Suunto’s entire SPARTAN family are receiving the latest May 2018 update. It’s a notable update which includes features that even Garmin don’t yet have and includes other features that should have been there some time ago.
Firmware is currently: v2.0.40 which superseded a slightly earlier v2.0.34 release (and the prior release I had was v1.12.36 from which some of the images below relate to)
Suunto Spartan software update 2.0 features
Here is a summary of the new features that we will discuss a little more further below:
- New Zones – pace and power (just like the HR Zones)
- Enhanced workout traing targets – added duration/distance/intensity targets based on: heart rate (all activities); pace (running); and power (running and cycling, when a power pod is paired)
- Notification history: from the watch face just press the middle button to see all your recent notifications from your mobile device.
- Temperature has been added to the outdoor screen
- Suunto Spartans with Wrist HR now have the Instant HR display directly below the watch face display.
- Bug fixes and performance improvements including power management
Temperature – Environmental and instant Heart Rate
In the Ultra and Baro models, navigate down with the lower right button (x3) and THEN touch the temperature widget.
You will have seen this screen as you navigated down to the temperature. Instant HR…cool.
The last 20 active notifications are now visible in the watch’s ‘notification centre’.
Workouts can be given an intensity alert if you exceed a certain level of exertion; based on running pace, heart rate or power. This is set in the workout options before the workout is started. If, for example, there is no power meter paired then you will not be able to set power alerts. Makes sense!
Take out: heart rate alerts and pace alerts should have been there on day one for many people. The addition of a POWER alert, at least for running with STRYD/RunScribe Plus, is a market-leading feature.
Workouts can be given a target based on distance or time. Standard stuff.
Progress towards the target pops up at 50% and 100% levels.
And the %age completion of the target is shown in the workout summary eg 108% below.
Takeout: This should have been more rapidly introduced. Even the Amazfit STRATOS allows workout targets to be set on more advanced physiological metrics – I’m thinking of TRAINING EFFECT targets. The Suunto 3Fitness model allows an automatically defined (adaptive) TRAINING EFFECT target to be followed.
Customised and Expanded Intensity Zones
The January 2018 SPARTAN firmware already introduced heart rate zones and now we have pace or power zones.
Take out: This functionality is good. The ability to define specific HR zones or have them re-calculated base on HRmax is fine. It would be nice to have the power zones automatically calculated from FTP.
Calendarised Workouts / Training Plan
The functionality to follow a plan from Movescount is now expanded.
From the main screen/main button press, we now are told what is in store today
When choosing to exercise we are given the workout as the sport choice
And that information corresponds with the training overview screens (main screen, button down x3)
Take out: This is all welcomed functionality. The lack of complex structured workout will be missed by some and the lack of an adaptive training program, as found in the 3Fitness, will be disappointing for others.
The New Suunto App
The ‘new’ Suunto app is called ‘Suunto’ in the app stores. At least for now you seem to be able to use it alongside the Movescount app. You CAN pair your SPARTANs with the Suunto app, although I also had some difficulties on Android 7.x.
I have been using the Suunto app for several weeks with the 3Fitness going from the beta version to the live version.
The ‘new’ Suunto app is highly similar to parts of the Sports-Tracker app (also owned by Amer Sports, Suunto’s parent company). Indeed if you sync data to the Suunto app it also finds its way to the Sports-Tracker app.
I’m not entirely sure about where components of the Suunto platform are heading, I’d assume towards the SUUNTO app and a possibly revamped linking mechanism and MOVESCOUNT.com.
Manual Firmware Update
All Suunto’s firmware releases are staggered globally. If you ever want to jump your place in the queue here’s how (link to: forum.suunto.com). When I tried this for one watch, it worked! Anecdotally this seemed to force all my other Suunto watches to subsequently take their updates immediately afterwards through Suuntolink.
The SPARTAN family is in a good place right now. Some models have notably superior construction and components to their competitors’ equivalent. Set against that are functionality issues.
The SPARTAN functionality is generally OK. But some people will find a ‘special’ feature missing. This will be a feature that you or I will never even think about but to that person it is a deal breaker and they will buy a Garmin. This will happen across a wide range of peripheral features. In my case the omission remains a lack of ‘advanced’ triathlon features – although I recommend the Suunto SPARTAN Trainer in the best triathlon watch guide and I like to use the SPARTAN Sport (non-WHR from time-to-time when running
DCR rightly described this as ‘death by a thousand cuts‘. That’s a particularly unpleasant and long, drawn-out death. It’s taken Suunto two years to get some of the features, described above, onboard. Suunto REALLY are drawing it out.
On the other hand Suunto do seem to deliver generally more bug-free products that mostly work. As I have said before, with the exception of the ULTRA, all the SPARTANs have market-leading GPS accuracy and many owners also find the Valencell sensor and onboard altimetry to be superior.
When it comes to ‘accuracy’ of Garmin devices when compared to Suunto, I would take DCR’s analogy, add to it, and apply it in a different way to Garmin. I’d call it the Garmin guillotine-effect. Some people will simply cut-off their links with Garmin devices in one fell-stroke because of Garmin’s generally ‘meh’ level of accuracy for the high price-tag they charge.
Horses for courses. Swings and roundabouts. Whichever phrase you favour, Suunto are still in the game. It’s definitely a game of two halves and it won’t be over until fat, gender-neutral person sings.
With a rumoured Fenix 5plus, a rumoured new Suunto, and ‘other stuff‘; “The Times They Are A-Changin’ ”
And to prove that last point, the new Suunto 9 comes along…