Suunto Quest Heart Rate Monitor In Depth Product Review

 

Suunto announced the Suunto Quest in July of 2011, and started shipping the product in September of 2011. This product is the latest in Suunto’s long line of heart rate monitor watches that can be used for heart rate monitor training, and with the optional pods, can be used for running and biking.

By  now, many of you have read the FitnessElectronicsBlog disclaimer, but here it is in case this is your first time reading one of our reviews. For the record, we do not work for Suunto, and are in no way connected with them or any of the companies whose gear we review. We do this because we love playing with the latest technology, and we can’t keep our hands off this stuff if we tried.  Suunto gives us the watch for a trial period, and after our review, we box it up and send it back.  No give-us-gear for a favorable review, or anything like that. We call ‘em as we see ‘em. It keeps us honest. Also, we have a group of 4 people who do the evaluations of all of the gear. One person is the lead on a piece of gear, but everyone gets a chance to evaluate the stuff. We have 2 guys and 2 ladies, so it’s a good mix of people. It gives us better insight, and we get a better review overall. Everyone has an input to the review. If you want to know who these people are, check out our About Us page. We have 4 seasoned triathletes, and 3 Pilates instructors. All swim, bike, run, do Pilates and Yoga, and use all of the gear on a daily basis. So, enough with the babble, and let’s get to the review.

What’s in the box?

First of all, the Quest comes in two colors, black, and black with orange trim. Here are images of both color options:



There are two accessory options, the standard version and the running pack version. Included in the standard version is the watch, Suunto Movestick Mini, and Suunto Dual Comfort Belt, all of which retails for $249.00 The Running Pack comes with all items listed above, along with their Foot POD Mini, and retails for $299.00. The unit that we received is the Suunto Quest running pack.

Being in consumer electronics, I always enjoy looking at other product packaging. Personally, I like their packaging, especially since it is recyclable.

 

Here is what is included in the Running Pack box:

Shown is the watch, dual comfort heart rate monito belt, Movestick Mini, customer support card, and manuals. Here is a closer looks at some of the individual pieces:

 

 

 

 

 

Check out the size of the Movestick Mini USB dongle next to the Garmin ANT+ USB dongle. The Movestick is really small!

Here are some images that show the approximate size of the watch:

 

 

Here it is in all black:

And a side view:

The watch seemed to be well built and rugged. The face is easy to read, and fits well. I think the watch looks great, and it can be worn as a regular sports watch.

So what are the features?

Here are the major features of the watch:

  • Stopwatch, interval timer, laps
  • Time, date, dual time, alarm
  • Real time heart rate and heart rate zones
  • Real time speed and distance
  • Running cadence
  • Real time training intensity or speed guidance based on your training program
  • Water resistant to 100 ft
  • Menu in 9 languages (EN, DE, ES, FI, FR, IT, NL, SV, PT)
  • Create training programs in Movescount.com. What is Movescount.com? Movescount is Suunto’s online software community that tracks your workouts, plan your workouts, and connect with other people like you. If you want to learn more, check out this link where we dive in-depth into Movescount.com software.
  • Upload training data to Movescount.com
  • Download training program from Movescount to Suunto Quest
  • After creating a training plan, the watch will remind you when your next workout time is scheduled, along with the training duration and intensity
  • Customize display and settings in Movescount.com
  • Training diary and in depth training analysis in Movescount.com
  • Calories burned in Movescount.com
  • Speed graphs in Movescount.com
  • Heart rate graphs and training effect in Movescount.com

Some Basics

I am including a few quick visuals and a quick tutorial to show how to use some of the features of the watch. For a more in depth look, refer to the user’s manual. It covers most questions that you might have.
First off, here is an image of the display screen and all of the icons:
The buttons are pretty straight forward. Here are the three button features:
To start using any of the features, press the start/stop button, select your mode by using the up/down (start/light lock) buttons, and then pressing next to enter the mode. The different available modes are training, running, cycling, recovery time, prev. Move, and web connect. We will cover these modes in a little bit. So enough of all the specs and dry user’s manual stuff. Let’s get on with using the watch.

Using the Watch

Before using the watch, I needed to set a few things. Pressing any button for 2 seconds wakes the watch up. Next, I set the initial settings; language, units and 12/24 hour time, date, year of birth, sex, and weight. If you have been working out for awhile and know your maximum heart rate, you can enter it. Otherwise, it calculates it from the formula 207-(0.7 x AGE).
After this was set, I decided to take it for a test spin. I first put on the heart rate monitor chest strap. The strap is soft and comfortable, and is compatible with the 5 KHz inductive pickup watches and equipment, and is also ANT compatible.  I wore it all day at work for 2 consecutive days, and didn’t notice it at all after a few minutes. I think the strap felt good, and performed well. Here are a few images of the strap after all of our testers used and abused it:

 

 

 

We tested the connection in a gym, and we were simultaneously connected to both the watch and treadmills and other equipment at the local gym. Here is a pic of the back of the strap with the dual transmitter markings:

 

The Running Pack version comes with the optional foot pod, so I put it on my shoe, strapped on the HRM, set the mode to running, and I was off.

 

If you run in the dark, this might be of interest to you. Here is an image of the backlight at night:

 

During a workout, the Quest can mark a lap at each mile while running. The other feature everyone liked was that you can manually set laps by tapping on the display. This is pretty cool for a non-touch screen watch. This is much easier to remember than pressing a button sequence, and it is very useful during my speedwork workouts.
When the workout is finished, pressing the start/stop button ends the workout. You can scroll through the summary of your training by pressing the next button after you have stopped your workout. After looking at my summary, I set the mode to web connect, pressed the next button, and uploaded my workout to Movecount.com. That’s it. Pretty simple.

 

 

 

 Movescount and the Cloud

The next thing I wanted to do was to use the software to upload my workout to the web, and make some changes to some of the watch settings. You can do this by going into Movescount. To use Movescount, you first need to download and install the Moveslink software. Installation of Moveslink software was painless on both platforms. Once Moveslink was installed, we could plug the Movescount Mini USB into the computer, and we were ready to go. Wirelessly connecting the watch to a computer to allow data downloads/uploads was a breeze.  In our house, with 5 people in the house, we have 3 Macs and 4 PC’s. Using the web connect mode makes data transfer very easy on both platforms. Once my workout  was transferred to Movescount, I could view it, compare workouts,  and create custom workouts that I could upload to the watch for my next workout.

 

The first thing I wanted to change were my heart rate zones. Here were the default zones, and adjusting the sliders changed my high and low heart rates for each zone:

 

 

There are other settings in Movescount, and many other things you can do with it. Since it has many features, we think it deserves a separate review.We will be covering this soon, so stay tuned.

 

Anyway,  after I changed the settings in Movescount, I needed to sync them with the watch. To do that, I changed the mode to web connect, pressed the button, and all of my settings were loaded to the watch.

 

Here are some screen shots from one of our testers from a winter bike training ride:

 

You can see that in Movescount, you can view your training heart rate, and time spent in each zone. Here is a graph of distance and running cadence from a run:
For those of you who have used a Suunto watch before and have used Training Effect, it is still available in Movescount:
If you want to learn more about Training Effect, check out this link.
While I was in Movescount, I wanted to change the screens that were displayed during my workout. To do this , I pulled up the customization screen:

There are 3 default workout modes; trainingrunning, and cycling.You can create more custom modes in Movescount by pressing the create new custom mode link. I wanted to change the screens that were displayed while running. There are actually 3 areas of the screen that can be customized. Here is a description of the areas:

  • The outer rim, shown as area 0, can be customized to show your recovery time in hours, heart rate percentage, or percentage of training completion. Heart rate percentage is only available during training.
  • Row 1 can be programmed to display heart rate, heart rate percentage, pace, running cadence, speed, time, average heart rate, average heart rate percentage, average pace, average cadence, average speed and distance
  • Row 2 – can be programmed to display heart rate, heart rate percentage, pace, running cadence, speed, time, average heart rate, average heart rate percentage, average pace, average cadence, average speed, distance, calories, heart rate zone, interval timer, lap time and stopwatch.
Now that I knew what setting options I had to play with, it was time to customize my display. In the Movescount customization screen, I pressed the edit button to customize my running screens. Here is a screen shot of the customization screen:

I could then click on each face, and set the display screens for up to 5 different displays for each mode. Next, I pressed save, synced the watch, and I was ready to go. During my workout, I am able to press the next button and scroll through my 5 custom screens.  This is pretty cool.

Pods:

The running pack comes with the foot pod to measure distance and speed. Other pods are available, and can be purchased separately. Here is a brief description of the pods that Suunto offers:
  • If you have the foot pod, you can measure distance, speed and cadence in running mode. This is pretty accurate if you calibrate the foot pod on a track. We were measuring about +/- 5% when comparing the footpad to two different GPS watches.
  • If you have the bike pod, you can measure distance and speed with this pod. It can be used in cycling mode, and measures bike speed and distance by using a wheel magnet. This is similar to many bike computers.
  • If you have the GPS pod, you can measure speed and distance outdoors in running and cycling mode.
  • If you have the Cadence pod, you can measure cadence in cycling mode.

 

Thoughts, Opinions and Summary:

Pros:
  • Everyone liked the look of the watch. The watch is light, and feels solidly built. It has a clean look, and does not appear bulky on our wrist. You can definitely wear it as an everyday watch. We received compliments from everyone who checked it out.
  • The heart rate monitor hardware and software performed flawlessly. The heart rate monitor strap link connection to the watch was always solid, and by applying a small amount of water to the pads, picking up a heart rate from the chest strap always worked well. The strap was picked up by the treadmills and other equipment at the local gym, while still remaining connected to the watch.It was comfortable, and fit all of our testers.
  • Wirelessly connecting the watch to a computer to allow data downloads/uploads was a breeze.  Once Movescount was installed, we could plug the Movescount Mini USB into the computer, and we were ready to go. Using the web connect mode makes data transfer very easy. Once your data has been transferred to Movescount, you can view it, compare workouts,  and create custom workouts that can be uploaded to the watch for your next workout. For those of you that use TrainingPeaks or other software as your tracking and logging software of choice, your workouts can be exported from Movescount in a compatible format.
  • The watch can be used with the optional GPS and Bike pods. This allows accurate speed, pace, and distance measurements, along with very accurate data logging over your workout course.
  • Movescount is easy to use and navigate.
  • Thorough manual
Cons:
  • Only supports 1 person at a time. All of the settings assume only 1 person uses the watch.
  • If you are a triathlete, you can’t track your swimming leg.
  • If you want GPS accuracy, you need to use an external pod clipped to your upper body or on an arm band.
  • Even though I liked Movescount, I still find myself using other workout tracking software more. All af your workouts are exportable, so you can choose what software to use.
The claimed battery life for the watch and heart rate monitor strap is 1 year. We will let you know we get to that point.
Did we cover everything? Not even close. We hit the main features and highlights. This is a full featured heart rate monitor watch. You can plan and track workouts, monitor improvements, share workouts with others, and wear it as an everyday watch. With the additional pods, you can track speed and distance on a run or on your bike.
So, the the question we always ask each other is always, “Would we buy this watch if it were our money that we were spending?” The answer for the Suunto Quest is, “Definitely yes!” And we did. After about two weeks with the watch, we went out and purchased one. The orange watch in the images is the evaluation unit from Suunto, and the black one is the one we purchased. For daily runs, spins in the basement and at the gym, cardio classes, this watch can’t be beat.
I don’t think you’ll get a better recommendation than that.

To finish things out, we will leave you with a few how to videos, and some videos of the Suunto Quest in action.

Here is an introduction and setup video of the Quest:

How to pair pods and heart rate monitor strap to your Quest:

How to adjust the settings of the Quest:

 

Training with the Quest:

I hope you enjoyed the review. Happy training!


  24 Responses to “Suunto Quest Heart Rate Monitor In Depth Product Review”

  1. Thanks for your review, there aren’t a lot of them about the Quest. After reading this I was sure, this is the watch for me. So I just bought the running pack!

    • Awesome! let us know how you like it.

      • Well, I’ve been running with the Quest for only 4 times now, but so far I really like it. I’ve tried the Garmin 310XT HRM and Garmin Forerunner 410 HRM before this one, but the current speed was too inaccurate with GPS for me. Especially while running intervals. And the touch bezel of the 410 was awful.

        The Quest gives me some great data. the heart rate seems to be very accurate and I like MovesCount a lot. MovesCount and the watch itself are really easy to use. Adjusting the display by picking just the data I need during the kind of training I’m doing is very nice, this was impossible with the Polar I used before this one.

        The only problem I have is that the current speed sometimes is too high for a very short period of time. When I’m running at something like 14 or 15 km/h it suddenly shows me 21 km/h. And I am pretty sure that’s not my speed, because I never see any people from Kenia around when I participate in a run… This will stay for only a couple of seconds, so it isn’t a big issue for me. I’m just going to try to reset the footpod by taking out the battery for a couple of minutes.

        But like I said, so far I really like the Quest!

  2. Hello,
    thanks for the awesome review. do you use the watch when swimming as well? its only rated to 30m so i wasnt sure if that was possible or not. Other than that, I’d buy one today.
    Thanks for your time,
    David

  3. You write “Even though I liked Movescount, I still find myself using other workout tracking software more. All af your workouts are exportable, so you can choose what software to use.” – what software are you using and what format(s) can you get from Movescount?

    • Sorry for the slow reply. since we test so many different products, and so many different apps and software, keeping track of my personal workouts is hard. Because of this, I test all of the many different apps and software, and then I export my workouts to Training Peaks. TrainingPeaks works with a huge number of different heart rate monitors, bike computers, and power meters. It does a good job of graphing and logging workouts, daily metrics, and food consumption. It has a free version, but I pay for a yearly subscription to get the advanced features. Are you using Movescount now? Which HRM are you using?

      John
      Fitness Electronics Blog

  4. Hi… Thanks for the review… It help me decide more on buying this… Is the watch have Heart Rate Limit ALARM??? So i will know if i exceed my Heart Rate Limit… Thanks and God bless.

  5. Just got one for Xmas & am in training for 1/2 marathon in April. So trying to work out what the watch is really capable of. Is the foot pod really important??

    I hope the Movescount programme is as easy as you say to us older computer bods.

    What other programmes do you use?

    Great review guys

    • Gary,

      The footpod is useful if you want to get an idea how far you have gone. If you know the distance of your run, you may not need it. Also, some people like to know their cadence, so if this is important, it might be worth getting.

      Movescount is easy to use, and has a great selection of features.

      Other programs we use are Garmin Basecamp and Training Peaks.

      Thanks,

      John

  6. How can I change my setting – from metrics to imperial?

  7. i cant connect my suunto quest to the movescount account. The popup keep on saying
    ‘no network connection’, my computer detects it but the popup stop it from connecting to the website. movestick mini faulty?

  8. Hi just wondering if this watch is good for strength training beside running? Thanks!

  9. Hi, could you please tell from your experience in MovesCount portal – is it possible to merge a “move” produced by Quest with an external GPS track (logged by an external device, not a Suunto GPS pod)?

    I’m trying to decide whether I need to buy Quest GPS pack or it would be sufficient to buy just a simple Quest and use GPS logger that I already own.

  10. I have to add a testimonial regarding Suunto. There are few companies that I will buy from time and time again. Suunto is one of those companies. I had the predecessor to the Quest. I accidentally bumped it and scratched the face quite severely. Then, the software in the watch started to go haywire. I sent the watch back to Suunto. Instead of repairing my old watch, they sent me a brand new Quest at no charge and no questions asked. I was so impressed by this customer service that I will never own another brand of HR monitor, period. And that is over and above the functions of the watch itself! Thanks for your review – it showed me that I’m not alone in my feelings!

  11. I’ve recieved the Suunto Quest heart rate monitor for X-mas so started reading up on reviews (yours being the most informative, so much so I signed up to your site) I’ve only done a handfull of runs with it but love it already (moved from Garmin and Oregon products), I’ve not had chance to customise it yet to my exact heart range but it looks easy enough to use and I’m told the Movscount site is also easy to navigate through. I love the Black/Orange design, the dislpay is nice and large making it easy to read on the move and the batteries it takes are really cheap (always a factor) to get hold of, although I’m not sure sure how often they will need changing as I’ve not owned it long enough for them to fade yet. I’m currently looking at the foot pod mini/foot pod v2…which is recommended ?
    Only down side i can see is the screen face is plastic and looks like it may scratch easily…nothing a screen protector can’t sort out i guess but I’d expect a glass screen and small weight increase would outweigh the option of a scrathed/marked screen.

  12. Nice review ; juste one more thing : when you write “average pace” or “average speed”, is it the average speed of the current lap ?
    Thank you for your answer.

  13. Is the heart sensor belt compatible with the iPhone?

  14. I previously had a Garmin GPS watch for my power walking regime. The GPS failed and i was recommended a Saunto together with a heart monitor that i really do not want. The battery life on GPS is much longer than the Garmin which is the main reason for the purchase.
    I am finding the setting up intimidating and additionally wonder whether it is necessary to use the heart monitor?
    I simply want to time my walking and find all the other settings are not needed.
    I fear i have been sold something over the top for my needs

  15. Hi
    I like your review and watch, but I have one question. Will the Quest pair with other model HR ANT+ monitors beside the Suunto one? Thank you

  16. I know this is kinda old but I’m looking for an inexpensive (compared to what else is out there) everyday HRM watch for myself. The one question I have tho is… Can the main default time/date screen (not in any workout mode) display SECONDS along with the hours and minutes?

    Thanks if anyone can help!

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