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A history of products destroyed in product review testing

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As you already know, a lot of products come through my testing ‘lab’.  After my testing is complete and my review is written up these products head back to their respective companies.  Leave no tracks behind and all.

But sometimes, they don’t quite make it back…to anywhere.  And sometimes, when they go back they aren’t exactly in the same form as when they arrived.  Call it a bit of ‘reconfiguration’.

I’ve been slowly compiling this post for the better part of a year, and I figure now’s a good time to look at the less fortunate devices in the testing cycle.  Of course, in almost every case it wasn’t exactly the devices fault that something happened.  It was usually an innocent bystander in a poorly executed maneuver on my part.

Fully Destroyed Products

Here’s the current standings, as of mid-January 2013:

1) Garmin Forerunner 110 (died in water), April 2010

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This was one of my first destroyed products during testing.  I had taken the unit for a 20-minute swim as part of lap swimming at a pool.  Less than 10-15 minutes into the session, the watch screen was full of water.  An hour later, it was entirely dead.  As you can see in my product review post, I even took it apart and tried to revive it with a hairdryer.

Interestingly, this was before the manual had any language about not swimming with the watch.  As a result of this incident, that manual was changed. ;)

2) Timex Run Trainer (lost in Lake Michigan) – October 2011

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I was doing a simple swim cap test showing how the Timex Run Trainer could be used to measure swim distance in a swim cap – should triathletes want to take this watch beyond a swim.  I had finished the swim and had taken this unit and a Garmin FR310XT out of my swim cap.  At the same time, I also had a FR910XT on my wrist, capturing the distance.  With all three watches out, I placed them on my wrist to get a photo (without locking the band).  I was standing in about 3 feet of (murky) water when a small wave came by and knocked all both the FR310XT and Timex Run Trainer off (the FR910XT was still strapped to my wrist).  Despite lots of frantic searching, the undercurrent quickly moved it to its death.

3) Forerunner 310XT (lost in Lake Michigan) – October 2011

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(Same Incident as above) I was doing a simple swim cap test showing how the Timex Run Trainer could be used to measure swim distance in a swim cap – should triathletes want to take this watch beyond a swim. I had finished the swim and had taken this unit and a Garmin FR310XT out of my swim cap. At the same time, I also had a FR910XT on my wrist, capturing the distance. With all three watches out, I placed them on my wrist to get a photo (without locking the band). I was standing in about 3 feet of (murky) water when a small wave came by and knocked all both the FR310XT and Timex Run Trainer off (the FR910XT was still strapped to my wrist). Despite lots of frantic searching, the undercurrent quickly moved it to its death.

4) i-gotU GPS Travel Logger – September 2009

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Some of you may wonder why I dislike separated GPS pods so much in watches.  And this particular incident is one reason why – they’re really easy to lose!  I was out on a 120 mile ride prior to Ironman Florida.  I was just doing my normal thing – riding, taking occasional pictures and the like.  I had tossed the little GPS Travel Logger in my back jersey pocket, figuring at the end of the ride I’d combine all the photos together as the product has advertised.  Except, at the end of said ride, the “i-gotU” part turned to “i-don’tgotU”.  Somewhere along the way, it probably got pulled out of my jersey pocket when I went to grab the camera/nutrition/etc…and was never seen again.

5) Bontrager ANT+ Speed/Cadence sensor (obliterated) – February 2012

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I was working on testing of the Polar/Look Keo Pedal Power system while the Bontrager Speed/Cadence sensor was sitting in its usual location next to the rear wheel.  I was testing on a trainer at the time, mostly working out some issues with the Polar gear and calibration.  In the process of this while the rear wheel was at full speed I inadvertently moved the speed/cadence sensor into the line of fire.  In doing so, it exploded into a million pieces of plastic that went flying across the room.  I might as well have had an IED in the thing.  The above is the primary component that was left.  The rest of the sensor is in far more pieces, some never really found.

6) Canon 7D & Ikelite underwater case (Garmin Swim testing) – June 2012

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I was taking product review photos for an upcoming (but unannounced at the time) product underwater.  Well, actually, The Girl was.  The $1,700 Canon 7D was in the $1,500 case with an $800 lens.  As I was doing laps and she was taking some initial perspective photos, the unit filled halfway with water.  Somewhere an o-ring wasn’t sealed correctly and let a significant amount of water in.  Normally I do a few quick tests before fully submerging it, but this time those were forgone.  In the link above, there’s actually a video showing the camera just going crazy – the shutter just wouldn’t stop.

Thankfully, I have DAN (Divers Alert Network) insurance for the product and these exact situations – and the repairs were fully covered by them.

7) Nike+ GPS Sport Watch (fall to the ground) – April 2011

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This happened on about day three of my product review testing for the Nike+ GPS  watch when it slipped out of my swim bag and onto the floor.  Ironically, it kept on working just fine – just had a minor wardrobe malfunction of sorts.  At that point, it was new enough that Nike was willing to send out a replacement (via normal support channels, no fancy media stuff) – but, these days I hear that’s not the case.

8) Polar/Look Keo Power System Pedals  – July 2012

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Outside of the camera combo, this takes the cake on the most expensive item that didn’t make it back in the same number of pieces as it started.  I wrote about the event this past summer, but essentially due to an issue with an unrelated bicycle part (bolt attaching crank together), the crank arm fell off.  When the crank arm fell off, the Polar power pedals were attached to the arm.  ‘Were’ being the operative word there.  They flew across the pavement at 20-30MPH, splintering into more pieces than necessary for day to day operation.  Oddly enough, this was planned as the last ride on this product before the review two days later.  Ultimately, the Polar pedals were mere innocent bystanders in the whole situation – with the non-Polar/Look crank arm being the one at fault here.  It just so happened the Polar units were attached to that.

There will be more

Undoubtedly, over time, other units will fall victim to having a bad day.  It’s sorta just the nature of testing so many devices all the time.  Sometimes it’s probably more the products fault, but most times, it’s probably more my fault.

There are/were plenty of close calls.  For example, while testing some software that does real-course style videos for treadmill, my laptop fell off the treadmill.  Thankfully, it fell off the back of the treadmill and not the front onto the belt (where it would have shot off at incredible speed, PS – that post actually has video of it happening!).  Or the time I was testing out the Spot GPS tracker device and it unclipped from my bike while riding on Skyline drive – flew off, and rolled between car wheels.  Eek!  Luckily, it survived without getting straight up run over.

As I said, there will be more – so this page will be kept up to date from time to time.

As always, thanks for reading!

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12 Comments

  1. Nomadza

    These are like the outtakes at the end of a movie, except cost a lot more :)

    Reply
  2. Tyler

    My most common lost item is the cadence sensor magnet/zip ties.

    My Trek 2200 has a polished, oval, and slightly tapering crank, and neither the zip ties nor adhesive backing will keep it in place.
    Cheap loss, but I’d like to find some way to get reliable data for cadence. It slips out of position or comes off completely after only a ride or two.

    Any ideas? Thought about counterboring a cavity into the crank, but don’t really want to weaken it/introduce corrosion.

    2nd place for most lost/damaged are Garmin 405 and 610 from watch band/pins coming loose mid-run. New band/pin on 610 seems to be holding up after a month.

    Reply
    • Gillze replied

      Tyler, I’ve used a rare earth magnet placed on the back of the pedal spindle ( it sits slightly inside the crank arm).

      Reply
    • Thor R replied

      I over-wrap the magnet with electrical tape (insulation tape – NOT gaffer/duct/duck tape), around the crank. It’s not pretty on a road bike, but: 1. who’s gonna notice?; and 2. this has worked for years for me when I used to race cross-country mountain biking and do a bit of downhill (mostly crashing) too.
      Other guys I know have used an epoxy resin to successfully glue the magnet to the crank.

      Reply
  3. Timster

    @Tyler
    I put some liquid nail under the cadence sensor that keeps it in place on my MTB.
    I might never ever get it off, but I worry about when the time comes.

    @DCRainmaker
    Given the amount of items you test/get your hands on this is a very short list of losses.
    The 310XT and Timex Run Trainer seem to be the only two that could have been avoided easily (take picture when not in water).
    I mean it seems the products which are pretty expensive are well built for the most part.

    Reply
  4. David Tunney

    In last 7 months
    8 Garmin 910xts
    1 Garmin swim
    1 Polar RS800

    Not even doing that much training these days………..

    Reply
  5. In my view it’s a good test for producers. You have your own ways to check stuff. If it won’t be able to survive your quite short in time test how can it withstand normal usage for a couple of years?

    Reply
  6. Luc Simoneau

    link to dcrainmaker.com
    Was using this iPhone holder this summer on a ride with My Girl and taking pictures with the phone …taking it out, back in,and out, and in, …well it was bound to happen, one time, it was badly clipped in place and as I started riding, it fell right in front of my front wheel and a just plowed over it with both wheels!

    Cracked the screen on the iPhone and was a bit upset (no, really upset). Got a replacement sceen shipped and with the patience of a surgeon, took the phone apart and changed the screen … And it’s still working!!!!

    I’m now using my FR305 for all my bike rides :)

    Some things can be repaired but others ….

    Reply
  7. Lachlan Brown

    Doing a sprint tri last weekend. I went to press the start button on my near new Garmin 910xt coming out of T1 and pushed forwards instead of down. This undid the quarter turn mount on the stem and it went flying off into the gutter. I thought I would pick it up on the way back to transition but by then it had been picked up by a spectator – never to be seen again.

    Reply
  8. Blake

    I’ve heard you are supposed to put submerged electronics in a jar of rice to dry them out. Apparently this works well.

    Reply
  9. Guillermo

    I thought I remembered reading one of your blogs about your other camera flying off the roof of your car and shooting into an intersection… was that you? Maybe you already have another to add to this list. :)

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yup, it actually did. After an Urbanathlon race in San Francisco in 2011. I contemplated putting that in here, but figured it really wasn’t a product review thing, and more just a general ‘Doh’ moment.

      Reply

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