April 9, 2009

Suunto GPS pod - first run - not so good

Few days ago I saw a good deal on Suunto GPS pod on Amazon and decided to test it out. It arrived last week on Friday, but I did not get to test it until today. Well I could have tested it during the Brandywine Duathlon, but I did not want to use new equipment for the first time in the race. Probably good I decided not to do it.

I actually did a pseudo test with the Suunto T6c + GPS pod and Polar RS800cx + G3 on the day I received the GPS pod. But it was not a real training test. What I did was to put both GPS units in my car and then measure the distance from my house to meeting place with few friends. The result was pretty good - the distance came to about 0.08 difference over 26 miles. Not bad. What I did not look at was the speed reported by the unit during the drive - I had to pay attention to where I was driving.

Today was the first real test of the GPS pod with T6c in an easy recovery run. Plan was to run at 8:30 - 9:40 pace for about 20-25 minutes. Easy enough to pay attention to what the GPS unit does and how well it reports the instantaneous pace. I started the GPS pod inside the house and set it by the window until it acquired the signal and then I walked out of the door. The GPS pod blinked like mad so I assumed it lost connection and I stopped for about 30 second and let it get satellite lock again. When the blinking slowed down I started moving again. The pace was all over the place and quite often I lost connection and the pace was showing -:--/min which is not very useful. On top of this the first 4 minutes the comfort belt rebelled and locked my HR at 180 beats which is quite impossible for me since my max is about 8 beats lower. After the run I looked at the exercise file and was not surprised to see this:

Suunto GPS pod.jpg

The top graph is HR, middle line is EPOC and the third line is the pace. It is really a sad picture. I looks like the GPS pod was either losing connection to the satellites or to the watch. I do not really know what was happening, but most of the time my pace was showing -:--/min which does not really tell you whether the satellite lock is gone or the connection to the watch.

If there is a GPS pod user out there that has working GPS pod I would want to know how you use it. E.g. how long do you want before you start moving? Are you wearing the pod on your arm? Same arm as watch or it does not matter? Any other hints will be appreciated. If I can not sort this out over the next few days I'll just pack the unit and send it back to Amazon for refund.


UCLA Black Guy said...

I have had a number of problems with the Suunto GPS pod. I absolutely love my t6c (which I bought in part thanks to your review), however the GPS pod is erratic. It does drop the signal and then when it reconnects I think it calculates the distance between where you were when it dropped and where you are now so you'll never get an accurate pace. Some times it won't connect to the watch at all and I have to take the batteries out. Lately I've found that waiting 5 minutes under open skies helps it connect to the satellites. However they outsourced the creation of this product to did a horrible job. I wish the Suunto watch had the Garmin type GPS built in, but alas why dream.

kxux said...

Maybe they will get the X10 and T6c cross-bread one day. That would be a good watch. The only issue would be the battery capacity - similar to what most Garmin users are used to - frequent charging...

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing your experience...I have a T3 with a foot pod and am considering getting the GPS POD to measure my paddling speed.. but from what I read on the web, the Suunto GPS unit is quite poor and does not allow for constant accurate speed measurements... did you find a solution since ? please let me know.. pendulumcc at yahoo dot co dot uk

Peter said...

I have exactly the same problems, loss of signal and bad connects, on the other hand the foot pod does the same job, it just can't measure the speed when skiing :-)

Anonymous said...

i have the exact same problem jogging in a city park... any body know if this is just the first run problem? or do i need to exchange it for the foot pod?

kxux said...

I have returned mine after few runs. It was very unreliable piece of equipment compared to what you can get for the same price - I just recently got Garmin FR 405 for 180 bucks which is only 50 bucks more than the GPS pod from Suunto. Anyways the foot pod will be better solution if you want to stick with T6c.

Anonymous said...

I bought my T3c + GPS Pod just a few weeks ago. The T3c seems to work quite nice, though it seems to lose connection to the heart belt every now and then. But the GPS is really frustrating piece of garpage.

Just got home from 1,5hour biking. The gps has been working for only the first 1 minute. After that, nothing.

Luckily I had my GPS phone activated. That one worked as a dream.

rgs, harpal