First Look: Suunto 'Ambit 2' for multisport market

The original Ambit watch from Suunto, which we reviewed in detail here, was dubbed the “GPS watch for explorers.” This week, Suunto expands the Ambit line and opens it up beyond the outdoor-explorer set to triathletes and other multisport athletes with a substantial set of new and upgraded features (see bullet list on page 2).

At a demo event in Boulder, Colo., last week, GearJunkie got a first look at these second-generation Ambit GPS watches, the Ambit2 and Ambit2 S. This article is an exclusive and the first detailed report on the watches, which will be for sale soon on Suunto.com.

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Ambit2 S on the wrist

Like their predecessor, the new Ambits ain’t cheap — $399 gets you in the door (Ambit2 S), and the Ambit2 is $499. The line tops out at $599 for a special-edition “Sapphire” Ambit2 model.

But for that budget you get a solid “wrist-top computer” that records, tracks, analyzes, and interprets your motion through space and time, be it on a bike, run, swimming, or climbing a peak.

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Built tough with rugged strap and water- and impact-resistant case

I got to test the Ambit2 S in a snowstorm last Monday. Black clouds over Boulder blew torrents and blasted ice and snow during a freak spring storm. I suited up anyway and clipped into a road bike for an hour-long ride.

My hands froze but the watch worked fine. A couple button presses, a few seconds pause for a GPS signal to catch, and the watch was synced to a satellite and ready to rock.

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Post bike ride in a snowstorm… the author (left) and another tester at Boulder, Colo., demo event

Sleek and handsome on the wrist, the Ambit2 does not look like it’d have the capability to connect with roaming satellites in outer space. But indeed as I pedaled uphill in Boulder the watch displayed in real time my speed and recorded my route so accurately that every minor turn would be revealed online on a map.

The bike was not equipped with a power meter to measure my output. Too bad, as the Ambit2 can interface via the ANT+ wireless protocol with a power meter to display a rider’s output in watts. This is a first for an “everyday form factor” sports watch, according to Markus Kemetter, a product designer and manager from Suunto as well as an experienced triathlete.

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Select “Exercise” to enter sport modes

“This is the best watch in the world for a triathlete,” he told me in an interview. Of course, Kemetter is biased. But he has lived and breathed the Ambit and seen it from concept in 2009 to its first iteration (2012) to the new multisport-oriented version this year.

(An aside: Kemetter has completed 17 Ironman Triathlons, so we tend to trust his judgment when talking about tri, be it watches or other gear!)

A handful of items beyond bike power display make the new watch unique, including…

specs and details on next page >>

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