common within the power meter world, as power meter data is inherently very jumpy ,so this makes it easier to pace by.

  107. john

    thanks for the detailed review,

    i like to keep track of all the calories i burn during my active day not just during my work out. i do lots of swimming and mountain trail running but i also want to keep track of how active i am at work. from your review it seems that when im not working out i could pair a foot pod which would deactivate the GPS allowing for long battery life and letting me keep track of how active i am through out the day. is that right? do you think this is a good watch for that? or do you have another recomendation?

  108. Dennis

    Hi, I’m curious on one of the watch functions. There is a countdown timer, how does that work ?
    Is it a real countdown timer with memory, which you can use like this:
    1. Set it to a predefined (memory) time, e.g. 5 mins
    2. Start the countdown to zero
    3. Get alarm as zero is reached
    4. If you stop it before or after zero is reached, can you return to the preset memory value, as preperation for next countdown, or do you need to set the countdown value each time ?
    5. If you continue after zero was reached, does it count up to let you see how much longer the duration was ?

    best regards

  109. erik

    Just bought the ambit 1 two months go, totally believing in future updates adding new functionality e g multisport mode. Is it possible to jailbreak the Ambit?

  110. Francesco Casali

    Great reviews. I have just ordered a Suunto Ambit 2 black to substitute my Garmin 610 (I hate it: bad software, lose strap, watch case now seems a moon crater). Garmin support change the strap one time requesting 20 days without the clock and, after 3 months I lose the clock again (now I use superglue). I checked support to change clock for corrosion and new software problems (I cannot delete activity and if I try to review them the clock reset). From Garmin support no answers, Garmin Centre of assistance told me that they will send the clock to Garmin (other 20-25 days of patience) but they didn’t think that I can obtain something.
    I never used Garmin 910 but I’m looking for a device that I could use as a normal clock. Garmin Fenix has too few application for running and swimming.
    I must admit that also my personal experience with Suunto was bad: the first clock they made for Golf din’t never work and Suunto never refunded disappointed customers (the battery don’t last for a regular 18 holes golf tour and GPS fixing was terrible – 750 euros ~ 966 $ wasted). The only thing I obtained was the change of the battery but I have to send the clock to Finland with other 50 euros for expedition!).
    Now I can only hope that Ambit 2 is like you described. The only things that I don’t like is that I must connect to Internet to review and analyze my data and I’m looking for a third party software to avoid movescount.

  111. Rob Zenker

    The one VERY BIG THING missing from the review is that one can ONLY upload to Movescount and can’t use the data collected with any other software!!!!!!! That means, particularly if you are a cyclist, and want to use power to manage your training your are effectively banned from using TrainingPeaks, WKO+, Golden Cheetah and many other really good bits of software. So, marvellous watch though the Ambit2 is, it will be my last Suunto purchase unless they allow one’s own data to be used with other software. They don’t mention that it is not compatible with other software, as all products are from competing manufacturers such as Garmin, Polar etc. It is something most people would expect.

    • Rainmaker

      It’s actually not really on Suunto 100% (or even 20%). Those vendors need to add support, just like they do for each new generation of product from Garmin or Polar. When the FR610 came out, they added support for it, when the 910XT came out, the same. Same for Fenix, and on and on.

      You can export just fine from Movescount, and some 3rd party apps do support it (for example, I noted that Sport Tracks was compatible up until the update, where some data fields changed).

      Ultimately, one needs to pressure TrainingPeaks and others to be compatible. Obviously, Suunto could have made this easier by following a standard like .FIT. But there’s certainly nothing ‘banning’ them, it’s just they haven’t coded to support it.

    • Rob Smith

      You are able to download the GPX files and upload them into Strava if you use that.

    • actaswu

      It’s actually possible to use the data without having it uploaded to Movescount. It’s merely required to use the Moveslink software to download the workouts from the watch and convert them into xml files which are saved to the %appdata%\Suunto\Moveslink2 folder. It is a fact that these have changed a few times.

      Users of Sporttracks can directly import their data using the plugin I wrote: link to zonefivesoftware.com .

      @owners of the Ambit2: it would be greatly appreciated if some could send me some of the files in the above location.

    • R

      I’ve been using your plugin with the Ambit2 to pull my data into SportTracks with no problems at all (thanks very much!). I don’t feel any more restricted with regard to my data uploads than I am with my Garmin devices. What are you looking for, and where can I send it? I’m happy to help you further develop the plugin..

    • Higginsdj

      Firstbeat Athlete downloads the data from Movescount – it works albeit with a high error rate on the HR readings.

  112. Rob Zenker

    I have had a lot of correspondence with TrainingPeaks and they are at a loss as what to do. I have also had a very long chat with Suunto support. What I was told was that there were upgrades coming to the Movescount web site over the next few weeks that would improve it dramatically. At the moment the export formats are gpx, kml, and xlsx. None of these allow all of the data i.e. GPS, power, HR, cadence etc to be downloaded and the uploaded to software of one’s choice. When I pushed the Suunto support representative as to whether this would include more export formats, his line was that “Movescount would be so good, you wouldn’t need any other software”. As a cyclist one is unlikely to find anything as detailed as WKO+, Golden Cheetah and some others that have a very detailed focus on power. I think the Ambit2 is a great watch, but becomes nearly useless as it is tied to Movescount. I am personally perplexed by the whole thing. Suunto make their money selling watches, so the software should be irrelevant. If they said you can only use Movescount with a Suunto and Movescount were fantastic that would be a real advantage to them. As it is, if you can’t use the software you want, the chances are you will be put off buying the watch!

  113. Bob McAllaster

    Campmor.com is selling the Ambit for $309.96 and the Ambit with HRM for $349.96. Looks like they believe it is time to clear inventory of this model.

  114. Joey

    I think REI also is selling the Ambit1 for something like $379 this weekend. The Ambit1 (I had one and took i back) is a great watch but they could have at least told people that the Ambit2 was on the horizon. In order to be successful in today’s world you have to do more than have a great product. You have to know how to market the product and you have to know how to manage your clients’ expectations. Frankly it is all so easy since all you have to do is copy Apple. You don’t have to be innovative. They, and most other tech/gadget companies have already done this with their packaging. Now they should copy Apple’s product launch process.

    • Rainmaker

      Hang tight for 12:01AM Eastern (Friday the 17th of May) here on the blog for some more details on deals…

  115. Aaron

    Does the ambit2 support on the go charging using an external battery pack? Similar to the one you showed on the garmin forerunner 910XT.

    • Rainmaker

      Hmm, I’ll pull out the Solar charger tomorrow – and Paris weather willing – will try it out.

    • Aaron

      Thanks.which watch would you recommend for a person who is starting to get into ultra running? I am kind of split between the Garmin forerunner 910xt and ambit2 .

    • BB

      I used the Ambit2 with Powermonkey Discovery and it worked great! Had the powermonkey in my pocket and the usb cable connected to the watch. Surely the connector is not that tight but it is easy enough to check every once in a while wheter the watch is charging.
      link to powertraveller.com

  116. BB

    How about using the watch in outdoor pool? Any recommendation using it in Indoor swimming vs. Outdoor swimming mode?

    • Rainmaker

      Outdoor pool definitely use indoor swim mode. GPS tracking doesn’t work in an outdoor pool very well due to the short/quick back and forth nature (excluding that crazy mile long pool in Chile): link to google.com

  117. Gil

    FYI: Movescount can now show graphed data in pace units (minutes / mile).

  118. Luke

    Maybe I missed this in the review, but can you set the Ambit 2S to automatically lap every mile? I had the Garmin 210 and loved seeing my current pace then knowing what I ran each mile in and being able to analyze that later.

  119. Tom

    Ray are you pressing buttons when your wrist/watch is under or overwater? I mean is it save to do it underwater?

  120. Daniel Reynolds

    So let me get this straight. This is an entire review of the Suunto Ambit 2? There’s NO mention of the countdown timer information. What gives?

    • Daniel Reynolds

      I found my answer from customer service. Here you go guys.

      “Thank you for contacting Suunto Customer Support.

      Please be informed that the Max. of the countdown timer will go up to 99h and 59 sec. Should you have further other questions, please, do not hesitate to contact us back!”

    • Rainmaker

      Sorry. Eventually I got to the point of covering just about everything and had to hit publish (it’s over 180 pages long if printed out). I continue to add snippets here and there. I did actually capture photos/etc of the countdown timer functionality though, so I’ll put it on my list to add in.

    • Higginsdj

      Its a real shame that the countdown timer can only be set to the nearest minute 🙁

  121. Marc


    I have come across your website and this review today. The work that you have put in the comparison is impressive, and it is really helpful indeed; thanks for that.

    I also belong to the Ambit1 owners that have been taken by surprise by the release of the Ambit2. I live in Germany and bought the Ambit1 black in May last year during a business trip to Washington D.C. at REI. At that time I was told that the silver version, which I actually wanted, was just sold out, but that it might come back again and then I could exchange it (great policy, btw). In order to also save money due to the price difference between the US and Germany I decided to buy the black version at that occasion and see how I like it. Back in Germany I decided after two runs that after all I want the silver one, not at least because I expect to use such high-price item for several years to come and therefore it should be the product and version that I am convinced of and that I like wearing.
    Now, here comes the core of my story. From that moment in May 2012 onwards I monitored via the REI website the availability of the Ambit1 silver in the stores, waiting for it to come back to Washington so that I could exchange it on the next business trip. But what happened was that the silver version soon disappeared from ALL REI stores in the US and never got replenished until – now. And now it is being sold alongside the Ambit2 and gets thrown out at a lower price. – My conclusion is that the information about the Ambit2 coming up has been in the distribution network already for very long (middle 2012 certainly). Therefore, it had been decided by the distributors not to send the Ambit1 silver to the US anymore, or by the retailers´ not to buy it anymore, and to wait for the Ambit2 instead. – Agreeing with many commentators above, it is a bad example of customer treatment, to say the least.

    • Rainmaker

      Hi Marc-

      Thanks for the comments!

      I wouldn’t necessarily tie REI’s stocking to others. I know that most distributors heard sometime very late March, early April (which is how it leaked out across the internet). Mid-2012 wouldn’t have made any sense, far too early. Distributors would never be told that early, as it would have easily leaked out then. Almost every leak you see out there today in the sports technology world comes from distributors/retailers posting pricing information.

      Each company decides what to stock. For example, Clever Training could certainly stock the silver version if they wanted. It’s just a matter of them requesting it to be sent over, it’s available from their upstream distributors (I realize your example is REI, but I can’t speak for their thoughts).

      At this point though, most retailers I talk to are simply trying to get rid of the Ambit1’s and get them out before they become any more undesirable than they already are. :-/

      Which, just to edit/add that I’m not absolving Suunto of blame here. Just providing perspective on the retailer side of things.

    • Joey

      Hello Marc,

      I purchased the Ambit 1 Black from REI in March. At that time there was no problem in finding either the silver or the black version of the Ambit 1. I took my back the next month due to the surprise launch of the Ambit 2. When I talked to the retail workers at REI they had no idea about the Ambit 2. So if there is some kind of retail conspiracy it is at a higher level. I don’t think they were trying to keep the Ambit 1 Silver off the shelves either. From what I understand there was much more demand for the black (I don’t have a preference myself).

      In general though I think the blame goes to Suunto for giving us a surprise launch of a product. I don’t know of any major successful technology firm that launches products in this manner. If you follow the Apple or Samsung model (it is easy to just copy), you make clients happy by telling them months before the launch that you have a new product. Buyers are happy because they can make an informed decision on getting a discounted old version or buy a new and improved version at the same (in this case) or higher price. Clients are not happy if they get duped. In this case it was Suunto that was doing the duping.

      But nevertheless their watches are fabulous and I am still a customer.

    • Eli

      Um, the Apple model is to surprise the world of a new device with no warning

  122. Antonio

    Hi Ambit2 users?
    You understanded how FusedAlti works?
    I noticed that if I manually set the reference altitude when the GPS is actived (during the Move) the device is in trouble!
    I set the share to 626m before starting the stopwatch but then visualized a value of 28m that slowly stabilized up to go about 626m (10m + or -). I think it’s possible to manually set the quota alti reference only with the GPS off or with FusedAlti disabled.

    Ps: sorry for my english…

  123. Corey S

    Ray, do you have any thoughts on the weight of the Ambit 2 Sapphire? Do you find that it’s heavy for running? At 92 grams the Sapphire has got a good bit of extra weight compared to other units out there (I’ve previously used Garmin Forerunner 305 and 310xt). I’m personally leaning towards the Sapphire for aesthetic and durability reasons, but will mostly be using it for trail ultra running so I am slightly concerned about whether the extra weight is noticeable.

  124. Arnie


    Great review, great website!
    I’m currently out trying to make up my mind which watch to get. I’d be using it mostly for running. Some biking and even less hiking. But the suppose I’d miss the Altimeter if out in the mountains so I’m basically looking at the Ambit 2 (no S). The competing watch for me at the moment is the Polar RCX5. The Garmin 910xt seems to have too little battery life and the Garmin Fenix crashed 3 times when I tested it.

    I was wondering several things:

    Is there a way to display more than 3 data fields at the same time? The screen seems big enough yet I was unable to find any app or hint as to if this was possible?

    Is there a setting to set the background light to always on? I get that it will drastically decrease battery runtime but for a nightly run of 2h it wouldn’t matter yet it would greatly improve the ergonomics since one would not have to push any button in order to check time, speed, HR.

  125. Josef

    Hi ray. Thanks for a great review. I am a marathon/trail runner and I am between purchasing the garmin 610 and the ambit 2s. I have three questions.
    1) I know that the 2s does not have a temp sensor, but will movescount automatically insert the temperature prevalent during the exercise time measured, as garmin connect and sporttracks does?
    2) Do you have any idea on whether the 2/2s will get a virtual pace/racer function. Relevant apps seem poor
    3) I use the Firstbeat athlete app. Is there any discernible difference between the quality of r-r data provided by the ambit 2s and the Garmin 610 that may be used for further analysis? (assuming that both get a decent signal from the measuring belt)

  126. Cole

    Great review and thank you!

    So, in plain simplicity, is the Ambit2 “worth it”? I was sold on the Ambit1 then saw the 2 release occurred, but I can’t fathom the memory being that much better and after seeing all the hate mail directed towards Suunto, i also can’t see them dropping all the 1’s possibility in apps, upgrades, etc.

    I guess what I am asking is this: with the recent price drop in the 1 and with all your experience, is the 2 really worth it over the 1? I understand it is one’s own preference, but with all the bells and whistles included, is the 2 really worth it or is the 1 still a solid choice?

    Thank you for all your work with these reviews! Very in depth!

  127. Hi !

    Awesome review sir!

    I was wondering what kind of ANT+ band you do recommend instead of buying Suuntos one? I`ll use the watch with the BodyBike Connect which is a indoor bike that provides wattage. Hunter Allen (author of Training and Racing with a power meter) are working and developing an indoor concept, PowerCycling™ and we will be cooperating and get a sponsorship with Suunto in Norway and Sweden. It`s really important that the ANT+ bands work to collect data so that we can use it when teaching out to becoming instructors. I`ll make sure to talk with Hunter about the WKO+/Trainingpeaks issue so that the Ambit watch is not only possible to work with Movecounts. Hunter is the co-owner of those companies.

    Thanks in advance and A REALLY good review must I mention again!


  128. Francesco Casali

    Finally I receives the Ambit 2 black. Today I tried it on treadmill connecting in a couple of second to a garmin foot pod. It works greatly. The activity “treadmill” was created in Movescount personalizing every screen according to my tastes: really easy and self-intuitive. Really pleased also by Suunto HR belt: using FirstBeat I have finally obtained “Error Percentage = 0%”. I used garmin and polar HR belt and Wtek arm HR sensor with a lot of problems (Firstbeat error percentage from 18% to 65%). I connected easily to Firstbeat and also with Sport Tracks import of data was easy and simple.

    After that I tried to activate GPS: it find position in 15 second while, with Garmin FR 610, in the same place and not at the first time, I had to wait at least a couple of minutes.
    I’ve some problem to understand FuseAlti but I need to read better istruction booklet and temperature (wrong data).

    Tomorrow I will try to run with GPS but, at the moment, I’m really pleased and I wish to thank Rainmaker for the perfect review that induce me to buy this watch.

  129. Joe

    My apologies for this one, but do I need the footpod or will the GPS be fine for running?

  130. BB

    I just got a Garmin HRM2-SS HR belt few days ago and have tested it with Ambit2 with very bad results. HR is not recorded during the whole workout with only 2/3 of the workout showing HR data. Also often as I start training Ambit tells me “Check HR belt” and as I press “Retry>>” a few times the HR belt is found. During workout I have HR shown in the view but often is just shows “–” which indicates there is no HR and occasionally HR might be shown for a little while but then the “–” shows up again..

    I have tried using saliva to moisten the contact on the soft strap but this changes nothing. I normally sweat alot and I have not had any problems with Suunto HR belts before. I also tried to change the battery but after it seems to be having the same symptoms.

    – I ordered Polar Wearlink+ strap – will this help?
    – If the Ambit2 shows “Check HR belt” does this mean the transmitter is faulty or could this indicate a problem with the soft strap?
    – Any more ideas how to solve this?


    • Higginsdj

      I found the problem to be reception of the signal. With my arm at full stretch or down by my side, the Ambit2 could not pick up the signal. The watch has to be literally within about 12″ of the HR transmitter to record a signal.

  131. Eli

    Just thinking if calories burned on a bike is generally equal to the number of joules that a power meter would have recorded on the bike and joules can easily be converted to watts. So it would seem like a simple appzone app could be made to give a simplistic wattage number. Obviously not as good as a real power meter but better then nothing. I’m guessing Suunto with how it uses r-r interval measurement for other things they probably use it for calorie count too (same licensed firstbeat 2nd generation algorithm Garmin uses? don’t know link to dcrainmaker.com )

    Wonder how close the number would come to what comes out of the powercal heart rate strap as that is also only based on heart rate data (link to dcrainmaker.com)

    BTW I know calories aren’t exactly equal to joules as there is more math behind that, but close enough for the sake of this idea.

  132. Dennis

    I bought the Suunto Ambit 2 S a few days ago. It works fine. But the Garmin Heartrate Ant + strap doesn`t work :(. Is there any trick??

  133. RobZ

    My Garmin Ant+ strap for my Edge 800 works fine with my Suunto 2. In order to pair you have to put the Garmin strap transmiter up against the Ambit so they are touching. Mine paired on the second attempt!

  134. Great review very thorough. I have just started using mine (2 S) for my training and really like it. I have to refer back to the how to videos sometimes but im getting the hang of it. I have found the videos at link to givenbrand.com have been helpful as well.

  135. Joon

    Super nice review!!
    How about GPS performance for cycling without any additional PODs? Did you check and acceptable to use without PODs for cycling?

  136. Boorah

    Hey Ray

    I’m a long distance endurance swimmer who pool trains.

    First things first, in my world temperature is REALLY important, as it dictates how long we can stay in the water (no wetsuit). When swimming outside (through the winter inclusive) our 3 main concerns are temp: distance: time. I have been posting on swimming sites asking what people use. The majority answer is the Garmin 910xt and a cheap Casio watch for temp.

    After reading your great reviews and all the comments I still can’t decide which is the best for a swimmer. The screensaver and lack of vibrate pushes me to the Garmin. But I do some hill walking/ trekking and so Ambit 2 or 2S. Advice would be warmly welcomed

  137. Boorah

    Hey Ray

    I’m a long distance endurance swimmer who also pool trains. First things first, in my world temperature is important, as it dictates how long we can stay in the water (no wetsuit). When swimming outside (through the winter inclusive) our 3 main concerns are temp: distance: time. I have been posting on swimming sites asking what people use. The majority answer is the Garmin 910xt and a cheap Casio watch for temp. After reading your great reviews and all the comments I still can’t decide which is the best for a swimmer. The screensaver and lack of vibrate pushes me to the Garmin. But I do some hill walking/ trekking and so Ambit 2 or 2S. Advice would be warmly welcomed

  138. Gray

    Good web site with useful and clear information
    Bought the Ambit 1 after reviewing on this site
    Whilst very pleased with it I am more than annoyed that after only a year the software will not be supported. It takes years to build a reputation but it can be lost in minutes and I think this is what Suunto have done. Whilst I understand the commmerical reasons for introducing Ambit 2 I cannot for the life of me undestand why owners like me are “being left up the creek without a paddle.” My daughter is buying a new watch and it looks as though it could be the Garmin based on “lack of trust to support” from Suunto >>>> shame 🙁

  139. actaswu

    … But there is an extensive update coming up by the end of June, however “due to SW-code memory restrictions the original Ambit will unfortunately not be able to receive all the current or upcoming new features of the Ambit2 and Ambit2 S such as swimming functionality”

    link to suunto.com

  140. LV Bob

    Hi Ray-

    Thank you for this and the many other great reviews. I am shopping around for a GPS-enable HRM and I’ve also checked out your reviews of the FR310xt, FR910xt< polar RCX5 Run (with GPS accessory) and probably a few more.

    I am really just starting out so all of these are overkill for my current requirements but I tend to “overbuy” knowing how my enthusiasm takes over and then I generally need more.

    I am recently in remission from NHL and am still recovering from cervical spine surgery. AT present, my routine consists of walking at a slow pace (about 2.5,ph) as I concentrate on losing weight which has dropped substantially since I started walking; I also increased my endurance from 2 miles the first day I walked to 5 miles/day in about 10 days which shows that these old and worn body parts still respond pretty well, especially factoring in my medical issues. All of this has made me much more conscious of both my diet and my fitness and my intention is to really step up the fitness training substantially.

    I will also mention that I am bipolar with a strong lean towards mania. I mention this because it also factors into my thinking that I will be better off with “more” rather than “adequate”. Just for reference, I started working out at the gym when I was 49 (eleven years ago). I was in reasonably good shape at 192 lbs when I started but was up to 210 lbs oflean mass at 8% body fat in just over 2 years of training. Of course, that manic side of me had me training 6 days a week and running every day at the beach.

    My mania is considerably better controlled now but I still intend to build a serious multi-sport routine and probably even compete at lease at 5k distances. I cannot currently run but I must confess in breaking into a pretty good pace when I got my Glycerin 11s a couple of weeks ago although the pain afterwards had me back in my brace 24/7 except for hygiene.

    So all of this is background that I am hoping will allow others to give me some tips. I will also confess to liking to buy at the higher-end both because things tend to last longer and also because it helps keep me motivated (despite all the elation from mania, I hate wasting money so money spent means even more motivation).

    I plan to continue walking until I can jog and then run. My plan from there is to add biking to the mix (not certain if I want to do road or MTB). I will also hike. I have the mixed fortune of living in Las Vegas with access to some pretty good hiking and MTB trails – I just happen to hate the heat. I would also like to swim but have issues with my right shoulder (torn rotator cuff and possibles bone spurs in the joint); I will have to see what the orthopedist has to say about PT v surgery and what recovery time looks like.

    What I really want is an everyday watch with GPS and multi-sport capability. This has ruled out the 310xt and 510xt as they both lack everyday watch features. I had considered the Polar RCX5 Run with the GPS POD, but I don’t want to wear an obvious outboard sensor (though it certainly has its advantages for outdoor swimming). That leaves me with the Ambit2 which nails most evything and should have great potential with the apps provided that Suunto expands the capability some. My big sticking point is that lack of interval training; I used to run track in high school and this was pretty fundamental even back in those days when tracks in the US were still measured in yards instead of meters.

    I am not really concerned that Suunto will abandon users – I think they may have learned their lesson from the Ambit1 fiasco, although it would be nice to see a development roadmap. What my real question comes down to is what other units are announced that would hit the mark of the Ambit2 with better interval training. Also, build quality is always an issue for me, as I mentioned I tend to buy “high” and then hang onto units a bit longer.

    There really is so much to consider given the current rate of evolution in technology, but even so, I think an open approach like Suunto’s apps should (said with a bit if reservation) cover this to at least extend product usability until a really significant inflection point.

    Any, all of this is just a very long-winded way of asking what have I missed and what other available (or likely to be announced by the end of the year) products should I be considering.

    Thanks for your efforts and thanks for any replies.


  141. Arnie

    if the ambits had a more advanced interval training feature and the possibility to write an app that displays four data fields, I would have decided already. Like this, I’m not sure.

    Is there not a way to program an app with these functions oneself?

  142. love your reviews & adventures! I would like to see run cadence and would think the ambit could use arm swing (accelerometer) to “get it”. That seems easy to me but cannot see access to that info to write an app. Foot pod versus GPS issue is goofy as you pointed out. Even if they resolve that, I still don’t want a foot pod for cadence. Am I missing something?

  143. Matt Jones

    Hi, I do 24hour mountain bike races and would like a watch that accurately records GPS over the whole period but that’s also not too bulky that I can wear normally around the office etc. From a post further up “Now, in looking at things, you can actually specify different recording rates for the different sports that make up the triathlon. But you’ll need to ‘re-create’ those sports since you’d otherwise impact the 1s recording with those. Almost make a ‘Iron-Swim’ sport, and an ‘Iron-Run’ that have lower recording rates at 10s instead.” Does this relate just to the refresh rate for things like HR etc or does it relate to GPS as well?
    The 1sec or 1min option for gps recording wouldn’t do the job for me unfortunately (battery and inaccuracy respective problems).

    I note the Fenix seems like an alternative but equally can the gps refresh rate be adapted to give optimal battery consumption over time?

    Great review by the way!

    • Calum Mackay

      > I note the Fenix seems like an alternative but equally can the gps
      > refresh rate be adapted to give optimal battery consumption over
      > time?

      Yes, with the fenix you can set a specific interval for the track recording rate, either a given number of seconds (time), or metres (distance). That’s in normal GPS mode.

      There’s also an UltraTrac GPS mode, intended for longer battery life, which has its own separate track interval. That defaults to 60s, but may also be manually set to any number of seconds.

      As yet, it’s not entirely clear to me what the difference is between Normal-60s, and UltraTrac-60s.

      I think that perhaps Normal-60s samples the GPS regularly (perhaps even at 1Hz), but only writes the track every 60s, whereas the UltraTrac both samples the GPS and writes the track every 60s.

      Anyone know for sure?

      To answer your question, though: yes, the intervals are fully configurable.

  144. Debbie

    Hey Ray

    I’m a long distance outdoor swimmer who also pool trains. I have read your brilliant review and all the comments and I still can’t decide for a swimmer which is the best, Garmin 910xt or Ambit 2 or 2S. The screensaver and the lack of vibrate pushes me to the Garmin. But I do some hill walking/ trekking so the altitude gauge on the Amit would be useful. Advice would be warmly welcomed.

    Oh and btw in my world temperature is REALLY important, as it dictates how long I can stay in the water (no wetsuit), especially through the winter. Our 3 main stats are temp vs distance vs time. From the swim sites I have posted on, most use a Garmin 910xt and a cheap Casio for temperature. Maybe Suunto need to widen who they market to 🙂

    • Jen

      Hi Debbie,

      Two years later, what’s your decision? Did you manage to get everything you need in one wearable? I’m a regular crossfitter who is currently returning to lap swimming and OWS after many years away, who needs good sleep monitoring data, and I can’t for the life of me decide what to buy. Thanks.

  145. loubayi

    does the suunto display the hr in %max ?

  146. andy from embsay

    I’ve had an Ambit2 Sapphire from the moment they arrived in the UK in early May, and almost from the start it’s intermittently failed to sync after an exercise. At first it would work after three or four attempts, but last night it took fully sixty (yep, six zero) attempts before it downloaded a ride. I’ve been back to Suunto, sent them the log file from the console on my mac, bought another USB lead, tried another USB port, tried another mac, tried a Windows machine, deleted and reinstalled Moveslink2, updated the firmware (which deleted my logbook – thanks for the suggestion, George from Suunto) and have informed Suunto support of my every move.

    It seems to be getting worse as the logbook fills up, as my tiddly 35 minute run tonight has now failed to sync sixteen times as I type (make that seventeen – just failed again). Suunto have been nothing short of abysmal – they never read any previous emails or call records, so I have to explain I’ve done everything before. I’ve asked them to send a replacement to the retailer so I can just swap it, but they want me to send it so Finland – as they’ve sold me a watch for £450 that hasn’t worked properly from the start I find the suggestion that I allow it to disappear into Suunto for several weeks risible say the least.

    I’d have to say don’t touch any Suunto products with a bargepole – Garmin at least make some attempt at service!

    PS 28 attempts so far, still no sync…

  147. RobZ

    My Ambit2 Sapphire syncs OK. I have also found Suunto to have a good help desk for small things, but have never had anything as serious as you have reported. That said they seem to be doing two things, that despite really liking the Ambit 2, would make me consider whether I would buy another product of theirs. Firstly, I would presume because of competitive pressures they release products before the software is ready. Secondly they seem to be developing an arrogance that means you have to take the product and Movescount (as a cyclist they do not readily allow the power outputs to be exported). Their export formats seem to be very limited. Secondly Movescount has some nice parts and is interesting, but is more for what I call hoppy sportspeople, as it doesn’t allow rigorous analysis of some aspects that would interest the serious athletes. So I love the maps and other stuff; a bit of eye candy, but that’s it. They think they not only have the best hardware – possible – but also have the ability to give everyone exactly what they need for EVERY sport. From what they have said to me they are trying to emulate Apple. If possible I will revert to Garmin next time!

    • Mathijs

      My Ambit will arrive tomorrow, very excited! I started to explore the options of movescount as I wanted to migrate my Polar workouts. This was not possible. I also noticed that it is more eye candy then functionality. Polar personal trainer is the other way around.

      Then I ran into a software package called rubitrack. This is very interesting alternative. You can load all sorts of logs and have excellent analyzing functionality. It also claims to automatically load logs from movescount. Maybe check it out if you’re a Mac user.

  148. loubayi

    the answer to my question was in the review sorry
    thanks for your reviews it’s a great great job

  149. Brian

    Just got an Ambit2S. On first connection to computer with moveslink it stated that a firmware update was required. This failed for some reason and now watch just has SUUNTO on the face and will not respond to anything. Can this be fixed or do I need to send watch back? Thanks

    • RobZ

      Best to call their help desk which is normally very good.

    • Walter

      Do you got any help?
      I have the same issue now. The watch displays “Suunto” and nothing else works, it looks like frozen display.

    • Walter

      Now the watch works again, the problem was:
      – Moveslink2 Software on an old WinXP computer does not work for software-update, (sync data works, as i do it every day on that old computer)
      – Reinstall Moveslink2 on that computer does not help
      – I installed Moveslink2 on newer Computer with Win7 I attached the watch and it continued to do the software update to 1.5.16

      I am really happy with the new Software 1.5.16 which is much much better with counting swim laps in the pool. I swam 1500m crawl, back stroke and breast and it displays 1500m, just perfect until now, before (Software 1.5.14) it was not reliable for indoor swimming.

  150. Higginsdj

    My Ambit2 works fine but the HR strap can’t seem to transmit the distance to my arm (down by my side as in walking) . Battery is putting out 2.98v and this is my 3rd use of the strap out of the box. If I hold my arm up in running position then the HR displays on the watch! Is there another ANT+ device that will work for walking?

  151. Peter

    Does the Ambit2 measure TE as the T6D does? Does it use the Firstbeat algorithm to do that?

    I rely on the reading to monitor my fitness and I am keen to know if it does. I do use Firstbeat Athlete to track my fitness and plan out future workouts.

  152. scot

    here is the link for teaching your swimstroke it says it will only recognize taught strokes
    link to youtube.com

  153. amazigh

    I’m not sure I understand the following statement correctly:

    ” and about a C+ in swimming (until they workout the swimming screensaver thing, then it’s an ‘A’).”

    You really remove 2 full marks for the screensaver issue? How do you use the screen while swimming anyway? Do you really consider this so important?

    Otherwise phantastic review as usual. As an FR910 owner I probably won’t switch though. It also has to do with the “doom of the cloud” I guess. Once you have a nice collection of achievements on one platform switching becomes painful. I love the looks of the Ambit though. Hmmm


    • Rainmaker


      Truth be told, it’d probably be more realistic to mark it down even further. The challenge with the way it’s implemented today is that it’s totally useless as a mid-swim watch. Totally useless. Instead, it’s only useful after a set, or after the workout.

      As it stands I can’t simply glance at the watch while pushing off the wall to validate I’m at 950y and have 50y more till the end of the set. I’d have to stop, press some buttons and see the result – all totally unacceptable on a watch designed to keep you on track and on pace during sets.

      To use the screen while swimming on every other watch on the market I simply tilt my wrist as I push off the wall during the glide and can easily see laps/length/pace/etc…

      For me, it’s the one ‘function’ that really irks me about the watch. Right now it’s more of a ‘swim recorder’ than a ‘swim watch’.

  154. TCMB

    Great review as always Ray.

    I have just bought the Ambit2 and trying to work things out. Perhaps you or someone lese can answer a couple of questions:

    * Is there a setting that will make the backlight turn on after each autolap (so I can see the summary info in the dark). Would have thought this was standard, or an option, but can’t seem to find it. I have been writing an app that will do this, but so far is only working for the first lap.

    * Just did first interval session with the watch. I don’t mind manually pressing the lap button, but the laps don’t carry across to SportTracks which is a shame. Anything I can do to get this to work?

    * Last thing is more of a comment. Avg pace for current lap is much more sensitive than the Garmin. If you are using the watch to try and keep a consistent pace it is uch harder with the Ambit as it seems to jump around quite a bit, even near the end of the lap when it should be very stable.

    Thanks – TCMB

  155. Calum Mackay

    Just ordered my Sapphire.

    Will study, compare with my fenix, and report.

    Then one has to go; which will it be? 🙂

  156. HP

    I’ve used for few month the Garmin Swim then my wife decided she like it and I was “forced” to buy the Suunto Ambit 2.

    I have a bit of experience with both watches and I can say that Garmin Swim is a more accurate at stroke recognition than Ambit 2. In the two months (30 times) I’ve use it the Garmin Swim it never miss-red the stroke. Another thing at which Garmin Swim is better is counting strokes. There is no way I do just 12 strokes per minute (Ambit 2 stroke count). One very good feature Garmin swim has is the inverted screen that allows user to know when the session is paused. I believe some of the strokes problems came from not pausing the watch while resting at the wall. I personally try to pause the watch every time I rest but I am not sure if I am successful considering the low light conditions and the low contrast screen of the Ambit 2. The contrast change feature doesn’t seem to make a visible difference in Ambit 2 display contrast.

    I would also prefer that the pause button creates the lap automatically (T6D does it) instead of being forced to push the two buttons in succession Lap -> Pause to create the lap.

    The Movescount site give enough data but I would like to see the strokes per length and stroke per minute parameters added to the log.

    I hope the next firmware update for Ambit 2 will contain at least the inverted screen feature for the session paused. This is useful in any type of exercise but is priceless in swimming where the low light conditions and the water reflections make the Ambit 2 screen harder to read.

  157. over

    Thank you HP for your comment, as you seem interested by the swimming features i have a question for you : You say that Garmin swim better recognised swim stroke than the sunnto, did you perform the recording stroke procedure for the Suunto ? Does it improve the recognition ?

    • hp

      I am not sure i understand what you are asking about. I’ve used the Ambit2 as recommended in the user manual (which by the way lacks clear explanation about how to create intervals vs laps in swimming). Please give more details about your question.

      Is there a stroke recording procedure for Ambit2? I wasn’t required to calibrate the Swim at all, it just worked well out of the box. The problem is Garmin Swim does not have outdoor swimming features.

      I usually swim freestyle and the Swim never showed any other type of stroke. Once I wanted to test the Swim watch and I swam a very bad breaststroke lap and the Swim recognized the stroke without a problem.

      Again I believe the most useful feature Swim has from ergonomic POV is the inverted screen during the pause and automatic interval generating while pausing at the wall. I wish Suunto would do something similar for Ambit2.

  158. over

    Well, i don’t have the Ambit 2, however i saw on a video called Suunto Ambit2 – How to teach your swim styles, link to youtube.com . It seems possible to improve the out of the box recognition software by this procedure. I wish you will train soon to test it !

    Thank you HP,

    • hp

      Thank you, I am going to watch it. I hope it helps.

      At the end of the exercise when the session is saved the watch decided to keep just part of the distance. For my first session of indoor swimming I’ve swam 1500 m which Ambit 2 recorded correctly in laps but when I saved the session it reduced the distance to 1125 m based on some internal algorithm which I don’t fully understand yet. It seems the watch leaves out all the questionable laps and keeps just the laps that look legit.

  159. hp

    While I was reviewing the Ambit 2 logs from my swim session I’ve found few interesting aspects which could be useful some some other people:

    1) The watch seems to almost always record an extra lap just before pausing the session. This extra lap is very short under one second and is freestyle or breaststroke. The distance in this lap is normally 0 m. This could be explained by the fact that the accelerometer inside the watch is too sensitive. See the example below. The first row of data:
    Lap style Duration Distance
    89 Freestyle 0:00’00.1 0
    90 Other 0:00’43.8 16
    91 Freestyle 0:00’23.0 9

    2) The watch seems to split also the first length (lap) after the pause between the paused time and the time of the lap itself. In the above example (last two rows) the watch records a distance of 16 m during the pause (Other) and a distance of 9 m for the lap itself. Added the two distances are 25 m the length of the pool. I am not sure why the watch would do the distance split between the pause and the following lap. Could be a bug in the software.

    3) Before and after the pause Ambit 2 is more likely to miss read the stroke type. This could be also caused by the sensor being too sensitive. Just the fact that I change my body position from swimming to standing might be enough for the watch to consider I started a new lap and a new type of stroke. A fix could be to keep the arm with the watch immobile at the wall at the end of the lap before pausing the session.

    4) At the turns the hypersensitivity of the sensor can cause the watch to miss read the stroke type.

    5) If the watch thinks the type is breaststroke at the beginning of the lap will keep the type for the entire length regardless of how well the stroke looks latter so it is very important that the first stroke is of good quality.

  160. Henrik Vittrup

    Triathlon, total time.

    Is it posible to record, the total time in triathlon mode?
    When im running in the end, I like to see mu total used time of swimmin, cycling and of the running i did.

    Regards Henrik

  161. sid

    Hy Ray, can you do this test again
    link to dcrainmaker.com
    with Ambit&Ambit2&others???
    Because i think that Ambit is way off…..
    Did a run today…15km…
    I exported the track to Endomondo and Strava…both of them showed 15,80km….
    800m difference…..
    That is huge….the longer the distance the worse it gets….
    Great review btw:)

    • Rainmaker

      I’m continuing to look at doing so with a bunch of new watches (it’s a huge lift and is far more complex than it seems to do ‘right’). That said, I included a number of distance comparisons above.

      Keep in mind, almost every site on the internet does some level of post-processing. Sometimes this is good, sometimes this is bad. You tend to have to take the post processing on a case by case basis. When I do accuracy tests, I’m focused on pre-3rd party site processing. In other words, what does the watch face itself say.

  162. Chris

    Has anyone tried pairing their Ambit2 with the Garmin GSC-10 for cadence and speed?

  163. Gerd

    Is ist possible to plan a workout before training?
    E.g. for running. I want to run 10 min with heartrate xxx right after that 5 km with heartrate xxx and so on? Or does this only work with the Garmin 910XT?

    What watch do you as thriatlet prefere of these two (Ambit2 or Garming 910XT)?

  164. lokin

    Dear guys,

    Is moveslink required to use movescount? Or can data from watch movescount be transferred over a webbrowser as well?

    If moveslink is required: does it support connections over a proxy e.g. socks? what ports are used?

    I’m trying to figure this out before I buy an ambit 2.


  165. Calum Mackay


    Re sports modes, you say: “There is a limitation of 8 active sports loaded onto the watch at at time”.

    I think it’s actually 10, isn’t it? It is on mine, at least. Perhaps this is a recent change?

    • Rainmaker

      Interesting, they must have changed it. It as was primarily driven by Movescount, it would have been easy to tweak online without notification.

  166. Calum Mackay

    lokin: Moveslink is the app that loads data from the watch, to a local file on your PC, and then uploads that data to Movescount, which is the website.

    You can certainly view things on the Movescount website without the Moveslink agent, but I don’t think that’s what you’re asking.

    I have a fairly restrictive firewall, and I did not need to open up any ports for the Moveslink agent to work (nor to access any of Movescount), so I am assuming it’s all done via standard HTML/SSL.

    Does that help?

    • lokin

      Calum: depends, I cannot connect to the internet directly, have to go though a socks proxy. I hope the moveslink agent is able to use the system wide proxy.

      Or can you set a proxy within the moveslink software itself?

    • Calum Mackay

      lokin, doing a quick Google, I see lots of people saying that Moveslink is not proxy-aware, and so will not work.

      If you are on Win/Mac, and have enough privs on the system, people seem to recommend Proxifier.

      If you’re on Linux, you should be able to use the Socks wrappers, I think?

    • lokin

      calum: thanks for your replies.

      ” I see lots of people saying that Moveslink is not proxy-aware, and so will not work.”

      >> damn.

      “If you are on Win/Mac, and have enough privs on the system, people seem to recommend Proxifier.”

      >> Why would I buy an expensive watch + another software to use it?

      “If you’re on Linux, you should be able to use the Socks wrappers, I think?”

      >> AFAIK there’s no moveslink agent for linux, right? so i’d have to run it in wine to socksify it.

      “lokin: Moveslink is the app that loads data from the watch, to a local file on your PC, and then uploads that data to Movescount, which is the website.

      You can certainly view things on the Movescount website without the Moveslink agent, but I don’t think that’s what you’re asking.”

      >> By “view things” you mean I can check out the site but don’t actually upload data from the watch? so the movelink agent is def. required to get data from the watch to the pc? or does it just make things more comfortable?

    • Calum Mackay

      I didn’t know that Proxifier costs money; hopefully there must be a proxy wrapper for Win that is free? I have no idea…

      I wonder if you could do something with e.g. Virtualbox, to setup a Windows VM that is automatically proxied…

      As I understand it, Moveslink (app) connects to both the watch, and to the Movescount website, and transfers things between them, in both directions.

      It transfers “Moves” (i.e logs), and settings, from the watch to the website (via the local system), and compiled apps, settings, firmware updates, and GPS ephemera from the website to the watch.

      You can visit the Movescount website with a proxy browser, to view existing Moves, and also to make Settings/Apps changes. But those changes will not be transferred to the watch until the next time you run the Moveslink app.

      If you run the Moveslink app without having Internet connectivity, it will transfer the data to the local system, for later transfer to the Internet when the latter becomes available.

      The question is: whether there is any way to upload the XML activity logs from the local system, that is either proxy-aware, or a browser plugin (and thus uses the browser proxy). I can’t answer this, sorry.

    • lokin

      “I didn’t know that Proxifier costs money; hopefully there must be a proxy wrapper for Win that is free? I have no idea…”

      >> There is tun2socks for example, but that’d proxy every application / communication which is unwanted in my case.

      “I wonder if you could do something with e.g. Virtualbox, to setup a Windows VM that is automatically proxied…”

      >> Thats possible (e.g. with tun2socks). But kinda impossible for my systems (performance) .. 🙂

      “As I understand it, Moveslink (app) connects to both the watch, and to the Movescount website, and transfers things between them, in both directions.”

      >> Thanks, thats what I wanted to know. So to really “work” with the Ambit2, moveslink is required.

      “You can visit the Movescount website with a proxy browser, to view existing Moves, and also to make Settings/Apps changes. ”

      >> Obviously, yes.

      “If you run the Moveslink app without having Internet connectivity, it will transfer the data to the local system, for later transfer to the Internet when the latter becomes available.”

      >> Is moveslink able to present your logs/Workouts graphically as well or just the movescount website? (e.g. can you analyze you’re moves when you dont have an internet connection?)

      “The question is: whether there is any way to upload the XML activity logs from the local system, that is either proxy-aware, or a browser plugin (and thus uses the browser proxy). I can’t answer this, sorry.”

      >> Anyone else around who can answer this?

      Another question: Can anyone check with which servers moveslink is speaking? Is ist just movescount on or are other machines involved?


    • cdmackay

      > Is moveslink able to present your logs/Workouts graphically as well or just the movescount website? (e.g. can you analyze you’re moves when you dont have an internet connection?)

      No, Moveslink does nothing more than act as a conduit between the watch and the Movescount website.

      There are some third-party tools that will work with the Suunto XML files directly, e.g. rubitrack for Mac, and Neotrack for Win. I’ve not (yet) tried either. rubitrack seems very well thought of.

  167. Daniel Reynolds

    Just bought my Suunto Ambit 2 last week after seeing they finally added a countdown timer, lol. In any case, my question:

    Is it possible to change Celsius to Fahrenheit and still leave everything Metric? I served in the military for 7 years so everything metric we use is Meters and MGRS for navigation. I didn’t see any options other than Metric all.

    • Calum Mackay

      In Movescount, Gear, under Unit Settings, if you select Advanced, you can then choose individual units for height, weight, distance, temp, pressure and altitude.

      That’s handy for us Brits; I’m using metric for most things, and imperial for weight and distance.

  168. Yori

    Hi DC rainmaker,

    Thanks heaps for this review, it is very useful.

    When comparing the Ambit 2 and 2 S on Suunto’s website it says that only the Ambit 2 has the “find back” option. From reading your review I was under the impression that both versions had that option. Is that correct?


  169. Jeff Anderson

    I just had to send my week old Suunto Ambit2 S back to the manufacturer because water had gotten under the glass and would fog it up. Hoping for a quick return.

    • Jeff Anderson


      I received a completely new watch yesterday. They said it would be repaired if they could – evidently they could not – so they sent me a new one. Good Service if not a little slow.

  170. Tony

    any word if Suunto is working on or has fixed the footpod taking over speed/distance from GPS?

    • Paul

      Hit “Later” as it tries to find the Foot Pod and it skips on to finding a GPS fix. It then seems to commit itself to using GPS for speed/distance for the whole run, but it should find your Foot Pod soon after starting and then use it for cadence-only.
      Let me know if that works for you.

    • Can anyone confirm this behavior? I’d love to know if this work around also works for the original Ambit.

  171. Awesome review, superb work.

    Some questions though : I search for a big watch with hour (yes), altimeter, cardio, and with the best visible screen in hard daylight (with backlit option for night). Not specific sport centered, but for sport photography in altitude.

    What would be your suggestion ??

    Thanks !

  172. Ed Gavin

    Hi- Question for you about Track Recording.

    I understand the Ambit2 automatically records Tracks when in the Running mode for example. You can easily see the tracks in Movescount superimposed over the map.

    My question is can you also see the currently recording Track (obviously no map) progress while in your sport mode? This kind of “bread crumb” trail can be useful.


  173. Hello,

    I I just bought and tested an Ambit2 black in an outdoor 25m pool. (indoor swimming mode)
    The stroke detection seems to be poor (even after the teaching procedure).
    I can also found too many 0m laps and 10 seconds laps (I am not that fast). However, the total distance is pretty accurate.

    NOW I saw that you can activate the GPS in 1s frequency also for the indoor swimming mode (from the advanced settings on Movescount).

    DO you think the watch will be more accurate in detecting the number of laps and distances??

    I think that next time I will not pause the watch during the training and I will not press “lap” neither… I will allow the watch to detect when I will be waiting at the wall (in this manner, it will also calculate and show the time I rest before restart)… let’s see…

    • I don’t think that’ll change much. In most of these watches, the recording rate for indoor swimming doesn’t matter much, since the trigger is the internal logic around when a length occurs.

      I think in general, the best bet is to wait for another firmware update with respect to 2/2S swimming (indoor and outdoor). As I noted in the review, that’s in general one of the weaker areas of the unit.

    • hp

      Suunto asked me to enable the GPS for indoor swimming but didn’t help much except by consuming the battery so I’ve changed it back. I posted above some of the problems I’ve found.

      After the teaching routine the watch started to be more accurate related to style detection but in all fairness I do use only one style so there is no reason to confuse it..

      I’ve found a way to prevent the watch from including the pause time in the lap time (one of their errors).

      Before rest first I push pause button. After I finish resting I push pause button again and then I push Lap button. Then the watch starts another interval. The watch still don’t count the last laps before a pause but at least now the distance during the pauses shows 0 instead of xx meters.

  174. Higginsdj

    I just got a Suunto Support reply stating that the Suunto Ambit2 will only work with Suunto products and “You will not be able to pair your watch with your Garmin accessory” (My Garmin HRM3 Ant+ HR Belt doesn’t pair with my Ambit2). You might want to revise the section of your review indicating 3rd party products that the Ambit2 is supposed to work with!

    • The support person is wrong. Simple as that.

      Hit retry a few times, bringing the HRM3 pod close to the watch. It may take a few times, As noted above, Suunto acknowledged that they are working on fixing some of the ANT+ pairing retry failures. Once paired, you should be good to go.

      I’d love to see a copy of the support e-mail though (I can follow-up with you offline), so I can forward to some folks who can ensure some ‘re-training’.

    • Calum Mackay

      Yup, I had a few issues trying to get my Garmin HRM2 strap paired with my new Ambit 2, but managed it in the end.

      As Ray says, you need to get it *very* close to the watch, to pair, much closer than it would be when wearing it.

      That did worry me, but subsequently testing when wearing it shows that the close distance is only required for pairing, not for use. Perhaps that’s intentional, to aid pairing when surrounded by lots of others with their own sensors.

      I also thought that the HR transmitter would only work when wearing it, but found out that I could still pair when holding it in my hand, so that’s not true.

      Although that would seem to suggest that it’s constantly transmitting, when not being worn, which seems a huge waste of battery.

      Or perhaps it only transmits pairing signals infrequently when not being worn, which might also explain why it’s hard to pair, but then fine in normal use.

      Ray: you might consider please writing a small note on ANT+ comms, e.g. when sensors transmit, and receive etc?

    • Higginsdj

      Since attempting to pair it with the Garmin HRM3, the Suunto Ant belt will no longer work or pair with the Ambit 2. I’m getting quite disheartened with this watch.

    • From my conversations with them, the pairing behavior is definitely not intentional. It’s just a bug they didn’t have time to fully address before release (I noted it above as well). It’s within the pile to fix in the next firmware update.

      It essentially comes down to they have really bad ANT+ retry logic in the unit. Putting it very close basically ensures (or tries to), that it’ll find the sensor. In reality, there should be no need for that. Every other ANT+ device on the planet I can just about pair across a football field.

  175. Gabriele

    Here’s my personal review about the swimming indoors (25m pool) with Ambit 2. As unfortunate owner of FOUR Garmin FR910XT (3 broken baroaltimeters in 1 year time) as well as every Suunto instrument built so far I know a LOT about comparisons between the 2 units and I am strong swimmer (and triathlete) so I know what I am saying.

    I think there are 2 big problems here: 1 is the management of time (and subsequent statistics) and the other is management of space (and again management of statistics with the given time).

    I’m gonna start from the 2: SPACE (in this context, it means DISTANCE).

    Simply put, in a 25m lane we generally swim in 4. 1 is just below me and 2 are a lot slower. This means I am passing at best every other lane just like you Ray. FR910XT, in these conditions, doesn’t miss a single lenght. It may at worst have missed (in one year) a couple of 25m at the end of an interval but it is extremely reliable whether you do flip turns or not.

    The Ambit 2 is a disaster. In 2 weeks I’ve had it I’ve never had a clean log yet. Simply put (I like simple things), if you don’t do flip turns, regardless of how hard you push from the wall, there’s a very high chance the watch won’t record your lenght. Since time is running, your stats are to be thrown into the garbage. In my case this means I’ve started learning flip turns which is something considerably harder than it seems when you think I never wanted to learn them and I Still don’t want to learn and use them (it’s a cheat on distance I don’t need). When you do something against your will it’s always hard…

    The problem with passing people in your same lane is something to be ADDED to this. Knowing without flip you’ve wasted a lenght (and the 23″ it took you to do it are still counted in the averages) you MUST pass the guy before the wall. Again, simply put, I am going to be thrown off the pool if I keep swimming like that but I didn’t notice a problem in the management of passing speed. As long as you do the flip turn, the lenght is counted and the lap is added (Ambit2 adds an autolap at each lenght basically) at the correct time.

    New Ambit2 users as well as potential customers PLEASE take the 2 aforementioned notes in consideration when choosing between the 2 units (though believe me when your Garmin FR910XT will have failed twice you will start regretting that purchase).

    And now we’re heading to point 1. TIME.

    Doing 100m in 1 minute means 25″ per lenght (4x25m lenghts). It is only natural that if you touch the wall and read 75m in 1 minute everything goes awry. You will “doctor” these stats if you swim consistently in the long run but they’ll never be precise as the FR910XT where you hit LAP and you have basically done all you need.

    With the Ambit 2 the very same CONCEPT of time is something unintellegible. If you look at the possible display modes you’ll see there’s LAP and INTERVAL then there’s AVERAGE, there’s PAUSE and there’s also REST time.
    How the average speed/stk rate and everything else is calculated is really beyond me to understand. The watch can be set via MC in Autopause or, as Ray said, you’d better manually pause when you’re at the block but I am not entirely sure this paused time is EXCLUDED from the stat computing (as it should be, since you’re not swimming it shouldn’t average with the swimming data).

    Until Suunto clears this up we’ll always be in complete amazement of swimming data that are easy and accurate as 1-2-3 on the FR910XT and completely offset and unintellegible in the Ambit2. It must be the perfect watch in open water swimming but it definitely needs finetuning in the swimming pools. You simply CAN’T avoid passes and if you’re compelled to ALWAYS do the flip turns it can be a nightmare in a crowded swimming pool.

    So I think while you can “easily” counter the problem of lenght count inaccuracy, the TIME issue is very relevant. I can’t exclude the 2 to be acting together and it’s also hard to read the data when the FR910XT tells you what that data is and the Ambit only puts data but no header on the row. What I mean is that even though I am the one who configured the watch, 1’23” doesn’t tell you much when you don’t remember what it’s about. Garmin instead would tell you “last lap = 1’23” and believe me that’s a huge difference.

    I’d be happy to discuss about the subject… Suunto doesn’t seem to have forums where you can exchange tips and opinions on how to put the watch at the best use.

    If we exclude the lenght count pr