Fitness gadgets are my exercise motivator. I love them. My only caveat is that they must be able to accurately track at the very least my heart rate and calories burned during a workout and not just my daily routine activities. The more data they collect the better. When the Gadgeteer was offered the Wahoo Fitness Tickr X, a chest strap heart rate and workout monitor, I was intrigued that it allowed the user to keep track of workout data without being connected to a device. How well does it work?
- Wahoo Fitness Tickr X Heart Rate and Workout Monitor
- Adjustable soft strap
- CR 2032 Battery (installed)
- Quick Start Guide
- Important Product Info Guide
- Physical Dimensions (LxWxH): 2.75″ x .5″ x 1.5″
- Weight: 8.5 grams (without strap)
- Battery: CR2032
- Battery Life: Up to 12 months
- Sweatproof: Yes (hand washable strap)
- Water Rating: IPX7 (waterproof up to 5 ft)
- Strap Length: Adjustable from 24″ to 48″ (stretched)
- Dual Band Technology (Bluetooth and ANT+)
- Real Time Tracking
- Burn & Burst Training Program™ (heart rate training zones)
- Visible Connection
- Third Party App Compatibility
- Running Smoothness™
- Treadmill Mode
- Running Cadence Measurement
- Additional Running Analytics
- Built-In Memory
- Indoor Cycling Cadence With Wahoo Fitness App
- Rep Counting With 7 Minute Workout App
- Vibration Alerts
- Rapid Double Tap Control
Design & Build Quality
The Wahoo Fitness Tickr X looks like a simple heart rate chest strap monitor but with the capability of storing 16 hours of workout data. It is made of black and white plastic and appears to be as rugged as other Bluetooth heart rate chest strap monitors. The pod also has two LEDs that light up when the Tickr X is being used. The blue LED indicates whether the Tickr is awake but not connected (blinks once per second) or awake and connected (four quick flashes the instant connection is made within the app, then two flashes per second indicating continued connectivity). The red LED flashes with your heart rate. Both LEDs stop flashing during an exercise session after 30 seconds to conserve battery.
The reverse side of the heart rate monitor reveals the battery compartment for the user replaceable battery and the conducting snaps that connect to the strap.
The strap is very easy to adjust. The underside of the strap contains the sensors to detect your heart beat.
I installed the Wahoo Fitness app on my Nexus 6 phone and iPod Touch 5G. To set up the Tickr X to work with the Wahoo Fitness app, it is necessary to first put on the Tickr X (you may need to apply water to the sensors on the strap), turn on Bluetooth in your device, then launch the app to connect the device from within the app (not in the Bluetooth settings). You must do this with every app you intend to use with the Tickr, but it is important to note that the Tickr X can only be used with one app at a time. I had no difficulties pairing and connecting the device with the Android or iOS Wahoo Fitness apps.
The Tickr X is more than just a heart rate monitor. When connected to the Wahoo Fitness app (iOS or Android), it tracks the workout duration, time spent within the fat burning and endurance zones, calories burned, lap times, distance, pace, heart rate, running smoothness, and cadence. Additionally, depending on whether you use the Android or iOS app, it provides plots of the raw data and calculates average and maximum values. Later you will see that the Android and iOS apps vary significantly on how the data is presented.
The above screenshots show the home screens of the Wahoo Fitnees apps (Android on the left and iOS on the right). When using the Tickr X, it is important to note that the data is not uploaded to a central location (like a cloud account) and the apps download data only from the device.
The Tickr X is unique in that it allows the user to workout without a phone. Later you can sync the offline workout to the Wahoo Fitness app. The iOS app will automatically sync upon launch, but make sure Bluetooth and the Tickr X are on (rub the metal snaps or terminals with your fingers to awaken the Tickr X). You may also sync manually within the app by tapping on the History section (clock icon), and pulling down on the list of data and releasing. Automatic syncing is not available for the Android app and must instead be done manually. After launching the app you must tap on the History icon then tap on the sync icon in the upper right hand corner of the workout history page.
Sadly, there is no way to set up the Tickr to have more than one user profile. I tried working around this by setting up the iPod Touch 5G app to contain my husband’s information (height, weight, birthday, and gender) so he would use only the iPod’s Wahoo app, while the Nexus 6 phone contained my information and I would use only the Nexus’s Wahoo app. This did not work very well. When syncing any offline workouts, it would download all the workout data (his and mine) to the apps. For example, if I decided to do a workout using the Tickr X and my Nexus 6 with the Wahoo app on, then afterward my husband decided to do a workout using the Tickr X and iPod with its Wahoo app on, the iOS app upon launch would automatically download my data into his workout history using his weight, height, birthday and gender to calculate calories burned, etc. (it considered my data to be an offline workout since I didn’t use the iPod). The Android app, on the other hand, requires manual syncing so my process was feasible as long as I made sure to use the Android app during my sessions and did not do any offline workouts that would require me to manually sync any data from the Tickr X (my offline workout plus any of my husband’s workouts). Eventually, I decided to scrap using a dedicated device and made sure that the Wahoo app had my profile data each time I worked out depending on the device I was using (my husband did the same). I know, I know, I made things more complicated than they needed to be. So the moral of the story is to buy a Tickr X for each user.
By tapping on the Workout Profiles button from the home screen on the Wahoo Fitness Android app (icon of a person walking located at the top of the home screen) or tapping on Settings from the home screen in the Wahoo Fitness iOS app, you can view your personal list of exercise profiles. The Wahoo Fitness apps have many different workout profiles from which to choose in addition to your personal list. By tapping on the “+” icon in the upper right hand corner of the Android app under the Workout Profiles section or by selecting “Create Workout Profile” under Settings in the iOS app, I was able to add the Cardio Class profile to my personal list of exercise profiles and even personalize the workout data pages to flip through as I exercised. I was also able to rename my workouts according to the DVD workouts I was doing but only when using the Android Wahoo app. When adding a new profile to your list, you need tap on it to make sure that the Tickr X is a linked device with that profile before starting your workout.
If you are a runner, there is a way to calibrate the Tickr X to your running style. This is located under the Saved Devices icon (located at the top of the home screen) in the Android Wahoo Fitness app or the Saved Sensors icon in the iOS app then select the Tickr X to get to the Calibration. My husband ran the calibration since running is a form of grueling torture for me.
This calibration allows the Tickr X to determine your distance traveled based on your cadence, which is useful when running on a treadmill. He found that the Tickr was able to predict distance traveled on a treadmill with reasonable accuracy regardless of whether it was calibrated or not, but only for running short distances. For longer distances, your stride may change as you tire, which skews the data slightly. It also seems unable to continue calculating distance while walking during a running workout.
It is also possible to set your own heart rate training zones (under the Menu icon in Android and under Settings on iOS). Tickr X provides data tracking for five heart rate zones: warmup, fat burning, aerobic, anaerobic, and speed and power. However, it can help you train according to your personal preferences by using two heart rate training zones (displayed in one of your real time workout data pages): Burn and Burst. The Burn icon (just like that shown in the right screenshot above) will flash during your exercise session when you are in the optimal fat burning zone and the Burst icon will flash when you are in the endurance zone. The numbers shown just below each icon are the heart rates for those zones. The Tickr X also allows you to follow an eight week Burn or Burst training program or even help you count reps using the Wahoo 7 Minute workout.
The above screenshots show the list of tests that you perform to set your personal Burn and Burst heart rate numbers, or you have the option of letting the app use your age to automatically set these numbers for you. I tried going through this process but I really don’t have a feel for what a moderate pace is for me, so I opted to let the app use my age to predetermine these for me. I found the flashing Burn or Burst icons to be fun and useful during my workouts.
Here is a sample of the workout histories from both apps. The exercise session listed at the top of each of these screenshots is from the same session using the same user profile information. The data listed in this brief summary shows differences in exercise duration, calories burned, and the average heart rate. I assume this has to do with when the Tickr X was put on and taken off versus launching and ending the workout session from within the app. Offline workouts start and stop when the device is put on and taken off and are therefore longer than those you start and stop within the app. It is possible to to truncate the beginning and end of a workout session but only in the iOS app.
I found the Tickr X to be an accurate heart rate sensor. When using the Tickr X during a workout, I compared it to my Polar H7 Bluetooth heart rate sensor chest strap and found that both captured the same heart rate throughout the session. I did however find that the Tickr X reports a higher number of calories burned versus my Polar M400. I’m not sure which is more accurate but I tend to believe the Polar’s calorie burn numbers over the Tickr’s. Why? Polar’s calculation seems to be right in the middle when compared to other devices I’ve used.
The Tickr also has a double tap feature which can be used to start or pause a workout, or be set up to pause or play music. I found the double tap feature to be useful during offline workouts, because after putting it on, you can double tap the pod to place a marker in the data for when the workout began and ended.
Here is a sample of the data reported for a Treadmill workout using the Android Wahoo Fitness app. (Click on the screenshots for a larger image.)
This is a sample of summary data reported for a Treadmill workout using the iOS Wahoo Fitness app. You’ll notice the summary data reported from the iOS app includes actual numbers for much of the data with some pertinent graphs, while the Android app seems to focus solely on presenting the data graphically. This is interesting since both apps will display the same real time data on various pages for you to flip through while working out. So essentially, the same data is tracked but the summaries are drastically different. The iOS summary data seems much more useful.
When doing an offline workout, the summary data reports are much more basic. In this case, the the only data reported are workout duration, heart rate (average and maximum on iOS app, graph on Android app), time spent in Burn and Burst zones, and calories burned.
Some of the more interesting data that was tracked was Running Smoothness, which measures your running form in three dimensions to help improve your running efficiency. The higher the number, the better your overall form.
The Wahoo Fitness Android and iOS apps will also share workout data with other apps but you’ll notice that there are more apps to share with when using iOS devices. I had some difficulty sharing my Android workout data with the MyFitnessPal app, and was unable to resolve this issue even after contacting Wahoo support. They suggested that it might have to do with the fact that I’m running the latest Android version (5.1). I did not have this problem with the iOS app.
I found the Wahoo Fitness Tickr X to be highly useful. It accurately detects my heart rate like other Bluetooth heart rate monitor chest straps but also collects a variety of useful information about your workout. Although it stores only basic information when used offline like exercise session duration, calories burned, and heart rate graph data (no additional running analytics), it does so without the need for you to have your phone with you. It will also record up to 16 hours of workout data. The biggest drawback is the difference in how the summary data is reported between the Android and iOS apps (the iOS data is much more useful). But for $99, this is an excellent device that provides a plethora of useful data.
Works great using the iOS app – no troubles at all. Since the iOS app was the app with the most complete data, that is that only app used.
Source: The sample used in this review was provided by Wahoo Fitness. Please visit www.wahoofitness.com for more information or to purchase one for $99.99.