Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Skipping straight to the Kangaroo TV stand - Getting the most out of a weekend at the Spa-Francorchamps track

Published by Lukeh

Having the experience of going to the Belgian GP provided many a first for myself. It was my first Grand Prix experience in general, and what a weekend to have that on as Rubens Barrichello celebrated his 300th race whilst we were all treated to a magnificent race. It was my first chance to see the current batch of up to date cars in person, racing by and racing against each other. It was my first trip to Belgium as well, but in context of this entry, it was my first experience of using Kangaroo TV to enhance my weekend, watching the sport I love.

It was meant to capture Rubens. ROSBERG!!
Credit: Lukeh

It seems only fair to explain what Kangaroo TV is in case people reading this are not in the know as to how magically useful this little device can be. KTV is basically a small handheld TV that is rented out at race weekends or even just a single day if wanted, and in this little device a whole world of options comes to life. It provides the ability to watch the FOM feed with local commentary or Radio 5 Live (the wonderful David Croft and Anthony Davidson, of course), whilst also including live timing, individual driver tracking, radio feeds and a large amount of onboard choices for individual drivers. If you love the technological side of Formula 1 in terms of being given the opportunity to watch a race how you want to watch it, then Kangaroo TV would be your perfect companion.

One of the things I love about watching Formula 1 at home is the fact you get commentary guiding you along 40, 50, 60 or more laps of Formula 1, to inform or educate, to explain or decide. Now we could all get argumentative on modern Formula 1 commentary around the world and the options we get - some countries have bias and favouritism throughout, others have commentators who don't seem to know what's what. Nevertheless, to some, commentary can be a blessing as can the modern choice of how you watch the race. Of course, going to a Grand Prix itself means you won't get to hear commentary and some would say this is a good thing but this is one of many reasons why I feel Kangaroo TV is an excellent purchase for any race-goer at a weekend of Formula 1 action.

Myself and Pat become boys with new toys upon purchase...
Credit: Gavin Brown/Rubbergoat

There are plenty of reasons though why Kangaroo TV was such a useful rental purchase for the weekend of Spa. of course, the attraction of being provided the fantastic commentary of our favourite vocal twosome is a huge benefit but the amount of choice on offer for the viewer I found quite staggeringly useful. One of my particular highlights was the option to single out an individual driver and keep track of them as 'a favourite driver'. This worked particularly well with qualifying and practice, as it constantly provided feedback as to position rises and position drops for my chosen driver not to mention other little bits. In the race, not so much. In fact, I fear I may have been a jinx. You see, predictably I chose Rubens Barrichello as my driver... and he retired on the opening lap or so.

This led to me thinking - "OK, fair enough, this kind of stuff happens, I'll change it to Jenson!" - yeah, he didn't last long either. Damn! By this point I got the idea and changed it to Michael Schumacher with a devilish smile prominent in my thoughts but again this backfired, as it kept telling me how well he was doing instead of my hopeful jinx effect. Joking aside though, having the option to single out someone really came across as useful to me, especially in one of the practice sessions where Lou wanted updates on Jenson Button whilst she was photographing, and this option allowed me to feed information as well as the next discussion point - onboard feeds.

Now we all love onboard cameras in Formula 1, right? I've always found them real fun to watch especially in fast and crazy moments and quite fascinating at the same time to see a driver controlling their monster of a car whilst navigating those quite absurd steering wheels they have now. Kangaroo TV provided the opportunity to choose through several onboard cameras in all sessions and I go back to my previous point with Lou in addressing how useful it was keeping track of a single driver or even picking one driver whilst having another one singled out with the favourite driver option. Having the choice of multiple feeds and not depending on a single onboard feed that simply goes between random cars at random intervals felt much more personal to me and, when watching the race on the big screen opposite our grandstand, allowed the opportunity to study a driver when the FOM coverage wasn't paying much attention to them.

It also came of great use in the fact that the device provided feeds, information and data from all sessions. By all sessions I don't just mean Formula 1 sessions but also the GP2, GP3, Formula BMW and Porsche Supercup events that were also being staged across the weekend. Now my knowledge of these series' is about as varied as the Brawn GP livery but I still remained quite interested in seeing these series' racing around the circuit. We even recognised a few names in the junior Formulae too - at Goodwood Lou and myself met Formula BMW driver Jack Harvey whilst Lou was very much interested in keeping an eye on GP2 driver Sam Bird. How would we have known how well these guys would have done without Kangaroo TV? It wasn't a feature we were particularly looking for but my goodness it was a nice side attraction to have.

Kangaroo TV in all it's glory
Credit: Gavin Brown/Rubbergoat

As you can probably tell by this point I had rented out the Kangaroo TV device for the whole weekend, and this is my own personal negative point here because if I'm honest I don't think the pricing point was really where it should have been. Perhaps this is my own attitude of being a bit of a cheapskate, but the initial price was set at 85 Euros before being moved down to a slightly more acceptable 70 Euros - to convert this would be £59 GBP, $90 USD and if our beloved Burb is reading, 87.5 Munters. In retrospect the price doesn't seem that expensive when converted to a local currency but at the time I had set myself a budget of 150 Euros and nearly half of my holiday budget was being instantly taken away. Pre-ordering the device online saw the price drop dramatically to 50 Euros/£42 which is much, much better but at the time before going away this wasn't an option for me. I suppose it just bothered me at the time how much of my holiday money was going to this device.

Having the Kangaroo TV through the whole weekend was a huge, huge help though and it was an accessory I would personally recommend to all race goers if you feel left out away from having commentary or TV coverage. It must be stressed that going to a race is quite simply nothing like being at home watching a Grand Prix, and whilst the Kangaroo TV device is a useful side attraction, it by no means distracts you from the action in front of you at the circuit. Think of it as something on the side that keeps you updated, like a personal helper. The price is a factor if buying on a race weekend I feel but like I say, it's a must buy for the ultimate F1 fan who constantly wants to know what is going on as they experience the most spectacular sport in the world.

Apart from the fact the final thing I did with it was break it's flimsy aerial on Eau Rouge, I loved every second using Kangaroo TV. A new gadget is always fun to play with, and one that's based on F1, well that's just asking for a fun time. Gavin Brown from the comments also spent time using Kangaroo TV over the Spa weekend and to close off this post, I felt it'd be good to hear what he thought of the device.

I asked Lukeh if I could add my thoughts to his post because as I was travelling to Spa on a budget (more on that later), I did not want to purchase a KangarooTV as I thought it was very expensive. So I did what I did for Le Mans and took a radio with me, with the intention of watching the action in view of a big screen. The problem was that the circuit commentary was in a mixture of mostly Flemish and French with a little of 'Champagne' Bob Constanduros for the F1 sessions. Add to that the fact that there weren't too many big screens visible from GA areas and we have a very limited viewing experience.

So when Bassano kindly offered to lend me his for Sunday I jumped at the chance. And as Lukeh said, this is a brilliant little toy! I watched the race with Guille and Kathi from a balcony overlooking the F1 village (more on that later too) with the KTV perched on the ledge (it's the last pic, above). We were all very keen on keeping an eye on proceedings all through the day (support races and all), and we generally alternated between watching the action in front and on the KTV. Basically I felt like I watched the whole race and saw everything that happened - which is worth the money in itself.

My conclusion? KTV is a nice luxury at Le Mans but a necessity at an F1 race. Most of us said that we would have paid to have it just for the 5Live commentary, but with all the other amazing features it's the ideal companion for any F1 fan worried that by going to the race, they may miss out by not being able to see much if what happens during the weekend.

So my thanks for Lukeh for letting me add my thoughts, and to Bassano for being really kind by lending me his KangarooTV unit. Just shows the Five Pints of Awesomeness that the Sidepodcast community are!

Can't think of a better way to end this post than that really. Cheers Gavin!