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Great Product, But iPhone Apps Still Have Way to Go,
I’ve had my Wahoo key (iPhone chip) for about two weeks and really like it. Based on my initial research and subsequent use of the device, here are my thoughts for anyone looking to get it:
* You’ll need an ANT+ heart rate strap because Polar (the industry standard for the past 20 years) doesn’t work with the device.
* The key works with Wahoo, Digifit and a number of other apps. I read that Digifit’s key only works with their app, which to me was a big enough hurdle to justify paying an extra $25 for the Wahoo key.
* When I plugged in the key to the iPhone, it didn’t recognize it at first but after playing around with the menu, it showed up.
* It sucks up quite a bit of battery power. I do my workout first thing in the morning when my iPhone is fully charged and after an hour it’s only half charged. You can’t plug in a charger or external power (like Mophie) because the key goes into the power port.
* Wahoo’s iPhone app is designed to monitor your heart rate for biking and running. If you’re like me and also want to track your heart rate when you do resistance/strength training (which is great if you want to measure how many calories you burned during your workout), you need to fool it by saying you’re biking or running.
* I initially thought Wahoo’s app would let me review all of my historical data and look at my rides on a map, but I discovered it’s really just a data capturing app. You can see the basics one day at a time, but nothing elaborate.
* So the power of Wahoo or Digifit (the whole purpose of getting either one) really comes in their ability to export to cloud-based apps that you can then review on a full-sized computer. Wahoo can export to 7 web-based apps, while Digifit can only export to one (TrainingPeaks). I tried to use all of the seven apps and this is what I found:
* Runkeeper: Great app that works for biking or running (I’ve used it off and on for the past two years even before I knew about Wahoo or Digifit). It’s interesting that if you record your bike/run using Runkeeper’s iPhone app on its own (which can’t record your heart rate), the elevation and speed graphs appear more accurate than when using the Wahoo chip to record this information and then exporting to RunKeeper. Unfortunately, RunKeeper doesn’t offer much for recording resistance/strength training. With that said, I found it to be the best app among the seven.
* TrainingPeaks: It’s good in that it lets you re-label the data from Wahoo (such as calling a “workout” just that rather than “biking” or “running”) and it has lots of options in terms of how to look at the data. The problem I found is that their elevation data is off by at least 200 feet (I ride next to sea level and it shows me being at 200 feet) and doesn’t match the topography of my ride (when I start my ride I go down a large hill but TrainingPeaks shows me going up a hill). After exchanging emails with their tech support, it appears this is something they don’t plan to address soon.
* MapMyFitness (or MapMyRide): Categorizes all data imported from Wahoo as a “Run/jog” even if it’s a bike ride or resistance/strength training. Not very powerful in terms of charting or comparing your workouts over time.
* Garmin Connect. It’s also designed around biking and running (no resistance/strength). The web pages aren’t as intuitive as RunKeeper but look cleaner than Training Peaks. Nothing really stands out about their site.
* Strava: It’s more about biking than running (and has no mention of resistance/strength). I didn’t get to test their site because they insist on making your profile public to all members (or the less restrictive option is to make it available to the general public), which bothered me. If you go to “Athlete Search” you can find everyone who uses Strava.com in a given city/town, first and last name as well as their daily workouts, which I thought was a bit intrusive.
* Nike+: Only tracks runs and since I don’t run, I couldn’t get it to show my data.
* MapMyTracks: Wahoo let me set up an account with MapMytracks but then didn’t provide it as a place to forward my data.
Overall, none of the apps met all of my needs, but I’m looking to track my resistance/strength training heart rate as well as biking. If you’re just looking for running or biking, there’s probably at least one that will meet your needs. Over time, someone will develop the whole package, where you can upload your data (speed, elevation, gps coordinates and heart rate) as well as manage things like the specific exercises you do for strength training (like iFitness or Finess HD for the iPad) and track nutrition (DailyBurn).
*************** JANUARY 22, 2012 UPDATE ******************
I recently bought Wahoo’s new Bluetooth heart rate chest strap that, as of today, only works with the iPhone 4S. This means you no longer need the Wahoo Key (dongle), which is nice…
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