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CatEye's Padrone Smart Computer may have the easiest installation process of any cycling computer that we've come across. There are two steps: mount the head unit to your bar or stem and download the CatEye Cycling app with your iPhone or Android device. Done. There aren't any sensors or wires to position just so, and there's no risk of knocking the damned things out of alignment and having your display go dead mid-ride. True to its name, the Padrone Smart's ease of installation and immediate boost to metric gathering make it one of the fastest ways to start training smarter.
The Padrone Smart is based on the premise that most of us are smartphone users and smartphone users take their phones on rides. Since smartphones are, essentially, mobile GPS devices, the CatEye Cycling app uses them as antennae, using GPS to calculate all the usual ride metrics like speed, time, altitude, and the like. These metrics — along with call, text, and e-mail alerts — are displayed on the Padrone Smart's generous screen when it's in Mirror Mode, even when your phone is saving juice in sleep mode.
If you want to run the Padrone Smart as a phone-free unit, it also syncs with Bluetooth-compatible speed/cadence sensors, heart rate monitors, and power meters in the head unit's Sensor Direct Mode. Of course, these are all sold separately, and we'd recommend checking out the Padrone Smart Computer Double or Triple Bundles to ensure compatibility. Regardless of how you collect it, the compiled data can be uploaded post-ride to CatEyeAtlas, Strava, or TrainingPeaks to analyze, parse, and compare with cyclists in your network.
Despite the Padrone Smart's increased functionality, the expanded scope of information is still laid out across CatEye's generous, oversized Padrone screen. The display is large and clear enough that the information on it is readily digestible at a glance — no fishing through tiny print and across cryptic icons for your heart rate during tricky descents when you're trying to bridge the gap during a nervous finale with the race on the line.
- Item #CAT000Y
- Q & A
Decent, But Not What I Was Hoping For
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
First, I'll mention that I thought this came with the wireless sensor included. That was my mistake, I should have read the description more carefully.
I like the idea of being able to connect your phone to the computer to get the added bonus of GPS tracking. However, as we all know, that can really drain your phone battery. And without your phone or the sensor, this unit cannot record your movements (the double bundle does include that sensor for a hefty price increase).
On to the actual review of the product. I must say, the setup directions are not very intuitive. The process turns out to be very simple, it's just not communicated in an effective way. Once you've got it linked up with your phone (via the Cateye mobile app), using the computer is extremely easy. Flipping through the various display modes is very easy, even while on the move. The display is nice and large so it's easy to read as well.
As far as accuracy, overall it seems pretty good, but on an instantaneous level, it's not great. Sometimes when you're moving slowly or stopped, the speed readings are definitely off a bit. It does make me wonder how accurate any of the instantaneous readings are.
The app does make it very easy to get a comprehensive view of your ride, as well as upload that to various social sites if you're into that.
Overall, I think this type of smartphone-only computer is good for a select type of customer. If that person is you, I would definitely recommend it. If not, I'd try something else.