Both Suunto like Polar In the case of Polar the update was important because it received the new rest control functions and other training functions such as zone lock, but also added support for Galileo (and QZSS) and improvements in GPS reception.
Suunto was not far behind, especially Suunto 9 which included the new features of Suunto 5.
Given the coincidence of both updates and being all aware that both Suunto and Polar still had some work to do in this regard, I thought it was appropriate to review and make a comparison to see how they both perform after these updates.
In addition, the day I took the test I was comparing the two versions of StrydThe one that was available until now and the new one that includes compensation algorithms for the wind.
To be able to do the tests in conditions I need two watches with native support for power and Bluetooth connection to sensors to make sure which is which when comparing data, because while in ANT+ we would simply receive the signal without knowing where it comes from, in Bluetooth I can block a particular signal. But that will be a topic for another day...
As a reminder of the situation they were in before, in the case of the Polar it was almost always the same problem. There were no major faults in the position, but it was common for it to be distracted at one point and, instead of returning to the correct route, it remained in the error for a while.
For example, in this case with the Vantage you can see what I'm talking about.
The watch has been misplaced at the location, but has remained in error for many, many meters. It is normal for the location to fail slightly in a single point, but you should quickly return to the correct location instead of marking a line parallel to the rest of the watches.
The Suunto did encounter occasional errors, but they quickly returned to the right path, although they did repeat that error quite a few times.
But let's stop talking about the past and get back to the present. I did the test in my usual training area, trying to mix a little bit of everything (although there was no lush forest area). I didn't do the comparison directly after the update, but I had previously used both during a one and a half hour bike training, to make sure that in both cases they arrived at the test in the right conditions.
In addition to wearing the Polar Vantage M and the Suunto 9I was accompanied by the Garmin Forerunner 945 and the Forerunner 935The FR945 uses the same GNSS chipset as Polar and Suunto so it's very interesting to see the performance it is able to give, while the FR935 uses the old Mediatek with more battery consumption, but much more work behind its back. So the test promises.
As usual in the distant view, there is usually no problem, which is a good sign. Only one green line can be seen above the others, which in this case corresponds to FR945.
But let's start zooming in. This is the beginning of the training. There's a first zone I've pointed out, with the graph corresponding to FR945, where it's the only one that's off course. The other three go to the millimetre.
Later on I have pointed out another area where there are two other tracks marked that correspond to the two Garmin. The two that mark the correct route? The Polar and the Suunto.
In this area both clocks behave very well given the circumstances, as I'm running between buildings of average height (about 6 floors), which makes it difficult to receive the signal.
Later on, the FR945 continues to make mistakes, constantly deviating from the real route while the other three clocks remain practically impassable. This section should be very simple as it is done next to the motorway, in an area of gardens and with nothing to make signal reception difficult. And yet the FR945 encounters problems...
But the hard part comes when you enter Puerto Banus. Narrower streets running alongside buildings and quicker turns in difficult reception areas.
In this case I have tried to draw approximately the path I followed to reach the square, cross it and the entrance to the port area.
You can see how the FR945 follows completely at its own pace during this whole section. In the street that ends in the square the Suunto 9 and the FR935 also suffer, although before reaching the most open area they are already in tune with the Polar which, in this section, has an almost perfect behaviour.
When it is time to cross the street again, it is both the Polar and the Suunto that best represent the route. FR935 climbs a little above the buildings while FR945, which is still lost, takes the wrong sidewalk.
The entrance to the harbour jetty is a good opportunity to see the performance in a totally open area. None of the four watches disappoint.
There are 4 charts per direction, 8 in total (round trip) and there is none that stands out above the other.
The way back is through the promenade, which is still a fairly easy area with good satellite reception. There is not much to highlight in that area, at least until you get to this point.
This is the first point where both Polar and Suunto are slightly lost. By the way, it is worth noting that both Garmin wore them on their wrist and left hand, while Polar and Suunto were on the right, so it is normal that you almost always see a slight shift between these graphs. However, in this case the separation from the real route is somewhat greater, around a couple of meters. I do not think it is important, but I like to highlight it.
Later on I do another test: walking to see the performance at very low speeds.
It is usually a problem to find problems with very low speeds, but in this case there has been no incidence from any of the testers.
Similarly in this other area where I was doing specific tests with the Stryd, I don't see anything important to report either.
Of course it is not perfect, as I say it will never be because it is not a precision instrument, but you can see improvements in the graphics of both the Suunto and especially the Polar.
In fact, the worst performer in this comparison was the Garmin Forerunner 945. For much of the training it was quite lost, at least until the middle of the session, but both Suunto 9 and Polar Vantage M performed almost flawlessly, as did the FR935.
This is saying a lot because the 935, being already a veteran model with the old (and more worked) chipset, we already knew it had a very good performance. Putting both Suunto and Polar at the same level is very positive for both of them and, without any doubt, a sign that the work they have done at Polar and Suunto (and of course at Sony) has been very positive.
Those of you who have updated your watches will be able to count the improvements you have seen, and if in your cases the tracks have been as positive as in mine. And thanks for reading!