(Pocket-lint) - Tracking your heart rate can add a layer of information to your workouts that will give you a better insight into what your body is doing.
It's no surprise to find sensors in all manner of wearables these days - but for those who don't want to wear a sports watch, or want to keep their wrists free of devices, there's another option - just wearing the sensor.
That's exactly what the Schosche Rhythm+2.0 is: a wearable heart rate sensor that you can strap around your arm - it's not yet another chest band - to provide more real-time data for your workouts.
Design and build
- Dimensions: 42 x 38 x 11mm / Weight: 29g
- 28mm removable armband
- IP68 waterproofing
The Scosche Rhythm+2.0 is a plastic unit that's about the same size as a watch, designed to be held against your arm thanks to the elastic armband.
The rear of the device houses the all-important sensor array, with green and yellow LEDs that need to make contact with your skin. It's also here you'll find the contacts for the charging clip.
The whole device is IP68 rated, so it doesn't matter if it gets wet - that's officially dust-sealed and good enough to survive in 1.5 metres of water for 30 minutes.
The elastic strap is some 28mm wide, designed to clip onto the bars on the body of the device, so it can be easily changed. There's a range of colours available, so if you don't want the default black strap, you can switch to another colour. These straps are the same as Scosche's more advanced device, the Rhythm24.
The strap has a slider on it so you can adjust the tension, because you need to make sure it's secure enough to maintain contact while moving, but not so tight that it restricts bloodflow or gets uncomfortable during use.
It's easy to get the right fit and if you do find it gets a little tight once you start your activity, you can nudge the slider along a little while on the move to fix the problem.
The surface of the Rhythm+2.0 has a single multifunction button on it, which is how you turn it on or off, or trigger pairing. An LED will show the status of the device, so you know what's going on.
Connectivity and setup
- Bluetooth & ANT+
- Smartphone app
To turn on the Rhythm+2.0 you hold the button for 2 seconds and it will blink to life, initially entering pairing mode. This is like any other Bluetooth device and you can then scan for it and connect it to another device.
We connected it to the Hammerhead Karoo 2 bike computer as well as a number of other devices. It supports both Bluetooth and ANT+ so you can choose the wireless standard you want to use. Many sports devices will support ANT+ and using that channel potentially leaves Bluetooth free for other connections - but the choice is yours.
Supporting these standards makes it a universal device, so you can connect to smartphones, watches, bike computers, laptops, gym equipment - whatever you want. We encountered no problems with any of the devices we connected it to.
The Rhythm+2.0 has to be worn in contact with the skin so those optical sensors can detect and capture your heart rate. Thanks to the strap, it's easy to wear, with Scosche recommending that you wear it on the upper forearm or on the bicep or tricep.
We found the upper forearm was the most convenient position as we predominantly wore it for cycling and this avoided conflict with the tight sleeves of a cycling jersey, but this comes down to personal preference - and some might find some areas more accurate than others.
Once setup, you just have to ensure that the Rhythm+2.0 is turned on and connected to your recording device and then you can head out and do whatever activity you want to record.
There's an app, called Rhythm Sync, but it really doesn't do very much. It can update the firmware for the sensor, but other than that, it will show your heart rate and the battery level.
The app will also show the heart rate zone that you're in, but without the ability to give the app any details about yourself, it's an estimate of the zone rather than being tailored to your own physiology. There is a section of the app called "my details" but we found that to be greyed out and not accessible, hinting that the app could be doing more.
A 3 second press of the button will turn the Rhythm+2.0 off, while a longer press will trigger pairing mode again - with a red/blue LED showing the status. We have found on a number of occasions that the Rhythm+2.0 wouldn't turn off, however, with the only option to leave it running until the battery died - which takes about a day.
The button function is a little non-descript and on a number of occasions we've turned it on, only to find it turn off again - it's just not as precise as it should be.
Performance and function
- 30m range
- 24 hour battery life
The attraction of wearing a sensor on your arm is that you can avoid the other option - which is the chest strap. Generally speaking chest straps are considered to be more accurate because they detect the electrical pulses of the heart rather than relying on optical sensing through the skin.
Chest straps can be uncomfortable, inconvenient and bulky - and they also need to be moistened to work. Let's face it, most of us lick them before putting them on to ensure that connection is there from the off.
Chest straps are also more likely to cause skin irritation because you're sweating into it - especially on longer events. You can't move chest straps around with quite the freedom that you can an armband - but that's the price you pay for top level accuracy or enhanced features, which some offer.
Convenience and accessibility is really what the Rhythm+2.0 is all about, and of immediate interest to cyclists who want that heart rate data on a bike computer - and who don't want to wear a (typically inaccurate) watch. In that sense, this is a great solution, solving the problem in a simple way.
But this is a tool that does only one thing: it acts as a remote sensor and passes data to another device. It doesn't work as a standalone monitor, so you can just wear it and then transfer data later - it's live monitoring only.
That means for runners you'd need to have your phone with you for this to be useful. The 30 metre range is designed to give some freedom so you could wear the sensor and leave your phone in your bag at the edge of the gym room or whatever. For those wanting remote capture of that heart rate data without a connected device, you'd need the Scosche Rhythm24 instead.
As to the performance itself, we've found the Rhythm+2.0 to be accurate, closely matching the sort of performance we get from the Verity Sense - a rival optical armband - and a Garmin heart rate strap.
The great thing is that you can just pull it on, hop on your bike and head out of the door. Connectivity has been solid, we've had no dropouts in connection, resulting in all the data we want, all the time.
The battery life has been harder to gauge - we know it will do that 24 hours because that's how long you need to leave it when you can't turn it off! Generally speaking you'll have to use the app to see what the charge level is, or just get into a routine of charging weekly or whatever matches your usage. For us, we found charging it every couple of weeks was sufficient, averaging about 6-8 hours of exercise a week. Charging is easy as the USB charger just clips to the back of the Rhythm+2.0 and off you go.
There aren't a huge number of options when it comes to buying this type of optical sensor - an arm-based strap, not a chest strap - and what Scosche really offers is an affordable way to bring heart rate data to other devices.
It's slightly cheaper than the Polar Verity Sense, which is an obvious rival, but Polar's solution is more compact and more fully featured.
The button on it is a little vague, however, while the device feels like it's larger than it needs to be. But once you're wearing it, that really doesn't matter.
Importantly, the Scosche Rhythm+2.0 is accurate, delivering results you can rely on to make sure your training data is dependable.
Polar Verity Sense
More compact than the Scosche, offering wider functions and a better app, meaning you can do a lot more with it.