DC Rainmaker https://www.dcrainmaker.com Thu, 25 May 2017 13:04:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3.11 https://media.dcrainmaker.com/images/2017/03/dcrainmaker-dc-logo-square-40x40.png DC Rainmaker https://www.dcrainmaker.com 32 32 Garmin VIRB 360 5.7K Action Cam In-Depth Review https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2017/05/garmin-virb-360-action-cam-review.html https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2017/05/garmin-virb-360-action-cam-review.html#comments Wed, 24 May 2017 11:00:00 +0000 https://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=74695 Read More Here ]]> Garmin-VIRB-360-Front-5.7K

Today Garmin jumped into the 360° fray by introducing their own 360° action camera – the VIRB 360.  This camera one-ups everyone in the specs department by mic-dropping 5.7K resolution alongside being completely waterproofed with GPS built-in.  Not to mention the usual Garmin VIRB sensor support for data overlays from sports, automotive and boating devices.

You might remember it was only last month that GoPro announced their 5.2K Fusion action cam, set to start shipping in limited quantities by the end of the year.  In Garmin’s case though, the VIRB 360 will ship next month in June, and with what is easily the most capable feature set of any 360° action cam on the market (aside from ~$10,000 pro rigs).

I’ve been using the cam for about a month now – more than enough time to figure out the good and the ugly, and everything in between.  Like always, I’ll ship back the loaner camera to Garmin shortly.  If you find this useful, you can support the site via the links down at the end.

Before we dive into the whole review though – if you want the skinny on the camera in less than 17 minutes, check out this complete video I’ve put together, talking about all the features and how everything works.  And if nothing else, don’t forget to check out the ‘Video samples’ section down below – as I’ve put together some neat stuff there.

With that – let’s get onto the review.

What’s in the box:

Now normally I’d have a final box to unbox for ya.  But in this case I’ve got a box without the final wrapper.  The contents are final, but the fancy graphics on the outside weren’t printed yet when I received my test unit.  No worries, down the road I’ll swap them out.  In any case, here’s the box.  In case you’re wondering – it’s the same exterior shell as the Fenix 5.

Garmin-VIRB-360-Box

Inside you’ll find the camera nestled in protective foam casing.  Oh, and it’s got a sticker on it so you can visualize what’s about to happen on the LCD, before it happens.

Garmin-VIRB-360-Box-Opened Garmin-VIRB-360-Box-Opened-Top

Here’s everything all unpacked on a table.

Garmin-VIRB-360-Box-Parts

And here it is all again without the plastic wrap:

Garmin-VIRB-360-Box-Parts-Unpacked

Let’s walk through each piece.  First up is the little tripod/handle.  The fact that this somehow fits in the box is kinda mind-boggling to me.  It’s got a standard tripod adapter up top, but then down below has legs to open up and set it on a table.  Further, you can use it as a handle too.

Garmin-VIRB-360-Tripod-Handle

Then the are two different mounts included.  First is a GoPro style mount (to attach to other GoPro mounts), and the second is a tripod style mount (to attach to other tripods and the included tripod):

Garmin-VIRB-360-Mounts-2

Here’s how these look on the bottom:

Garmin-VIRB-360-Mounts-1

Then there’s the charging cable, which is micro-USB.  Now some might wonder why not USB-C, and that’s a valid question. But ultimately, there’s actually little upside to USB-C today for the majority of consumers.  Only a fraction of us ‘tech elite’ might have USB-C ports.  For most people, using micro-USB means you don’t need to carry an extra cable around if your phone (or other Garmin device) uses the same charger.  I see both ways, but I don’t really fault any company at this point in choosing one or the other from an accessory standpoint (equipping laptops with *only* one or the other is an entirely different ball game).

Garmin-VIRB-360-USB-Charging-Cable

Then we’ve got the camera itself.  You’ll notice it sits flat on a table, so no funky rolling around or anything like some cameras.  Also, it’s fully waterproofed to 10m/33ft.

Garmin-VIRB-360-Solo-Cup

The side door opens up and that’s where you’ll find the micro-USB charging/download port, a micro-HDMI port, and a micro-SD card slot.

Garmin-VIRB-360-Door-Port

I went out and bought a 256GB micro-SD card, mostly so I never have to worry about it.  I’ve had really good luck with zero card errors on this one.  I know a lot of people ask in my reviews what I use.  In this case, I wanted something with super high write speeds and a lot of storage (I hate running out of space), and frankly there was only one option on Amazon that had Prime shipping.  So…umm…that’s what I got.

Garmin-VIRB-360-256GB-MicroSD-Card

Note that Garmin doesn’t officially support 256GB cards, but I’ve seen no issues using it to date.  Their officially supported card listing is located here.

Finally, in the box there’s a little paper manual thing.

Garmin-VIRB-360-Manual

As usual, you really won’t need the manual after this post.  Unless you want to make a paper airplane, which is a totally viable thing to do with it.

The Basics:

Garmin-VIRB-360-with-Tripod

In many ways, the VIRB 360 is like most other action cameras.  Or at least, like most other Garmin action cameras.  To start, you’ll long ago in this post have noticed that the camera has two lenses.  Each lens contributes to the ability to have a single cohesive view once stitched together.  In a default configuration, that stitching occurs on the camera itself, though you can also do a higher resolution version via computer after the fact. I cover all the resolution details within the video modes section a bit lower down.

Garmin-VIRB-360-Front-Lens

On the top of the camera you’ll see a small display with three buttons.  There’s no image preview on this display, but honestly that’d be kinda silly – since everything you see around you would be in that preview.  Instead, it’s used for configuring settings as well as validating recording status.  You’ll use the buttons to navigate.

Garmin-VIRB-360-Menu-System

In addition to the top buttons, on the side you’ll find a slider for recording video.  Slide it forward and recording starts, slide it back and recording stops.  Dead simple.  As you may have noticed above though, you’ve also got a dedicated photo button on the top.  Thus you can do either without having to dig into menus to change the mode.

Garmin-VIRB-360-Video-Slider

Once recording, there are two recording lights which will illuminate red, visible from any of the four sides.  These will also flash green when just powered up in standby.  And there’s a blue light for wifi connectivity.

On all four sides of the camera there are microphones (tiny dots), creating spatially aware audio (if your living room setup supports such awesomeness).  In addition they can cancel out wind noise as well automatically, as you can see in some of my sample clips – even at pretty high speeds.  Here’s one of the mics highlighted:

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One of the biggest advantages of the Garmin VIRB lineup has always been their connectivity to external sensors, as well as GPS data overlays.  That holds true with the VIRB 360 as well.  The camera can connect to a boatload of sensors (literally, it can actually connect to a boat), enabling you to do data overlays with heart rate, power, speed, cadence, automotive, marine and many more.

To pair these you’ll use the camera menu and dive into the sensors.  You’ll select whether it’s an ANT+ sensor or a Bluetooth sensor.  Note that at this time the Bluetooth sensors are for automotive use, not sport use.  For sports sensors it’s just ANT+ right now.

Garmin-VIRB-360-ANT-Sensors

You can pair multiple sensors of the same type as well, useful if you have multiple bikes for example.  Or any duplicate sensors.  It’ll automatically connect to them once in range.

Garmin-VIRB-360-ANT-Sensors-Heart-Rate

In addition to external sensors, the unit has internal sensors.  These are as follows:

Barometric Altimeter: Elevation data
Accelerometer: Force and motion data
Gyroscope: Rotation data
Compass: Bearing/heading data
GPS (with GLONASS): 10hz data capture

Most of these are pretty self-explanatory above.  But one that’s really notable here is the gyroscope and accelerometer.  That gives Garmin the ability to create an internal gimbal in the footage – which is incredibly impressive.  It’s sorta like the electronic stabilization we saw both GoPro and Garmin introduce last fall in their lineups.  Except here – there’s no need to crop anything.  Instead, it’s just keeping everything nice and level.  The stabilization is applied in post-production using either the mobile app or desktop app.

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It’s in this same sensors menu as the ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors that you’ll configure your WiFi.  You’ve actually got two options.  One is to make a direct connection so your phone connects to your camera directly, and the other is to have the VIRB 360 connect to an existing WiFi access point.  Or, you can configure both and when the VIRB 360 is in range of a hotspot it’ll use that instead.

Garmin-VIRB-360-WiFi-Mode Garmin-VIRB-360-WiFi-Network

Like most action cams there’s a dedicated phone app for it.  This app connects via WiFi and allows you to preview what the camera is seeing.  That’s useful if you’re trying to get positioning figured out and want to do so remotely.  The app also allows you to configure all settings.  In fact, some settings, like setting the RAW recording resolution (5.2K vs 5.7K), are only available via the phone app.  You can set whether or not it’s RAW mode on the camera itself though.

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In addition, the mobile app allows you to download and edit videos and photos.  You can even do data overlays from the mobile app and export them out as fully edited videos.

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Note that if your phone is less awesome, this will limit what you can do from a 4K standpoint.

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I’m going to save the whole desktop piece for the moment, since I’ve got a dedicated section down a bit lower.

Finally, when it comes to battery life, things are a bit more limited here than most other action cams.  At the same time – it’s actually on par for 4K footage.  The VIRB 360 claims 1hr and 5 minutes of recording time (be it at 4K or 5.7K), which is almost identical to that of the GoPro Hero5 Black at 4K, or the VIRB Ultra 30 at 4K.  In my testing, those times are pretty accurate.

Ok, with all the basics out of the way, let’s dive into the video modes a bit more, and then we’ll talk editing and mounts.

Video & Photos Modes:

Garmin-VIRB-360-Video-Modes-4K-5.7K

Of course, the purpose of a 360° action cam is to shoot in 360°.  But in actuality, there’s a handful of different modes that you can shoot with on the VIRB 360.  For 95% of people, it’s likely going to be the standard 4K 360° mode.  But for more advanced users, you’ve got the ability to record each lens individually, as well go into a special RAW mode.  Further, you can also do timelapses as well as enable pro settings to configure things such as white balance.

Here are the five core video shooting modes you’ve got on the VIRB 360:

A) 360° at 4K (stitched on camera)
B) Front lens only at 4K
C) Rear lens only at 4K
D) RAW shooting at 5.7K (not stitched)
E) 360° Timelapse at 4K

With the normal 360° mode you’re going to get a single pre-stitched video file that you can immediately upload to YouTube or wherever you’d like.  By default, it won’t have any data overlays on it until you use either the VIRB Edit mobile or desktop apps to add those.  It’s just a simple 360° video file.

For those folks who’ve been around the 360° video block a few times, note that Garmin pre-injects the videos with the 360° metadata.  So there’s no need to do any of that manually.  For those of you that have no idea what I’m talking about – be happy, it makes your life easier. These files are all sitting on the SD card like any normal video file.

Next, we’ve got the two front/rear lens modes.  These basically just turn your unit into a single-lens action camera.  In other words – a really expensive regular VIRB.  You, of course, do get a bit wider view out of this than a regular action cam though – so that might have appeal to some folks.  When you do that, you’ll get a bit higher frame rate options.  Here’s the full table of all official resolutions/modes:

5.7K RAW: 2880×2880 (2 files) / 30fps @ 120Mbps (60Mbps per file) : 360 Unstitched
5K RAW: 2496×2496 (2 files) / 30fps @100Mbps (50Mbps per file) : 360 Unstitched
4K: 3840×2160 / 30fps @ 80Mbps : 360 Stitched
3.5K: 1760×1760 (2 files) / 60fps @ 100Mbps (50Mbps per file): 360 Unstitched
HD: 1920×1080 / 120fps @ 50Mbps: Traditional 16:9 Single Lens
HD: 1920×1080 / 60fps @ 40Mbps : Traditional 16:9 Single Lens
Timelapse Video: Available in 4K and 5K Resolutions. Interval 2/5/10/30/60s

Then we’ve got the RAW mode. In RAW mode the camera does *NOT* pre-stitch the video.  Instead, it’s going to give you two 4K video files (front and rear lenses), for a total of 5.7K of resolution awesomeness.  Why not 8K?  Because that’s not how resolution math works.  And that’s an important point to make.  5.2K is significantly more than 4K.  See, 4K in this case is 2800×2800 (per lens) = 8,064,000.  Normal rectangular 4K is roughly the same – 3840*2160 = 8,294,400 (or 8.1MP).

So what happens when we take two lenses? Well, we add them together: 8,064,000 + 8,064,000 = 16,128,000 (or 16.1MP).  Which is a super-round about way of showing you that 16MP is twice that of 8MP.

So why doesn’t the camera just do the RAW mode stitching for you? Quite simply – it can’t. The camera doesn’t have enough horsepower to do that stitching in real-time.  That’s why in the regular mode you’re left with a ‘lower resolution’ 4K video, instead of something in the 5.2-5.7K range.

Garmin-VIRB-360-RAW-5.7K

For stitching these RAW videos you’re going to need some 3rd party software.  Options include VideoStitch, Mettle, and Autopano, among many others.  That said, Garmin does plan to update VIRB Edit in the near future to be able to do the stitching of the RAW files.  That’s ideal for those of us with more powerful computers.  If you lack a more powerful computer, now’s a good time to start warming up your significant other on why you need one.

Oh – and before I forget – in all these modes the frame rate is at 30FPS.  There are no other lower resolution but higher frame-rate modes for the 360° modes.  Which is sort of an oddity, but at the same time I kinda get it.  You can save a ton of money if you want crappier 360 footage at lower resolutions.  So might as well slow it down in post rather than make crappy looking 360° videos.  It sounds like doing 2x4K/60fps would have been just dire on the battery/processing situation.  Maybe next time…

While we’re talking higher end related stuff, the VIRB 360 does have a pro config mode, which enables you to tweak settings like exposure bias, white balance, and ISO.

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Next, we’ve got the timelapse mode.  In this mode the camera can be configured to take an image at a set interval and compile it into a cohesive 360° video file.  You can choose intervals of 2, 5, 10, 30, or 60 seconds.

This is great for longer situations like sunsets or a stadium filling up.  You wouldn’t necessarily though want to use it on something that may have fast action in it, because it might miss that moment.  This is also better on the battery too.

You can configure the timelapse mode and interval using either the app or the camera itself.

Garmin-VIRB-360-Interval-Set

I’ve got a sample in the next section of how the 360° video timelapse looks.

Next, we’ve got photo modes.  The camera can take 360° photos as well, and there are three basic modes: Single photo, burst photo, or timelapse photo.  In the burst photo mode it will shoot 20 frames in one second (oddly non-configurable).  In the timelapse photo mode you can configure the interval the same as within the video mode – 2/5/10/30/60 seconds.  The difference between photo and video timelapse is that in photo timelapse you get a pile of photo files at the end, whereas in video timelapse those are compiled into a video file.

Garmin-VIRB-360-Photo-Mode

Within the photo mode you can also configure a self timer delay (2/3/4/5/10/30/60 seconds).  I find this super useful on 360° photos because most times I actually don’t want to be in the frame.  So this gives me a few seconds (I usually use 10 seconds) to get out of the frame.  Like, hide behind a tree or something out of camera view. It’s tricky when the camera sees everything!

Note that the camera actually has a dedicated photo button on the top of it that you can press at any time to take a photo.

Garmin-VIRB-360-Photo-Button

It’s nice having the dedicated camera and video buttons, so you don’t have to toggle back and forth between those modes like on a GoPro.

Finally, there’s live streaming.  The camera can live stream to both YouTube and Facebook Live in 360° video.  Note that it wasn’t something I was able to test since that feature has been locked down until release.  So I’ll add back in this at some point in the near future on that once I can try it out.  Note that Facebook has pretty limited 360° resolution live streaming support (actually, limited resolution support all around), whereas as YouTube has really really strong and impressive live streaming resolution support

Updated Tidbit: Lacking anywhere else to stash this, I’ve uploaded a nifty tech spec sheet that Garmin sent over.  You can download the full PDF here, or just browse through the gallery of 8 pages below.  I was super happy when they did this geek-doc for the VIRB Ultra 30 last year, and it’s nice to see them continue this here too with the VIRB 360.

VIRB360-Tech-Specs-DCRAINMAKER-page-001 VIRB360-Tech-Specs-DCRAINMAKER-page-002 VIRB360-Tech-Specs-DCRAINMAKER-page-003 VIRB360-Tech-Specs-DCRAINMAKER-page-004 VIRB360-Tech-Specs-DCRAINMAKER-page-005 VIRB360-Tech-Specs-DCRAINMAKER-page-006 VIRB360-Tech-Specs-DCRAINMAKER-page-007 VIRB360-Tech-Specs-DCRAINMAKER-page-008

Ok, onto some more geek goodness we go!

Editing (Mac/PC):

Garmin-VIRB-360-Editing

When it comes to editing, most of you will want to do the majority of edits on a desktop or laptop computer (PC or Mac).  The reason is simply around horsepower and the ability for you to have more finite control than on a phone or tablet.  As shown elsewhere in this post, you can edit on a mobile device, it’s just not as easy or detailed.

When it comes to getting started you’ll plug your camera in to import the clips. You can either choose everything new, or just selectively pick certain clips.  The reason you generally want to do this versus just dragging the video files in, is that this will also correctly align the Garmin G-Metrix data (which includes the data for stabilization).

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Once that’s done you can watch certain clips or you can start to create a movie.  Note that I’ve found when previewing clips (even at 4K) on my computer within VIRB Edit, it doesn’t quite look as good as it does later on in YouTube (lack of clarity).  So don’t be discouraged at this point.

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After creating a movie project, you’ll drag and drop files onto the timeline as with most other editors.  You’ll see your source clips in the upper left section, and then down below you’ve got your edited clips.  You’ll see little icons for areas that have notable moments from a data standpoint (i.e. heart rate spikes, jumps, etc…).

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You can use the G-Metrix tab to tweak the different gauges as well as the appearance and data contained within them.

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Next you’ve got stabilization.  This is probably the most important piece of the VIRB Edit suite for the VIRB 360, as it allows you to stabilize the video using the accelerometer/gyro data.  You can also lock data overlays onto an object as well, enabling it to look like you’ve affixed them to something like a windshield.

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Finally, once your editing prowess is complete, you’ll go ahead and export out the movie:

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 10.42.53 AM

I’ll note I have had some issues during the beta period of VIRB Edit, with minor bugs.  Garmin has been pretty responsive in getting fixes out for outstanding issues (even one just an hour ago at 2:30AM Garmin time), so I wouldn’t fret too much on this.  There are also plenty of interesting/potential features that I see them doing down the road here.  Areas such as RAW file support or the ability to punch out videos as with what a few other 360 action cams can do.  Still, they’re already at a tremendous advantage over any other 360 action cam competitors today, as their consumer tools far exceed what anyone else has done.

Video & Photo Samples:

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I’ve put together a handful of video clips that you can check out from the VIRB 360. All of these were shot and edited by me.  Since I’m generally a sucky editor, they roughly show the capabilities of the camera to a non-video pro.  My workflow was downloading the footage to a laptop (MacBook Pro), then using the desktop VIRB Edit software to do either the full edit (for shorter edits), or instead to Final Cut Pro for more complex edits.  It’s an imperfect process if you use two editing tools because once you leave VIRB Edit you can’t edit/tweak any of the gauges.  And inside of VIRB Edit you can’t have different gauges for different clips. So in my triathlon video for example, I’d wanted to have cycling gauges for the cycling segment, and running ones for running.  But no can do.  Thus I have to basically edit it twice and combine it into a cohesive video.

I’ve put together two ‘edited’ clips that tell some sort of story.  One is a triathlon from this past weekend (yes, I actually took the darn thing hand-held into the water during a mass swim start)…but that might be a few hours still due to a small issue I’m running into.  And two is from the Giro d’Italia a week ago, when I lucked into a red convertible sports car as a rental car.

 

One thing you’ll notice in these videos is that the stitching for very near objects (my hands on the handlebars) isn’t perfect.  When you get further away from the camera, it’s virtually perfect though.  Garmin says that’s largely going to be a limitation of the lens overlap and processing on the camera itself.  Whereas if you went to RAW mode and then post-processed those with other 3rd party applications (on a desktop/etc…) you’d likely get better results where the software can do more manipulation.

Here’s the Giro car video:

Then we’ve got a simple timelapse atop my roof, in one shot.  It’s sunset over the city.  Kinda neat:

Here’s a bit older clip I did while cycling around Paris.  Nothing fancy – just riding.  Some of the stabilization where I was on the cobblestones is likely to be improved here:

Finally, here’s a 5.7K timelapse that I shot as an image-timelapse, and then converted to a video with Final Cut Pro.  This gives me higher resolution than is natively possible with doing the video timelapse in the camera.

Note that all of these shots except the cycling one are taken on the latest firmware within the last 8 days.  While I have older shots, the stitching on those earlier beta builds isn’t quite as good.  So I just focused on these ones.

Again between now and when the camera starts shipping here shortly, you’ll likely see further tweaks/enhancements to video quality.  That’s pretty much normal of any product, even after release (even GoPro Hero5 cams last fall had some solid improvements in the first few weeks).

Accessories:

Garmin-VIRB-360-vs-GoPro

When it comes to action cams, the most important thing is good video quality (i.e. resolutions and frame rates).  But pretty much right behind that is a good mounting system and fleet of accessories.  The coolest shots that you see in your favorite YouTube videos are almost always down through creative use of mounts and accessories.  If you don’t have those, the ecosystem falls apart.  It’s actually a core reason I’ve gotten frustrated in the past at various camera brands – they didn’t have the accessories and mounting options I needed to get the job done.

With the VIRB 360 it includes both a GoPro-style and tripod-style mount.  So that pretty much takes care of you off the bat.

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However, they go a step further and also have two powered mount systems that are water resistant (sold separately).  Obviously you can’t swim with them, but I’ve stuck them on a roof in a thunderstorm for about 5 hours and had no issues.

Garmin-VIRB-360-Automotive-Charging-Connector

One is a USB variant (above right), and one is designed to wire into a car system (above left).  They share the same plate though, and have a little locking mechanism to swap out the cables.  It uses the small metal contacts on the bottom of the VIRB 360 to provide continuous power.

Garmin-VIRB-360-Charging-Clip-Constant

And given the battery constants (about an hour of recording time), you’re going to want to have something if you do anything longer term – such as a timelapse or any sort of continuous live broadcasting.  You can also of course just use the micro-USB cable too and provide continuous power that way.  Of course that’s not waterproof, but with a bit of scotch tape creativity on the door, you can at least get that out of the frame.

Garmin-VIRB-360-Regular-Charging

Speaking of batteries, they are swappable, so you can buy extra if you’re out and about for the day.  Also – the camera can operate using the USB port on the side for power too, but that somewhat blocks the shot unless you tape it mostly closed (I did that for some shots too before I got the charging cradle).

Garmin-VIRB-360-Battery-Spare

In my testing, the claimed battery life of about an hour is pretty accurate (non-RAW mode).  I haven’t done battery tests in RAW mode, but Garmin claims it to be the same since they’re saving by not doing any stitching (which has processing overhead).

Next, there’s Garmin’s own remote.  This is the same remote as found with the previous generation VIRB devices.  Also, while not pictured here you can use almost any Garmin watch or bike computer (and a bunch of other Garmin devices) to start/stop recording and take photos, by controlling the VIRB 360 wirelessly.

Garmin-VIRB-360-Remote

Note that you can swap out the lens ‘covers’ fairly easily.  Basically, the glass part.  This is ideal in case you manage to injure them capturing something cool.  I did just that when I whacked it against a concrete surface while swimming.  It’s barely visible on the lens (and doesn’t show up in the videos), but I appreciate being able to do so easily without having to buy anything new.

Garmin-VIRB-360-Lens-Replacements

Of course, the real plus here being that pretty much any other GoPro mount works.  Note that when choosing mounts you’ll want to choose ones that have a really small footprint, so that you don’t get the mount in the image itself.  Also, since the unit is a bit heavier than your average action cam, remember to choose a sturdy mount.  Those $3 no-name suction cup mounts on Amazon are great…until they snap in half with vibrations and send your unit tumbling.  On the flip side, spending $39 for a GoPro branded one is probably equally stupid.  Though, stupid I was as the convertible videos you see here in this post were on a GoPro suction cup I bought at the airport when I realized I forgot mine.  Says it’s certified to work up to 150MPH.  I’ll refrain from discussing my top speed…but I’m impressed.

Market Competitors:

Garmin-VIRB-360-GoProFusion-Competitors

There both are and aren’t competitors to the VIRB 360.  See, it’s complicated.  The VIRB 360 sits in this middleman of price and functionality above everything else in the consumer 360 space today (which is priced at $300-$400 mostly).  So things like the 360Fly 4K, Samsung’s entrants, and others – all sit below the VIRB 360 in spec and price.  Then we’ve got this massive gap (of about $1,000) until we see the higher end pro-like options.  They start in the $1,500-$2,000 range, and then go up into the tens of thousands of dollars.  So with the VIRB 360 priced at $799, it actually fits in nicely there – even if it’s above what many will want to pay.

The only potential competitor right now? GoPro’s upcoming Fusion 360° camera.  That camera was announced a few weeks ago, but with only a single spec (5.2K).  We don’t know anything else about it.  GoPro says it will start shipping later this year “in limited quantities”.

If we assume that the GoPro Fusion will have all the functionality of a GoPro Hero5 Black plus that of the 360 pieces, it still puts GoPro behind when it comes to things like data overlays (which GoPro barely has but frankly suck).  Same goes for resolution, with Garmin at 5.7K and GoPro at 5.2K.  And of course availability – with Garmin out 5-6 months earlier.

One really important thing to keep in mind too is that if you look at GoPro’s Fusion sampler video – it’s important to note how much editing and post-production work was done there.  That footage was not straight out of the camera, but rather heavily edited to clean up artifacts and issues within the footage.  Where in my post, all my videos are basically straight out of the camera with no manipulation of the images to remove issues.

So as of now – if you want the best non-pro 360 rig, that’s the Garmin VIRB 360.  There’s really no question there.  It kinda wins by default.  It’s hard to fast forward 5-6 months from now to see how the GoPro Fusion will line-up, but one key area I’d be looking at is the software side.  That’s been the biggest downfall of all existing 360 cameras on the market, and it’s an area that Garmin actually mostly gets right here.  Their VIRB Edit suite on the desktop is really good – leagues ahead of what GoPro offers today.

Historically GoPro has made better hardware than Garmin, though the only real advantage it had in the latest salvo last fall (VIRB Ultra 30 vs GoPro Hero 5 Black) was being internally waterproofed.  Beyond that, it came down to preferences.

Of course – the real question will be GoPro’s price.  I suspect it’ll be lower than Garmin is today (maybe by $100 or so), but it also sounds like Garmin is ready to be competitive here (just like they dropped price to match within 3 minutes – literally – of GoPro announcing the Hero 5 Black last fall).

Summary:

Garmin-VIRB-360-Side-Shot

Without question, this the most impressive consumer 360° cam to date.  Now granted, that wasn’t exactly a high bar to overcome.  The rest of the entrants out there have sucked to pretty significant degrees.  But the VIRB 360 doesn’t win on the account of ‘sucking the least’, rather it wins on actually being a legit darn good 360° cam.  One finally worthy of buying.  The data overlay and internal stabilization piece works well (something not found on most units), and the much higher resolutions are easily noticed if you’ve got a capable device to watch it.

It’s not perfect though.  There are still some quirks being worked out, mostly minor things in the VIRB Edit suite (both mobile and desktop) and a few oddities I’ve seen with longer duration (multi-hour) time-lapses on the unit I have, plus stitching very close to the camera isn’t perfect either.  Garmin is trying to track down my issues and determine if the handful of things I saw are just unique to my setup or some other bugs to resolve.  The desktop VIRB Edit bugs (albeit some fairly frustrating at times) are largely ‘known issues’ set to be fixed shortly in the next few days (well before you get the camera).  If there’s any team at Garmin that’s got a good track record on software, it’s actually the desktop VIRB Edit team.  Just look at the updates/new features list on that thing over the years, or how incredibly active they are in the Garmin Forums.

But of course – there’s the reality that for a lot of people it’ll be tough to play back these videos in their full 4K (and beyond) glory.  Unfortunately, if you’re playing back 360° videos in 1080p, it’s largely a crap experience.  Still, one can’t really fault Garmin for that.  That’s a problem that the industry has at large, and one that really only can be resolved by buying newer hardware.

Will this replace my every day non-360° action cam?  No. But, it will complement it for those situations where I think 360° footage can make for a unique perspective.  That won’t be every setting, but there are certainly cases where it can make sense and you can do really cool things with it.  Thus, I’d easily recommend the VIRB 360 for those advanced video consumers that want to start experimenting with 360° footage in a way that finally doesn’t suck.

Found this review useful? Wanna support the site? Here’s how:

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers exclusive benefits on all products purchased.  By joining the Clever Training VIP Program, you will earn 10% points on this item and 10% off (instantly) on thousands of other fitness products and accessories.  Points can be used on your very next purchase at Clever Training for anything site-wide.  You can read more about the details here.  By joining, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get to enjoy the significant partnership benefits that are just for DC Rainmaker readers.  And, since this item is more than $75, you get free 3-day (or less) US shipping as well.

Garmin VIRB 360 Action Cam
Garmin VIRB 360 Powered Mount (Waterproof)

Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the unit (though, no discount). Or, anything else you pickup on Amazon helps support the site as well (socks, laundry detergent, cowbells). If you’re outside the US, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top.

Thanks for reading!

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Week in Review–May 22nd, 2017 https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2017/05/week-in-reviewmay-22nd-2017.html https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2017/05/week-in-reviewmay-22nd-2017.html#comments Mon, 22 May 2017 09:17:46 +0000 https://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=74693 Read More Here ]]> WeekInReview_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]

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!

DCRainmaker.com posts in the past week:

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

Sunday: Week in Review–May 14th, 2017
Monday: 5 Random Things I Did This Weekend
Tuesday: The DCR Analyzer Is Now Available For You To Use!
Wednesday: Giro d’Italia 2017–The Trainers, Power Meters and Gadgets of the Pro Peloton
Thursday: Giro d’Italia 2017: Spectating and behind the scenes!
Saturday: The Day in May DCR $500 Gadget Giveaway!

Sports Tech Deals This Week:

We’re into the final push of solid May sales – with many new ones this week returning.  As I’ve noted in more detail on my sales landing page, May sales are very common.  One of the best deals here is the Garmin FR735 for $315 (normally $450).  It’s still receiving Connect IQ and feature updates and is just barely one year old.  Great little lightweight tri/running watch.

Oh – and for some weird reason an entry in the table for ‘All Suunto gear is 25% off’ isn’t showing up.  I’ve got some techies trying to figure it out, but FYI.  Note that the only watch excluded is the Wrist HR model on that one.

Current DealsRegular PriceSale PriceStartEndAmazonClever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programOther siteSale Notes
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated May 22nd, 2017 @ 6:12 pm
All Suunto gear!-25% offMay 19 2017May 29 2017LinkExcept Spartan Sport Wrist HR. But regular Spartan Ultra/Sport do work!
All Trainers!!! (Elite, Kinetic, Tacx, Bkool)-21% Off!May 19 2017May 29 2017LinkCompetitive Cyclist Only: With coupon code ITALY100. <<< Use 'other' link
CycleOps Hammer$1,199USD$947May 19 2019May 29 2017LinkLinkLinkCompetitive Cyclist Only: With coupon code ITALY100. <<< Use 'other' link
CycleOps Magnus$599$473May 19 2017May 29 2017LinkLinkLinkCompetitive Cyclist Only: With coupon code ITALY100. <<< Use 'other' link
CycleOps Trainers-20% off!May 19 2017May 31 2017LinkLinkAll CycleOps 20% off (except Magnus/Hammer)
Elite Drivo$1,299/€1,390/£1,099$1,026May 19 2017May 29 2017LinkLinkLinkCompetitive Cyclist Only: With coupon code ITALY100. <<< Use 'other' link
Garmin Edge 25$169$119May 19 2017May 29 2017LinkLink30% off all Edge 25 variants, including both base and bundle
Garmin Forerunner 35$199$169May 19 2017May 29 2017LinkLink
Garmin Forerunner 735XT$449$315May 19 2017May 29 2017LinkLink30% off all FR735 variants (including bundles and tri bundles)!
Garmin Vivoactive HR$249$199May 19 2017May 29 2017LinkLinkLowest price to date!
Garmin Vivofit Jr$79$69May 19 2017May 29 2017LinkLink
Garmin Vivofit3$99$69May 19 2017May 29 2017LinkLink
Garmin Vivosmart HR+$199$149May 19 2017May 29 2017LinkLink
PowerTap C1 Chainring$699$559May 19 2017May 29 2017LinkLinkLinkBackcountry Only: With coupon code BCTWENTY. <<< Use 'other' link
PowerTap P1 Pedals$1,199$959May 19 2017May 29 2017LinkLinkLinkBackcountry Only: With coupon code BCTWENTY. <<< Use 'other' link
Suunto GPS Watches-25% offMay 18 2017May 29 2017LinkExcept Spartan Sport Wrist HR. But regular Spartan Ultra/Sport do work!
Tacx Flux$899USD/799EUR$720May 19 2017May 29 2017N/ALinkLinkREI Only: 20% off with Coupon Code ANNV17!
Tacx NEO Smart$1,599USD/1,399EUR$1280May 19 2017May 29 2017LinkLinkLinkREI Only: 20% off with Coupon Code ANNV17!
Wahoo Fitness KICKR2 (2016)$1,199$960May 19 2017May 29 2017LinkLinkLinkREI Only: 20% off with Coupon Code ANNV17!

All of the above links help support the blog!

YouTube Videos I Published!

Here’s some YouTube goodness that I published this past week, don’t forget to subscribe!

Stuff that 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) Kickstarter adds hardware studio offering to help creators: This is a good step towards trying to minimize the countless delayed hardware projects on Kickstarter.  But a better step would be Kickstarter adding repercussions for hardware startups that don’t have realistic plans to begin with.  You know, accountability and all that.  Still far too many projects pass through Kickstarter’s supposed filters that just aren’t viable with the timelines they set out.

2) Secrets of a Pro Photographer: Maven has done some awesome Giro vlogs, especially in the last few days.  Between this one and the one yesterday – he’s really finding his groove.  I would say on the photographer one that yes, it’s a bit long.  And it might seem a bit ‘cold’ earlier on in the first few minutes, but then it feels like Jered warms up a bit and the content is really interesting.

3) Tour of California Data Numbers: While many teams publish pro data as part of larger compilations, this blog series is actually fairly detailed with a Q&A with the rider themselves on different data aspects.  Cool stuff.

4) Inside the Race Caravan at the ToC: Speaking of the Tour of California, this is an awesome piece by Neal Rogers written in real-time from inside one of the Team Sky vehicles.  I think this could turn into a great series.

5) Sniper vs GoPro: And I now know how I’m going to justify any future GoPro purchases to The Girl: “But it could save my life!!!”. Seriously though, glad this guy is (mostly) OK. (sent in via Ken)

6) Tidbit on a Runners World vs Nike feud: Interesting post outlining what happened when Runners World published a piece that said Nike wasn’t the best shoe model one year. Looks a bit like Lance Armstrong tactics.  On the flipside, when you (a publisher) bite the hand that feeds you (advertising)…and that’s what’s wrong with that model when it comes to reviews. (via Steve Magness)

7) Endless pool swimming file creator: This is pretty nifty.  If you’ve got an endless pool you can insert your time and pace, and then the app will automatically determine distance.  From there it creates a .TCX file you can upload to various swim platforms.  Brilliant.  Would love to see this in some sort of watch-app form as well.

8) Heli mountain biking? Why yes, I’d be happy to complete a detailed review of your rack (done in flight of course). I’m glad you asked!

Sports Technology Software/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 firmware updates.

Garmin Fenix 5/5S/5X/Chronos BETA firmware update: New features, plus some fixes.

Wahoo KICKR: Bug fix related to units locking up on performing a spindown.

Thanks for reading, have a great week ahead!

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The Day in May DCR $500 Gadget Giveaway! https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2017/05/the-gadget-giveaway.html https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2017/05/the-gadget-giveaway.html#comments Sat, 20 May 2017 16:09:11 +0000 https://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=74685 Read More Here ]]> Garmin-FR935-Constant-HR_thumb

It’s a day in May.  No, not May Day.  That, according to Wikipedia is May 1st.  Rather, it’s May 20th – which I reason is 20 times better than May 1st (albeit, less awesome than May 5th).  Why’s it better?  Because I’m giving away gadget awesomeness.  I originally planned to give away the Garmin FR935 GPS watch, the backorder is basically down to almost nothing.  But then I figured – you can choose anything you’d like.  Perhaps you’re more of a cyclist, or you just want a large pile of compression sleeves instead.  Your choice.

Speaking of coverage – if you didn’t see my tweet yesterday, there’s a BOATLOAD of sales on right now (both from Clever Training as well as others).  The best deal being 30% off the Garmin FR735XT GPS watch.  But also some solid 20% off deals on power meters, trainers, and 25% off on Suunto gear.  The full details are here!

In any case, the winner will get a $500 credit to CleverTraining.com, my most excellent partner in this giveaway crime.  By supporting the site through Clever Training you also can save 10% on basically anything they sell (or get points instead).  If you win, you can use that credit for anything from the GoPro Hero5 Black to that Garmin FR935, to a random pair of socks to the PowerTap C1 power meter, or heck, even towards a new trainer.  With that kind of credit, the world is your oyster (except…they don’t sell oysters).

How to enter:

Simply leave a note about what athletic adventures you’re up to this weekend.  Easy as that!

Oh – and you’ll likely avoid the SPAM filters if you’re more detailed than just the word ‘run’.  Nobody likes to get sandwiched between two pieces of SPAM. Got all that?

Good luck!

The giveaway entry period will run through Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 until 11:59PM US Eastern Time.  Winner will be selected randomly.  One entry per person.  The selected product/products will then be ordered immediately and shipped immediately, assuming they’re in stock.

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Giro d’Italia 2017: Spectating and behind the scenes! https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia-spectating-behind-the-scenes.html https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia-spectating-behind-the-scenes.html#comments Thu, 18 May 2017 18:18:17 +0000 https://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=74665 Read More Here ]]> DSC_2215

My day at Stage 10 of the Giro was jam-packed. It basically couldn’t get any more packed.  I arrived into the small town where the stage was starting from around 10:30PM the night prior, and by 4:17PM the next day I was already ‘briskly’ rushing back to the airport to catch my flight.

Thus, over the course of about the 8 or so hours there I walked some 17,000 steps checking out bikes and goodness at the Giro, both in the starting area but also at various other points along the course.  Now if you didn’t check out yesterday’s post – that’s all about the bike tech.  Power meters, bike trainers, gizmos and gadgets.  But this post is about just being a cycling fan and spectating.  Or, at least as much of that as I could do.

Here’s how that all went down.

Checking out team buses:

First order of the day was spending a bit of time (or 3 hours) checking out all the gear at the team buses.  Depending on the stage, the team vans/buses/vehicles cruise on in anywhere from 2-4 hours before the start.  With a time trial (TT) stage they tend to get there earlier since often times they’ve gotta re-order things a bit to get the TT bikes out, trainers out, etc… Plus, these days the crew is there for the long-haul, so it tends to be a bit bigger setup.  Versus a normal stage where the buses usually leave not long after the riders.

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The mechanics are out early doing everything from cleaning bikes, to setting up crowd barrier lines and trainers.

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Heck, they’re even cleaning car windshields.

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A typical grand tour setup involves one large bus, one large truck/vehicle with bikes, a bunch of follow-cars (for in race usage), and then usually a few vans and such used by the team to ferry staff around.  Most of this arrives at the start in a bit of a convoy.  Once on the grounds, the race organizers have a set location for the buses to line-up.  Sometimes teams are assigned specific spots, and sometimes it’s first come first serve.  You can clearly see certain teams where drivers have picked more creatively what to park against.  For example, Team Orica parked aside this hedge, giving them a secondary ‘fence’ for free.

DSC_2258

Meanwhile, Team Sky notoriously parks in the most non-public facing way possible. At every stage and every race I go to they find a way to block as much of the team from public view as possible, and this was the case here as well.  They parked the two buses/trucks up against a wall that dropped down 3-5 meters, so nobody could see them from that side.  And then they used another vehicle to block off the open end, creating a bit of a blockade.  No other team goes anywhere near these lengths, or does it as consistently.

Trainers-Wahoo

With this stage, the team vehicles were pretty much out in the open for fans to wander around.  Some of that varies by stage and really town design.  I’ve seen some Tour stages where all they had to work with was a large private parking lot – so it ends up being one giant invite-only area with no fans allowed.  Whereas other times all they’ve got is tiny village streets, so it ends up being very open (even for Team Sky), since the buses are just parked in a line end to end down a street.

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In any case – almost all teams have a posted schedule for TT days, listing exactly when each rider heads out, but also the day’s layout for that rider.  Here’s Team Sky’s (click to expand):

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And then we’ve got FDJ’s (left) and Lotto Soudal’s (right).

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Once close to their start time, the riders usually do some sort of warm-up on the myriad of trainers I showed yesterday.  Some teams also have giant vans and water sprayers too.  While others simply sweat it out:

Trainers-CCC

DSC_2487 DSC_2515

It’s during the warm-up that most riders place their own bike computer onto their bike.  Rarely do I see mechanics do this.  Sorta like your wallet, you own/handle that.

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After the riders complete their warm-up they head straight over to the starting line.  In this case it was about a kilometer ride, which was partially barricaded in some areas, and then open on small pedestrian streets in other parts.  Throughout it there was crowd control to keep people from getting run over.  Don’t worry about the people in the way, the riders are barely going walking speeds here.

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Sometimes along the way riders will give autographs, but usually that’s closer to the start line itself.

Along the way they’ll have passed through a bit of a sponsor village that’s setup.  This is something that The Tour lacks, as there’s nothing open to the general public like here at the Giro.

DSC_2219

On the flip side, The Tour does have the grand caravan, which is a 30-minute long parade that throws free stuff at you (see my detailed post on that here).  In the case of the Giro, the caravan/parade is honestly a bit lame and lasts about 18 seconds long with no free stuff.

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Both have about equal amounts of vendors to buy goods though.  Both The Giro and The Tour have these official merchandise roaming vans, which sell lower-quality stuff.

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And then at the start and finish there are also higher quality merchandise pop-up shops (also official) to get branded goods as well.

A Detour – Media credentials:

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As I was bumbling around checking off teams in my list, I stumbled into an Airstream looking RV that said media on the outside and something about accreditation.

I hadn’t bothered to apply for media accreditation for the Giro, because it wasn’t really something that I had set in stone.  But last week once I narrowed down some scheduling, I shot over an e-mail and filled out a form…but never heard back.  No worries, it was late and I wasn’t really expecting a response (and quite frankly – everything I shot in these two posts except the picture of the placards below didn’t need a media pass).

Still, I saw a person or two standing in line that looked slightly less professional than I did. Which isn’t saying I looked professional – because as any cycling journalist will tell you – it’s just about being comfortable while sweating your balls off for 5-7 hours in the sun.  But, on the mental scale of whether or not I could pull this off better than them – I gave myself a slightly higher chance of success.

And sure enough, I pretty much walked up and explained that I had shot over stuff late and was curious if I could still get credentials.  Within about 90 seconds I filled out a paper form like at a doctor’s office, and about 3 minutes later a lady took my photo on a webcam that appeared to be pointed at the ceiling (hence why I’m not looking at the camera).

2017-05-16 11.44.47

No discussion of site numbers or anything.  Oh, and I got media car decals too. Stampa means press in Italian.

2017-05-16 11.49.38

It probably helped that I had a backpack from the Tour Down Under (this one!), as well as had a big-ass camera lens on a big-ass DSLR around my neck.  And that I was just simply friendly.

Now with these newfound car decals – I knew what I had to do: Decorate my convertible.

Wait, you didn’t know I got a convertible?  Shame on you – you need to follow me on Twitter.

Apparently, due to a mixup with Expedia’s site, it offset my time-zones on my rental by 9 hours from what I set versus what they got.  So they already gave away my car (the cheapest one they had when I went online).  There wasn’t much left, but since it was just 24 hours they offered this for no additional charge.  Obviously, I said yes.

Here’s a little story about my first time putting stickers on my car.  I’d rate myself a B+ for the front sticker, and a C- on the rear sticker.  Note that the C- is accompanied by a helping of “let’s be honest, I’m applying it to a sports car…does it matter?”

And because I found this entire situation hilarious, here’s a few more photos:

DSC_2384 DSC_2395DSC_2387

At this juncture I pretty much had the coolest car with Giro decals on it in the race.  Or at least any media sticker on it.  I definitely turned a few heads.  Ok…turned all heads.

Back to the race, the starting line:

As we left off – racers were heading over to the starting area.  Along the way they pass the team cars in the queue to the starting area.  This is sorta like the on-deck circle before they join the actual moving queue to the starting line.

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Meanwhile, the rider gets his bike inspected by UCI officials.  This only takes a few moments.

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By the way – at some point along the way they’ll have likely added race radios to themselves.  You can see the wire going from the ear down to a small wireless pack under the clothes:

DSC_2524 DSC_2525

From there the rider will head over to the starting tent, where they’ll join others in the queue.  Typically at The Tour I see a far smaller queue (1-2 riders).  But here the guys were jammed in there like a college team bus.

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Back on the car side of things, the team cars get plates affixed to them with the name of the rider and number.  These are all lined up by starting order under a tent:

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And then this man places it on the front of the car:

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Finally, the rider heads up into the starting platform and roughly every 60 seconds one starts his 39.8 kilometer time trial to Montefalco.

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Immediately after him his team car will follow, staying with him for the duration.  In some cases riders won’t get follow cars from their own teams, but rather neutral cars.  It mostly depends on timing for the team and whether their cars can complete the loop back to the start for the next rider.  In addition there are also photo motos and official race motos as well floating around.

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The riders then made their way about 700-1000m out of the village, weaving their way down small streets.

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Before finally crossing a bridge over a moat-like river that surrounds the city.

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It’s here they head out into the wild blue yonder for their roughly 1-hour journey.

Meanwhile, 30KM up the course:

After seeing all there was to see in the starting village, I decided to make my way to the finish line.  While the riders have to go some 39KM, there’s actually a shortcut between the two towns which only takes 10KM.  So that seemed pretty nearby with a car.

Unfortunately, while attempting to execute on that shortcut (which all teams/media/etc… use to shuttle back and forth), they had blocked the road about 4KM away from the finish town, and required you to use a bus.  This seemed a bit peculiar to me given I was credentialed at this point, but my Italian is limited to ‘pizza’ – so arguing was somewhat moot.  I could see other media trying to argue as well without success.

In my case, I lacked the time to deal with a bus (in case it took forever, which I’ll explain in a bit).  So instead I just picked a random road that I figured would intersect the course elsewhere.  And sure enough it did a few kilometers later (and it was actually a stunningly beautiful connector road among vineyards).

I then walked about another kilometer from where they blocked the road up to the race course itself:

2017-05-16 15.42.28

And it was here that I found the banner for the 30KM marker.

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It’s also the same spot that at least one rider went down on the sharp 90° turn and the yellow barrier you see below.

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I stayed here for while watching folks go by.  There was a small crowd of perhaps 25-30 people here, but otherwise it was pretty empty.  I suspect deeper into the town there’d be more folks.

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One of the cool things about the TT stage is watching one rider pass another, as happened right when I first arrived.  Even though the riders were separated by about a minute at the starting line, once you get 40 minutes into a race, that skill variability can cause that gap to evaporate.

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As regular readers know – I like to hop around as much as possible during a stage.  In today’s case I spent more time documenting team gear (about 3-3.5 hours worth), so that cost me some of my wandering time.  Still – it was cool to get elsewhere on the course and check things out!

And then I expired:

After I finished up at the 30KM marker I had about 30 minutes to get some shots I needed down for a product review coming out next week.  Though, you’ll likely see some teasers from said company later today.  Given I had the vehicle and gorgeousness of the Italian countryside – it seemed like a great place for it.

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So I spent some time doing that.  About 47 minutes of time.  Which was about 17 more minutes of time than I should have.  Or actually about 37 minutes more time than I should have once you accounted for the fact that I miscalculated how long it’d take to get back to the airport.

And of course, there’s no better vehicle to avoid raising an eyebrow than a bright red convertible screaming across the countryside driven by a sunburned tall non-Italian looking dude.  Or not.

No worries though – I successfully made it to the airport security line about 28 minutes before my flight departed.  And I wasn’t the last one onboard either.  Nope, that honor would go to the two standby passengers behind me.  See…all’s good!

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With that – thanks for reading!  Next up…Le Tour!

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Giro d’Italia 2017–The Trainers, Power Meters and Gadgets of the Pro Peloton https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia-2017-trainers-powermeters-tech.html https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2017/05/giro-ditalia-2017-trainers-powermeters-tech.html#comments Wed, 17 May 2017 12:00:27 +0000 https://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=74459 Read More Here ]]> DSC_2244

Yesterday I spent the full day at the Giro d’Italia checking out all the sports tech goods the pro teams had on hand.  In the case of this stage, it was an individual time trial – which means that each rider starts individually, one after another.  While that rider will ‘only’ ride 39KM solo, the entire procession of all pro riders takes about 5 hours from start to finish.

This gives me tons of time to check out bikes and related tech.  But more importantly – it gives a slightly different insight into the gadgets the pro teams are using.  See, with time trial stages you not only get different bikes (TT/triathlon bikes instead of road bikes), but you also get the teams using trainers at the team buses.

So I started off right as the first team vehicles started pulling into the small town of Foligno.  I’d make sweeps through over and over again, first to account for the general baseline of the teams’ bikes (i.e. what most riders are using), but then kept checking back on certain teams of interest that may have individual riders on different/unique equipment.  This can be done for testing purposes, sponsorship demands, or simply rider preferences.  In general riders ‘get away’ with a bit more equipment leniency on a time trial day, since it’s somewhat of a one-off.

I was tracking everything in a spreadsheet on my phone (just Google Sheets), as well as photographing each component from each team.  Sometimes that’s a bit trickier than others, for example, the handful of Continental Teams (non-World Tour teams), don’t tend to be as organized as the major teams.  So you end up spending more time either tracking those down or just sifting through the significant differences you tend to find on their equipment.

Oh – and don’t worry, I’ve got a non-tech post from the Giro coming up either later today or tomorrow morning.  Once I finish editing all the photos.  With that, let’s start with power meters.

Power Meters:

Power-Quick-Step

Starting with the Tour Down Under back in January, we’ve seen a bit more stabilization of power meters within the pro peloton.  Of course, just because pro teams are riding it doesn’t make it the best.  It just makes it sponsored.  This is true of every bike component I talk about here.  Sure, there are cases where teams will pick one component over another for performance reasons – but frankly those are few and far between.  Teams follow the money, as they should in pro cycling.  After all, it’s a business for profit – not a weekend sport.

Still, it’s fun to look to see what teams are using.  In general, my thoughts for each brand are:

SRM: Is heavily used…but less often in a standard way.  When I looked at bikes, it was almost non-existent for the exact same SRM model to be used across a given team’s bikes.  Rather, it’s was sorta a mixed bag of different models from different years.  There were some exceptions to this of course, but by and large there’s not much standardization for most teams running SRM.  This again could be rider preferences or if SRM isn’t sponsoring that team officially, they might be pulling power meters from a variety of sources, thus the scramble of units.

4iiii Precision (dual model): They sponsored two UCI WorldTour Pro teams this year, and both teams are riding the dual setup (measures left and right power).  In this case, the teams were largely standardized on basically just a couple of models that 4iiii makes in the dual setup (they have far more options in the left-only arena).  You’ll remember that 4iiii started shipping the dual config in the second half of 2016.

Power2Max: Power2Max was equally popular here again with pro teams.  Most of what I saw though was previous models and not the newer NG units that they started shipping earlier this year.  In most cases pro teams tend to put a cutoff of around December for new gear to be used on bikes going forward.  So it’s likely it didn’t make the cut.  Sometimes you see some mixing up of things in between the Giro and the Tour de France, but that’s rarely team-wide, and tends to be individual rider tests.

ROTOR (2INpower): ROTOR was present with two teams on their 2INpower setup that I just published a review on last week.  ROTOR has a pretty long history of having pro teams sponsored on their power meters, so it’s definitely no surprise to see them here as well.

Pioneer: Like ROTOR they continued into 2017 with sponsoring two full teams.  This year though with Giant apparently deciding to rebrand make a bike computer, Team Sunweb with Giant as a major sponsor is using Giant’s bike computer instead of the Pioneer one (versus last year both teams used the Pioneer units).  As an aside, I do like the fact that Pioneer gets into matching the color scheme on their power meters to the pro teams they sponsor.  I remember Power2Max doing that in the past as well (and SRM does it for their head units).

Quarq: One team was using Quarq, which is a bit of a downgrade from last year.  And that team wasn’t running the DZero units either (though those too just started shipping around late December/January).  I wouldn’t read into this too much, since Quarq/SRAM also expanded out sponsorships in other areas like the women’s teams (as I noted at the Tour Down Under).

bePRO: One of the Italian continental teams (these are kinda like wildcard teams, local to Italy, given slots for the Giro) was using bePRO.  You may remember bePRO is an Italian brand, so it’s fitting.

Keep in mind that one thing all power meter companies are trying to do is establish credibility (newer players), or maintain creditability (some existing players).  For long term power meter companies like Quarq and PowerTap, there’s little reason to deal with the hassle and overhead of a pro team.  Athletes know their power meters are solid, and their name is well known.  And the same is true of SRM, but I think the tables are slightly different there.  In their case, they’re looking to maintain their name in the news (like this very piece). So it’s not so much a case of maintaining creditability, but instead maintaining brand awareness.

Finally, one thing to note is that I did not see Shimano’s power meter out on any bikes.  Though, if the Tour Down Under (and even the Tour de France last year) is any indication, it’s likely on only a rider or two per day. In some cases teams have positioned bikes where I simply can’t see them at the times I went by, thus my bet is someone out there is riding it…but no team has it as the stock config right now.

In any case, here’s the full table of teams:

Giro 2017 Power Meters

TeamPower Meter
AG2R La MondialeSRM
AstanaPower2Max
Bahrain-MeridaSRM
BMC Racing TeamSRM
Bora-Hansgrohe4iiii (dual left/right)
Cannondale-DrapacSRM
Team Dimension DataRotor 2INPower
FDJSRM
Team Katusha-AlpecinQuarq
LottoNL-JumboPioneer
Lotto-SoudalSRM (but not all bikes)
Movistar TeamPower2Max
Orica-ScottSRM
Quick-Step Floors4iiii (dual left/right)
Team SkyStages (dual left/right)
Team SunwebPioneer
Trek-SegafredoSRM
Bardiani-CSF (Conti Team)bePRO
CCC-Sprandi-Polkowice (Conti Team)Power2Max (only half the bikes)
Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia (Conti Team)SRM (only one bike)

And here’s a pile of power meter photos (you can hover over any given power meter to see the name of the team):

Power-AG2R Power-Astana Power-Bahrain Power-Bardiani1 Power-Bardiani2 Power-Bora Power-Cannondale Power-Cannondale2 Power-CCC Power-DimensionData Power-KatushaQuarq Power-LottoJumbo Power-LottoSoudal Power-Movistar Power-Quick-Step Power-Sunweb Power-TeamSkyLeft Power-TeamSkyRight Power-Trek Power-Wilier

Got all that? Good…let’s get rolling onto trainers.

Trainers:

Trainers-BMC

When it comes to bike trainers, two brands dominate the team buses: Elite and Tacx.

They account for every team except three.  The three remaining teams split up three other brands, one each: Wahoo, CycleOps, Feedback Sports (Haven’t heard of them? Don’t worry…more on that in a second).

Now in some ways, this is a bit of a shoo-in for Elite and Tacx.  With both companies being based in Europe and both companies sponsoring teams in other ways (water bottles, water bottle cages, etc…) – there’s a lot of history there for them to pitch trainers.

However, what we have seen this year is both Elite and Tacx up the ante when it comes to the trainers being used.  Gone are the days of low-end sub-$300 models being stashed on the team bus for time trial day.  These days both companies have teams using their high-end Elite Drivo and Tacx Neo trainers.  In Tacx’s case, every single team sponsored by them was using the Neo.  And with Elite, almost everyone was on Drivo, with only a couple stragglers splitting up their team with half Drivo, half other lower end (lighter) options.

Giro 2017 Trainers

TeamTrainer
AG2R La MondialeElite blend
AstanaTacx Neo
Bahrain-MeridaElite Drivo
BMC Racing TeamElite Drivo
Bora-HansgroheTacx Neo
Cannondale-DrapacTacx Neo
Team Dimension DataTacx Neo
FDJElite blend
Team Katusha-AlpecinTacx Neo
LottoNL-JumboTacx Neo
Lotto-SoudalOmnium Track
Movistar TeamElite
Orica-ScottElite
Quick-Step FloorsTacx Neo
Team SkyWahoo KICKR2
Team SunwebElite Drivo
Trek-SegafredoCycleops
Bardiani-CSF (Conti Team)Elite Blend
CCC-Sprandi-Polkowice (Conti Team)Elite blend
Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia (Conti Team)Elite blend

Now there was one interesting little exception to the ‘everything Tacx is Neo’ mantra – which is this Tacx Satori Smart I saw stashed below one bus.  Turns out there’s a reason for that: It’s for a podium winner to cool-down while waiting for awards.

DSC_2237

See, with the Neo weighing some 48lbs/21kg, it’s a beast to transport by hand (trust me, I’ve dragged one of them close to a mile).  Since team buses are rarely placed next to the finish area, this allows the team to carry the far lighter (about 17lbs/7kg) Satori Smart to the finish line.  Neat, huh?

Oh – and finally, not much to say on the remaining three.  Wahoo has long sponsored Team Sky for their trainers (but not head units).  And the CycleOps trainers for Trek is likely just because Trek and CycleOps have a long history, largely because they’re located very close to one another.

As for Feedback Sports?  Well…I guess just something to keep me on my toes:

Trainers-LottoSoudal

I had immediately recognized the design, but not the brand.  I had recognized it as the Omnium trainer, which indeed it is.  But the actual company name is Feedback Sports with these trainer products all branded Omnium.

In any case, here’s the full gallery of trainers from today:

Trainers-AG2R Trainers-Astana Trainers-Bahrain Trainers-Bardiani Trainers-BMC Trainers-Bora Trainers-Cannondale Trainers-DimensionData Trainers-FDJ Trainers-LottoSoudal Trainers-QuickStep Trainers-Sunweb Trainers-Trek Trainers-Wahoo

Again, remember you can hover over a given trainer to see the team.

King of the Mounts:

Mounts-Bora

I’m going to keep this quick – there’s frankly no competition here: K-Edge dominates when it comes to 3rd party options. Like, full-on world domination dominating.  For the most part the only teams not using K-Edge for their bike mounts are doing so because the bike had a built-in mount already (or funky aerobars that didn’t work well for a K-Edge mount), or because the team was using a specific sponsor mount (Zipp in one case, SRM in most other cases).  Here’s the run-down (including bike computers):

Giro 2017 Bike Computers/Mounts

TeamComputer MountBike Computer
AG2R La MondialeK-EdgeSRM
AstanaK-EdgeGarmin
Bahrain-MeridaStockSRM PC8
BMC Racing TeamStockSRM
Bora-HansgroheK-EdgeGarmin
Cannondale-DrapacStockGarmin
Team Dimension DataStockGarmin/Edge 820
FDJZipp blacked outGarmin
Team Katusha-AlpecinZippGarmin
LottoNL-JumboStockPioneer
Lotto-SoudalK-EdgeSRM
Movistar TeamGeneric Tri MountGarmin
Orica-ScottK-EdgeSRM PC8
Quick-Step FloorsK-EdgeGarmin
Team SkyK-EdgeGarmin/Edge 820
Team SunwebStockGiant NeosTrack
Trek-SegafredoStockSRM PC8
Bardiani-CSF (Conti Team)BlendGarmin/Edge 520
CCC-Sprandi-Polkowice (Conti Team)BlendBlend
Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia (Conti Team)StockBlend

Now do keep in mind that in the case of a time trial stage like this, you’re going to see a totally different mount game than a road bike stage. They’re physically separate mounts, and wouldn’t work for the other purpose.  As such, I typically see more K-Edge on time trial stages than not, since most bike computers don’t include TT-style mounts.  Thus, teams will go out and buy/partner/whatever for the TT mounts.  Which doesn’t take away anything from K-Edge, as there are certainly competitive options out there (i.e. BarFly), so teams are making a choice here.  But rather, just to put the numbers in perspective.

Mounts-AG2R Mounts-Bora Mounts-Cannondale2 Mounts-CannondaleEdge Mounts-CCC-Band Mounts-CCC-K-Edge Mounts-DimensionData Mounts-FDJ Mounts-LottoSoudal Mounts-QuickStep Mounts-TeamSky Mounts-Trek

So what about bike computers?

Well, they’re actually really tricky to count – unless I stayed at the physical start line all day long (which was probably a kilometer from the buses).  That’s because teams don’t put out head units prior to the rider arriving for their warm-up.  And even then, many times the rider will place a towel over the head unit – making it even more difficult to see.

Trainers-CCC

Not to mention that, for a number of teams, the head units aren’t actually standardized.  Sure, some like SRM sponsored Bahrain-Merida are (gold SRM PC8), as is Team Sunweb (Giant’s head unit), and Lotto Jumbo on Pioneer.  But in the case of Team Sky they went out and bought Edge 820’s straight-up.  Tons of Edge 520’s abound.

Mounts-Trek Mounts-CannondaleEdge

And other teams appear to be a complete blend, with at least two guys riding everything from Edge 1000 (we’ll ignore how much time they cost themselves…).

Mounts-QuickStep Mounts-Cannondale

So I largely account for mount types (i.e. Garmin, SRM, Pioneer, etc…) more than anything.  Nobody in the pro peloton is using a non-Garmin computer in a Garmin quarter-turn mount.  Thus, process of elimination makes it easy.

Shifting:

Shifting-TeamSky

This is a super quick and easy category, since it’s somewhat like the K-Edge story – domination by one brand: Shimano.

This is a pretty big shift, no pun intended, from last year which saw a much more broader usage of SRAM RED eTAP.  I suspect the reason here is largely sponsorship driven.  Shimano is prolific in sponsorship of pro teams, and pays handsomely for that privilege.  When eTAP was launched, it was more important to the company to get brand awareness out there – and to demonstrate it as good enough for pro riders in the Grand Tours.  But these days everyone knows it’s solid, so there’s little reason to spend that money.

Shifting-Orica Power-KatushaQuarq

Here’s the run-down:

Giro 2017 Shifting

TeamShifting
AG2R La MondialeShimano Di2
AstanaShimano Di2
Bahrain-MeridaShimano Di2
BMC Racing TeamShimano Di2
Bora-HansgroheShimano Di2
Cannondale-DrapacShimano Di2
Team Dimension DataShimano Di2
FDJShimano Di2
Team Katusha-AlpecinSRAM eTAP
LottoNL-JumboShimano Di2
Lotto-SoudalCampagnolo EPS
Movistar TeamCampagnolo EPS
Orica-ScottShimano Di2
Quick-Step FloorsShimano Di2
Team SkyShimano Di2
Team SunwebShimano Di2
Trek-SegafredoShimano Di2
Bardiani-CSF (Conti Team)Campagnolo EPS
CCC-Sprandi-Polkowice (Conti Team)Campagnolo EPS and Mechanical
Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia (Conti Team)Shimano Mechanical

Do note that sometimes we see variations between TT bikes and road bikes in this category, but I wouldn’t expect any cross-brand differences.

Random Gadgets:

A few things caught my attention that didn’t fall into the above categories.  First up was Trek riding with Bontrager rear tail lights (these are also ANT+ enabled too – here’s a piece on them I did last year).  Bontrager is a Trek brand, and the company (arm in arm with Garmin) has made a significant bike light push not just for the sake of selling product – but to try and improve rider safety.  So, sure enough the guys were riding them during the TT, and even had turned them on (logically) when they went out to start.

Gadgets-Trek

Gadgets-Trek2

Next, I found it funny that *front wheel* speed sensors are still a thing. At least a thing on road bikes during a time trial.  GPS speed is generally considered more than accurate enough for road riding, especially in cases like a time trial where the route tends to be more forgiving to GPS due to higher speeds.  For mountain biking, sure, totally understand.  And rear wheels for trainers to get speed indoors – also understand.

Gadgets-AG2R

My guess here though is that this bike was probably using an SRM PC7 or earlier, which doesn’t have GPS, and thus needs a speed sensor.  At the time I was there the bike just had an SRM mount, but no bike computer installed yet.  The SRM PC8 uses GPS of course.

And finally – this mysterious device thingy.  It appears to be a holder of some sort, which was on Sean De Bie’s bike of Lotto Soudal.  As I was taking photos of it one of the Velon guys came around and briefly conferred with the mechanic about it, so my guess is something related to that (perhaps a live TV transmission device)?  This was about 75 minutes prior to his start time, so whatever device was on it wasn’t installed yet.

Gadgets-LottoSoudal1 Gadgets-LottoSoudal2

I attempted to make it back in time to catch him start – but didn’t quite make it.  So be curious if anyone has any idea what it is, or video/images of it in action.

With that – thanks for reading!  And remember, I’ve got a non-gadget Giro post coming up either later today or tomorrow morning.  The weather is looking mighty nice out right now…so may be time to escape out for a hot ride!

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The DCR Analyzer Is Now Available For You To Use! https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2017/05/the-dcr-analyzer-is-now-available-for-you-to-use.html https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2017/05/the-dcr-analyzer-is-now-available-for-you-to-use.html#comments Tue, 16 May 2017 04:00:00 +0000 https://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=74454 Read More Here ]]> DSC_7355

And by now…I mean like 5 months ago. But no matter, I’m finally getting around to telling you about it in some manner that might be noticeable.  Or even semi-formal.

But wait – what’s the DCR Analyzer?

You know in my in-depth reviews (you do read those, right?) where I’ve got all these fancy charts that compare one power meter to another (or 4 others)?  Or one heart rate strap to another or three?  Or possibly one GPS track to 7 others?  Well, that’s the DCR Analyzer.

It’s a purpose built tool that I’ve been using for almost two years now, designed specifically for comparing two theoretically like things.  So how does one power meter track against another on the same ride.  Or how does one optical HR sensor compare to a heart rate strap.  That’s the goal.

It originated from my frustration with spending 15-45 minutes per ride/run/activity trying to normalize and compare the data using off the shelf tools.  I used to use a combination of Golden Cheetah, Excel, and a large hammer to make everything work.  The problem was that no tool exactly fit what I needed.  And with a typical in-depth review having anywhere from 10-30 sets of data contained within it, it became a nightmare to quickly generate the core data that the reviews are often based around.

Hence…the DCR Analyzer was born!

I worked closely with a developer (of FitFileTools.com) to inch our way towards a pretty sweet toolset for comparing data from the same activity.  And early last year (2016) a smattering of you started beta testing it as well.  Then earlier this past year (January 2017) I opened the doors to anyone who wanted to use it.

Since then, far more of you than I ever expected have been making comparative data sets and seeing how your devices measure up.  It’s been really cool to see!  Especially cooler to see it being used throughout the industry, and even some of the UCI World Tour Pro Cycling teams are now using it for analyzing and validating data.

FullCapture_thumb

Now there are free options out there to do similar things.  But there are a bunch of nuanced reasons why I feel the DCR Analyzer is better suited for data comparisons:

– Automatic Alignment: It automatically aligns files based on GPS timestamps (or any timestamps).  So you don’t have to worry about pressing start at the same time, or about pauses
– Data file support: It doesn’t barf on files with the latest data types.  Many 3rd party tools have trouble with file format specs that are updated with new data types.  Since I use the tool on usually unreleased products, I get these supported in the Analyzer well before you even know the products exist. :)
– Sensor support: The DCR Analyzer allows you to save your sensors and then automatically recognize them for .FIT files.  This is great if you record lots of things at once and accidentally mix up which unit recorded which.
– Proper mapping: The ability to get true 1-second recording data tracks on the map is really important to me.  A lot of sites/tools won’t properly display all the data points on the GPS map, which sorta defeats the purpose for analysis reasons.
– Constant improvements: We’re super open to adding features that make comparative analysis quicker and easier.  I’ve got lots of ideas for how to keep improving the suite of tools for this purpose – without losing sight of the fundamental purpose: Comparing data files
– Data Types: It supports comparing a slew of data types: Heart rate data, Power meter data, Cadence data, Elevation data, Distance data, GPS Tracks

Now, to be clear – this is NOT a training log site.  It’s not designed to replace sites like Training Peaks, Strava, SportTracks…or apps like WKO+ or SportTracks.  Rather, it’s simply a tool to compare multiple sensors/tracks/whatever’s on the same activity.  I still use all those tools myself as my training log.  The DCR Analyzer is more like a graphing calculator than logbook.

image_thumb24

So how do you get started?  Well, there’s two options.  First is a day pass, and then an annual pass.  The day pass gives you 24 hours to create up to 3 sets of data (each set contains multiple files), and then you’ve got indefinite read-access after that.  This is great if you’ve got a quick one-time use for it.  This is $5.

The second option is the all you can eat annual pass.  This allows you to create unlimited sets for an entire year.  All 365 days of it!  This costs $29 for the year, and like the day pass, your sets remain active indefinitely, even beyond your membership.

You can hit the account creation page here!

No matter which option you choose you can share the sets with public links, just like I do in my reviews (and you can also keep things totally private too).  With public links you can post links to forums or e-mail, Snapchat or on a giant sign by the side of the road.  Whatever floats your boat.

If you want to check out more about all the technical capabilities of it, you can read-up on the manual of sorts that I’ve put together here.  This covers how to use the Analyzer, and some of my pro tips for analyzing hundreds of data sets with it.

With that – thanks for reading- and enjoy!

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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2017/05/random-things-did-this-weekend-47.html https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2017/05/random-things-did-this-weekend-47.html#comments Mon, 15 May 2017 10:13:31 +0000 https://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=74441 Read More Here ]]> The weather continues to get warmer here in Paris – and this weekend was quite nice. Here’s what I was up to!

1) A quick lunch run

I headed out Friday midday for a short lunch run.  It was part testing and part just fitting in a very brief run in an otherwise busy day.

DCIM\106GOPRO\GOPR0302.JPG

It was only about 25-30 minutes, as I just needed the time to get some photos of the Suunto Spartan interval mode while actually running.  Sure, I could have just taken them while standing there and they would have looked nicer, but in this case I thought it useful to show what it looked like mid-run.

DCIM\106GOPRO\GOPR0375.JPG

The side benefit of that being I got in a short interval workout.  Albeit really too short to have any meaningful impact from a fitness standpoint.  But at least I got the shots.

2) Finding a bread cutter

2017-05-13 16.26.55-1

We’ve been living in France almost five years now.  In fact, our first house-hunting trip here was 5 years ago this past weekend (remember this?!? Or the house hunting itself?).  And in these 5 years I’ve been hunting for this one item that has proved very difficult to find. An antique baguette cutter.

See the restaurant next door, that we visit on a near weekly basis, has this awesome old-school baguette cutter that I love.  It’s part antique, and part random cool kitchen gadget.  Many of you know I’m as much a kitchen gadget guy as a sports tech gadget guy (except automatic can openers, I think those are stupid).

In any case, I’ve been looking for this baguette contraption for years at various antique (brocante) markets that constantly pop up around the city.  This weekend there was a massive antique market across the river, so we took a wander on Saturday for the fun of it.  You could find just about anything there – including whatever the heck that plastic women is/was:

2017-05-13 16.41.26 2017-05-13 16.39.24-1 2017-05-13 16.38.26 2017-05-13 16.27.28

And astoundingly, I actually found the baguette cutter – early on in fact.  But it wasn’t a French one, rather instead from the Nordics.  I had been somewhat looking for an old-school French one, given our time here.

2017-05-13 16.11.11

It was also incredibly expensive, so I passed on it for now.  I’ll probably regret doing that down the road, but at least the quest continues.

3) Next up…Power2Max NG

DSC_2145

I started getting the Power2Max Next Generation (NG) all situated as my next power meter to test.  I’ll finally be down to just a single power meter left in the queue (this one).  Of course, I expect with products from FSA (the PowerBox), as well as likely others that have been recently announced soon on their way, it won’t stay a short queue for long.

Like most new power meters on the market, the NG is dual ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart.  I wrote about it last fall when it was announced.  And it started shipping this past winter, though I think they’re only somewhat recently getting caught-up in terms of order backlog.

DSC_2149

My plan will be around the first 5-10 days of June for an in-depth review.  I have some travel in between now and then that slows things a bit since I won’t likely be bringing my bike.

4) Riding the sun

DCIM\106GOPRO\GOPR0393.JPG

Speaking of riding – I headed out Sunday mid-afternoon for a short 75-80 minute ride.  Being Mother’s Day I didn’t want to stay away too long.  So I knocked out a brisk ride from the house to Longchamp where I did a few loops, and then back home.

DSC_2168

It had been a bit of a tumultuous day in terms of weather.  It was largely sunny, except when it decided to rain Florida-style, in which case it would drench everything in sight for a period of 5-8 minutes.  Just enough to show who’s boss, but not quite enough to keep you indoors the rest of the day.

Thankfully it didn’t hit while I was out riding.  And the ride was all good.  I wasn’t actually testing too much on this ride – just a few things, like the Polar M460 and Polar M430.  The M460 being the new bike computer, and the M430 being the new GPS watch.

DSC_2164

The M460 was also configured with Strava Live Segments as well, which seemed to work well enough though my specific route only had a handful of Segments on it…and most regrettably traffic got in the way of me putting down a stellar effort.  Win some, lose some.

5) Off to the Giro…for a day!

image

Later on this evening I’ll grab a quick 90 minutes flight down to Florence (Italy, not South Carolina).  From there I’ll drive about 2 hours to the town of Foligno.

It’s here that on Tuesday morning the individual time trial will start.  It’ll then roam some 39.8km to the town of Montefalco, where it’ll end.  I’ve often tried to visit grand tours on time trial days, because it’s the best bang for the buck.  You get to watch one rider after another for the entire day.  It’s a sweet deal.

I didn’t apply for a Giro media pass, so we’ll see what type of access I manage to wrangle.  Maybe I’ll do a Giro bike tech round-up, maybe not.  But there will definitely be some sort of DCR Giro goodness.  Though, I’ve never had a media pass for the Tour de France in the past, and have done quite well for getting behind the scenes type photos.  If ya see me out and about on Tuesday – say Hi!

But I’m a bit tight on time this week, so once the time trial finishes up I’m going to be rushing back to Florence airport to catch the last flight of the night back home.

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Week in Review–May 14th, 2017 https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2017/05/week-in-reviewmay-14th-2017.html https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2017/05/week-in-reviewmay-14th-2017.html#comments Sun, 14 May 2017 11:14:30 +0000 https://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=74416 Read More Here ]]> WeekInReview_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb

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!

DCRainmaker.com posts in the past week:

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

Sunday: Week in Review–May 7th, 2017
Monday: 5 Random Things I Did This Weekend
Monday: Thoughts on GoPro’s new Fusion 360° 5.2K camera
Tuesday: ROTOR 2INpower In-Depth Review
Friday: Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR In-Depth Review

Sports Tech Deals This Week:

While the big 20% off sale ended this past week, there are two minor sets of details remaining.  One is on Garmin stuff that ends next weekend, and another on TomTom stuff that ends later today.  First up is the Garmin stuff:

Garmin Vivofit Jr – Save $10 (Amazon/Clever Training)
Garmin Forerunner 35 – Save $30 (Amazon/Clever Training)
Garmin Vivofit 3 – Save $30 (Amazon/Clever Training)
Garmin Vivosmart HR+ (the one with GPS): Save $30 (Amazon/Clever Training)
Garmin Vivoactive HR (also with GPS): Save $50 – down to $199 – solid deal (Amazon/Clever Training)

And here’s the TomTom specific sales, which run through May 14th:

TomTom Spark 3 – $20 off (Amazon/Clever Training)
TomTom Spark 3 Music – $20 off (Amazon/Clever Training)
TomTom Spark 3 Cardio – $20 off (Amazon/Clever Training)
TomTom Spark 3 Cardio Music – $20 off (Amazon/Clever Training)
TomTom Adventurer – $50 off (Amazon/Clever Training)
TomTom Touch – $10 off (Amazon/Clever Training)

All of the above links help support the blog!

Stuff that 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) Subscription running race pass: Pretty interesting concept.  I’m not sold on the pricing unless you knew how to game it a bit.  But I like the general thought here. (via Steve Fleck)

2) Apple buys Beddit Sleep Tracking: A long time ago I bought a Beddit.  Not the whole company though, just one unit.  Haven’t used it much since. Still, their much newer products look cooler.  Will be interesting to see if Apple’s grand plan is to incorporate the tech into their watches, or if it’s to branch out into additional categories of products.

3) GoPro’s trade-up program (this is a good deal!): I keep forgetting to mention this, as when it first launched it didn’t work (even the pages) from outside the US.  And that’s still true.  But basically you get $100 off for returning *any* GoPro, no matter how old, broken, or otherwise f’d up that GoPro is, as long as you return it, you get $100 off a new GoPro.  Sweet!

3) Skier falls into 60 foot crevasse…while GoPro is filming: Speaking of that very camera, a well-edited sequence here of something that could have gone much much worse:

4) You needn’t outrun the bear, just your friends: And sure enough, this seems to be the case here.

5) Looking to create that 4K Zwift setup? Ask no further.  Now…if only I had a 4K TV.  Sigh.

6) Swearing while exercising will make you stronger: Damn straight it will mofos!

7) Don’t put that there: Living abroad we have many expat friends. Over time though, most move on.  Either back home or onwards to another country for work relocation. While nothing to do with sports (though they are avid runners), I found this post from our friends that left us last fall pretty funny. It’s talking about the hilariously wonky ways that they have to sort trash in South Korea (where they relocated to).

8) Large power meter accuracy study: Lots of chatter about this 54 units study.  It’s interesting stuff, and I’ve chatted with one of the folks doing it a bit as well this week.  Overall I don’t see any core issues with what they did.  As they noted in an e-mail to me though, it only focuses on indoor – which limits things a bit.  One of the challenges with power meters these days is that the overwhelming majority of accuracy issues actually happen outdoors (temperature changes, road conditions, humidity shifts, etc…).  Note on models that most of them tended to be older units, rather than newer units.  Pros and cons to that both ways actually. Still, this is an impressive pile of data to put together, good stuff!

Sports Technology Software/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 firmware updates

Garmin Forerunner 230/235/630/920XT Firmware Update: Bug fixes.

Garmin Fenix 3/Tactix Bravo/Quatix 3/Fenix 3HR Firmware Update: Bug fixes.

Garmin Fenix 5/5S/5X/Chronos Firmware Update: Pile of new features and settings, along with even bigger pile of performance improvements/bug fixes.

Garmin FR935 Firmware Update: Same as Fenix 5 firmware update.

Quarq DZero Firmware Update: Improvements to accelerometer cadence and Bluetooth Smart head unit compatibility.

Thanks for reading…oh…and Happy Mother’s Day (for those North Americans, for French folks…you gotta wait two more weeks!).

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