John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

RedShoes HR Pro Android app review

I’ve been contemplating buying a Polar Heart rate monitor for a while now and it has always struck me as unnecessary. I already have a Bluetooth heart rate monitor surely there is an app for that? So I went on a quest. I went through about 250 apps in the play store that had something to do with heart rate monitor. What I was looking for was something that would allow me to record my heart rate over a period of time, give me some basic stats (max/average etc) and a calorie count.

First off you have to throw away the tons of apps that use the camera to get your heart rate. Useless. Then you have to look at what kind of heart rate monitor do you have. In the Android space there are three types of heart rate monitors. Original bluetooth (like my Zephyr HXM), Bluetooth smart (I don’t have any of these yet) and Ant+ (of course your phone has to support Ant+, which my S4 does). I have an Garmin Ant+ heart rate monitor so can use either. It seems that Google have not moved the heart rate monitor functions into the OS making each app have to deal with the different types or monitors. It also means only one app at a time can use the heart rate monitor. So you will need to find an app that supports your monitor. I interestingly stumbled on the fact two devices can talk to an Ant+ Heart rate monitor at the same time. I was able to get my S4 and my Garmin Foretrex 401 connected to my Garmin Ant+ heart rate monitor at the same time!

There are lots of exercise apps like Endomondo, RunGPS, Runtastic, MapmyRide, Samsung S.Health and many others but few of these offer a mode that allows you to workout indoors and focus on your heart rate. At the end of the day if your exercising this should be directly measurable by your heart rate IMHO.

Enter this app … RedShoes HR Pro. The app only works with the Zephyr HxM which is fine for me. At $3.31 this is on the higher side of the cost for apps. But if it means you don’t have to buy a Polar it’s well worth the cash.

First off I need to state the obvious. To simply exist your body consumes calories. This is called your baseline calories. Then any exercise then adds to this calorie count. A number of the exercise trackers like the Garmin VivoFit (that I recently reviewed), FitBit etc. all include this baseline calorie count IMHO to inflate the calorie count. So you need to find out what your baseline calorie count is. I found a good website to let you calculate your baseline calorie count. I can’t attest to it’s accuracy but it does seem to be in the right ball park.

To start off you have to tell the app a number of stats about you Max Heart Rate, Gender, Age, weight and two parameters I had no idea what to do with Lactate Threshold HR and VO2Max. The last two I had no idea what to do with so I ignored them. The calorie count was way off. I traded some emails with the author who was very responsive, and knowledgeable and helped me to understand I needed to set my VO2Max number. He had done some work comparing his app with other devices and they correlated well (in his testing) when the VO2Max was correctly set. He pointed to a web site that will allow you to estimate your VO2Max. Between this and the baseline web site above I was able to play around and get a calorie count that was far more reasonable/believable. I used the web site to scope my VCO2 max, first with a simple enter parameters and then with a walking test. I ended up being somewhere between 40-44.

The app can be configured to give you audible tones anytime you cross thresholds or zones. While handy these can also be annoying. But they can be turned off.

The app in addition to the heart rate attempts to get the battery of the monitor as well as a speed accelerometer in the heart rate monitor. On mine, an older one neither these worked well. The battery always said 100 right up until it went dead. But other apps have dome the same so I suspect this is an issue of hardware version of my very old Zephyr heart rate monitor.

So I took this app for a spin and put it against my fav app RunGPS. Now I’m not saying RunGPS’s calorie count or any of it’s data is flawless but it has been my trusted app for a very long time. I originally bought it on Windows mobile oh so many years ago. So here is what comes out of the app:
So you get some nice data such as Average heart rate, Current Heart rate, and calories. The graph shows how you went in and out of zones. If you choose to share your data such as on facebook this is what you will be sharing:
I think I would prefer a screen shot of the app showing all the stats as well as the graph. But that’s just me.

Ok so let’s compare the data: (original data is here) RunGPS Vs RedShoe
Calorie count: 1281 vs 1061.90
Avg HR 152 vs 143
Max HR 176 Vs 174

So the data jives reasonably well. The calorie count is off by the biggest amount at 17%. My VCO2 max may still not be right but frankly this is correlating reasonable well!

There is no pause/resume functionality but you can load your previous run by loading from /download/RedShoes where the raw data is stored if you’ve chosen to store data in the settings. Oddly the app does not tell you where the data is stored.

The app also has a neat feature that it blinks your LED (if turned on) every time it receives a heart beat!


June 27, 2014 - Posted by | Android

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