Lifestyle

Is the Scosche Rhythm+ smartwatch worth it for fitness buffs?

Is the Scosche Rhythm+ smartwatch worth it for fitness buffs?
Phil - The Tech Guy

People who are serious about fitness monitor their hear rate as they work out. Until recently, this meant wearing a strap around the chest with sensors that transmit to a sports watch.

In the past year, there have been a number of new products on the market that profess to provide EKG quality measurements from a transmitter on the arm. These transmitters use optical LEDs to sense heart rate – a completely different approach.

Move Over, Fitbit

Although companies like Fitbit have launched products with optical HRM sensors, only two brands deliver on their promises at the moment. One is Scosche with their Rhythm+ and the other is the Mio Link and the Mio Fuse (which is an activity tracker and a Heart Rate Monitor combined). These 2 companies are the only recommended optical HRMs that are designed for the arm. Other brands do OK when the heart rate is continuous but do not handle variations well at all.

I personally have the Scosche, and I’m impressed. Technologically, it will connect with multiple ANT+ and Bluetooth BLE 4.0 devices at the same time. I currently use it with my Garmin Vivosmart activity band, my Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS watch, and my Android phone and a number of apps such as Strava.

Why Measure Heart Rate?

When a person works out, heart rate is an excellent indicator of whether the person is overdoing it and needs to slow down or alternatively is not working hard enough. Also, more calories are burned the higher the heart rate.
In my case, I have to be careful with my knees so I tend to walk instead of jog. There are times when my heart rate is just too slow so I adjust accordingly.

Unboxing

This is what the Scosche looks like after everything is taken out of the package.

scosche-unboxing

You get the Rhythm+; a short band to wear around your wrist; a long band to wear on your arm; a charging clip; and a skimpy instruction booklet.

Getting Started

The first thing to do is to fully charge the Scosche. There are 2 circular holes which line up with the two prongs of the charger. Snap the Scosche on the clip so that they make contact and plug it into any usb port. It should take about an hour for the first charge. The re/blue light flashes intermittently as it is charging.
Once it is fully charged, the Scosche should be good for about 8 hours of use before needing another charge. I tested it and it lasted 7 hours and 50 minutes for me.

Using the Scosche

To use the Scosche, press the top of the unit for 2 seconds and it will flash blue/red rapidly while in pairing mode. Once a connection is made the flashing becomes steady. If it connects via ANT+ (like to my Garmin watches), the flashing is red. If it connects to Bluetooth, it flashes blue.

If it connects to both ANT+ and Bluetooth it will steadily flash blue/red. If it fails to connect at all, the light will stop flashing and just remain on. This will happen if the Scosche is not positioned exactly right.

scosche-led

This is what the LEDs look like when they’re on.

 

forerunner-305

This is what it looks like transmitting to my Forerunner 305.

garmin-vivosmart

This is what the Scosche looks like transmitting to my Garmin Vivosmart.

scosche-heart-rate-screen

The heart rate screen. This is what it looks like in Strava on my phone.

 

Pros

  • More comfortable than a chest strap
  • Accurate results
  • Not subject to erroneous records due to static electricity caused by garment materials
  • Simultaneously connect to ANT+ and BLE 4.0 Bluetooth devices.
  • Strong antenna which to connect to multiple devices
  • Eliminates need for multiple straps
  • Large and small arm/wrist straps in the package
  • Can be worn under shirt sleeve
  • Does not need to wet to work like a chest strap

Cons

  • 8 hour rechargeable battery life compared to an inexpensive chest strap button battery which often lasts for years
  • Need to remember to recharge
  • Can run out during workout if you forget
  • Cannot measure heartrate all day due to insufficient battery capacity
  • Not compatible with most Polar devices which use their own proprietary communication system
  • Straps are consumables and will probably need to be replaced after a year or two
  • Needs to be placed in specific spots on arm to read heart rate vs. chest strap which does not need exact placement
  • It lacks any sort of display to determine heart rate. Need to view on other device

Conclusion

I really like my Scosche and recommend it. Before buying the Scosche I wore 2 chest straps for every workout. Now I wear only one for Polar on my chest and the Scosche on my arm which simultaneously feeds my Garmin Vivosmart, FR305, and Strava on my phone. This is much more convenient than what I needed to do before.

Amazon currently sells the Scosche Rhythm + for $79.95 US. In Canada, MEC sells it for $89.95 Cdn.

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