May 022013
 

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We are in the middle of a series on Heart Rate Monitor Straps – Which One To Choose?  Today we are continuing on our  journey to discover and review the latest heart rate monitor straps. Today we review the Scosche Rhythm Armband heart rate monitor. The main difference between this heart rate monitor is that it straps on your forearm instead of strapping around your chest. The Scosche Rhythm is compatible with  iPhone 5, 4S, 4, 3GS, 3G, iPads and iPod Touch 4th and 5th generation, and Samsung Galaxy S3. The suggested retail price is $99.95. 

 

Before we get started, as always, our product evaluations are performed by a group of up to 4 people. Typically, one person is the lead on a piece of gear, but everyone can have an opportunity to evaluate the product. We have 2 guys and 2 ladies, so it’s a good mix of people. It gives us better insight, and we get a better review overall. If there is a major disagreement between reviewers, we will note it in the review. If you want to know who these people are, check out our About Us page. Four of us are seasoned triathletes, and 2 of us are are also full time Pilates instructors. We swim, bike, run, do Pilates and Yoga, and use all of the gear on a daily basis. Also, many of you have read the FitnessElectronicsBlog disclaimer, but here it is in case this is your first time reading one of our reviews. For the record,  we are in no way connected with Scosche or any of the companies whose gear we review. We remain disconnected, in large part, because we love playing with the latest technology, and we couldn’t keep our hands off this stuff if we tried.  We call ‘em as we see ‘em – it keeps us honest.  So, enough with the babble. Let’s get to the review.

 

So what do you get?

Here is an image of the product in the package:
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Here is what you get:

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Here is the Rhythm heart rate monitor strap and charging cradle:

IMGP0729-2

The product includes the Rhythm heart rate monitor strap, charging cradle, quick start manual, and box.

 

So what are the features and specs?

Specs:

  • Battery life – 6 hours
  • Charge time: 2 hours
  • Includes large and small armbands
  • 1 year limited warranty
  • Width 2.125 in, Length 2.0 in, Height 0.5 in
  • Weight 0.0625 lbs.
  • All iOS devices require iOS 5.1 or higher
  • Smartphones with Android OS require Gingerbread 2.3.3 & higher
  • Tablets with Android OS require Honeycomb 3.0 & higher
  • Price $99.95

Features:

  • Personalized Home Screen: customize the home screen stats to meet your needs
  • Real-time Pulse: integrated dual LED/optical sensors produce real-time pulse rate
  • Control Your Music: Adjust volume, change tracks, play/pause and more from the armband
  • Workout Summary: view a detailed summary of your workout to analyze your intensity
  • Route Mapping: review distance and route in map view while retracing your workout
  • Social Sharing: share your workout through Facebook, Twitter, email and more
  • Workout Calendar: track previous workout stats and overall progress to compare training sessions
  • RHYTHM Web Dashboard: access the Web Dashboard from any desktop or laptop to view your workouts with a stunning visual display

Compatible with:

  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 4S
  • iPhone 4
  • iPhone 3GS
  • iPhone 3G
  • iPhone
  • iPad mini
  • iPad (4th gen)
  • iPad (3rd gen)
  • iPad (2nd gen)
  • iPad (1st gen)
  • iPod touch (5th gen)
  • iPod touch (4th gen)
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
  • Tablet
  • Distance/speed/pace/maps on devices with 3G/4G/LTE network services only

The Rhythm is also compatible these fitness apps: 

Digifit, iBiker, iPower, RunDouble C25K, iSpinner, iCardio, iRunner, iSmoothRun, Spinning

 

You Can share progress and achieve goals with these apps:

Runkeeper, MapMyFITNESS, MyFitnesPal, Facebook, Twitter

 

Using the Scosche Rhythm

Scosche actually sells two different armband heart rate monitors – the Rhythm and the myTREK. we are not reviewing the myTREK, but here is a comparison between the two:

comparison

The Rhythm has more features, and I think is better overall for training.

The first thing to do is to charge the Rhythm. Plug the USB charger in, and snap it on the back of the unit. Here are images of the charger on the Rhythm:

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The first thing we noticed is that we could not easily remove the USB charger from the Rhythm. This took a great amount of force to remove. This was totally unacceptable for us, and should be at the top of the list of things to fix.

After charging, the next step is to pair the Rhythm. On the iPhone, go into settings, and under Bluetooth, pair the Rhythm:

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Once you’ve paired your device, download the Scosche Rhythm app from the app store, if you haven’t already done so. Then open the app. Here is a screen shot, with the Rhythm attached to my arm, reading heart rate:

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There is also a screen to show a graph of your heart rate, and workout stats:

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I typically wear heart rate monitor straps for a day to get a feel for comfort. While wearing the Rhythm, I was working on the computer, and going about my daily business:

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While I was at my computer, I noticed a jump in the downward direction in the heart rate reading. I could only attribute this to a problem reading my heart rate with the strap. I’m not sure what caused it:

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Overall, the heart rate monitor is pretty comfortable. Since it straps to the thicker part of your forearm, it always felt like it was going to slide down to my wrist during exercise. It never did, and stayed in place very well. My only concern is when running outside with long sleeves, you may have trouble getting your shirt over the Rhythm. Here is a side view of the Rhythm:

 

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The next step was to test the Rhythm on the Spinning bike. Performing tests on the Spinning bike allows me to adjust and compare products before using them outside. I wanted to compare heart rate and calories burned to some of my standards – the Garmin 610 and the Polar RCX5. The test was to pedal at an easy pace for 30 minutes and compare heart rate and calories burned. Here is the results from the Rhythm after 30 minutes:

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Here I am with the Scosche Rhythm and the Garmin 610 GPS watch (mounted to the spinning bike – the blur is because I’m pedaling :)):

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Here are the results from the Garmin 610:

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 8.39.34 PM

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 8.39.57 PM

 

 

The first thing I wanted to compare was heart rate accuracy during the 30 minute ride. When I held my heart rate at a constant rate, the Rhythm matched the Garmin 610 and the Polar RCX5 exactly. When I would increase or decrease my heart rate, the Rhythm seemed to lag the 610 and the RCX5 by a few seconds. Once my heart rate stabilized, the heart rates were exactly the same again. It seems as if the filtering and averaging on the Rhythm is more severe than my reference 610 and RCX5 watches. In the image above, you can see that the Rhythm heart rate plot is very smooth, removing quick changes in heart rate.

Next up was to compare calories burned. Again, the Garmin 610 and the Polar RCX5 were very closely matched; within 10 calories of each other. The Rhythm measured 336 calories, while the Garmin only reported 254 calories – a difference of 32 percent more. I did some searches, and many other people were complaining of similarly high result. Bottom line – be skeptical of calories burned.

Once I had a comparison of heart rate and calories burned, it was time to put it through some typical workouts. Logging running and riding workouts went well, with no problems. I was fairly impressed by the heart rate pickup sensor on the Rhythm. There were no real dropouts during my bikes or runs, which surprised me. Overall, it worked better than I thought. I still like wearing a heart rate monitor chest strap better than the Rhythm arm strap, but for people that hate a chest strap, it should be ok.

I’ve included a video that shows the Rhythm in action, if you haven’t already seen it:

Here is the Rhythm quick start video:

 

Thoughts, Opinions and Summary:

 

Pros:

  • Up/Down volume control worked well
  • Easily paired with the apps
  • If you don’t like heart rate monitor straps that go around your chest, this might be an alternative
  • Works with all of the iPhones and iPads

 

Cons:

  • Charging dock is very hard to get off after charging
  • The manual/quick start guide definitely needs more info
  • The product is not Bluetooth SMART, so it doesn’t work with all of the apps that only work with SMART
  • Calorie readings were high
  • You may have an issue with a long sleeve shirt
  • Short battery life – typical 6 hours, although the battery is rechargeable
  • Higher price than a typical heart rate monitor strap
So would I recommend the Scosche Rhythm armband heart rate monitor strap?  On the up side, if you don’t like wearing a heart rate monitor chest strap, this is an alternative. But for me, I personally like wearing a HRM strap that fits around my chest, instead of the armband. If it’s around my chest, I typically forget that it’s there. Also, the volume control is nice. On the down side, It doesn’t work with many of the available software apps, the calorie measurements are too high, the battery life is short, the charging dock is very hard to remove, and the price is higher than most heart rate monitor straps. Overall, I think we’ll have to pass on the Rhythm.
If you want to buy the Scosche Rhythm, you can purchase it here. The retail price is $99.95

As always,

Happy Training!!

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