Well I've only spent a couple days on them but I'll let you know what my thoughts are so far. I put these on a Jones Hovercraft with the intention of them being a nice surfy feel for powder days, but so far I've only been out with the board mostly on hard pack and groomers, a bit of ice and a touch of powder.
Do you feel the hinge effect? Yes, a little bit. I tried one day on the softest bushings and another day with the medium ones and I prefer the softest white ones. You start to really feel the turns more with your feet, it's hard to explain, but it does have a skate feel to it.
What do I like? I like how they dampen the ride. They really absorb a lot of the chatter and they really felt great at high speed. Smooth and responsive. Really nice for carving. I like the slight different feel they have... It is slight though, you may not even notice it at all unless you really fixate on it. The baseplate and kingpin hinge system seem to be really well made. The footbed is nicer than I thought from the look of it. The straps are easy to adjust.
What do I hate? I hate the toe cap-strap, the strap itself isn't terrible... It's pretty average, seems a bit cheap. The ladders are terrible... I really struggle to get the toe strap ladder to catch with the ratchet, especially one handed with mitts on.... It's a bastard. It feels way too cheap for a 300+ dollar binding. Also after 2 days the ladders are starting to show a lot of wear on the teeth and I'm not sure if they would survive a whole season, maybe. The ankle strap is ok, no problems with that one, but it's not as comfortable as my Cartel straps. I've read a lot about the Now bindings and how they are supposed to reduce foot fatigue and make for a more comfortable ride, but I don't see it. The straps are not as comfortable after a full day as my Cartels. I might try and put Burton straps on these bindings next year. (I only specify Burton because they look to be almost interchangable with Burton straps, maybe a slight modification but they look like they would work)
Oh, also the footbed isn't canted and I don't like that. I thought I might not notice, but I do a little bit and for the price, they should be. Not sure what that would do to the hinge system or how it's supposed to function.
It's only been a couple of days and I do like the bindings over all, but the straps are the weak link. I know they will probably fix all that next year and then I'll be selling them to upgrade, but oh well.... They are a step in the right direction I think.
I basically agree 100% with you. I have them on my Nidecker Ultralight and find the effect barely noticeable (which is a good thing IMO), but the toe straps suck and seem cheap. This is the first binding I have used when the toes strap goes over the top of the boot rather then around the front of the toe, and I much prefer the front of the toe feel. Basically I dont want to feel the toe strap, but with the IOP i can. Its possible I need to get used to how tight I should get them, but a few times at the end of the run I noticed the toe strap slid off of my back foot?! Problem is if I went ultra tight then I felt a tight strap sensation over my boot.
I do like them, and think they are going in the right direction with them. Ill dump them for next years as well assuming they address the strap issue.
Oh, one other strange thing I noticed is that snow/ice seemed to build up on the inside of the highback. I have never seen that before and it wasnt just an easy task to brush it off with my glove. Could have been a strange snow day, but ill be watching that too.