Suunto has always been a brand associated with high-end, specialized
sports wristwatches. With a product line that includes diving, golf, and
sailing computers, Suunto has over the years established a diverse but
unique following amongst hi-tech sports afocionados and exercise gurus.
But in addition to its specialty watches, Suunto also produces several
lines of "Wristop Computers" geared towards a broader customer base:
endurance and outdoors-oriented athletes.
One of these product lines is the X6 series to which the watch we will be taking a look at today belongs. That watch is the X6HRT, the flagship of the X6HR series (which essentially is an X6 with extended features and a heart rate function).
The X6HRT arrived in the white box characteristic to most all Suunto timepieces. Also inside was a manual, cards, other documentation, heart rate strap, and software. Additionally, Suunto included a wrist sizer, which is important since once the watch is sized down, it cannot be readjusted back up. This is because downsizing involves snipping off sections of rubber links that cannot be reattached.
The watch itself is considerably lighter than it looks, but it is by no
means flimsy. Made of titanium (hence the "t" appended to its name)
casing, Suunto advertises the watch to be extremely durable and resistant
to tough natural conditions. And as an added benefit, the construction is
lightweight enough not to be bothersome during exercise. The watch face is
encased in mineral crystal for scratch-resistence and the strap contains
titanium links in the same style as the main watch housing.
The high-end construction of the X6HRT is the main factor contributing to its price point difference over its little brother, the X6HRM. And it's a pretty big difference; the titanium casing upgrade will set you back 4 more c-notes than Suunto's stainless steel offering. Lets take a look at the surface differences in the X6HR line. Pictured below in order are the X6HR, X6HRM, and X6HRT:
On the far left, it is apparent that the X6HR ($399 retail) features a non-metal casing and strap. But the X6HRM ($499 retail) and X6HRT ($999 retail) also share several differences. Besides titanium casing and a titanium elastometer band, the X6HRT also sports a brighter screen and a white dial compared to the X6HRM's purely elastometer band and stainless steel construction. Otherwise, the two watches are identical in terms of functionality.
But lets focus in on the X6HRT. First off, this watch is sleek. Suunto had more than a feature-rich timepiece in mind when they designed this watch, and they've produced a very attractive product.
The brushed aluminum, steel buttons, depressed mineral crystal watch face, and steel face ring all attest to both the durability and sophistication of the X6HRT; if anything, the watch's design is a strong testament to its status as a top-of-the-line watch.
The reverse side of the watch is covered in a hard rubber material to protect the watch's innards against sweat during workouts. Aesthetically, its not very appealing with four screws plainly visible. But functionally speaking, visible screws means easier self-maintenence. The area with the three circles and metal connectors serves as the port for syncing data from the watch to a computer. and the battery cover is plainly visible in the middle.
Shown above is the backside of the X6HRT's flip lock strap connector. the construction of the strap connector features a lock pin that goes through two layers of metal before locking in place for maximum watch security and stability.
The watch is by no means thin, as this shot of its side profile shows, but 1.4 centimeters at its thickest point is more than reasonable for all the features that the X6HRT packs. For its size, this is a watch that I wouldn't hesitate to wear casually as well as during exercise. And in case you're curious, that circular metal thing with the holes in it measures temperature and air pressure.
Looks aside, the X6HRT is teeming with features, many of which I had to play with in order to understand. And after messing with it for a week, I still haven't fully taken advantage of all its capabilities yet. There are five main modes: time, chrono, hiking, weather, and compass. Each mode features its own settings and menus and submenues, so getting around was cumbersome at first. But after a few hours of playing with the 5 buttons that control navigation, I could find my way around the menus smoothly.
Each mode is denoted by a small icon on the side of the
watch face (shown above), and the function you are currently accessing is
highlighted by a small black semi-circle. For example, in the picture
above the X6HRT is in "time" mode. You can also see from the picture that
the X6HRT's screen allows for three lines of large text. The contrast
isn't outstanding in the picture, but in real life the screen is crystal
clear and highly readable.
Time mode is kind of like the X6HRT's home base. Here you can glance at the time and date in the first two lines as well as alternate between day of week, secondary time and seconds in the third line. Its also in time mode that you can configure the watches settings under five submenues: general, units, alarm, time, and date. Controls such as enabling/disabling tones, icon configurations, and sensor calibration are under the general tab, while under units you can switch from imperial to metric measurements in respect to distance, pressure, and rate. It should be obvious what the alarm, time, and date functions are for.
Chrono mode is where users can access the heart rate computer. In this mode, the first two lines of text are altitude and time splits. Besides obvious chronograph functions like stop watch and time split abilities, the X6HRT can wireless transmit, display, and record heart rate information.
With a built in receiver, it connects to an included heart
rate strap to measure heart rate data in real time. You can check your
current heart rate at any time by glancing at the watch; it is displayed
on the third line. All of this data, including altitude as well as peak
heart rates are stored for later analysis. You can also set an alarm to go
off once your heart rate rises above a certain threshold.
Hiking mode displays rate of ascent/descent, altitude (in feet or meters), and a customizable third row that shows statistics such as altitude difference and cumulative ascent data. All of this information is saved in a logbook, which stores "cumulative ascents and descents, average ascent and descent rates, highest and lowest points, heart rate and specific marks you can set during the trip," according to Suunto. Your can configure and store up to twenty logbooks, each holding a maximum of 168 hours of data, before the X6HRT stops recording. Users can sync all of this information to their computers.
Then there is weather mode. In this screen, users can access a wealth of important information regarding their surrounding environmental conditions. The main screen displays the temperature (in Celsius or fahrenheit) and pressure (in hectopascals or mercury measure) for quick reference. Unfortunately, the Suunto menus says that for temperature measurements to be accurate, the watch has to be kept away from the body for 15 minutes. Their explanation, that your body temperature against the watch skews results, is reasonable, but the fact that getting a temperature reading requires removing the watch for a quarter of an hour is frustrating. Also in weather mode is an alarm capability that will set off the X6HRT's alarm if pressure drops below a certain point. Finally, the memory function records weather data for the last 48 hours and saves it for later viewing or syncing.
Lastly, Compass mode is where users can calibrate and utilize the X6HRT's built-in compass. You can configure the altitude and slope, as well as access a useful function that allows you to set checkpoints and then track back to them later via compass. Calibrating the compass is easy; all it involves is rotating the watch on a fixed plane (essentially standing in place and turning around in a circle while holding the watch) until it is satisfied that it has its bearings right. However, keep in mind that activating compass mode will disrupt heart rate reception.
One of the main selling points of the X6HRT however, comes from Suunto's data analysis software, the "Suunto Activity Manager." Installation was quick, and dumping all of my data onto my PC was smooth.
Just connect the sync cable and in minutes you'll be looking at data being dumped onto your computer. This data includes heart rate information, statistics stored in logbooks, altitude, rates, and just in general a bunch of recorded numbers that the activity manager reads and projects into graphs. You can see your heart rate increase and decrease in correlation to altitude, as well as analyze peak rates and elapsed time. Unfortunately, the software is marred by a functional but spartan interface, something that has plagued Suunto products for some time. If anything, a better program design that's more appealing and user-friendly would make the whole experience of uploading and analyzing data a lot less tedious.
Software complaints aside, the X6HRT is one of the most
feature-rich and durable watches I've ever owned. The titanium casing is
honestly one of the most weather and shock resistant housings Suunto has
made so far. I've wiped out mountain biking and crashed it into rocks,
accidentally bumped it against heavy objects, and knocked it up against
pavement. And it still remains in perfect working condition. Yeah the
mineral glass has sustained two hairline scratches, but considering all
the abuse its been through, that is an accomplishment in itself. There are
so many things this watch can do, and this review just doesn't do justice
to all the features and abilities the X6HRT is capable of. If you are
serious about hiking, bicycling, running, skiing, swimming, camping, or
(even better) all of these activities at once, then Suunto's X6HRT is,
without a doubt, the best sports watch you can get for a cool $1,000 out
of your pocketbook.
SLCentral Verdict: 9.5/10
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