NordicTrack iSelect Adjustable Dumbbells review: No thanks, Alexa – The Verge
One of the first things I bought at the start of the pandemic was a set of adjustable dumbbells. My husband and I both wanted to strength train, but we needed several different weights. He had actual muscles while I had noodle arms. The problem was our apartment couldn’t accommodate a full rack. Adjustable dumbbells seemed like a sensible choice. And it was until it wasn’t. During a set of chest presses, the pin securing the weight plates broke. I got a 5-pound plate to the face. So, as you can imagine, I was wary about testing the $429 (or as low as $300 on sale) NordicTrack iSelect Adjustable Dumbbells.
While the price was certainly one thing I was wary about, it’s actually not outrageous. I’ll get into it more in a bit, but you could easily spend as much — if not more — on 10 sets of regular dumbbells. That’s essentially what you’re replacing here, as the iSelect Dumbbells go from five to 50 pounds in five-pound increments. You’re also paying a premium for the iSelect’s smart features.
There are two things that make the iSelect dumbbells “smart.” The first is that these use an electronic locking mechanism, as opposed to pins or end screws. The second is that you can change the weights using voice commands to Alexa. Though, fortunately, you don’t have to since there’s also a knob that lets you change the weights manually.
- Weights are secure
- Manual adjustment is fast
- Can customize weight for specific exercises
- No mandatory subscription
- App can be finicky
- Doesn’t track reps or give insights
- Alexa gets confused sometimes
The dumbbells (or smartbells?) themselves rest in a custom-fitted tray. At the center is the manual knob as well as an LCD display that shows you the current weight. There’s also an optional tablet holder that you can screw into the back. The tray itself is relatively compact, measuring 21 x 19 x 16 inches (LWH). I couldn’t fit it into my living room, but that’s only because I already have another connected fitness gadget in there. It did, however, fit easily in my home office. Most people shouldn’t have a problem figuring out somewhere to store the tray. The only requirements are to place it near a power outlet, which isn’t usually a consideration when storing dumbbells. You’ll also want to be intentional about where you place the tray to begin with. Once you put these babies down, you’ll have to move 100 pounds of weight plates if you change your mind. It’s not fun. (You should also keep this in mind when the weights get delivered. The box it comes in weighs a hefty 123 pounds.)
Setting up the dumbbells is easy. All you’ve got to do is download the iSelect app for iOS or Android and then follow the prompts to pair the dumbbells over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. (The latter is for firmware updates.) If you want to use the dumbbells with Alexa, you’ll have to take a few extra steps to link the iSelect app and your Amazon account. The iSelect app is also where you can set customized weight profiles for 15 dumbbell exercises, including bicep curls, chest presses, and squats. I …….