Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro Preview
The Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro Stealth is certainly a mouthful but probably better than SSSWHRBS.
I’m feeling sorry for myself today having just failed to get a 10 mile PB. Writing a full review takes a looong time so I got the camera out and enjoyed the sun…oh yes and I enjoyed playing with the Sport BARO too. It’s nice, I like it. Here’s why…
What is it?
It’s currently Suunto’s ONLY outdoor offering WITH a barometer AND optical HR. The SPARTAN ULTRA is a slightly bigger beast with the same firmware and bigger, better battery life but no optical HR.
It’s the same watch format as the popular SPORT WHR but, funnily enough, with the addition of a barometer. There are also a few tweaky things I’ve spotted too.
This post might morph into a Spartan Sport Baro review over time but for now I will just chat about some differences to previous models with the aid of images. I’ve also included some early and good GPS test results.
It’s NOT an optical HR version of the ULTRA. Well…not quite.
2x Suunto Baro’s – Stealth vs. Amber
The most obvious visual difference of these 2 Baro’s is that the one on the right has a orange strap (Amber model) and the Stealth model on the right is black. Looking closer you can also see the bezels are similar.
What you can’t see is that the Amber model is not real 😉 It’s a sales demo version. But the real equivalent does exist.
Suunto recently announced the ability to customise watches. The BARO models are not yet listed as being able to be customised. No doubt that will change soon enough (link to: suunto.com).
Suunto BARO – side view
No great surprises here. The BARO is pretty much the same as the Suunto Spartan Sport WHR (review linked immediately below)
As already discussed the bezels are subtly different but you can also see the small circle on the side of the bottom, black model. That’s for the barometer.
The main ‘case’ construction is the same as the regular SPORT models and the image above shows it in 2 ‘colours/finishes’. Once customisation is possible with the BARO then the case options will likely increase notably.
Suunto’s BARO vs. ULTRA
At the top is the SPARTAN SPORT WHR, the SPARTAN ULTRA is in the middle and the SPARTAN SPORT WHR BARO on the bottom.
The point of showing this is twofold. both to demonstrate the extra thickness of the ULTRA but also show the ULTRA and BARO sharing the holes in the side for the barometer.
Suunto BARO Buttons
The button placement is identical on these 4 from top to bottom: SPORT WHR, SPORT, BARO Amber (demo), BARO Stealth.
You can probably get a flavour of the different case materials too.
The keen-eyed amongst you might have already noticed something else that’s different. The BARO models straps lie flat. From my perspective I can’t tell you how wonderful this is as it makes taking images SO much easier.
Suunto BARO Straps
I measured the straps to be 25mm wide and, as you can clearly see, they are removable and presumably interchangeable with many others.
Perhaps you need to use an extra-long strap to go on the outside of your coat in the Winter? Not quite sure how you would then use the optical HR but, not to worry, you can use a BLE heart rate strap instead of the optical WHR.
Suunto BARO ‘new’ baro/altimeter screens
Here are the new screens for the SPORT BARO ie altitude and air pressure. It’s exactly the same as on the ULTRA model, as shown below.
Hiking profile and menu options
These options are not new.
There’s a hiking profile. There’s compass stuff including declination. There’s position format stuff. and there is a reference altitude that you can set at POIs which seems to automatically set my altitude correctly when it finds the place I have set as a POI with a known altitude eg my home!
The ski/snowboard profile has been expanded to include some new ski metrics, specific to the ‘runs’ you make down the pistes.
It’s quite likely that the main purpose and timing of the Suunto BARO is to offer hardware and software for the impending ski season. ie a sports watch with baro altimetry and some new ski/snowboard metrics.
Generally the SPARTAN SPORT+TRAINER devices have been AWESOME in my experience with GPS. And I mean GPS and NOT GPS+GLONASS. Generally I’m not impressed by GLONASS.
I’ve specifically re-tested the BARO just because I had variable results with the 3x SPARTAN SPORTs when compared 2x SPARTAN ULTRAs. In my experience, not all SPARTANs are made equal…
To cut a long story short; the BARO performed excellently in my standard test and is up there with the very best. You can look at the image to the right but it probably won’t tell you too much 😉 so here is a link to my GPS Test methodology & analysis (link to: the5krunner.com). There are also all the source files there if you want to perform your own analyses. oh yes, anda league table as well in the spreadsheet. Suunto does very well.
I will stress that my overall opinion of GPS accuracy is not simply formed by one or two repeated tests over the same route. I use my normal training experiences too. The standard test IS a hard one and acts as a sense check. So far I’ve seen nothing unusual with GPS only.
My advice for GLONASS would be to only consider enabling it in city centres and mountains and forests.
Optical HR Accuracy
Optical HR accuracy has so far been in line with what I found on the SPARTAN SPORT WHR (non-BARO). That review is linked to below and you can see the HR comparisons there. Performances ranges from ‘meh’ to fairly good. But that’s just on me. Other people with different physiology have had totally different experiences with the optical HR accuracy. I’ve even lent my watch to other people and they get better results.
So if oHR accuracy is very important to you I can only recommend buying from somewhere where returns are easy if you don’t get on with it.
FAQs & Tidbits
Q: Why is it a BARO version of the SPARTAN SPORT WHR rather than a WHR version of the ULTRA.
A: In best battery mode, the ULTRA is 18 hours and the BARO is 10 hours. Perhaps also adding a WHR sensor to the ULTRA would have made it heavier and thus ‘bouncier’, which sounds trivial but would likely reduce WHR accuracy.
|Best (1 second record)||Good||Okay (1 minute record)|
|Spartan Ultra||18 h||35 h||140 h|
|Spartan Sport||10 h||25 h||80 h|
|Spartan Sport WHR Baro||10 h||20 h||40 h|
Q: What about FusedAlti?
A: FusedAlti was originally announced with the very first SPARTAN. It’s a combination of GPS-derived altitude and Barometrically-derived altitude. There was also FusedSpeed announced to with a combo of GPS speed and footpod speed. FusedAlti is supposedly on the BARO (Source: dcrainmker.com) but I’d kinda assumed it had been there all along. Normally when I assume things they inevitably turn out to be wrong.
Q: Are there any other differences
A: One difference with the BARO model is that the bezel is RAISED EVEN HIGHER above the glass. Even higher than on the ULTRA. This will increase the protection offered to the glass. The Spartan Sport has a ‘flush’ glass and bezel and the ULTRA has a very slightly raised bezel. Now you know.
A: Both the straps I have are subtly different in texture/pattern to previous ones. My knowledge of Suunto straps is somewhat limited to the 6 SPARTANs I have here. These straps are new to me!
A: Oh yes there’s the storm alarm and the inclusion of altitude in some watch faces.
Q: What about accuracy testing
A: I’m definitely going to do something more on accuracy. I have had two ULTRA models and they were not as good as the SPORTs for GPS accuracy. The SPORTs have all been excellent with GPS accuracy (market-leading…unlike the Fenix 5X..oh dear). I always have tended to use just GPS unless under tree cover or in built-up areas and DCR has had something similar confirmed from Suunto on this point with the BARO basically saying to turn off GLONASS unless near large buildings.
Q: Any firmware updates FOR OUTDOORS functionality?
A: Funny you should ask. There is a new firmware coming out on Tuesday 17th October 2017.
…the outdoors update coming to the Spartan collection, there’s increased battery runtimes in “good” GPS mode, updates to navigation to (start to) use POI, storm alarm, and new downhill (sports) features which will be a lot of fun for trail runners and even better for Alpine skiing or snowboarding…
Q: What about new watch faces?
The BARO has new watch faces. These do NOT appear to be on other models yet with the v1.1.58 firmware. Not all of my SPARTANs will update to the latest firmware yet. BUT some have…no new watch faces on those. So the new watch face, below, has sunrise/sunset/altitude and other info that can be toggled. I’ll produce a slideshow if anyone is REALLY interested in that (please ask below)
The GPS watch for athletic multisport:
- Spartan Sport: Battery life 10h in training mode (up to 80h with Power Save Options)
- Spartan Sport Wrist HR / Baro: Battery life 10h in training mode (up to 40h with Power Save Options)
- Steel bezel, mineral crystal glass
- Outdoor-grade color touch screen
- 100 m water resistance
- Barometric altitude (Sport Wrist HR Baro)
- GPS/GLONASS route navigation with POIs and breadcrumb view
- Sport expertise and support for over 80 sports with racing and interval use