Thursday, January 2, 2014

Suunto T1c Heart Rate Monitor and Fitness Trainer Watch (Black Panda) - Many Unique Function For A Watch, A Review

I got this watch, the Suunto T1c Black Panda from my wife on our wedding anniversary in August 2009. I love it. Whether I'm hitting the gym to work off that extra holiday weight, or going for my daily run, every bit of information helps. With the Comfort Belt to accurately and conveniently monitor my real-time or average heart rate, I now know how to get the most out of each session.


With the T1c, I can also monitor how many calories I've burning in real time, or view my workout summary for the last two months to see how many I've already worked off.

As highlighted earlier, this watch comes with a  Comfort Belt or a heartbeat monitor band that you strap around  your torso near your heart. It will be able to generate a universal signal that can be read by most, if not all, training machines that have  a heartbeat monitor. It is also waterproof (should be, otherwise the sweat will kill it!). 

To control the computer in the watch, there is 5 different buttons for various functions. Like a Casio Protrek, you need a thick manual to learn how to navigate and get the best of the watch.

An interesting fact about this watch is the battery change. With just the use of a coin, you can change the battery without the need to open the whole back-case.

Although the back is stainless steel, the whole watch is plastic. With the vigours of any sport activities, very high chance of getting scratches on the watch. However, there is a magic chemical sold that can help you to easily polish of the scratch from the plastic. Cost around RM25 per tube. I've tried it and it worked!



The only problem that I had with it was with the strap. It doesn't last long. after 1 1/2 years, the rubber strap will disintegrate. Changed mine twice already.


Pros:

1) A lot of features. With the T1c you can calculate heart rate, average heart rate, calories burned, time spent at your peak workout heart rate, lap times, weekly workout statistics, and monthly workout statistics. Among these features, my favorite is average heart rate calculation. It allows you to know how hard you are working your heart over an entire workout.

2) Stylish. I chose the black model, which using gray numbering. It is a nice looking watch, giving a high tech appearance. Aside from the heart rate monitoring and calorie counting features, the watch also displays time, date, and has an alarm.

3) Comfort. The T1c utilizes a heart rate monitor band that you wrap around your torso. The band has a couple of contact points that will go approximately over the pectoral muscles. The actual transmitter is to be centered directly over sternum. The band is soft and adjustable, and after a few minutes of wearing it, you won't remember that you have it on.

4) Cheap. The T1c is at a price point that makes it value for money.

Cons:

1) Transmitter radius. The user guide that comes with the T1c lists the transmission range for the belt at 30 feet. The problem though, is that the radius of the range is limited. The watch will only pick up the transmission if it is being held in front of the transmitter. Imagine a 45 degree angle beginning at the center of your chest and expanding outward. So long as you keep the watch within the 45 degree area, it will receive data from the belt. However, if you move the watch to the side of your body, the watch loses the signal. This is important for several reasons. Depending on the type of exercise you do, this largely negates some of the features of the watch. For instance, if you are pedaling a recumbent bike and have your hands on the side handgrips that are near your hips, your watch will be receiving no information. Sure, you can lift your hand up to your chest whenever you feel like it to see what your current heart rate is, but this will skew your average heart rate and the number of calories burned, since the watch will only calculate the heart rate and calories for those few seconds that you hold the watch directly in front of your chest. So long as you are doing an exercise where your watch is within the 45 degree area projecting from your chest, you're fine, but there are a lot of exercises where this is not possible.

2) Acrylic screen. When doing active workouts, the chances of the watch getting hit is very high. Unfortunately, the acrylic screens is not strong enough to protect it from scratches. Nevertheless, you can polish it with a chemical but this means thinning the screen even more.

3) Plastic body. Similar to the screen, it can be scratched easily.

4) Rubber strap. The quality of the strap is poor. Every 1 1/2 years I have to change mine as it practically disintegrate on the watch. I would recommend if Suunto was to replace it with a canvas strap. That should eliminate this problem.


Overall, this watch can do things that no other watch can do at that price point and that in itself deserves a thumbs-up despite the problems highlighted.

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