MyZone MZ-3 review

With an ever increasing number of fitness trackers coming on to the market, I certainly wasn't considering a heart rate monitor strapped to my chest as the best option for my next piece of wearable tech following the Nike FuelBand SE. The MyZone MZ-3 Belt (a slightly misleading name as the device is worn around your chest) is an activity tracker that is set to change the way you consider your beats per minute. See also: Best activity trackers to buy right now

Also see: Best Black Friday Fitness Tracker Deals

Update December 2016: MyZone has overhauled and improved its app since the review below was originally written. You can now create groups and networks and upload Instagram-style photos of your workouts. There's now a better summary and breakdown of users’ overall effort, including an easy-to-interpret pie chart of intensity. The breakdown also shows a clearer picture of training, including duration, peak heart-rate, calories burned, MEPs (which we explain below) earned and average-heart rate.

MyZone MZ-3 review

Once registered and strapped on, you listen for the beep and begin your exercise of choice and prepare to reap the benefits it offers. With accurate bpm measurements, calorie burn, max heart rate calculation and the all-important MyZone Effort Points (MEP’s) you will be able to track your cardio fitness. And if you have even the slightest competitive edge you'll become addicted to challenge both yourself and the rest of the community.

MyZone MZ-3 review: UK Price & Availability

The MyZone MZ-3 costs £129.99 in the UK from MyZone. Including delivery the total price is £134.98. There's also a sports bra for £49.99 which comes in three sizes (S, M & L) and features an integrated strap which is said to offer "greater comfort and support for the wearer". That's on top of the £129.99 for the MZ-3 itself. You can buy replacement straps directly from MyZone, which cost £9.99.

There's now a mens compression top, which costs £59.99. 

If these sound like prices higher that you're willing to pay there are a variety of third-party fitness companies and operators that are offering up to £50 discount when purchasing through their websites. There is a catch, though: buying through a third party in this way will mean that the company in question will be able to some of the health data collected via the device. This is anonymous and is for further development of the services and activities MyZone offers.

MyZone MZ-3 review

MyZone MZ-3 review: Features & Specifications

Let's get this straight: the MZ-3 is a heart rate tracker. It's not a fully featured activity tracker like the Fitbit Surge, or anything else that has built-in GPS, altimeter and other sensors. You are not going to see the number of flights of stairs you climbed, nor the number of steps you took - or the distance travelled.

It isn't a standalone product, either, and will ideally be paired via Bluetooth to a phone or compatible watch. You can also sync data to a PC using its proprietary USB cable. As an alternative to many wearable devices the MZ-3 outputs on a analogue 5.3KHz radio frequency, which is compatible with a lot of conventional cardio equipment in your local gym as well as analogue heart rate watches. With such a variety of pairing options the MZ-3 should suit many people, and with up to 16 hours of data storage you even have the option of exercising free from your smartphone (you can simply sync the data afterwards).

The MZ-3 really comes in to its own when paired with the free MyZone app, which is freely available for Android and iOS and includes apps on Apple Watch and Android Wear smartwatches. Along with the expected calorie burn total and highly accurate heart rate measurement (which MyZone claims is 99.4 percent of the medical-standard EKG’s), the ‘Effort Stream’ displays the current percentage you are exercising at, which in turns rewards you with your MEPs.

While other wearables will measure heart rate (many of them less accurately than the MZ-3), they don't reward you as much for effort. It's this reward of receiving MEPs is what really sets MyZone apart from its competitors: the gamification of your heart rate.

MyZone MZ-3 review

Essentially the higher your heart-rate zone and the time you spend within that zone determines that amount of points you are rewarded. You are them able to challenge yourself by attempting to achieve monthly targets or, by using the social aspect of the app, you can enter challenges with other MZ-3 users. Currently you can only challenge friends in your network as there is no access to MyZone’s global network.

If you are reading this and feeling worried that your obscenely fit friend is going to outperform you, you need not worry as everyone is handicapped according to their ever evolving heat rate and so there's always a measure of fairness.This is a feature missing from other systems - notably Fitbit - which only seem worried by the number of steps you take. For some people, they will never beat their friends or family who walk to work, or run every day. WIth MyZone, you're rewarded for effort.

This doe mean that the fitter you get, the harder you will have to work to achieve those high MEP scores. Its fair to say that this will draw on everyone's competitive edge - no matter how small that may be - in anyone who uses it.

Battery life is claimed to last as long as seven months. Although I cannot verify this, I have been using the MZ-3 three to four times per week since November and the battery currently stands at 87 percent. This adds a lot of weight to those claims, and with this mammoth battery life (either visible through the app or plugged in to your PC) you won't have to worry about running out of power half way through a workout.

MyZone MZ-3 review: Design and Build

With a simple design the MZ-3 doesn't feel like something that would break easily and with a robust fitting between the strap and the module - two poppers that fix the device directly to the belt - the MZ-3 leaves you confident in its overall quality.

As you would expect, the strap comes in multiple sizes (extra small, standard and extra large), is unobtrusive and fully adjustable ensuring that it will fit you. It remains comfortable throughout your workout. After considerable use over the past few months I am yet to experience any discomfort or irritation and have found washing the strap and keeping the device clean is pretty much effortless. It's worth noting that the tracker itself is water-resistant.

Whether or not you hate proprietary USB cables, it's clever that it connects to the device via the same popper fitting as the strap. In short, the design is simple and robust with no fiddly features that run the risk of snapping off or getting damaged. The obvious downside is the lack of a display, but this is intentional and as long as you realise this before you buy it, it isn't really a negative at all.

 

MyZone MZ-3 review: MyZone app

 

The app is integral to the overall user experience and although you are able to pair your device with conventional fitness equipment and your PC, not to use the app through a smart device would mean missing out on its engaging and easily accessible features.

 MyZone MZ-3 review

By using the app you are able to view the live feed from your ‘effort stream’, which displays your current bpm, calorie burn, MEPs and effort percentage. As well as being able to see the great features during your workout the app also enable you to view your friends recent work outs, view your personal activity calendar, enter and set up new challenges and see your overall MEP’s for the week, month and year. If you are so inclined you can even take pictures and log your food, which personally is not a feature I would use but I am sure will appeal and be beneficial to some people.

The app provides all the metrics and features you would expect. However the downside is that it is not quite as polished as it could be. When you compare it to other apps such as Nike+ and Strava it lacks the slick design you might expect. Plus, I have experienced some lag when uploading information post workout as well as the home screen not loading on occasion when starting the app.

MyZone MZ-3 review 

MyZone MZ-3: Specs

  • Live display of data via smartphone app, watch or ‘in gym’ displays. Stores up to 16 hours of activity Records & Uploads Time/ Effort/ Calories/ Heart Rate/ MEPs 99.4% accurate to an EKG/ECG machine Wirelessly uploads data when in range of designated MyZone facilities, or within range of your smartphone Connects with cardio equipment and 3rd party apps Uses Bluetooth, ANT+ and Analogue communication protocol Washable Strap and Water Resistant module 1 year warranty on module, 90 day warranty on strap
  • Live display of data via smartphone app, watch or ‘in gym’ displays. Stores up to 16 hours of activity Records & Uploads Time/ Effort/ Calories/ Heart Rate/ MEPs 99.4% accurate to an EKG/ECG machine Wirelessly uploads data when in range of designated MyZone facilities, or within range of your smartphone Connects with cardio equipment and 3rd party apps Uses Bluetooth, ANT+ and Analogue communication protocol Washable Strap and Water Resistant module 1 year warranty on module, 90 day warranty on strap

OUR VERDICT

The MZ-3 has engaged me from the outset and as I am currently training for this years London Marathon it has consistently challenged me to work harder to achieve my personal goals even when I would have rather stayed on the sofa. If you are of a competitive nature then this device not only plays to it but draws you in to the never ending cycle of increased effort to grab those MEPs and reach your fitness goals. I have even found myself strapping on the MZ-3 during my commute and increasing my walking pace to add on more points. If you're looking for a device that tracks your actitivy throughout the day and even through the night then the MZ-3 probably isn't for you. However, you can partner it with a smartwatch (such as an Android Wear model) in order to enjoy the additional activity tracking benefits not found in the MZ-3 itself. It's fair to say that the goals of the MyZone in comparison to other fitness wearables are simple but fantastically effective: to challenge you to continually improve your effort and - as a result - enjoy the benefits of being fitter. If you're serious about getting fit then the MZ-3 is must-have.