This review is part of our series on the most popular fitness tracker devices. Read the full story here.
On the last morning of this experiment, I ran nearly as fast as Usain Bolt. Or at least that's what my Rhythm says. It clocked my maximum speed during my a.m. jog at 23.98 miles per hour, close to the 28 miles per hour Bolt hits in 100 meters. Who knew I was the fastest woman alive?!
The GPS is equally unreliable, clocking a 2-mile loop around my neighborhood as 3+ and a 2.5-mile loop as just about 4. Both Google and MapMyRun have calculated these distances about equally, not to mention that I know roughly how long it takes me to cover these distances -- and it's certainly not in 6:30 miles.
I liked looking at calorie burn -- especially after Spinning class on Tuesday night -- but given the inaccuracies in distance and time, I'm taking it with a grain of salt.
But what I was really curious about before this experiment was what my armband would report after my Thursday evening soccer game. I've heard various guess-timates about the mileage covered during a typical game, but I've never measured the ground I've covered. However, even though the armband was on and the app was running on my phone, I dribbled and cut in and out of Bluetooth range, thereby losing signal and recording no data for the workout except for elapsed time.
Dramatic twist ending: I happen to have also been wearing a pedometer during much of my week testing out the Rhythm. It doesn't need to sync with my phone or any online dashboard, it doesn't even have an On/Off button, it just counts my steps. I found the numbers more eye-opening -- 10,000 in a couple hours of mostly window shopping versus only 3,000 during a particularly busy work day -- and the total count more inspiring. On the last night of the Rhythm experiment, I realized I had only logged about 4,500 steps and promptly began pacing my apartment as I chatted with my roommates. (Yes, they think I'm crazy.) I think I'll keep wearing it!
I can't say the bright yellow matches much of my workout gear, but at least this device isn't designed to be worn 24/7. It's not uncomfortable, but it has to be relatively snug to capture your pulse, and took a little getting used to.
The basics of the armband are pretty straightforward, but the app I downloaded on my iPhone was much more confusing to use. I'm still unclear about how to chose a goal for each logged activity, and I found the option to display detailed stats for my workouts buried three or four steps deep. It was simple -- and fun! -- to sync with iTunes, though. Voice commands to speed up or slow down your workout in order to match your target heart rate gently interrupt your workout jams.
There can be great value to monitoring heart rate while exercising, especially if you're hoping to reach particular fitness or weight loss goals, but I prefer to listen to my body. And I do a range of activities for exercise, like playing soccer, where reaching a target heart rate just isn't the goal.
I can't say it really encouraged me to move more, except for the fact that I knew I needed to give it enough tries to make this experiment worthwhile.
The Rhythm retails for $99.99
Follow Sarah Klein on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sarklei