Thursday, June 19, 2014

Skechers GoBionic2 Review

Sorry for the long silence and the reason for that was the travelling and the mountain of work waiting as I came back to work on Monday this week. As some of you already know, the unboxing of the Skechers GoBionic2 was done last week when I was in Houston. Let's jump straight into the shoe's review. It will be a quick one, just like how the shoe made me run.
Houston, We have no problems.
Fitting : No socks and with sockliner
I took US11 for this version though I am ok with US10. Somehow, my feet has grown over the year and perhaps this could be attributed to a more free-fitting shoes that has my feet splayed upon landing. Wearing minimalist could had contributed to expanded feet, perhaps? Having said that, the sizing was great for me. The fitting was familiar when compared to GoBionic. The toe box was great allowing all digits to move freely. There was no immediate feel of any protrusion that may add to potential hotspot, but we will only know when we takes it for a run.
Immediately after checking into hotel. Lines from compression thigh still visible
The flexibility as provided by the 18-individual pods were great. Sole wise, there is no differences between the GoBionic and the GoBionic2. I've mentioned about this in the previous unboxing write up. The 4mm drop due to the sockliner did not bother me much. It did lend some additional cushioning and did not change much of the static feel.
Ready to pound Houston Pavement
As I've been running sockless due to necessity as it is tough to get affordable (read : cheap) socks and the extra laundry needed after every run. Also, i find wearing a socks lend me more blisters than not wearing one. If you love your socks with your shoes, do remember that this review revolves around no-socks scenario. If you wear socks, please do try the fit with the socks you will be using with the shoe as I've came across cases of others asking me why their feet felt numb after a while wearing "Brand X". Diving deeper, we concluded (including him/her using other socks or run sockless and loosen/tighten laces as appropriate) that it is bad fitting. 
Fast shoes
The review continue with me running the shoe in Houston Downtown area and into the Sam Houston Park, alongside the Buffalo Bayou Walk that has extensive running and cycling trails in excess of (imperial unit) 20miles in a loop. 
I maintain that the best way to see a country is by running.
What I was looking out for in particular with the GoBionic2 are:
- consistency with the responsiveness to GoBionic
- hotspot or friction points
- heat dissipation from new materials
- differences with support/glove-like feel of the shoe
Lift it up high, land under navel, kick back to butt, repeat.
Consistency with Responsiveness to GB
The shoe shares the same sole design and material. This one is hard to miss as the GB feel was there - which was why I love this model a lot. It is thin enough to run and responsive enough to provide feel upon landing and take off. Sufficiently padded for that minimalist feel, and yet cushy just about right as long you are not stomping your feet.
Discovery Green Park
Hotspot and/or friction points
Non was felt on the days i ran there (4-days). The insole being thicker than the original did provide a much better feel to the run. This is subjective and dependent on how much you sweat in the feet though. I've taken notice that someone that sweat a lot (and by that I meant drenching the shoe every run with sweat) may have more issue of blisters due to softer soaked/wet skin against shoe's material. However, this will be true for any shoes, not just GB2 specific.
Hot (35deg C), but lower humidity made it more bearable
Heat Dissipation from New material
I will not lie and tell you I felt no differences between the old and new material. The biggest differences is perhaps visual as the material inlay of the GB2 somewhat show a more "permeable" and "breathable" surface. Maybe I did not run fast enough to get or feel some wind in my feet. Or it could be me already accustomed to the wonderful materials of Skechers and it will be easier to spot a less breathable material. Do i make sense here?
The pavement were wide. You can run all over without worrying being ran down by car
Glove Like Feel? Support?
Despite being lightweight, GB2 offered adequate and sufficient support for the run. I do not feel the shoe moving sideway or being slipping to the front or back. It was snug and glove like without being restrictive. No complains here. This does felt very right - and compared to GB, a good improvement (as my GB is very very worn out already)
Midfoot landing and forefoot landing possible (if you trained for it)
Bottomline:
- lightweight. This pair is so light it will be silly to weigh it to verify.
- snug fitting.
- cooler newer upper design and material lend a more contemporary feel instead of the shoe looking "canvas-sy" when compared to GB.
See the running pose?
What could be better
- The sole is the same material and has the same pattern where the wear-pads are. Previous experience tells me that certain area around the midfoot-heel and the front foot outer toes will take more beating and wears out faster. Perhaps more resilient materials at those spots will combat the wear and tear better.
Goodnight Houston! (pic taken at 8.30pm..and it's still bright!)
Note: This pair of Skechers GoBionic2 is sponsored by Skechers Malaysia via collaboration with 2ndSkin Asia Athletes program. Thank you Skechers Malaysia and 2ndSkin! This pair of GoBionic2 is not available yet and the version you see is meant for seedling and feedback purposes. It is expected to retail for RM399 and is available at all Skechers store in October 2014. However, it will only be available for men at this point of time. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Skechers GoBionic2 Unboxing

About 18 months ago, I was given my first pair of Skechers shoe. It was the GoBionic that has opened up my thoughts on a shoe that I've often chided to be linked to a pop star. Fast forward to June 2014, I've been spoilt by the collaboration between 2ndSkin and Skechers and has on my end all the opportunity to test out new shoes, sometimes not even out in the market yet, and to provide feedback to Skechers Malaysia for potential improvement. I am still counting my blessing as I am writing this. Today, I am sharing with you seedling pair (aka not in mass production yet) of what will be known as GoBionic2.
Excited
GoBionic2 Unboxing
Here is a quick look of how GoBionic, the original first generation looked like.
Read the Skechers GoBionic Unboxing Here
And this is how the new GoBionic2 (GB2) looked like.
Completely different outlook
You would agree with me it was a complete makeover for the GB to be GB2. The differences were almost two different shoe at first glance. That is until you flip them over and it kept the same 18-individual pods that conform to your style of running.
18-pods
Other similarity are the sewn down tongue and the super light weight feel. Do bear in mind that this shoe I obtained is a seeding pair and not a production pair, meaning the finishing is not as nice and for sole purpose of testing.
Major Refresh
If you remember my review for GoRun3, the upper material known as Power-prene. The Synthetic lightweight material offers improved air-circulation and keeping the feet cooler. The flexibility allow the feet to splay upfront on landing offering the same feel and stability as GB.
The 4-way mesh continues to the side and to the rear similar as GR3 which offers better ventilation with added flexibility and control. It is amazing what this rather flimsy-light shoe can do. Those wearing the GB will know what I meant.
The tongue is now slightly more padded (anything from not padded to something is padded) and I love the new feel that you do not feel the laces that much when strapping up. It also allow a bit more tightening for more secured fit. The lace runs asymmetrical, meaning it is slanted and this correspond well with how our legs are shaped.
The heel cup has a bit more structure where it is not as soft like GB. Pros and Cons for this and we will find out when I take the shoe out for a run or two. But I will concentrate on the unboxing experience first.The last changes from the original is at the insole. Previous GB insert is light and thin, adding nothing more than just a "paper" like insole that serves it's purpose. The new one is thicker, and transform the shoe from Zero Drop to 4mm drop just by putting in the insole. I say this is awesome as we will have the ability to customise the feel - and that was what Skechers wanted from the Go-series Performance shoe : something for everyone.
Sole - from 0mm drop to 4mm drop
Weight wise, the already light GB2 claimed to be slightly heavier when compared to the GB. For me, a light shoe with a bit of "fat" is still a light shoe. Impartial to it as what is more important is how it feel on the run. That will be something I will cover in the next review entry.

Technical Specs :

Details:

  • GObionic Engineering: 18 bio-responsive zones on outsole
  • Zones are fully articulated to move with your foot for a more natural feeling
  • Resalyte™ Cushioning: 10mm of Resalyte™ absorbs impact and offers comfort
  • Engineered to promote a midfoot strike
  • Zero drop heel design
  • Power-Prene on upper provides breathability while maintaining structural flexibility
  • Thicker insole than original Skechers GObionic for added support and stability
  • Optional Custom-Fit insoles adds even more support and cushioning
  • Weight: 6.5 oz. per shoe in a men's size 9
Add caption
Construction:
  • Ultra lightweight mesh and synthetic upper
  • 4-way stretch mesh panels
  • Reflective detail
  • Agion scent protection for barefoot comfort.
Add caption


Next : Running In Houston With GoBionic2

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Real Change for Girls and Women through Gucci’s CHIME FOR CHANGE Campaign 2014

GUCCI PARFUMS ANNOUNCES MINIMUM $1 MILLION COMMITMENT
THROUGH CONSUMER DONATION PROGRAM SUPPORTING EDUCATION, HEALTH AND JUSTICE

Gucci Parfums is proud to announce a minimum pledge of $1 million to support CHIME FOR CHANGE projects through the sales of five designated iconic Gucci fragrances. With a unique donation code in each product, consumers will be able to help improve the lives of girls and women by choosing to support projects promoting Education, Health or Justice.

Consumers may redeem their donation codes online, and share their involvement by spreading the message of the campaign.


Founded by Gucci in 2013, CHIME FOR CHANGE raises funds and awareness for girls’ and women’s rights globally. Co-founded by Gucci Creative Director Frida Giannini, actor Salma Hayek Pinault and singer Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, the campaign aims to unite the voices speaking out for girls and women around the world, promoting the key pillars of Education, Health and Justice. CHIME FOR CHANGE is powered by Catapult, the first crowd-funding site where people can make real change happen for girls and women. Catapult ensures transparency, accountability and measurable impact, by allowing the CHIME FOR CHANGE community to choose exactly where their donations go and to track the results of their contributions on www.chimeforchange.org.

Each consumer has the power to change lives. For example, one voucher code can provide:
- 2 days of education, daily nourishment and primary healthcare for a student in Kenya
- tetanus vaccines for two pregnant mothers and their unborn children in Cambodia
- a trained paralegal to woman denied legal rights in India to complete and process critical paperwork so she can obtain the title to her family land.

Joanne Crewes, President of P&G Prestige, producer of Gucci Parfums, and CHIME FOR CHANGE Advisory Board Member, teamed up with Giannini to create the Gucci Parfums donation program.  “We are so proud to participate in this life-changing program,” said Crewes. “It was important for Gucci Parfums to join forces together and support the CHIME FOR CHANGE movement. We are engaging consumers and lovers of Gucci fragrances to help us on our mission. When a consumer purchases a Gucci fragrance, she or he finds a unique code on the pack. That code is entered on www.chimeforchange.organd the purchaser can decide where the donation goes: Education, Health or Justice. Consumers can instantly share their contribution on social networks and follow the impact of the donation.”

“A focus on girls’ and women’s empowerment exists throughout Gucci’s DNA: from our parent company Kering, through our Executive Leadership and employees, to our customers and partner organizations. We are grateful that Gucci Parfums has joined the CHIME FOR CHANGE coalition in such an important way through this initiative,” said Frida Giannini, Creative Director of Gucci and Founder of CHIME FOR CHANGE.

Blake Lively
The faces of Gucci Parfums -- Blake Lively, Evan Rachel Wood, James Franco and Chris Evans -- join a long list of international celebrities personally supporting this project including, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Florence Welch and John Legend.
Actor Blake Lively, the face of Gucci Première, says, “I am very excited that Gucci is giving back, not only through CHIME FOR CHANGE, but also through Gucci Première. I want to get involved in causes I believe in, and I know so many others that want to also get involved, but it’s hard to know how. Often, it’s through big organizations and you don’t know exactly where your money is going or what effect you are having. With CHIME FOR CHANGE, you can really see the difference you’re making.”

Actor Evan Rachel Wood, the face of Gucci Guilty, says, “I think it’s great that CHIME FOR CHANGE and Gucci fragrances have teamed up. Obviously as a woman it’s a cause that hits very close to home. Not only women should support this, but everyone. I think part of the point of the campaign is to not treat people differently because they are a man or a woman, but to treat people like they are human beings and with equality. Everyone deserves the same kind of opportunities and treatment.”

To stay informed, visit www.chimeforchange.org and join our community on Facebook at www.facebook.com/chimeforchange



Participating Gucci fragrances:
Flora by Gucci: Inspired by Gucci’s iconic Flora pattern, created for Princess Grace of Monaco, Flora by Gucci is the scent of feminine glamour and sensual sophistication, and is rooted in an Italian olfactory world.
Gucci Guilty pour Femme and Gucci Guilty pour Homme: for the young, audacious and discerning iconoclast, Gucci Guilty suits a contemporary rebel – the very scent of defiance.
Gucci Première: celebrating the star in every woman, Gucci Première combines strength, power and presence with sensual femininity, because every woman deserves her red carpet moment.
Gucci Made To Measure: for a worldly, refined and astute man who appreciates the very best and whose consummate attention to detail and authority in matters of taste mark him out as a genuine, distinctive connoisseur.

The Line Up
Flora by Gucci EDT 75ml                                RM361
Gucci Guilty pour Femme EDT 50ml              RM270
Gucci Guilty pour Homme EDT 90ml             RM291
Gucci Première EDP 75ml                              RM455
Gucci Made To Measure EDT 90ml               RM305

You may purchase any one of the 5 designated Gucci fragrances with the participating code for CHIME FOR CHANGE from June 2014. 

Thursday, June 05, 2014

JVC In-Ear Sports Headphone Review

JVC Kenwood Malaysia recently passed me two sets of headphones for a quick review and to provide feedback as to how it would suit/perform under exercising or sports condition. As some of you know, I do not typically listen to music when I workout, except if it is in a controlled environment where I would not need to look out for traffic or be in the way of traffic. With the hours I've spent on the bike trainer (read : stationery) and the travelling I've been doing (read : gym or staircase at hotel), plus the endless lapping of the pool (25m pool can be a pain when you want to clock in 2000m of swim).
Music, it is a good distraction for those longer than usual hours on something stationery. 
The JVC HA-EBX5-V
I was given this set primary because it is splash proof. Meaning it can withstand water splashes. In laymen term - sweat. 
In nice Violet color
Unboxing
The unit write up came as per below. Straight forward and it's selling points are the sweat-proof and the color coordination with iPod Nano 6th Generation (6G). We all know how basic those iPod headphones were and having them color coordinated may just add a touch of customisation for those that feel it is important enough to do so.
  • Splash-proof - ideal for exercise and fitness activities
  • Secure-fit in-ear canal headphones with soft rubber ear clip and cushion
  • Colour coordination with iPod nano 6G
  • Powerful 11mm Neodymium driver unit
  • Comfortable fit with 3 sizes of silicone earpieces
  • 1.2m colour cord with gold-plated iPhone-compatible slim plug
The unit came in a nice blister pack that are compact and to the point. The back portion of the packing provide all you need to know info such as the frequency response, length of the cable and the sensitivity of the unit. 
All you want and need to know
The unit is a basic earphone with ear-loops that secure behind your ears. Being the "in-ear" type, this meant it is able to fits in nicely with the appropriate sized plugs to ensure good sealing of the unit against the ear canal. There are obvious reasons for this and this help to block out the ambient noise out there so you get to enjoy your music or podcast (as some actually listen to podcast) while exercising in controlled environment.
Bright Violet
Upon removing of the blister pack and pulling it out, you will see the cable tucked in. Unfortunately, this unit does not come with a pouch to hold/store it. Would be a big win if JVC does it. If not a pouch, a cable organiser would be good too. 
Straight forward
Priced at RM99.90 at retail outlet (electronic and electrical stores) and Radio Shack (Malaysia), it is priced just right among the other competitor that offers the same features of being sweat proof. I bought a pair of Sony sports earphone back in the 2006 period and it cost me RM149.90 back then. At this price, almost 8 years later, I would say this JVC is a bargain.
Gold plated
The Jack is a standard 3.5mm dia attachment made "slim" and instead of having a right-angle aka bended jack, it is a straight out configuration and the theme to suit iDevices continue with it being slimmer than usual. No bulk there and I reckon it will fit in nicely with the iDevices I have.
Great finishing
Despite the pricing, the build quality is solid with the driver unit made of quality plastic with shiny surface. The "medium" fitting ear-bud came fitted and out of the box. One of my experience using earphone with loop is how uncomfy it can become if the unit bites behind your ear. So, I could not resist the urge to bend or pull the unit as far as I could to see how flexible and soft it is. I was not disappointed.
I did tell JVC Kenwood Malaysia I will torture the unit didn't I?
I let it go and it retained it's shape back again. There will be instances where this unit may be placed inside a bag and you may just tugged it a bit harder to get it out. Knowing that the unit is flexible sort of gives you the comfort that you will not damage it sooner than expected.
Back to original shape
A closer look into the driver unit revealed a mesh like cover at the earbud section. Logic tells me that while the unit is splash proof, do not ever immerse this unit in water as that would meant end-of-life (EOL) of this headphone. Splash meant you can get it wet, not get it soaked in water (tested soaked in sweat was ok though)
Soft ear-bud
Here is the other two pair of earbud for bigger ear-holed person and tighter fit need. No pun intended.
I am medium. You?
I will review the unit based on practicality first then reproduction quality. After all, this unit is meant to rough it out with you on the treadmill, a run in a park or on the bike trainer. 
In Use : Fitting
Straight forward and the unit is side specific (photo above). It is hard to get it wrong unless you are not sure L is Left and R is Right. Anyway, the unit only fits in one way/ear, you won't get it wrong.
right side, from front
Left side, from rear
I used this unit for my 2-hours bike (on trainer) under the sun last weekend. All part of the plan to get acclimatised to the Malaysian hot weather. I paired the unit up with the Audioflood iPod Shuffle. Instead of using the waterproof earphone that comes with it, i used it with the JVC unit. I must say the Red-Violet combi works pretty well.
Tadaa!
As you can see, the 1.2m cable is pretty long. I clipped the unit on my cycling shorts and adjusted the unit cable length accordingly. There is the cable restrictor that slide up and down to secure the unit under the chin for less movement. That worked super fine for me too.
With the cable managed well (I was topless, so the cable were exposed to both heat and sweat), the cycling of 2-hours passed pretty fast with my selection of "angry song" from Metallica and slower jazz from Keiko Lee worked really well. Consider that each genre offer me different intensity of workout.
And by that, it meant there were standing attack with head swaying - and the unit stayed snug. I did not adjust it once after I put it on. It was that secured.
Immediately after the bike ride, I went for a run with the unit in my ear and no music. Doing this just for the review to get a feel of the unit while i paced through 5km at sub5:00 pace. The cable were in my running T and the jack was tucked into the garter of my shorts. Again, a bit of cable management by putting in additional length into the shorts and the unit secured under my chin and ears again. Same verdict. Unit stayed snug and secured. No adjustment needed. Sound blocking was alright as I can still hear motorbike or car creeping up from behind while running within my housing blocks.
In Use : Sound Reproduction
I would be lying if I say the unit produces near audiophile sound. Truth is, the unit performed as it should as an earphone. Bear in mind that reproduction of music or sound greatly depends on the player too, in this case the iPod Shuffle. However, listening to mix of genre, I can say the bass and trebles were there. The sealing of the ear-bud in the ear-canal was good, which minimises outside noise creeping in. That does help with the earphone delivering the lower frequencies. Hotel California sounded about the same as me listening in my standard car CD player. The percussion and the guitar strums were heard as it should, where it should. Keiko Lee's strong deep voice in minus-one radiates through. UB40's cymbal and reggae smooth made the Red Red Wine sweeter. I am happy with the unit performing as it should.
Pros
- lightweight and comfortable. I can wear this for hours without the ear feeling restricted
- bright cheerful color, available in pink, blue, silver and violet
- may not sound impressive, but having a 11mm neodymium driver commensurate the pricing
- affordable : RM99.90 is reasonable. Fake headphones of a popular brand cost more than this, and may not perform.
Cons
- Cable a bit too long. 100cm may be more than sufficient
- wish there was a clip to hold the cable mid-way. It can secure better on t-shirts
- a pouch or a cable organiser would be great!

Next : The other earphones with remote, to be reviewed. Splash proof and more executive looking!

Note: This pair of JVC Earphone is courtesy of JVC Kenwood Malaysia as part of product testing. Retailing at RM99.90 at major electrical and electronic stores, and at Radio Shack Malaysia. Opinion set forth in this write up is not influenced by JVC Kenwood and remain as my personal review opinions only. 

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Skechers GoRunUltra NiteOwl Edition Unboxing

Skechers GoRunUltra has been in store for the past few months and I've used it past 250km to date specifically just for trail running and shorter run on the tarmac. If you missed the review and unboxing of this model, head over to these links:
Skechers GoRunUltra [Unboxing][Review 1][Review 2]
My last use of the shoe was at Sabah Adventure Challenge 2014 where it clocked no less than 80km over 3-days back to back. Cycled through a full dry-wet-dry condition over different type of terrain and soil condition. While clearly worn off at the sole, the shoe is still serving me for my runs in the trails and road. 
part of product testing (and torturing)
Then there were talk about "If The Trail Shoes comes with NiteOwl version". Imagine the shoe glowing in the trail or the darker/shadier part of the trail. It would be cool, isn't it?
And It Happened
I received a message last week asking me to head over to the HQ as there is a new stock of shoes arriving and the NiteOwl now comes in GoRunUltra and GoRunRide3 variant. Instantly, I could not resist to request for the GRU Niteowl. 
Hoot!
As it turned out, the new Niteowl now comes in different (color) glow. It was previously blue as seen on the GoRunRide2. Now, the additional would be Green and Fuchsia (pink). Ready for the Green RunUltra?
A Quick Unboxing
I was too excited that the GRU Niteowl came right out of the box the moment I got home. On the first impression, you will not noticed anything different compared to the existing GRU.
Glow, in capital E(xcitement)
That is until you take a longer look and realised that the shoe's material has been changed at most parts except the dual-density sole. Starting with the top layer of the new GoRunUltra, the material appears to be thinner and more cloth-like, lending even more flexibility. I am awaiting confirmation from Skechers on what they are naming this material.
The GoRunUltra NiteOwl
The 4-way mesh of GoRunUltra
 The side synthetic mesh and overlay too, received a refresh of new material.
More mesh-like to promote air circulation?
Original GRU with the closer mesh-like material
Essentially, there was the only differences (not counting one GLOW in the dark). The sole is the dual-density material that offer both stability and support. The Rigid Resagrip offers the stability while the softer midsole layer offers support. The design of the GoImpulse sensor or pods were the exact same. Other features of the shoes between the non-NiteOwl version and this is the same. M-Strike and integrated sewn down tongue just to name two obvious same.
Old (left) and New (Right)
One of the key issue is that the GRU pods doesn't seems to last too long. The wear and tear looked extreme when compared to the other model. I am not entirely sure if this is true or otherwise but I did noticed the differences especially the forefoot area. I have clocked about 250km on the older (red) GRU.
See the wear in the old shoe?
The grip or traction in the trails, however were the same as day 1 if you ask me. Seems the function of the pod to grip/provide traction did not diminish despite the seems like high wear rates. Perhaps there are material refresh for the GRU NiteOwl, and I can only tell once I put the shoe through the usual running route and abuse. 
A 360 view of the GRU NiteOwl
The GRU NiteOwl has Glow in dark material at the appropriate places such as the front, side, the back (heel cup) and the tongue. Reflective material was placed in the same location as the original.
Charging it under the sun
view from 7'oclock position
Back of Heel. The "Nite Owl" is reflective
The Tongue
The Glow
Ready? The photos will speak for itself. This was taken inside the home's slightly darker corner in mid afternoon, after leaving the shoe under the sun for about 2-hours. Photo as it is taken using my hand phone at approximate ISO1600 and 1/14s exposure.





Next: 
To be tested side by side in a run, soon?
Note: This pair of Skechers GoRunUltra in NiteOwl variation is sponsored by Skechers Malaysia via collaboration with 2ndSkin Asia Athletes program. Thank you Skechers Malaysia and 2ndSkin! This pair is retails for RM449(men) and RM429 (women) in Peninsular Malaysia and will be available in all stores this week. Opinion in this write up is my own and not influenced by Skechers Malaysia or 2ndSkin program.
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