My new Sunnto Core watch arrived on Wed and my initial response upon turning it on was “mmm, it’s not that easy to read”. I’d chosen the All Black model with the reversed LCD display.(see pic below) but was already aware that owners tend to be polarised over the readability of the reversed display. You can enter the service mode and adjust the contrast of the display but it makes little difference as it adjusts contrast, not brightness. Indoors I was finding I had to really squint at the display or use the back-light just to read the time. The display is better and crisper outdoors in natural light but forum comments from other owners suggests they get used to the poor display. I decided to order a Regular Black model with a normal, or positive, LCD screen so I could do a side-by-side comparison. Ordering midday on Thur the watch arrived from Gaynors on Friday morning.
First impressions of the Regular Black was that the screen was much more legible, although you do notice the large expanse of blank screen on some views, more so than on the reversed LCD. A straw poll of a few friends showed a clear pattern – the All Black won praise for its looks while the Regular Black was clearly more legible. The Regular Black does look better in the flesh than in the Sunnto photo, whereas the All Black probably looks better in the photo than on the wrist.
Size wise, I did wonder whether Core would look rather ridiculous on my not so large wrist but it wears its size well, is light and comfortable.. Although both watches have the same body and strap, side by side the Regular Black actually look slightly larger The regular LCD screen make it appear larger in diameter and the slimmer bezel makes the watch slightly flatter in profile. The All Black’s bezel includes luminous markers for sighting a bearing and its more bulbous profile makes the bezel easier to rotate (especially if wearing gloves). The All Black display is definitely better when viewed outside in stronger light but the regular display still wins out wherever you are.
The menu and user interface is fairly straightforward with the main view switching between time, Alti/Barometer, Compass. Each main function allows you to select a smaller supplementary display (e.g.in Time you can also choose to show either day/date, second time, sunrise/sunet, stopwatch, timer). The Altimeter/Barometer works by measuring absolute pressure and hence needs calibrating to a know altitude or sea level pressure. As with all ABC watches this does mean you need to select either Alti or Barometer mode according to your activity. If you are not changing altitude then using Baro mode will track the change in pressure and give an indication of weather changes. If you’re heading up then switching to Alti mode means altitude change is tracked. The Core also includes an Auto mode which switches between Alti/Baro depending on whether it detects vertical movement. The Core also includes a storm alarm if it detects the pressure dropping. One slight problem is that my high frequency hearing has been affected by one of my chemo drugs so I can barely hear the alarm. I have an old Casio G-Shock and I can’t hear it’s alarm at all, though at least the Core has a multi-chime alarm and I can just about hear one of the chimes, though it wouldn’t wake me up!
On the Suunto forums there are plenty of people who have a collection of Suunto’s, some even own a number of different style Core’s but for me one will have to be returned. A decision will have to be made over the weekend. Looks versus legibility, form versus function – superficial I know! The All Black display is definitely better when viewed outside in stronger light but is very poor indoors. Out of the box the Regular Black was a bit plain but is actually growing on me – I quite like its more utilitarian looks and the the slightly larger/flatter profile. Tough, important decision…..watch this space!