Review: Scosche myTrek Wireless Pulse Monitor
As part of this years aim to take a look at as much health, fitness, and wellbeing technology and gadgetry my current attention has turned to workout and fitness monitoring. In this review we will be taking a closer look at the myTrek Wireless Pulse Monitor from the consumer technology arm of Scosche Industries. The myTrek is particularly interesting in that it was selected as an International CES Innovations 2011 Design and Engineering Awards Honoree.
Once fitted, the Wireless Pulse Monitor keeps a regular watch on pulse rate and reports the information it finds to a Bluetooth paired device. The supporting myTrek downloadable app takes this information as a starting point for an application which can track pulse, calorie usage, distance travelled, speed and pace.
The myTrek is designed for the iPhone (3GS/4) and iPod touch (3rd and 4th Generation) although it also seemed to work just fine on an iPhone 4S and Android based Samsung GALAXY Note (the myTrek app is downloadable from the Apple App Store and Google Play).
In The Box: myTrek Wireless Pulse Monitor
In the myTrek Wireless Pulse Monitor vase is the pulse monitor itself, a USB charging base (which clips onto the back of the monitor for charging), three different strap length attachments, a quick start guide and access to the free downloadable Scosche myTrek App.
The first thing to do is to choose the appropriate length of strap as the monitor is recommended to be positioned over the muscular part of the forearm. A typical size is already attached to the myTrek and needs removing before attaching a different length. Fortunately, the process is straightforward as it is attached through a convenient hook and loop fastening mechanism. It really is good to see a number of different lengths being provided as it makes the strap accessible to a wider range of people and the short strap is ideal for wearing the monitor around the wrist.
Note: There is a warning to ensure the correct strap is removed as the sensor strap must not be removed from the monitor.
Next up the monitor should be charged which takes around two hours and charging is indicated by a flashing red indicator during charging and a solid green indicator when the monitor is fully charged. The rear of the monitor itself holds the charging terminals for use with the USB charging base. Once fully charged Scosche suggests the unit should be ready for up to five hours work out time, powered by a lithium-ion battery.
The rear of the monitor strap is where the photo sensor for the pulse monitor is located (as shown image right).
The face of the monitor has three rubber like buttons and two LED indicators.
The left and right buttons are the volume controls up and down (however the volume controls are only recognised when the supporting application is running) whilst the larger button, located in the centre, is a multi function button for use with a compatible application.
The multi function button is unusual in that it controls not just starting and stopping music (with a tap), but pressing and holding the button for more than three seconds will power off the myTrek whilst a double tap advances to the next track and a triple tap skips to the previous track. A more typical method may have been to make the volume up and down buttons also behave as track selection through a prolonged tap.
The myTrek uses Bluetooth (2.1 +EDR) to communicate with the paired device so listening to music requires wired headphones rather than wireless ones. As the myTrek can only be paired with one Bluetooth device at a time it it will need to be “forgotten” in order to pair it with a different device. On an iOS based device this can be achieved by heading into Settings, selecting General, then Bluetooth, then tapping the arrow next to the “Connected” message, then finally tapping “Forget this Device”.
In Operation: myTrek Wireless Pulse Monitor
Once the pulse monitor is charged, paired, attached to the forearm, and the myTrek application is downloaded and running the application will run a calibration against the monitor which typically takes just a few seconds. Once the calibration is complete the display switches to show the currently recorded pulse.
Along the top of the myTrek application are four icons: “My Home”, “My Workouts”, “My Stats”, and “My Settings”.
The “My Home” is the default view which shows the current pulse rate together with training zone indicator. Regular exercisers will find the the training zone indicator a really handy function as it shows a clear zone indicator, from a range of seven, so a quick glance can tell the wearer whether the unit believes they are in a Resting Zone, Fitness, Weight Loss, Performance, or one of the Red Line of Baseline Zones.
“My Workouts” allows configuration changes to the default workout configuration and the ability to create personalised Workouts. New Workouts require selection of Activity (e.g. Running, Yoga, Walking, Aerobics), a Target Training Zone (e.g. Weight Loss, Performance, or Fitness), and a Workout Type (e.g. Time or Distance based, Calorie Target, or Free Workout).
For best performance the users personal details (including age, gender and weight) should be entered into the “My Settings” section of the myTrek application. In this section the user can also specify a male or female voice prompt, choose the display unit and configure a number of other settings including auto-lock and pause on incoming calls.
From the default “My Home” screen the unit is ready to operate by selecting “Start Workout” from the myTrek application home screen at which time appropriate information will be display for example a time based workout will include percentage of workout completed, time taken, number of calories burned and the current training zone. If the voice prompt option is selected the unit will play helpful motivational messages. Once a workout is started, the music playlist can be played or the workout can be ended.
After completing a work-out by selecting the “End Workout” icon the work out summary can be reviewed and these are stored within the application on the paired device so you can look through previous routines for comparison and future planning. This is particularly well laid out with a calendar view showing the dates which workouts occurred and tapping any given date will present the details of the particular workout.
One note of caution though is that the distance calculations require GPS functionality in order to operate effectively which may be a problem indoors.
Overall: myTrek Wireless Pulse Monitor
The Scosche myTrek Wireless Pulse Monitor sits comfortably on the arm, which is a huge relief from the usual requirement of chest straps, and the simplicity of the control scheme means you can focus more on your exercise routine and less on the technology. The Scosche myTrek is comfortable to wear, well thought out, and together with the handy myTrek App offers a fantastic system for those who regularly exercise.
The Scosche MyTrek is priced at £129.95 but is currently available from Amazon for around £99.99 (price checked 13th March 2012) and is also available from a number of other vendors including Apple and Firebox. For more information head over to Scosche: myTrek Wireless Pulse Monitor