I took the new Suunto X10 on a trip to Portalón, Costa Rica. The trip was one one-part real estate recon and one-part adventure travel. The watch was useful for both. For the adventure travel part of the trip, I traveled on horseback through the rain forest near Manuel Antonio National Park. It was the perfect place to run the watch through the paces. What follows is a review of this watch with pictures of the Google Earth integration. This Fall Suunto debuted their new flagship GPS product – the X10. The X10 is the replacement for the X9i. This is proo positive that GPS technology has come a long way in a short time. It is now commonplace in the lives of so many people, and Suunto is leading the way in the GPS watch segment. Just a few years ago, the GPS watches that were out there were expensive and the quality was poor.
Suunto X10 Specs:
1. GPS Route Planning
2. 50 Routes, 500 Waypoints
3. Syncs with powerful Suunto Trek Manager Software as well as Google Earth
4. Altimeter, Barometer, Compass
TEST 1: Accuracy
Could it acquire and maintain a good satellite connection? Would this connection be compromised by the dense cover in the rainforest? I must tell you, it did not disappoint. I was able to maintain a good connection throughout my entire ride. There are three modes that determine how often the watch seeks a GPS satellite signal: Manual, 1 minute, and 1 second. Battery life is reduced correspondingly. The owner’s manual estimates a battery life of 16 hours, and 6 hours for 10 minutes and 1 minute respectively. I operated in both modes repeatedly and battery life exceeded these limits by 20% or more in all cases.
TEST 2: Interoperability
My favorite feature, by far, is the interconnection with Google Earth. The process was a super-easy, plug-and-play interface. With the press of a button, my entire trip was uploaded from the watch into Google Earth. See below. Aside from the map data, the watch also maintained time series data on speed, elevation change, distance traveled, etc. Any feasible data relating to my trip was captured and available through the Suunto Trek Manager software. This is, by far, Suunto’s best attempt at software design.
A GPS wrist top computer has traditionally been a tool used by mountaineers. The X 10 has taken a large technological leap that brings it well within the realm of the casual fan of any outdoor activity: cyclists, trail runners, kayakers…the list goes on. The Google Earth interface makes it extremely easy to share via email, facebook, or your own personal blog or website. User-populated sites such as Mapmyhike/mapmyride/mapmyrun etc. are the perfect venue for these new Google Earth files. Information such as topographical data as well as distance, and elevation gain becomes easy and fun to share with others. Ohh, and don’t just take our word for it, this watch won the Gear of the Year Award by National Geographic Adventure.
Check out the pictures below for GPS maps of the trek — pretty cool!