Although not as advanced as the last year’s Garmin Forerunner 620 GPS running coach, the 2014 Suunto Ambit2 R makes quite a strong impression featuring a well-balanced list of functions designed for beginners and intermediate-level runners that don’t really need all the extra functions usually requested by professional athletes.
The watch looks almost exactly like their earlier Ambit2 S “flagship” model that was released last spring and the electronic module that powers it is also the same. However, some of its functions were disabled in order to make a less versatile model, which is focused primarily on running and, perhaps, walking. If you planned to also use it for biking and swimming, you would probably be quite disappointed with its list of functions.
However, if you simply want to get your waist and hips ready for the Summer and are going to limit your training to a mile or two around your nearest lake or a forest, this specimen really looks like a more adequate choice.
First of all, it is plain more affordable. Starting at just $249 (add $50 more for a heart rate monitor band), the watch can be personalized with a number of Suunto proprietary applications that will allow you to use it as a moderately handy interval training tool. It will also make running more fun thanks to its “Ghost runner” app that lets you race against an imaginary competitor: a thing that would really be welcomed by people like me that get bored quite quickly.
Since the watch is also equipped with a GPS module, it also makes life a lot easier for those members of the Golden Mile Club that often find themselves in completely unknown cities, but don’t really want to break their habits: just download a map from Movescount.com and you are set.
Another nice thing about this gadget is that it uses its own accelerometer to estimate your running cadence (and thus the efficiency of your training), which basically means that you don’t need foot pads any more to get the data.
Most probably, you won’t be impressed with its low-resolution dial: compared to most modern “smart” watches it looks archaic at best, but it still does the job: all the information that is displayed on the LCD screen is clearly visible and easily readable thanks to large numerals and easy to understand pictograms. There is also a dedicated backlight push-piece at 4 o’clock for those who prefer to do their running at nights.
Although this is clearly not a fashion accessory, it is still a pleasure to note that the watch looks quite nice. While many Japanese timekeepers of the same class often look like artifacts designed for a B-class sci-fi movie, this one makes an impression of a very well-designed object. I am not sure if I can call it ‘elegant’, but you clearly won’t be ashamed to be seen wearing this thing.
As usual, the watch is available only in two colors: black and white (pictured). The former is aimed for men and the latter with its softer and more comfortable silicone strap is clearly designed with ladies in mind.
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
Suunto Ambit2 R GPS Running specification
Price: $249 (plus $50 for a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) band)
Power reserve: 12 hours (with GPS activated)
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, FusedSpeed, running cadence, track-back and full navigation (downloadable routes), GPS
Available apps: Interval coach, Ghost runner, Running efficiency, High intensity intervals, Marathon time
Size: 50.00 mm
Case height: 15.50 mm
Weight: 70 g
Lug width: No data
Dial: LCD, monochrome
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Silicone band