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ProductX POV iPhone Camera Case for Video and Photos – A Review

Published on 11 September 2012 in Kit Reviews

A few weeks ago, I received an email from the guys at ProductX asking whether I’d like to review their new iPhone Point Of View (POV) Camera Case. I hadn’t considered making video before, although I do enjoy watching other people’s POV Mountain Biking videos. I gladly took the opportunity though, as the chance to try something new and review what looked like a cracking little product really appealed to me.

Please read on, or watch the video review I made using the product, which I’ve embedded lower in this review.


Basic Facts And Useability

This iPhone Camera Case was invented by people who wanted a simple solution to shooting MTB video on the go without spending huge amounts of money on new kit.

£25 gets the case delivered to anywhere in the UK. If you’re outside the UK, contact the guys to find out how much it’ll be for you.

The product is a durable zip-close case, with a flexible plastic clip attached, through which two adjustable straps are threaded. These straps can be fixed to you – usually your pack, but you’re free to find somewhere better if you want because the straps can be fastened around pretty much anything.Your iPhone slides into the case and there’s a satisfying “clunk” when it gets home.  You can then zip the case shut and a clear plastic screen allows you to use your phone as normal – the straps might get in the way a bit, but it’s definitely useable.

I found that I could set off Cyclemeter, my tracking app then open the Video app ready to go.  By fastening the case so that I could reach the “+” and “-“ buttons easily, I could switch video on and off easily on the move – so no need to record everything and waste battery power/memory: just video the awesome bits of your ride. Your phone emits a helpful “beep!” and “bibeep!” noise when the recording goes on and off.

Best Points (in my opinion)

Price – £25 is 8.3% of the recommended price of a GoPro kit.  I don’t need to say any more on that issue, do I? It’s amazing value.

Quality – The fisheye lens gives perfectly acceptable video results, and I’ve tried it for photos too. You might not win any BAFTAs for the technical quality of your Youtube or promotional videos, but the quality from your iPhone with this case is surprisingly good.

Ease Of Use – I never thought I’d really enjoy making video, but this little case makes it a doddle. I’ve read reviews of other POV cameras for MTB use, and they all seem to be quite fiddly to use. The magic of the iPhone is that it’s really easy to make video. With some simple video editing software on your laptop, your Youtube popularity is only limited by your talent on a bike (or how hilarious your falling off is).

A Note About Video Editing: I used Microsoft Movie Maker to make my video, which came preinstalled free with my laptop. It was very simple to use. Don’t go spending money on expensive editing software if you’re not convinced you’re going to use it a lot. There’s really no need.

Worst Points (in my opinion)

The Zips – they rattle. A lot. You can hear them in the video within this article. BUT, if you fasten them under the straps when you attach the case to yourself, they’re kept silent.  Once I figured this out, the rattling noise disappeared, so if you pay attention to one thing in this review, fasten the zips away, ok?

Adjusting The Angle – This issue isn’t peculiar to this case. In fact most of the popular POV cameras, whilst costing a squillion pounds more, don’t have any preview facility. Your iPhone does have a screen which clearly shows what you’re recording. The trouble is that the screen’s up against your shoulder when fastened on your pack, so you can’t see it. I took the case on a late summer ride last week and captured some excellent quality footage of my legs, top tube and front wheel (curses!) on a cracking descent down the Pennines near home. Just remember to point the lens higher than you think you should to avoid similar wasted opportunities – you’ll have to work out the best way to do this with your own pack as the case doesn’t have any kind of ball joint. So far, the best angle I’ve achieved has been putting the case on my pack’s horizontal strap across my fulsome belly, but I’ll find a good place on the pack’s shoulder strap soon.

Who Should Buy a ProductX iPhone Camera Case?

1. Anyone who wants to do some video, has an iPhone and doesn’t want to spend £300 on a GoPro.

2. Parents, you can buy this when your kids ask for a GoPro, if you’ve already bought them an iPhone and are now in poverty. When the novelty wears off and your kid stops posting all his/her rides to Youtube, you won’t have wasted £300.

Basically, anyone thinking of getting into making videos but who isn’t sure whether to invest the money and time yet. It’s the most cost-effective way I can think of to give yourself all the raw materials at a tiny fraction of the cost of the most popular systems.

Buy the ProductX Camera Case for your iPhone by following this link. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

(If you’re looking for a handlebar mount for your iPhone instead, read this other review which I did a little while ago)

 
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Endura MT500 Burner MTB Jersey Review

Published on 24 July 2012 in Kit Reviews

If You Needed A Mountain Bike Specific Cycling Jersey…

… how would you decide which one to buy? I’ve read reviews in magazines and the Endura MT500 consistently scores highly for value, design, looks and feel on the bike. That’s how it ended up on my shortlist.

I’ve mainly worn “traditional”-looking cycling jerseys up to now. I have a couple of nice ones but there’s no denying that the tightness can be a bit restricting, especially if you’re not shaped like a roadie-whippet. I also own a looser-fit cheapo MTB top from Decathlon which is fine, but the raised seams and sewn-in label do tend to irritate my delicate office-worker’s skin.

The Endura MT500

I don’t want to spend a fortune on cycling tops. I want a top to look good, function well, be comfortable and hard-wearing. On a recent trip to Leisure Lakes I browsed the Endura stands and was reminded of the good reviews this jersey has enjoyed over the last few years. Seeing a version in Orange & Camo, I decided to try it on.

Sizing – I’ve got two words of advice: Go Large. I’m not exactly a fatty, I’m dead-on 12 stones (168 lbs, 76kg) and for most things I’m a Medium.  But in the MT500 I’m a definite Large – I think cyclists are generally just a lot skinnier than your average person 😉

The top features good flatlock stitching so it doesn’t rub against your skin, with raglan sleeves – this technique of attaching the arms to the torso of your top makes them move better and feel more comfortable under a pack. The label is printed, not stitched, so there’s no extra itchiness there either.

At the bottom of the jersey there’s a nicely rolled bottom end which helps it to hang just right, and a small zipped pocket for keys and a gel is very handy although you’ll probably put them into your shorts.  Inside the jersey, a little wipe is stitched in: it’s not very big but it’s better than nothing if, like me, your specs get a bit grimy on your rides (technical fabrics are absolutely bobbins for cleaning specs because they’re basically made from plastic).

Cut To The Chase. What’s It Like?

To put it bluntly, it’s an excellent value top.  For £35 or less you get an MTB-specific cycling top which performs well, looks great and is very comfortable.  There are just the right mix of hard-wearing fabrics and stretchy, comfy bits under the arms and elsewhere.  The mix of fabric designs does look very good – you don’t have to go Orange & Camo like I did, you can choose white & grey, or charcoal mixtures for the stealth ninjas among you.

Have a look at the links I’ve posted here if you’d like to check the top out.

Endura MT500 Burner at Chain Reaction Cycles
… or at Rutland Cycling
… or on Amazon.

As usual, tell ’em Phill sent you :)

 
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Nuun vs High5 Electrolyte Tablets – No Sugar Hydration Comparison (for Cyclists, and Diabetics too)

Published on 4 July 2012 in Kit Reviews

I’ve been delighted with the recent trend towards no-sugar electrolyte replacement drinks – I have diabetes, so most isotonic drinks were off the menu thanks to their alarming sugar content.

A free sample of High5 Zero was taped to the front of a magazine recently, and I saw Nuun tabs for sale in Leisure Lakes when I paid a visit to buy my new Endura MT500 top (review to follow). So I decided to run a quick back-to-back test for your delectation.

What Are These Electrolytic Hydration Tablet Thingies, Then?

When you exercise, you lose water.  But when you sweat, you also pump out salts which your body needs to replace to function at its optimum.  You might have read about people who’ve done a hard event, then drank lots of water, then dropped dead.  Over-simplifying things grossly, this can be because their body’s systems are watered down too much by plain water – we need to replace the other good stuff that’s lost by sweating, too.

These tablets are made to combine a cocktail of useful salts and things into a soluble tablet.  This saves space & reduces packaging thereby helping to save the planet, and it means the tabs are easy to store at home or in your pack/pocket out on the bike.

Doing away with sugar not only reduces bulk, it works better with your body: sugar-rushes are almost always followed by a post-sugar crash which isn’t much fun.  If you’re diabetic like me, sugar rushes are just a no-no unless you’re going hypo, in which case you should have a gel and suitable snack handy anyway – but that’s a different issue.

Price

£6 of your hard-earned might seem steep for a few tabs, but think of it this way: Depending which option you choose, the packs work out between 30p and 50p per 500ml of drink, which is bloody good value when compared with a full bottle of juice from the shop.

High5 Zero vs. Nuun

I tried the Pink Grapefruit flavour High5 Zero, because that was the freebie I got with my magazine… but I’d probably have bought that one anyway.  It tasted light and refreshing and I’d have no hesitation buying that flavour again.  For the Nuun version, I bought a tube of Tri-Berry tabs: once again, the flavour is refreshing without being overpowering.  In both cases, you expect a slightly salty taste but I couldn’t detect any saltiness.  Just to be sure, I asked our girls (aged 9 and 10) to try them and they both thought the taste was great: so much so that they keep asking if they can have one when we’re at home! So that’s a hit on both counts, flavour-wise.

For me, the main consideration seems to be that for a similar price per tube, High5 supply 20 tabs whereas Nuun only give 12.  If you’re prone to getting quickly bored of the same flavour, maybe 12 tabs is enough.  If not, then I’d recommend High5’s tubes of 20 as it equates to only 30p per bottle.

If you’re wondering how the stuff mixes, have a quick look at this video.

Want Some?

You can  probably buy these from your LBS but if you’re looking to compare or buy online, then visit the following links and make your own mind up.  I particularly like the Nuun 4 Tube Variety packs, since I’m one of those people who likes a change.  But don’t forget, High5 are cheaper per drink.  The links show you the range of different flavours available – there’s something to suit everyone, even you.

1. High5 Zero at Chain Reaction Cycles
2. High5 Zero at Wiggle Online Cycle Shop
3. Nuun at Chain Reaction Cycles
4. Nuun at Wiggle Online Cycle Shop
5. Nuun 4 Tube Variety Pack at Wiggle – shows quite a saving over buying one at a time.

Tell ’em Phill sent you :)

 Stop Press: Banana Nuun Update:
Everybody knows that Banana is the finest flavour of milky things in the universe. Fact.  Especially that wonderful chemically-enhanced banana flavouring of our youth.
But +Chris McGovern , +Rick Horsfield and I wondered how banana flavour  would taste in a watery thing, particularly an electrolyte and salt-containing watery thing.
So, I ordered some BananaNuun from Wiggle.
And let me tell you, folks: the taste is… well… not all that good.
I’d stick to the citrus or orange & berry, if I were you.

But hey, FREE HARIBO!

 
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