M Suunto X9 Review
by Alan Dixon
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Article Summary:OVERVIEW: At 2.7 ounces (75.6 g) and wrist wearable the Suunto X9 GPS Watch may be the lightest, most compact and most easily carried GPS receiver on the market. In the hands of an experienced navigator who is comfortable operating complex electronics, the Suunto X9 will handle backcountry navigation at half the weight of handheld units like the Garmin eTrex series. Compared to a handheld, the wrist mounted Suunto X9 provides continuously readable navigation functions such as a magnetic compass, barometric altimeter, and GPS functions. Despite its 2.0 x 2.5 inch (5.1 x 6.4 cm) size, the Suunto X9 is a full featured, 12 parallel channel GPS with an integrated loop antenna, waypoint storage and management features for backcountry applications including: following routes, marking waypoints, calculating speed and distance traveled as well as recording elevation profiles. REVIEW CONTENTS: This review includes a comprehensive summary of the performance of the Suunto X9 GPS Watch, including: a description of the technical review strategy and justification for selection of key performance metrics; key limitations of the Suunto X9 relative to its competition; detailed summary of Suunto X9 specifications; comprehensive performance summary of the Suunto X9 in the field under a variety of conditions including a table of GPS Fix Time Performance; detailed summary of GPS operation from both usability and functional viewpoints; objective assessment of battery life and power management, including a table of data for battery life in both normal and battery save modes; compass and altimeter/barometer performance assessment; discussion of the computer interface and software; assessment of the Suunto X9 display, including detailed macrophotographs of the display and selected screenshots detailing and justifying usability; summary of the value of the Suunto X9; recommendations for improvement of the Suunto X9; and a detailed comparison between the performance and usability of the Suunto X9 GPS Watch and the Garmin Geko 301 handheld GPS unit.
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