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Week in Review: January 10th, 2023

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!

(Normally this goes out on the weekend, but I apparently got distracted, and thus, I’ve added a few more things since then)

DCR Posts in the Past Week:

Here’s all the latest on the site, as I slowly ramp up after the holidays (where I spent most of it huddled under a blanket with the flu…sigh):

Wednesday: Garmin Bounce LTE Kids Activity Tracker In-Depth Review
Thursday: TrainerRoad Raises Prices: But It’s Sorta Optional
Monday: A Closer Look at Garmin & Qualcomm’s Satellite Chipset Partnership

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:

1) The Replacement for CyclingTips: Undoubtedly, if you’re a cycling fan, you’ve probably been watching the meltdown that is CyclingTips. TLDR version is Outside bought CyclingTips, things were basically fine for a while, then they (Outside) initially laid off one key person last spring. But things were still mostly fine. Then they laid off a few very core people in December, ignored staff, cut back subscriber benefits, and then everyone else (staff) quit. Then most subscribers stopped paying. Now there’s like one article every one in a while. All in just a few weeks. There’s only one employee left. It’s an epic meltdown and demonstration of private equity overseeing failure, going from the most well regarded cycling publication with easily some of the best journalists in the industry, to an empty bowl of nothing in a span of four weeks. Anyways, the original founder of CT, Wade Wallace, left a long while back, and he and a few others from CT are about to launch a new publication. That original link explains it, but most notable is just how massive the job listings page is. It’s kinda insane. Looking forward to subscribing to it!

2) Zwift starts microgrant program: When I first saw this headline I was secretly hoping it meant they were opening up an API and had little grants to hand out to 3rd party apps that could enrich the Zwift experience. However, it’s the next best thing, which is grants for non-profit organizations related to cycling. Certainly many big companies effectively do the same thing through donations, but to have a clear path into that grant process is useful.

3) India looking to force smartwatch charging standards: After solidifying phone charging standard requirements (akin to what the EU did), India is looking to do the same for smartwatches. The only challenge here is this is a bit trickier, namely due to the waterproofing aspect of chargers. And while the supposedly simple answer is a wireless charging protocol (like Qi), the reality is that’s not that simple. It also doesn’t solve the data offloading piece/option that many watch makers (and consumers) actually prefer/use. Of course, having a smartwatch cable standard isn’t a new idea. Back a number of years ago there was the beginnings of an effort by Pebble/4iiii and a few others I can’t remember, but that never really took off beyond initial table/marketing discussions. Unlike USB-C or such for phones/other devices, no agreed upon 100m+ waterproof standard actually exists for charging devices. Thus, I’m not opposed to the idea in theory, but just want it to be sporty enough in reality.

4) Drone & Fireworks Show in Amsterdam: We actually went and saw this, it was pretty cool (albeit, pretty short). I don’t think I’ve ever seen a drone show in person, and this was a surprisingly well integrated blend between the fireworks and drones. It had originally been scheduled for New Year’s Eve, but we had a crazy wind storm that night, and so many official fireworks & fire-related things were delayed or done early. Except of course the millions of Dutch residents shooting off their own fireworks – that proceeded as crazily as ever.

5) Spotify App Shows Upcoming HealthKit Integration: This was a couple of weeks ago, but attracted virtually no attention. Will be interesting to see what comes of this though.

6) The 10,000th’s Garmin inReach SOS: Also from a few weeks ago, the story of the mountain bike gone rather badly, but, how it ended up as the 10,000th’s inReach SOS rescue. These are obviously marketing-type blog posts, but it’s an interesting vignette nonetheless.

7) Withing’s new at-home urine analysis sensor: By now I’m sure just about everyone has seen this device in the news over the past few days. It’s interesting to me, Withings has, throughout the years (minus the Nokia years) managed to consistently have an outsized news impact on CES. For what is basically a relatively small company, since their inception, they’ve often had what were the top CES news stories. Be it the first WiFi weight scale, or the first analog smartwatch that didn’t look like a smartwatch – they’ve surprisingly managed to top the CES news charts. While good PR work is part of that, the often ‘out of left field’ products (at that time) seem to be the driver. Either way, it’s good to see Withings back in the news after the Nokia years and subsequent quiet period (even if I have no apparent use for this device).

With that, thanks for reading!

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28 Comments

  1. Dave Lusty

    Absolutely in favour of a standard watch cable, Garmin did the right thing when they standardised theirs. While it’s not perfect, perhaps that one could be the standard, it’s essentially just another USB connector so easy to implement. That said I assume it isn’t waterproof enough to be fully standard as it’s not on the Descent. It’s been long enough that I wouldn’t be upset with Garmin making a change to a new standard, the F5 was a loooong time ago which was I think the first with the new cable?

    Really wish Garmin would buy Withings. The Garmin scale is so unbelievably slow and frustrating to use, but direct integration with Connect makes it hard to do anything else. I used to sync a Withings but it would break now and then which was frustrating.

    • GLT

      After the optional Widgets are disabled my Garmin scale is fairly quick with measurements. It is relatively close to my WiFi base station.

    • Dave Lusty

      It’s the turning on that sucks most. I can’t even tell what triggers it, it’s certainly not someone standing on it, seems to be sound sometimes. The Withings you stand on, it tells you your weight, simples!

    • fl33tStA

      with
      https://smartscalesync.com
      you can sync withings with weight, bodyfat, etc. complete to Garmin without any issues

    • I do grant you I don’t know WTF is supposed to turn on the scale half the time. That said, my basic method seems to work:

      1) Kick the scale
      2) It lights up
      3) I step on it

      In the event I get distracted between steps 2 and 3 above, and don’t immediately step on it, then it gets upset. But in terms of measurement speed/update/etc, it’s all basically instant to me. Both at home and at the DCR Cave.

    • I’ll give credit in that other companies have mostly done a good job here too.

      Apple obviously has used the same one the entire time, though newer ones are faster (but still backwards compatible, so you can use whatever with whatever).

      COROS has kept the same charger port since the beginning (albeit by basically copying Garmin’s, but with three pins).

      Polar had done a good job for quite a while, though has started to get promiscuous lately with some newer designs.

      Suunto has had basically two designs. They had one design, and then they switched to a new one, but then they released newer devices with the old design again. Either way, just two designs.

      Fitbit has been all over the effin’ map with charging cables. Nobody has as many as they do. That said, they have managed to keep the same one for the last few device releases, so maybe that’s a pattern.

      Samsung has also kept the same, like Apple, with all their chargers. Also, newer ones being faster.

      My hope here is that Garmin doesn’t need a new charging cable to make their charging speeds faster. The new MARQ charging cable (USB-C, btw), is waaay faster. It’s basically charging an Epix unit under the covers, but in 45-55 mins. Whereas a regular EPIX takes 2.5 hours. Garmin says the cable is somehow too expensive to include at scale with other Garmin devices. But it’s not clear to me if the charging speed differences are because of the cable, or simply internal bits. The FR955 charges pretty fast with the older cable, about an hour. So, seems possible.

      Years ago the appeal of the Pebble/4iiii idea was that smaller companies could pick it up and run with it. So the Wahoo’s of the world, and all the smaller companies could leverage it. I don’t suspect we’ll ever actually get to a standardized plug-in charger. The long term direction would just be towards wireless charging, of which there are standards, but just not on shape. The shape is tough though, because that depends on the optical sensor bump on the bottom. As well as the size, etc…

    • Dave Lusty

      Haha similar to my routine, but sometimes I’m the other side of the room and it lights up and demands a weigh in. If it can feel vibrations at that distance, the result is obviously “too heavy”.

      Sometimes I give it a kick and it stays asleep

      Sometimes it comes on and shows an egg timer for a bit before turning back off.

      I probably wouldn’t mind if I had never used the Withings scales, but they are SO much better in every way except connecting to Garmin. We can only hope that the next iteration will have a more suitable hardware platform as this one is letting the side down a bit.

    • Adam Glass

      I went back and re-read your review for this product to see if you’d referenced this ‘startup’ problem. To my surprise, it does actually say: “To use it, simply tap or kick it. Which will wake it up.”. So your review was accurate though maybe it could’ve emphasized the kicking efficacymore.

  2. Jackie T

    I’m no expert in this so a question for the crowd wrt phone port/charging standards, i.e., USB-C.

    I see the benefits but it seems to me that this stops innovation in its tracks. How do we know that today’s USB-C isn’t going to be obsoleted in three years? Then what? For example, if Europe had been successful with their standardization efforts ~9 years ago we’d all be using what, Micro USB (Micro AB?)?

    • gingerneil

      Having a standard does not mean that the standard cannot evolve. There is no reason why a previous micro USB standard could not have evolved into a USB C standard. The point is that these are all open standards and not proprietary and in control of a single company who can then leverage that for accessory sales.

    • Jackie T

      You’re right, standards do evolve and the USB standard is a good example. But I’m not referring to standards in a purely non-political sense.

      I’m talking about the EU mandating that devices support USB-C so consumers can avoid buying different types of chargers and cables.

      That is a laudable goal but what would have happened if the EU mandate had taken effect in 2010? Company members of the USB-IF would have been much less motivated to evolve the standard given that the EU gov’t must then be convinced to change their mandate. And then consumers would complain “OMG new cables again!!”

  3. Graham

    Outside seem to be making a habit of this. Podium Runner was a really good read… then Outside bought it and it pretty much disappeared overnight. I found it a few months before the takeover and was about to sign up for a subscription. I’m glad I didn’t. All the old articles seem to have vanished as well.

  4. Benedikt

    There is an article on CT that they will transfer it onto the Outside Plattform, no matter what that means.

  5. Bruce Burkhalter

    Glad Wade and the crew are starting up something new. They really were the best. Hopefully they can be successful like Defector after they all quit Deadspin.

  6. Stuart

    Anybody know how much it costs out of pocket for a helicopter rescue, after health insurance, in the US?

    • MatthewQC

      @18: when I was an active volunteer SAR tech, I recall we’d get a bill for about $1000/hour of flight time, which we’d pass onto the state and county if the victim was uninsured. This usually worked out to around $5000-6000 for a straight forward evacuation. For more complex rescues, or sorties requiring search than a rescue it could easily reach $10000-15000. Given this was almost a decade ago, with inflation I’d feel confident it’s five digits even for a straight forward extraction by now.

      I should note it’s extremely unlikely one’s health insurance would cover any of that. Usually rescue insurance is a completely separate policy carried by folks who know they’re going into a risky adventure, and even then it’s only carried for short periods of time. It’s not something a day hiker would carry.

  7. Daniel F

    Any plans to review Garmin’s blood pressure monitor, the Index BPM?

    Seems like it’s only available in the US right now due, so perhaps you’re holding out because a lot of your audience is outside the states?

    The relationship of Smart blood pressure monitor:dumb bpm seems to be similar to smart scale:dumb scale, i.e. the main benefit is auto upload to Garmin Connect.

    It seems like Garmin has also rolled out the ability to manually add blood pressure readings to some territories (US only?), coinciding with the launch of the Index BPM (Sept 22?). Not something they really publicized.

    The smart BPM stuff isn’t too interesting, but the device might be something interesting for you to blog about, as it marks Garmin’s first foray into health devices.

    • Yup, I’ve got one and have been using it. Just honestly hadn’t been super high on my priority list ltely. However, it’s a good quiet-time sort of review (Jan/Feb).

      I don’t think there’s a huge benefit for most people to have such a device. As you alluded to, this is really just a smaller first step for Garmin into the medical device realm, and putting puzzle pieces together. In many ways, Garmin as a company tends to be the master puzzler. Pieces can take years to put together (different product groups/etc…), and then boom, one day you realize how big an ecosystem they’ve created. Once they’ve reached that point, it’s very hard for their competitors to compete (see: their cycling computers/etc realm).

    • BikePower

      This device could make a lot of blood pressure meters obsolete to some degree (assuming of course that the device actually works as described and is accurate).

      link to engadget.com

  8. Paul S.

    Ray, are you going to be reviewing the urine sensor?

  9. okrunner

    Cycling Tips. Deja vu Backpacker magazine. Outside killed it also. I just cancelled my Backpacker magazine two weeks ago after the latest issue was combined with Outside. Outside has owned Backpacker for some time but recently killed it and combined the two. However, it certainly doesn’t appear a combination at all but simply a killing. Add to the fact that Backpacker was simply a no-nonsense guide to backpacking trails, equipment, etc. and Outside wants to be a woke social justice warrior with little substance, and you have a massive shift in usable information for the end reader. Who’s running Outside into the ground?

  10. Berlin-Ulli

    Ray, interesting topics. As always – thank you for that. What I would really be interested in is whether a “best of breed” approach works from your point of view and if so how. As for mine: I love my Epix for sports activities, but find it clunky for everyday use. I really like the Withings ScanWatch (design, function) as a smartwatch (incl. ecosystem, i.e. scale, etc.). But: I lose important information either way (either about sleep, activity tracker etc OR the sports functions). What would your approach be? Strava? TrainingPeaks? Another platform? Thanks in advance for ideas. Might be worth an article sometime…. Berlin-Ulli

  11. @dcrainmaker, would you kindly review the new biking app called JAGZ. It’s easiest described as Facebook & Airbnb had a biking child.

    • Thanks David – looks interesting! It’s a bit outside of the things I tend to review, since there isn’t a bike tech focus per se on it. But maybe next time I have a trip somewhere I’ll give it a poke. Later this spring there’s a few things on the docket.

      Thanks for being a DCR Supporter!