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A Few Days in New York City

Last week The Girl, Lucy, and I jetted away from Paris to the US for what will be a bit of a whirlwind trip around the country for the holidays.  The first stop on the list was New York City, a relatively easy 7 hour quick hop from Paris.

A Central Park Run:

After getting in from the airport just after lunch, we ditched our bags and headed straight out for a run around Central Park.  While it would have been easy to just take a post-flight nap at the hotel – this seemed like the best time to get in a quick workout after the flight.  Though Lucy didn’t join us for the run, just for The Girl and I.  She wouldn’t be fond of a 10K jaunt.

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I’ve run Central Park on pretty much every one of the countless trips I’ve taken to NYC over the years.  It’s a great spot to run, and super convenient for the area I like to usually stay in – just a few blocks away from Times Square.

We started together, but then separated out from there to run our own paces.  I don’t have too many photos, as I just mostly focused on running.  I rejoined her towards the end of the run.

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For those curious, I was running with a suite of devices – but mostly looking at comparing the optical HR accuracy of the Garmin Vivosmart HR, and the Microsoft Band (2).  I was also looking at GPS accuracy on the Suunto Traverse.

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Towards the end of the run I did a bunch of 60s hard, 60s easy repeats – these are great for seeing how quick optical sensors react.  The temperature wasn’t too difficult for these devices, being in the mid to upper 50°F’s (10°C’s).

We wrapped things up near the Christmas Markets that were on the corner of the park, before a light jog back to the hotel.

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Not too shabby a run, and overall a good average pace despite the rest portion of the intervals.

Back on TV:

Thursday morning we headed over to the FOX NYC studios to prepare for a segment on last minute gadget gifts I’d be doing.  Here’s The Girl and I, as well as Lew (General Manager of the station).  Lucy didn’t make this cross-town journey either.  Somehow though I think she was happier lounging around the hotel room.

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The segment would cover a wide variety of products, including a drone – since they were interested in me talking about that a bit as well.

Of course, as is often the case – the best laid plans sometimes go a bit…freestyle.  So while we had a well planned line-up prepared, there turned out to be a little more interest in dropping action cameras into bowls of water than I anticipated.  No worries – things worked out.  And quite frankly – I did not at all expect that the GoPro Hero4 Session would actually maintain a connection via WiFi while in the water bowl. Holy crap!

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The water bowl addition literally came into play during the commercial break leading into the segment, so all of 30 to 60 seconds beforehand.  Thus I didn’t have a chance to actually see what would happen to the signal.  Here’s the segment:

That particular segment does illustrate how nice it would be if GoPro streamed a higher-quality HD stream to the iPad, versus the super-low-res version.  Oh well.

Thanks as always to the FOX NYC TV crew for having me on – I definitely enjoy talking tech!

Product Meetings:

The primary purpose of my time in NYC was various meetings with companies preparing product announcements for the CES timeframe in 2 weeks.  Yes, it is somewhat counter-intuitive that you buy all sorts of new gadgets, only to have every tech company in the world release new devices a mere 10 days later.  But, such is life in the tech realm.

For those of you not familiar with CES, it’s the massive Consumer Electronics Show that happens annually in Las Vegas shortly after New Years.  It attracts hundreds of thousands of attendees, with thousands of companies and just as many media members.  It’s a…fun time. And I use ‘fun’ in the exhausting sense.

Most companies will work with major or specialty media outlets in advance of the show, to ensure that these media organizations have all they need upon launch day.  This helps to provide higher quality pieces from the media (more depth, analysis), while also increasing exposure for a product.  As is normally the case, I’m far more likely to write about a product that I’ve played with for 2-3 weeks, than I am something I just saw behind a glass counter on the show floor for 3 minutes and 28 seconds.  Further, it allows me to time my pieces to announcements, rather than whenever I have time to write about it.

Obviously, I don’t have anything I can show you at this time – aside to say that in general I expect this to be one of the busiest sports/fitness/health technology CES’s we’ve ever seen (which should come as no surprise given trends in the industry).

More TV!

Well, TV in the sense of a video series.  Close enough.  And plus, you can indeed watch it on your TV.

I recently stumbled on Brian Cristiano’s YouTube series ‘Out of Scope’, which basically focuses on the ‘business’ side of sports marketing – be it technology or non-technology products.  It’s an interesting look at the other side of the coin, essentially the folks that lob products in my direction on behalf of companies.  The episodes are usually under 10-15 minutes, with lots of great insights.

After I mentioned I was headed to NY, he invited me over to be on the show.  So we sat down for about 20 minutes and chatted about what it’s like to be a product reviewer and how different companies approach me, or product releases, in general.  Essentially behind the scenes stuff.  Here’s the episode:

Good times, and Brian’s also a fairly competitive cyclist himself – so fun just to chat about endurance sports in general.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert:

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Lastly, we lucked out with nabbing some tickets to the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.  In between all the bouncing back and forth on Thursday between meetings, I happened to meet The Girl for lunch briefly near our hotel.  This happened to be across the street from the Late Show studios.  As we exited lunch at 12:58PM, we noticed a sign saying if we wanted tickets to line-up at 1:00PM.  Sure enough with less than a dozen people in line – we easily got seats!

Now you can’t take any photos in the studio (they kick you out for it), we did take one outside:

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Oh, and here’s a screen-capture from it later that night on TV.  We’re up in the very top left corner, pretty much in front of those two gigantic poster-looking photos.  You can watch the whole episode on their site.

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The guests were Michael Moore, Samantha Power, and Michael C. Hall.  And we also got to see a secondary band being taped for a show in early January (they couldn’t make it then).

The whole thing lasted about 3 hours all-in, but was pretty entertaining.  Stephen did a Q&A session prior to the show, as well as in between some of the commercial breaks and other prep-times (especially preparing for the band).  If you ever get a chance to see any of the shows while in NYC – definitely take advantage of it.  The tickets are free as well!

With that – we’re just working our way to Seattle now (airline delays aren’t helping that cause), where we’ll spend the holidays.  Looking forward to it, and thanks for reading!

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29 Comments

  1. Martin Mortensen

    Hi,
    About going to CES, please take time to go by BRAGI so we can have your comments on their wireless headphones with HRM, MP3 and lots more…
    link to ces16.mapyourshow.com

  2. Thank goodness, I was starting to think the Internet was broken :)

    Can’t wait for CES this year, with Garmin going all out on features it’ll be interesting to see what their competitors do, especially with Polar and Suunto due a new Tri watch. I’m thinking v850/v900, Ambit4 and Edge 820 at the very least. I’m hoping Garmin are all watched out at the high end, although a new Quatix is overdue based on Fenix 3. I also think Suunto will try an Epix this year, hopefully with a bigger screen like their Eon Dive computer.

  3. Nick

    Hi Ray,
    Just wondering if you think it’ll be a safe buy for the FR 235 for Christmas, or if someone will have something up their sleeve at CES that will give it a run for it’s money.

    Have a safe Christmas

    • Matthew B.

      235 is nice, either way they won’t be disappointed. But, there will likely be a new Garmin Vivoactive, Fitbits, Suuntos, Polars, and other brands we hadn’t even considered, so that’s just a fair warning. The new Fitbits apparently will have more advanced sensors and are big departures from their previous gens, so that could be quite interesting.

    • Even if something does appear to rival the FR235 at CES it won’t ship immediately. If you plan to use the device immediately, or for an event before July then choose from what it shipping today. The FR235 seems to be the right mix of features at a good price, so for a runner would be a great option, and it’s unlikely anything better will be along other than the FR630.
      Don’t forget, as a new device Garmin actually will be showing the FR235 and FR630 at CES this year, and probably the 920XT, Fenix 3 and Epix as well. Just because Ray doesn’t photo/comment on them doesn’t mean they aren’t at the show it’s just that he’s already covered them and concentrating on the new stuff we’re not aware of.
      There might be a replacement Polar M400 and v800 in 2016, and a Suunto Ambit 4 but it’s unlikely they will be better than the FR235 for a runner, unlikely they will be significantly cheaper (well, maybe the M400) and unlikely they will be shipping in January.

    • If you listen carefully you can probably hear Ray laughing at my speculation while wearing all of these new gadgets under NDA :)

    • Matthew B.

      You are correct on the launch date, but if the Vivoactive was any indication, the Vivoactive 2/HR will be as capable as a running watch as the 235 (at least in some respects).

      Garmin is going to be at the show (their on the exhibitor list).

    • Bob Goodman

      I say, they will announce the Fenix 4………the Fenix 3 was announced last year, and it was a year after the Fenix 2.

    • They just added MOB to the Fenix 3 so even more doubtful on a Fenix 4 in January as this is a sign of Quatix 2 using the Fenix 3 hardware platform just as they did with the D2 Bravo.

    • Looks like Garmin are releasing a Fenix 3 HR (with optical HR) and a Tactix Bravo at CES based on the Fenix 3 hardware so very unlikely to see a Fenix 4. There are pics of both in the Garmin press room, and screenshots on my site :)

  4. Gabe

    Nice write up Ray. Speaking of parks do check out Bryant park.

    I’d also recommend people stay far far away from time square.

    Do check out Brooklyn. It’s a great contrast to the craziness of manahattan and certainly feels less touristy.

  5. John S.

    Do you have any initial thoughts on the Microsoft Band and Garmin Vivosmart HR? I need a new activity tracker for my company’s new insurance provider and have had my eye on these.

    • bob

      You should strongly consider the garmin 230 if you are looking for an activity tracker. Its quite good. The battery life for activity tracking is superb. The bluetooth on all the time battery life is a bit poor, about 2.5 weeks. The 230 is light and comfortable and looks mostly like a normal watch.

  6. Mark P

    Ray – interested why you are wearing the MS Band the ‘wrong’ way round? (screen on top of your wrist rather than underneath)

  7. Jimbo

    I’m curious to see how a run in Charleston fits in between NYC and heading to Seattle.

    • Yeah, we went down to Charleston for the weekend to hang-out with family down there. Definitely nice to run in some warmer weather!

      Regrettably, I forgot to charge the GoPro battery and realized that about .25mi into the run. Doh!

  8. Joel

    Ray,

    Very odd staging for the morning show. Was it intentional to have your back to the camera the whole time?

  9. Scott

    Ray–let me know if you want to do a fast run from Leschi to Seward park while in seattle

  10. runner

    Nice to see that you are working on a Suunto Traverse review… I’m looking very much forward to it! Especially since there is no information on experiences with the new v1.5 update anywhere on the web.

  11. Gary

    Re: CES ’16….C’mon Ambit 4!!!

  12. Scott

    Smooth of the host to dry his hand on the back of your shirt.

  13. Tosin

    Rayyyyyyy!!!!!
    You never do a NYC group run!!!!!!!!!!!
    End rant!

    It’s going to be 72 degrees F in the next few days here.

  14. Sam Power was on Colbert?! I had no idea. I’ll have to find time to watch it because I’m really intrigued by this…that’s one audience I would have liked to be in!

  15. Sam Wiseman

    Hi Ray,

    Any ETA on the report of how the MS Band2 performs?
    I am looking to update from my current mix of devices to try and simplify to just one that can capture a lot of different data – and still help on the golf course.
    A dream device is Fenix with inbuilt HR and Approach style apps… but no one seems to one to build it.
    Go figure??
    Anyway love the blog – enjoy the holidays.

    • So in general, some thoughts:

      A) GPS Accuracy: Seems quite good and consistent across a wide range of environments. Happy with it.
      B) Optical HR accuracy: Mixed. Some it’s really good, yet other times it’s really bad. All over the map.
      C) Physical design: To me, it’s just awkwardly heavy and generally uncomfortable.
      D) Battery: 2-3 days on average.
      E) Golf: Unfortunately haven’t touched that.
      F) Fitness customization: Super-low, you can slightly tweak a few data fields, but not much.

      Overall: Hmm, kinda blah.

    • Sam Wiseman

      Thanks for that.
      You’re a speedy replying superstar.
      I might just wait for Garmin to come up with something as I like the ecosystem I am in… just not the number of devices…. but they work well.