Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review: Suunto Movescount

Site: Suunto Movescount

Score: 72/100

 Summary: I'm surprised it scored as low as it did, given the amount of work that was put into it. The biggest deductions are for it being lack of a help menu, flow\design oddness, and not being able to effectively get data out. There's a lot more to like though than not.

Layout (25)
  • Logical Flow: Movescount isn't logical, at least to my logic. First you have to digest the verbiage, which is that activities are known as 'Moves'. That's fine, but it's not logical, I've never heard anyone say they 'did some sport moves'. Anyway, when you start on Movescount, you're presented with your 'Scoreboard'. Though, you don't know it's your scoreboard because nothing tells you it is, you have to figure that out by navigating away from it and back again. The scoreboard itself is kooky, it gives you a large, fancy dial saying how many hours you've worked out in the last 30 days (which isn't rounded up, it's rounded down for some reason?), as well as your total distance and calories over the same period. Below that is a small detailing of the same summary period, broken out by sport. Below that is Suunto news, then you have to start scrolling down....already a bad sign. Literally half the visible page is unused, with a dark grey background. It's so grey, that depending on your browser and resolution, you might not even notice you can scroll down, another problem. Also, even though this 'Scoreboard' sure looks like a summary page, there's another page called 'summary'...which is where you can find a calendar and pretty much everything else. 
  • Feature Location: I've been using Movescount for months now as a Suunto owner (I love my Ambit 3) but I have a lot of trouble finding what I want in Movescount, if I can ever even find it. I always have to click around a few times to find the workout I'm looking for. Other features are not documented anywhere, and I discovered by mistake - for instance if you want to view the summary of your year, you need to click the '2015' in the Summary view of the calendar. Same thing for months. It's confusing. To view a single workout, you need to change modes of the calendar to 'Single', then click the 'Move'. There are more issues, such as the swim view being borderline useless, terms you have to look up offline to figure out, and other wonders. 
  • Feel: Movescount is like visiting a foreign country. It's very deep, there's a lot going on, but the culture is unfamiliar and odd.  If you commit to acclimating to it, after a while the oddness fades away and you assimilate, but there's still a phantom notion that you wish things were more like they are at home. Movescount is like that - there are different terms, different charts, different ways of presenting data, and you're never sure if you need or want what it's giving you. What's PTE or EPOC peak? If you're not sure, it might make you feel odd to see it used all over Movescount. You'll figure it out, but it like being told to eat kelp when you want lettuce. 
  • Performance\responsiveness: It's very sharp, and highly performant. Nothing but great things in this department.
  • Mobile conversion: Finally. Actually flawless transition between the full screen version and mobile version, all from the same code base. Movescount the website is loads better than Movescount the app (which you need to sync an Ambit 3 via bluetooth, but not much else). I beat this drum pretty loud, but folks, you really can create a great mobile app from your web app just by working with css. Simple, effective, and a joy.
  • Creating a plan: It's a little painful, but you can create a plan by creating workouts and dragging them onto weeks. The drag and drop from your 'library' is disabled in the mobile version, for no other reason than you can't drag and drop on a touch device with any reliability. 
  • Creating a workout: You can create a summary level workout (meaning no intervals), with the specified sport, duration, distance, and intensity direction, along with a description.
Score:20 - The points are taken away for the pure strangeness and flow issues. It's visually striking (in a good way), very professional, but you can't tell what you're looking at half the time.

Analysis Tools (20)
  • Charts are time variable: Yep
  • Heart Rate: yes
  • Fatigue vs. Freshness: Technically, yes, but it's confusing enough to make you angry. There's a user-defined chart called 'Free Compare' which allows you to plot any x against any y axis, with the plot item size a third option. If you chart EPOC peak vs Date with a size of VO2, technically you're looking at the same ridge line of load vs. recovery. I'm being a little generous. 
  • Duration: Yep
  • Distance: Yep
  • Zones: Yep
  • Personal best calculation:Nope, although with each move you can declare it as 'Share as greatest move'. I never felt like clicking that. All that does is make it show up as one of your greatest moves in your profile. Hopefully it impresses people.
  • Zone calculation: Yep.
Score: 18 -The points off are for the personal bests missing, and one off for Fatigue vs Freshness.

Activity Detail display (10)
  • Time analysis –  yes 
  • Maps - yes, of course. Suunto loves GPS data.
  • Overlays – yes
Score: 10: Everything is there.

Coaching features: (15)
  • Follow athletes – Yes
  • Provide feedback– Yes, the 'shout box', or message window allows you to do this.
  • Scheduling tie in: Nope, not at all. I can't control or view another athlete's schedule.
Score: 10: Movescount  really isn't designed as a coaching platform, and without the ability to create a schedule for an athlete, it can't really be used that way. However, if you don't need that for some reason (maybe your coach found a way to publish their workout plan into Movescount and you used that?) then it's passable with the ability to have friends and watch their workouts. Garmin Connect has the same features.

Device Store Connectivity (15)
  • Garmin - nope
  • Suunto - duh.
  • Strava –it pushes to Strava, but *only* GPS-tracked activities. Treadmill, pool, So no? Sorta?

Score:6: Obviously no Garmin points, but the half-assed Strava implementation is super frustrating, for one major reason - That's the only way to programatically get your data OUT of Movescount. They have an API, and you can probably find an api key out in the wild if you look in the right places, but Suunto won't give you a new key at this time, so your data is all locked up. Officially, they'll tell you to export the files one by one, but they only export to .fit files currently (other options are disabled for some reason). Suunto announced they will start syncing with TrainingPeaks soon, so it's possible we may be able to use TP as a through point to get our data out until Suunto opens up API usage again.

Import (10)
  •  Manual entry - Yes.
  • .fit –Technically no. There is a link to a third party tool which can both  imports, but it's not Suunto's. 
  •  tcx –nope
Score: 3- AgainI hate always removing the point for no intervals, but I fail to understand why it can't be done! Many many points off for having no official way to import data.

Help (5):
  • Well written: No. The FAQ section is a bunch of answers to questions you didn't realize you should ask (for example: "Why do I get 'Application Can't be opened because it is from an unidentified developer' error in OSX 10.8 and later?"), and has little to do with Movescount and more to do with MovesLink, another piece of software used with Suunto watches. The 'Tour' is a little more like a how-to, but it won't save you much pain. You still need to figure things out for yourself.
  • Clear term definition: Heck no, and there's not even a search function to look for anything. If you don't know what PTE means, you literally have to google 'Suunto PTE' to find their definition, which isn't on the same site. Horrid.
Score: 0 – We have found the bottom of the barrel.

Extra features (bonus, 2 points each)
  • Email reminders – workouts: nope
  • Email reminders – equipment : nope
  • Workout text messages – nope
  • Sync with online calendars : nope
  • Allow messages with other athletes: yes, via something called the 'shout box'. Again, weird. I'm not shouting at anyone! Yet.
  • Allow tracking of consumables –technically, there is a way to do this. You can 'tag' a move with anything you like, and if you click the tag, it will show you everything that matches it in summary mode. However, that's a pretty manual approach. 1 point.
  • Metric\imperial conversions\Time zone\Clock\Calendar: yes
Score: 5 bonus points