As Echelon’s newest rowing machine, one might wonder what sets the Row-S apart from the brand’s other, more affordable model, the Smart Rower.
Well, you won’t have to wonder long, because that huge HD touchscreen sitting on top of it is kinda hard to miss.
Yup, in true Echelon fashion, they’ve decided to offer an upgraded rower that comes with its own HD touchscreen display. I see this as a good thing, because if you don’t already have a tablet, this saves you the trouble of having to get one separately.
And if you do have a tablet, you can save the extra cash and go with their more affordable Smart Rower.
But I think I’m getting ahead of myself here.
If you’re looking to join the world of streaming workouts with a new smart rower, Echelon’s Row-S isn’t a bad choice. But before you decide to buy, it’s a good idea to your homework.
And that’s exactly where this review comes in.
Think of this as your cheat sheet to the Echelon Row-S. In this article, I’ll go over everything you need to know to help you decide whether or not this is the right rowing machine for your home gym.
I’ll also compare it to Echelon’s other aforementioned rower, as well as a few other smart rowers already on the market, to see how it stacks up.
The Echelon Row-S
Echelon started out with a brilliant game plan- offer folks a more affordable way to access streaming workouts through fitness equipment.
How did they make their streaming equipment more affordable?
They left out the huge, touchscreen display that streaming equipment has become known for. Instead, you could use your own smart phone or tablet to connect to the machine and stream their workouts.
Echelon started out with their spin cycles, which were designed to be budget-friendly alternatives to the Peloton, but they’ve gradually expanded their lineup into the world of rowers and treadmills (Echelon Stride).
What’s a little more surprising, is that Echelon eventually started adding models that came with said huge screen.
I guess the idea was to expand and offer different models at different price points. And I will say, their bikes, treadmills, and rowers that do come with a screen are more affordable than a lot of the competition.
The Row-S comes with an asking price of roughly $1600 (not counting the monthly subscription fee to their streaming service), which is about $600 cheaper than The Hydrow.
- 22″ HD touchscreen monitor
- Monitor rotates
- Smooth, quiet magnetic resistance system
- 32 resistance levels
- Adjust resistance from handle during workouts
- Adjustable foot pedals
- 300 lb weight capacity
- Folding frame
- Access to thousands of workouts through app
- Easy assembly
- Short warranty
When considering a new rowing machine, the first place to start is figuring out what kind of resistance system you want. Rowing machines generally come in 4 varieties: air, magnetic, water, and hydraulic.
They each have their advantages and disadvantages, and if you’re looking for a more in-detail discussion of the different resistance systems, check out my rowing machine guide.
The Echelon Row-S is a magnetic rower. This means the resistance is created with a rotating metal flywheel and the use of magnets around it.
The resistance is increased or decreased by moving the magnets closer or farther away from that rotating flywheel.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because this is how a lot of home exercise bikes and ellipticals function.
Magnetic rowers are one of the most popular styles for home gyms because they’re virtually silent during use. A magnetic rower like the Row-S doesn’t create any of the swooshing sounds an air or water rower creates.
This means you can watch tv or exercise while others are sleeping with little worry.
The other big advantage to magnetic rowers is that the resistance is constant.
The resistance you feel on air and water rowers varies depending on how fast you row. This is great because it mimics the feel of rowing a real boat (and you basically have unlimited resistance), but it also means you can’t really row slowly against higher resistance levels.
On a magnetic rower like the Row-S, the resistance is the same regardless of how fast you row. You simply set it and start rowing- pull as fast or as slow as you like, but that resistance isn’t going to change.
Speaking of resistance, the Row-S comes with 32 magnetic levels to work with. Having this large of a ranges gives you a lot of wiggle room when setting your workout intensities.
It also gives you a lot of room to grow, if you’re a less experienced rower.
One of my favorite features of this rower is that you can change the resistance from the handle- there’s an up and down button right in the middle that makes it easy to change the resistance setting during workouts, which is a very handy feature.
Overall, as a magnetic rower, the Row-S provides a smooth, quiet workout experience. I like that it comes with so many resistance levels to work with and the buttons on the handle make it easy to adjust during workouts.
The Row-S comes with a steel and aluminum frame that is capable of holding users weighing up to 300 lb.
Personally, I always like to compare weight capacities when learning about new fitness equipment. I see weight capacity as a crucial performance spec that tells us a lot about the quality of the machine.
And higher is always better.
Higher weight capacities are indicative of superior frame integrity and overall strength. After all, a rower that can handle a 300 lb user has got to be more structurally sound than one that can handle 200 lb right?
Well, I’m not going to say this rule is written in stone or anything, but generally speaking, I think it rings true most of the time.
And a 300 lb weight limit is pretty average for a quality home rower.
That said, it’s also high enough to safely hold most users.
Something else worth noting is that this frame is foldable. You can easily fold the frame vertically to save space and there are built-in transport wheels that make it pretty easy to move this thing around.
Echelon even added a little transport handle, giving you something to hold on to while moving the Row-S from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ (it’s the little things that make all the difference).
Overall, the Row-S scores pretty highly with its 300 lb weight capacity and easy to fold frame.
As far as I can tell, literally the only difference between Echelon’s Smart Rower and the Row-S is the addition of the touchscreen display- the resistance system, frame, and everything else seems to be identical.
But this monitor is a pretty significant upgrade.
The Row-S comes with a 22″ HD touchscreen display that takes it pretty easy on your eyes while streaming your workouts from the Echelon app.
For an added bonus, Echelon designed the screen so that it can rotate away from the rower. This is convenient, in the case that you’ll be using the Row-S monitor to stream workouts that aren’t rowing in nature.
After all, when you sign up for the Echelon app (which is mandatory for this rower by the way), you get access to all of Echelon’s workouts.
They’ve got a pretty generous selection of workouts to choose from and their library expands daily: we’re talking strength training, yoga, pilates, cardio, boxing, etc.
The app comes with both live and on-demand workouts to choose from.
The cost of the app depends a little on which package you choose- signing up for a year or two upfront will decrease the monthly cost of the app, but paying month to month will cost ya $39.99 last time I checked.
Overall, the HD touchscreen monitor on this rower is pretty sweet. The way Echelon is pricing their rowers, they’re basically saying the monitor is worth $600.
(if you already have a nice tablet and want to save some money, go with the Smart Rower)
Echelon doesn’t offer any different assembly instructions for the Row-S vs the Smart Rower, so I’m thinking the assembly process is identical except that you have to add the monitor on the Row-S of course.
And attaching the monitor can’t be that difficult.
The assembly process for the Smart Rower is very straightforward and should only take a few minutes.
The main housing comes pre-assembled. You’ll be responsible for attaching the stabilizers, the seat, and connecting the rail.
Overall, putting the Row-S together should be the same process as putting the Smart Rower together, with the addition of attaching the monitor.
And assembly the Smart Rower is a piece of cake.
Echelon offers the following warranty on the Row-S:
- 1 year parts and labor
- 30 day return policy
I wish Echelon would upgrade their warranties. There’s no getting around the fact that a 1 year warranty on this machine is weak.
For the sake of comparison, Hydrow offers 5 years on their frame and NordicTrack offers 10 years on the frame of their RW900 (which is priced almost identically to the Row-S, fyi).
The 30 day return policy is fine- it’s nice to know that you can return the rower for any reason if you’re not satisfied.
But it certainly doesn’t make up for the really short warranty on this machine.
Overall, I consider the warranty to be the biggest downside for the Row-S.
Ok, that about does it for Echelon’s Row-S.
Overall, I think it’s a good looking rower with some nice features to offer. If you’re looking to join the streaming workout craze, that 22″ HD display will certainly do the trick.
I also like that it comes with so many resistance levels to choose from and that you can switch between intensity levels easily during workouts with the controls on the handle.
My only real complaint is that short warranty.
The Row-S is identical to the Smart Rower in every way- Echelon just added the rotating touchscreen monitor. If you like the Row-S and already have a nice tablet, you can save yourself some cash and go with their Smart Rower ($600 cheaper).
This is a nice streaming rower, but how does it hold up to the competition?
The biggest competition that I see is The Hydrow and the NordicTrack RW900 and honestly, I think both machines are superior.
The Hydrow is the gold standard in home magnetic rowers and as such, it comes with a more sophisticated resistance system, a heavier-duty frame, and access to workouts that are actually filmed on the water.
The only con of course, is the higher price tag.
The NordicTrack RW900 on the other hand, is priced almost identically to the Row-S. It comes with a dual magnetic/air resistance system and a much better warranty.
Although the RW900 comes with a lower weight capacity.
All 3 rowers require a monthly subscription, but that’s a given if you’re looking for a streaming rowing machine (if you’re not interested in streaming workouts, check out my magnetic rower guide for some additional ideas).
All things considered, I think Echelon’s Row-S is a pretty solid rowing machine. For the price, I think there are better options out there, but it’s not a blow out. If Echelon would only beef up that warranty…