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Swimovate Poolmate Pro

December 31, 2013 Leave a comment

I have a strong passion for gadgets and love the ability to collect training data for analysis. I have recently had the opportunity to try out the Poolmate Pro swimming watch from Swimovate.

The Poolmate Pro is easy to setup and you’ll be going within a couple of minutes, all you need to configure the watch for first use is your weight, length of the pool and which hand you’ll be wearing the watch on. So, with this information set and the choice of measuring specified (imperial or metric) it’s time to give it a bash.

In the water the watch feels unobtrusive and after a while it is easy to forget you are wearing it. After a set of ten lengths I stopped to see how the watch was getting on only to find I had it in a paused state – oops!

After that false start, I set the watch to go and off I went. I swam 60 lengths which the watch faithfully recorded, I had to remember had to stop the recording and complete the set as I had only skimmed the user manual.

I’m used to using my Garmin 310 for recording training data but with pool swimming all I would get is overall session time unless I manually set each set.

Having a watch that measures the laps accurately and automatically is a blessing as my mind easily wanders and I forget how many laps I have swum!

In terms of data recorded, reviewing the log in the comfort of the bar at the leisure centre it seemed to give pretty much what I was after. Swim time, number of laps and average stroke count were immediately beneficial, there is also a measure of efficiency although I haven’t checked this out.

On getting home, I downloaded the application to my Mac from the Swimovate website. I followed the instructions in terms of installation then connecting up the USB cradle but it wasn’t being picked up. I unplugged the cradle then reattached it – this then started some process but unfortunately caused the computer to reboot.

When the Mac came back up everything seemed to be working fine, I was able to open the application and I could see that the log had been loaded from the watch (docked in the cradle).

I will add a few images to this post later when I get round to taking some of the watch, cradle and application.

In conclusion, I like the Poolmate Pro and apart from the crash my Mac experienced I have no complaints about the actual hardware. My only wish is that at some point Swimovate issue an update for the watch to allow individual lap recording, this will be useful in determining lap time consistency.

Garmin Forerunner 310XT Product Review

October 28, 2011 2 comments

Link: Garmin Forerunner 310XT from BHIP Ltd.

The 310XT is a great multi-sport device designed for runners, cyclists and swimmers but most importantly, in my opinion, triathletes!

Garmin Forerunner 310XT

Garmin Forerunner 310XT

This is the first Garmin unit which actually feels as comfortable in the water as the user and is water resistant to 50m.

The unit records a whole load of data including pace, speed, distance, elevation, heart rate, cadence and more.

The optional heart rate chest strap, foot pod and bike cadence/speed sensors provide the numbers.

Strictly speaking, the HR chest strap isn’t necessary although I think you’d be missing out on some of the great features available such as heart rate zone training. Also, being able to monitor your HR while training, and indeed, use the HR zones is very helpful to ensure you meet your training objectives.

The GPS function can take care of speed, pace and distance etc if you do not want to shell out for the extra bike and foot sensors.

To record cadence (foot strike) when running you’ll need the foot pod and for cadence on the bike, the bike sensor is required. The bike sensor also provides backup in case satellite connection is lost – not that has ever happened when I’ve been out.

Additionally, the foot pod and bike sensor come in hand if you want to record data from treadmill runs and turbo sessions.

You can set alerts for speed, pace, cadence and heart rate (as mentioned earlier). These can cause the unit to vibrate so you can feel that you need to pick up the pace etc rather than having to keep an eye on the display.

Another nice touch for use in the water is that you can set a countdown to start the timer and also there is a setting that kind of takes into consideration the GPS signal during the swim. If you stow the watch under your swim hat then you should have a decent signal, however, if worn on the wrist then the signal will be sporadic at best as the unit will be in
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Last edited by pobby69 on October 28, 2011 at 10:29 pm
and out of the water all the time.

The display is very configurable, depending on the sport selected you can choose pretty much what you want to see. So, if you find while running that you want to see current pace, distance and heart rate, you can set it up to show that.

Virtual training partner allows you to set the average pace that you want to train at and the unit displays your progress in comparison. It shows you how many metres and seconds (or minutes) you are ahead or behind of your virtual partner based on the pace you set.

You can sign up to Garmin Connect – a great website that takes all your data and displays it as valuable information along with a Google map of your route which also allows you to “replay” the session or race.

The 310XT makes use of ANT+ technology which allows for seamless transmission of data from the unit to the computer and via the supplied USB dongle. Providing there is an internet connection, the data will be directly upload to Garmin Connect.

Overall – I really like the 310XT, it comes packed with pretty much all you could want. Having owned the Polar RS800CX I think I prefer the Garmin unit for sports use. One difference between the two units is that you could actually wear the Polar as a watch day to day. During the swim, the Garmin will not record the heart rate as the signal does not transfer through the water, this is also the case with the Polar.

Rating: 9/10.

Images are copyright and courtesy of BHIP Ltd.

Blue Seventy Transition Bag TZ Product Review

October 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Link: http://www.blueseventy.com/

I have owned the Blue Seventy Transition Bag (Pack) TZ for the past two seasons and must say that it is pretty good.

It is robust, showing no signs of wear on the bottom, the zips are still all working properly and keeping the contents safe.

The only very minor thing I have noticed is that one of the zip tags has come off the zipper. This doesn’t affect the zip itself and seems to be fairly common as other bags I’ve spotted seem to have a tag or two missing.

I’m sure this can be prevented by ensuring that the bit that the tag slips through on the zip is pushed fully closed, I expect a quick pinch with a pair of pliers would do the job. I haven’t done this as I’m not that bothered at the moment.

Blue Seventy Transition Bag TZ

Blue Seventy Transition Bag TZ

In terms of storage capacity, the bottom compartment for the wetsuit is a good size and has waterproofed sides ensuring that the rest of your gear doesn’t get soaked.

There is a pocket of the front of the pack which is for storing your cycle helmet, the sides are elasticated and there is a clip to ensure that it is held fast.

There’s a zipped pocket on the top where you can store anything anything you need to hand quickly. Also provided is a socket/hole for passing headphones through so you can keep your MP3 player safe while getting in the zone prior to race start.

Inside, the main compartment is of generous size easily accommodating race shoes, bike shoes and your other gear. There are also a couple of pockets inside, one of them is zipped so you can stow your keys, mobile phone and wallet safely.

I have used this bag to carry my gear to a few races on my bike, the shoulder straps are well padded providing a comfortable feel and there is also a waist strap for extra security.

Depending on whether you wear an aero helmet or normal helmet while cycling with this pack will depend whether it catches or not. Although the pack is a good size and has some height, it does not catch on a normal helmet while riding on the hoods. However, if you are making your way to the transition zone wearing an aero helmet you may have to be a bit more careful as it can catch a bit. Not a big problem providing you are aware.

Overall – a great bag, well made and well worth the money. A good, solid investment to keep your gear safe.

Score: 7/10.

Polar RS800CX Tip

July 9, 2010 Leave a comment

The past week and a bit I have noticed the display going blank when trying to start an exercise on my Polar.

I spoke with Polar tech support who wanted me to send the watch in so they could look at it. Before I could do this I had to contact the company I bought it from to get a duplicate receipt sent out.

It was lucky I did as the guy there, Tristan, asked what was wrong and knew straight away from my description that it was the battery failing.

Apparantly the battery life is 12 to 16 months if used regularly. The display blanks out as there is insufficient power for the watch to search for all the sensors plus work the display.

So, new battery ordered which should arrive Monday or Tuesday. Perhaps I could have found one cheaper (£6.50) but I am happy to pay as they are a great company – very helpful pre and post sales plus they send their goods out so quickly.

So, here’s to BHIP Ltd and their www.heartratemonitor.co.uk website!!

Oh and they are local, based in Snettisham! 🙂

Update 11th July 2010:

I arrived home this afternoon and found that the battery had been delivered yesterday – fantastic response from Tristan & Louise www.bhi-partnership.co.uk