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Scosche Rhythm+ Plus Wrist/Arm Mounted Optical Heart Rate Monitor Review

Scosche Ryhtm PlusLast summer I reviewed the Mio Link wrist-mounted heart rate monitor and found it to be a great alternative to a traditional chest strap HRM. It measured my heart rate accurately, and synced perfectly with both my Garmin 620 and Vivofit. I had to return the Link to the manufacturer after writing my review, but was very tempted to buy one for myself. Instead, based on the recs of some running friends, I purchased a Scosche Rhythm+ HRM instead. I’m actually quite glad I did as my overall experience with the Rhythm+ over the past several months has been fantastic.

The Mio Link and Scosche Rhythm+ share a lot of similarities. Both offer an alternative to the traditional chest strap heart rate monitor, both measure heart rate via sensors and LED lights that measure blood flow through the skin, both lack a screen, and both pair with other devices via Bluetooth Smart or ANT+. Pricing is also similar, with both devices selling for between $70-$80.

For me, the main thing that sets the Rhythm+ apart from the Link is the band used to attach it to your arm. The Mio Link is a wrist-based device – it has a watch-like plastic band that I found somewhat uncomfortable, particularly when cinched tightly. There is really no alternative with the Link other than attaching it to your wrist, and this has caused problems for some people as HR measurement requires a good, tight fit (those with bony wrists have reported dropouts and other problems).

In contrast, the Scosche Rhythm+ comes with two neoprene-like bands that allow for placement in a variety of places on the arm. On the product packaging Scosche shows the band on the forearm, but it can also be placed around the upper arm or on the wrist. I’ve actually worn mine on my wrist most of the time, right next to my Garmin Vivofit. The band is much more comfortable than that of the Link – since it secures via Velcro it’s easy to cinch up for a snug fit, and it’s nice not having a plastic band digging into your arm.

Scosche Ryhtm Plus Package Contents

The Rhythm+ is pretty simple to operate. It charges via a USB dock (see photo above). When you’re ready to use it you simply press the Scosche logo on the device and it activates (an alternating blue/red light on top starts to blink). On my Vivofit (see photo below) I simply press the button until it says “Heart” and the device picks up automatically (the blinking light changes to red only while synced). On my Forerunner 620 I activate the heart rate monitor in the watch settings (Settings—>Sensors) and then it syncs with the device. It should automatically recognize it every time you turn it on after the initial sync.

2015-01-05 14.05.06

I’ve been using the Rhythm+ for running with my Garmin 620 (on the opposite wrist), and though I have experienced occasional dropouts (see downward spikes in images below), they are rare and could be since I use a wrist placement rather than the recommended placement higher up on the forearm (could also be due to the devices being on opposite wrists). To be honest, one brief dropout over five miles isn’t a big deal, and I didn’t even notice that it happened until I looked at the plots in Garmin Connect later on. I’ve never actually noticed a signal dropout while running.

Scosche Rhythm Plus Heart Rate Dropout 2Scosche Rhythm Plus Heart Rate Dropout

One thing to note is that the Scosche Rhythm+ will not transmit accurate heart rate variability data (not sensitive enough I guess – I’ve tried it with the SweetBeat app and the numbers are not correct). As a result, it does not provide accurate information to calculate things like recovery time on my Garmin 620. Not a big deal for me, but worth mentioning.

I’ve also been doing a bit of cycling on a recumbent bike this winter when the weather is bad enough to keep me inside, and on these occasions I use the Rhythm+ paired with my Vivofit. This combo also works great, though dropouts seem more common with the Vivofit than with my Forerunner 620. Again, a few momentary dropouts over the course of 45 minutes of cycling are really not a big deal to me since I mainly use it to gauge my effort in real time and have never actually noticed a dropout until looking at plots afterward.

Conclusions

If you’re looking to ditch your chest strap heart rate monitor and already have a device that syncs with ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart sensors, the Scosche Rhythm+ would be my recommendation over the Mio Link. Both are great little devices, but the flexibility offered by the strap options for the Rhythm+ make it a better choice in my experience. It can be worn on the wrist like the Mio, but also on the forearm or around the bicep (unless you are Arnold). I’ve been very impressed with mine – no plans to return to a chest strap ever again if I don’t have to.

The Scosche Rhythm+ is available for purchase at Amazon.com and Clever Training (Runblogger readers get 10% off select products at Clever Training with code RunBlogXJT). Purchases made via these links provide a small commission to Runblogger and help to support the production of reviews like this one – thanks!

About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. I’ve had the Scoche+ for a few months now. It’s very comfortable, but I have two problems. One is the battery life–it’s only about 7-8 hours. Not enough for many ultramarathons. My guess is the battery life may decline toward 5-6 hours when older (and maybe in extreme cold weather too).

    My bigger problem is frequent erroneous readings at the start of my runs. I often get readings of 170-180 during the first 1/2 mile of a run (when my HR is more like 115-120). Then it “settles down” and readings are reliabale and accurate. This problem has been noted by other blog reviewers (Fellrnr in particular was very critical of the Scosche). It seems better when I strap it to my biceop area instead of wrist or forearm (still not perfect).

    I find the strap so comfortable, I’m putting up with the inaccurate first 1/2 mile readings for now. For longer runs (5+ hours), I’ll use the chest HR monitor. If the Scosche could have a longer battery life, and accurate readings from start to finish, it would be an AWESOME tool!

    • I can see how that would be a problem for longer Ultras, max I have done with it is 17.5 miles. Should be fine for marathons at least.

      Have not noticed that issue at the beginning of runs with the Scosche, wonder if it has to do with individual variation in placement and anatomy?

    • Chris,
      I noticed the HR issues as well when I first start out. I’ve found the best solution is to put the strap on and activate it about 5 minutes or so before I actually start my run. The sensors seem to need time to “find” whatever it is that they use. When I pre-activate the sensor, I’ve never had any issues at all. And per your comment about the ultra issue, I discovered that as well. Too bad b/c it’s so much better than a chest strap. I have yet to figure out a good solution for a 50k + running events.

    • I’ve found that my Mio Link has an intermittent bug that is very similar to the one you describe.

      After a bit of research, I found out that other people had the same issue and it was actually picking up running cadence due to some kind of interference??

      No idea how / why this happens but I wonder if the Rhythm+ has the same bug? The HR blip you mention is in the right range for this to be a possibility

    • I’m having the same problem with my brand new rhythm+. Systematically, during the first 5 minutes of the run, the HR rises to above 90% HRM, and then falls back to sub 70%, where I was running my warmup all the way.

  2. I’ll try starting it earlier and let it stabilize before I run.

    As far as battery life, I guess I’ll need to run faster!

  3. Just had first run with this today–noticed what seems to be greater variance in moment to moment heart rate (some pretty big swings) compared to my chest strap. Same basic average, but a lot more up and down on the way. Anyone else have this experience?

  4. Did you lose any features on your 620? Such as vertical oscillation, ground contact time, vo2 max? I know some of these are gathered from the hrm-run that is included with the original watch. Looking at getting it but want to know if I’ll lose any features for comfort.

  5. Tried posting this earlier , but I wasn’t sure if it showed up. I have a garmin 620 and am looking at getting the scoche+. I know with the hrm-run has features like vo2 max estimator, vertical oscillation, etc. Do you still have those features with the scoche or are they only with the hrm-run?

  6. Really can’t decide between this and the Mio Link!!! Does anyone know if this works with the PEAR training app? It’s not listed on scosche’s website but since it’s using Bluetooth Smart, the people at PEAR said it should. Also, I use wireless Bluetooth earbuds. Mio says you can’t use both their watch and the earbuds at the same time. Is that the case with Rhythem+? Thanks.

  7. Scosche Rhythm+ is now out of stock EVERYWHERE…likely being replaced I guess but I’m starting marathon training and kinda need one now. Anybody know where one can be purchased?

  8. Your reviews and comments are greatly appreciated! I’m not a runner myself but I’m shopping for my teenage daughter runner – a job that comes with a few challenges. I thought I had this figured out until I read the Q&A and learned that using the Scosche Rhythm+ for HRM won’t give her the full functionality of the FR 620 with HRM-Run. Is there a wrist or arm product that will give the user all of the benefits a 620 offers?

    • Which functions are you looking to gain? The Scosche will do heart rate with the 620, and I use it almost exclusively as compared to the HRM-Run.

    • There would not be another heart rate monitor other than the HRM run that would give you running dynamics with the Garmin Forerunner 620. The HRM-Run running dynamics are only available on Garmin HRM-Run chest straps.

  9. Heather Wilkinson says:

    Hello,
    After reading your review and DC rainmakers, I decided to get the scosche…but I am having a hard time making it work regularly. I put it on about 5 or so minutes before an activity is going to begin and it seems to be working fine…then its just says 72 as my HR for my entire run or crossfit workout…i have tried repairing it with my vivofit 2, wearing it where recommended, wearing it on my wrist, wearing it on my upper arm…i don’t seem to be able to fix, what I am sure is a user error. I am asking here/you because I notice you use yours with your vivofit as well…any help would be appreciated as I want it to work, I like it much better than my chest strap! Oh and i also see people commenting about an app, I have the note 5 and haven’t seen an app for this yet, is there one I should be using?

    • Have you tried moving the Scosche to a different spot on your arm to see if it makes a difference? Have not had this issue with mine so tough to say what’s going on.

      • Jon Clements says:

        I had this problem when cycling with it: it would regularly drop to 72 then jump up to what was the normal reading. In the end, I figured out it was an interference issue as it was going via the ANT+ to my Edge 520 but the Edge 520 was also bluetoothed to my phone – which, to confuse matters, had also paired with the Scosche in the past! I fixed it by turning off my phone and Edge bluetooth and have had no problems since – not yet anyway!

  10. Thomas Songer says:

    You lost XXX (runners) users in Orlando due to the iPhone change over due to bad communication, no customer service follow up and a poorly ran 20% program for when customers call in complaining about their heart rates monitors not compatible any longer. Take the loss (insurance) and don’t pass it off to consumers that have been with you for decades

  11. Scosche r+ is very inaccurate, moving it about 5mm can change all the HR readings. Every workout I have problem because after few minutes it’s changing position and HR is going low or up even +/-40


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