Suunto X9i Review

Suunto X9i
Suunto X9i

I love gadgets, especially ski and outdoors related toys, so imagine my excitement when my new Suunto X9i arrived in the post!

Because I live in the French Alps, the X9i seemed perfect to me because it combined Suunto's famous ABC (Altitude, Barometer, Compass) watch computer functions with a GPS unit, all packed into a half decent sized watch. I figured that the ABC unit was a useful tool in the mountains, and the GPS facility (especially aspects of it like the Google Earth interface) would provide me with loads of geeky statistics about how fast I had climbed/descended etc.

The Suunto X9i feature list makes impressive reading:

  • Altimeter: altitude, vertical speed, altitude alarm
  • Barometer: Sea level pressure, absolute pressure, weather trend graph, temperature, weather alarm
  • Compass: Bearing, north indicator, bearing tracking
  • GPS: Speed, distance, routes, waypoints, tracks
  • Watch: Calendar, 3 alarms with date option, dual time, stopwatch
  • Menu-based user interface familiar from mobile phones
  • Water resistant to 100 m / 330 ft
  • Power supply: USB cable and a universal power supply
  • PC interface software + USB cable
  • Plan and visualize routes on PC
  • View tracks on Google Earthâ„¢
  • Full access to SuuntoSports.com

So, how did it perform? I think the key to appreciating this watch is to get your expectations right in the first instance. It has a GPS unit squeezed into an only slightly over-sized watch, so it will never perform like a GPS unit 5 times the size. But it does work! When you learn how to pick up the satellites (which can be a bit tedious at first) if you are out in the open, the unit is pretty accurate.

After a day's skiing, I could go back and plot my route on Google Earth, and by & large it was spot on.

One gripe I did have was how the barometer/altimeter worked. On other Suunto ABC computers, the unit will try to work out what pressure change is due to weather, and what is due to ascending/descending. Obviously this can never be 100% accurate, but at least it tries.

With the X9i, the unit assumes two things; either you are stationary so all pressure changes are due to the weather, or that are moving and all pressure changes are due to altitude change. I found this a bit limiting.

In the end, I decided to sell this on ebay, and instead bought a Suunto X Lander (no complaints there) and a stand alone Garmin GPS unit. I thought the X9i tried to do too much, and although it didn't do too badly, it didn't work as well as I wanted or needed it to.

However, if you want a fun gadget toy which you can use on ski holidays, and bore the rest of your friends with stats when back in the ski chalet, then this isn't a bad gadget, and it does work out cheaper than getting a decent ABC watch and a decent GPS unit. Just realise its limitations.

Update: Suunto have recently launched a new X10 so I will be interested to read about how that performs.

Comments 2 comments

steve 6 years ago

Has its inaccuracies and especially with GPS that is unreliable. So its logs of activity are incorrect and planned routes are not followed. Can in fact take you many miles off course. In some terrain and weather conditions this can be dangerous. It may take you onto a wrong route that you cannot return from! Have to use a map and proper GPS with it! When questioned Suunto, they refused to accept the problems for many months, but finally admitted it does not do what they say in the manual. Hence sorry to say cannot trust Suunto. Suggest you keep away from this product and have second thoughts about Suunto products as a whole. I would not buy again from a company that tries to deceive customers.


Ron 4 years ago

very poorly designed watch. After some months of use the frontplate comes loose from the body of the watch, letting in rain and dust. I had one faulty which was replaced under warranty. The second watch however got this fault after 14 months which fell out of warranty. I couldn't use this expensive watch anymore.

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