In the review queue 2020-2021

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Review Queue 2020

As you might have guessed the fun and games for 2020 are pretty much over when it comes to notable reviews of new sports electronics.

There is one more coming this afternoon/tomorrow which I have some final touches to add. The product is of the ‘same old, same old’ type but it’s good value and has a new, novel feature which is interesting in and of itself. Tho it’s not a ‘pro’ feature, more mass-market.

I’ll also be adding some new review content on existing endurance sensors that you may have seen but which I’ve not covered here. These might take a long time to test and publication might roll over to next year. Then, of course, there is the Karoo 2, but you already know about that.

After that I will be adding some ‘looks’ at various Apple Watch apps, more from the perspective of what interests me. Again there are some novel features that will pop out of those ‘looks’ and hopefully strike you as ‘interesting’. Mainly in the sense that some of the regular watch players may then go on to copy them. I’ll probably also cover things that I’m buying ‘for me’ like watch straps and I’ll be practising on those products, trying to improve my imagery with some new LED photography lights I have

endurance sports tv
Image|Endurancesports.tv – clicks to endurancesports.tv

2021

Question: What would you like to see here for 2021? 

There are so many options on ways forward with most of them super-interesting but also super time-consuming. Any guidance appreciated.

I think one of the trends you might see with reviews, in general, is less of the ‘big, detailed ones’. These just take up WAY too much time and you guys then go off and try to save 5 bucks buying it somewhere else 😉  (fair enough). So there comes a point where it’s not worth me investing a significant number of extra days in writing the extra details (fair enough?). So reviews the length of this week’s Wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL, to me, seem a fair compromise on detail+interest that I enjoy writing. Maybe you noticed that my ‘accuracy reports‘ have got MUCH MORE detailed but these will always now be supporter-only content as a) the interest group is highly niche and b) they take even more amounts of time to write up (I’ll still do the testing and analysing).

Another trend is that sports product reviews are now, shock horror, generally written by people who actually own running shoes. Rather than journalists who have just seen running shoes in sports shops, so there is certainly an increase in market-wide plausibility even if perhaps often from less hardened athletes.

You’ve probably also noticed that dcr’s detailed reviews have got less detailed as well over the last year or so. I don’t know why, maybe it’s for a similar reason to what I’m saying, maybe it’s the rise of YouTube or demise of Clever Training, or maybe there is just the reader-fatigue factor of the repetition of the same-old Garmin features that aren’t worth covering multiple times.

Of particular interest to me, today, was that I noticed for the first time that this site’s mobile/amp views exceeded desktop views. Again this is an indication that people accessing this site via that means are, almost certainly, looking to consume short-form content. From YOUR perspective this might be good as Google force me and others to produce special AMP content for mobile. That’s great and is very quick for you to load up the page on your phone and, at least from me, tends to have fewer ads in it which are low-paying for mobile in any case. So although this site is growing overall (yay! I had several ‘best-ever months this year’), the switch to mobile means that the overall ad revenues are not growing (grrr), although there are other technical factors involved there too. If you are interested, the best-grossing ads are video ads, there’s probably one on this page. #Shrug. More subscribers=Less ads.

I’m not going to comment on specific products for 2021 as my monthly roundup does that. My sense is that 2021 will be a good year, although you may have noticed that tech capabilities in endurance sports are, broadly speaking, plateauing – for example, the improvements in bike power meters will only be tinkerings around the edges of features.

I’m also not sure to what extent I will continue the ‘monthly roundup’. Again it’s a labour of love that takes a lot of time behind the scenes to keep mostly up-to-date on existing products and the rumours of new ones.  So if you want that to continue in its existing format then a) shout out below and b) stump up a supporter subscription  😉 … or at least an e-coffee, I might go on strike without coffee (I won’t really). I’m in two minds on this one as I would love to free up the time to work on new product content but I know a core of you LOVE the speculation stuff.

Anyway, please comment below on what you would like to see from this site going forwards…otherwise you might not get to see it.

 

Rant 1 – 2019 – The Problem with sports watch reviews, freebies and tech bloggers

 

 

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31 thoughts on “In the review queue 2020-2021

  1. Am I the only one that has to switch to the non-mobile version to see/make comments? Regardless, I’m a fan of the monthly roundups as a quick way to see what’s on the horizon across the board in one place…

    1. ty,
      that’s how it works, i’m not sure why, it’s not intentional from me. more comments is definitely a good thing for the engagement stats of any site so I want to encourage that and not discourage it. i have noticed the behaviour but never looked at fixing it…i use wpdiscus
      I have to use standard plugins. they can be customised or perhaps others exist. but the web admin is a full time job for some sites. I don’t have the resources to do that unless a plugin starts behaving badly, then I put the pen down and get out the ‘how to code book’

        1. ah yes. i finally checked.
          i just tried that and you are right. at least when I use firefox

          I usually use a newsreader and then it wants to switch over to a browser to leave a comment. that must be what me and will see? which makes sense

  2. More 5/10k running tips please.
    Will you be selling power based running plans in 2021?
    I enjoy the speculative posts about upcoming watches etc.
    Any plans to review running shoes?
    Have you seen adverts for Mymo gait analysis? The cynic in me thinks it would be a waste of money. But a review would be nice.
    Short/medium format reviews are OK with me. It’s nice to have a different format to DCRs to digest.
    ps. is it intentional to not add a comments section to some posts?
    pps. I’ll try to buy you more coffee in 2021 (or another running plan)
    Keep up the great work!

    1. ty
      i have a power-based running plan. however, it is not quite correct and it needs quite a bit of time for me to spend on it to make it close to 100% correct. it’s currently about 85% …which is not good enough to sell. unlike my awesome non-power running plan: https://the5krunner.com/5k-training-plan-running/
      running shoes – it relies on freebies to do that and I’m not entirely comfortable with that business model. plus I know more about running tech than running shoes! I have explored partnering with some other people but the interest there seems to fizzle out. it was a foreign language site and I planned to translate their content and they would get all revenues fro certain geo’s, but the google translation to English wasn’t good enough and would effectively require the same amount of time from me to correct it as it would to write it from scratch.
      mymo…no, thank you. just had a look, seems interesting and like a cut-down version of runscribe. runscribe planned to recommend injury avoidance shoes based on the big data approach however I think data privacy killed off that aspect of their offering. mymo probably works to some degree and maybe its fine, how many shoe types are there at the end of the day to be recommended? I can tell if you promote by simply looking at you run, it’s not hard. if you need precise orthotics then that is hard and can Mymo do that?…probably not (IDK). will it be as good as Runscribe…i VERY much doubt it, runscribe is king there (interestingly they have a sacral pod now to complement the footpods)

      comments: I think there should only be less than 5 pages where comments are not allowed. this is for unusual reasons like 1)superseded content 2) ‘unusual’ activity suspected from a competitor (the fake news argument)

  3. Rumors, more rumors, even more rumors please! Nothing beats a juicy preview of something that’s right around the corner!

    As far as tech goes, product reviews with focus on emerging players like COROS and now Wahoo in watches would be great, especially on their differentiators. I’m sure DCR will cover Garmin in and out, but who would do poor Polar and Suunto justice?

    Your reviews of recovery and sleep tracking tech were always fantastic and highly appreciated. Maybe that’s a nice niche too? I got Ōura ring and that massage gun well discounted thanks to you, and both have seen good use.

    Last but not least, maybe it’s just me but I rarely read on desktops nowadays. iPad or more often simply a phone. I find it way more comfortable, especially with today’s larger screens. And it’s 2021, and Suunto doesn’t have a web site, so I’m not the only one who thinks that way 😂 Come to think about it, with latest feature removal, Polar will soon be there too. Which reminds me of COROS… See the clear trend here?

    Oh… speaking of web sites… I think covering non-watch parts of the platforms would be nice too! Be it what’s offered in terms of analytics by vendors or Training Peaks, Strava, and the likes.

    1. ty and duly noted !
      this might have been the massage gun: https://the5krunner.com/2020/09/07/addsfit-review-mini-max-models-comparison-theragun-beater/ . I use the powerdots a LOT FWIW and they have a cool strava linkup https://the5krunner.com/2020/09/10/strava-brings-in-cool-powerdot-automation/
      recovery/sleep/physiology/analytics – yep people like all that. I have covered much of it already and will add to it as new bits come out here and there. i have to balance interesting stuff (to get new readers) with stuff that might convert to affiliate sales or subscribers.

      ALL the strava content is linked here: https://the5krunner.com/category/news/strava/ there is quite a lot !

      1. Could you please start a monthly Tech Gripes column? About various shortcomings of existing watches and platforms that vendors time and again fail to fix? I have a lengthy list for both Polar and COROS, especially the latter 🙂

        Would be nice if somebody held them accountable*. Random people emailing support or shouting their heart out on Reddit doesn’t seem to help.

        (*) That will probably be the end of your review relationship with them though.

        1. ha!
          The vendors don’t mind fair or constructive criticism. Funnily enough brand X doesn’t like Brand-X-haters. Fair enough.
          I don’t have enough clout to hold anyone responsible for anything. DCR is the man for that. comments here probably are ‘mildly noted’ tho. maybe I undersell myself?
          the brands certainly DO monitor reddit. mostly for leaks. i suspect they ignore the rants.
          I did have a forum which sort-of worked well until the spammers found it then it became too much work to keep it spam-free and then it attracted negative backlinks from dodgy sites and so it goes on. again the recurring theme…too little time, too much to do. other than that I would do it in principle.

  4. Everyone likes watch reviews, especially when something different appears, but then you just scroll through, features, GPS accuracy bla bla, where’s the summary?

    I like your approach of mixing small, medium and large articles, and that makes me check regularly to see if there’s anything new almost everyday. Keep it coming, even if sometimes if just a juicy tidbit or a wild rumour.

    1. +1
      ty Rui, for the words of encouragement.
      “where’s the summary”…yes. exactly.! I have to say I used to only read dcr’s summary. i used to tut tut that his review was too long. only then to realise mine was the exact same length without a decent summary! I still don’t summarise properly so often there is too much juicy stuff in the review. I’m aware I need to change that.

  5. Reference the watch glitches. I’m reading quite a few unsatisfied Coros customers on their FB page. Basically things not working in a logical manner, updates that break other things, quite a few irregularities. Makes me appreciate Garmin more, how over the years they’ve got the basics right. But yes – a monthly summary of bugs etc would be interesting, as many initial reviews can be seen with rose tinted glasses.

    1. The most maddening thing about COROS is how close they are to actually nailing certain aspects of experience. They literally come to the finish line, stop, take off their shoes, and walk in to the stands… My gripes, not necessarily in the order of priority:

      1. Rest HR is garbage. I wake up with 42, which is in the good ballpark, that would change to 59 an hour or two later. Or wake up with 47 and see it plummet down to 40. Or perhaps it will stay 42. It’s 2021, and everyone — and I mean everyone, including Fitbit — has RHR figured out. COROS doesn’t. Didn’t work on Apex in 2018. Doesn’t work on Apex Pro or Vertix now. So, a very useful recovery metric goes out the window.
      2. Strength workouts don’t use HR to estimate your effort/calories. I repeat, they don’t use it! Now, this might make sense for OHR, but the same happens when a strap is connected. Instead they have something like calories per set, I kid you not. That’s why you don’t have rest intervals based on recovery HR, like with runs. Now I don’t track calories, but COROS does. That’s how they report and close activity circles. So does Oura that imports active calories from Health on iPhone to drive your activity goals for the day, which then feeds into their recovery model.
      3. Gym structured workouts are limited to Strength profile only, so if you want to do yoga, mobility drills, kettlebells, heavy bag, plyo — tough luck, comrade! And if you use Strength profile for that, expect your normal 150 calories 30-min stretching routine become 850 calories gorilla, like a threshold run. Now I personally reported issues #2 and #3 to COROS several times, along with .fit files doing comparison of a workout captured in strength vs generic gym back in June. Six months and three firmware revisions later, the problems are still there…
      4. Which brings us to running… Best structured workouts support for running, yet you can only use it with GPS-based Run profile. Want to execute a quality interval session using that sweet Track mode? No sir, can’t do. On a treadmill? Still nope. Sure, you can use Run on treadmill if you have a Stryd footpod and remember to set distance from Stryd in settings and not wait for GPS… So, at least some workaround.
      5. Plans from Training Peaks don’t add to your existing in-app plan but replace it. Why go through trouble of building up training calendar and fancy strength structured workouts, if I can’t then use them together with my running from TP?
      6. Even though strength workouts from TP aren’t really compatible with COROS own stuff — no exercise names, no rest intervals per set, no grouping of exercises — it still imports as part of TP training plan. Even when it’s just an empty placeholder in TP. Why?

      I can go on… For me, structured workouts, training plans and TP integration went from the best thing ever to a major disappointment in COROS real quick.

      Now, I get watch development is hard. It’s embedded stuff, non-standard toolchain, sure. But what about the app? Things like RHR and TP import silliness shouldn’t exist. And even if they feel compelled to release this functionality half-baked to capitalize on people scratching their heads about 745 and V2 (with Suunto in coma somewhere by the edge of the road), why not follow up with a release a week or two later and set things right?

      How come Wahoo can release 4-5 times per month? So yeah, I’m waiting for Rival to get structured workouts and Stryd support, really-really.

      1. wahoo have quite a bit more money and coders!
        that said coros have done a lot.
        that is some good feedback. you can mail me a full list if you like I will pass it to the CEO (seriously, I will as some of those details may have passed coros by and they are important to varying degrees)

  6. Would be moderately interested in a Lumen review. I’m not buying one, but I’m more interested in what it could mean for the future, a next version, etc… If there was an accurate way to get my AeT, VO2, etc.. from such a device I would definitely buy one.

  7. Personally I like getting different points of view on sports gadgets, especially from somebody who uses them & doesn’t just read the press release. Certainly helped me decide what new toy to spend the refunds I got from all the cancelled events this year (for anyone who cares a 945).

    The bit of speculation of future gadgets is always interesting as not sure if anybody else is doing that. Keep up the good work!

    1. +1

      The new tech rumors were the original draw for me, but a fresh set of eyes with a slightly different geographical/cultural background are valuable. Reading about gear use and training experiences is always helpful in formulating new best practices. Weekly usage notes and long-term usability discussion seems hard to come by–not everyone constantly upgrades.

      1. weekly usage – good point. that would be useful I guess. saidly it doesn’t convert into sales (although it does build readership). I have other readership-building plans for next year.

        1. Agreed. It would be more of a writer-reader relationship builder that over time that amplifies the credibility of first-glance reviews. Another bit missing from the overall blog space would be advice on gray market purchases for the low-end buyers. Unfortunately also hard to monetize. A great many people have their needs addressed by something like a FR910XT they just need to know what they are missing and what the risks are.

    1. DCR is no longer using Clever Training. Clever Training is no longer in the UK market. I’ve no idea of CT’s financial and trading status in the USA.

      We share partners Wiggle in the UK and Competitive Cyclist/REI in the USA…unfortunately (for me) he has a somewhat larger share 😉 Interesting that we both arrived at similar partners through different routes. You would be surprised at how difficult it is to find one partner that stocks all the key products AND who is rated sufficiently highly by Garmin to get new products on launch day. ie its pretty much impossible, certainly so on a global scale.

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