Buying Guide and Review of LifeSpan TR1200 i
The LifeSpan TR1200 i offers a ton of useful features for a mid-range treadmill. It combines them with a solid platform and durable components. Observing the overall size of the 1200i – 71″ L x 34″ W x 54″ H – doesn’t give you the right impression. The key figures are the belt dimensions: 20″ x 56″. With those number’s you can see you are in mid range territory. When it comes to using a treadmill, that’s right where I like to be. It’s a nice balance between adequate walking space and low area consumption.
Speed, Incline, and Power
LifeSpan gets good marks for reliability and durability, too. This motor will last far beyond the 2-ply belt and rollers (2.5″ front, 2″ rear). It’s no surprise the company feels comfortable providing a lifetime warranty on it (and the frame, by the way), with the normal restrictions. There’s an extended warranty available called the 360 Degree Guarantee that covers things like failures from power surges.
The belt incline levels go well beyond ‘a nice balance’, though. They number 15 in total (up to 9.4%) and the incline motor can support up to 800 lbs maximum lift. You’ll have plenty of use for the non-slip plastic rails. The deck itself supports individuals up to 300 lbs (136 kg).
Both speed and incline are adjustable via controls in the handlebars or via buttons on the console.
Intelli-Step & Intelli-Guard
The TR1200i also houses something the company calls Intelli-Step. Sure, the buzzword is marketing-speak but the feature is functional. It works like a pedometer and you can use it with any of the 15 incline levels to make things even more interesting.
A nice safety feature is incorporated in the design: Intelli-Guard. The motor stops automatically when you step off. However, if the treadmill is used at speeds below 1.5 mph or an incline greater than 5 the Auto Pause is disengaged. It can be easily turned off/on manually, if desired.
I like to keep my treadmill out all the time. It’s not just that I’m lazy. (Guilty!) I want to be able to hop on between writing assignments, clear my head, then go back to work right away. I can’t (or won’t, usually) do that if I have to drag it out every time I want a short workout.
So, I personally wouldn’t often use the EZ Drop folding system. But for those who want or need to put the TR1200i away, then get it out again, this thing is an undisguised blessing. Collapse the treadmill, roll it off, then reverse when you want to set it up again. It rarely gets easier than this. The unit folds down into 39″ L x 33″ W x 66″ H.
It’s almost as easy to put together the first time. The package comes with all the tools you need. It’s not the quickest assembling treadmill in the world, however. There are quite a few screws to insert and the handlebars have to be put in place. The console components have to be attached using a few brackets.
The manual has plenty of clear diagrams and instructions There’s nothing complicated here nor does it require any great strength. It’s just a little tedious because there are so many parts.
Console and Controls
Where the TR1200i really comes into its own, though, is the superb console and associated features. For a tech-geek (guilty!), this treadmill feels like a birthday gift every day.
Just to get one (truly minor) bad mark out of the way: the LCD is ‘only’ 2.3″ x 5″. For anyone used to a smartphone screen that’s probably big enough. Personally, I prefer something larger.
Size aside, even a first glance shows you just how chock-full of goodies this gear is. There’s more here than just bells and whistles to touch and look at; they actually do things, good things.
There’s an iPod/MP3 player headphone jack, of course, as well as decent speakers. I say “decent” because no treadmill speaker, and not many on other devices, will ever satisfy this audiophile. The exception is the new iPhone Ear Pods, which are truly amazing. Of course, you can use them with the iPod, or anything which accepts the standard-size jack, too.
But that’s just the beginning, as the Ginsu knives-hype commercials say. Just to list a few others in no particular order. The console displays time, distance, and calories. Big deal, everybody does that. But it also displays incline level, personal data, and program name for 17 preset workout programs. That is a bigger deal, bigger than what’s offered by many other mid-range machines.
Those 17 presets range over five weight management programs, five ‘healthy living’ programs, and seven for sports training. In other words, they cover just about anything anyone but a pro might want to do.
Each program is divided into 20 different segments, each having a distinct speed and incline level. You can set the desired speed and incline for each one. You get pretty fine control over your treadmill workout here.
There are two heart rate control programs. To get a feel for what one will do, for example, the Constant program can adjust the speed and incline automatically to keep your heart rate at the level you decide is appropriate. There is also an Interval Heart Rate Control program. Very handy for improving aerobic endurance and recovery time.
The data is provided by a pair of built-in heart rate sensors in the handlebar grips. And, unlike some mid-range treadmills, there’s also a built-in chest strap receiver though the heart rate chest strap is not included with the TR1200i.
All those options are easily selected by large keys, a benefit when you want to change something without interrupting your workout. There are four presets for incline (from 4, 6, 8, 10) and four for speed (3, 4, 5, 6 mph). But setting them for any other takes only a few seconds longer by tapping on the Up/Down buttons for each variable. Still, it’s nice to be able to set some with a single tap.
The Start button lets you bypass entering any personal info and get going on a manual workout. And, if you get interrupted, you can just press the Pause button, then come back. It does time out after five minutes, though, which is kind of lame.
Recording and Analyzing Your Data
You can also upload personal data via USB – and utilize it with LifeSpan’s free web-based software. You insert the USB, the console reads the data and you proceed with your workout. It records data to the USB as you do at 20-second intervals.
It’s kind of a pity you need to use a USB stick at all. Wireless connectivity would be nice. But it would add expense and another thing to go bad, so it’s a decent tradeoff for a very minor inconvenience.
Uploading the results of your workout to your online account on LifeSpan’s site enables tracking and record keeping. You just join something called the LifeSpan Fitness Club, which isn’t really a club and requires no fee. Each time you work out it saves your results for further analysis.
The software supplied there uses your personal info to more accurately calculate calories burned, for example. You enter your age, weight, height, and gender – all of which are obviously relevant to tailoring a treadmill workout for your needs – along with your name.
The user’s manual, even apart from assembly instructions, has a ton of helpful guidelines. There are very detailed tables on incline and speed associated with different programs. If you’re interested, for example, in a Pyramid Climb or the Uphill Climb or Ladder Climb – or any of the other 17 programs provided – you can see clearly what you’re in for.
The manual even shows you how to use Engineering Mode to change the units displayed from English to metric. That feature will go down well with Europeans. But it’s also appreciated by the large number of science geeks out there who love to do treadmill workouts. (Raises hand!) You can use that same mode to see the total hours of treadmill use or distance run, again in either English or metric units.
The LifeSpan TR1200i is well named. Not only does it help extend your healthy lifespan, it may well last you a lifespan. Filled with high-tech goodies, it also has a lot of the old-fashioned quality and durability that never go out of style.