First Look: ‘Budget’ GPS Watch From Suunto (soon coming to market)

Suunto ramped up its presence in the athletic GPS watch market last year in a big way with Ambit2 S GPS training watch. (We even gave it a “Top Gear” of the year award for 2013.) With a solid build and a slew of features for endurance sports, the watch is a top-tier training device.

But all those features come with a cost — $350 of cost.

Last week, Suunto unveiled a new version of the Ambit, the Ambit2 R. We tried it out at a recent trade show.

The running-specific watch is a toned-down version of the Ambit2 S. With less features, it comes in at a much happier price of $250.

When it comes to market in March, the 2 R will be the brand’s least-expensive GPS watch. But despite the price cut, the Ambit2 R is still a full-feature unit with GPS and accelerometer to give pace, speed, cadence and distance.

Ambit2 R in black and white

Route navigation, heart-rate monitoring, training plans, and run-specific Suunto apps allow most of the utility of the pricier Ambit2 S.

What you are missing with the 2 R is the ability to toggle between multiple modes for events like triathlon.

While this will be a big deal to those who use a watch regularly on multi-sport events, people who generally only take on one sport at a time should get plenty of benefits from the new version.

Additionally, the 2 R will not pair with ANT+ cycling sensors. Serious riders will need to upgrade and pay the extra $100 for the 2 S.

What it does: The Suunto Ambit2 R is optimized for running. It provides speed and distance readings through a combination of GPS and accelerometer data from your wrist (Suunto calls this FUSEDSPEED).

It also measures running cadence, allows you to plan workouts, download complete training programs from Movescount.com, and set daily targets. It can be purchased with or without a Suunto heart-rate belt, which adds $50.

Navigation: GPS navigation features let you download routes from Movescount.com or simply select “Track-back” at any point during a run to record waypoints.

Made in: Finland

Apps: Much like the more expensive Ambit2 S, you can choose from the thousands of free apps in the App Zone on Movescount.com.

On display at Outdoor Retailer trade show; Ambit 2 R comes to market this spring

What it won’t do: The main disadvantage of the 2 R when compared with the 2 S is in triathlons and other multisport situations. The 2 R can only run a single sport mode at any given time. The 2 S can run multiple activities and can toggle between them with the push of a button. As noted above, it also will not pair with ANT+ cycling sensors.

Ultimately, the Ambit2 R should be a great training tool for those who don’t need or want the few added features of the 2 S.

While the multi-sport functions of the 2 S are helpful in some situations, most athletes, especially those on a budget, will be pleased with the simplicity, usefulness and price of the Ambit2 R.

—Sean McCoy

tagged: #firstlook

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Managing Editor Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in Denver, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.

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