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Color Name: Black Flame | Size Name: One Size
The Suunto t6d has all the capabilities of my high-end Polar Heart Rate Monitor (an old, now-discontinued Polar S625X). But right off the bat, I will point out a couple of its limitations, which may or may not be a deal breaker for you:
(1) It doesn't support GPS Mapping (like some models from Polar and Garmin)
Suunto does have a GPS pod, but the pod is used for calculating distance/speed/pace. It has no GPS Mapping capability (i.e. you can't display your route on, say, Google Maps).
(2) It doesn't monitor the length of your stride or running cadence (like some models from Polar).
Suunto has a cadence pod, but it's used for cycling cadence, not for running cadence (gait).
With that said, I do find this watch an indispensable tool for my training runs. It monitors and displays, in real time:
o Heart Rate
o Stop Watch, Lap Time (to the nearest 1/100th of a second)
o Altitude, Ascent, Decent
o Pace (minutes per mile)
o Speed (miles per hour)
o Average Speed
o Calories Burned
o VO2 Max, or Maximal Oxygen Consumption (in ml/min/Kg)
o EPOC, or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption
o Training Effect (an indicator, from a scale of 1-5, of how hard you're training)
All this data can be downloaded to your computer with the provided link cable for analysis.
* Note: Distance, Pace, Speed, and Average Speed readings require the use of a Foot Pod, which is sold separately.
-- Pros --
- Intuitive User Interface
The watch has an intuitive user interface that allows you to easily change the units (miles vs. Km, °F vs. °C), set the base elevation, calibrate the Foot Pod, select the data (stop watch, distance, etc.) to be displayed, and perform other functions.
- Easy Data Transfer
The provided cable allows you to easily transfer your data from the watch to your computer.
- Fairly Accurate Distance Readings
Using the Google Maps Measure Tool, I have determined, after calibration, that this watch has an accuracy of +- 500 feet on my 6-mile circuit.
- Reliable Suunto Dual Comfort Belt (Heart Rate Transmitter)
In the 6 months that I've used the t6d (for 3-4 runs a week), the watch has never lost its connection to the heart rate transmitter in the middle of a run. (The foot pod is equally reliable.)
- Customizable Display
The layout of the watch is divided into 3 rows (the last row is a little hard to read when you're on the run). The 3rd row allows you to cycle through a limited set of readings that's dependent on the Display Mode you're in.
You can set the watch to any of 3 display modes.
Display Mode (1)
Row 1: Date
Row 2: Time
Row 3: (Allows you to cycle through on-the-fly (i) Day of Week, (ii) Seconds, (iii) Dual Time, and (iv) Altitude)
Display Mode (2)
Row 1: Time (Customizable in Settings)
Row 2: Heart Rate (Customizable in Settings)
Row 3: (Allows you to cycle through on-the-fly (i) Average Heart Rate, (ii) Calories, EPOC, (iii) Lap Time, (iv) Training Effect)
Display Mode (3)
Row 1: Distance (Customizable in Settings)
Row 2: Speed (Customizable in Settings)
Row 3: (Allows you to cycle through on-the-fly (i) Altitude, (ii) Ascent, (iii) Average Speed, (iv) Time, (v) Descent)
The first two rows in Display Modes (2) and (3) listed above are customizable in Settings (you have to wade through a few menus in Settings). Each row can be set to display altitude, ascent, avg HR, avg spd, cadence, calories, chrono, day time, descent, distance, empty, EPOC, HR, lap, lap dist, lap spd, lap time, max spd, speed, TE, temp, or vert spd. Thanks to baf10 for leaving a comment to point this out! (Note: The "cadence" is for cycling, not running. An optional cadence pod is required.)
("TE" stands for Training Effect. It is an indicator on a scale of 1-5 of how hard you're training [1 indicates a low intensity workout, and 5 indicates a high intensity workout]. "EPOC" stands for Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption -- Google "wiki:Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption" (omit quotes) and click on the first link in the search results for an in-depth explanation on Wikipedia.)
-- Cons --
- Flickering / Dim Light
It has been mentioned, ad nauseum, that there are a couple of problems with the Light function. (i) The light is not bright enough and (ii) the light flickers when (and only when) the stop watch is running. These problems make it *very difficult* to make out the smaller readings on the 3rd row in pre-dawn or post-dusk hours.
- No Sensors For Running Cadence or Stride Length
This watch does not monitor either running cadence or stride length. (Running cadence measures the number of strides you take per minute.)
- Limited Functionality on the GPS Pod Accessory
The GPS Pod (sold separately) is used in conjunction with the watch to measure distances only; it does NOT transmit GPS coordinates to your watch. Unlike some Polar and Garmin HRM models, none of the Suunto Heart Rate Monitors have mapping capability, which allows the recorded route to be displayed on a map.
- No ANT+
This watch supports ANT, but not ANT+ (ANT Plus). ANT is the protocol for wireless communication between devices. A newer protocol, called ANT+, allows interoperability among devices from different manufacturers that use the ANT+ protocol.
This watch will thus only work with other Suunto devices that support the ANT protocol, not with transmitters from other manufacturers such as Polar and Garmin. (For more information on ANT and ANT+, see the "thisisant" site.)
- Discontinued Training Manager Software
The proprietary Training Manager (for PC) that used to come with the package has been discontinued. Suunto now charges for its running analysis software (called Firstbeat Athlete). You can, however, upload your data to the Suunto movescount site (which is, thankfully, free) for analyzing your running data. (You can also export your data to a text file and import them into a third party software.)
In summary: I find this an indispensable training tool for monitoring my progress and for keeping me motivated. For the most part, I have no regrets about getting this watch. Personally, my main complaint is the flickering/dim light function. Other problems/limitations worth re-mentioning here are (i) the watch doesn't monitor your stride or running cadence, (ii) it doesn't have GPS mapping, and (iii) it supports only the ANT protocol, NOT the ANT+ (ANT Plus) protocol.
There you have it. Would I recommend it over the Polar or Garmin? That's a tough call. It all depends on your personal decision on what features are important for you. In any case, I hope this review is useful for helping you make an educated decision on whether the Suunto t6d Heart Rate Monitor is right for you.
I had to replace the battery after six months (with a brand new Energizer CR2032 battery), but after I replaced the battery, the low battery indicator persisted. A search on the Internet shows this to be a rather common problem for some users. I disregarded the low battery indicator, and two months later, it simply went away. This glitch is a mere annoyance and doesn't affect the functionality of the watch.