Suunto – Spartan Trainer

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While we were waiting for the announcement of the Suunto Spartan Sports Wrist HR another Suunto watch the Suunto Spartan Trainer has shown up and went on presale.
A few shops started presale on 21 okt 2016 but as of  today 1 nov 2016 all have their presale pages blanked, closed or removed. First watch according to Sunnto will still be the Suunto Spartan Sports Wrist HR which is still to be announced before Christmas 2016.

Quote : New Suunto Spartan Sport models featuring wrist HR measurement will be introduced for Christmas.

Suunto Spartan Trainer

Details

Suunto Spartan Trainer is a versatile GPS sports watch for people who lead a healthy and active lifestyle. Featuring convenient and accurate wrist heart rate, the Trainer also tracks your daily activity with calories and steps.
The Spartan Trainer is the lightest and slimmest of the Spartan collection and is ready to train how you want – whether you swim, hit the gym or run trails.
Spartan trainer’s comfortable fit makes it your natural partner as you reach towards new goals every day.

Specs

  • Battery life up to 8H in training mode, 10 days in time mode
  • Wrist HR measurement and 24/7 activity tracking
  • Slim & lightweight design with 50 meter water resistance
  • Integrated GPS with real-time breadcrumb view
  • Sport-specific training modes for triathlon, running, and overall training
  • Rechargeable 300mAh lithium-ion battery

Suunto Spartan Trainer

  •  Suunto Spartan Trainer Black Wrist HR – SS022668000 ($269)
  •  Suunto Spartan Trainer White Wrist HR – SS022669000 ($289)
  •  Suunto Spartan Trainer Mint Wrist HR – SS022670000 ($289)
  •  Suunto Spartan Trainer Coral Wrist HR -SS022671000 ($289)

Suunto Spartan Solution

The Suunto Spartan solution for athletic and adventure multisport comprises of Suunto Spartan GPS watches, renewed Suunto Movescount.com and mobile smart phone application for iPhone & Android.

The Suunto Spartan solution will continue to develop in the coming months

  • Suunto Spartan Ultra – The GPS watch for athletic and adventure multisport
  • Suunto Spartan Sport- The GPS watch for athletic multisport
  • Suunto Spartan Trainer – The GPS watch for healthy and active lifestyle.
  • Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR – tba ?

Best part of this watch will be the start price: $269,- (black)
This watch will have a far better value for money than the Suunto Spartan Ultra.

For that price you will receive a multi sports watch with optical HR.

Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR?

Suunto still has the quote on their website about the Suunto Spartan Sport models featuring wrist HR measurement.  I don’t know (anymore) if this has been renamed  to the Trainer or if they will release another watch with wrist HR. There could be a few differences between the two models like: Touchscreen, Barometer and Vibrating feedback but what would be the price?

update: 2 nov 2016 – The Trainer is definitely NOT the renamed the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR, which will still be released later. Suunto will have two watches in the Spartan series with wrist HR and two without.

Suunto Spartan Ultra – $699 / +HR $749 (Titanium $799 / +HR $849)
Suunto Spartan Sport – $549 / +HR $559
Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR – ???
Suunto Spartan Trainer (wrist HR) – $269 (black) / $289 (other)

If the Sport Wrist HR version would have the same price and functions as the current Sport version NO way i would buy the sport version over the Trainer version. Unless they really, really, really cripple the firmware in the Trainer version. But looking at the specification the Trainer has sport specific training modes like triathlon (=multi-sport) so my guess is that this will not be the case. All versions of the Spartan series support Suunto Movescount, the online sports community so no differences there.

Calling a watch “Trainer” is NOT something without reasons, it doesn’t mean it’s a lover version of a “Race” watch. No it’s the opposite, for training you need schedules and training programs together with perfect registration to analyze your training to get better. Because it supports multi-sports training it needs to connect and support every part of a training, meaning connection to external sensors like footpod, speed, cadence and powermeters. For swimming this means full use of internal sensors to calculate speed, distance and stroke and type. For the race the hard work is done and perfect registration is the only thing a watch can do.

As for the Suunto Spartan Trainer it looks like the watch to get! too bad i missed the presale :-(. It may take a short while in getting all out of the watch as Suunto seems to have slight delay in bringing the features to their newest watched but finally it will be all there.

For the first time i believe Suunto will force some others to respond. Specially Garmin who now sells the Forerunner 235 (running no multi-sport) for $329.99 and the “same” watch (different firmware) as Forerunner 735XT (running but multi-sport) for $449.99.

 

 

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Source: bhphotovideo / Gearcoop /  5krunner

Fenix 4, Alphabet

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When i was writing about the Fenix Descent, i noticed with the other Fenix 3 models in my mind many of them had an unique name.
I looked at the variants of the Fenix 3 released and came to a nice ABC of the Fenix 4 models Garmin could launch during the product live-cycle of the Fenix 4.

Approach – The Golf series currently exists of series G & ? (handheld) and  S & X (wearable/wrist)

Bravo – Bravo series, current models are the Tactix Bravo and D2 Bravo pilot watch

Chronos – The first one in the Fenix 4 series, a “premium” watch

Descent – A diving watch

Epix -a relaunch of the buggy classic “first-of-its-kind” Epix mapping watch with maps and touch?

Fenix 4 – The classic

Quatix – Designed for Water

While most of them would just need a different or more rugged housing (Descent). One of the units didn’t fit in the row.

The Epix!

I don’t know the sales of the current Epix but they could have been higher if Garmin stood behind the product. Better marketing and real firmware support with bug fixes would lead to more sales. The Fenix has a real good toolkit so using this for the Epix would give much easier maintenance and much better support.

Two big differences between the current Epix and a Fenix:

  1. Touchscreen

    While a touchscreen is no new feature for a Garmin watch, no version of the Fenix has received one, adding one is a relative easy job (see FR230 vs FR630).

  2. Memory

    Second is the memory, maps on a device need a fair amount of memory (Epix 8GB), semiconductors are getting smaller and smaller every year and with the current reduction of other components Garmin might squeeze in one of the latest ultra small eMMC memory IC’s which are available at much smaller sizes than the type used in the current Epix.
    A updated version of the current Chronos PCB is needed but this is a not a thing that would stop Garmin from doing so. They could save this for the major update planned after a year (like Fenix 3 vs Fenix 3HR) but it would no problem using the new same PCB in all the Fenix 4 versions, just with minimal or no hardware mounting changes (FR230 vs FR 630 and FR235 vs FR735)

Fenix M (Music Maestro)

When writing about the Fenix Epix i realized that once a Fenix with a large amount of flash would exist, it had tot sell.
Garmin would not be Garmin if they wouldn’t use the same hardware in a “different” product. A nice use for the gigabytes of space would be music storage, so to increase sales they would release the Fenix M. Add the audio player part (MP3 decoder) and let it stream to your Bluetooth headset.

Chronos, GPS finally done right?

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The biggest fault in the Fenix 3 in my eyes is the medium accuracy of the GPS. After the timing part of a sports watch, GPS is the second item which has to be perfect. Most watches nowadays have no problems with timing anymore. However GPS reception remains a big issue for most companies. Results from the past give no clue on how the quality and speed is in new or updated devices.

Garmin is no exception. Announced with big marketing slogans like “Omni-directional EXO™ stainless steel antenna” one would expect the best reception ever. This was the opposite, having had watches with better reception in the past the Fenix 3 clearly missed the boat. Garmin tried to improve reception by implementing various firmware updates to increase accuracy but updates like averaging and path prediction remain palliatives. Some tracks got better while other got worse, the real cause was not addressed.

After the Fenix came the Fenix 3 HR and all it’s offspring’s but the GPS remains unchanged.

Bringing out the Chronos first looked like yet another Fenix 3 but nothing is less true. Two years after the first Fenix 3, Garmin has made changes to the GPS reception part.
Not just small changes, no every item which has to do with the reception of GPS signals has been evaluated over and over again. The result is that every single item has been modified. Starting from the  EXO™ antenna al the way down to the micro controller.

I don’t know where the EXO™ antenna official starts and stops but the next list describes the mayor changes made in simple language.

  1. Redesigned EXO™ stainless steel bezel, screws moved to the bottom leaving a nice round bezel on top.
  2. Redesigned EXO™ “spacer” / real antenna. Inside the Chronos is the antenna which has the shape of a smile which someone once called the “spacer”
  3.  Antenna mounted on main PCB board. No big springs to make contact with the antenna, everything has made smaller which better controlled connections.
  4. Redesign of “1st stage” electronics to better match the antenna and receiver IC.
  5. Redesign of “2nd stage” electronics, receiver IC (MTK) with corresponding passives.
  6. EMC shielded compartment for “2nd stage” electronics. In the previous Fenix models this part was in the same shielded room as all the remaining electronics (processor, power supply, memory and other digital I/O chips)
  7. Second shielded main room for all the other electronics.
  8. Redesigned ANT+ / Bluetooth antenna which is on the other far end of the PCB so the influence on the GPS is minimal.

With al these changes (some of them back to the Fenix1/ 2 style)  it hope the real cause of the problem has been addressed and the Chronos will have a GPS performance which matches the expectations of the product, which is high end after all.

After all if the Chronos is perfect so will the Fenix 4 be.

Descent, Garmin’s next Fenix4 model?

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Descent, Garmin’s Dive watch ready to launch?

Short version

As seen in the Chronos there are changes which could be designed with a dive watch in mind. Reliability under water, water-tightness and accuracy needed to be changed.
In the Chronos the following diving related items have been changed compared with the Fenix 3.

  • Opening on the back side with 4 evenly placed screws (increased ATM)
  • New barometric module (increased accuracy )

Until launch you can decide which version will fit you best. The Descent or the Descent Titanium (But maybe they can already be found in your local WalMart near the Xiaomi Mi Box :-)) Bands: 26mm posts, the screws use a torx t6.

Long version

The information that Garmin was going to release a diving watch is not a big secret. Plans have been around for a long time. The development team “diving” worked close with the Fenix team and tests where made with the Fenix 3.

In the mean time (April-2015) divers discovered the Fenix 3 and its possibility to use Garmin Connect IQ to create a nice app. To be sure it was allowed they even asked Garmin for permission: “I talked to the ConnectIQ team, and a depth measurement app will be approved, they are quite relaxed on approving apps.”

A year later,  July 2016 the app was taken offline by the Garmin Connect IQ Team with the following reason:

“Thank you for submitting IQ Dive Computer to the Connect IQ store. Your app has generated a lot of interest at Garmin, but there are also concerns.

The fenix 3 series of devices were not designed as dive watches. For example the altimeter is not a suitable replacement for a true depth sensor and may relay inaccurate depths, and the buttons are not rated for high pressure button presses and may fail at depth. Because these can present safety-of-life issues, we have decided to remove your app from the store.

We typically try to encourage as much creativity and innovation in Connect IQ apps, and are reluctant to remove apps unless they contain offensive material or are subject to DMCA takedown. In addition, we know that you have time and effort invested in this app, so it is with our apologies that your app is removed.”

Strange but i sounds plausible.

October 2016,  On the Connect IQ forums there is a sticky topic with the next title:

Diving-related Apps

Garmin has been as permissive as possible when approving apps for inclusion on the Connect IQ app store. Aside from apps that contain offensive material or are subject to DMCA take-down requests, we’re happy to allow pretty much anything else that our app developers would like to share with the Garmin community.

Late last week, however, we decided that apps designed for scuba diving or free diving activities will no longer be approved on the app store (any existing apps supporting these activities will be removed).

The reason is straight-forward: we do not currently have any watches or devices that are designed for expressly for these purposes. While some of our devices have water ratings that allow for water sports activities, scuba diving and free diving are not currently suitable activities for our devices (see http://www.garmin.com/en-US/legal/waterrating). Garmin designs and tests its products for their intended use to ensure safe operation and a positive customer experience.

If you have developed or are currently developing apps to support these activities, we apologize and do not want to be a source of discouragement. You may still continue to build and distribute these apps as you wish outside of the Connect IQ app store, but until Garmin produces a device which explicitly supports scuba diving and free diving, we cannot allow diving apps to be placed on any Garmin affiliated app resource.



The original app

IQ Dive Computer

IQ Dive Computer is a Garmin IQ App for compatible Garmin watches that provides real-time decompression information. It computes and displays no-decompression time limits in real time, along with current depth and total immersion time. It also supports decompression dives. When no decompression times are exceeded, the app will begin to display and compute the decompression depth ceiling in real-time. The decompression algorithm is Buhlmann’s ZH-L16. A dive planning feature allows the diver to determine allowable bottom times at different depths based on current saturation levels.

Download it from www.diveiq.com

Garmin, Chronos the first Fenix4

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It looks like the recently released Garmin Fenix Chronos is NOT just another Fenix 3.

Looking at all information available on the Chronos, it seems they rebuilded the complete watch. In fact everything points to the direction of the Chronos being the first Fenix 4 to see the light.

What has changed:

Outer parts:

  • 180 degree rotated placement of USB connector. (left to right)
  • Reduced height of optical HR.
  • Reduced height of total unit. (due oHR and smaller battery)
  • No more screws on front, Accessibility of unit now from back.

Inner parts::

  • New optical HR. (taken from FR735)
  • New Rotated optical HR placement. (compared to Fenix3HR and FR735)
  • New (smaller) battery, only 180mAh. (taken from FR630)(previous 290mAh/300mAh)
  • New Faster uController with more memory, support Connect IQ 2.1.
  • New Display, 64  colors. (RGB222) (previous 16)
  • New EXO™ antenna.
  • New communication antenna (BT,ANT, (Wifi?))
  • New barometric module/PCB.
  • No Wifi. (Chronos only?)

Two versions of the Fenix 4 will be available at launch:

  1. the regular version (“plastic shell”)
  2. the steel version.