Week in Review–June 13th, 2021

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:

There’s a number of strong sports tech deals out there right now, primarily tied to Fathers Day coming up.

ProductSale PriceAmazonOther siteSale Notes
GoPro Hero 9 Black - $50 off$399This is the camera I use for all my daily shooting during sports. Actually, I've bought a few of them. Note that if you're a GoPro Plus Subscriber, then it's a bit cheaper at $349 from GoPro directly, but otherwise, it's $449.

DCRAINMAKER.COM Posts in the Past Week:

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

Sunday: Week in Review–June 6th, 2021
Monday: A Few Random Things I Did This Weekend
Monday: Here’s All The New Apple watchOS 8 Upcoming Features
Tuesday: Jaybird Vista 2 Earbuds In-Depth Review For Sports
Wednesday: 5 Sport Tech Products I Want To See AirTag Integration In
Friday: Shimano Kills Off Pioneer’s Bike Computers In The Ugliest Way Possible

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. Also, there’s a few things this week that were actually from a week or two ago – I’m just catching up on this list:

1) Insanely Fast Cameraman: Seriously, just watch this clip. This is insane. Also, seriously, this is why quick and portable cable cam systems were invented.

2) Peloton Hardware Launches in Australia on July 14th: They don’t plan to have instructors in Australia, but rather have their ‘Australian’ instructors operate out of the NYC studio, which makes sense logistically.

3) Apple’s Beats Studio Buds may be soon: I use the PowerBeats Pro as my main headphones when not testing other things. They’re good in an Apple ecosystem, though not perfect (mainly, the charging case is the size of a donut, and often fails to correctly ‘lock’ in place so it doesn’t charge one side (a super common problem for PowerBeats). That said, I’ve always kinda liked the over-ear design, so we’ll see.

4) Stretchable skin-attached OLED screen: Samsung shows off a prototype that’s a heart rate sensor on an OLED screen directly on the skin. That said, I’m having a really hard time understanding the actual practical purpose for why this is better than any number of wearables already on the market (or, in the future). Even the 1,000 ‘skin stretches’ tested limit isn’t actually that many. Every movement of your wrist is in effect a skin stretch. How many of those happen per day? Hundreds? 500? I don’t know. I’m not saying there’s zero application for this, but rather, I just don’t understand a practical reason why this would be used over anything else on earth.

5) London’s new swimming pool hanging between two buildings: Speaking of similar ‘Wait, why?’ type projects, is this clear swimming pool connecting two buildings. To be fair, I don’t really care about the ‘Why’ answer – because, unlike the OLED screens, this is downright awesome. It’s like the Singapore rooftop pool at the crazy expensive hotel, except, with more ballsy engineers.

6) Runner’s World’s ‘Twelve Minutes and a Life ‘ Wins Pulitzer: If you didn’t read this long-form article last June when it first came out, I’d strongly encourage you do so. And glad to see it get the recognition it, and the underlying issues, deserved.

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, Wahoo, Polar, and a few other firmware updates.

Garmin Fenix 6 Series/MARQ/Enduro Series Firmware Update: Mostly a boatload of fixes, plus some tweaks for power meters and Garmin Explore.

Garmin Instinct Series Firmware Update: Bug fix for Garmin Explore crashes.

Garmin Venu 2/2S Firmware Update: Mostly just various fixes.

Suunto 9 Series Firmware Update: Surprisingly, Suunto released most of the new Suunto 9 Peak features back to their existing Suunto 9 series watches, including the new Snap to Route feature.

With that, thanks for reading!

DC Rainmaker:

View Comments (33)

  • I received Garmin Edge 530 version 8.00 pushed to my device yesterday, but can't find listing or release notes for it anywhere. Anyone know where the release notes are?

  • Looking at all of the deals on all of the Garmin watches makes me wonder about the necessity of so many models/variants. If you were in charge, Ray, how many watches would there need to be? Is there a lot of waste in models and variants of models?

    Should there be a few core models that, with a small subscription, unlock different features? That way, if you're just running, but like the design of the Fenix, you pay less to have it. But if you want multi-sport functionality, it's another $5/month. And if you want functionality that other watches currently posses (and the Fenix doesn't), $10/month unlocks everything. I'm sort of thinking like the Tesla models that you can pay to "unlock" certain features. Then, subsequent owners of the car have to decide if they want to pay for those features or not.

    • I see where you are coming from, and I do agree there seem to be too many models, but I'm not sold on the subscription method for everything. A subscription here and there all add up. It can get expensive.

    • I wouldn't buy another Garmin watch if they started any subscription crap. $500+ watches should work without that kind of stuff

    • Why not the other way around? Every watch gets all the software, since development effort is already done and paid for. You choose the size and materials you like or can afford. A Fenix is expensive because it's made out of Titanium, the 945 is basically the same watch but cheaper because it's plastic. When I buy the Fenix, since the 3 I've always bought the expensive one with the metal band, because I like it. Remove the barometer and you'd obviously lose some software features and some cost, same for music and map storage. All of those I'm good with, it's when they arbitrarily add and remove stuff or don't support older models that bothers me. I get that my Fenix 5 will never be able to store a map, it just doesn't have anywhere to put it. I don't get why it can't get the new watch face or widgets. I also don't get why my Fenix 5+ can't support a Concept 2 rower natively yet the 6 can. I'll buy the next Fenix as soon as it launches, I am certain the newer hardware will be better. I'd feel a lot better about doing so if Garmin treated their software the way Apple does.

    • > Every watch gets all the software, since development effort is already done and paid for.

      This doesn't make the things easier, as you also have hardware differences between the watches. So instead of supporting several code bases (one per watch line / model / etc) you'll have a single codebase with lots of flagged code "if this hardware is present" / "if that hardware is present".

    • Yeah, I'm not really sure what the business-viable solution is.

      What I do know though, is that at this point, it's hard to argue for anything other than the status quo. Because for Garmin specifically, financially, it's never been better for them. Whatever approach you want to call this is driving incredible revenue and growth. So it's kinda hard to say 'Abandon what's working out super well for you, because I have an idea." :-/

      I do agree that having any hardware be able to unlock any software feature makes sense. I just don't know how Garmin does that in a way that's financially viable while also being consumer-appealing.

    • Yes, way too many. They can also do what others like Apple do and reduce the prices of older watches to meet different price points. For example, instead of releasing the FR55, they could have dropped the price of the FR245 to $199, added a couple of new features like the HIIT activity via a software update, and released it in new color. This will still get them free coverage from review sites. Instead they released a (new) watch with a lower resolution, which most review sites complained about.

      Fenix, should be 1 solar watch with different cases with all the features that Garmin has to offer considering the price tag.

      Instinct, should be 1 solar watch since that is what the screen is designed for.

      Swim 2, not needed. All the features should be rolled into the Forerunner watches.

      Golf watches, not needed. All the features should be on the Fenix watches. Vivo watches for those on a tight budget.

      Vivoactive, 1 watch, no need for different shapes and screen types.

      Venu, keep it at 1 watch.

      Forerunner, 2 watches, one for single sport without maps, one for multi-sport with maps.

      1 Fenix, 2 Forerunners, 1 Instinct, 1 Vivoactive and 1 Venu. This will make supporting, marketing and choosing Garmin watches a lot easier it while still giving them enough room to meet different price points and create watches with different hardware/screens. It will also create much more brand loyalty. I don't think FR645, VA4, F5 and Venu users are pleased when the FR245 gets updates that they do not get.

    • You're 100% right Ray, but it does look as if the hardware platforms are starting to converge more than in the past so I wouldn't be surprised if the subject has been raised internally. Even the Enduro seems (from limited info) to be essentially the same platform but with a better chip process. The OS itself started converging back with 920XT/Fenix3/Epix to the point where today it must be a single core codebase that gets branched, and no matter how you look at it, that branching must be more expensive for them to maintain than a single coding effort. Just looking at the beta threads on the forums you can see the excess effort of adding features individually to different device branches, and presumably porting bug fixes accross them too. As such I think there is a good financial incentive for them to change, but also an innovation benefit since more of the people could work on new features more of the time rather than on chasing bugs around between devices. It would likely also reduce support costs if there was more consistency, I can't imagine Garmin's support bill is cheap these days!
      Much as I like to bash Suunto for their crazy moves in recent times, I have to give them big kudos for their consistent approach accross devices. My two Suunto devices (9 and Spartan sport WHR) have essentially the same software despite being very different price points.

    • Instead of a sucbscription, I‘d rather have a certain amount of base models (like for example: smartwatch/casual, athlete, outdoor and tactical) in two to three different sizes with a certain base feature. If you want more features, you pay a one time fee to unlock a certain feature set (for example: running, bike, outdoor, with possibilities for combos). This would also solve the code problem (if there is one) without the need for a subscription.
      But this would create other problems: for example, would you have to release every one or two years a new set of base models? What would differentiate them? Would there be new feature-updates for existing base models? Etc. So yeah, in the long run, I think it is probably better the way Garmin is already doing it. I would just consolidate the release cycles (release all 2xx, 6xx, 7xx and 9xx in the same year, for example).

    • I'm from South Africa.

      A Garmin Enduro (Carbon Grey DLC Titanium with Black UltraFit Nylon Strap) retails for about $1200-00 (inclusive of 15% VAT). A Tacx Neo 2T retails for about $1950-00 (incl of 15% VAT). That is not cheap. Add a delay of anywhere between 6 - 9 months from the launch of any new Garmin model into the local market; you end up effectively with an "outdated" wearable soon after buying it. It might work for Garmin, but it does not work for local consumers. It borders on exploitation. ( I can buy a Tacx Neo 2T on Amazon, ship it to SA, pay all the relevant taxes and save $200-00, but in the process forego technical support).

      I'm with Dave Lusty on why the Fenix 5+ can't get new watch faces/widgets. The fact that their current business model is very profitable makes it even harder to swallow. But, as I said before, retaining customers is a lot cheaper in the long run than acquiring new ones. So I will consider other options when the time comes to replace my Fenix 5+. It didn't need to be that way.

  • The 'charging' issue with the PowerBeats Pro are incredibly frustrating. I typically keep my beats on the trainer desk and 8 out of 10 times one of the headphones are dead. Super annoying.

  • Ciao,

    i need ti buy a new cicloGPS. I'm waiting for Garmin EDGE updates: someone knows if Garmin is going to release new devices?
    Thank You!

  • Amazon Prime days start next Monday. There's usually some good Garmin items @ decent prices. They go fast so don't spend too much time thinking about a deal. Ray will be busy.

    • Yes, the general rule of thumb for strong deals on Prime Day is buy now and ask questions later. It's easy and free to return, but you can't get a 20-minute price deal back.

    • I would say though - if you think this is a good deal, pull the trigger now - you can always buy again and return - For the Fenix 6 models (in Canada anyway) they are at the lowest price they have ever been on amazon by a fairly large margin.

  • I was very excited when I heard that snap to route came to my Suunto 9 Baro. But after 2 test runs I‘m completely disappointed! Thought that this feature would bring a massive improvement to pace accuracy. But this isn’t the case! Yes, it brings a very clean track to Strava. But no, it doesn’t help you seeing a less jumping pace while running.

    • Interesting. Pace seemed pretty good for me, but wouldn't surprise me if there's conditional variability.

  • I think i will try to one-up on that fast cameraman. - the one half of the "buttery bros" Marston Sawyers (a layed off startup from the Crossfit media team) did an insane run at the "games" a few years ago. https://petapixel.com/2018/11/14/when-the-cameraman-can-run-as-fast-as-the-sprinters/
    they may not be the fastest people in the world, but there were ex college footballers among those guys - try to keep an eye in the bottom on the video. - that Camera rig is not really that handy to run with - in one hand!

  • The Grit X is 20% off for most models on polar.com with code GRITX20. I'm tempted.

  • Ray. My kids are getting older and I'm starting to allow them to bike longer rides on their own. Do you have reviews/recommendations for GPS trackers for kids without phones? Rather not pay a subscription fee. But it looks like that may be the only reliable option.

  • Since the last firmware update on Saturday, my Garmin Edge 530 was set to English language and appears not to have the possibilty to set language back to German. When I go to settings, I can find a dozen of different languages, but German.

    Someone knows what happend?

    • My US E530 with firmware version 8.00 lists Frarncais, Deutsch, and then Magyar towards the middle of all of the choices.

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