Normatec Pulse 2.0 Review - Recovery Compression Boots

The Normatec Pulse 2.0 recovery compression boot system is here and today I'll review it and see how it stacks up against its predecessor, the Normatec Pulse.

The Skinny

I'm just going to come out and say it, I have always been a fan of the Normatec Pulse system. However, as the highest price unit on the market I am like a tough-love parent and expect nothing but the best. I am hard on it because I want to see them produce the best product they can and at the best price for consumers.

To watch the Normatec MVP shrink in size and price to the Normatec Pulse has been amazing. To see it shrink in price and size again for the Pulse 2.0 is truly impressive in a day of age where many companies are pushing back and increasing prices. In addition, they have included new features like Bluetooth connectivity which some will highly value.

However, the pressure has never been higher for Normatec. Rapid expansion by less expensive brands like Speed Hound and Air Relax have now forced Normatec to get more lean and efficient. Simply put, competition is good for consumers and while I do appreciate the lower price point and smaller size, it is still hard for me to ignore less expensive brands. Ultimately access to recovery shouldn't be afforded to the super rich and Air Relax and Speed Hound make a great affordable alternative. With that being said, Normatec claims that 97% of all professional sport teams are using Normatec.

As for the Normatec Pulse 2.0 system, my recommendation is on hold for now. While the Normatec Pulse 2.0 system is a very nice device with some nice features and upgrades that I will go over, I did have some problems with the legs. I am not sure if this issue is unique to me, or maybe it was the first couple of batches and it is now corrected, but my legs consistently had the zippers jamming making for late night frustrations as I tried to clear the jam.

With that being said, I will update this review when I get confirmation the issue has been either fixed or was an isolated incident. I have reached out for comment but have received none. In the meantime, I highly suggest making your purchase thru Amazon if you want to purchase the Pulse 2.0 system. This way you have 30 full days to use the system and make sure you aren't having the same zipper problems before your Amazon return window closes. In addition, you save 5% if you are an Amazon Prime Visa card holder. Normatec offers a 14-day return window (restocking fee applies) thru their own website and I did not test the generosity of their direct return process. Note, if the regular leg system is out of stock consider the hips + legs,

With that being said, let's compare the two units.


Little Bit of an exaggeration on size between
Normatec (see above)
Size & Weight - The Pulse 2.0 is 27% smaller and 6oz lighter

It is hard to argue with a device that is claimed to be 27%  smaller (not verified) and 6oz lighter (I verified this) than its predecessor. Although the original Pulse can be operated with one hand, a smaller and lighter device always makes it even easier to handle and that is a nice feature.

The smaller size is also nice for traveling. However,  I must admit it is hard to tell from a direct photo comparison (see above) and Normatec's own illustration greatly exaggerates the size difference.

Price - The Pulse 2.0 is $200 less 

While the original Pulse debuted at $1695, the price was more recently lowered to $1495. Normatec has moved the price down even further with the Pulse 2.0 all the way to $1295. In addition, you can save $65 with your 5% off Amazon Prime Visa card.


Useability - The Pulse 2.0 has a new LCD touchscreen 

The Normatec Pulse 2.0 maintains the exact same user interface as the original Pulse except the Pulse 2.0 has smaller buttons that are inline with the smaller device size. The buttons are no longer tactile buttons but are faux tactile buttons that use a touchscreen. In addition, you can also control the device via Bluetooth and an app that is available for Android and iOS devices. The touchscreen does not provide any additional functionality and I actually preferred the larger tactile buttons of the original Pulse.


Battery Life - Battery life has decreased from about 3 hours down to 2 hours

I put the battery under the same testing that I did for the original Pulse which consists of continuous run at pressure level 5. The Pulse 2.0 was tested with the Bluetooth on and I received 2 hours of continuous battery as opposed to ~3 hours with the original Pulse. I suspect both the Bluetooth and the LCD touchscreen consume more power and it is possible the battery is smaller too although I didn't confirm this with Normatec.

Connectivity - The Pulse 2.0 has added Bluetooth connectivity

At first I balked at the idea of Bluetooth, but I must admit it is strangely convenient to use once setup. For younger generations that are glued to their phones while in the boots, well, it is simply natural to have the ability to control the unit with your phone.

Even though the device is right next to my bed and easy to adjust I did find the phone app to be much more pleasing than expected. The phone app also has a lot of additional functionality that you don't get with the original Pulse. I'll talk more about those features below but in it is a nice upgrade to have the Bluetooth.

Pairing the Pulse 2.0
was pretty straightforward


Massage Pattern - The Pulse 2.0 has one additional massage pattern

The new Pulse 2.0 gives you the ability to use either Normatec's patented Pulse mode or Sequential. The original Pulse only has Pulse mode. Sequential mode is slightly different in that it squeezes each leg zone one by one, from bottom to top. and holds the pressures of all zones. The pressure only releases after the cycle is complete. Pulse mode inflates essentially one bag, then another, and then release that first bag, while moving on to third bag. It repeats this all the way to the top.

Pulse 2.0 offers two
different massage patterns

Zone Control - The Pulse 2.0 allows you to deactivates zones.

The new Pulse 2.0 allows you to disable as many top zones as you would like. Previously this feature was only available on the Pulse Pro. Note the operative word "top". For example, you couldn't have say zones 1, 2, 4, 5 operating, while skipping 3. But you could set it up to do zones (1 only) / (1, 2) / (1, 2, 3)  / (1, 2, 3, 4). This is useful if you share a pair of longer boots with someone who is too short for them. Also you could use it for say an ankle injury and only focus on zone 1 and 2.


Setting the legs zones

Rest Time - The Pulse 2.0 allows control of the rest time

This isn't a super big feature in my opinion, but the Pulse 2.0 allows control of the rest time between one cycle finishing and the next cycle starting. By default it is 30 seconds but can be adjusted from 15 seconds all the way up to 90 seconds. 


Reporting - The Pulse 2.0 adds reporting

The Pulse 2.0 allows you to record your session activity and automatically submit it Strava or Training Peaks. Now coaches can call out athletes for not doing their recovery as prescribed. It is a small feature, but I am sure the data geeks will rejoice.

Please note, you must be connected thru Bluetooth in order for the data to be logged. This also goes for all the other software features listed above. There is no way to customize these features or get the reporting on the actual device, you must use the app.




Compatibility - all the hoses and attachments are compatible with the the previous Pulse system.

Pressure - there have been no pressure changes. The max pressure is still 100mmHg plus 10mmHg boost to 1 zone of your choosing

Summary

While the Normatec Pulse 2.0 has some notable improvements including the smaller size and weight, added Bluetooth connectivity, and features that were previously only found on the much more expensive Pulse Pro, I would still like more feedback from others and Normatec regarding my boot issue. While I suspect this could have been an isolated issue with early manufacturer runs, I can't recommend a pair of boots that is constantly jamming at the zipper. The last thing I want to do after coming home from a 20 mile run is fight a zipper.

However, I know that Normatec will fix this issue if it truly is an issue. I will update the review if I hear back and can confirm. In the meantime I really suggest making the purchase via Amazon so you can return it if need be. If $1300+ is too much for you, know that Speed Hound makes a really amazing system for $650 that goes to higher pressures (250mmHg vs 100mmHG) and has a super-slick user interface.

Discussed Links

- Normatec Pulse 2.0 Leg System - $1295 on Amazon
Normatec Pulse 2.0 Legs + Hips - $1695 on Amazon
- Normatec Pulse 2.0 Legs + Hips + Arms - $2295 on Amazon
Normatec on eBay - Used and New (Various prices, generally $700-$1200)

Amazon Basics Zero Gravity Chairs - $39.99 - perfect chairs for compression boots recovery if you are on the go or even at home on the patio.

Speed Hound vs Normatec Review
Air Relax vs Normatec Review
Normatec Pulse vs Pulse Pro Review
Normatec Pulse vs Normatec Pulse Gen 2 Review - quiet upgrade to original Pulse that was never heavily advertised and pushed by Normatec but fixed a few issues with the Pulse

Theragun G3 Review vs Tim Tam Trigger Point Percussive Recovery Massager

Bivi (Tim-Tam Style) vs Theragun G3
Percussive Recovery Devices 
Theragun is one of the leading percussive recovery massagers on the market, but how does it stack up against more affordable options like the Tim-Tam style of massagers? This percussive review shootout will hopefully answer that and help you make a more informed buying decision.

The Skinny

Recovery devices continue to be all the rage among athletes and non-athletes alike. Everyone is looking to recover faster, feel better, and the lack of time (and cost) for regular massage is being replaced by recovery compression boots, foam rollers, and percussive devices like the Theragun, Hypervolt, and Tim-Tam.

After extensive testing I found generic Tim-Tam style massagers (I tested the Bivi) performed better in many categories than the Theragun G3 at nearly 1/3 the price. In short, the Bivi massager is faster (when turned all the way up), lighter, more adjustable (1-6 speeds), comes with two 2 batteries so you can always have a fresh battery, and a head that adjusts 90 degrees so you can target every last place on your body.

However, it was louder than the Theragun and the Theragun wins with being able to change tips faster. Both devices are good devices and belong in the recover tool box of athletes. If you want the quieter device go with the Theragun. Otherwise the generic percussive devices seem to fit the bill.

Here is how the two devices stack up in their respective categories:


Price - Advantage Bivi


One of the clear advantages of the generic percussive devices is they are much more affordable than more name-brand products. I purchased the Theragun G3 off Amazon for $399 and with tax it came out to $426. The Bivi massage gun was $145 to my door.


Noise - Advantage Theragun


On the surface the Theragun is definitely the quieter device, but it is still loud. And keep in mind that it isn't a true apples-to-apples comparison either as the Bivi has a higher maximum speed and more speed produces more noise.

Bivi does advertise the device as being loud and powerful in their description and that is partially why I went with it. I wanted a powerful device. However, at the end of the day I did some basic sound tests with a decibel meter and the results are as follows:

Noise test - tested approximately 1 foot from the decibel meter at full speed
- Theragun 85 dB at speed 2
- Bivi 95 dB at speed 6 (87 dB at speed 1)

Regardless of which device you go with, I would still recommend getting some sound protection. The following are inexpensive and effective noise reduction safety ear muffs that can reduce the dB level by 28dB.


Batteries - Advantage Bivi

Bivi - 2x Batteries + charger

The Theragun G3 has one built in battery that is not replaceable. Theragun claims that it lasts 60 minutes, but in my testing I found that it only lasted for about 50 minutes at level 2 (highest level) and that was without any resistance being applied to the unit. In addition, just like your phone, that battery is going to continue to degrade with each charge cycle until it will barely hold a charge.

From a workflow perspective this makes it a little tricky because if you always charge the device after use then you are going to shorten the lifecycle, but you also don't want to pick up a dead Theragun or one the dies half way into your recovery session either. Their Pro model does include replaceable batteries but it is $200 more.

Bivi comes with two batteries and a separate charger unit. In my tests it lasted for 56 minutes on level 6 (highest level) but again without any resistance being applied.

From a workflow perspective you can easily forget about charging after each session knowing you have a fresh battery always ready to go. This will effectively lengthen the life of the batteries.


Ease of use - Advantage Bivi


The Bivi massager features a pivoting head that allows you to adjust the head to better target certain areas of of your body with maximum leverage. The Theragun G3 only has a fixed head position. In addition the Bivi goes to much higher speeds which I really enjoy. From an ease of use perspective I found the Bivi head moved more smoothly across my skin than Theragun G3. It was a subtle difference but nonetheless positive.

Bivi - 3 different head positions


Tip Heads - Theragun


The Bivi has a standard threaded tip design with which you screw on the tips. It comes with 3 different tips with 1 additional standard tip for a total of 4. Specifically they include two different round balls and a triangle tip for more specific and aggressive targeting.

The 4 included Bivi Tips


The Theragun G3 comes with a pop-and-lock sort of design and 4 different tips.


The 4 included Theragun Tips


In my experience I prefer the pop-and-lock sort of design as it is a few seconds quicker to change tips than unscrewing and screwing on another tip.

I could see the Theragun tips breaking as there is a specific track which allows the tip to come on and off quickly but remain secure while in use. Those tracks are made of plastic. However, the Bivi threaded design also could lead to some occasional loosing during use which requires a quick re-tightening as well.


Durability / Warranty - Advantage Bivi


I experienced no durability concerns after six weeks of solid testing with an estimated 30 hours into the units. I do have to occasionally screw back on a tip with the Bivi but given the massive vibration I am not shocked by that. Given the non-replaceable battery we know the Theragun is going to die, or at least become functionally unusable at some point down the road. How long it takes will depend on your usage, number of charge cycles, etc. When the batteries dies on the Bivi you can buy new ones or just buy a whole new unit for a fraction of Theragun's price. Regardless both companies have 1-year warranties on their products.


Weight - Advantage Bivi


Both devices are reasonably heavy and it may not be an issue for some, but holding a vibrating weight for 15-20 minutes could make the lighter Bivi a more desirable unit to some.

Bivi - 2 lbs 5 oz
Theragun - 2lbs 10oz

Theragun weight vs Bivi 


Speed / Power / Force Mode - Advantage Bivi


Six power levels
Speed is not the same thing as power and force but I am lumping these in together for simplicity. Without expensive equipment I can't adequately test these aspects but what I can say is that anecdotally I prefer the speed and power of the Bivi when it is at its highest setting. I do feel that on the lowest settings the Bivi lacks power when applying the gun with firm pressure to a spot but I did this just for testing. In true use application I find I use both devices at their fastest settings.

Bivi has an adjustable speed level from 1-6 on a dial, while the Theragun G3 has two levels of speed (high / low). Theragun claims that it is 40 pulse per second or 2400 RPM on high (1740 RPM on low), while the Bivi claims 2600 RPM. Again I didn't objectively verify this but I feel like the Bivi is noticeably faster than the Theragun when at their max.


Summary


The Bivi is an extremely powerful and much more affordable alternative than the Theragun. It has a larger feature set including more speed levels, replaceable batteries, and a pivoting head. The Bivi is also built much more like an actual industrial tool such as a jigsaw while the Theragun is a more refined consumer product.

The one defining feature the Theragun has is in the noise department. Again they are both still loud, but if you have pets, family members, and neighbors, then it might just be worth the additional cost for the Theragun. The faster tip exchange is a nice feature as well that I routinely benefit from on a daily basis. Not earth-shattering but nice nonetheless as I do routinely switch up the tips.

Regardless I believe the percussive devices are a versatile tool in the recovery tool box and you can benefit from either one of these devices. I have links to these products below and more recovery reviews you might like like as well.

Discussed Product Links 


Theragun G3 - $399 on Amazon
Bivi Percussive Gun Massager - $145 on Amazon
Mpow Noise Reduction Ear Muffs - $11.99 on Amazon

Theragun G3Pro - $599 on Amazon
Tim-Tam Recovery Massager - $150 on Amazon
Hypervolt Recovery Massager - $370 on Amazon
Generic Hypervolt - $230 on Amazon

Other Recovery Reviews You Might Like


Rapid Reboot vs Normatec
Speed Hound vs Normatec
Air Relax vs Normatec

$20 Off - Hyperice Percussion Massage Gun Discount Coupon Code

Save up to $50 on Hyperice Hypervolt percussive recovery massager with Hypervolt discount coupon code HyperVolt50. Discount expires December 31 2019.


This special discount coupon code sale is only valid at Hyperice.com. If you are a 5% off Amazon Prime Visa Member you save $25 on Hypervolt when you purchase directly via Amazon + you get the benefit of easy 30-day returns.

You can also save more by purchasing a refurbished HyperIce via eBay. Or take a look at some generic Hypervolts via Amazon like this $145 Bivi model I reviewed.

$10 Off - Vybe Percussion Massage Gun Discount Coupon Code

Save up to $10 on VYBE Percussive Recovery Massager with Hypervolt discount coupon code VYBE20. Promo Sale expires December 31 2019.


This special discount coupon code sale is only valid at Amazon on the Vybe Massage Gun

$10 Off - Tim Tam Massage Gun Discount Coupon Code

Save up to $10 on Tim Tam Recovery Massage Gun with Tim Tam discount coupon code . Promo sale expires December 31 2019.
TimTam10


This special discount coupon code sale is only valid at Amazon on the Tim Tam Massage Gun.