It is MCO 3.0 and we put the Suunto 9 Peak sports watch to the test – within SOP of course – and see how it stands up to the demands of a fitness dilettante.
Public parks are off limits and any outdoor exercise must be performed within your own residential neighbourhood. Being a law-abiding citizen, I am unable to wear it out to anywhere beyond the leafy suburb of Ara Damansara where I reside. Yet with stern restrictions in place, I am bent on putting the Suunto 9 Peak sports watch to the test for a fair review.
From the brochure, Suunto 9 Peak is touted to be the thinnest, most powerful rendition in the company’s history. Apart from an ultra-thin and elegant design, the watch supports over-the-air software updates, up to 170 hours of GPS battery life and blood oxygen measurement. So how does it fare in real life?
Setting up is a walk in the park
I have had the watch for two weeks. It was delivered in a small box housing the watch and a magnetic clip-on charger. Setting up was a breeze, involving keying in my physical attributes. When I was prompted to pair the watch with my phone, I downloaded the Suunto app from Google Play.
Thereafter was a straightforward process of signing up for an account and voila! From fishing the watch out from the box to pairing both devices via Bluetooth took a mere minute, without any hiccups that you might expect to encounter as is the case with some other smartwatches or fitness bands.
As smartwatches evolve to be feature laden, often they are saddled with a convoluted user interface, based on my own experience. While Suunto 9 Peak is equipped with some modern functions like notification alerts, it is foremost a fitness watch and it plays that role competently. It is this intuitive, logical facet that has grown on me. You don’t need a YouTube tutorial to unravel its features.
Introducing the casual user
I am hardly a hardcore fitness enthusiast who runs 10km every day without fail, obliterates the 4-minute per kilometre mark and participates in a half-marathon every weekend; what I am is a relatively robust person who runs 5km every couple of days, lift weights and have an above average VO2 max. On top of that, I don’t require a sports watch 24/7. There are complementary watches for other occasions and purposes.
And so, this review will detail how the watch fits into my routine during lockdown, consisting of a mix of outdoor running, stair climbing and home workout.
To get into its fitness offering takes only a single swipe. You can choose from a healthy range of activities including yoga, swimming, cycling and the likes, but the one that I have been using frequently is running.
By default, it tracks by each kilometre. When you are past the 1km mark, the watch sends a faint vibration to your wrist. You can switch up the measures – for example, if you are doing shuttle runs or short bursts of 100m in succession – but I didn’t find it to be necessary.
GPS works like a charm
For outdoor running, the GPS tracker takes several seconds to lock on, affording me a brief moment to stretch my legs. Once it has synced with the humongous dish up in the skies, the watch is unbelievably accurate in collecting data and feeding you the information on the exact route you embark on, down to the minutiae such as the elevation.
Details such as the pace, heart rates, calories expended and more are present on the watch. But Suunto 9 Peak doesn’t inundate you by overloading the main screen, instead details such as the breakdown per lap are displayed after a swipe or two when you deliberately look for it.
If you have a tendency to bounce between running and walking, Suunto 9 Peak detects the change automatically, even if you have set your activity to running. That pleasant surprise is one I didn’t expect.
Sans the GPS signal, Suunto 9 Peak is still a miracle worker
If you know anything about the GPS, it is that it functions well in vast, open spaces. If there is a roof or several storeys of concrete over your head, the GPS signal won’t be detected, thus rendering it a dearth.
As someone who enjoys ascending stairs as an efficient way to burn calories, Suunto 9 Peak despite not being able to lock onto GPS signals still impresses with its pinpoint accuracy. Apart from the distance, pace, heart rates, calories burnt and steps, which are fairly customary, it records the highest and lowest elevations reached, vertical speeds, and duration spent on ascent. This, I believe, is useful on hikes through lush tropical jungles where the GPS signal may get erratic at times.
It caters to both pros and dilettantes
The Suunto app presents a breadth of rich information in fascinating depth. While only occasionally I find myself inquisitively comparing the data of different days, it is reassuring to know that what a casual user might treat as a bonus also proficiently caters to elite athletes.
The watch not only keeps you abreast while you are sweating it out, you can wear it to sleep. I have only done so on a couple of nights out of obligation to observe how well it does. If polysomnography piques your interest, you can pre-set the duration, the time you expect to lie down and wake up. The watch furnishes you with a report the next morning that includes the duration of deep sleep. Meanwhile, I have long reached the conclusion that I will never have enough sleep.
Comfort is key
How a watch feels on the wrist is a crucial consideration for anyone. There is no reason for me to discount Suunto 9 Peak from a perfect score. It is uber-comfortable. The rubber band is smooth, soft yet well-constructed that in no way feels abrasive. Because the case is made of titanium, the watch is oh-so-light and doesn’t feel like you are carrying a mini dumbbell while motioning your arm on an extended run.
Famous last words
I haven’t found the need to wear the watch unless I am out to physically exert myself, which consumes about an hour in the evening. Suunto 9 Peak has a remarkable battery longevity – it lasts me over a week on a single charge. When it is close to depletion, I can plug it into the laptop USB port to recharge. By the time I am out of the shower, it is almost fully replenished.
Just as important, not once did the watch fail to save or freeze during the review period.
Suunto 9 Peak is available in two different styles with four nature inspired colours: Granite Blue Titanium and Birch White Titanium, made with sapphire glass and grade 5 titanium (RM3,199) and All Black and Moss Gray, made with sapphire glass and stainless steel (RM2,799).
All images by Suunto