MyZone MZ-Switch review: A super HR all-rounder

A heart rate monitor that tracks your heart from the chest, wrist or arm
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MyZone MZ-Switch
By MyZone
The MyZone MZ-Switch doesn't entirely solve the problem faced by optical heart rate sensors, but mitigates the problems of placement to create better, more reliable data. Stick to the recommended placement and exercises and it can do a solid job of providing that insight into your effort levels and give you the versatility to move things around if you really can't get on with a chest strap. It's certainly not cheap, and you could spend less for a top chest strap. But if you like the idea of moving the monitor around based on tracking a range of workout types, then the MZ-Switch is a super all-rounder.

Hit
  • Comfortable wrist and forearm bands
  • Good HR data with the right placement
  • Works with third party apps/equipment
Miss
  • MyZone app could be cleaner
  • Chest strap still offers best accuracy
  • Not the cheapest

The MyZone MZ-Switch is a heart rate monitor designed for those that find chest strap monitors uncomfortable – and sports watches too unreliable.

As the name suggests, the MyZone Switch is designed to be worn in multiple locations: it can be placed on the chest, wrist or upper arm, which offers versatility based on the kinds of sports you want to track.

While we've seen these style of armband monitors from Polar, Wahoo, Scosche, we've yet to see something that combines three wearing options in one setup. Stick to the recommended wearing position for different workouts, and MyZone believes you will still get a reliable hit of heart rate data.

At , this is a heart rate monitor that doesn't come cheap. However, there isn't really a device like it – unless you're willing to pay for a combination of something like Polar's H9 or H10 chest strap monitor and one of its OH1 or Verity Sense armband monitors.

So does it deliver the HR goods where it matters? We've been strapping it on the chest, forearm and wrist for a host of workouts to find out. Here's our full verdict on the MyZone MZ-Switch.

MyZone MZ-Switch: Design

WareableMyZone MZ-Switch review: A super HR all-rounder

At the heart of the MZ-Switch is the small, round tracker, which enables the ECG-style monitoring and also hosts an optical based sensor and clips into one of three straps. The first is the pretty standard looking chest strap, which comes in standard, small and large strap size options. The tracker snaps into place at the front with button-style clasps to make sure it will stay securely in place and it did not budge in our time with it.

When it's not living inside the strap, you have the option to clip that tracker out and place it in either a strap that sits on your wrist or on the forearm. While the straps look similar the difference in materials indicate, which one goes lower and higher up your arm.

Unlike the chest strap, the tracker simply sits inside of a plastic cradle that does feel a little less secure, but when pressed up against the forearm or wrist doesn't move around generally. There's velcro straps to keep them in place and the soft feel of the straps make them comfortable to wear during workouts. Unlike the chest strap, you do have some different wrist and arm strap colour options to pick from if you don't want to go in with the all-red look.

WareableMyZone MZ-Switch review: A super HR all-rounder

On the tracker itself, there's a solitary button that's hidden underneath the MyZone logo and that's what you'll use to turn it on when it's sitting in the arm or wrist strap. There's a single LED that flashes to indicate it's started to track a workout and can flash different colours to indicate real-time heart rate zones, which are easier to see and make use of when it's on your wrist.

It's important to note that while the Switch setup offers both heart rate sensor technologies, it doesn't use them at the same time. So when you're in chest strap mode, it's using the ECG (electrocardiogram) method and when it's on the wrist or forearm, it's switching to that optical-based PPG sensor technology. So it's essentially working in the same way that armbands like the Polar Verity Sense and Wahoo Tickr Fit operate.

We should also note that this is one you can jump in the pool with to track your heart rate too. It carries a water resistant rating for up to 10 metres depth with MyZone suggesting you grab the wrist strap option to track heart rate in the water.

MyZone MZ-Switch: Heart rate accuracy

WareableMyZone MZ-Switch review: A super HR all-rounder

So does the MyZone MZ-Switch where it matters? Well, let's start by talking about what kind of accuracy we can expect from the two sensors that are at your disposal.

With the chest strap and the ECG sensor you can expect 99.4% accuracy and that's why it's still considered the gold standard for tracking effort levels during exercise. Switch over the PPG sensor and moving it to the wrist or forearm and you'll see that drop to 95%. So the accuracy does fall, but should deliver pretty good results in theory.

The key here is that MyZone recommends where you should wear the module depending on the type of exercise you're planning to track. So if you're walking, cycling or swimming, you should stick it on your wrist. If you're running, rowing or lifting, it's better to switch to the arm. When it comes to high intensity workouts like HIIT and functional training, stick to those recommendations and you'll get the best results.

WareableMyZone MZ-Switch review: A super HR all-rounder

The good news is that with that there's a few ways to put the setup to use. There's Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity for starters, which makes it suitable to work with third party fitness apps and can be paired up with watches and connected gym equipment. We had no problems pairing it up with a range of Garmin Forerunner watches and its Enduro watch. It was the same story for the Apple Watch Series 6 and it worked without issue with a connected rowing machine too.

There's also onboard storage here too, which means you have space for 36 hours of workout time if you've put your phone away before a gym class or you just don't want to take it out with you for a run. You can also track a workout from MyZone's own companion iPhone or Android app where you'll be able to see your real-time heart rate zones and see your earned MEP (MyZone Effort Points).

Sticking to MyZone's recommended placement for workouts, we ran, rowed, and performed HIIT workouts and here's how it fared.

Outdoor running

WareableMyZone MZ-Switch review: A super HR all-rounder

Outdoor running compared: MyZone MZ-Switch (left and centre) and Garmin HRM-Pro (right)

First up was running with the tracker worn on our forearm. The first thing to note much like Polar, Wahoo and Scosche's armbands, it's a problematic one to wear if you're wearing a long sleeve top. We found that doing that in colder conditions meant you could sometimes accidentally pop the tracker out of its cradle and could perhaps do with something that snaps into place more securely.

Accuracy-wise we did a mixture of slow, steady and faster paced runs and generally found that average heart rate data around 1-2 bpm out from a Garmin HRM-Pro chest strap monitor, so well within a margin for error that makes comparisons impossible.

There was a slightly larger difference between maximum heart rate readings, but generally the graphs did tell a reliable story of our runs.

Indoor cycling

WareableMyZone MZ-Switch review: A super HR all-rounder

Indoor cycling compared: MyZone MZ-Switch (left and centre) and Garmin HRM-Pro (right)

Heading indoors for some cycling action, we swapped the armband for the wrist strap, which clearly makes more sense to wear on a bike where there's less wrist movement and should ensure you get more reliable heart rate stats.

Above is a sample indoor bike ride against the Garmin HRM-Pro chest strap and this time there was a 1BPM difference for average heart data and a 3BPM difference in maximum heart rate readings. This was consistent with the steady paced rides we tested the Switch with against a heart rate monitor chest strap. Again, extremely closely matched.

HIIT workout

WareableMyZone MZ-Switch review: A super HR all-rounder

HIIT workout compared: MyZone MZ-Switch (left and centre) and Apple Watch Series 6 with Wahoo Tickr X (right)

Where optical based wrist based sensors generally falter it for high intensity workouts. That's why MyZone recommends still using the chest strap option in this scenario, and that's what we did for some HIIT sessions on home workout app FIIT.

Unsurprisingly, the chest strap option here always felt like it served up the most reliable data. The wrist and forearm bands can offer good data, but if you yearn for supreme accuracy, there's still only one option in our eyes.

The Switch performs about as well as Polar, Wahoo and Scosche's bands from the same place. It proves that you can get better data away from the chest just as long as you stick to the exercises where you can reduce some of the issues that can cause optical PPG heart rate monitors to deliver bad data.

MyZone MZ-Switch: MyZone app and battery life

WareableMyZone MZ-Switch review: A super HR all-rounder

MyZone has been making improvements over the years to its companion app and if you're planning to make it the main place that you look over your data, we'd say maybe consider taking the option of using a third party app unless you're all about those Myzone Effort Points (MEPs).

The main home screen shows you a feed of workouts including monthly and lifetime MEPs. Hit the small MyZone logo at the bottom of the screen and that pushes you into a place you can access your body metrics including resting heart rate and maximum heart rate data.

If you've got other MyZone devices, you can also display body fat percentage and basal metabolic rate here too. You can also make connection requests and track workouts from this screen as well.

It's an app UI that's bursting with colour, but it almost feels like it could benefit from simplify things, and hiding away some of features and focus on putting feeds and tracking workouts front and centre of the app.

There's a lot going for an app that's really about heart rate and it could look to other heart rate-centric fitness apps like Polar's Beat app for something that feels a bit more user-friendly.

In terms of battery life, you're dealing with two different heart rate technologies, which will drain the battery in very different ways. MyZone claims you can get between 3-4 months of battery life, which should cover a mix of using the ECG sensor and the PPG sensor. Chest strap monitors can usually anywhere from 6-12 months using a coin cell battery. On the MZ-Switch, it needs to be charged and uses a proprietary charging cable to power it up.

In our testing, there was around a 4-5% battery drop-off using the PPG sensor on the wrist and the arm. Unsurprisingly, using the chest strap monitor for 40 minute to 1 hour workouts performed much like MyZone's other chest strap monitors and doesn't take a big hit in the battery department. You can't view battery status on the sensor, so you'll need to pair it up with the app to view battery status, but it would be a nice addition to know on the device itself when it's getting low.



How we test



Michael Sawh

By

Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of T3.com.

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.


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