Moov HR Sweat review: Measuring the heart through your head

Price when reviewed

However, as someone who prefers to run, there’s a real problem with the Moov HR Sweat. There’s only one running workout: a HIIT activity that combines short bursts of running with walking breaks to build your endurance and maximise fat burn. True, there are a number of difficulty settings, but you’re still limited to HIIT. The app won’t even let you start a free run without first attaching a Moov Now, so it’ll be no use to you in a race.

You may think that makes sense, because it doesn’t track steps, but that’s a nonsense argument. Smartphones have both accelerometers and GPS sensors inside, and you can’t use the Moov HR Sweat without one. There’s no reason it shouldn’t let you use its heart sensor for regular running – it simply chooses not to. Even background heart-rate monitoring without any distance tracking would be an improvement. Hopefully the company will patch that in at a later date.[gallery:3]

That brings us to another drawback, of course. This is a fitness tracker with the emphasis on fitness. It has no accelerometer, so you can’t use it as a step tracker, even if its six-hour battery life or the fact it’s worn on the head made it practical to do so. It measures a limited number of workouts and that’s your lot.

That’s fine; it just makes the £80 seem a touch expensive, especially when you’re looking at forking out another £60 for the Moov Now to give you access to the complete set of running workouts. To put that in perspective, you can buy a first-generation Fitbit Charge HR for £70 right now on Amazon.

That said, the Moov HR Sweat has one big advantage over most heart-rate trackers, and that’s its accuracy. You know how you’re supposed to wear your wrist-based wearable really tightly while exercising? There’s no such problem with the Moov HR, and it also uses red LEDs instead of the green you get in most wearables. The advantages from this are numerous, and the results are far more accurate as a result. Here’s a comparison of the same HIIT workout between the Moov on my head, and the Fitbit Blaze on my wrist:moov_vs_fitbit

As you can see, the Fitbit says that I reached peak heart rate at the very start of the run; that’s only one beat per minute faster than what the Moov reported as my average. By Fitbit’s interpretation, I wasn’t pushing myself very hard. The Moov recognises the truth: I was going flat out on the intervals, and the 183bps maximum is much closer to home.

There’s an argument this doesn’t matter too much as long as fitness trackers are consistent with themselves (that they’re wrong in the same way every day), but while I go along with that for steps, heart rate is different. Knowing when you have more in the tank is essential for hardware personal trainers and here the Moov HR Swear definitely has the edge.[gallery:4]

Moov HR Sweat: The App

Thankfully, there’s only a single Moov app, and you don’t need a separate one for the Moov Now either. Unusually, you only connect the tracker with the phone when you start a workout – just gently tap to begin.

This is a little confusing to begin with but makes perfect sense with time – after all, if it’s not tracking all the time, why should you bother wasting two batteries for nothing? On that note, unlike the Moov Now, the Moov HR Sweat uses a rechargeable battery, rather than a watch coin cell. It will last for around six hours of use, and then charges by being docked in a cradle almost as small as the device itself.

The app is divided into four sections: a list of activities; the history of your workouts; a page displaying your progress and achievements; and a leaderboard of friends. This seems to have most motivational tools covered in order to self-improve, and if you don’t have any Moov-owning friends on the software (Moov is yet to become as all-encompassing as Fitbit), then you can prompt them to join you with a discount code on the hardware. As with other fitness trackers, there’s also the option to connect the app with a handful of other services: Apple HealthKit, MapMyFitness and Strava.moov_sweat_hr

Each section is streamlined, simple to follow and works hard not to overload you with information. Selecting a HIIT run, for example, results in a page with three tabs. The first provides the highlights of top-line information you need to know: how long you were in each heart-rate zone; your pleasingly squiggly heart-rate chart; and the height you climbed. The second tab breaks it down into a map overlaid with your interval sections (colour-coded based on speed). The final tab gives you the raw data you want to know, from peak heart rate to maximum pace. It’s comprehensive yet easy to digest.

Moov HR Sweat: Verdict

All in all, the Moov HR Sweat is rather impressive. While the real-time coaching feedback it gives isn’t half as detailed as the Oakley Radar Pace glasses I recently wore, it’s less than a quarter of the price, and you look considerably less of a prune wearing it – although there’s still a pruneish element of wearing a sweatband to a fun run.[gallery:5]

The trouble is that to unlock the full potential of the Moov HR Sweat, you also need to buy the Moov Now, otherwise certain exercises (such as free running or cycling) are off-limits, and in any case you won’t be able to track your steps or sleep.

That takes the whole package to a not-insignificant £140. At that price, the Moov has shot past the Fitbit Charge 2 and is closing in on trackers with built-in GPS. Granted, they don’t have the same audio feedback and training analysis, and their heart-rate accuracy is more variable, but they’re more convenient to wear and only require you to wear one thing.

Horses for courses. The Moov HR Sweat does what it sets out to very well, and it will be ideal for some people. For those willing to sacrifice a little accuracy for an easy life, though, there are better options out there.

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