This watch promises much; I've been testing it every day and it delivers but there are disappointments.
The initial impression is good; a bit larger than a normal watch, but not obtrusive, looks ok with a suit and is neither bulky nor heavy.
This is my second Suunto computer, and as with the Gekko the command tree is simple and intuitive.
There are five buttons, and their use quickly becomes second nature. Suunto are brilliant for ease of use; e.g. the backlight has multiple options, you can activate it manually just to read the display, or you can set it to night mode, where the backlight comes on whenever you press any button.
1. Supporting map and compass with precise grid references when navigating. Here the X10 is perfect and justifies the expense; set the GPS to manual mode, so it only updates when you press a button, thereby imposing a minimal drain on the battery, select position from the menu and press the button. Under open skies it will usually give you a position within a minute or two. For walking, mountaineering and climbing this will be good enough. You can select Ordnance Survey 10 figure grid reference, or lat. and long.
2. Cross-country running/marathon/ half-marathon training and events. When I read that this watch can monitor distance travelled, speed, average speed, and time from start I immediately thought of how good it would be when running to know exactly how far it is to the next mile marker, and to be able to constantly monitor your speed. To do this you have to set the GPS to be on, for it to update every second and for the activity mode to be on. You need to wait for the GPS to get a position lock from reading the satellites before starting, otherwise some of your run won't be recorded; this would be fatal to the use of the device in an event and would leave you with some expensive ballast on your arm. I have been attempting to test this walking to work and back, and frustratingly still have not managed to get it to do what I want: I keep losing the GPS link; running through a tunnel, or going into the newsagents I would expect this, but then I would expect the GPS to re-establish connection within a few seconds. No. Sometimes it re-establishes within a minute, which is just about ok, but loses some of the accuracy of the distance measure unless you are running in a dead straight line; sometimes it takes up to five minutes, severely compromising the distance accuracy, and sometimes not at all. Yesterday I arrived at work, a 2.5 mile walk, with the GPS telling me I'd travelled 1.53 miles. Sometimes it drops out under an open sky for no apparent reason. Secondly, the starting procedure is so protracted that I'm always standing outside the front porch in my running shorts getting cold for up to 5 minutes whilst the GPS wakes up. I have now given up using it for urban runs and am back with the old stopwatch.
3. Measuring top speed on a ski slope. Set it to 1 second GPS measurements, throw yourself off the top off a suitable looking piste, and when you get to the bottom you can show your friends the top speed you attained. Of course it won't be as accurate as a radar gun, and only recognises the horizontal component of your movement so will under-record a downhill ski run, but I can't wait to get onto an Alp with this thing. I can see five of us taking it in turns to take the X10 and see who can get the highest speed, (we're not hooligans, honest). You can also use this when driving/cycling/land yachting/bog snorkelling etc. Think of all those times as a kid when you were desperate to know how fast you were travelling when your bicycle went off the breakwater and into the sea, well now you can.
4. Barometer; this gives real-time pressure settings, with a graph line of the previous six hours. This has proved to be remarkable in that the weather always seems to be doing exactly what the watch predicts. Totally unexpected, I didn't think I'd be using it much, but seem to be checking it all the time.
5. Altimeter; to help with spot locations when navigating so you know which contour line you've just passed. In practise I think I'll be using the GPS if I need to confirm my location, and will only use this in countries where there isn't a grid system.
What I won't be using it for:
1. Main navigational tool. You can plan routes on Memory Map apparently, load them onto the watch and then follow a list of waypoints, be guided back to base etc. etc. Although I have Memory Map on my computer I won't be doing this; I much prefer map and compass, and suspect the battery life would be inadequate for any real navigation by GPS. You'd need to recharge the battery every evening, which may not be practical in a tent on the side of Snowdon.
2. Electronic compass. Doesn't have a sight line so can only be used as a rough indicator of bearing.
So, is it brilliant and amazing? Yes. Is it frustrating and disappointing? Yes.
It is now January 2014, I am still wearing this every day to the office, where it is good to check the weather. The compass is sometimes useful in the car or navigating an unfamiliar city. Most outdoor watches would do this at least as well. For outdoor use I have only used the gps for spot fixes. I have completely given up on using it for cross-country running or distance running training because the reliability of the GPS signal just isn't there. I still play with the gps, e.g. When sitting next to the window in an aeroplane, it is fun to monitor the acceleration from 0 to 550 mph, or checking speed when skiing. However I would never rely on the gps for anything.
Suunto have excellent after sales care; when the plastic facia broke, I sent it back and they fixed it. It hasn't broken again. The little rubber ring thing that holds the end of the strap down broke last year and they sent me a replacement.
I haven't bought another GPS watch because I can't justify the expense. I do a lot of running and really wish I had a garmin forerunner because I see others using them to monitor their speed and distance effectively. That was my main purpose for buying the x10 but it is so unreliable as to be useless in this role.
If I was buying now I would probably get a garmin forerunner, but might consider an ambit. I definitely would not recommend this watch now. There are far better products. It still looks nice, and I won't throw it away, but for over £300 it has been a disappointment.