Set Starter is a tiny interval timer that sits on your thumb.
By putting an interval timer in such a small package, and offering such a handy (pun intended) place to locate it, the people behind Set Starter are clearly looking to take a chunk out of the market dominated by much larger units and various smartphone apps.
So does it work, and is the Set Starter better than using a full-sized interval timer or timing app?
The Set Starter itself comes nicely packaged, although we always prefer plastic containers that aren’t completely sealed all the way around. In this case, there are clear instructions where to make a single cut to access the Set Starter, three sizes of thumb-band and a spare battery (it comes fitted with a battery already), so it wasn’t too onerous a task.
Immediately plumping for the medium-sized thumb-band, we found that the fit was snug and secure. The elastic being used is definitely on the strong side, so the unit feels extremely secure on the thumb.
The Set Starter has a number of buttons and lights crammed in to the small fascia.
In the bottom-right is an on/off button that makes the unit spring into life. The Alert button then allows you to cycle between the types of alert. You can choose from:
- Audible Beep
- Flashing LED
- A combination of all three
We chose the combination for all our tests, as it seemed to make the most sense.
Also on the cluster of four buttons at the bottom-half of the Set Starter are the Time and Repeat options. By pressing the Time button, you are choosing how many seconds your interval should last. A row of LEDs across the unit show the time you’ve chosen. The intervals indicated when the LEDs are red are for 15, 30,45,60 and 90 seconds. Then the same button will cycle through the intervals that cover 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 minutes by showing a green LED instead.
The Repeat button then sets that interval to repeat over and over until you stop your session. Alternatively, you can leave Repeat off and simply press the big Start button at the top to start a single repetition of the interval.
To test out the Set Starter, we tried everything from an interval running session out on the streets, where the traffic noise was high, through to indoor HIIT sessions and gym-based weightlifting.
During the running test, we chose the 30 second option on the Set Starter and put the unit on Repeat so that we could do a VO2 Max improvement session. At no point did we miss an alert, either audibly (despite the road noise) or by feeling the vibration on our thumb. It was very easy to understand when we ought to be sprinting versus jogging.
It was the same for the HIIT session and the weightlifting, although we did get some funny looks at the gym and thought it might have been a better idea to change the Alert to ‘vibrate only’.
The only downside of the Set Starter, and this is down to the limited amount of space available on the device, is the fact that you can’t set a strict Tabata interval time. Tabata is 20 seconds of hard work followed by 10 seconds of rest. As the Set Starter allows for 15 seconds as the lowest interval and 30 seconds for the next one up, it was impossible to select any option that would give us a 20:10 ratio.
And since 30 seconds is ‘two alerts’ of 15, we’re surprised that 30 is even an option on the timer. It might have been better for the makers to go with numbers that, when doubled, don’t equal one of the other numbers. Our choice would be to have 10, 15, 25, 45, 70 and 80 seconds, which would give you 20, 30, 50, 90, 140 and 160 when you work or rest for two alerts. The ‘green’ timers could then run from 1 through to 5 minutes to offer an easier way to measure 60-second base intervals.
Other than that slight limitation, the Set Starter interval timer is a slick unit that always feels secure and that provides most of your interval timing needs in a very small and useful package. It sure beats having a huge lump of plastic hanging from your waistband or trying to figure out a secure holder for your 4.5″ long smartphone.
The Set Starter interval timer is now shipping worldwide and we highly recommend it for anyone needing a simple but conveniently located timer for their exercise routine.
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We had three Set Starter interval timers to give away in our Twitter competition.
The competition is now closed. Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to everyone for taking part…