You’re probably familiar with the name LifeTrak, but if you’re not and you’re reading this on a treadmill, look at the manufacturer. Chances are fairly good you’re running on a LifeTrak so they know a little about the exercise business.
They’ve come out with a fitness wearable with a different kick that aims to let you know when you’re most ready to work out and how hard to exert yourself.
It tracks calories burned, sleep, heart rate, heart rhythm, can be worn on your wrist, upper arm, ankle. It’s sweat proof, waterproof, takes accidental impacts remarkably well, has a battery that lasts for days, and can even tell you the time.
An app you connect to occasionally and sync interfaces with Apple’s health app and Google Fit so you can easily connect your workouts to most fitness apps.
The heart rate variability portion has been the most interesting to me. There’s a V Score, which is the heart rate variability combined with sleep and some other metrics which tells you how ready you are for a workout and how hard to push yourself.
Without going into great details as it’s mostly just allergy shots, kiddie colds, and one Nashville Predators brew fest, the past month and a half have been an excessive number of bad days for me. Each V Score I pulled on days I felt like garbage reflected that I should take it easy and on days I felt good, it knew I should exercise and push myself.
The Zoom HRV can be used underwater, and if worn on the ankle will keep up with cycling cadence and shoot data to cycling apps. I’m mentioning this but I will most likely not be testing this out in the next review.
The bad reviews (other places)
When I was offered this I checked the Amazon reviews and the reviews were mixed. Still, having logged several hundred miles on LifeTrak equipment and delusionally thinking I could do a “dad bod to rad bod,” piece with two kids and three-ish jobs, I decided to try it.
First thing to note is the firmware is upgradable. They’ve upgraded it twice in the month or so I’ve been using it. This is important as it means the methods they use and the performance that was reviewed previously may not be accurate currently. Judging by the bad reviews earlier on in the year there were some problems and it’s still shipping with old firmware.
I’m not trying to discount the bad reviews, chances are it was released buggy and fixed later on, or at least changed or changeable.
While I didn’t run into heart rate detection issues that some people had seen in months prior, and everything feels pretty accurate, the lack of a text/intuitive display and the 1-3 click interface with no option to abort on accidental double click is annoying.
The minimalist display takes some work. Oh you can figure everything out once you consult the chart a few times and you’ll get it, but text or numbers would be useful.
The one-button interface is simple, but annoying. Click once, see the time. Click twice, enter a three minute uninterruptible V Scan. Click three times, sync your data. Miss that three clicks because you were sweaty or just didn’t push hard enough? Goodbye three minutes. Why couldn’t the V Scan be the three clicks?
There’s no auto syncing of data, and on Android at least choosing sync doesn’t appear to wake the phone up for the Zoom app to sync. I’ll have to verify this later on a different device.
The Zoom HRV wearable does have some feedback but it’s going to require referring to the manual a few times before it sinks in. You can live stream to your device if you want more info and want to also burn the battery a little faster.
Updating the firmware should provide better readings and battery life one assumes, but it takes forever. By forever I mean it claims 20 minutes and I’m pretty sure I clocked it at 40 minutes one day. I had to plug my phone in to keep it from dying during the update. I’ve had two updates during the use.
As the Zoom HRV is sealed it requires a docking station to charge it. Docking station doesn’t do a great job of letting me know it’s snug and charging. It’s also larger than it appears to need to be and they don’t ship a charger with the unit.
Without access to the raw data that the Zoom HRV is using to make a V Score you can’t tell against other methods of detection if it’s guessing right. Did it not track my sleep properly? Did I forget to wear it to bed? Who knows.
You’ve complained a lot
I’m pretty confident the Zoom HRV is doing what’s advertised. I’m using it in my attempts at getting back into a shape that isn’t Grimace-like. That said, I’m obviously not an elite athlete any more and the fitness products I have this to compare to are not in the same class.
I’ll cover some more in a month or so now that I’m hopefully out of the major allergy shot fatigue zone.