First Look - NK CoxBox Core & GPS 2019


For over a year, NK Sports have been teasing us with a new CoxBox model. It’s finally here. The first CoxBox was  designed in 1978 by Paul Nielsen and Richard Kellerman, with later models being released in 1980 and 1988. The most memorable design, the CoxBox 4, was the first to introduce the rubber bumpers and a removable battery pack. This was released in 2008, while the most recent release was the CoxBox Mini in 2011. AllMarkOne has been given one of the first hands-on looks at the 2019 CoxBox, the fifth generation of cox boxes from NK, as well as the opportunity to test the units on the water at our own clubs. 
Officially released at the Head of the Charles Regatta in October 2018, the new CoxBox has been in official testing since last summer in Philadelphia and Florida. However, units have only just started arriving in the UK, notably for the Rowers Conference which took place at Eton Dorney last weekend.
As a first look at the new CoxBox, we asked for your questions on Instagram and Twitter.


What does it do differently to the last one?

Part 1 - Hardware

The new CoxBox is notably shorter than the 2008 model, coming in at 3.2" tall instead of 4". With a larger protrusion out of the cup to the previous models, the diameter of the device is close to identical to its predecessors, making it backwards compatible in all boats with a standard CoxBox cup. A new built-in 2600+ mAh battery means that there is no longer any access to the bottom of the device.

The front face of the device has no ports. The microphone, 'smart' data and audio ports have been moved to a Monoblock design on the rim of the device, allowing for a new directional button pad on the front face.

The front face has very ‘clicky’ waterproof style buttons. These include: volume controls, start/stop/reset, the d-pad, the 'athlete performance and seat display' buttons and menu and boat performance (home). Alongside these there is of course the 400x240 SpeedCoach LCD display. We had some questions about the introduction of a touchscreen, but with gloved hands and lots of water about, this is no doubt impractical and not something we'd expect to see. 

The new CoxBox Core does not include a GPS module, however, the GPS model has the same system included in the SpeedCoach GPS, giving data such as instantaneous split, boat speed and distance per stroke. It is effectively a CoxBox and a SpeedCoach GPS integrated into one tool. 

Part 2 - Software

The software is where NK has moved the outdated CoxBox into the current age. The improvements here in both customisation of what data you see (by having the options to customise all four data measurements on the screen, prioritising the data that you want) and the data recall within the device and in the Link Logbook app & website allow for much more detailed viewing of pieces and paddling by coaches and crews alike.


What are the differences between the CoxBox4, Core and GPS Models?

  CoxBox GPS CoxBox Core CoxBox4 (2008)
Display Size 3.6" x 2.6" 3.6" x 2.6" 2.75" x 1.5"
Battery Life 10+ Hours 10+ Hours 4 Hours
Connects to Empower Oarlocks and Smart Seat Display Yes No No


NK seems to be working hard on promoting the GPS version as the more "professional" system. It has the ability to connect to NK Link through Bluetooth, connect to Empower Oarlock telemetry gates and in future, collect data through the currently unused 'data port'. This includes an integrated impeller pod and control over the smart seat displays, both to be brought to the UK for testing in around six months time.

A big plus point is the greatly improved battery life, with new models lasting 10+ hours compared to around 4 hours previously. Charging time is still around the 12 hour mark, however, the new Espresso Charger™ reduces charging time to only 4 hours for the 2019 models. 

Both the CoxBox Core and GPS will include the 'data-port', allowing them to take advantage of the future integrated lighting system, where navigation lights built into the shell are powered through the CoxBox battery.

The 'data port' and possible usage options are still yet to be confirmed. We will discuss in the future what all these options are and how we expect them to work within a training and racing environment.

All CoxBoxes float and are fully waterproof with an IP67 and NEMA-6 rating.

How does it compare to the CoxOrb Platinum?

We will be releasing a separate article on the  differences between the CoxOrb and the new CoxBox in the future, after we have had the opportunity to test all the features. However, from first looks, the CoxBox looks to be more future proof with the inclusion of the new 'data port'. On the other hand, the CoxOrb has features such as built-in voice recording, which at present moment, our beta CoxBox model does not have as a function.

What colours and options are there?

The colours of the top and bottom bumpers are fully customizable in a range of 15 colours, including High Viz Green, Pink and Orange. There are the options to add new microphones and chargers at an additional cost, as well as the choice to add a Smart Impeller Kit bundle for a 4+ or an 8+. It is worth noting that microphones and chargers are an optional add on, but previous versions are completely compatible. 

What is the pricing like in the UK, and when can I get my hands on one?

The official supplier and reseller of all NK products in the UK is OarSport Ltd, based in Nottingham. Although their final prices are not yet confirmed, it looks like that we will see the CoxBox Core coming in at £549 and the CoxBox GPS at £798 as a unit only model, with the microphones and chargers being the same as those for the previous generation. It is also likely that they will offer a £100 discount when you trade in any CoxBox of any age (excluding the Mini).

These models are expected to hit the rivers and lakes of the UK in mid/late March, similar to the official release date in the USA. 

We are currently putting the CoxBox through its paces alongside its 2008 predecessor and the CoxOrb Platinum. Stay tuned for a full review and video!


Rory and the AllMarkOne Team





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