At some point in the near future, we’ll all give up the pretense that we can live without our iPhones for even a split second and just implant the thing under the skin of our forearms. That’s the future Scosche is betting on with the advent of its new device, the MyTrek.
It’s a training device that measures your heart rate. Most pulse monitors like this strap onto your wrist or wrap around your chest. And in the realm of comfort, the MyTrek is an improvement. The comparatively small unit uses two LEDs to illuminate your blood vessels below the skin, and a photo sensor measures the flickering of your pulse.
The size of the unit and the astonishing accuracy of its pulse measurement means the MyTrek can be worn anywhere on the body. The provided strap is too long for spindly arms, so I preferred wearing it on my calf—where, I must confess, it became rather hard to take off. In shorts, it was all too easy to whip my iPhone out of my pocket and check my pulse and calories burned while I was… watering the garden. Or walking the dog. Must walk dog faster!
But the MyTrek’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. In order to display and record your measurements, the unit must be connected to an iPhone or iPod Touch via Bluetooth. And like many a CEO pacing around his corner office on a conference call has discovered, Bluetooth isn’t that great over distance. If you’re not prepared to carry the iPhone with you on your workout, the MyTrek is useless — it doesn’t store any data that can be downloaded later. But adding the bulk of your iPhone to your body while running or working out negates the MyTrek’s major improvement over the competition, which is its featherweight strap-it-on-and-forget-it design.
The MyTrek literature says the device can be used within 33 feet of the iPhone, but stashing my phone in a locker on the gym floor was a no-go. Almost immediately, the red LEDSs blinked in alarm, warning me the device was no longer connected.
Scosche tries to sweeten the deal by providing buttons on the MyTrek for shuffling through your music collection. But if you’re wearing the MyTrek somewhere else besides your arm, you can’t reach the buttons — and if you’re schlepping your iPhone on the exercise bike or elliptical, it’s easier to scroll through your music manually.
Finally, the Scosche app isn’t a miracle of clarity. It’s easy enough to set small goals; for example, to achieve a particular workout zone for weight loss or performance tuning. If you have headphones plugged into your iPhone, the app notifies you when you’ve achieved your desired pulse rate and how far along into your workout you are. The app also includes a calendar that stores your stats.
Granted, pretty much any app is difficult to figure out when compared to Apple’s idiot-proof OS. But I just couldn’t figure out how to create an individualized workout program or set fitness goals with the app, or do anything besides marvel at how hard it was to get out of my resting zone each time I used it.
All in all, the MyTrek has some promising aspects to it. If you’re the type of gym rat who loves running on the treadmill or zoning out on an exercise bike, you probably won’t even notice any of its shortcomings. However, if you intend to do anything else, like long runs or weight-lifting, and if you’d like to do so without a 10-inch-square, 5 ounce piece of metal and glass taped to your body, you might want to reconsider your choice of device.
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