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Week in Review–May 17th, 2020

WeekInReview22

The Week in Review is a collection of both all the goodness I’ve written during the past week around the internet, as well as a small pile of links I found interesting – generally endurance sports related. I’ve often wondered what to do with all of the coolness that people write, and while I share a lot of it on Twitter and Facebook, this is a better forum for sending it on to y’all. Most times these different streams don’t overlap, so be on the lookout at all these places for good stuff!

So with that, let’s get into the action!

Sports Tech Deals of Note:

A new slate of sports tech deals began over the last few days. These are typical deals that Garmin does *every* single year, usually starting about a month out from Father’s Day. Suunto also often jumps in the fray (and others too).

ProductSale PriceAmazonClever TrainingOther siteSale Notes
Apple Watch Series 6 - 40mm$15 offIt's not the biggest deal ever...but hey, it's a deal (and the only deal!).
Apple Watch Series 6 - 44mm$15 offIt's not the biggest deal ever...but hey, it's a deal (and the only deal!).
Apple iPad - Latest Model 8th Gen (32GB)$30 off (10% off)I use my iPad primarily for TrainerRoad as well as Zwift when not with a larger display. I also occasionally use it for other apps, namely The SufferFest - but I pretty much test every smart trainer app on it. This is the latest iPad that was just announced barely two weeks ago, so not too bad to see it on sale already (US AMAZON DEAL ONLY).
Garmin Vivoactive 4 - 31% off$239⚡ This is by *FAR* the lowest price I've seen for the Garmin Vivoactive 4. A very solid deal. My guess here is that they're just trying to offload some inventory, as I don't expect a replacement given Garmin just announced it's Venu SQ (and typically Garmin would concurrently announce the Venu/Vivoactive series at the same time). This unit has music (with Spotify), and an always-on screen. This is $61 lower than any price I've seen.
Wahoo KICKR + CLIMB Bundle - $200 off!$1,599This is a simple bundle of the Wahoo KICKR 2018 + the KICKR CLIMB, for $1,599 (versus the normal cost of $1,799).

DCRAINMAKER.COM Posts in the Past Week:

Here’s all the goodness that ended up on the main page this past week:

Wednesday: Garmin Varia RTL515 and RVR315 Cycling Radar In-Depth Review
Thursday: Garmin Launches Strava & Komoot Route Sync: Works on devices a decade old
Thursday: FORM Swim Goggles Adds Openwater Swimming with Garmin & Apple Watches
Saturday: How To: See Map Overlays of Varia Radar Data, with Vehicle Counts

I suspect for this week ahead we’re going to see a bit more variety in the subject matters. I don’t plan dates for announcements, they just happen when they happen. Outside of some Monday announcements, it’s gonna be a review focused week!

YouTube Videos This Past Week:

Here’s what hit the tubes over on the You of Tube, definitely don’t forget to subscribe there to get notified of videos the second they hit!

Stuff I Found Interesting Around The Interwebs:

Here’s a not-so-small smattering of all the random things that I stumbled on while doing my civic duty to find the end of the Internet (and in this case, some of these are from the past few weeks…as my backlog is a bit longer):

1) Wanna build your own power meter? Now you can: If you ever wanted to channel your inner Keith Wakeham, you’ve got your opportunity. This company is well known in the power meter industry, and makes OEM products for a few different major players. I’m not super clear on the business motivation here, aside perhaps marketing and maybe trying to help a few power meter start-ups leverage their products. But it’s a fun story nonetheless.

2) The story of a Dutchman trying to build a mountain: While this post was only this week, the backstory predated my arrival to the Netherlands. That said, I’m totally game for a mountain around here somewhere!

3) Fitbit to build ventilators: Interesting. Keep in mind the Google acquisition of Fitbit has not yet closed, so it’s not clear what – if any, say Google had in this. It’s also not super clear to me how much demand still exists for ventilators given how many companies have stated their intentions to build them.

4) Behind the scenes on returning broadcast football to TV shows: This is fascinating for a lot of reasons. Technical, logistics, etc… But I think the biggest takeaway here is that this changes the landscape forever. While much of broadcast TV sports is done by hiring local crews that staff a remote truck that effectively plugs in the side of a stadium, the reality is that there’s still a lot of people that travel around. Like every other element of business, companies are going to realize they can do this remotely – even if those people are now in a building with good connectivity versus their homes.

5) Uber sells Jump to Lime: Jump was their bike-sharing scheme. I used it a few times in Paris, though I wouldn’t call myself a huge user of that specific platform. Ultimately, I think the challenge is there’s just too many platform options in some cities, coupled with some cities being super-resistant to making bike-sharing platforms easier. And of course, COVID-19 was simply the knife to the heart of many efforts that relied on people constantly touching and sharing the same space or objects. Still, COVID-19 has also showed us how valuable cycling can be as a replacement for short-distance journeys using other methods.

6) Apple continues to extend wearables lead: However, the real story here is that Garmin has surpassed Fitbit on sales of smartwatches, selling over a million units in Q1. For reference, the singular requirement of a ‘smartwatch’ by these analysis firms (I asked) is that it must support 3rd party apps. Which is a debatable, but probably fair line in the sand to draw.

7) The 20 Fastest Road Bikes In the World (according to Strava): I dipped into this a bit back earlier this year in the Strava annual report, but Cycling Tips decided to do it justice with all sorts of fascinating analysis. Note the caveats (which the author does a great job outlining), as always, but I think it still begins to paint a clear picture. [Yes, this is from last month, it was in my bucket to share since then.]

8) Remember AirDog autonomous sports drones? Before there was Skydio, there was AirDog. I even wrote a few reviews about them. Super cool stuff at the time. Ultimately though, they just couldn’t compete with the likes of DJI, and lacked the capital to dance solo like Skydio. In any case, they were sold to a US company. Exactly how they’ll be used is highly fuzzy. Sounds like an IP purchase to me. (Thanks Mārtiņš)

Sports Tech Device Firmware Updates This Week:

Each week I quickly highlight some of the new firmware, app, software, and website service updates that I see go out. If you’re a sports technology company and release an update – shoot me a quick note (just one-liners are perfect, or Tweet it at me is even better) and I’ll make mention of it here. If I don’t know about it, I won’t be able to post about it. Sound good?  Oh – and if you want to get a head start on things, this page is a great resource for watching Garmin and a few other firmware updates.

Garmin Edge 820/520/Edge Explorer Firmware Update: Pile of bug fixes

Garmin Fenix 5 Series Firmware BETA Update: ANT sensor improvements and other bugs

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus Series Firmware BETA Update: Random performance improvements

Garmin Forerunner 735XT Firmware Update: Bug fix

Garmin Vivosmart 4 Firmware Update: Algorithm improvements

Garmin Vivoactive Firmware Update: Bug fix

Garmin Vivoactive HR Firmware Update: Same bug fix

Stages Dash M50 and L50 Firmware Update: Added ANT+ trainer control, new data field types, and a boatload of other tweaks

Wahoo ELEMNT/BOLT/ROAM Firmware Update: Bug fix related to speed/cadence sensors

Thanks for reading!

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27 Comments

  1. SMS

    Hey Ray,
    Nice to see the category return. Any chance you‘ll get the Lama to podcast again?

    Thanks

  2. RP

    Thanks Ray! I really enjoyed the power meter and remote broadcasting articles.

  3. krull

    not much to say on the Suunto 9 Baro sale. Does that mean you wouldn’t go for it? 🙂

    • I struggle with the value prop these days there. Suunto has largely said ‘shrug, we don’t care’, when it comes to their platform. These days for that price I’d happily pickup a Polar Grit X instead (not even on sale mind you). Polar has shown significant interest in improving their platform for performance athletes, and keeps on delivering new features.

  4. As far as I can tell, the Garmin/Fitbit deal hasn’t received antitrust clearance yet so any detailed involvement in Fitbit’s business by Garmin while the review is pending would be what antitrust experts call “gun-jumping” – it’s basically illegal to behave as if the deal has received clearance before it actually has, and can lead to substantial penalties.

    Source: used to be an M&A lawyer before I retired.

  5. Their accuracy claim: 2% at 200W – 90RPM. This is very reasonable but devil is usually in the details. I am curious how this number will change if some big lad is crunching pedals at 45RPM up steep hill? Or somebody doing high powered sprint. Also is there any thermal compensation?

    • The 2% at 200w/90RPM is honestly a pretty common way companies baseline power meter accuracy. That’s because at higher wattages most power meters actually get more accurate %-wise (claims). And at lower wattages slightly less so.

      Whether or not a power meter is accurate at sprints or low-cadence all comes down to design (HW & SW).

  6. Josh

    With all the Garmin deals, any insight if we’ll see new models of Forerunners coming out? 955 finally?

    • Andrew M

      The two most obvious new hardware features for Garmin to move forward with would be the AMOLED screen (as seen with the Venu), and LTE connectivity. Both of these would come with a battery hit, and given the premium that 945 users place on battery life (Ironman, ultrarunners, backcountry hikers) I can’t see Garmin looking to introduce these features with a 955. More likely they will introduce them at the 655 level, and then you’ll see them in a 955 some months later when they have had the chance to optimise them (especially with power consumption). This was the pattern with the 645M.

      Add to this the wildcard of COVID. The 2020 triathlon season is largely a wipeout (perhaps some shorter local events in September?), but with gyms being closed, you may see more interest in running. I can see Garmin prioritising a more general purpose/running watch for release this year, with a tri watch in 2021.

      That said, mapping on an AMOLED display would be sweet, and having onboard LTE connectivity might address the flaky mess that LiveTrack is.

      All this is just idle speculation of course.

    • Mike S.

      I don’t really see the upside to AMOLED across their line of watches. I’ve noticed the (slight) difference in the number of pixels in the Fenix 6 series over my 5x. Why not make a LED Retina display? The screens would look better and wouldn’t get the battery hit from an AMOLED display.

    • ChrisTexan

      AMOLED actually draws less power than LED displays, all else being equal, as LEDs require a backlight capable of sufficiently lighting the entire panel, where AMOLED only draws power on “lit” pixels (and proportional to the amount of light needed to emit).
      Drawbacks of AMOLED are potential aging and “burn-in” issues over long periods (longer than most people keep their watches nowadays, LOL).
      AMOLED are also significantly higher in PPI in small form factors compared to LED Retina displays. Having said that, “Retina” is an Apple “buzzword”, their latest, highest-end Retina displays (SuperRetina) are actually OLED, not LED/LCD, although with substantially lower pixel density than Samsung phones of the current generation (iPhone X = 458ppi, Samsung S9 = 570ppi).
      link to support.apple.com

      Finally cost is a factor, AMOLED simply costs a bit more than similar LED/LCDs (including LED Retina models)… so that’s a factor also (although in 1.3″ watch displays, it’s probably a few dollars difference between them, some of which may be offset by the thinner AMOLED panel giving more “design room” in the watch back)
      Here’s a good write-up by someone else,
      link to smallbusiness.chron.com
      Anyhow, AMOLED is probably the best display tech available in watches (and anything else), so long as the (minimal) considerations above are understood. Most also consider AMOLED to be the “best” (visually) display option, LED/LCD Retina displays are very nice, in comparison to other LED/LCD displays, but not next to an OLED of similar specs, or even the OLED “SuperRetina” displays.

  7. Jerrod K Davison

    Hi Ray
    The link to the Garmin Edge software update is broken.
    Regards
    Jerrod

  8. Akiva Wasser

    Hammerhead added Live Segment functionality to the Karoo about a week ago.
    It would be interesting to see a post or video comparing the implementation on all the different devices that support Strava Live Segments.

  9. Koen Van den Bergh

    A nice deal on the fenix 6x pro.. and I have promised myself not to buy another watch until my fenix 5 plus is 2 years old which happens to be only 2 months from now. I hope there will be a similar deal in the summer or towards the end of the year.
    Did you notice you can now import GPX files in Garmin Explore and thus easily sync waypoints/tracks/.. to a fenix 5 plus (or other supported devices), also without an active internet connection.

  10. PeterF

    Garmin seems to have a really hard time with the next firmware for the Edge 530/830: last stable release (5.10) on December 21st, first beta on January 10 and continuing until now…

    Any idea what’s going on here Ray?

  11. Howard Matthews

    Hey Ray! Got quite a dilemma I would really appreciate some assistance with. Just purchased a new Cervelo S3 and struggling with what PM to go with. Partially, I have an InfoCrank on my tribike (which triathlon is primarily my focus) and struggling with whether I should match my tribike setup for training consistency or go with a more economical setup of adding the stages left side only to my Shimano Ultegra 8000 crank that comes stock with my new road bike. Is this a no brainer that I am overthinking?

    • That’s a good option to be fair. Certainly, I’ve got some minor concerns around left-only power, especially if you vary a lot on balance. But my guess is you can look at your Infocrank data and know whether or not that’s case.

      The key things I’d be looking at are:

      A) Poke at a few long rides, does your balance shift over the course of the ride?
      B) Poke at a few interval workouts (hard ones), any major shifts there?

      If not, a left-side unit would probably work well for you.

    • Howard

      Ray,
      That’s great feedback and exactly what I needed. Thanks a lot!!!

  12. Tam

    Hey Ray, is the Garmin Edge 520 (without +) EOF and therefore will not get any firmware updates? Thanks.

    • Nothing feature-wise. Sometimes we see minor maintenance things, or random backwards compatibility type updates to much older units. But definitely not features.

  13. Johan Swanepoel

    Hi Ray. I just want to find out if you think it’s worth it to buy the Fenix 6X in June 2020. Do you think there is going to be a new variant to the Fenix line in August??