GPS Accuracy Test: Spartan ULTRA vs Polar M600 + more

This time 3 Polars and a Suunto SPARTAN ULTRA braved my ‘standardised’ GPS test route. It was a chance for the V800 to redeem itself from a poor first showing because of needing to be worn on the underside of the arm.

Also, of course, the SPARTAN ULTRA needs a first proper outing to test it’s GPS accuracy. This is with the latest firmware which supposedly includes GPS improvements. Previously, over the same course, the SPARTAN SPORT scored VERY well.

The route is shown in the image to the right and described in more detail along with the test methodology <here>. Predominantly it’s for running tests.

The raw FIT/TCX files are available <here< in a public folder along with an analysis spreadsheet of the results (there are three tabs in the spreadsheet).

In a nutshell:

  1. Almost anything seems to perform well on the easy sections
  2. The V800 redeemed itself and notably improved it’s performance when worn properly. It now has essentially the same good score as the TomTom Runner 3 & Spartan SPORT
  3. The Polar M600 did not fair too well, doing especially badly on medium- and hard-difficulty sections. Which was a shame as the oHR had been doing very well, a decent GPS score would have made it a compelling little unit.
  4. The Spartan ULTRA (new firmware) was significantly worse than the Spartan SPORT (old firmware, previous test) although doing a pretty good job on the easier sections. On a few sections the ULTRA seemed to perform well and then throw a wobbly.
    • Is the SPORT’s GPS inherently better than the ULTRA? unlikely, possible
    • Could there be good and bad units? no idea, I can’t think why
    • Has the new firmware made things worse? doubt it.
    • This seems to support my earlier tests over easy ground where both do well.
    • This seems to support other more challenging tests on the net from other people that I have been mostly unable to replicate. Now I have !
  5. I’ve re-visited my initial view of the TomTom Runner 3 and downgraded it slightly. It now comes second behind the Spartan SPORT.

So we are now in the bizarre situation where the Spartan SPORT is the leader and the Spartan ULTRA is in last place. Very strange. The V800 and MIO Cyclo 505 both scored higher still in a bike test on the same route.

NB: These results are subjective and scored by eye over each section. What seems good one day may seem bad the next day when compared to a previous test. For this reason the scores are subject to continual change. The files are all public (above) if you want to delve further.

Next up soon: Another run with the Epson SF-820 and Garmin Forerunner 920XT, perhaps also strapping a Lezyne or MIO 505 unit to my arm.

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