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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

While the weather gets chillier, the sun has mostly kept itself in view. And atop that, a steady stream of new products makes their way into the cave. Most are more minor in nature, but still certainly interesting. Plus, this is the time of year I clear out the backlog of products awaiting reviews.

1) Back in the Cold Water Testing

After my Wahoo RIVAL In-Depth Review last week, Wahoo’s been chugging along trying to get fixes in my hands on various things. One of those was swapping out my RIVAL unit for another one, to see if perhaps there was a hardware issue. In conjunction with that, one of their engineers decided to join me for an openwater swim Friday. Wahoo actually has a few engineers here in the Netherlands, and that includes ones working on RIVAL. I met him at the usual swim dock:

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Notable that he had two different ELEMNT units in his swim buoy as reference track data. I also had a swim buoy with a reference track GPS.

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After jumping in the water and swearing a bunch, we headed out. Albeit, separated by a solid 10 or so meters, and then eventually we took different routes. Though, he actually swam with my original RIVAL watch (plus another newer build RIVAL watch).

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In any case, when all was said and done, this new RIVAL plotted a great openwater swim track – virtually identical to that of the FR745, which were in turn virtually identical to the reference track on the swim buoy:

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However, lest you think this solves the issue entirely though…not quite yet. I went for a run on Monday around town with said new unit, and out of the four GPS units on the run (Garmin FR745, COROS Pace 2, Polar Grit X, plus the RIVAL), the Rival was the least accurate across the board, such as sections like these:

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On the bright side, this shot came out well:

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You’ll see the full data set for both the extra swim and run added into the Wahoo RIVAL In-Depth Review here shortly.

2) Recorded ‘2020 Sports Watches in Review’ with DesFit:

Starting on Thursday I began the charging party, which was getting some 20 different watches all charged up for the 2nd edition of the Sportswatch Year in Review video. It’s where we talk about every major sports watch that was released that year.

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The first one I did last year with Des when he came over for the December 2019 Open House. Sadly, neither him making the trip, nor the open house will be happening anytime soon. So instead, we lined up all our respective watches:

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And then got onto Zooming it:

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We recorded for nearly 2 hours. Almost entirely non-stop discussion. Last year’s recording he left as long-form, almost 40 minutes. Though, he’ll edit some this year to make it reasonable again. I uploaded 140GB of video files to him over the weekend. Sometime in the coming days the video will post on his YouTube channel – so keep an eye out there!

Also, early next month myself, DesFit, and GPLama (Shane Miller) will tackle the entire sports tech year in review, including trainers, power meters, and plenty more. Also long-form. Maybe I’ll even stick it on the podcast feed. Hang tight!

3) I Bought Some Lightbulbs

With our new home we’ve got a bit of a garden area to decorate, and somehow along the way I got convinced to buy the Philips Hue bulbs. I’m not sure entirely how. I’ve long used Philips Hue at the studio for a few things adding color to certain photo/video shoots (such as the background on this trainer review). And then more recently behind the gondola for the DCR Quarantine Corner:

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See, it’s atop my super clean gondola:

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However, I’ve always thought it was kinda silly and overpriced. And to some degree, I still think that’s the case. I don’t see much value in swapping out every lightbulb in a house for a Philips Hue bulb. Especially for day to day lights that would otherwise/always be some variant of white, and where you basically want light switch control anyway.

Now for accent lights – that’s where Hue makes more sense. Expensive cents, but some sense. In our case, it’s virtually entirely outdoors, and due to the way the electrical works, we don’t have any control from inside the home without tearing up a patio (it all routes to a shed). So this kinda solves that. Some of them I don’t like – for example the floodlight is hideously ugly in person, so that’s going back.

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Also, did I mention The Girl wanted the color changing bits? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

4) Chugging away on site tweaks

I’m not sure how exactly all the site editing/tweaking always tends to fall in November, but it does. And lately updates to the site have been taking up a bunch of time. Most of these are backend changes with the product database, and how it shows up at the end of reviews, largely designed to make it less of a cluster-fudge than it is today, hopefully making it more clear.

There’s also the reality that the product database now has some 1,170 products in it now. Now, while that’s the total number, that doesn’t mean everything is comparable in the product comparison database. The backend database holds product information for things that aren’t comparable, like links/images for bike computer mounts listed in reviews, GoPro accessories, sensors, etc… And these days I even track historical price information too across a dozen geographies and numerous sites. Maybe I’ll do something with it.

Plus, there’s a ton of fixes/tweaks/optimizations related to Black Friday deals and sales, all of which are listed there. And in fact, that’s a perfect example of the product database showing what it does.

5) Mobile by Peak Design Arrived

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Longtime readers know that a few years ago after moving to Amsterdam (you know it’s coming up on three years?!?), I started using the Quad Lock mounts/cases, and eventually both myself and The Girl converted our entire fleet of bikes and phone cases over to it. I love it. Note, I don’t tend to use Quad Lock or my phone on my road bike handlebars as my everyday bike computer, rather, on our commuter/cargo/etc bikes.

However, I saw the Peak Design Mobile setup on Kickstarter, and it was like that meme:

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Fast forward a pile of weeks and this box showed up:

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It’s the full kit. All the things. I took a pile of unboxing photos. Perhaps more than I should have.

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And then I got it mounted up on the cargo bike (which is mostly my daily driver). I had hoped to have multiple mounts to also put it on my road bike, mountain bike, etc.. for quicker testing, but I’ll just swap them around to test over the next few weeks.

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Looking for a final non-review review in about two weeks (leaving you one week to decide before the project ends). I say non-review review because this is technically pre-production hardware. Super nice hardware, but still pre-production. For example, there’s a tiny bit of play in the mount. Not a ton, barely noticeable, but more than I’m used to with other units. That’s something they’ll likely solve for production, but I can’t say until I see that down the road. Here’s the mini-tripod:

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And the bike mount:

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In general, after a bit of usage thus far, my two-second comments are:

A) Absolutely @#$@# love the little mini-tripod thingy, it’s like a few credit cards stacked atop each other – that’ll probably sell me on the system
B) Love the look of the case, and the feel of the fabric
C) Inversely, I suspect the case/fabric would/will quickly look like @#$#@ after a few good bike rides in the rain/mud
D) The case doesn’t quite slip into my jean pockets as fast as the Quad Lock case, since it rubs fabric on fabric
E) I like the out-front phone mount having a GoPro mount below it, that’s great.
F) I’m not a fan of it being a May delivery timeframe, though Peak Designs is hardly a new company, so risk is pretty low here

Ok, that’s it for now. I need to get this 2020 Gadget Recommendations Guide done before the end of the day. With that – thanks for reading!

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47 Comments

  1. Mark I.

    Did I miss the Apple Watch Series 6 in-depth review?

  2. Adele Miller

    Would it be cheeky to ask for a preview of how you’re getting along with the production version of the Karoo 2? I believe customers have started receiving units, but I can’t find a single review aside from your prototype write-up.

    • It’s good thus far. I mean, ultimately the software is the same as the Karoo 1, save a few new features like the beeper and the phone notifications. But it’s all working good thus far for me. I’ll probably head back out again tomorrow for it. I often drop little tidbits onto Instagram Stories.

  3. Ben

    Hey Ray,
    Didn’t you notice a bit of play in the Quad Locks system as well?
    Mine is two years old and now moves A LOT. Given their price, I would have expected them to last longer.
    But I guess 10.000 km on my road bike is kind of extreme usage. But still. Really interested to this peak design goes.
    Bes,

    • No plat at all on any of ours. I think we’ve got 4-5 mounts around, and both The Girl and I have phone cases, and I’ve got a few spare phones with older cases.

      I don’t remember off-hand how many KM the cargo bike has on it right now, maybe 5,00KM? Plus other bikes that have less Quadlock mileage. But yeah, I’d agree 10K on your road bike would be on the more extreme end for a mount like that.

    • Pavel Vishnyakov

      Same problem here and it looks like the case is the culprit: I have a Quadlock case from my previous phone which wobbles a bit on a mount (and that case suffered more than two years through 10k km in all possible weather), but the case that I’ve just received is rock solid on the same mount.

    • Ben

      Thanks much! Good to know that just changing the case solves the issues. I’ll order one on their current sales then. Thanks.

  4. Bruce Burkhalter

    First, thanks for all the work with the Black Friday deals. It looks like it is a ton of work (and sort of a pain!). In your Garmin keynote talk you said primary revenue is from affiliate links. So I guess this is an important week for you! Looking forward to some good deals.

    And thanks for going into the water again to test the RIVAL. Hopefully they don’t send you new beta versions to test every day. 🙂

    • Thanks Bruce!

      Indeed, affiliate links via Amazon/etc is the majority revenue source today. Over time I’d prefer to change that to be more balanced with DCR Supporters (like yourself), the DCR Analyzer, and such. But that’s a slower transition.

      I’ll probably head into the water again next week. Maybe I’ll find my neoprene swim cap first…

  5. Tyler

    I’m currently trying a few of the C by GE color changing smart bulbs for a few select locations in the house, that I don’t plan to expand.
    Much better pricing than Philips Hue, and better integration to Google.

    i don’t understand why people pay for Hue, nor why their aren’t more (cheaper) competitors yet.

    • Stéphane

      Having a lot of Hue lights (strips, bulbs, spot, …) from years it’s really cool.
      Perfect for domotics use and giving colors in some area. Yes it’s expensive like everything when it’s futuristic but there are often sales ?
      With an ambilight Philips TV and some bulbs, it’s the perfect pain cave

    • Yeah, I’m waiting to see what pops up BF-wise this weekend for a few more lights I still need. Not a ton, just a few things. I see the starter kits most often go onsale, and here in the Netherlands, you can get reasonable bulk discounts on some of the outdoor stuff from Bol.

  6. Dan

    I’m about 4 years in with my Peak Designs backpack and it gets lots of abuse, too many airmiles (well ok not THIS year) and I really thought it would look shabby by now; absolutely not. Still looks fresh and great. That may or may not be applicable, but they do at least have good form.
    Dan

    • Good to hear. I’ve always liked their stuff, but also just struggled to justify some of the prices for how much usage I’d probably get out of it. I tend to throw my camera stuff in whatever the heck is nearby at the time…

  7. Joe

    I know your bikes would all have dedicated bike computers, but especially with all of these mobile mounts including Peak Design’s (which I’m also interested in), have you thought about writing comparisons of available iOS or Android bike computer apps?

    I know I’ve struggled to find anything decent on Android before settling on an app called Jepster, but I don’t know if there’s anything better out there.

    • Yeah, every once in a while I ponder doing it, and then realize how incredibly complex it is with so many apps, basically each requiring at least a few rides to see what the pros and cons are.

    • Ben

      I’ve tested a few, and to me, the best option is Cyclemeter (link to abvio.com), and by far.
      Just missing the turn by turn navigation (and climb pro 😉 ), but otherwise great (pairs with tons of sensors, many displays fully customizable, load and follow GPS trace, a boatload of post-activity statistics).

  8. Aaron

    You mention swimmers generally get nothing in sports watches. It is getting better.
    On your product database, swimming has since been rolled out for many garmin watches via firmware from the last few years. Your product compare-a-tron shows these watches as not having swimming tracking functionality.
    I was looking for a cheap swimming watch and excluded many based on your compare-a-trine until I actually checked the firmware update notices.
    Awesome tool otherwise. And great work on keeping the product reviews coming.

    • That’s a totally interesting point. I’ve completely forgotten about using the product database that way. The top-level filter needs a re-work. In the details it shows all the most accurate swim features, but the overall filter for recommended type doesn’t often get populated.

      Noted, adding to list!

    • Ok…I think…fixed. I just added the swim tag to a boatload of them. I think I’ve got all Garmin/Suunto/Polar/Samsung/Apple/COROS watches covered/validated.

      Was there a specific one you were looking at that didn’t have it?

      Thanks!

  9. Tomasz

    Just a question, if Peak Design Mobile causes such a memic reaction, why not Topeak Ridecase? They also had an out-front mount with GoPro hanger for years.

    Peak Design’s is definitely more elegant than both Topeak and Quad Lock, I’ll give it that. But Topeak has been solid for me for the last decade, and the case includes a kickstand by default.

    • I think you answered it yourself. 😉

      “Peak Design’s is definitely more elegant than both Topeak and Quad Lock, I’ll give it that.”

      Basically, that’s it – which…is just akin to the meme.

      In this case though, the little mini twistable tripod is a big one. I have to look at Topeak and see how specific that is in the functionality (meaning, can I get my phone vertically level in both portrait and horizontal. Peak Design is appealing to photo/video people in that realm, so I fall into that.

      Like you, my Quadlock (in my case) has been rocksolid for years, and it gets tons of use in all sorts of crappy weather.

  10. Brian D.

    In terms of site tweaks, I’ve noticed that the google amp version of the mobile site looks differ t than just goi g straight to the site on mobile. Not sure if this is intentional or not but wanted to mention it while you’re already doing site tweaks.

    • Hi Brian-

      Thanks for the heads up. Which mobile OS/phone?

      That one isn’t necessarily intentional I don’t think. But if you’ve got a screenshot or two that’d be awesome, feel free to just shoot them to my via e-mail, using my first name at domain.

      Cheers!

  11. Pavel Vishnyakov

    Eagerly waiting for non-review review of Peak Design Mobile. I’ve backed them on Kickstarter despite having a used a Quadlock mount for four years now (just got myself a new Quadlock case for the new phone).
    My biggest complaint about the Quadlock, which PeakDesign solves, is the bump on the back – I just hate when the phone wobbles on the desk

  12. Andrew

    I’d be tempted to attach all those watches to a giant rolling pin and mount on the baby stroller for a one off GPS test, assuming the DCR Analyzer could handle that many different colours?

  13. gingerneil

    Did someone say podcast…. ?? 😉
    Thats a huge Hue haul – must have cost a fortune. Fancy posting another photo (insta, twitter?) of the full lot so we can see what you’ve gone for ?!

    • Here’s most of it. Some notables:

      A) Flood light is going back as noted. We’re just going to swap it out for one of the regular outdoor garden ones we have.
      B) The bridge kit was missing at time of photo. That included two more color bulbs, the little remote, and the bridge.
      C) The larger power supply 100w for the garden ones is missing in this photo.
      D) The standalone color bulbs you see are going in the wall lights, because…well, someone wanted color wall lights. 😉

      Pumpkins not included by Hue.

      Cheers!

    • gingerneil

      Thanks! I like the look of those outdoor wall lights – and of course the need to be colour! 🙂
      Looking forward to the Peloton-bike-move-style insta-story of you (hopefully not!) electrocuting yourself!

    • Fear not, electrician comes tomorrow, mostly because we don’t have power…anywhere.

      I’m pretty confident with basic electrical tasks in the US (running new wiring, adding outlets, lights, etc…). But zero confidence in Europe. One of these days I need to find/take a basics class for Euro electrical stuff.

    • gingerneil

      Its not that hard really – but understand the reluctance of working outside! Lots more to consider with armoured cable etc.
      Thanks, btw, but I think you’re about to cost me a fair amount of money as I’m getting full on lighting FOMO now!

    • Yeah, it’s honestly mostly I just need to understand the different wiring colors/standards/etc here. Outside is a different ballpark, but not horribly so. Also, given our home is 90 years old, there’s some electrical funk. I went to add a Nest Thermostat the other day (err…month), and literally nothing was labeled, and everything using the same color wire. I’m like: WTF?!?

      As for the Hue, at least some things are on sale on BF right now. Albeit, mostly just starter kits. So they sucker ya in with that, but then when you need to buy a bunch, there’s only minor discounts.

      Enjoy!

    • gingerneil

      Typical bait and switch!
      I’m looking at third party zigbee lights now – hue just seems overly priced for what it is, especially when I have the started kit already. Smart GU10s and E27 bulbs in standard external fixings will save a fortune, and infinitely more choice. (although the Hue product range looks more complex than Garmin’s!)

    • Yeah, I’ve done little research on how I can leverage 3rd party lights.

      Which is funny, because living in DC, I went all-in on smarthome tech. Albeit, that was 16 years ago now. But still, every single lightswitch in the four-story townhouse swapped out (smart lightbulbs weren’t really a thing then). Sensors on all the doors, motion sensors in every room, etc.. The works.

      Ultimately though, the tech was just too finicky then in comparison to where it is now. Even now, there’s still elements that are imperfect. For example putting in a smart lightbulb is ultimately silly without putting in a smart switch at the main legacy light switch on the wall. And then once you put the switch in, it mostly negates the core on/off value of a smart bulb (except for changing color) – at least indoors.

    • André Berger

      You can have a look at the IKEA smart lightbulbs, they also work with the Philips Hue bridge, and are quite a lot cheaper.

    • Good call, those are substantially cheaper! I could see diving into that realm for things like shed lights or such where I just want it so when I forget to turn off the lights I don’t have to head back out in the rain to turn it off.

  14. Nicole Thomas

    I guess I missed why you own a gondola…

  15. Dan

    Quad Lock has a GoPro attachment for their Out Front Mount as well, I have it on my bike.

    • That’s true.

      To be fair, my first choice for the Peak Design bike mount wouldn’t have been an out-front mount. It’s just not what I really want on a commuter bike. The regular band-style mounts would be better.

  16. Hannes

    Dear Ray and followers,

    can you say anything regarding damages to the phone by vibrations when mounted to a bike?

    Kind regards,
    Hannes

    • I haven’t had any issues there at all. I have heard of a few people that believe there’s a connection there, but it’s honestly unclear to me if that’s a legit issue in 2020 anymore (there was some concerns way back when on optical stabilization of cameras, but it’s fuzzy to me if that was a perceived issue or real issue, or an example of a phone that already had a manuf/defect and this simply helped finish the job).

      In any case, for me or The Girl, no problems.

    • Hannes

      Thank you!

      I might give it a try instead of a dedicated headunit because of strava beacon and segments. Now with BT-HR back in the Strava app I think it is worth it.

      Thanks again!

      Hannes

  17. Malcolm

    I was looking back over some of your old posts and saw Dr ok m 2019 the article about the SRM SPD power meter pedals.

    Looking at SRM’s site now it is November 2030, it says coming soon, that a long time since your first post. Do you have any updates on them. Us gravel riders I’m sure are interested, especially as some crank based meters won’t fit due to lack of space on bikes such as the trek checkpoint.

    Thanks for all you do, for the bike industry, nice to have you, Shane and Des all being unbiased in your reviews and advice.

  18. Geoff

    Great ask. I can’t seem to find any news, reviews, etc. I have one pre-ordered and it would be great to get some new, in-depth info (from the company, DC, etc) on the product.