We have been playing all week with the Sportiiiis heads up display, and still really diggin’ it. We have tons of new equipment and apps to test, so stay tuned.
BE SURE TO “LIKE” US ON FACEBOOK.
Why? Who the hell knows.
There’s really no real major benefit to you.
But that’s Facebook for you. You will get our posts conveniently added to your news feed. It’ll make us look good. We’ll be able to tell people “…hey, we have X amount of Facebook followers…” and they’ll be all “wow, cool” and that’s about it. It’s shallow but, well, there you go.
Anyway, give it a think.
Again, there’s virtually nothing in it for you but, hey, social media.
Runtastic and RunKeeper just announced their latest updates to their iPhone apps. The updates are available in the iTunes store, and of course they are available as a direct download on your iPhone. These apps just keep on adding more and more features, which is definitely good for users like us. All of the app developers seem to be adding MyFitnessPal capability, which allows you to upload your workout and keep track of calories, workouts, and monitor your typical health metrics.Most apps are providing updates to improve functionality with iOS 6. We will keep you up to speed on how the updates work.
Here are the updates to Runtastic 2.9:
- Upload your activities to MyFitnessPal
- Correct download of Heart rate traces when syncing sessions
- Improved iOS 6 compatibility
New Features from last major version:
- Fully iOS 6 compatible
- Auto Pause activity when you stop/start (option to enable in the Settings)
- iCloud settings are now synchronized when upgrading from Lite to Pro
You can read our review of Runtastic and Runtastic Prohere.
Here are the updates to RunKeeper 2.8:
- NEW Me tab: Compare your current activity data against your recent past, view all of your personal records, and check progress against your goals.
- NEW Friends tab: Add friends right from the app, compete against your friends to reach the top of your leaderboard, and message friends that are inactive.
- NEW Workout Reminders: Schedule reminders for yourself right after you finish an activity to keep on top of your fitness.
- NEW In-app Notifications: View and respond to friend requests and friend messages right from the Start screen.
- Updated Save Workout screen
- Updated Facebook integration
- Improved stability for heart rate tracking in iOS6
- Bug fixes and stability improvements
Here is a press release from RunKeeper and GymPact. It’s an interesting idea where if you don’t hit your fitness goals, you have to pay. It hits you where it counts – in the wallet.
Check it out.
Wondering how you’ll stay motivated to achieve your fitness goals? We’re excited to announce a partnership with GymPact, to help you conquer your excuses by putting real money on the line as a motivator.
By using RunKeeper + GymPact together, if you don’t stick with the “Pact” you commit to around your fitness goals, you have to pay. And if you stick to the “Pact”, you get paid! Now THAT is motivation. More info on how it works here.
As an added incentive, GymPact is giving $5 to the first 1000 users who connect to RunKeeper and track their first activity that counts towards GymPact.
RunKeeper activities that count towards GymPact:
- All runs, walks or bike rides tracked by RunKeeper’s GPS
- Minimum 1/2 mi (.8 km) distance
- Minimum of 30 mins of activity with pace above 2 mi (3.2 km) per hour
- If in doubt, add an extra 5 minutes of walking, running or biking
- Maximum 3 hours long
Different people are motivated by different things, and we’re committed to providing a variety of ways to get you motivated towards being healthy, so you can find the ones that are most motivating for you. We know that real money is something very motivating to many people, so we’re interested to see what happens when there is real money on the line around sticking to your fitness goals. What are you waiting for? … connect your RunKeeper account with GymPact today!
Stay tuned for additional cool ways to bring more motivation to your fitness activities. If you have ideas/suggestions for what you’d like to see, let us know in the comments.
Last week, we reviewed the Polar H7 Bluetooth Low Energy heart rate monitor strap. This is a followup to that review. The review can be found here.
We have had many readers want more information on the Polar H7 Bluetooth Low Energy heart rate monitor strap. One of the biggest questions that readers have is, “Which iPhone apps work with the Polar H7?” So we set out to check all of the most popular apps that are out there. On the iPhone 4s, the apps that we test most often are:
So,…….the answer is………..all of them but SportsTracker and Garmin Fit. Of course, SportsTracker and Garmin Fit both sell their own hardware.
Here are images of all of the apps that work with the Polar H7. You can see the heart rate displayed on the screen for each app:
RunKeeper and WahooFitness
MapMyRun and MapMyRun+
Endomondo and Endomondo Pro
MapMyRide and MapMyRide+
runtastic and Runmeter
Jog Log and LogYourRun
To get RunKeeper to work, you will typically need to follow the instructions on the following video:
So the bottom line – I was pretty amazed that I could get all of these apps to work with the Polar H7.
If you have any other apps that you want us to try, just leave us a comment, or send us an email and we’ll check ‘em out.
Here at Fitness Electronics Blog, we love to bring in great guest bloggers who share their experience, skills, and passion about running, triathlon, and training. Over the past few weeks, we have been reviewing heart rate monitor straps and the phone apps that can be used with them. Today we have an article written by Sally Edwards that reviews three newer iPhone running apps. This article originally appeared in iPhone Life magazine.
There are now over 1,000 running apps in the iTunes App Store. This proliferation of running apps, combined with the App Store’s weak search features, makes it tough to choose one that fits most runners’ needs. With 20 different features, app reviewers often turn to the route of least resistance and avoid the new apps in favor of older apps like Nike+ ($1.99), Log Your Run ($2.99), RunKeeper (Free), MapMyRun (Free), Jog Log ($0.99), Runtastic (Free), and Runmeter ($4.99).
Most running apps share the same core feature set: GPS with route views and elevation, the free lite or fee versions, shuffled music, logging, and speed/distance/ voice cues. In the last year, two new features have become popular: The ability to insert a dongle for adding a heart rate display and storing the data The ability to upload to social sites automatically or email results to share your workout with friends.
For those of you interested in a well-researched comparison chart of the established GPS enabled running apps, check out this post , from Tim Adam’s blog at blog.indieiphonedev.com.
I like to give newer apps a chance to gain some traction and buzz. One of the features that I love in a running app is the inclusion of some form of motivation or inspiration. That can come from a power song or a positive voice cue that isn’t corny. What I like the most is coached workouts during the run. One of the features that I like the least is the voice cue about pace—it usually tells me I am slow, so I just turn it off.
Now that you know my favorite features, here are a couple of running apps that I really like:
($4.99) Focused on providing runners with the best in its class, this new running app provides a new feature: it uses both GPS and the built-in accelerometer. This allows you to switch between the two automatically if you warm up indoors on a treadmill and then head outdoors for your workouts. Plus, the app tracks your running rhythm using the built-in metronome, which helps you become a better runner. The data is yours to easily export or store with RunKeeper (the online fitness community). Check out the Ghost Run feature; it’s fun to challenge yourself with it, or if you follow a training plan, add your interval workouts and let iSmoothRun guide you. According to support team member Manolis, “iSmooth- Run offers a set of features that are very advanced, unique, and differentiate it from the average GPS tracker that can be found on the App store.”
Endomondo Sports Tracker♦♦♦♦½
(Free) In October of 2009, Endomondo Sports Tracker launched. It’s a powerhouse app. If you like competition with your friends or against yourself, this might be the running app for you. It has a pep talk feature to keep you motivated, and your workouts, along with your friend’s workouts, get auto-saved to the Endomondo.com site. The app has strong social features, and it isn’t limited only to running. You can use it for cycling, hiking, skating, and more. According to Jakob Nordenhof Jønck from Endonomondo, “…when you couple fun and social in a meaningful way, you can really motivate people.”
($5.99) This app was first released in January 2010, and it has some cool new features. It is the first app to integrate all the interoperable protocols known as ANT+ and their sensors, which are supported by the WahooFitness API. It was also the first app with telemetry (now copied by others), so you can track a friend’s location during a run. The telemetry feature also shows your location and performance to your coach or to anyone you want to share this information with. iMobileIntervals telemetry has a unique aspect: you can embed the telemetry widget anywhere you like. According to Ransom Weaver, the developer of iMobileIntervals, you can embed the widget “…on your team’s website or personal blog. It also can use Facebook to notify your friends when and how to see your telemetry, and when and how to see your workout results.”
Enjoy these fresh new features and innovative iPhone apps; they’ll make your workouts more fun, and you’ll find it easier to stick to a running program for the rest of your life.
Sally Edwards is an athlete, author, speaker, and entrepreneur. She’s one of America ‘s leading experts in business, exercise science, and lifestyle living. She is a professional triathlete, a member of the Triathlon Hall of Fame, and the National Spokeswoman for the Trek Women’s Triathlon Series. She is also a best-selling author with more than 20 books and 500 articles on health and fitness including the popular book, Heart Rate Monitor Guidebook and the new book, Be a Better Runner. She lives an active healthy lifestyle in Sacramento, California.
RunKeeper today announced that they are dropping support for Windows 7 and Nokia Symbian. I think you will start to see more app developers follow this trend. If you are an app developer, it makes sense to target the biggest platforms, iPhone and Android, first. At my day job, one of the things that we do is develop iPhone and Android apps for our hardware products. Right now, we don’t support Blackberry, Symbian or Windows 7. The cold hard truth is that right now, it just doesn’t pay for itself. With all of the operating system software updates coming multiple times a year, it is hard enough to keep up, and still develop new great apps. Here is the post taken directly from their site:
As we mentioned the other day, we’re getting back to our roots and focusing on the stuff that matters. We had spread ourselves too thin, and it was inhibiting our ability to build the best possible core product. As part of this refocusing, we are having a bunch of tough discussions internally. In order to do more of the stuff that matters, we need to do less of the stuff that doesn’t.
The first such announcement is now: going forward, the RunKeeper app will no longer be officially supported on Windows Phone 7 or Symbian. We expanded onto each platform in the last year or so. Combined, they make up less than 1.5% of our total userbase. We don’t see this changing any time soon, these platforms simply haven’t kept up with Android and iPhone, and we only see this gap increasing over time. We can’t justify giving our Windows and Symbian apps the support they need to be up to our quality standards, and if they can’t be up to our quality standards, they shouldn’t be at all. And don’t even get us started on Blackberry
For those that have the app already on one of these platforms, you can continue to use it. However, the app will be removed from the app marketplace on each platform by tomorrow, and no further updates will come on either platform going forward. We apologize to our Windows and Symbian users. We understand that this is not what you wanted to hear. But we need to be laser-focused as a company, and it would be irresponsible for us to come to any other conclusion. If you are looking for alternatives to RunKeeper on Windows, we have heard Endomondo is good. For Symbian, you could try Sports Tracker. You can also export any and all of your RunKeeper data here.
For everyone else, we hope this starts to assure you that our renewed focus is not just about words, but about action as well. This isn’t the last of the cutting of things that are non-strategic, and this cutting will only enable us to pour more resources into the most important parts of what we do. We commit to you that we will continue to listen very carefully, and to keep you informed every step of the way. Onwards!
The RunKeeper Team
From an earlier post, RunKeeper has over over 10 million users, and just received another $10M in funding. It looks like they are on the move. We will be reviewing RunKeeper, and other phone apps over the next few months.
Today we are continuing on our journey to learn more about heart rate monitors, and the best way to choose the right one. Today we are reviewing the Wahoo Fitness Run/Gym Pack.
Wahoo Fitness is a company that makes fitness sensors and software that works with Apple iPhones. They make ANT+ and Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor straps and systems, waterproof bike mounts, and other accessories, all compatible with iPhones. Today we are reviewing the Wahoo Fitness Run/Gym Pack. The Fitness Run/Gym pack is a heart rate monitor strap using ANT+ technology that measures your heart rate, and sends the data from the heart rate monitor to the iPhone using the included dongle. The iPhone is used to display and log your workout. This product is designed to work with the 3G, 3GS, 4 and 4S iPhones. Before diving in, I thought I would show you what you get with your purchase. So here goes!
Here is the product box:
The contents of the box include the heart rate monitor strap, heart rate monitor transmitter, iPhone dongle, and instruction manual:
Here is a closeup of the heart rate monitor strap ANT+ transmitter. You can see that it has a user replaceable battery. The battery is a 3 volt CR2032:
The heart rate transmitter connects to the two ends of the heart rate monitor strap. The strap is soft, and has a wide range of adjustment for different sizes of people:
Here is a view of the complete heart rate monitor strap:
To use the device, snap one end of the strap to the HRM ANT+ transmitter, adjust the strap for your chest size, snap the strap to the other side, and you’re half way there. Next, you need to download an application. The device is compatible with over 83 iPhone apps. Your choices can be found here. Wahoo was very smart when they developed their products. They made their API public, which allowed third party app developers to make their software compatible with the Wahoo products. Therefore, many popular software applications are compatible with the Wahoo Fitness Run/Gym pack, including programs like RunKeeper, iMapMyRun, and Wahoo Fitness’ own program called, “Wahoo Fitness”. To test how well the product worked, I first needed to connect the ANT+ dongle to the 30 pin connector on the iPhone:
I chose to use Wahoo’s own program, the “Wahoo Fitness” program. The Wahoo Fitness app, and all of the compatible apps are downloaded from the iTunes store in the normal iTunes way. Once I downloaded the Wahoo Fitness app, I clicked on the icon, and it was up and running. I have included a few screens for you to get an idea how some of these programs work. After entering some personal information, like weight, height and date of birth, I was almost set:
Now the only thing left to do was to “add” the heart rate sensor to the program. Clicking “Add New” under the sensor heading added the Wahoo Fitness HRM sensor to my program. That was it! I was connected, and displaying heart rate information:
Here is a zoom in of the map screen (my house):
Here are some screen shots off of the Wahoo site, covering some of the capabilities of their app. Remember that this is not a review of the app; that will be covered in another blog post. But look at all of the data available! The data available is pretty extensive. Standard items like distance, heart rate, max and average heart rate, time, lap time, total workout time, and time in heart rate zones is all available. On the bike, bike speed and cadence are also available.
Here are some of the programs that you can share your workout data with:
Thoughts, Opinions and Summary:
Remember that this review is focused on the hardware, not any of the software apps. The apps will be covered in another review.
So what do I think of the hardware? I think the product is pretty cool! I will admit that when I first started looking at using a smartphone to the display and log a heart rate monitor data coming from an ANT+ or Bluetooth heart rate strap, I was somewhat skeptical. Now I’m sold. This is definitely a viable option, and one that I will use. I love it at the gym, or on a run where I am running and listening to music.
The heart rate monitor fits and feels really good. I always wear the heart rate monitor strap at work all day to get a feel for comfort. It definitely passed the test.
The iPhone is not waterproof, but Wahoo makes a water-resistant armband, and a water-resistant bike mount. If you get one of these, you don’t need to worry about rain.
The heart rate connection was very good. I didn’t have any dropouts, and I was up and running quickly. My wife loves how easy it is to use and set up.
There are a large number of apps that work with this hard wear. Wahoo Fitness claims 83 at this time.
Most apps have a music feature that you can play music directly form the app. If you listen to music with your iPhone, you don’t need to carry any additional hardware. And an all in one device makes it less likely to forget it at home.
All of the data that is based on GPS location information, such as speed and distance, is only as good as the GPS capabilities of the phone. Typically, the GPS in the phone is not as good as the GPS in a good GPS fitness watch. Even so, I was pretty amazed at the accuracy.
You need to connect a dongle to the 30 pin connector on the bottom of the iPhone, so your iPhone is not as sleek as before. You can buy a Bluetooth version of the HRM strap that works with the 4S iPhone if this bothers you.
If you get a new phone, and it’s not an iPhone, you are screwed.
Overall, I really like the product. It is simple and easy to use, and has many of the most used measured metrics that I use most often for running and biking. With the optional bike sensors, you can measure a great amount of data for the run and bike. It is compatible with many of the popular software apps out there, and as a side note, the Wahoo Fitness app is pretty good.
The Wahoo Fitness Run/Gym pack retails for $119.99.
I will leave you with an introductory video of the Wahoo Fitness Run/Gym pack:
For those of you just joining us, we are on a continuing journey to learn more about heart rate monitors, and the best way to choose the right one. Our website covers all types of electronics and tech stuff, but overwhelmingly, triathletes and runners come to our site to check out heart rate monitors and GPS watches. We have so many questions about how to choose the right heart rate monitor, we thought we would put together a series of posts covering all of the details. Today, we are discussing widely available heart rate monitor strap options that work with smartphones.
And don’t forget - We also have other continuing blog posts from Jennifer on How to Train With a Heart Rate Monitor, and from James on High Intensity Training…Will It Lead To Higher Performance?
Back in part 2, we covered a few simple ways that heart rate can be measured. The two options that most people choose when buying a heart rate monitor are to buy a HRM watch (maybe with GPS), or they will buy a heart rate monitor strap that works with a smartphone. If you buy a HRM watch , you are typically limited to the software and analysis tools that the manufacturer supplies, or a few third party apps. If you decide to buy a HRM strap, and use your smartphone as the display, you may have more apps and analysis options to choose from. This doesn’t mean that the apps are better or higher quality; on the contrary, the big three watch manufacturers, Garmin, Suunto and Polar, make some pretty good software analysis tools. But if you want other app and logging options, or you really only want to spend money on a HRM strap and use your phone to display and log your workout, then this post about HRM strap options may be of some interest to you.
This post is meant to give you an idea about what HRM strap options are available. We will cover the the most popular heart rate monitor straps that work with the most popular smartphones. Remember, this is meant to be an overview, not a review. Reviews of these heart rate monitor straps and the apps that they work with with be the subject of future posts.
Here are some of the most popular and widely available HRM straps:
The Wahoo Run/Gym Pack for iPhone is a heart rate strap made to work with all iPhones. It uses an ANT+ dongle that plugs into the iPhone 30 pin connector. The unit is powered by a 3V replaceable coin cell. The Wahoo Run/Gym Pack works with over 83 iPhone apps. You can find the full listing here. The retail price is $119.99.
The Wahoo Fitness Blue HR heart rate strap is a Bluetooth Low Power heart rate strap made for the iPhone 4S. It is not compatible with earlier 3G and 4 iPhones. The unit is powered by a 3V replaceable coin cell, and the unit is waterproof up to 5 feet. The Wahoo heart rate strap works with over 83 iPhone apps. You can find the full listing here. The retail price is $79.00
The Sports Tracker Bluetooth heart rate monitor strap is a Bluetooth heart rate strap made to work with Android and Nokia Symbian phones. The unit is powered by a rechargeable battery, and a USB charger is included.The Sports Tracker HRM is compatible with the Sports Tracker Android app. The retail price is 69.90 euros.
The Zephyr HxM Bluetooth heart rate monitor is a Bluetooth heart rate strap that works with Android 2.0 and later phones. The unit is powered by a rechargeable Lithium Polymer battery that lasts 30 hours between charges.It comes with a USB charger cradle, and takes 3 hours to fully recharge the battery. The unit is compatible with Endomondo, Run GPS, Athlosoft, Bike Dashboard, SportsTrackLive, eCoach, and ZephysOpen software. The retail price is $99.00.
The Polar WearLink+ heart rate monitor with Bluetooth technology works with Android phones.. The unit is powered by a 3V replaceable coin cell, and is water resistant. The unit is compatible with Endomondo, Cardio TRAINER, SportsTrackLive, RunKeeper, Runtastic, i do Move, Sportypal, Run.GPS software. The retail price is $79.95.
The SmartHRM Bluetooth heart rate monitor strap for Android works with Android phones. The device can store data up to 7 days of data. It vibrates to let you know whether you are under or over your target heart rate zone.The unit is compatible with JogTracker, JogTracker Pro, Jogger, and SmartHRM Fitness apps. The retail price is $99.00.
The SmartHRM WiFi for iPhone heart rate monitor connects to iPhones via WiFi, not Bluetooth. Because of this, it works with all models of iPhones. The unit is compatible with SmartHRM Fitness, CardioMapper, and SportyPal software. The retail price is $129.00.
The wireless protocol that is used for the HRM straps listed above is ANT+, Bluetooth, and Bluetooth Low Power, also called Bluetooth 4.0. So what is the difference, and why is this important? Well, if you buy an HRM strap that is ANT+, you will probably need to connect an external dongle to your phone. The Wahoo Fitness Run/Gym Pack for iPhone works with all iPhones, but it requires a dongle that plugs in to the phone.
This can be an issue depending on how you carry your phone. To eliminate the dongle, Wahoo Fitness also makes the Bluetooth BlueHR, which uses the Bluetooth Low Power protocol, but it only works with the iPhone 4S (and probably new unreleased models). This is because Apple only supports Bluetooth Low Power in the 4S model.
SmartHRM WiFi uses WiFi to connect to all Apple iPhones via WiFi. This may limit the number of apps that work with the SmartHRM WiFi.
Sports Tracker, Zephyr and the SmartHRM Bluetooth all use the older Bluetooth standard, and only work with Android phones. They do not work with Apple phones.
So confused yet? Well, you should be. There are many different protocols out there. Do you get a HRM strap and use it with your phone, or do you buy a dedicated HRM watch? If you are in a hurry to buy, and know that you want a HRM strap to work with your phone, and are ready to pull the trigger, then “How do you choose?” Well, one way would be to choose a model above based on whether it works with your phone.If you decide on one, make sure to look at the compatible software apps. Many apps can be downloaded , and you can find more information about each at the software developers site. Research before you buy. Because of the sheer number, and their complexity, there is no way to quickly cover everything in one or two posts and do it justice. We will be covering individual HRM strap reviews, and also individual app reviews in future posts. One thing to note is that, if you have an iPhone, the Wahoo Fitness HRM straps are compatible with the most apps, 83 and growing. This gives you a lot of flexibility.
And last, to wrap things up for today, a few final things to consider. If you change phones often, make sure your HRM choice works with your phone choice going forward. If you are a die hard iPhone or Android user, and are going to stick with your current platform, you should be ok going forward. Otherwise, you may be buying new hardware in a year. Also, are you sure you want to carry your phone on every workout or run? Try carrying your phone with you on your workouts before going out and purchasing hardware. Check the display. Can you see it or hear it during your workout? After trying this out, you may change your mind. Also, remember that your phone is not waterproof; typically a HRM watch is.
That’s it for today. I will leave you with a few videos of the HRM straps, so that you can get more familiar with some of the HRM’s.
So for now,
Here is a video of the Wahoo Fitness Run/Gym Pack:
Here is a video of the Wahoo Fitness BlueHR:
Here is a video of the Sports Tracker:
Here is a video of the Polar Wearlink+ Bluetooth HRM:
Runners have GPS heart rate monitor watches, bikers have bike computers, but until recently, there haven’t been many good products that swimmers can use to monitor their workout. That has changed recently with the release of new swim watches over the past year. One of the leaders in the field of swim equipment is Finis. Finis designed the Swimsense, their first swim watch, to help the swimmers monitor all aspects of their swim. They first announced the Swimsense in August 2010, and started shipping to the general public in 2011. So what exactly is the Swimsense, and how does it work? The Swimsense is a rechargeable swim training watch that uses accelerometers and magnetometers to measure pace times, distance, stroke count, stroke rate, distance-per-stroke, lap count and calories burned across all major strokes. It collects this data during your workout, and afterwards the data can be uploaded to a web based log called the Swimsense Training Log. It can store up to 14 workouts at a time, and will work in any pool from 25 to 50 yards or meters in length. The Swimsense has been out for a while, but since we are a newer website, this is a product that we feel is revolutionary, and we use it on a daily basis, we had to write a review to post on out site.
By now, 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 do not work for Finis, and are in no way connected with them or any of the companies whose gear we review. We do this because we love playing with the latest technology, and we can’t keep our hands off this stuff if we tried. We purchased the Swimsense, and we have been using it for almost a year. No give-us-gear for a favorable review, or anything like that. We call ‘em as we see ‘em. It keeps us honest. Also, we have a group of 4 people who do the evaluations of all of the gear. One person is the lead on a piece of gear, but everyone gets a chance to evaluate the stuff. 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. Everyone has an input to the review. If you want to know who these people are, check out our About Us page. We have 4 seasoned triathletes, and 3 Pilates instructors. All swim, bike, run, do Pilates and Yoga, and use all of the gear on a daily basis. So, enough with the babble, and let’s get to the review.
What’s in the box?
So let’s dive right in and check out what’s in the box:
Inside the box is the watch, USB charging dock, USB cable, and quick instruction guide. A detailed instruction manual can be found on the web here.
Here is a close up look at the watch:
Here is the watch on my wrist:
Here is a side view:
The fit is pretty good, and with the rounded corners and rubberized feel, I don’t really notice it much when I’m in the pool.
So what are the features?
Total stroke time
Average distance per stroke
Average stroke count
Total stroke count
Total interval time
Interval rest time
Average pace per 100
Total number of laps
Interval number of laps
Measure pace times
Distinguishes between backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle
Measuresa and displays all data by stroke type
Rechargeable Lithium ion battery provides 12 hours of use
Calculate and Report SWOLF efficiency
With software update, the battery life is 12 hours while swimming, 150 hours of non swimming
Download, review and analyze data in Swimsense Training Log
Upload workouts directly to TrainingPeaks, RunKeeper, SportsTrack and 2PEAK websites
To start to use the Swimsense, I plugged the dock into my computer using the supplied USB cord, and let the watch charge. While charging, the watch displayed “Connected to USB”. While waiting for the Swimsense to charge, I registered the device at swimsense.com, and then I downloaded the Swimsense Bridge software. This software is used to connect your watch to the web, allowing you to upload your workouts to the Swimsense Training Log, and it will notify you if there is new firmware available for the watch. Finis is constantly improving the watch software, so keeping up with the latest software is definitely worth while.
Once you have the software installed, updated your watch with any updates, and charged the watch, you are ready to start using the Swimsense.
After undocking, the watch will revert to the home screen. Before running off to the pool, it probably makes sense to play with the Swimsense, and get familiar with the screens and modes. To start a workout, press the up/down buttons on the right side of the watch. This scrolls through the main menus. I could try to describe scrolling through the main menu options, but the manual does a good job:
The first time using the watch, I scrolled to the Config screen, and pressed the left hand SEL button to set my personal info:
These screens are pretty self explanatory, but it makes a difference which hand you wear the watch on, and this setting is in the Config Watch Pos. screen. Also, in the setting for Pool Size, I could change the pool length, and set whether the pool distance was in meters or yards. I then set my personal information, and that’s it. I hit the EXIT button, and I am back in the main menu mode on the Config screen. Now I can scroll to the Swim screen, and I’m ready to swim. Here is the SWIM page, taken from the manual:
At the swim screen, press the left side SEL button to start swimming. The next image shows the Swim screen, and what functions the buttons perform. Once SEL has been pressed, you will see this screen:
Press SWIM, and you are swimming. Once you do this a few times, it becomes very intuitive and easy. Try it a few times in the pool to get comfortable with starting and stopping a workout. When you are done with your workout, press the STOP button. In the past, if you wanted to take a break, you needed to hit the PAUSE button. Finis recently released a software update, which included Interval Inference Mode (iiM), that automatically senses when you stop swimming swimming. This means you no longer need to hit the PAUSE button if you want to take a break. You do want to hit the PAUSE button if you want to mark and record an interval. When you are done, you still need to save the workout in your watch. To record (save) your workout, press and hold the RESET button for 3 seconds. You workout has been saved, and you are now ready to start logging a new workout.
As I said before, all of this information is in available in the manual, and actually taken right from the manual. I have included some of the info in the review so that you can get an idea what using the Swimsense is like, and how easy it is to navigate.
Here are the different screens that are available during your swim:
Here are some screenshots of what type of information is available on the Swimsense after your workout is complete:
A breakdown of the different strokes:
Here are the intervals summary screens:
Just about any kind of data is available for viewing on the watch during and after your swim workout. Of course, the fun is just beginning. Where all of the data becomes really useful is when you get home and upload your data to the Swimsense Training Log.
Swimsense Training Log and the Cloud
First of all, the Swimsense software is compatible with both PC and Mac machines. I have tested the software on both platforms, and there were no issues at all. Once the software is installed, you can upload your workouts to the Training Log, and review your workout. Here are the details of a recent workout. It should be noted that the two screens below are all displayed on one page. I cut it up to make it fit in my post. The displayed data is for only one section of the swim. The total swim was a 5800 yard swim. Clicking on my 800 yard recovery (the highlighted gray bar) only displays the details for that segment. If I would have selected the blue bar, it would have given me the details for the total workout. In this way, you can see the details of each interval, and the details of your overall workout.
In past swims, I have seen some variation in the Swimsense trying to decode what stroke I was swimming. You can see this by noticing that bar color sometimes is a different color on different laps. For this 800 yard section, I wanted to see what would happen if I put the Swimsense on my other wrist. The watch recorded my freestyle stroke as the backstroke. If I have it on my correct wrist, the bars show up correctly in blue, indicating freestyle swim. Regardless of what stroke I’m swimming, I usually can’t get all of the bars to indicate the correct stroke. First of all, let me say that swimming is not my forte. The better I swim, the less issues I see on the Swimsense when it attempts to decode what stroke I am swimming. Even on my best day, the Swimsense doesn’t always get it right. I understand that this is probably one of the hardest things for the watch to do, and I am sort of a hack in the water. The bottom line – this is not a big issue for me, since I only swim freestyle. If you swim other strokes, you are probably a better swimmer that me, and probably have a smoother stroke. Therefore, you will have fewer errors.
There is also a Stroke Analysis graph that shows distance-per-stroke and seconds-per-stroke. This is very useful in determining speed and efficiency.
Shown below is a way to plan workouts, and add them to your schedule. This is a good way to plan your workouts. These can be displayed on the workout calendar.
The features work well, and the watch lap and stroke logging seems to be very consistent and accurate.
Lap counter works well.
The new Interval Inference Mode (iiM) mode seems to work well, allowing me to take a break without pressing a button on the Swimsense.
Watch is updateable, and there have been worthwhile software improvements via update
12 house swim battery life is great
Display is hard to read when swimming and googles on. This would be true for any watch, so
The stroke analyzer is not always accurate for, me, but it may work well for better swimmers
Overall, we love this watch. We have yet to find anything out there we like better. Lap counting and overall timing is very accurate, and the only issue that we have at all with the Swimsense is the occasional inaccuracies of the stroke recognition. With the Interval Inference Mode software update, taking a break in the pool is even easier between set. Many of us use the Swimsense on a daily basis, and highly recommend it to anyone. The MSRP is $199.99.
I’ll leave you with a few videos.
Here is a video of the Swimsense in action:
And here is an in-depth video which shows how to use the watch:
Polar talked about their new Bluetooth low energy HRM at the CES show. The Wearlink+ Bluetooth Low Power HRM works with popular mobile training applications such as RunKeeper, Sports Tracker, and Endomondo. The price is $79.95.
Polar will be replacing their current W.I.N.D.protocol technology this year. This should make their HRM’s compatible with other manufacturers’ products, displays, and their displays compatible with other Bluetooth Low Energy HRM’s.
I”ve yet to use RunKeeper, so I thought I would sign up and give it a try. I went to the RunKeeper site, and signed up for an account. It’s free, and takes only a second to sign up. It immediately takes you to a page where you can post a new activity. I thought I would browse the sight and see what it was all about. The first thing I noticed was that you can download RunKeeper for your iPhone or Android phone. I have both phones that I use for testing, so I can download the application on both phones to test and compare.
So what is RunKeeper? RunKeeper is a program that allows you to track your run. It uses the phone GPS to measure the distance you travel, and the time it takes to perform your workout. With this, it can tell you total train time, speed, pace, distance, and calories burned. The latest version, released on December 14th, 2011, allows the app to use a Bluetooth SmartHRM like the Wahoo Fitness BLUEHR. Using the SmartHRM, the program can use the heart rate monitor and log heart rate in addition to all of the other measurements.
My early impression of RunKeeper was that it was a good basic training logging program. It allows you to use monitor distance, speed, pace, heart rate, and it allows you to log this data to your phone. You can then analyze it by uploading this data when the workout is over. You can create and save routes that you frequently travel. The app uses audio to let you know how fast and far you are running. The app allows you to pick a playlist from your phone during your workout. This is great if you use headphones and listen to music while training. Of course, the downside is that you need to carry your phone during training, which can be a pain when you are running. The software also relies on the GPS feature of your phone, which, depending on the phone and service, can be so-so. Still, if you are just starting a training program, and are not ready to invest into a GPS fitness watch, this software can be a great training tool. You can post your runs to Facebook and let certain friends view your workout. It also sends you email encouragement when you break a previous record. I have included some screen shots of the software so that you can get an idea:
Here are a few videos to give you a better idea on how the software works, and what to do with the data after your workout is over.:
If you want to learn more about RunKeeper, click here. If you already use it, let me know by leaving a comment what you think about it, and what your favorite features are.
Are you looking for a great gift idea for the swimmer in you life. Look no further than the Finis Swimsense performance monitor. The swim sense is a rechargeable swim training watch that measures pace times, distance, stroke count, stroke rate, distance-per-stroke and calories burned across all major strokes. To use the watch, all that you go is get in the water, and press the swim button. All intervals and strokes are recorded. The watch automatically recognizes what stroke you are using. After your workout, you can upload your data to the Swimsense Log for analysis and workout tracking. The watch software is fully updatable, so as software improvements come out, you can update your software by pluming the unit into a PC or MAC. You can also upload your workout to TrainingPeaks, RunKeeper, Sports Tracks, and 2PEAK websites.
Here is a video of the Swimsense in action:
And here is an in-depth video which shows how to use the watch: