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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

Here’s what I’ve been up to the last few days – my first weekend back at home in almost a month!

1) Went for a run with Epson and their new products

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Friday afternoon one of the Epson folks came over from the UK to walk me through all their new products.  Err, I suppose it was more of a run-through…since we went out for a run afterwards.

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Epson has introduced a ton of units into the market.  These are divided up into both running and activity tracker products.  Here’s the run-down:

Epson Runsense SF-310: GPS watch with Bluetooth sync for activities
Epson Runsense SF-510: Above + Accelerometer for indoor treadmill/tunnels
Epson Runsense SF-710: Above + Vibration Alerts
Epson Runsense SF-810: Above + Optical HR within the wrist band

Epson Pulsense PS-100: Daily activity tracker with 24×7 optical HR monitoring
Epson Pulsense PS-500: Above + A small LCD screen and slightly bigger

Now, it gets a bit complex at the low-end as at first you’d want to compare it to most sub-$100 GPS watches.  But it includes Bluetooth Smart sync, which isn’t found on any sub-$100 GPS watch.  So it’s a bit tricky comparing them to current in-market offerings.

At the top-end running offering, the 810, they do include optical HR recognition.  This unit uses their own sensor that Epson has developed in-house, just as they’ve developed their own GPS chip (they’ve apparently been making GPS chipsets for some time).

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While I haven’t quite been able to get the data exported yet, the optical HR data did seem to align with the HR strap data I had on at every glance I took, so that’s good.  For GPS accuracy, it matched nicely with what I did on my Saturday 10-miler to other units.  So again, good signs.

Look for an in-depth review of the offerings in early December.

2) A bit of a wandering food crawl of the city

We spent most of Saturday afternoon just walking around the city.  It started off as a beautiful sunny day, though ended up a bit more cloudy.

In any case, we stopped in at some of our favorites food-wise.  For example, the chocolate bread place, and got chocolate bread just pulled out of the oven:

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And then there was one of our favorite pizza by weight places.  Perfect when you don’t want a ton of pizza, but just want to try a few varieties.

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Later on we swung through a grocery store to pickup items for dinner.  They had a massive display of bottles of wine out, I’m still amazed at how cheap wine is here.  The bottle to the right is ~2EUR, and the one to the left ~4EUR.  And while no doubt there are cheap wines in the US, one has to remember that at the grocery store or wine shop here I can get a slew of good quality table wines for under 5EUR.

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For those non-alcohol enjoying folks, there was Paris Cola, which is not at all a Coke brand despite looking deceivingly like it.  There was a NY Times article a while back on it, but I can’t quite seem to find it at the moment.

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Finally, there’s the French version of Where’s Waldo:

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As a Christmas chocolate calendar of course.  Because there’s no better way to find Waldo…err…Charlie, than a chocolate filled puzzle.

3) A night time run…with four GPS devices.

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I went for a 10-mile run on Saturday night after the day of walking around.  With me I had four GPS devices: The FR920XT, the Bia Watch, the Epson 810 GPS watch, and the Microsoft Band.  My route was a straight forward loop up and down the river, minus one brief excursion up Trocadero to take a photo that didn’t turn out that well.

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I was actually reasonably impressed with the accuracy of the units from an overall distance standpoint.  Three of four within .01-miles of each other (10.06 to 10.07), and the forth only .04 away at 10.020.  Though, it was interesting to see the track routes that the different units displayed.  It was also interesting to see auto-lap alerts (which were enabled on all of them).  The FR920XT and Microsoft Band were sitting next to each other on my left wrist, and beeped within 1-second of each other each mile, as did the Epson on the other wrist in most cases.  The Bia meanwhile had the same total mileage, though took a decidedly different route through some buildings at one point during the run.  Thus one of the reasons you should always also validate the track displayed as a sanity check.

4) Late night stories on a Velib

Two small stories, one relatively short ride.

I had gotten a text earlier in the evening from one of our CupCakery employees that one of the mixers had broke.  In this case, it was just a standard KicthenAid mixer.  We use two basic types of mixers at the shop.  First is the huge ones like seen in this post.  You can basically pulverize a turkey in one of those if needed.  For the first type, it’s used for mixing the main batter and base buttercream sets.

The second mixer type is your standard American KitchenAid.  We use these for small batch variants.  It’s simply a lot easier to work with than the ginormous bowls and paddles.  Despite their hardiness as a consumer mixer, we find they only last about a year with the day to day pounding for us.  And in this case, one up and died.

Which, is why I was up at 2AM on Saturday swapping out a unit we had at home for one at the shop:

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I’ll take apart the broken one and figure out what’s wrong with it and then put it back in service.

Meanwhile, while I was biking over, I saw a women riding down the street on her bicycle…a bit wobbly.  She was perhaps 50 meters in front of me.  While I was in the bike lane, she was most definitely utilizing the full roadway available to her (a 3-lane one-way road).  Clearly, she had a bit to drink.

Which, ended up being her downfall.

She’d eventually lose her balance and tumble into the concrete steps near the roadway.  Though, that was a much better deal than falling the other direction into cars flying by at 30-40MPH.

Regrettably, in her fall the bottle of red wine she had in the basket also fell and broke onto the pavement.  Perfectly good wine…gone to waste.

5) Wrapped up the day with The Real Starky

For those unfamiliar with the The Real Starky, it started as a bit of a parody account of Andrew Starykowicz, a pro triathlete.  Since then it’s had a much broader focus on everything triathlon, focused heavily on the pro scene – but also the way some of the larger corporate entities operate within the space.  Usually this is carried out with a bit of…edge, and wit.

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So late Sunday night (actually, Monday morning by time we finished), I sat down and had a good podcast chat across a broad range of topics.  While there is some tech talk, the majority actually isn’t.  Everything from my thoughts on skipping the college experience (as I did), to fun with lawyers and the cupcake shop.  We had a good time.

The podcast is up and available here.  Enjoy!

Thanks for reading (and listening!).

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60 Comments

  1. Peronnik Beijer

    It looks as if Epson is a nice place to work ;-)

  2. miguel zuza

    did epson managed to get good hrv data? ;)

  3. I’m eagerly awaiting your opinions on the Microsoft Band. If the accuracy is there, I see a lot of potential.

    • Chris

      Yep, I’m waiting on the Band review too.

    • Robin

      Me three, I want a gps “watch” but I would only use it for training. From what I’ve briefly read, the band is something I could wear full time, while wearing a non-training watch on the other wrist.

    • David Thetall

      I’m looking forward to your MS Band review, too. I’ve compared mine with my Forerunner 205 (yeah, a little old school, I know), and the Band gave consistently faster splits than the Forerunner did. I guess I should be happy (I must be getting faster!), but now I’m more curious about which one is actually right. The funny thing is that the overall distance wasn’t much different and the time was only a second or two different (I never realized how hard it is to turn off/on two devices at once while running). So, that leaves me a little confused by the vast difference in splits (like 15 sec/mile different for one of the miles).

      In GPS off mode (on a treadmill), the Band over estimated distance by about 6% which doesn’t seem too bad. I haven’t taken a crack at checking the HR monitor carefully, but my sense is that it’s running high (I hope my HR isn’t hitting 180bpm on “easy” runs!). I hope that can be fixed with a firmware update soon.

  4. Tommy

    I cannot believe Coca Cola is not sending a troop of lawyers with cease and desist letters to Paris Cola! The naming “Zero”, the packaging (both colors and font), it all is clearly a knock off of Coca Cola. I have never known Coca Cola to allow any kind of perceived infringement to stand for too long.

    • blondin

      True, the word zero belongs to Coke. Like the word candy belong to an app developper.

      Come on. There is no ways this brand will compete with Coke. Coke or Nutella has a so particular taste that when you like it, you cannot drink/eat something else.
      I am quite happy that Coke is smart enough to not send a troop of lawyers in Paris (especially November the 11th, thanks in advance) for a small company. Winning such a lawsuit will only affect the image of Coke in France in a negative direction, for limited gains. The patent war is already enough ridiculous.

    • Although strangely, according to the Wall Street Journal, Paris Cola isn’t even the only Parisian cola: link to online.wsj.com
      (Not sure if that was the article Ray was thinking of)

    • Ahh, good catch – that is indeed the one I think.

      For others, you can always get around the NYT/WSJ paywalls by just searching from Google for the title.

  5. Antoine

    The order in which you stop your GPS devices might gives us hints on your favorites.. :-p
    Garmin > Microsoft > BIA > Epson ? :-)

  6. Matt

    You’re aware of course, that your photo of the Eiffel Tower at night infringes the copyright of Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel?

    link to toureiffel.paris

    Madness eh?

  7. Dave

    Should it not be Cola Paris?

    ;)

  8. Basqueman

    Searching for available positions at Epson right now…

  9. Joe

    lookout Ray, the lawyers could be knocking on your door sooner than you think.link to torrentfreak.com

  10. Neil Tungate

    Re. the Cola, the French don’t allow foreigners to dictate to them, so Coca Cola stand no chance :-)

    Ray, where is the chocolate bread shop? I’ll be in Paris this coming weekend.

  11. morey000

    cool thing about the Epson watches- is that they have a built in ink-jet printer. Photo quality if you use the right paper.

  12. If Epson doesn’t use e-ink, I’ll be infuriated!

  13. Olivier

    Hi Ray!
    Where is the pizza shop?

  14. D

    Currently in the market for both a power meter and some combination of activity tracker and/or running watch, and it’s very stressful!! The options that currently exist (and those that are on the horizon) are great from a consumer standpoint, but man it’s making me anxious about jumping the gun. Looking forward to some of your upcoming posts.

  15. Scott Buchanan

    I admire your patriotism in using KitchenAid mixers but was left scratching my head as to why! I bought my sister living in Phoenix a Classic (she asked for it) as a house warming ( the irony in Phoenix!) present. Total cost on Amazon.com $200. In Europe (UK) the same mixer is getting on for $700. Can’t see France being cheaper if anything they’ll be more expensive.

    Do you know of a place that sells at US prices? Please spill the beans! ;)

  16. Mary

    DC Rainmaker, I read all of your reviews and I really appreciate them, they are the best!!! I am deciding between the Epson ps100 and the Microsoft band. I have a garmin forerunner and gps app on my phone,
    So GPS isn’t real important to me. I don’t know of the calorie burn on the Microsoft band comes from the distance or heart rate? I am looking for the most overall accurate daily calorie burn. I want the most accurate smaller band that will give me data for gym workouts, stepmill, biking, treadmill, outdoor running and hiking. Just hoping you could give me a little advice?
    Thank you so much for any input!!!

  17. robert black

    Really looking forward to the fulll sf-710 review

  18. Dan

    Do you ever get funny looks or comments when you are running with watches up to your elbows on both arms, or biking with 5 different garmins on your bars?

  19. Bill Murray

    I can’t wait till you get to the bottom of all the epson stuff, the gps + optical looks intriguing. I guess the specs are online somewhere, must have a look.

  20. slartiblartfast

    You did well to be able to ride that velib with such a massive weight hanging off the bars, especially at 2am!

  21. Don

    Is the Sony Smartwatch 3 on your to-review list? With its inclusion of GPS, it seems like it could be useful for tracking runs, especially if it gets a Strava app.

  22. Bart Bouse

    Last year I thought the Mio Alpha and more importantly the Mio Link were the greatest things since sliced bread. Now I can’t keep track of devices with built-in optical heart rate. Let me see, Mio has two new devices on the way, Epson (3 devices), Microsoft Band, Tom Tom Runner and & Cardio, Adidas Smart Run, Adidas Fit Smart, Withings Pulse, Scoche Rythum+, Fitbit Charge HR and Surge, to name a few, hopefully most. I can’t keep track but hope you are Ray. I still like the form factor of the Link but waiting for it to get back from Mio after rocky performance with bluetooth. Maybe you should consolidate a blog post on the status of optical heart rate and what has worked and what hasn’t. Thanks for the reviews.

  23. Josh Parks

    Great work on the Real Starky. I always enjoy your commentary and you hung with them well. As has been said also nice to hear your voice after doing all this reading. Kudos

  24. Ted H

    and I thought the blender on the bike was some new Tri equipment that I would have to buy… Maybe make smoothies on a long course ride… or at the comfort station…

  25. JeromeC

    Et moi qui a toujours crû que Where’s Waldo (Wally outre-Manche) était la version française d’Où est Charlie!

  26. Martin

    Hi, I’m stil hoping that your Epson review will be out soon!
    I know that you have had a busy time with CES, but can you tell why that review has not come yet?
    They are coming on sale in US this spring and I’m wondering if it is worth pre-ordering it…

    Thanks for all the fantastic reviews!

    • Yup, I essentially prioritize reviews based on demand. I’ve also got a full time job, which keeps me busy. So I have to simply focus on the reviews that folks express the most interest in. For example, the Fitbit Surge has tremendous interest, versus only one request a week for the Epson 810.

      That said, I’ve completed my assessment of the Epson 810, and just have to write it all up. I’m hoping I can do that by next week (including taking all final photos/etc…).

      In general it’s a good unit when it comes to accuracy (optical HR and GPS) – very solid there. The challenge is that outside of that the software platform isn’t awesome (actually, it’s horrible). And on the device itself then a lot of the features just don’t compare to other units on the market today.

  27. Makon Ford

    Spending LOTS of time reading your reviews – on a tight budget after 2 layoffs this year but I am looking to upgrade my low end Polar HR watch with a 24/7 activity/sleep tracker than can also work ‘well’ for running. Really liking your input on the Polar M400, but anxiously awaiting your review of the Microsoft Band.

  28. mykd83

    Just seen an announcement from Microsoft about expanding availability of the Microsoft Band in the US, and also making it available in the UK starting from April! As always, I’d like to know Ray’s opinion on it before plunking down ~£170 on one, but I’m excited by the thought of it so far!

    Any further updates for us?!?

  29. phil

    Im wondering same thing Ray. If your not going to do a full blow review can you tell us your impressions of the Microsoft band? It seems to blow other bands out of the water in terms of features.

    • It’s got good specs on paper, but not in person. For example, the band is fairly clunky, but from an athletes standpoint the issue is that the display simply can’t be used in sweat or water. So, even a light rain makes it useless – or just sweaty fingers.

    • mykd83

      I’ve heard some people say the band is big and uncomfortable, and then others say it fits fine and they hardly notice wearing it! Is the only issue that you found with it using the touchscreen when it’s wet?

      The Microsoft Band seems to satisfy most of the things I’d want out of a smartwatch and/or fitness tracker, but I don’t buy anything fitness wise without the DC Rainmaker review so I know exactly what I’m getting!!

    • Don

      Maybe check out the Sony Smartwatch 3. Also has GPS, and more smartwatch functions. Apparently some of the new apps for it are pretty good, and it’s been marked down to where it’s cost-competitive with the Band now.

    • mykd83

      My problem is I have a Windows Phone :-/

      Well, not so much a problem, as I’m quite happy with it, but to all the manufacturers apart from Microsoft it’s a problem!

  30. MikeDozer

    Question: Will Epson 710 work with polar H7 heart rate sensor. Bluetooth 4.0 it should?

  31. Michelle

    Can you possibly post a size comparison including the epson 510 and 810?