Gadgets 839

Published on February 4th, 2010 | by admin


Ripxx: Extreme Sports, By The Numbers

What do you get when you combine the engineering know-how of a supplier to NASA with the geek dreams of Olympic athletes (like the US Bobsledding Team, which is using a version of this device to help them train for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games)? We may not ski or snowboard with the best, much less skeleton (yes, it’s a sport, also known as toboggan). But we appreciate good data as much as anyone, and that’s why we were excited by the chance to review the Ripxx, a personal measurement device that tracks your location, speed, acceleration, and any changes in direction. This blackbox also allows you to compare and playback these recordings, and even connect the device to a computer for a nifty view of your course or run. Now you can figure out exactly how lame your ski jumps actually are!

Water resistant, shockproof, and with a feature set built for serious use, we appreciated the rugged construction. Out in the snow, normal LCD screens tend to freeze up, and LEDs have similar issues, so they chose OLED technology to power the screen. It was bright enough for daytime use, though we were a bit annoyed by glare from time to time. Built-in GPS is handy if strictly limited, and with three accelerometers and three gyroscopes, we were quite happy with the level of data captured in every direction. The Ripxx is also nicely sized, about the same as normal cell-phone, and offers a rubber grip and reasonably easy-to-use buttons that can mostly be handled with gloves. Between this and one of the sports video cameras that we’ve reviewed, you’d be well on your way to some really interesting motion capture and first-person video documentation- we hope to see similar technology used in all sorts of interesting ways in the future.

Altitude can be off by a few meters, but timing is synchronized via GPS and is thus pretty precise. One advantage then is being able to put together multiple units and measure various body parts or locations on a vehicle- very cool. The included adjustable velcro-sealed holster allows you to slip the unit in and use as an armband, around your leg, or even shoulder. A cutaway section allows you to confirm that your Ripxx is recording via the flashing light, and it’s large enough to use with truly bulky coats, jackets, and other gear. Latitude, longitude, date, time, and even the ski resort (if at a limited number of supported locations) are recorded along with your altitude. It’s extremely simple to use- pretty much wait for a GPS lock, then hit one button for record and again to stop when finished (though you’ll probably want to update the timezone first; a pity that it couldn’t go that automatically). Connect to your computer via the included USB cable, and then you can use the special software to transfer data. You can also see some info immediately on the device’s screen, including metrics like maximum speed or drop. But the cool value (and usefulness) increases dramatically when you use their tools to analyze your run via the upcoming Analysis program or the currently-available Replay software that overlays your run over actual topography and even displays the trees for resorts that it recognizes. First-person, third-person, and helicopter views are supported- though not Mac users at this time. And we should note that Ripxx is giving away a unit to the fan who most closely guesses the US medal count for the 2010 games, as well as random goodies for each medal- just check out their Facebook page for details.

The built-in rechargeable battery lasts for at least a full day or use- we used it on and off throughout a lengthy day out and there was still some capacity remaining. Recharging is via USB, and seemed pretty quick. We would’ve liked to see a thermometer included, so we could brag about the temperature as well, and it would’ve been nice to be able to use the device like a normal GPS. At over $300, it’s definitely intended for those serious about their winter sports. But if nifty videos and 80 hours of recording capability on the included but upgradeable micro-SD card can’t convince you, perhaps you’re simply not hardcore enough! As their manual says, “If you’re a Ripxx customer, we know you live life to the max… It’s a special kind of love. It’s love found only in a relationship to Jesus Christ.” Makes walking with Jesus seem a bit tame.

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