Suunto x9i GPS Watch Review

Vincent Nguyen - Feb 6, 2006
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Many of us enjoy bringing ample technology with us on the road and in our recreational activities. Unfortunately, lugging all the gear around can be a problem. Packing chargers, power supplies, batteries, and the gizmos themselves can quickly fill the carry on bag or backpack. Wouldn’t it be nice to have it all, or most of it, in one compact device such as the Suunto x9i Wristtop Computer with GPS?

With the Suunto X9i, you’ll be able to have several key instruments right on your wrist. This unit, ideal for outdoor sports enthusiasts, integrates a clock and chronometer, GPS, Altimeter, Barometer, and Digital Compass in one tight package. Even better, the instruments are integrated to take the guess work out of common tasks by cross checking data internally.

[flv]https://www.slashgear.com/videos/Sunto_X9i_540x300_512kbps_Stream.flv[/flv]Suunto x9i Wristop Computer with GPS Video Review

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The instrument interfaces with a PC to transfer navigation data using Suunto Trek Manager software. This program allows the creation of routes and waypoints on the large screen of your PC using National Geographic Topographic and other map sources. Thus, you can accurately plot a route using detailed map imagery, then transfer the position data to the X9i for use in the field. This takes the guess work out of coordinate transfer, and allows you to have some fun planning the trip before you go.

The X9i is not a wrist watch. It is a precision instrument panel on your wrist. As a result, you’ll need to become familiar with the device and read the extensive manual to get the most from this unit. As a professional navigator and trainer I found the GPS especially challenging to operate at first. But, with a full read of the instructions this function became easier to understand. The unit is well made and despite the size fits comfortably on the wrist. Battery life is much less than for a wrist watch due to the many instruments involved. Fortunately, the versatile X9i can be re-charged by 110-220 volt AC, 12 volt DC, USB through a PC, or even with a 9 volt battery.

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The integration of these instruments is a special feature of the X9i. For example, the altimeter and barometer features link to the GPS. This allows the barometer to be updated automatically with GPS on. Time can also be brought in sync using GPS signals. So, what can the Suunto X9i do for you?

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Time – dual time zone feature to keep track of where you are and where you traveled from. Ideal for pilots and sailors who need to track UTC (Greenwich Meridian Time) for aviation.

Altimeter – track where you are on a topographic map to know how far along the route you have traveled. Monitor vertical rate of ascent and descent.

Barometer – a weather station on your wrist. Track approaching fronts and predict the passing of storms and severe weather. A thermometer function is also built in.

Compass – take bearings on landmarks from a chart or map. Follow an accurate course using the tilt-compensated digital readout.

GPS – verify your present position, follow a route, find a place, or follow a “bread crumb” trail back to Home where you started. Estimate the time to your destination, track sunrise and sunset, and more.

Activity – use all of these features in sports training and other recreational activities like geocaching. (for more information on this popular sport visit www.geocaching.com).

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The suggested retail price of the Suunto X9i is $499 and it is available through many retailers. With some practice in using all the functions, and with a few good charts or maps, I would consider the X9i as a fine backup for the separate devices I use in flying and boating and as a superior stand-alone travel tool for many recreational pursuits.

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