The first time I saw a Suunto wristop computer was at the on-snow demo for the 1999 Outdoor Retailer Expo, held at The Canyons Resort in Park City, UT. I remember being dumbfounded talking to the rep as he explained all the amazing things the watch could calculate. I was sold immediately and soon found myself with a Suunto Vector on my wrist, tracking my ski runs and mountain bike rides. I came to rely on the Vector. But, like all pieces of technology, it soon got passed up by smaller and more sophisticated devices.
Enter the new Suunto X6HR wristop computer. This watch has more features than any other sports watch ever conceived. With all the standard features found on all Suunto watches like altimeter, barometer and thermometer, this watch adds so much more. The best part about the watch is that it’s much more compact than the Vector and its siblings and the face is mineral glass to protect it from scratches.
An entirely new interface was conceived to allow X6HR users the ability to scroll through and use functions with the ease of a typical cell phone. All the menus are mapped and show you exactly where you are within each sub-menu. It’s obvious that there’s some serious technology packed into this thing.
With the X6HR, you get all the typical logbook functionality found on other Suuntos (but more feature-packed), combined with a heart rate monitor newly developed by Suunto.
Suunto X6HR Review
The X6HR is noticeably less bulky than the Vector, but I quickly realized that the rubber strap would take some time getting used to. I had the Velcro strap on my Vector, which I much prefer to rubber watch bands. That’s a personal preference and has nothing to do with the performance of the watch.
At first, deciphering the layout and functions is daunting (typical of Suunto wristop computers), but much less difficult to understand than the Vector ever was. Scrolling through functions, saving settings and starting/ending logbooks is an absolute breeze. And with the ability to scroll through the data on the watch and on your PC with included software, you’ll know the in’s and out’s of how your workout went.
The heart rate monitor works great — even without conductive slime. I just wet the strap and place on my chest… boom… it starts working perfectly. Setting your heart rate limits and monitoring your heart rate during a workout is an absolute breeze. I even noticed that my monitoring band was compatible with Polar-equipped machines at the gym, though the watch couldn’t accurately track my heart rate on the treadmill.
The new logbook features are substantially more involved than before, yet much easier to use. There are basically four different ways to maintain a log: HR/Altitude Chronograph, Altitude Chronograph, HR/Hiking Log and Hiking Log. Depending on the type of activity, duration and whether you want to track your heart rate or not, you can choose to start a simple chronograph or use the hiking log feature — each one stores different information.
The HR Chronograph Log feature is great for sessions shorter than a day. To begin a session, simply start the chronograph and everything is then recorded in 2, 10 or 60 second increments. Your altitude, rate of ascent/descent, total ascent/descent and heart rate are all stored for future use on the watch or can be downloaded to your PC. If you do not want to use the heart rate monitor, simply start the chronograph and all information will be stored without the heart rate.
The Chronograph Log feature stores detailed altitude information to view your altitude profile on your PC, but the Hiking log feature (intended for multi-day logs) does not store a detailed altitude profile for later retrieval.
The Hiking Log feature is meant for long excursions and tracking your heart rate over a long period of time. Only total ascent and descent is stored along with all the other heart rate and time data. During a Hiking log, you can set up to 10 “waypoints” to get a rough profile of your altitude. If you were hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from White Pass to Mt. Adams, you might choose specific “waypoints” where you might want to mark a high or low point along the way.
Basically, the Chronograph Log feature is perfect for most day-to-day activities including trail running, skiing, day hikes and mountain biking. If you’re on a multi-day adventure or a mountaineering trip, the Hiking Log is the ticket.
The included Suunto Activity Manager software is a great way to track your individual workout progress and activity. It hooks up to a serial port (no USB cable) and downloads the data to your computer quickly and easily. It’s pretty sweet keeping track of different types of workouts and comparing each day’s performance.
The Bottom Line: Suunto X6HR
Man, oh man… this watch sure has a lot of features — some of which I haven’t used just yet. I didn’t even mention the inclinometer, improved digital compass with self-calibration, barometer, thermometer, dual time and more. Yeesh… this watch is packed with super-cool features for the tech geek in all of us.
Overall, the user interface is much improved over previous Suunto watches. The design is more compact and functional than ever before. I absolutely love having one watch that can do everything from tracking my heart rate to telling me the current temperature. As a pure tech geek, this watch leaves nothing wanting.
Granted the price is a bit steep (retail is $449, but can be found for $399 below), but you’re getting a quality timepiece that will be the best workout tracking companion you’ll ever own. The Suunto X6HR is a definite improvement on previous models and has every imaginable feature any cross sports athlete could ever want.
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