Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bia has Shipped!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for or asked to write this review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own. 
Production level Bia Arrived on 3/10
My production level Bia arrived last week.  I was lucky since it was in the initial 500 piece shipment.  Unfortunately it arrived the same day I came down the flu.  So it sat on the counter for almost a week with no action.  I did manage to charge it up, get it registered & do a fake workout.  Even though I just received my production level Bia I have actually been testing beta units for a few months now.  

I first learned about Bia late spring of 2012 via Swim Bike Mom.  When I learned more about Bia & the company I was really excited for them, so much so that I backed the Kickstarter project.  I even wrote a blog post about how excited I was back in June 2012.  

This company is tiny but they are mighty.  What they have accomplished in the last couple of years is truly amazing.   They have had an endless list of challenges that they have overcome.  Through the Kickstarter backer updates I believe they have been pretty transparent with the schedule delays, engineering issues overcome, hardware shortcomings & FW updates still to come.  Reading some comments on blogs, Kickstarter & Facebook there have been a few folks that were upset over these delays.   For me personally, I went into this knowing being a Kickstarter backer of a new to market product the risk was high that there would be delays, issues, etc.  

I forgot that I had the Go Stick engraved!
I am not going to go into a ton of details in this post.  Some much more popular bloggers have already written detailed Bia reviews.  DC Rainmaker wrote one back in January - read it HERE.   Just Keep Running wrote one last week - read it HERE.   I will share the key features that are important to me along with my pros & cons list.  

The biggest thing to realize about this watch is that it is 2 pieces, the Watch & the Go Stick (GS).  The Go Stick is where the GPS is located.  This is why the watch is so small & thin compared to other GPS watches.  I typically wear my GS on my waistband or in winter clipped to my jacket pocket.   Initially most folks think this will be a pain, myself included but the reality is once clipped I forget about it.  


  • Super quick GPS lock.  I plan to take and post a video of just how quick soon.  
    • During my beta testing I would wear both by Bia & my Garmin.  I would start my Bia & before I could get my Garmin started the Bia would already be ready.  
    • Once it comes to ready it stays ready.  This comes in handy when waiting for a race. 
  • Automatic upload to Bia website.  No more searching for my USB stick to upload my data from my Garmin.  
    • Also automatically updates to Strava once you have set it up to do so.   Bia plans to add the same function for Garmin Connect, RunKeeper, MapMyFitness & Training Peaks.
  • Over the air FW updates.  
    • This will come in very handy since they are still rolling out functions.
    • At the end of a workout the update is downloaded to the GS which in turns updates the watch.  
  • SOS Alert
    • Press & hold button for 3 seconds & it will send a text to pre-programmed cell number. 
    • With all the crazies out there this feature can give you a little peace of mind
  • Multisport
    • I can't swim with my current Garmin so I am looking forward to this function.  I can't comment how it works since it is not implemented yet.  
  • Band
    • I like the flexibility the band gives you.  There were several folks that complained that the velcro snagged their shirts but I have not had an issue with this to date.   
    • Bia is still planning on more improvements on the current band design & will be sending everyone new bands once available.  
  • No backlight
    • This is probably my biggest complaint.  I did the majority of my beta testing in the dark of winter & unless you are standing under a street lamp there is no seeing the display.  Bia knows this was a miss but couldn't do anything about it without another delay in their schedule.  
  • Display Readability During a Workout
    • Maybe it's because I am over 40 but I have a tough time reading this display during a run.  I can pretty easily read my Garmin during the run.  Some of this can be fixed in FW.  I am hopeful down the road that the end user will be able to customize the workout screens like Garmin.  That way you show only what you want & in the text size you want.   
  • Go Stick LED indications are hard to read outside
    • This is another HW limitation.  You will have to cup your hands to make sure the LED is flashing.  After a few months of beta testing I just shake it & assume it is working.  So far this has worked great.  

As a beta tester I saw the good & bad on this new product.  As an engineer in product development I thought it took a lot of guts to ship out development samples to perfect strangers.  With that said, I am looking forward to continue using this watch on a regular basis. 

You can read more & even order one for yourself HERE.

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