Older models of Concept2 rowing machines may have a PM3 or a PM4 rather than a bluetooth equipped PM5. While it is possible to connect these older devices to smartphones and tablets using cables, the asensei app does not currently support any connector cables for reasons that we explain below.
Currently we recommend that users upgrade their PM3 or PM4 to a PM5 which supports Bluetooth connection smartphones. This is generally a pretty straightforward process and you may even be able to sell your PM3 or PM4 once you've done so, reducing the cost of the upgrade, which at the time of writing is around $180 (US). For more information about how to retrofit a PM5 please see this article from Concept 2.
Why don't we support cables to PM3/PM4s?
We want to develop the best app we possibly can and we have to make tough choices about where we deploy our very limited development resources. So far we've chosen to prioritise adding new features and new workout programs over support for older monitors. If this is an important requirement to you, please let us know in the comments or via firstname.lastname@example.org. Customer demand for features is a strong influence on our priorities.
Some of our other thoughts on cables vs Bluetooth:
- Apple have changed the connector on their iPhones in the past and are expected to do so again. There isn't an officially supported Concept 2 cable for iPhone models with the Lightning connector, which together with all new monitors supporting Bluetooth implies a preference for Bluetooth connection.
- We're continually reviewing cable options as the industry moves towards USB-C. However early indications are that Apple will continue to place restrictions on what can be supported via USB-C, meaning you can't just plug in a standard cable between phone and PM5 and have it work.
- There are 3rd party cables that connect PMs to Apple Lightning for example but we have no control over the quality of these cables, and require their permission to work with them which they can take away at any time.
- Third party cables can be expensive because they need to contain electronics to interface with Apple's proprietary lightning connector. This also means that the cables themselves may need updating periodically to keep working with the latest Apple models and we have no control over that which can lead to problems we can't easily solve.
Why you should consider upgrading to a Concept 2 PM5
If you have a PM3 or PM4 monitor you might consider upgrading your Concept 2 monitor to a PM5. This supports Bluetooth Low Energy and ANT+ simultaneously, and is a more forward looking and flexible option than using a cable. It also means you can connect your monitor to a wider range of devices, both iOS and Android, as well as a wide selection of heart rate monitors.
The PM5 supports both ANT+ and Bluetooth, this means that you can connect your heart rate monitor via ANT+ and then connect your PM5 to your smartphone via bluetooth. When setup this way you can see your heartrate on the PM5 and compatible apps, such as asensei will display your heartrate on your phone too. asensei detects that a heartrate monitor is present and adds it to your on-screen display automatically (you can also connect a HRM to your phone directly with asensei, but not all apps support this).
The PM5 also supports wired connections via USB and ethernet cable, which is used for connecting rowing machines in the large competitions such as the British Rowing Indoor Championships (BRICS) or the Crash-B sprints as well as smaller club events.
If you decide to upgrade you may also be able to sell your older monitor as the secondhand market for most things Concept 2 is healthy due to the durability of these devices.