Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ibike Dash Deluxe

What you get in the mail. Small box shipped fast...1 typo (proofread guys!) on the box.
Case. Rebranded HRM belt, cadence/speed sensor (Ant+). Digital camera battery and generic wall charger.

The basic case for Ibike Dash. Hard plastic and a very thin screen cover. Do not push on it w/o the phone in there. It feels like it will tear or push out of the case. I don't know if this was necessary or just cheaper but I was thinking it might be thicker plastic or glass like the digitizer on the phone. The red button on the bottom functions the home key on the phone. The clamping mechanism works fine but is not a supertight clamp, just enough to close it up. I'm sure it's weather resistant but not water proof. No outlet for headphone jack or mic so it can't be used as an ipod or phone w/o a bluetooth headset. The case does have the air inlet on the bottom like the power meter version, I assume it's just the same case with less electronics (obviously).Quality control? Ehh...same as with my overpriced Litespeed Archon C1. Right out of the box it has scratches on the case...The guts. Basically, the Ibike Dash is a hard plastic, weather resistant case with an Ant+ receiver module built in and an extra battery port wired to the connector. Nothing really super hi-tech but a good design. Long term I just can't see this design staying current, too big really and price point is high. For now, it's a good start for version 1.
Iphone slides in the top, snug fit but not overly tight. A little snug to get out (nothing to hang onto on the phone so you got to jiggle it a little).
Clarity is very good. This is with brightness just at factory 1/2 way. Turned up it's more than clear enough in daylight.
Pairing the Ant+ devices is extremely simple although I had to do it a couple of times to get the HRM strap registered (a little glob of spit did the trick as usual). It picked up my wireless SRM, Ibikes cadence/speed sensor and HRM in short order. No issues here, just remember to hit the button on the screen to begin the setup.
Nice top cap mount with extra long bolt. Didn't weigh it but it's aluminum and the bolt is 6gm. The access hole is on top through the slide mount to tighten the cap bolt. The computer fixing bolt is spring loaded so you have to push it up to screw it in the case, it's attached to the mount so you won't lose it. This might be an issue for me since the Dash sits pretty far back on the stem b/c of the length of the case. I thought my Garmin was big when I first got it but it's dwarfed by this monster.
Total weight with iphone, 228 gm.

Conclusion: First step in the right direction. I chose this over the new Garmin Edge 800, I have an Edge 705 now. Why? Well, the new Garmin is a stop gap device, arguably so is this Ibike Dash. The difference for me is the ability to have 1 device. The iphone doesn't do anything remarkable well, but it does everything well enough. So when my kid got an iphone 4 I inherited his 3g phone with no speaker or power key. I fixed both of those and it made sense to me to get the dash. There are other models coming out with some clever alternatives to the ibike for instance a piggy back battery and slimline case. However, it has drawbacks, too, like a piggy back battery makes the profile substantially larger and the battery is proprietary I'm sure. These batteries are just digital camera batteries...$10 on ebay. Yes, you can bypass Ibike for them but why bother to begin with. It's not pretty but this is housing a small computer on a bicycle...for now, it's pretty enough.

In the future I believe this is how things will go. I expect a better alternative to be around for an Android based smaller phone and companies to design software/case adapter instead of a fully functioning head unit. Much easier to produce and cheaper, higher profit margin. Either way, it serves a purpose now and ibike made a good product. I'll use it until something neater pops up next year (I'm sure it will).