Review PulseOn

The PulseOn is a beautifully designed activity watch which bases its interface on HR derived from a wrist-based sensor. I would say it’s aimed at an image conscious person that wants to get fit and is happy to do so based on HR training, coupled with some fancy analytics from highly respected Firstbeat.

Source: Pulseon

Source: Pulseon

Out of the box, what do you get?

The watch, USB charging cable, a spare strap, and the ever-present app.

I’ve been given the beta version to look at. There may well be more features in the version to be released later in 2014. The price looks to be geared towards a sub-US$200. In the UK that’s probably over £150.

What do you need to do?

Get the app working by downloading and pairing with Bluetooth. Turn on your GPS on your phone too. Quickly fill in your personal details (age, sex, weight – you need to do that to get calories and Training Effect stats working properly). Then you are pretty much good to go.

What does it show you?

Watch: Shows time of day; duration of exercise, heart rate, training zone, training effect. (Final version will show distance).

App: Shows pace information as well as the same stuff that’s on the watch. Also gives a countdown showing when you are ready for your next session. Session-, weekly- and monthly-summaries.

So, it’s quite basic stuff but, to be fair, it’s the key stuff that you need to have when following a sensible fitness regime.

Resources:

1. Extended Guide PulseOn

2. Marketing Video from PulseOn

3. PulseOn Twitter

So, Why Am I Reviewing This?

3 Reasons why I am looking at this:

  1. Wrist based HR – this is a REALLY cool feature. You do NOT have to wear a chest strap. Firstly that’s just WAY more hygienic and also helps many women who are unable to get a HR signal properly from chest based monitors.
  2. It looks good.
  3. It has ‘Analyzed by Firstbeat‘ technology
  4. Oh and a 4th one is that, unlike some wrist based solutions, the PulseOn STORES the data and syncs it later. Others can only continuously stream the data from the wrist.

I won’t go through the details of every menu option. Look at the manual, <here> it is, for that kind of information.

The interface is small and straightforward. The following image gives you an idea of how the in-exercise display can be toggled from one screen to the next. The bars at the bottom show the HR Zone that you are currently in.

PulseOn_Sport_Mode

PulseOn_Sport_Mode

Here is a flavour of the screen available on the app:

PulseOn_App_Mode

PulseOn_App_Mode

The Firstbeat included HR data stats are VERY GOOD and are worth further consideration.

FITNESS LEVEL: VO2max is included as a test of how fit you are. The higher it is, the fitter you are. The higher it is the harder it gets to improve it. If you can get a score in the 50s you are doing well. VO2max is a VERY GOOD measure of fitness.

TRAINING INTENSITY: is basically how high your heart beat is at any one time during your session. A scale of 1-6 is used. If you aim to do the following sessions (1xshortish Zone 4 ‘intervals’ + 1x medium Zone 3 +2x long Zone 2) each week then you will improve your fitness quickly. You probably would not want to do any more Zone3 or 4 than that as the higher the Training Intensity was the more time is required to recover from it. The app will tell you how long to wait for you to recover from the Zone 3 and Zone 4 sessions.

TRAINING EFFECT (TE): is a combination of TRAINING INTENSITY and TIME SPENT DOING IT. A scale of 0-5 is used. The training effect is a good measure to use over time and I use a similar metric in my training. Just to make sure that I am putting in the effort week after week, month after month. However please note that the human body is more nuanced than this; you could well just do Zone 2 TRAINING INTENSITY exercises and continually score a very good TRAINING EFFECT. To progress your running ability and fitness fully you WILL need to perform varied TRAINING INTENSITY exercises as I outlined in the previous paragraph.

RECOVERY TIME: The higher the training effect the longer the recovery. You need to heed the recovery time information before embarking on another hard session. Exercise is sort-of BAD for you AS RECOVERY is where your body improves (adapts). Do NOT eat into your recovery time or your improving fitness will be delayed.

ECG Accuracy:

Source: http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/pulseon-ecg.jpg

Source: http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/pulseon-ecg.jpg

Issues:

No product is perfect but this one hits many of the right positive buttons. If I were to be negative I would make the following comments:

* Initially battery life was an issue. This was fixed to a degree with firmware releases. there is possibly still some drop in power whilst the unit is turned off.
* I found the buttons a bit fiddly to turn on/off. The on button needed to be pressed for a while to power it up; although I suppose that is better than inadvertently turning it on/off
* I found it a little annoying that the screen display would turn off whilst in the exercise; OK you can press the button and it comes on again. I would have liked the option to turn that power-saving feature off.

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