Review: Suunto Ambit 3

I recently made the switch to a Suunto Ambit 3 from my existing Garmin products (Garmin Swim & Garmin 405CX).  I was looking to move to a single watch that I could use for all my my activities including pool swimming, open water swimming, running and cycling.  My coworkers suggested the watch and I went with it.  

There are a few very thorough reviews out there so no need for me to go into that level of detail.  Here are links to a few great reviews.

Here are some points that are important to me.

How does the watch compare to the Garmin Swim:

The Garmin Swim is a great watch and I used it regularly for over a year.  The Ambit 3 tracks my swims just as well, but also supports open water swimming.  I have not had an opportunity to try it out yet but that was a big upgrade once the weather gets better and for use during races.  One drawback with the Ambit is that it does not support a drill mode like the Garmin does.  I believe the newer Garmin watches including the recently released Fenix 3 and 920XT both support drill mode.  The limitation to pool use only was a bit of a pain at times with the Garmin as I would sometimes forget the watch when I was heading the the pool.

*Update:  The watch does support drill mode.  You hold the center button and go into options, and this allows you to manually add lengths and track drills.  

How does it compare with the 405CX for running:

My biggest complaint with the 405CX was the amount of time it took to catch satellite location.  It could take minutes and the progress bar would start back over.  There were also times where it would say it had reception but would show the start of my run out in the middle of the water and then my statistics would be all over the place.  The Ambit 3 gets its location almost instantly and has options for how accurate you would like it to be during the run.  Obviously the more accurate the more battery usage.  

How does Movescount compare to Garmin Connect:

Here lies my biggest concern with the switch.  I like a lot of the features of Movescount including the bluetooth synchronization between the watch and my phone so there are no more USB sticks needed to get my data up to the cloud.  The Movescount website is limited in many ways that really bother me though:

  1. Limited Export Ability - Non-GPS activities can only be exported as cvs or fit files which are not useful at all when trying to get the data into other 3rd party tools.  
  2. No Import Ability - The website does not offer any way to bring in data from other tools.  For example I use TrainerRoad for my cycling training but cannot import the .tcx files.  I have to upload to Garmin and use another tool to force them into Movescount.
  3. Closed API - They offer a web api for developers to access their data, but do not appear to give keys out to anyone.  
  4. Reliability - During the short time I have been using the site there have been at least 2 website outages.  One was over the holidays and lasted 4 days.  The good news is since that outage everything has been very stable, but its only been 3 weeks.

Overall Rating:

The watch has been great.  From a hardware perspective it is a big jump up from the Garmin watches I have had in the past.  The Garmin Swim was good quality but my Forerunners have not been impressive.  The software issues are there but I am living with it and am getting used to the new interface.  If they an keep the website running and add some more features I think this move will eventually be for the better.