by Mark Alker
October 10, 2013
Comfy monitor and simple app.
As heart rate monitors go, £50 sounds like a bargain – but factor in the price of your smartphone here too, since that’s how the data is gathered and displayed. For on-the-bike monitoring you will obviously need to fork out for some kind of phone mount too, although you can always stick your phone in your pocket and look at the results later. The monitor attaches to the comfortable strap via a pair of press studs. The electrostatic pads that make contact with your chest worked fine with nothing more than a swipe with a wet fingertip. So far, so very good. The issues begin with the free app… It’s not that it’s hard to use; in fact it’s straightforward, both to use and to set up. Bluetooth connection is simple, reliable and in this case efficient, with minimal battery drain. The app is more than just a heart rate monitor though – it also uses the phone’s GPS to act as a trip computer, displaying everything from maximum speed to a record of your route overlaid on a map, plus cadence if you have the extra cadence sensor. All of this data can be viewed together or separately as easy-to-read graphs. But where it really misses a beat (see what I did there?) is when you try and analyse that data; obviously you will want to download it to your laptop or desktop PC. Just being able to compare one ride to another would be a reasonable expectation of any ride logging system – but with the Panobike app, that’s just not possible. You either look at the tiny graphs on your smartphone or you can upload them to Facebook. No importing to a spreadsheet, just the ability to show your internet friends how amazingly unfit you are, so they can say things like, ‘For that average speed I wouldn’t have bothered.’ Or, ‘You took how long to ride how far?’
Overall: Comfy monitor and simple app. Stores loads of excellent data and then keeps it all to itself – desperately in need of an ‘email.csv’ function.