Early this year (or possibly, it’s hard to tell the flow of time, but it was “pre-COVID”), I saw a new 360 degree camera called the Insta360 ONE R. I was really interested because I’ve been thinking that a 360 degree camera might be better for my kayak videos that the split screen that I currently use (at least, what I use in the rare occasions when both cameras work). I could either publish as a 360 video or crop it to a flat but looking at what might be interesting right now (like the kayaker sneaking up behind me or the C-2 I’m about to take a rest behind).
And there are three reasons why I started thinking about this now with this camera when I hadn’t with previous 360 degree cameras:
I’ve heard horror stories about how long it takes to stitch the video together with the GoPro Fusion and GoPro Max – like possibly more than 2-3 days for one of my 2 hour race videos. The ONE R supposedly does the stitching in the camera with “no waiting”
The ONE R is modular, so if you decide 360 is a gimmick and you don’t want to do it any more, you can pull out the 360 module and plug in the 4k module and use it just like a Hero 7.
There were no extended batteries for any 360 camera, just a lot of suggestions to buy multiple batteries and swapping them out, which isn’t an option in a kayak race.
For various reasons, GoPro has always seemed to target about a 70-80 minute battery life. And GoPro’s support page freely admits that they don’t care that the GoPro Hero 7 and Hero 8 will overheat and shut down long before you hit the 70 minutes if you’re trying to use the full advertised resolution and frame rate on a summer day. I get it, I guess, their target market are guys with RedBull sponsorships shooting 5-10 minute ski or surf or mountain bike runs, not me.
The ONE R listed a similar battery life (of course, no indication of whether they have a similar overheating problem), but they also listed a “boosted battery base” as an option that was coming soon. The “boosted battery base” would double the number of milliAmp-hours, theoretically giving you twice the battery life. But it wasn’t out, so I just bided my time.
Well, the Boosted Battery Base is now out. And to my massive disappointment, they have the following warning on the order page:
ONE R is not waterproof or designed for extreme action shooting when assembled with the Boosted Battery Base.
When last I spoke about the 6X, I mentioned that they’d updated the firmware which vaulted the GPS performance from “utterly crap, I’d rather use a sextant” to “acceptable, but not as good as the 920XT”. Nothing has changed on that front. But I want to mention a few other things:
I tried to use the “Race a previous activity” feature. On the 920Xt, this works pretty well. It shows your expected finish time, as well as how many minutes and seconds before or after that is compared to the activity you’re racing. Very useful for virtually racing yourself. I’ve tried it twice now on the Fenix, and I can’t make head nor tails on it. I’m a little handicapped that I don’t have my reading glasses in the boat, so I can’t read the field labels, but I thought I’d be able to logic them out. The field that I think should be should show the minutes and seconds faster or slower than the target starts off showing a time just a bit more than 2 hours (on a 1:33 activity). It still shows a time a bit more than 2 hours when it suddenly changes from white (meaning you’re that far ahead of the activity) to black (meaning you’re that far behind the activity). It also shows another field that shows your estimated time to completion and another showing distance remaining (which is handy). But without a usable time ahead/behind, I don’t really get information on whether I’m pacing it well, which is what I really want. So today when I did my regular “COVID Bassett” virtual Armond Bassett race, I had my Fenix showing the usual time/distance/heart rate/speed fields, and my 920XT showing the virtual race fields. I’m going to try using both and capturing it on video so maybe I can figure out what’s going wrong, and maybe show it to Garmin.
2. Garmin VIRB Edit, the software than I use for putting overlays on my videos doesn’t automatically pick up activities from my Fenix when it’s plugged into the computer the way it did with all my previous Forerunners (actually, I’m not sure if it did with the Forerunner 305, but definitely with the 310XT, the 910Xt and the 920XT). Instead I have to download the FIT file from Garmin Connect and upload it manually to Garmin VIRB Edit, which is annoying.
3. The Fenix 6 is utterly, 100% completely crap at reconnecting to the phone after they’ve been apart for any length of time. I charge my phone overnight in my office, but don’t take off the watch. In the morning, the 920XT would reconnect 99.9% of the time without any sort of intervention on my part. Just about every day, I will suddenly realize I’m not getting any notifications on my watch and go into the bluetooth menu on the phone to reconnect the Fenix. Today it disconnected while both the watch and the phone were on my surfski, less than 2 feet apart. My activity uploaded to Garmin Connect when I manually reconnected them afterwards, but for some reason it didn’t go to Strava. With the 920Xt, I was used to getting three notifications while I’m carrying my boat back to the car from the water – first one telling me the activity is on Garmin Connect, second one telling me it is on Strava, and third one telling me it is on Relive. I get that with the Fenix 6 more often than not, but certainly not with the certainty I would get it when using the 920XT. I may have to record a video to demonstrate how bad this is, since as I was writing this I realized my phone was in the other room, and when I went to pick it up it didn’t automatically reconnect to my Fenix.
So Garmin is having a big spring sale, so I decided to treat myself to a Garmin Fenix 6X Sapphire. It has some amazing features – too many to list here. I had it in my head that I might be able to use it instead of my Forerunner 920XT, but I might have to hold on to the 920. At first I was thinking it would be a good replacement because the screen is big and clear. But I’ve paddled with it twice, and it has a really annoying bug.
When you’re paddling, every time you paddle under a bridge or too near a concrete wall, the watch would lose GPS satellite signal. Every previous watch I’ve had (Forerunners 301, 320, 910Xt, 920Xt) would show a slow speed for a little bit, then it would show a high speed for a little bit, then would settle down and show the correct speed again. Not this guy – instead it shows a blank screen for a short time, and then it shows some crazy impossible speed. Today at one point it was showing 886,844 km/hr. That’s 30 times as fast as the International Space Station in orbit, by the way. If I really hit that on the canal, I’d probably evaporate all the water from Buffalo to Albany.
The worst thing about these huge spikes is that it makes my speed graph unusable. Two days ago I paddled with the 920XT on my boat and the Fenix on my wrist. This is what my speed graph looks like from the 920XT.
And this is what it looks like from the Fenix.
Now I remember from reviews on DC Rainmaker that the Forerunner 945 had some accuracy issues because they’d switched to a Sony GPS chipset to improve battery life. I assume that’s what the difference is here as well. Hopefully there will be a firmware update to fix this.
Interestingly, it appears that Strava has done some sort of smoothing, because my speed graph looks normal on it, with a max speed of 13.7 km/hr instead of 888,000.
Got an email from Garmin saying they’re working on a firmware fix.
Several years ago when I was working from home completely, I decided I needed a really good chair. I did a bit of research and bought a chair that was advertising how much they customize it and how ergonomic it was and all that. It cost more than a Herman Miller Aeron Chair, even if you didn’t buy it from a 90s era startup that had gone bust, but I thought if it saved my back it would be worth it.
Ok, first problem was their amazing customization was basically asking you three questions and then picking either a small, medium or large lumbar pad. I was expecting bespoke and I basically got off the rack. And it wasn’t very adjustable after it was delivered. I was lead to believe there would be a call with a consultant on how to set it up or a comprehensive manual, and I got none of that.
Second problem was that they insisted it had to be delivered via an 18 wheeler, like this was a major selling point or something. This chair was no bigger than any other office chair and it could have been delivered by a panel van, but they insisted. And so I get a phone call from a delivery driver who doesn’t know how he’s getting his gigantic rig down our tree covered residential neighborhood streets. I tell him to deliver it with a panel van, he says he can’t and suggests I come out to meet him somewhere and he can give it to me. I say there’s no f-ing way I’m going to do his job for him. So lo and behold a little while later this truck comes down the street, slapping tree branches all the way, and delivers this package that’s no bigger than other things UPS has delivered in the past.
So anybody, I spent way too much on a not very comfortable chair, and I was embarrassed to admit it, so I’ve kept this chair for about 8 years. And if this lockdown continues for much longer, I’m not sure if my back can take it. And I’m not sure I want to order a chair without trying it, and that’s not going to be possible.
I got a Whoop strap because I’m an analytical kind of guy and I want to make sure I’m doing the best training I can. I got it kind of late in the season last year, so I was in race mode for a couple of weeks then I was in “just maintain fitness and hope I don’t get sick this winter and blow it all” mode.
I was very disappointed when I first got it, because in the first week I mowed my grass and discovered it thought my heart rate was higher than the highest I’ve ever seen in any workout, race or stress test. I think it was picking up vibration from the mower and measuring about 100 bpm higher than reality. After using it for paddle workouts and races and comparing to what my Wahoo TIKR measures, it was reading about 20 bpm too high, probably due to the impact of my paddle catch. Whoop suggested I try (i.e. buy) their bicep band, which seems to have solved the problem.
But even with that strap change, I would come off 5 straight days of training and take a rest day, and wake up on race day and it would telling me I was in the red or yellow zone for recovery, which is demotivating. Then I’ve have a really good race in spite of what it said. The next day I’d wake up tired and sore and barely able to walk, and it would say I was 86% recovered and I should do a hard workout. So it’s not exactly providing me with useful information. I was hoping that now that it’s spring and I’m going to start being in “train like hell because the season starts in 2 months” that it would start giving better data.
There are design details of the Whoop strap that I absolutely love and others I completely, 100% hate hate hate. On the love side, I like the way you recharge it without having to take it off by having a recharging battery that sort of clamps on top of the strap for an hour or two and it’s recharged. On the hate hate hate side, the biggest problem is the strap. They only anchor it on one end and it’s supposed to be held in place by these two very shallow vanes that do practically nothing. It was bad enough on the wrist strap, but on the bicep band where your bicep changes diameter every time your move your arm it’s utterly useless. I end up constantly fiddling with it. It seems like hardly a minute goes by without looking down and seeing the green lights because it’s slipped sideways under the band and it’s not pressing the lights into your muscle.
Ironically, the only time it doesn’t slip sideways under the strap is when you’ve got the recharging battery clamped on top because the battery clamps over the strap. I asked a friend with a 3-d printer if he could make something that like just the clamp part of the battery so I could wear that all the time, but it has springy metal to hold it on. I’ve also tried scotch tape and duct tape to hold the loose end of the strap down. Doesn’t work well.
So anyway, I can’t currently find the battery. Whoop wants a ton of money for a replacement ($50 plus shipping), and frankly if the battery doesn’t show up in a day or two I’m going to take the strap off and leave it off, because it’s just not working out for me and I’m not going to throw good money after bad.