Wearable technology's versatility is arguably its greatest strength. Sometimes the devices that emerge are complex, and sometimes the devices are much more simple. We've seen a lot of complex devices in recent days, but now we have something a little simpler. Our friends at Scosche sent out the Scosche Rhythm Plus Heart Rate Monitor for us to review, and this may well be the simplest piece of wearable tech we've seen yet. While it may not be what some devices were, it's still got plenty to offer for its simplicity.
The Scosche Rhythm Plus Heart Rate monitor is, essentially, just what the name implies: a Bluetooth-driven system that helps track a user's heart rate across several different apps. It uses that Bluetooth connection to connect to a device of choice—iOS or Android (News - Alert) are the two clear favorites, since the back of the box makes it clear that the apps that work with the Scosche system come from the Apple App Store and from Google (News - Alert) Play—and from there can be used with the apps as a heart rate tracker. The system includes a USB charging system and two different velcro wristbands to ensure a good fit. It is waterproof to within one meter for 30 minutes, but it's noted that "prolonged submersion" can mean damage for the unit. The device is meant to be worn high up on the forearm, with the multifunction button toward the inside of the arm.
The good news about this system is that it's actually very easy to set up and operate. I managed to make the system operate in the space of about five minutes, after a good long while on the charger. Getting the device set up and hooked up went smoothly, with minimal issues. Indeed, the Scosche actually works with over 20 different apps from what I could tell, meaning that a substantial number of fitness apps—including some you probably never even knew existed, and some you may already be familiar with—will be available for use with this system. Better yet, the system works, and clearly well. I watched my heart rate drop and climb through a variety of different exercises followed by simple cool-down activities, and the pacing seemed to match up reasonably well with what I was doing. It's a device geared toward measuring the heart rate, and that it did, and quite well from what I could tell in testing it. It was a surprise to see how different activities did different things to my heart rate.
That is at once the best part and the worst about the Scosche Rhythm. It's incredibly simple. Setup is a matter of minutes. The instruction manual is written in six different languages and still fits readily in the palm of a hand. But at the end, all it does is just trace heart rate. This isn't like the Misfit (News - Alert) Shine, where it tracks sleep along with exercise. It's not like the Spree Smartcap, where it offers several features built into a system where the primary point of interface is the forehead. The Scosche Rhythm Plus doesn't even have its own app to work with; the Scosche Rhythm app, according to Scosche's website, doesn't actually work with the Rhythm Plus. That's both charm and failing of this unit, as it fits seamlessly into an array of experiences, and does a great job therein, but really doesn't have its own ecosystem to work with, which makes it somewhat of a lesser experience than the other, more complex tools out there.
I give the Scosche Rhythm Plus due credit for its simplicity and its ease of use, but when it comes to versatility, it just doesn't hold up very well. Those interested, meanwhile, can pick one up from a variety of places--even Scosche's own website, starting at $79.99. Other packages are also available, including a version for runners with earbuds and an armband, and a bike bundle geared for, as the name suggests, cyclists. It's a system that could have done so much more, but in the end, decided to do one thing and do it really well. That may or may not be useful, but for those who just need a heart rate tracker and nothing else, the Scosche Rhythm Plus should do the job quite well.
Pros: Incredibly simple setup. Incredibly simple ease of use. Plays well with several apps.
Cons: Minimal functionality outside of heart rate tracking.
Edited by Maurice Nagle
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