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

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