Suunto M5 Watch Review

Need a nice running watch with a heart rate monitor? You should consider buying the Suunto M5. I was lucky enough to test this watch out courtesy of Watchco.com. No, I didn’t get paid any money (dang it) to test the watch either, so this is an objective review.

M5 PROS

- A nice size for a Heart Rate Monitor Watch.
- Stores all your exercise information.
- The heart rate strap is the most comfortable one I have ever worn.
- Great for heart rate training programs.
- If you purchase a POD, you can track distance traveled too.

M5 CONS

- It took me a while to understand how to set up and use the watch for workouts.
- POD doesn’t come with to track distance, and a POD watch isn’t as accurate as a GPS watch.
- Cost can be a deterrent at near $200 USD.
- The all black version display is hard to read even though it looks kind of cool. Make sure you pick the black and silver model (not the black and black)
- If you wear it for everyday use, the date and time can’t be displayed together at the same time.

Here's a video review so you can see the watch in action.

Sticking around for a more extensive review? What a smart consumer you are. I’m impressed. Let’s look at why the Suunto M5 might be for you.

After testing this watch, the best use for it by far is for heart rate monitor training. It functions really well as just a regular stop watch, and it feels light and comfortable on my wrist just wearing around for everyday use, but it’s designed to track heart rate. You can buy just any old watch to track time exercised. The M5 costs almost $200 because of the Heart Rate Monitor. You can purchase some other add ons to track distance traveled too, but I don’t recommend these PODS.

The watch is easy to use, even though I screwed up and set my watch to metric measurements and military time. I was just messing around to see what it does and now I can’t figure out how to switch to different settings. Oh well. It is built for general fitness training and, of course, monitoring your heart rate.

One more thing before we jump into the workout review. Here are all the different bells and whistles on the M5. First I list what Suunto’s website describes and the parentheses are my explanations of each feature.

- 3 personal targets to choose from – improving fitness, weight management or free training (I choose free training because I follow my own workout plan)

- Daily exercise instructions with ideal duration and intensity (Suggests a workout for you based on your current fitness or weight)

- Automatically adapting exercise program for the next 7 days (If you run real hard one day, it will make sure the next few workouts are easier or vice versa)

- Real-time intensity guidance during workout (it tells you to slow down or speed up basically)

- Recovery time recommendation after exercise (It always tells me I have to wait 12-15 hours, but I don’t want to run in the middle of the night Suunto!)

- Motivational feedback messages (Great Workout!)

- Comes with the Suunto Dual Comfort Belt (The Heart Rate Monitor Strap), compatible with most gym cardio equipment and Suunto Fitness Solution (a website where you can store your workout information)

- Upload exercise data to Movescount.com with optional Suunto Movestick (this is a POD that can monitor distance traveled but it’s not as accurate as a GPS watch)

- Download any training program from Movescount.com with optional Suunto Movestick (If you want a suggested workout plan from Suunto. This helps with motivation. Trust me!)

- Track speed & distance with optional Suunto Foot POD, Bike POD and GPS POD. (This is an added expense!)

- Easy to use (Not really. I had to read a lot of directions.)

- Also available in Suunto Performance Packs - ready to go solutions with PODs for running and multisport (My M5 pack was the watch and heart rate strap)

WORKOUT TIME

When you are going out for a run, or a bike ride, or anything really that you want to do physically and track your heart rate, you have to strap on the stretchy heart rate monitor.

I’d show you a picture of this, except my day job is as a middle school teacher. The last thing I want to do is post a picture of my manly chest on the Internet. This is what you need to know about the heart rate monitor strap. The black circular dial should go right below your pectoral muscles, which is at the bottom of your sternum. Almost instantly for me at least, the M5 watch recognizes the heart rate monitor strap and starts displaying your current heart rate.

Next comes dong a workout with this watch and heart rate strap. There are three buttons on the side of the watch that you have to use to start up a workout. To start, you have to press the top button, which is called the play stop button. There is a triangle and square by this button. The next button to push is the button in the middle to start your exercise. The watch will automatically search for your heart rate. You don’t have to wear the strap, so you can actually skip this function. If you have the heart rate strap on, wait until it finds your heart rate and then go to the next step.

Once you see your heart rate on display, it’s time to start the workout. Just press the top button again (The triangle square one) to begin recording the workout. As you exercise, you can press the center button to get a variety of different display options. Sometimes, when I know I am working harder than I should, I will change the display so I can’t see my heart rate.

To stop the watch, hit the top button again. It will beep loudly, and you can then press the yes or no button to stop the workout. It instantly puts out a nice summary for you on the watch display of the workout you just completed. It will also tell you how long it will take to recover from the workout.

That is another thing I wanted to address about the Suunto M5 Watch. It gives you daily workout suggestions. I tend to follow specific Heart Rate running workouts, so this isn’t something that I did. If you are training for general fitness though, this is just a nice reminder from the watch for you to get your butt in gear.

THE WATCH AS A WATCH

I have a GPS watch too that is really big and bulky. My GPS watch also needs its batteries recharged all the time. Because of these factors, I never wear the GPS watch for everyday use.

On the other hand, or should I say wrist, is the M5. I wear this around all day. It isn’t too large and is relatively light. The look and feel is modern and light. The watch breathes well, so I don’t get that sweaty wrist. Well, when I exercise, I do. Then again, I’m pretty much sweaty all over when I exercise.

The display is huge for the time, but you have to press the center button to get the date to show. Otherwise, it’s just the time that is showing really really big.

OVERALL SUMMARY

I don’t really like giving products star ratings, or grading them on some weird scale. I get enough of grading as a teacher. Instead, I think it’s more valuable to say whom this product would be ideal for. So lets do that shall we.

Who is the M5 ideal for.

This watch is really nice for someone who exercises regularly and also wants to monitor his or her heart rate. Currently, I am training for a half marathon, and I follow a running program that uses heart rate to guide the workouts. This watch is perfect for me!

Who shouldn’t buy the Suunto M5 watch.

You’re not ready for this watch if you aren’t training to reach a specific goal, or don’t exercise on a regular schedule. For general fitness, your better off just getting a real cheap wristwatch that can track the time you exercised. When you get a little more serious about “weight management” or heart rate training, then you should consider the M5.

- Written by David Tiefenthaler

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