[Editor's note: This is a guest post by Vanessa Clark. This review originally appeared in "Brainstorm" magazine, as the featured gadget for November 2017. A copy of the original article can be downloaded here.]
Finally, a sports watch/fitness tracker hybrid
I‘ve owned sports watches that work for me, but definitely aren't day-to-day accessories, mostly because they are big and ugly. And I've owned fitness trackers that do cool things, but never manage to stay on my wrist for more than a few days before irritating me, either by their judgey reminders to move, or because the band is incredibly uncomfortable.
But l think the Suunto Spartan Trainer might have cracked it as the perfect hybrid.
lt has most of the functionality of a sports watch, and a multi-sport watch at that. Despite its size, it is perfectly wearable as a day~to~day fitness tracker, with most of the tracking you need here too, as well as a decent battery life.
Functionality-wise, there are two big highlights for me. The watch has a built-in heart-rate monitor that takes a reading from your wrist, and not one of those ridiculous chest bands. This is becoming more common in sports watches and fitness trackers, but is still pretty
Second, when you are in training mode, say running, the watch has an auto stop/start function, based on how fast you are moving. No more half-tracked runs or hikes because you forget to restart your watch after a break!
Another tick in its favour is how fast it Iocks onto GPS before getting started.
The Suunto Spartan Trainer has a heap of exercise types to choose from, including triathlons, and some that are pretty obscure, for South Africa, anyway: cheerleadlng, American football or Telemark skiing, anyone? Small disclaimer: I'm not a swimmer or a cyclist, so I used the watch for road running, trail running and Pilates.
There are some oddities, like you can only set an exercise target by time, and not distance. And, if it alerts you when you hit certain milestones, such as 50% or 90%, they were very discreet and I missed them completely, which is a problem on an out-and-back run. However, the breadcrumb navigation functionality is pretty nifty for finding your way home after adventuring on trails or road running in a new area.
Finally, there are a lot of options packed into the watch, but it's still pretty easy to navigate through the menu system without breaking my ‘you shouldn't have to read the manual to get started‘ rule.
[The Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR starts at R3999 and can be bought here]
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