Suunto Ambit 3 Review – exclusive first look
A Suunto Ambit 3 review by Peter Mullins, Highly Tuned Athletes.
Suunto have announced the next generation of the Ambit GPS multisport watch series, the Ambit 3. The “Ambit”, short for “Ambition” is Suunto’s flagship outdoor adventure, swimming, cycling, running, and multisport HRM watch. We are receiving our first shipment early September 2014 and you can secure one of the first Ambit 3 watches in Australia HERE.
Highly Tuned Athletes have been able to take a sneak peak at the Ambit 3 before its release, and we are keen to share our initial thoughts here with our Blog readers. Please note that the product supplied by Suunto for this Suunto Ambit 3 review was a pre-release model, and final production builds and specifications may vary.
The new Ambit 3 will be available in 2 versions, the Ambit 3 Peak, and the Ambit 3 Sport.
The top of the range Ambit 3 Peak, ships in Black or Sapphire only, has a larger battery with twice the capacity of the Ambit 3 Sport, includes an altimeter/barometer for super accurate elevation recording, and has a water resistant rating to 100 metres.
The lower profile and lighter Ambit 3 Sport will be available in 4 builds, Black, Blue, White and with a toughened Sapphire crystal face. The Sport version has many of the features of the top of the range Ambit 3 Peak, including multisport mode, and accelerometer for activities such as swimming, but excludes the Altimeter/Barometer, and has less battery life.
All Ambit’s are built tough, Suunto continues to produce the Ambit family out of Finland, and the quality of the final product shows. The standard units come with a hardened mineral crystal lens, and the sapphire crystal versions are virtually scratch proof. Full 2 year Australian warranty by Suunto shows confidence in manufacturing.
Both variants of the Suunto Ambit 3 perform well over a multitude of sports, equally as accurate running, swimming, cycling or during a multisport event such as a Triathlon. Screens are fully customisable, including switching between a positive or negative (black) face, and will display a huge number of variables from distance, swim stroke count, to power data when paired with a power meter on the bike. You can create your own metrics, or select from thousands on the free Suunto App Zone. The slimline Ambit 3 Sport will suit smaller wrists, and the lower weight whilst racing may give a slight advantage.
If super accurate elevation, ascent, decent, gradients, vertical speed are required, then the top end Ambit 3 Peak is a must.
Battery life is approximately doubled on the Ambit 3 Peak (16/24/50hrs) over the Ambit 3 Sport (8/12/25hrs) based on a Best/Better/Good – 1/5/60 second GPS sample rate. We have also heard storage capacity has doubled on the Ambit 3 family, but as we like to do at Highly Tuned Athletes, we will put to the test once released.
What’s new about the Ambit 3?
Cosmetically not a lot over the Ambit 2, however there are a few subtle changes that do make a difference. Suunto have switched to a slightly wider font on the display, not a biggie but personally I like the change, and makes it a tad easier to read when say pushing the pace and glancing down at the display. The watch band on the Ambit 3 Peak Black is more comfortable than previous releases, slightly softer, and comes with a larger locating pin than the Ambit 2 Black band. The bezel on the Ambit 3 Black is in matt, the button text easier to read in a brighter white, and a small red direction marker differentiates the Ambit 3 over the Ambit 2. On the Ambit 3 Sport line up, the addition of a sapphire version and the eye catching blue release are the major changes.
Secure one of the first Ambit 3 watches in Australia HERE.
Bluetooth Smart (BLE) support.
Ant / Ant+ compatibility is no longer an option. That’s correct, your old sensors will no longer work unless they are Bluetooth Smart compatible. Good news is that there are already a stack of new Bluetooth Smart sensors on the market including power meters, and there are many more on the horizon.
With Bluetooth Smart support, perhaps the best news is that the Ambit 3 Peak and Ambit 3 Sport will now integrate with your compatible smart phone. Initially there will be an update to the Movescount App, firstly with an iPhone/iPad release, then an Android version to follow.
Apart from activity upload/download via a smart phone, the ability to configure the Ambit 3 screen layouts, variables, and settings, via the App. is a huge bonus. No longer will you have to have a computer and web connection handy on the morning of a big race to change a last minute screen layout!
Phone notifications such as SMS and alerts can now be displayed on the Ambit3, very useful say when riding, hiking or trail running, with a phone tucked away out of reach. Additionally the GPS on the Ambit can be shared to a smart phone via Bluetooth Smart. This for example allows the accuracy and data metrics collected by the Ambit to be viewed on a larger display. Great for cycling. Suunto have also added integration to other phone components such as the camera to allow data overlay from the Ambit 3 onto still images and video.
New Heart Rate transmitter.
Suunto have also announced a new version Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate strap and transmitter for the Ambit 3. Smaller than previous versions, but what is truly unique about the transmitter is that it will actually record heart rate when out of range of the Suunto Ambit 3, even under water, then re-sync when within proximity.
Until now, it was only the low frequency Suunto M1 and Polar range that would allow recording / transmission of heart rate data under water. Suunto has overcome this obstacle quite cleverly with the HR transmitter being able to record the actual HR data from the strap and then update the watch when available via Bluetooth, say at the end of a lap or session in the pool or during a transition in a triathlon. This will now allow full analysis of swim data including distance, timing, laps, stroke and heart rate. I had the chance to put this to the test in the pool, and I was impressed. We are also excited that the new transmitter may open up the opportunity for other sports too, where maybe a watch can’t be worn during play, but heart rate could still be recorded then resynchronised with the Ambit3 during a break. We will be sure to test thoroughly and include in our full Suunto Ambit 3 Review.
New to the Ambit family is the inclusion of activity tracking. The built in accelerometer in the Ambit 3 will track daily movement, even with GPS off. The Ambit 3 combines this data with regular activities to provide daily and weekly summaries on both the watch itself and via Movescount, Suunto’s online and phone App.
Additionally a more accurate recovery time prediction between activities can be calculated, and is now displayed as one of the main screens on the Ambit 3.
Secure one of the first Ambit 3 watches in Australia HERE.
As a Multisport watch the Ambit 3 measures up. It is a simple process to define then configure each sport type, then sequence under a multisport activity. Once the activity is started on the watch, holding the Lap button will change to the next predefined sport mode and display associated screens, including total or activity based time/distance.
Transition periods are now automatically included during multisport events or adventure races. The resulting log file will contain multiple activity information, and can be broken down for in depth analysis.
Suunto have continued to refine and hone the tough and proven Ambit family. The Ambit 3 does contain some great new additions in the form of phone integration and ability to record heart rate whilst swimming. Most functions of the Ambit2 family are retained; the biggest loss is the dropping of ANT and ANT+ sensor support. However with the inclusion of Bluetooth Smart, the doors will open to a whole range of new sensors emerging on the market.
If you would like to know more about the Ambit 3 family, Highly Tuned Athletes will be publishing a full review once stock is available September 2014, stay tuned here on our Blog.
Peter is a keen trail and ultra marathon distance runner, who loves a hit out on the mountain bike. With a background in electronics and IT, he has a passion for gadgets and new technologies.
When not out product testing or eating chillies, Peter can be found in his role as Technical Manager at
Highly Tuned Athletes.
Highly Tuned Athletes Is Australia’s #1 Sports and Fitness Technology retailer. With a team of dedicated experts, we are at the forefront of new product releases, advice, and post sales support. Authorised resellers of Suunto, Garmin, Polar, Soleus, Luminox, Wenger, GoPro, Led Lenser, Gu and Hammer products, we stock the largest range of personal GPS and HRM units in Australia.
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