EyeCycled in a Tag-Along Bike

Bike ride with my Children…

I´ve put this short video together for those Mums and Dads with children transitioning from 12″ or 14″ bikes (balance bikes or bikes with training wheels) to bigger 20″ wheels.

A Tag-Along (or sometimes referred as a “Tag-a-long”) bike has some PROS and some CONS, but I think the PROS outweigh the CONS.

PROS:

  • Parents can safely ride with their kids at higher speeds than they would be able to if the kids were on their own bikes (mind you higher, not “high”).
  • Allows older children to be towed on longer journeys.
  • Aids child fitness levels (assuming they pedal! Keep motivating them)
  • Child can pedal as much or as little as they like. Depending on age they can tire pretty quickly.
  • Harder workout for the parent. Fit parents are an example for their children.

 CONS:

  • Child cannot ride independently.
  • May take longer to develop balance and they may get dependent on the parent (may not want to learn how to ride on their own)
  • Generally only available with a 20″ diameter rear wheel.
  • Cannot be used at the same time as a rear mounted baby seat, so may be a 1 child solution only, but depending on the age of the 2nd child a Kangaroo seat can be an option if you have children with significant age differences.
  • Parents need to be careful as movement by the children may cause a wobble that can throw the parent off-balance.

Click here for my earlier post (review) about the Adventure Echo Six Tag-Along bike

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Camino de Santiago: Day 2 - From Roncesvalles to Puente la Reina.

If you are the type of person who doesn´t like reading, I made it easy for you. The video below is an almost exact transcript of this post, with a few minor differences, so feel free to watch the video and skip the post if you want.

So… you like to read then? Good for you, because I lied 🙂

I provide more information on text than I do on video and to complement the text I added some links to interesting pages I found while doing some research as well.

Leaving Roncesvalles
Leaving Roncesvalles

We´ve done this on the 26th of May 2015 and according to my Garmin it took us just under 8 and a 1/2 h to complete the 80 Km that separates Roncesvalles from Puenta la Reina where we decided to stay for the night. Together with me was Fernando, my Pilgrimage partner.

Having done only 30 Km the day before we wanted to push ourselves a little to bring us closer to the average 60 Km per day we planned to do all the way to Santiago. This proved to be unnecessary later, but when you have a scheduled return date you have to account for some spare time in case you run into any problems during the journey. We also had the intention of riding further to Cape Finistere if we got to Santiago with time to spare.

We left Roncesvalles just before 8:00am and didn´t know exactly where we were going to stop. Puenta la Reina was one of the options. For any visually impaired person listening to this account, the day started wet and rainy. According to Garmin as we started the temperature was 12C falling to 5C 1h later and peaking at 19C around 2:30pm. Although it wasn´t necessarily cold it called for something warm to be worn.

Alto de Erro, 801m.
Alto de Erro, 801m.

Roncesvalles is still situated mid-ways up in the mountain (Pyrenees). The ride starts with an initial descent of about 200m in total with a few ups and downs in the 1st 17 Km until the town of Erro where you start a 3 Km climb to the “Alto de Erro” which is at 801m at its highest point. We stopped for a few minutes there to take some pictures.

River Arga, crossing Zubiri.
River Arga, crossing Zubiri.

I had eaten only a banana and a cereal bar as I left Roncesvalles. This became more or less the norm for me during the ride with a proper Breakfast stop later along the way 1 or 2h later. After our short stop in the Alto de Erro, we rode for another 7 Km and decided to stop for Breakfast in Zubiri which is a little village 28 Km from Roncesvalles. It had taken us 2.5h to get there and by that point I was really hungry.

Tortillas de Patatas (Potato Omelet)
Tortillas de Patatas (Potato Omelet)

Zubiri is lovely small village. It’s the point where we first met the River Arga which flows parallel to the road almost for about 20 Km thereafter, all the way to Pamplona. The village appears to live entirely of the tourism generated by the Pilgrims as there seem to be too many hostels and hotels for such a small place. My breakfast included 2 pieces of a delicious Potato Omelette or “Tortillas de Patatas” as it’s known in Spanish as well as some pastries like a

Zubiri viewed from the Stone bridge
Zubiri viewed from the Stone bridge

Croissant and a chocolate roll served with coffee and a freshly squeezed orange juice. There are many things I miss from my time in Spain but the sweet and freshly squeezed orange juice is one of the things in the top of the list. This simply does not exist in Britain and even in places where natural orange juice is served the taste is nowhere near that of the sweet and non-acidic Spanish oranges. After Breakfast we walked to the very old looking stone bridge of the village, took some pictures, stamped our pilgrims´ credentials and continued to Pamplona.

River Arga on the outskirts of Pamplona
River Arga on the outskirts of Pamplona

Moving on, we continued on the N-135 road or “Carretera”, as it´s called in Spanish, all the way to the outskirts of Pamplona where we took a cycle path along the river Arga. The Arga also crosses a portion of Pamplona. As we got to the outskirts of Pamplona we stopped for a minute contemplate and take a few pictures of the serene scenes the river Arga was providing.

Bull running Monument (Encierro)
Bull running Monument (Encierro)

Our passage through Pamplona was very quick. Pamplona is where the famous running of the bulls happen, known in Spanish as the “Encierro“. We only stopped for a few minutes at the bull run monument in the city centre and at the pilgrim´s office to stamp our credentials. At that point in the journey we thought we were pressed for time and we didn´t want to arrive too late in our destination that day. We also knew we were coming back to Pamplona anyway since it was there that we were going to return the rental car we reserved to drive back from Santiago.

The Citadel in Pamplona
The Citadel in Pamplona

We crossed the city and got a bit lost in the park where the Citadel is located, but that allowed us to stop for a minute and take a few pictures. Really impressive example of an old military complex. As we left the city and started to get into more rural areas we met a local cyclist who advised us to avoid the walker´s path up to the “Alto del Perdón” (Mount of Forgiveness), which is one of the

Alto del Perdón
Alto del Perdón

many landmarks along the Camino. The company that runs the wind turbines on that mountain has created a number of bronze sculptures to celebrate the Pilgrims who climb it. The road route is about 4 Km longer than the walker´s path. Even though I perfectly understand Fernando´s reluctance to take the walkers´ path, I confess I was a bit disappointed. I only realised how big the challenge was going to be when I got up there and saw all the bikers pushing their bikes up. We took the NA-6004, then a left turn on the NA-1110, which runs parallel to the A-12 motorway, in the direction of Astrain. The climb is long but perfectly rideable even when you leave the NA-1110 to climb the NA-6056 in the direction to the mountain alongside the wind turbines.

Panoramic View from Alto del Perdón
Panoramic View from Alto del Perdón

I believe getting to the top of the “Perdón” provides the Pilgrim with the first real feeling of achievement in the Pilgrimage. The altitude recorded by my Garmin was 682m, which is by far not the highest mountain along the way, but perhaps because it’s so well known, or perhaps it’s because of the long challenging climb, I think there is something about that view on both sides that made an impression on me.

Alto del Perdón
Alto del Perdón

On one side you see Pamplona in the background and on the other you have the view of the entire valley where Puenta la Reina is situated. It´s a really magnificent view, but I guess the pictures are worth more than a thousand words. Oh by the way, if you ever wondered why there are so many wind turbines in Spain, the noise you´ll hear in a moment should provide a clue. As the saying goes, everything that goes up must come down, so no surprise that after the Perdón you´re in for a long descent. The NA-6056 which is the minor road alongside the Wind Turbines requires attention because it´s littered with pot holes, but once you are back to the NA-1110, an excellent main road, the pavement is smooth and allows for much higher speeds. In fact, it was on this descent that I achieved the highest speed in the entire journey and probably the highest speed of my life on a bicycle so far: 74.8 Km/h (or 48 mph) according to my Garmin Edge. A great rush of adrenaline.

Arriving in Puente la Reina
Arriving in Puente la Reina

The distance between the Alto del Perdón and Puente la Reina is about 10 Km and it´s mostly descent, so after the Perdón you get to Puente la Reina pretty quickly. What a lovely town Puente la Reina is and its impressive main landmark: The romanic bridge over the river Arga (yes the same that crosses Pamplona). It was built by Queen Mayor (hence the name Puente la Reina or “Bridge of the Queen”) to allow pilgrim´s to easily cross the Arga.

Puente la Reina (The Queen´s Bridge)
Puente la Reina (The Queen´s Bridge)

We stayed at the “Albergue de peregrinos de los padres reparadores” (Pilgrims´ Hostel of the Fathers´ repairers?) which cost just €5 a night. The Albergue is very simple and if you are too fussy you will have issues with the shower rooms and the fact that there are almost no power outlets in the bedrooms, so people that want to charge their phones or gadgets fight for the few there are. One pilgrim actually left his phone in the bathroom to charge and stayed there for almost an hour while the phone was charging, something I would never do.

Puente la Reina
Puente la Reina

In the next day as we were leaving the Albergue we met Paula for the 1st time. Paula was from Brazil and was doing the pilgrimage by bike, with the main difference that she was on the road much longer than we were, since she started from the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Well, that´s it. I will try to produce one post every week. Even though I am benefiting from this writing exercise (especially in German), it hasn´t been easy to find the time to do this in 3 languages. I will complete this Pilgrimage series in all languages, but I may decide concentrate everything only in English in future “adventures”.

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Camino de Santiago: Day 0 and 1 - Bracknell to Saint Jean Pied de Port and Roncesvalles

 

This is the first post of my Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage. I intend to write at least one for each day of the Pilgrimage. In this post I decided to include also something about “Day Zero” of our ride. I am calling day zero our journey from England to France by car. Other people in England might benefit from this experience (if not then I just wasted my time). Feel free to scroll down straight to Day 1 if you want. I am also trying something new for me: Doing “voice-overs”. This is definitely taking me out of my comfort zone, so please be kind.

Day 0, Sunday, 24th of May 2015

The 4 of us… – Fernando (who did the Pilgrimage with me), Mara and her daughter Luize (who I met through BlaBlaCar), and myself – … left Bracknell at around 5:30 in the morning to get the 7:30 Eurotunnel train. All the details are in the video below, if you are interested:

It took us an entire day to reach Saint Jean. We arrived in Biarritz short before 8:00pm and in Saint Jean around 9:00pm. A drive of more than 15h. Even though my friend Fernando drove most of the time, I was exhausted when we arrived. Driving is no longer the same pleasurable experience now as it used to be in the past.

Saint Jean Pied de Port is the start of what is called the French way (route) of the Camino which became the main route few hundred years ago because of conflicts and unrest in the northern most part of Spain at the time. The ancient route is known today as “Camino Primitivo“. The French way is about 820 Km long, depending on the route you take and not accounting any distance if you get lost.

We stayed at the Gite Ultreia. The hostel was simple, but friendly. Bernard, our host, made us feel quite at home. The beds were comfortable, had clean sheets on them and the hostel offered a blanket (not all do, hence the reason you must take a sleeping bag with you, even if you are not camping). The overnight price of the hostel, booked from the UK, was 22€ incl. Breakfast. Except for the hostel we stayed for 1 night when we arrived in Santiago, this was the most expensive we paid in the entire Camino. The hostel closed at 10pm (as most do), so we left our bikes and luggage there and went to find a place to have a quick bite. Thankfully there was a bar right in front which was still open, but their kitchen was already closed. All we got was a Bayonne Ham sandwich and beer and, honestly, the Sandwich wasn´t very good and the ham had a lot of hard bone in it, but it was enough to calm down the hunger. Our bedroom had 4 beds and we shared it with a Brazilian lady from Rio and a gentleman from Australia.

Day 1, Monday, 25th of May 2015

If you saw any of my previous posts you will know that I usually leave the camera rolling, taking pictures at 5 second intervals and then compile them all into a short movie of the ride. This was my intention with the Camino also and I´ve managed to successfully capture every day, except the first day. Well, I did actually capture the pictures, but due to an oversight on my part end up losing all for this day 🙁

The video below is a compilation of the few pictures I took with another camera (and my phone) as well as some clips Fernando recorded with his GoPRO.

On this day, breakfast included coffee, various types of bread, Jam and a few pastries (no ham, cheese, eggs, bacon or anything like that, but you can cook them yourself if you buy them the previous day). Whether you are walking or cycling the Camino I would strongly recommend not to really just on breakfast and take food with you, especially if you are going to take the walkers route/track.

Parking sorted
Parking Sorted. When we returned car was exactly as we left it.

As we were going to leave the car parked in Saint Jean for 3 weeks, we were advised by our host not to leave the car parked in the town centre. He told us, however, about a quiet residential street nearby where, he said, we could leave the car and that it was quite safe and problem free, so the first thing we did after breakfast was to move the car to that place. He was right! As we

returned 3 weeks later the car was exactly as we had left it (with the exception of the huge amount of leaves accumulated on the bonnet as I parked it under a tree – Probably good to avoid, but I was thinking about shading it from the sun).

The ancient stone wall that protected the town in medieval times.
The ancient stone wall that protected the town in medieval times.

With Breakfast, parking and packing done our early start ended up turning into a 10am start, but we had to go to the pilgrim´s office first to get our official Pilgrimage credentials. There was a small queue in the office, so 10am became 11am including a quick stop for a prayer in the church.

Finding our way out of Saint Jean was easy.

Town Gate
Ancient Town Gate

The town is small and the streets are well sign-posted. We had a few hills to climb straight away, but mostly was relatively flat for the initial 5 Km or so and then you start to climb. Having seen the accounts of people who cycled the walkers path we knew this wasn´t a route we wanted to take. The path up is riddled with rocks,

Old bridge over the river Nive
Old bridge over the river Nive

sand and obstacles which, even if you are strong enough and had no load on the bike, would still be very challenging to ride. Even harder for amateur cyclists like me (perhaps “pros”

would manage it). The video below is something I found in YouTube of someone who has walked the walker´s path (used with permission).

So we took the road, which I presume was easier from that point of view, but that doesn´t mean it was easy.

Pushing my bike up the Mountain
Pushing my bike up the Mountain

After the initial 7 Km from Saint Jean, as I mentioned before, the route is essentially a continuous climb of about 20 Km with gradients that very from 5% to about 15% in some places. I´d estimate 80% was “rideable” and in 20% we decided to push our bikes up.

We did not meet a lot of bicycle pilgrim´s that day. Turned out the Monday the 25th of May was a bank holiday in France, so there was little traffic of all sorts on the roads, which was probably better. It was also a grey and wet day with some light rain throughout. There was a large group of cyclists on road bikes and no luggage (they were probably dispatching the luggage to the next location by taxi). In one of those climbs we met Michael that was already more than a month on the road, cycling from his home in Germany to Santiago and further. We all had dinner together that night and also met Michael on many other occasions afterwards, during the journey.

Summit of Pass Ibañeta
Summit of Pass Ibañeta

According to GPS data it took us just under 5 h to do 30 Km. That appears to be very typical for crossing the Pyrenees. I must confess, I was expecting to be able to ride a greater distance on the 1st day, but the climb is very demanding and by the time you get to Roncesvalles you will be already pretty tired.

Hostel in Roncesvalles (Albergue)
Hostel in Roncesvalles (Albergue)

The hostel in Roncesvalles (or Albergue as it’s called in Spanish), is an experience you should not miss. It’s essentially a 12th century building, which was recently renovated. It contains large halls with a capacity of 120 beds in each hall, or 60 bunk beds divided into “alcoves” with 2 bunk beds in each alcove where 4 people (or pilgrims)

Hostel in Roncesvalles. Large halls with 120 beds (60 bunk beds)
Hostel in Roncesvalles. Large halls with 120 beds (60 bunk beds)

sleep. Each pilgrim has a small locker (requires a 1€ coin), but there are only 2

power sockets in each alcove. Challenging when 4 people want to charge their phones at the same time. It was likely the biggest hostel I stayed in the entire Camino. The staff on duty that day was composed mainly of Dutch volunteers. The groups of

Bunk bed in the hostel. 2 bunk beds by alcove or cubicle.
Bunk bed in the hostel. 2 bunk beds by alcove or cubicle.

volunteers who run the hostel change from time to time, so you may get different groups at different periods of the year. At the end of the hall there are male and female toilets/bathrooms. In the male section I could only see 3 toilets to the left with a set of 4 sinks in the middle and 3 shower rooms on the right. I have not had to wait long to use any of these facilities that day.

Although I have not used them, I am aware the Albergue also has a fully fitted kitchen and a large dining area.

One thing that was a bit annoying, was that every hour or so, one of the carer takers of the hostel would walk the full length of the hall. Probably to see if everyone was behaving appropriately. The noise of his steps have woken Fernando up a few times that night and a good night sleep is an important factor for those that will be walking or cycling all day next day. If you easily wake up with noise during sleep I would strongly advise that you bring ear plugs with you as with so many people sleeping in the same place, Albergues are not really a silent place during the night (think of snorers and other types of noises people make when they are asleep).

20150525_173321
Dinner at the Pilgrim´s Restaurant. The Pilgrim´s menu is 10€ and has 3 choices (1st dish, main meal and desert). The price includes wine.

We had dinner at the Pilgrim´s restaurant and the pilgrim´s menu was 10€. I had pasta as a starter and fish as main meal with some yogurt as a desert. All served with plenty of water and wine. It was delicious. You have usually 3 choices on pilgrim´s menus. Roncesvalles is a tiny place and there are not many options, but there are a few more places you can get a meal.

Catholic Mass in the Roncesvalles Chappel.
Catholic Mass in the Roncesvalles Chapel.

After dinner we walked to the chapel to attend the catholic mass, which is celebrated in several different languages.

The hostel also closes at 10pm and around 11pm everybody is already asleep. Well,I was anyway.

Next Day >>

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Bike Ride: Bracknell Station to Windsor Chocolate Theater Café Bar

Saturday, 18th of July 2015 Stats:

  • Distance: 19.01 Km or 11.85 miles
  • Time: 51 min 16 Sec (49 min and 29 Sec of moving time)
  • Average Speed: 22.2 Km/h (23 Km/h average moving speed)
  • Max Speed: 49.3 Km/h
  • Elevation Gain: 107 m
  • Calories: 674 C
  • Bike: Specialized Crosstrail Disc, converted for touring.
  • Temperature: 22.1C

Healthier, cheaper, almost as fast as by bus and much more fun…

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Bike ride to and around the Isle of Wight


The week before Easter 2015 I´ve spent 3 days riding to and around the Isle of Wight. These are the posts of my experience:

  1. 30/Mar/2015: Ride to Ryde (from my home to the city of Ryde in the island)
  2. 01/Apr/2015: From Ryde to Ventnor over the Needles Park (Gun batteries)
  3. 02/Apr/2015: From Ventnor back to Ryde and with the Hovercraft back to Portsmouth.

Still learning how to use WordPress. I think this is the best method to collate them together. If anyone has a better solution, I am all hears.

Hope this is useful to someone. Thank you for your visit!

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Action Cameras for Cycling (Sony HDR-AS30V)

My 1st Gadget post… How exciting!
To save you time (?), this post is not really a typical product review. I prefer to leave this to specialists, such as Techmoan, who is my favourite reviewer for these things. This post is rather an account of my personal experiences and impressions with my current Sony camera and a few others I´ve owned over the years. So, if you are looking for a good product review or you don´t like reading, please watch Techmoan´s reviews on the Sony Action Cams or the many others he has on his site. Keep in mind the review below is really for the Sony HDR-AS10/15 models while mine is a newer AS30V, but they are almost identical:

He has also made a comparison video between the Sony AS10 and the GoPRO Hero3.

I´ve always been sort of a geek. Less so in more recent years, however, once a geek always a geek, it seems. And in my geeky interests one of the things that I have always been keen about was cameras (video recording). I acquired my first ever digital camera in 1998 (a Fujifilm DX-10) while on a trip to the US and it it´s max resolution was 0.8 megapixel (1024×768 pixel), could not record videos, had a 2 MB (not GB) SmartMedia card (later I bought 8 and 16 MB cards) and a RS232 serial interface for (slowly) transferring the pictures (this was before USB). This camera was stolen in Brazil in 2002 when the entire bus I was travelling in with everyone in it was kidnapped and held hostage by criminals for almost 3h (thankfully no one got hurt).

Mini DV Camera
Mini DV Camera

Not accounting for the many consumer photo/video cameras I had along the years, there have been those I bought specifically to record activities such as car trips and bike rides.

Keyring Camera
Keyring Camera

Years ago I bought a very cheap Mini DV camera such as this one. Few months later I bought a keyring camera like this. Their size was ideal, but they all had big drawbacks such as low image resolution and short battery life.

SJ1000 Action Camera
SJ1000 Action Camera

I later bought a SJ1000 which I have used to record bike rides until the Sony arrived and still use as a car trip recorder. I also had a Kodak ZX1 for a while, but that was quite disappointing. Given this is old stuff I´ll refrain from writing more about them, but you have the links, if interested, and you will still find them on sale.

Although a geek, I´ve been a rather “economic” one, never allowing myself to spend a lot of money on this “addiction” because of the other priorities of life (such as the kids´ University fund). The Sony HDR-AS30V was my first entry into a more sophisticated category of device.

Even though, at the time of purchase, the AS30V was not the entry level, it was also not the top Sony product in this category. Sony had already released the AS100V as their top of the range product. I did consider a GoPro, but their prices, even for the entry level version, were still a bit more than I was willing to pay at the time and, perhaps because of the way I am, I felt a bit annoyed with the “GoPRO Cult” many owners appear to belong to.

To start with, I do not recommend the Sony camera, even though there are many things I like about it. It may sound conflicting with what I wrote above, but for the price of this camera I´d recommend you actually spend a bit more and go for a GoPro or spend less and go for one of the Chinese made SJ series (with reservations given the lack of image stabilization).

Thumbs-Up IconThings I like about this camera:

    1. The picture and sound quality are truly exceptional. I did quite a lot of comparing with the likes of GoPROs, the Garmin Virb and some cheaper Chinese clones and I believe it’s in a pair with the GoPRO (perhaps better) and beats the VIRB hands-down when it comes to picture quality.
    2. The Image stabilization in video recording is great. It manages to eliminate most shaking even in very rough and uneven surfaces.
    3. Who said TV killed the Radio Star? It has a lot of radios built in… GPS, WiFi and NFC. WiFi for live video streaming to a smartphone and NFC for quick connection with the phone (which would be good if it worked well, but I don´t know if the problem is in the camera or in my phone, so giving it the benefit of the doubt).
    4. It has the ability to shoot stills at 11.9 MP (real pixel density, not interpolated), although the max resolution of time-lapsed pictures appears to be 1080p max.
    5. It has an external MIC connector
    6. It has several options of recording modes, even though I only ever used one.
    7. It comes with a 5m waterproof casing which is more than enough for my bike rides and surprisingly lets a reasonable amount of sound get through, not that this wold be a major advantage when is raining anyway.
    8. It can record while charging (although there appear to be some limitations, read below)
    9. Easy to use interface (buttons, menu layout, etc)
    10. Sufficient display for config and settings.
    11. Reasonable battery life for this type of device.
    12. It is not limited to 32GB MicroSD cards (with other limitations, see below)
    13. Built quality of the device is very good… the Sony brand is very reliable in this category.

thumbs-down-36-000000Things I don´t like:

    1. First and foremost, the provided PC software is awful. Yes, it has a few interesting features,butonmyDellXPS 15 with Windows 8.1 it crashes all the time. So let me write a few more bullet points about the things I don´t like in the software…
      • It wants to organize your life for you. I like to be in charge and do certain things manually. Goes away and starts scanning everything every time it loads (there might be those that may like this, I don´t)
      • It can only use GPS information for videos, not stills. It can produce videos with map overlays and other trip information such as speed, distance, etc. Example below:

        These are not very precise though. A positive here though (sorry to be mixed with the negatives) is that the software is also able to produce PiP videos where, for example, the Sony Camera records a forward facing video and another camera records a backwards facing video. You can then have the backwards video in a the corner of your forwarding facing one (never tested this though).
      • Even though the camera can take photos at time intervals, the software does not have the option to produce time-lapsed videos with them.
      • If the card is full, when connected to the PC it takes ages (really… something like 10 min) for the software to show the pictures in its interface. Something is not right here, as when I connect the camera, I can open the card as a storage device in windows and am able to see the pictures immediately.
      • The transfer of the files from the camera to the PC is not as fast as it could be.
      • When transferring the files to the PC, the folder creation process uses a dd-mm-yyyy format, which might be OK for most, but I would rather prefer yyyy-mm-dd for easiness of sorting and I could not find a place to configure this in the software. It appears to pick the folder format from the configured Windows taskbar date format. I changed the taskbar Clock format to show the day of the week and it started to produce folders with the day of the week as well.
      • Video editing is very limited and not very intuitive. Of course, Sony wants you to buy Sony Vegas, or Movie Studio or some other PRO video editing suite. Greedy bastards.
      • My Dell XPS 15 has a Ultra high 4K resolution display. The software can´t handle this screen size very well and absolutely doesn´t know how to handle screens with different DPI scales (not only a problem for this software though). For example, interface text gets so small it´s unreadble and if I am using the notebook screen I have to guess while typing a title as the interface is all messed up in that field.
    2. Things I don´t like in the camera itself…
      • Minimum interval for time-lapse pictures is 5 seconds. Too long in my opinion. Ideal would be if 1 and 3 seconds options existed also, which the hardware could check against the speed of the card inserted in the camera (I have a fast 64GB Samsung EVO card). It can also only shoot pictures at 1080p, which is sufficient for Full-HD time-lapse videos, but not enough to use as stills.
      • The camera does not give write access to the card when connected. This means you can´t delete files in the card, so you cannot free space deleting the pictures or videos you don´t like without taking the card out of the camera. You have to transfer all the files (even those you don´t want) and format the card to free space. I´ve heard the GoPro has the same limitation apparently (?).
      • NFC doesn´t work properly with my phone: I have a HTC One M8 phone with NFC and it rarely works for quick connection with the camera. Tried touching the phone to the NFC point in the camera in many spots and angles. Quicker to connect manually.
      • The WiFi connection is not stable. Disconnects often over time, even though I only use it to adjust the camera position. I have also purchased a DSC QX-10 camera that has the same (and perhaps even worse) problem.
      • The camera design: Its round on the bottom. It won´t stay upright without the waterproof casing. This is weakness that Sony has apparently recognized and fixed in later models.
    3. Even more things I don´t like about Sony…
      • Although they answer reasonably quickly, Sony´s support is awful. They don´t know their own products very well and contacting them is generally a waste of time, unless you have hardware issues under warranty.
      • Sony´s overall post-sales attitude: They sent me an email asking to provide feedback. I provided respectful feedback (such as this one) and they said my feedback wasn´t acceptable and invited me to re-write it. I didn´t, because I didn´t want to spend another 20 min writing the same things to get rejected again, but I wouldn´t have included it here as a negative if they were receptive to negative feedback. Organizations should not ask for feedback if all they want to hear from their customers is the stuff that helps them sell more. It´s just unfair to those that have given their time to them and perhaps made them aware of things they could improve upon.

Now, a few practical things I found out about this camera while using it that I did not see in Techmoan’s review or anywhere else.

  • Number of files apparently limited to 40,000: While I was riding my bike from Santiago de Compostela to Finisterre the camera beeped and I could see it had stopped taking time-lapsed pictures. I stopped the bike to look what was going on and the display was showing “Max”. I immediately related that to storage space and started to curse Sony, because the 64 GB MicroSD card only half full. So I replaced the card in the camera with a 32 GB card and everything started working again. Only later I realised the “Max” message was not related to the amount of storage being used in the card, but the number of files. Because I was taking time-lapsed pictures with 5 seconds intervals that meant that, by the end of the day, the camera had taken between 2,000 and 4,000 pictures, or in other words, JPG files. When the number of files in the camera reached 40,000 the camera stopped working. While this doesn´t comply with FAT16 (you can have more than 65K files in each folder, except the root) it´s the best explanation I can provide as recording video the camera does fill the 64GB storage space of the card, but obviously with less files. So, if you are planning long periods taking time-lapse pictures keep this in mind.
  • Sony Skeleton Frame for the HDR-ASxxx Cameras
    Sony Skeleton Frame for the HDR-ASxxx Cameras

    Little issues with bottom cap/lid: Another thing is the hinge that secures the bottom cap or lid in the camera tends to bent and break. Most of the time I use an accessory called “Skeleton Frame” (which was also included in Techmoan´s video review above). It´s a bit of an ugly and odd thing, but is the only mount that provides access to the bottom connectors, such as the USB and MIC. So while in the skeleton case the camera can continue to be charged while recording (for obvious reasons the waterproof case does not have any holes). With the constant opening and closing of the cap/lid to attach the USB charging cable the hinge on my camera is at the point of rupture now.

  • Foggy/misty lens: Now, this one I saw in Techmoan´s review to be honest, but also experienced it myself. In cold days condensation starts to build inside the waterproof camera case, because the camera, while recording, warms up and the exterior of the case is very cold. This tends to fog the lens from the inside. It seems Sony knew very well of this issue, but instead of “out-engineering” it so that it didn´t become an issue, they apparently saw the opportunity to sell little sachets of “anti-fog” materials that magically fit in a space right underneath the camera within the case. Greedy bastards, huh?
  • The camera can record while charging, but that depends on the charger´s power. If you plug the camera in a charger port that provides less the 1A of charging current the camera appears simply to ignore the charger and use battery power instead. Luckily the “PowerBar” (external battery) I use while riding has a 1.3A port and even a 2.1A port which provide more sufficient power for camera operation and charging.

Well, I think this is all I have to say about the Sony Action Camera

SJ M10 Action Camera
SJ M10 Action Camera

Few weeks before I left to Saint Jean Pied de Port for my pilgrimage, I bought also a SJ M10 based on the review I saw in Techmoan´s site. One of my latest videos, riding a recumbent bike, was filmed with this little camera. It doesn´t have WiFi or any of the fancy radios that the Sony does, but it does a brilliant job at its core which is recording videos. There is, however, no image stabilization on video recording which is a shame. You do get quite shaky videos with this camera if mounted on a handlebar, for example. Keep also in mind, this camera cannot handle MicroSD card sizes bigger than 32GB. It suffers from a few of the same issues I highlighted in the Sony such as the min interval for time-lapse photos is also 5 seconds, for example.

Despite these shortcomings, I really like this camera and it costs less than 1/2 of what I paid for the Sony (in promotional price), is very compact, comes with a lot of different cases and does a brilliant job in my opinion.

On the bright side it has a small 1.5″ display in the back to help frame the picture. If you are on a budget, but still want a good action cam that you can also use as a trip recorder in your car I totally recommend this one.

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