By December 9, 2011

AcuRite Digital Timer Review

The traditional kettlebell workout pace is two minutes doing the same movement, and then one minute’s rest. I initially kept a count in my head, but I figured that wasn’t the best way to keep track of time. I decided to use the “egg” style kitchen timer I had in the house, and I was very surprised to find that I was totally unable to accurately estimate time. I would frequently over-estimate how much time had passed when I was having trouble, and would under-estimate time if I was doing well.

The egg timer was okay, but I disliked having to wind the clock between sets. My particular timer didn’t like being set to less than five minutes, and would stop halfway through my workout.

I decided to buy a digital timer, and I found the AcuRite 535W model at Wal-Mart for less than $10.

Construction and features

The timer is big, and easy to use. It is made entirely of plastic and has a magnet on the back. At nearly five inches long by two and a half inches across it was easy to find once my heart rate started to soar. The buttons and numbers are very large.

There is a “recall” function, which I find very handy. Pressing the button resets the 535W to the last time entered. This was especially helpful during my Spartacus workout, which was on a one minute on, fifteen seconds off pace.

The AcuRite timer starts to beep once it hits zero seconds. It counts backwards and continues to beep. At the one minute mark it stops beeping, but will continue to count down. This was useful for the “rest” periods of my Spartacus workout. I’d set the regular timer to 60 seconds, then let it beep for 15 while I panted. Hit Start/Stop, then Recall, then start again.

There is no on/off button. Tapping any button will wake the 535W, and it will fall asleep after about two minutes of inactivity.

Usage

The alarm is not quite loud enough. I have grown up working out to a soundtrack of some kind, whether it be 80’s hair rock blasting in a Gold’s Gym, techno in my earbuds on a stair stepping machine, or rocking out to a custom playlist at home while doing kettlebells or the Spartacus. Regardless of genre or environment, the music was always loud. Sometimes the AcuRite 535W would start beeping and I’d be too busy rocking out to notice. I had to turn the music down, and that kind of sucked.

The buttons aren’t as sensitive as I would like for them to be. There were several times didn’t press the Start/Stop button hard enough. I would be most of the way through a Spartacus workout movement and notice that the display was blank.

Lastly, the numbers should be half as large, and the display twice as big. This model is probably made for people who have vision problems, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me that the display is so small. I wonder if AcuRite did any human factors / usability research when building the 535W.

Conclusion

Overall, this digital timer does what I need it to do. It counts backwards better than I do, and I’ve been “trained” by the device to turn the music down and make sure I press the buttons with authority. The recall function is very handy if you are on some sort of an interval workout.

The device is not really portable enough to take around the gym with you, but it’s perfect for home use or if you are in a stationary workout environment.

I wish the AcuRite 535W was half as much, but what can I say. I’m a cheap bastard.

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