Coros Performance Pod
Coros is a recent entrant to the sports watch market and have made a good impression with impressive sports, outdoors, fitness and multi-sport watches. They deliver lots of features for a reasonable price and sometimes also nail the accuracy issues that trouble all vendors in this space. Often they are accused of a somewhat copycat approach when it comes to the looks of their devices but they often also have a “ha! I hadn’t thought of that moment” when a little something or two extra is thrown into the feature mix on their products.
Now they are spreading their sporting tentacles and encroaching on STRYD and on Garmin’s RD-POD with their new Coros PERFORMANCE POD. Or that’s how it sounds at first.
What Is It?
If you think of Garmin’s RD-PROD then that’s a good place to start in order to understand the Coros Performance Pod.
If you are not familiar with that product, then the Coros pod is a clip-on running pod that attaches to the elastic of your running shorts at the rear and in the centre. With an onboard CR2025 battery it will be good to go for very many hours of running and it will initially produce running efficiency metrics for the Vertix to display.
How Does It Work?
It pairs by ANT+ to a Coros Vertix but I can’t seem to pair it to any non-Coros watch. Once paired the Vertix should always try to attach it for a workout, either before you start or during the workout, even if it ‘wakes up’ too late. There’s a tiny running man icon at the very bottom of the screen of the Vertix and when that is fully on, you’re good to go.
What Data Do You Get?
- Stride Length
- L/R Balance
- Stride Height (Vertical Oscillation in Garmin-Speak)
- Ground Time (Ground Contact Time in Garmin-Speak)
- Stride Ratio
- Run Efficiency – derived from running power
- Running Power – saved in the workout file and currently only visible AFTER your run ie on the Coros app. Coros Running Power will be added as a live metric ‘later’.
and you will see charts like these 4…
No really, HOW Does It Work?
OK, it’s got an onboard accelerometer but there is neither an onboard GPS chip nor barometric altimeter, the pod relies on the watch for those for the power and efficiency calculations & stats. Indeed it relies on the watch for the concept of distance, ie distance comes from the GPS on the watch NOT from any configurable parameter on the POD.
So the POD is just a plug-and-go type of sensor. There is no configuration or calibration at all and, a word of warning, it MUST be the right way up. Effectively it just adds running dynamics to the Vertix and makes no attempt to improve the stability or accuracy of running pace.
The accuracy of the Running Power number will be heavily dependent on the watch GPS and altitude (grade).
Garmin RD-POD and Garmin Running With Power CIQ App
Thus the Coros Performance Pod is like Garmin’s RD-POD and Garmin’s Running With Power calculation (via a CIQ app), except the Coros offering is not as comprehensive as Garmin’s and almost certainly not as accurate as STRYD’s implementation when looking at the true metabolic cost of running.
Maybe I’m wrong and Coros will later share some validation studies.
I guess it might make sense to have an add-on that can deliver some form of running dynamics. For a company the size of Garmin, I can see the point in producing a product to do that but I just don’t know why Coros have done this. Maybe the Asian market is big for them (I have no idea) but I’m pretty sure that they won’t sell many in the Western markets. It’s too niche for a new market entrant and doesn’t properly jump on the running with power bandwagon in any case. Although if the price is pitched LOW…say $30 then maybe some Coros owners will be tempted to give this a go for running power?
Garmin is toying with concepts and ideas around Grade Adjusted Pace with their new PacePro…perhaps adding that as a new Coros metric would have been an alternative thing for Coros to deliver on the watch and more suited to take-up by a wider audience?
Having said that, the ‘Running Efficiency’ metric is conceptually interesting and understandable. I suppose that many casual runners simply won’t understand what VO or GCT are, nor what to do with them. “Running Efficiency” sounds easy-to-consume but, like many other running dynamics metrics, you still have to know what to do to change your gait and you have to have the perseverance to keep looking at those stats to see the effect, if any, of your newfound focus on running drills. Or you could just increase your running cadence a bit, that should work for most people.
I embarked on my first run with quite a bit of scepticism about how accurate the data would be.
As I ran I casually looked at some of the gait metrics and they seemed ‘about right’. The ‘running efficiency’ seemed to be good enough and generally up towards 100%, so I was happy with that – except later I read that it can go higher than 100%. So that later revelation somewhat dampened my moment of self-congratulation!
After the runs, I only spent a small amount of time looking at the data as this is a minor running accessory. But I did perform a quick comparison of the Coros POD’s data to those produced by Garmin’s HRM-TRI on the Fenix 6. Surprisingly they generally tallied quite nicely on paper too, although each device handled walking differently as you can see between 18 and 20 minutes on this chart for the Ground Contact Time (ms) – ignore the fact that it says power…it’s GCT.
Here is a fairly long steady-state run where I’m comparing the RUNNING POWER metric of STRYD (on the Garmin) to that from the Coros Pod. The power on the steady-state run from the Coros is clearly ‘wrong’ from a data smoothing point of view but on the second chart of 2×15 minutes then who is to say which is right, Coros or STRYD?
I think that Coros will sort out the smoothing VERY quickly and, in hindsight, I guess it’s not so surprising that the power figures from Coros broadly trend with those from STRYD as I would imagine that they specifically modelled their stats to align with the market-leader (STRYD).
Price, Availability & Discounts
The price of the standalone pod is $69.99 although when bought as a bundle with the watch the effective price is reduced to $49.99
Code THE5KRUNNER10 gives 10% off when purchased at PowerMeterCity in the USA or New Running Gear in the UK. Apparently, the alternate code THE5KRUNNER also works on Amazon in the EU, click the image below to be taken to your local stores.