I wrote about how I was considering getting a new watch, and a while back I actually put that into action and got a Suunto 9 Baro. I wanted to try something not Garmin to have a more reliable point of view.

Getting the Suunto 9 Baro up and running wasn’t hard, but it wasn’t seamless either. I paired the device with my phone before installing the Suunto app, after which the app wasn’t able to “pair” with it. I had to unpair the smartwatch once and redo it from the app. Weird stuff.

It’s a very different beast from the Garmin Instinct. First of all, it’s much bigger, but I don’t think it’s too heavy or so big as to get in the way. It’s a full-fledged smartwatch with a touchscreen, so my first thing to do was to get a protective film so the glass doesn’t get all scratchy and/or smudgy. It also means that it can show notifications and stuff, which can get pretty noisy if there are too many. Of course it can be configured, but it has to be configured.

The controls took some getting used to as well, mostly because there’s a touchscreen as well as three buttons and I had to push and swipe everything to figure out what reacts how. I don’t know if I missed or dismissed the tutorial if there was one at all…

One of my big issues with the Instinct was that its heartrate readings were absolutely unreliable even in supposedly ideal conditions. The Suunto 9 Baro does much better in this sense: in the week and half I’ve been using it, it produced reliable readings (except for a longer run in the cold). It’s nice to know how I’m actually performing (or close enough) during a hike. The location precision is pretty good on default settings too (it can be tweaked to conserve battery).

The thing that took the longest to figure out was the web UI. While there is a nice mobile app, I prefer to use my computer to check out the details of workouts afterwards. I couldn’t find a “Suunto web” app yet, but there is Sports Tracker. I could log in with my Suunto app credentials, so I guess it is a Suunto service even if it’s not branded much. It has most of what I need at point so no complaints there.