Whether you’re a fitness buff or someone just getting into fitness and a healthier lifestyle, you can benefit from a pulse rate monitor. Scosche has just released their Rhythm Armband Pulse Monitor and app, which will monitor and record pulse rate, motivate, and help you find your rhythm. After a workout, you’ll be able to review all sorts of stats on a second-by-second basis and improve for the next workout.
Traditionally, heart rate monitors require chest straps, but Scosche was able to pull it off in an easy and comfortable arm band. We have noticed that Scosche is reluctant to use the term “heartbeat” and rather uses “pulse rate”. While pulse and heartrate can differ slightly, they’re essentially both monitoring the rate at which your heart is beating. Scosche disclaims that the Pulse Monitor is within 3% of a chest strap’s results.
The Rhythm Pulse Monitor is an arm band, not a bracelet, but an arm band. The actual unit is about the size of a fun-sized piece of candy (it’s Halloween; it’s all we can think about!), maybe a bit thinner. The strap is extremely comfortable and the velcro is amazing. Scosche really nailed it with the band. It straps to your forearm and it doesn’t move or bunch, even if you’re doing bicep curls. It’s the futuristic type of short velcro; it’s not especially hairy or prickally and it does a superb job of sticking. The monitor itself has three buttons and an LED. The outside buttons are volume and the inside button is the universal button, much like your iPhone headphone remote. The center button turns the device on and off and also controls music. The Scosche Rhythm is a bluetooth device and pairs to your Android, iPhone, iPod, or iPad just like any other bluetooth device. It requires iOS 5.1 or higher and a free app in the App store.
While you’re outside running or at the gym, the pulse monitor is definitely noticeable (the yellow helps); the blinking LED makes it look like it’s doing something very important! I rock the pulse monitor proudly at the gym, meanwhile most people haven’t a clue what it’s doing.
There’s a USB charger that mounts to the back of the pulse monitor. It takes about two hours to charge the device and it lasts about six hours. There’s a detailed and accurate battery meter in the app.
Your pulse and heart rate are important whether you’re a fitness person or couch potato. It’s one of the easiest indicators of your overall heart health and fitness level. If your resting heart rate or maximum heart rate are too high, then you’re in need of exercise. Maximum heart rate is 220 beats per minute minus your age. Resting heart rate is 50-70BPMs depending on age. During exercise, heart rate can be used to measure the intensity of your training and also maximize the efficiency of a workout. There are training zones which are calculated as percentages of your max heart rate. For instance, for weight loss you want to stay within 60%-70% of your max heart rate.
The Rhythm Pulse Monitor is mainly just monitoring your pulse, but the app can do way more! They communicate via bluetooth and the app records your pulse in real time. You can always go back and review your pulse by the second. As you might be able to imagine, the app functions as an entire workout diary and more. It helps you organize and monitor any type of workout; you can upload the information to the cloud, other apps, or the world (Facebook, Twitter, Email).
In your workout log, you can review the time you started the workout, the duration, average pulse, max pulse, calories burned, distance travelled, average pace, max speed, average speed, a chart of your pulse and your pace (with scroll-over details), and a map of your route. You can even scroll over the map to watch your route and observe your pace at any point of the walk/jog/run. You can name all of your workouts and include any helpful notes. GPS is an optional feature for workouts. You can also set goals like target training zone (i.e. Weight Loss = 116 to 135 beats per minute), calories to burn, distance to travel, or time to exercise. You can share any or all of your workouts with Facebook, Twitter, Email, Runkeeper App, MapMyFitness App, or the Scosche Online Dashboard.
Since the Rhythm is bluetooth, you can take advantage of the 33 wireless foot range. The buttons on Rhythm would come in handy for controlling your music. Your iPod music shows up inside of the Rythym app. The Rythym dashboard displays your pulse as soon as the device is paired to your phone so you don’t need to start an exercise if you’re curious. The Rhythm dashboard also displays your pulse, the Rhythm battery, and GPS service.
When the Rhythm Pulse Monitor works, it works very well. It seems to work near perfectly or not at all. For instance, when you feel your heart beating a mile a minute you’ll notice you’re near your max and you can watch it change as you feel it. I confirmed its accuracy by comparing to the built-in pulse monitor on the elliptical machine. Unfortunately with my testing, the Rhythm Pulse Monitor is sometimes reluctant to start reading pulse rate properly. It usually just takes a couple minutes of fiddling to get the Rhythm in a good spot to work properly. On occasion, my pulse drops to level:dead mid-workout. I’m still experimenting with the ideal monitoring position on different parts of my forearm; it should be easy with my veiny arm.
The app is pretty solid. I love the built-in charts for visualizing pace and heart rate over an entire workout. The route-mapping is another amazing feature which is extremely insightful; it helps you factor in aspects like terrain conditions and incline. For instance, how was my heart rate affected when I ran up that hill? It’s also great to see how your pulse changed over the course of a jog/run. Where do you get your stride? Where is the most strenuous part of the workout? It’s easy to determine.
The app is great and does a great job of always immediately syncing with Rhythm, however it’s not perfect. Firstly, it’s not optimized iOS 6 yet, but that should be fixed in no time. There’s a built-in iTunes app, but it only lets you view your cover art and skip tracks. If you want to choose an artist or playlist you have to do so from the iPod app. The Rhythm Bracelet controls music and tracks, however it only controls iTunes music, if you try to skip a Spotify or Rdio app it will just start playing iTunes. The app tries to be customizable, which is nice, but it could do better. For instance, you have two views mid-workout, your simple dashboard or a detailed workout with chart. The detailed workout with chart displays everything but your current heart rate, so I have to constantly toggle between the two. Also, considering you’re going to try to use it while running or jogging, the buttons should be sized appropriately.
In reality, the battery lasts about three workouts. It’s helpful to see the exactly battery of the Rhythm from the app. Rhythm also uses a decent amount of power from your iPhone. Luckily you can shut off GPS if you don’t need it.
Aside from some bugginess, the Rhythm Pulse Rate Monitor is an awesome device great for any fitness level. As a decently active individual, I’ve learned that I can benefit from some more cardio since my pulse rate spikes a bit high just from running a mile outside. I reviewed the SportsTracker Heart Rate Monitor; which was not nearly as comfortable or easy to use. The Rhythm is so comfortable, easy, and insightful that I hardly have a reason to not use it. The compatibility is another selling point, it works on Android and iOS plus it can transfer data to other apps. The $99.99 price point may sound a bit steep, but compared to other options it’s actually pretty good. Hopefully, the next update to the app will fix every issue we had. The Rhythm Pulse Rate Monitor is currently available from Scosche.com.
The Good: Very Comfortable,good fit, accurate, insightful application, app uses GPS, built-in music controls, small and large strap included and works with iOS and Android
The Bad: Sometimes tricky to get pulse read working, buttons only work on iTunes App, battery hog, app in need of updates (as of Oct 29 2012) and battery should last more than 3 workouts.