Suunto Spartan Sport WHR – The optical HR on the wrist sports GPS watch

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I’ve had the SPARTAN Sport WHR  (WHR = Wrist optical Heart Rate) for a couple of days now.

For followers of the introduction of the SPARTAN series to the market there is nothing unexpected to write about at present. You knew it was coming and here it is. It’s real!

It’s pretty much the same as the non-optical HR version (reviewed here). I will probably update that review with some new stuff that is being introduced into this week’s firmware update.

I’ve always liked the SPARTAN watches as I’ve personally bought into the longterm vision for the platform. Not everyone else did. Fair enough.

The reality on the ground NOW (March 2017) is that the SPARTANs are approaching a point with the released features where they can start to get competitive. One-by-one you are seeing some of the other reviewers of the SPARTAN change their views as they have been won-over with the improving feature set and great GPS accuracy (my GPS tests have very good results but also see fellrnr if you need the opinion of more than one person).

The only other tests that I am planning to do with the WHR are to separately review the GPS and optical HR accuracy. Firstly, the optical HR is Valencell’s hardware – so we are expecting good things from that. Secondly, I’ve found differing GPS performance with the SPARTAN models (SPORT vs ULTRA), so I’m keen to see if my 4th SPARTAN is good/better/worse than the previous ones.

I’ve also started to become a bit of a convert to pool swimming with optical HR with my Polar M200. Just because it conveniently captures heart rate without having to wear a chest strap AND because the HR is supported in swim mode. The M200’s oHR is acceptably accurate for pool swimming so I am happy to use it to at least have a go at capturing the data rather than estimating it – as I have been previously. Anyway, the SPARTAN SPORT WHR also will produce HR when swimming so I will see if that can become my new pool watch.

PRELIMINARY GPS RESULTS: I have had only about 8 hours of bike/run training with the WHR so far. Part of that covered my formal GPS test route and the SPARTAN SPORT WHR came out in the same ballpark as the non-WHR version. IE it’s up there with the best. That was in GPS mode and NOT GPS+GLONASS mode.

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


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