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In this updated XPLOVA X5 EVO Review I have refreshed and extended the XPLOVA X5 review from last year in line with the notable improvements made to the X5 with the EVO (evolution) edition.
To be fair to XPLOVA (Acer), I asked for an improved X5.5 and they delivered the X5 EVO. Many other brands would have, perhaps, disingenuously called it the X6. XPLOVA genuinely have listened to customer concerns and come back with a MORE compelling offering at a more sensible price level. There’s a nice 10% discount at the end to make it even more compelling for you 😉
In a nutshell:
It’s a mid- to high-end commuting-focussed device with touring capabilities supported by routing and video functionality.
ACER/XPLOVA appear to be in the bike computer game for the long run with at least 2 more models planned in 2018.
It’s a relatively high-specification device of the kind that ‘supports an ANT+ power meter and OSM maps‘. That level of support gives a broad indication that lots of other goodies will also be included around bike profiles and screen customisations and the like.
Nothing new there really.
BUT it has also got a built-in video camera
That IS unusual.
XPLOVA have listened to the criticism they received about the original X5. They have made many changes to address most of the criticisms.
- The general video experience is much improved and notbaly extended but the hardware is still 720p.
- The base cycling computer functionalities are little changed BUT the logic behind it all now delivers a much improved user experience.
- The SIM card is gone.
WHO IS IT AIMED AT?
It’s aimed at cyclists who want ‘useful’ video functionality and/or more intricate navigation functionality. Perhaps a cyclist who loves social media.
At £379.99rrp it’s more competitively priced than the original X5, especially with the 10% discount (below) added in
So let’s start off by saying that it has NOT got some of the fancier FE-C trainer-controls nor muscle oxygen capabilities.So it’s not quite positioning itself against the more expensive Edge 1030 or the WAHOO ELEMNT, at least not directly.
Putting the video functionalities to one side, its feature set does not justify the price tag. BUT if you add in the video then you are adding in something unique and that may well justify the price for some segments of the market.
So it’s YES to all of these:
- You want a video of your commute in case you get hit?
- You want video of ‘interesting moments’ such as a view of an alpine pass or a key sprint or parts of a group ride?
- You want a bikenav?
UNBOXING & CONTENTS
It’s a premium box!
You get: the X5; a micro USB cable; a seemingly Polar/Garmin-compatible out-front, quarter-turn mount with 2 thicknesses of rubber spacer; an optional ANT+ speed/cadence sensor (not shown/reviewed); tether (not shown); an allen key/hex wrench; and lots of bits of paper that you will never read. You could rotate the socket 90 degrees to accommodate a WAHOO or, maybe, aerobars.
FORM, SHAPE and CONTROLS
Let’s see how the size of the unit stacks up in terms of size and appearance.
It’s a generously sized device.Notably bigger than an Edge 820 and a screen size a little bigger than the WAHOO ELEMNT.
I haven’t got an Edge 1000 but, if I had, the screen resolution of that would be identical at 240x400px (source: Garmin). The new Edge 1030 comes in at 282x470px (Source: Garmin). If a super-size screen is your thing then none of them are as big as your averaged-sized mobile phone! Also shown.
Below is the underside of the X5. The mounting points looks VERY similar to a Garmin Edge and indeed the X5 fits into a Garmin mount and also into a Polar mount. Although the manual advises against using other manufacturer mounts.
The rubbery Micro USB-port cover rotates around quite nicely to provide access.
I also like the addition of a tethering point and tether. This was one of the things missing on the WAHOO ELEMNT, although corrected with the ELEMNT BOLT.
A tethering point is handy for 3 reasons:
- You can attach a cord of some sort and jauntily swing it around;
- You can attach a plastic cable tie to avoid your cycling computer being stolen in transition or just when generally left on your bike. You will have to cut the tie to get it off, of course; and
- In the event of an impact and a failure of the mount, you won’t send your expensive cycling computer off down the road by itself at 20mph.
On the left side you have the on/off button and the lap button.
I’ll just show it again as I quite like this picture:
And on the right hand side of the X5 there’s a page up/down button and also a hangover from the previous model where you can still see the SIM card slot (there is no SIM card on the X5 EVO)
There is nothing particularly unusual about the thickness. It’s pretty much ‘normal’ (the specs are at the end).
Here’s a shot from the front and gone is the orange housing from the X5 in favour of the all-black X5 EVO. There is also, apparently, a Team Bianchi ‘mint green’ edition. No doubt that will make you go faster or match some dubiously coloured item of lycra that you might own.
On top there’s the touchscreen, the stop/start button and the record button. I found with clean dry fingers that the touchscreen works quite well and just about works with some gloves on for tapping and swiping. It’s certainly better than other bike computers’ touchscreens (eg Edge 820) but perhaps not quite as ‘good’ as others. But at least this one on the X5 EVO mostly works and has backup physical button ‘just-in-case’
SCREEN LAYOUTS – USER INTERFACE
There are 4 types on in-ride screen:
- The dial-based dashboard (not customisable)
- ‘Normal’ customisable tile layout screens
- Chart/graph layouts
On the whole the screens are all pretty cool. You have all the usual metrics. As a rough guide it has the “NP-lap” metric….and if something has that then it usually has all the metrics I need.
The X5 EVO has all the metrics I need 🙂
You swipe left/right from one screen to the next. But XPLOVA have taken a leaf out of WAHOO’s User Interface Book and have let the page up/down side button show greater or fewer fields on the chart- and tile-based screens. Garmin haven’t yet done this and this WAHOO/XPLOVA feature is a really nice one which, once you’ve got used to it, ranks as ‘pretty cool’.
Whilst you might keep a particular graph the same overall size on a screen you will also find that the graph will automatically change the zoom settings within the given screen space depending on how you are performing at the time.
You may have seen the fancy main screen which looks like this in the marketing literature:
The real device has a display theme of either ‘auto’, ‘black’ or ‘white’ and none of them look like the marketing images. They still look pretty cool though, like this:
However I had the same criticism of the original X5…why can’t this screen be customised to show power as the main dial? Grrrr. I suppose it’s not important.
Same story with the marketing images of other pages.
Vs. the following, which is perfectly functional and looks perfectly in line with what other manufacturers offer:
Having said that, it is similar to what other manufacturers offer. BUT with 2/3/5/7/8/9/ or 11 metrics per page and a max of 4 tiled data pages that’s actually a LOT of space for all your favourite metrics.
Then there are the chart/graph layout screens. These ARE fully configurable as you would expect; so, against time or distance, you can plot LOTS of metrics such as power, altitude, HR and calories. I like these and I suppose they are relatively unusual charts, although becoming increasingly common in some form or other now even on sports wrist watches (think Suunto/Garmin).
The map screen is more standard allowing pinch-zoom, compass heading, centre-to-screen and drag-screen. Although some devices don’f offer the 2 configurable datas overlay like the EVO:
NAVIGATING AROUND THE SCREENS
Finding your way around the X5 EVO itself is fairly intuitive. XPLOVA have ironed out most of the confusions on earlier models.
You can swipe (L/R) between screen types and then page up/down between different versions of that particular screen type.
Tapping the screen displays the gear and home buttons. You can change the screen metrics in-ride with the gear button. And the home button lets you access the top-level menus functions whilst still riding. You probably wouldn’t want to do either of those when riding normally although, superficially at least, it might occasionally be handy to be able to change one of the paired sensors.
The touchscreen and control feel good for navigating around the device. Even with gloves on I’ve found them to be fine – although a tad of a struggle with thicker gloves. There’s also a configurable audio feedback so you can hear when you are pressing a button or the when pressing the screen too. As said earlier, the touchscreen is usable – one of the better ones I’ve used. Which is no great compliment but it’s much better than what I say about other touchscreens.
The fluidity of page-to-page scrolling movements are good. The device seems to have a decent amount of processing power behind the scenes and the pages all flow nicely and smoothly from one to the next.
Other than the usual precursors of creating an account, adding personal data, pairing various accessories and personalizing the screen, the device comes pretty much ready-to-go. You know how to do most of that or, if not, here is the XPLOVA X5 EVO user manual (link).
Consider also if you want the Xplova Video app or Xplova Connect app for your smartphone. The former does what it says (video stuff) and the Connect app ‘connects’ the Training Sessions, Route Planning and views of completed workouts to the net.
Pairing to ANT+ -only sensors (not Bluetooth) was OK. It sometimes took several attempts to pair sensors but all types of supported sensor eventually worked ie speed, power, cadence, combo, HR. Di2 not tested by me. There is no sensor pool.
The extended out-front mount seems to be Garmin-compatible and the X5 EVO seems to fit Polar and Garmin devices. XPLOVA make a point of saying to use their own mount.
That’s all the basics. I’ll now look at some of the interesting bits
Whilst the hardware is the same as the original X5’s 720p camera, the X5 EVO has notable improvements to video functionality.
Let’s start off with a manually recorded and uncropped clip for nearly 40 seconds going up a hill. The video shows how you can overlay your name and add an image of some sort. The cool bit is that you can add your actual HR, speed, cadence and power to the clip afterwards.
The results are never going to find their way on David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 as they somewhat lack the BBC’s 4k brilliance. However, hopefully you can see the potential for a 720p video clip as something, for example, that you could put on Facebook or maybe even one day in the future on STRAVA POSTS (link to: the5krunner.com) when video is allowed.
The video clips I’ve put on Youtube, above, have not been modified/improved/stabilised by me in any way (AFAIK) other than overlaying a few interesting snippets of my real data.
You will see in some of the clips that there is an element of image stabilisation occuring and this is automatically added by the X5.
On the downhill clip, I was riding on slightly ‘bumpier than normal’ roads. So the image stabilisation is interesting to look at in the contenxt of the road conditions.
The 720 quality and the stabilisation becomes apparent when the image size is blown up to a full 30 inch monitor but remember the XPLOVA is not designed for that.
Video modes are improved over previous models and cover:
- AUTO Mode – You configure a duration from between 3 and 30 seconds and that amount of recording is triggered by repeated events based on HR, grade, speed, cadence,power, distance. So you can have 10 seconds of recording automatically made each and every time you hit 300w. As I found to my cost on a 3 hour ride that’s a LOT of clips;
- LOOP Mode – this is your commuting mode. This continually loops and saves the last 2 minutes before that car swerved in front of you;
- Manual Mode – you know what that means and you are also showed live on-screen what is being recorded; and
- Time-Lapse Mode – shooting every 2, 5, 10, 30 or 60 seconds
GPS events such as “POI-reached” no longer seem to be able to trigger auto recording, although XPLOVA assure me this is planned to be included in the RC11 firmware (! which means pretty soon)
MP4 videos are created and you can directly upload those from the XPLOVA to Youtube, Facebook, etc.
Here’s a nice video by Craig @XPLOVA that puts ‘a day out riding with my mates‘ into video story form – ie shots of bacon and coffee as well as riding.
For you techies: 120 degree wide-angle camera + HD 720p@30fps, MP4
You can hold about 1 hour of clips. Using the video seems to work the battery hard.
Exposure seems to be based on a whole screen average (or similar). So my clips, above, look dark. You might want to make sure the horizon is above the midpoint of the screen so that the exposure is based more on the ground light levels those that of the sky.
Video ‘editing’ is undertaken on the XPLOVA app and essentially involves selecting individual clips and cropping them. Subsequently you choose which bits of text or live data to overlay before sending it off to Youtube. Here is a flavour of that process:
There’s an onboard barometric altimeter. I’ve done two rides where I was specifically looking at how accurate the altimetry was.
The first chart compares the X5 EVO to a WAHOO ELEMNT AND to a properly corrected route profile. The pre-calibrated altitude for the WAHOO is wrong – my bad.
- (Correct) adjusted X5: ascent 775.2m, descent 723.4
- X5 EVO, unadjusted: ascent 750.2, descent 677.7
- WAHOO ELEMNT: ascent 781.3m, descent 709.9
That looks pretty good to me. I should have calibrated the altitude at the start of the ride to my home address.
Here is another test result that compares the X5 EVO to the Edge 820, a WAHOO ELEMNT AND to another properly corrected route profile.
- (Correct) adjusted X5: ascent 130.2m, descent 107.7
- X5 EVO, unadjusted: ascent 112.9, descent 116.0
- Edge 820: ascent 114.3, descent 118.4
- WAHOO ELEMNT: ascent 116.1, descent 118.9
The elevation correction has been completed using GPS+altitude corrections ie I have access to a data base where the exact altitude of a GPS point is known. Of course that assumes that the GPS point is accurate in the first place and there are also some issues with this method where gradients are very steep.
The yellow line is the ‘most likely to be correct’ line.
So the X5 EVO looks to be at least fairly good and certainly in line with the other devices.
A great calibration feature of the X5 is that you can assign known elevations up to 5 points. Typically you might choose your home and work locations’ elevations and, if on holiday, you would add the altitude of your base as another. That means you can start out on a ride with the correct elevation.
That’s a pretty cool feature and is available on a small, but expanding, number of other devices.
The GPS accuracy is nothing noteworthy – it’s good to go! Neither awesome nor rubbish. Overall I would say it sits nicely on the better side of average, taking into account that GPS performance when cycling seems to be generally better than when running; presumably because of the speed, reduced arm movement and generally being slightly further away from buildings (ie on a road!).
GPS performance is pretty much the same as WAHOO but maybe a little better than the Garmin Edge 820.
My Formal Test Results, Source data and Methodology are (here) although my overall assessment is also based on real-world usage as part of my training.
Here is an example of perfectly fine GPS performance – bearing in mind +/-5m accuracy
Not quite so good here for either device where trees and hills are involved and the X5 is not quite as good as the WAHOO. But that sort of performance is relatively normal.
Good integration with free global OSM maps is provided.
Downloading the OSM maps for your chosen countries is straightforward via the X5’s menus.
You can select maps for one or more areas to be downloaded onto the X5
My general experience with OSM maps in the past is that they are generally GOOD if you want to follow trails/paths as well as roads.
NAVIGATION – ROUTE CREATION
XPLOVA have ambitious plans to create an excellent and extensive routing experience. They are NOT quite there yet BUT they are progressing well towards their goal. In line with efforts being made in 2017/18 by some of their competitors, many of whom are in a similar situation to XPLOVA.
Whilst the XPLOVA X5 EVO device is ‘sound’, the flow of information between: the X5 device; the online portal; and the two apps is not as slick or intuitive as it could be. I could equally well make the same criticism of competitor ecosystems albeit for different, detailed reasons.
A route can be created either online or on the app, either method requiring an internet connection. So you CAN create a route in the middle-of-nowhere, as long you are linked to the net. I found the app most useful for “I am HERE take me to THERE” type routing, whereas the online route creation allowed more intricacy to be added to a pre-planned route.
A route can also be imported from a previously created exercise file such as your FIT file from yesterday or your friend’s GPX file from last summer.
Of course you can create a route from scratch by plotting points on an online map. Then, when creating a route, you can use Google’s planning algorithm or OSMCoudMode. Now you know.
The whole process of manually drawing a route online is smooth through a straightforward-looking online interface. The interface ‘draws’ well and smoothly (unlike some competitor equivalents). However it gets cleverer than that. You can manually plot part of a route AND THEN import a complete route. XPLOVA automatically routes your manual route to the start of the imported route and then lets you keep on adding to the route afterwards.
I’ve never seen that before.
Perhaps too clever 🙂 But nice either way.
You can incorporate “Smart Signs” essentially these are custom POIs that display a custom message such as ‘refuelling stop’ or ‘surface changes to trail’ or ‘steep hill’ or ‘Disneyworld’…ie real POIs too. That’s a nice idea.
XPLOVA include several pre-canned workouts which you can execute later such as the FTP test shown below. On the version I have it was not possible to create your own complex and customised workout that you can then follow (This functionality is planned to be delivered by XPLOVA).
There is no FE-C support.
DATA INTEGRATION, CONNECTIVITY & SHARING
There is no STRAVA LIVE integration but your workouts can be sent to STRAVA as with most other mid- to high-end bike computers. (STRAVA Live is planned for early 2018.)
When you open Windows Explorer, the X5 appears like a smartphone.
But android is a PITA for syncing data to my other PC software. With Garmin I connect my Garmin device as a mass storage device with a USB cable and access it as if it were a Windows Drive (not folder). With Android you can’t quite do that. So every time I had to find and drag the FIT files from the X5 to my desktop. It was not possible to map to, or create, a shortcut to an Android folder. Grrrrr. FWIW: It’s the same for a WAHOO ELEMNT.
The battery life is a useful 12 hours.
The XPLOVA can be charged whilst using.
Here is the XPLOVA X5 EVO user manual (link).
Here are some XPLOVA tutorials:
BUGS and ISSUES
I have a late production version of the software.
Generally it seems ‘solid’ in most respects.
- Bluetooth comms from the phone to X5 were not enabled (communication was over WiFi). This was probably one of the issues that made the X5-to-APP issues less smooth than they will be in the final version. I am assured this will be enabled in 2017.
- Battery consumption lasted many hours but seemed a few hours short of the stated 12 hours when video was excessively used.
- 720p video is REALLY not going to be liked by some people. 1080p would have silenced most doubters. In my opinion it is fine for the intended purpose. However lots of people are simply going to keep saying 1080 1080 1080 even though they would never buy the device. Buy a Go Pro…be happy.
- ACER brand name
- 8 Gb total space. It’s enough for the maps and data files.
- The general flow of the whole solution is not always intuitive. Whilst the X5 itself is nice to use, the integration between the X5 and the APPs and XPLOVA.com could have been smoother.
I know that I am not in the intended target market for the X5 EVO. However a few of my commuting, cycling buddies would be and I myself would certainly embark on the odd ridiculously long summer ride where the X5 would deliver is cinematic glory and also be useful to me.
So let me try to put myself into the cycling shoes of someone tho whom the X5 EVO is targeted at. Maybe that’s you?
- The X5 EVO unit is sound. With lots of nice features as a base cycling computer.
- It would be fair to call it mid- to high-end in that respect.
- The X5 EVO’s video capturing functionality is generally good.
- The looped video and smart video triggers are particularly nice.
- To do better in the market it needs 1080 video to silence the vocal critics of this that will likely emerge. By adding 1080, however, it would NOT deliver ‘much’ extra in reality.
- XPLOVA’s intended mapping and routing is nice. Better than many competitor offerings. I have a pre-production model and it is close to where it needs to be to offer some compelling features in this area.
- The X5 is ‘open enough’ to accept imported routes and has the ability to export FIT files for 3rd party software usage. It makes a token nod towards pushing workout files to STRAVA. That will be enough for many people and certainly enough for me.
- A fair number of cyclists like STRAVA live segments. A fair number of them are commuters in the UK. Part of the target market for the X5’s looping video functionality is commuters. Just sayin’….. (planned for early 2018 though to be fair!!)
- Price –to me for my usageit’s too expensive. XPLOVA seem to be pricing relative to Garmin and Garmin seem to generate a premium price just for their brand. Ie For me who has very little use or interest in the video functionality the X5 is about $100/£100 more than it should be.. If *YOU* think that premium is worth it for YOUR VIDEO and MAPPING needs then go for it.
So XPLOVA are trying to introduce a PREMIUM PRICED model justified by VIDEO and NAVIGATION. Those two functional areas are NOT YET excellent on the X5 Evo but they are very solid and work well. That will restrict the success they might otherwise have. Having said that the X5’s looping video might just appeal to some commuters who want an all-in-one solution for their daily ride. It also should be mentioned that looking at the improvements Acer have made with the Evo from the original X5 its reasonable to think that the continuing evolution of this device is only going to get better, in fact Acer have told me that they have monthly software updates for the Evo which are going to keep improving functionality and adding new features eg STRAVA Live segment, BLE to phone, Facebook Live Broadcast
PRICING, DISCOUNTS & AVAILABILITY
You can get 10% off the current RRP of t £379.99 at bikepig.co.uk ie that’s £342 with the code the5krunner10
|Display Size/Resolution||3″ / 240 x 400 pixels|
|Water Rating||IPX7 (Max.1m under water for 30 mins)|
|Video Camera/Spec.||120 degree wide-angle camera with HD 720P@30fps|
|Internet Connection||Wi-Fi; BLE|
|GPS||High sensitivity GPS/GLONASS dual system|
|Recording Modes||Support data-linked auto recording, time-lapse recording, loop recording and manual recording|
|Total Capacity||512MRAM/8G flash|
|SIM Card Slot||No|
|Map||Support OSM maps|
|Route||Xplova’s website provides route planning and downloading services|
|Size and Weight||110 x 62 x 23 mm, 120g|
|Battery||Rechargeable Lithium Battery/1500 mah/ approximately 12 hours (Wi-Fi/Backlight off; GPS 3D-Fixed)|
|Built-in Sensors||Temperature, Barometric Altimeter, Ambient Light|
|Supported ANT+ Sensors (NO BLE)||HRM Chest Belt, Speed Sensor, Cadence Sensor, Combo (speed & cadence) Sensor XA-CS2, Power Meter|
|Other||Many alerts eg power, HR, time|
|OWN Point Altitude Calibration (3)|
|Altitude calibration (Barometer)|