One of our major gripes about the Suunto X9 was the lack of an interface with decent electronic maps and waypoint mapping software. There just wasn’t an easy way to get waypoints into or out of the X9. This rendered the unit virtually useless except for getting a GPS fix of your current position. Useful yes, but only about 10% of the utility and potential of GPS units like the Garmin Foretex that do interface with electronic waypoint and mapping software.
At Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Suunto introduces the new X9i, designed to seamlessly integrate with National Geographic Topo! software and State Series Maps (my favorite electronic mapping software and maps). Finally there is a way to plan routes and easily download waypoints into the X9. This adds a new level of performance to this GPS!
Sunnto claims to have improved upon our other major gripe with the X9, slow GPS fix times. They claim that improved firmware gives the X9i fix times similar to units like the Garmin Forerunner. If this turns out to be true we couldn’t be happier to have the X9i succeed as a small fully functional GPS unit.
We’ll be testing the new X9i with TOPO! State Series maps in the next few months to see how these fixes fare in the real world (pun intended).
The Suunto X9i retails for $499 and will be available fall 2005. The TOPO! State Series retails for $99.95 and is available by state. Current TOPO! users will be able to download updates to provide compatibility with the Suunto X9i.