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Product Review: SpeedCoach™ XL3

This week I had the opportunity to demo a SpeedCoach™ XL3, from Nielsen-Kellerman.

Although not a new product (the SpeedCoach™ having been around for several years) this was my first time to really get an XL into my hands and do some testing. The XL is basically a SpeedCoach™ on steroids that allows you to read the display of a coxswain’s SpeedCoach™. The XL allows a unit in a shell to wirelessly connect with a unit in a coach’s launch, giving real time performance data.

What I Like

I have to state right up front, I really liked this product (And NO, there are no affiliate links in this review). I liked the feel of it, the display, and the data I can get from it. It has a nice carrying case, seems very durable. It has a workable distance of about 1000 meters when you have a clear line of site to the other unit (you need two units, one in the launch, one in the shell). If you are already using a SpeedCoach™ your current wiring will work with the XL.

I really liked the ability it gave me to do something that I have not been able to do well so far, and that is—to know what is going on (with the speeds) exactly when it is going on. In essence, real-time crew performance. And using the software allows you to dissect the information many different ways.

The video below gives more details about what I liked, but suffice it to say that that one thing, to know the speeds immediately in the launch (and you can read up to 8 boats) is a fantastic advantage when trying to get boats to go fast.

What I Didn’t Like

There were a few things about the SpeedCoach™ XL3 that could be improved. First, the connection to a computer is a rather dated. You have to purchase a separate harness to connect (about $70.00) and it includes a serial to USB connector. Serial ports have not been used for a while so this step is a little cumbersome.

Second, although I do like the feel, the antenna seems to be a risk of being damaged (especially with a rower’s coordination). The antenna can be removed quickly, and is not intrusive when attached, but I still worried about it being damaged.

Screen shot of XL software

Third, Mac software please. It is possible to convert to Mac from the Windows software, but that is a hassle. The software in the Windows version did work fine and was not a hardship to use. Hopefully in the future there will be a Mac version.

01-07-13 - XL software.jpg

MaxRigging Buying Advice

If you are searching for the Holy Grail of speed, then this product may well be something that you want to start using. But just be aware that the price is not cheap. You will have to purchase two units, one for the shell and one for the launch. At $499.00 each that is steep. Yet, if you plan on using it extensively the price per practice goes way down. I guess my best statement about this product is after we return the demo unit, I will be buying one as soon as we have the funds. You might want to consider it also.