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Last Updated: May 6, 2023
We are having a ball reviewing all the new rowers on the market! Indoor rowing was once an arduous exercise reserved for CrossFit enthusiasts and rowing purists (i.e. those who love self-inflicted agony). But now that so many people are aware of the tremendous benefits from rowing, we have seen an explosion in rowers of all kinds! These days, rowing options include chic water rowers, hearty air rowers, quiet magnetic rowers, and even hybrid models for those who like to mix things up. Add an attached touchscreen, and voila! Rowing has become the new gamified, ulta-exercise that anyone can enjoy.
In this review, we will compare the Ergatta vs the Hydrow. These two rowers both feature touchscreens and subscription content, but are remarkably different and will appeal to different users. You can check out how the Hyrow and the Ergatta compare to other rowers on the market by checking out our list of best rowing machines.
Hydrow: Who is it designed for?
The Hydrow rower is designed for those who want to learn and enjoy rowing in their own homes. The Hydrow is good for users who:
- Need a quiet rower – the Hydrow uses electromagnetic resistance so it is quieter than an air rower
- Want something that looks chic and modern
- Want or need training content to help them stay engaged and learn the basics of rowing
- Are able to sit down and lean forward when working out
- Can pay the higher price for the Hydrow in addition to a $38 monthly subscription
- Recognize the benefits of rowing and are willing to stick to the training regimen
Hydrow Pros & Cons:
Ergatta: Who is it designed for?
The Ergatta is old world style with an oiled cherrywood frame and earthy feel. It sits lower on the floor and features a dual track system (rather than a monorail). The elevated seat slides smoothly on four wheels and the wood footboard feels like the base of a rowing shell. A large water tank positioned on the front of the frame features a wide paddle that creates a “swoosh” sound with each stroke. Sitting on the Ergatta feels like stepping into a boat – and the rowing experience is much the same. However, Ergatta also features subscription gamified content. This combination of old world class meets new-age gamer makes the Ergatta interesting to say the least. It is best suited for:
- Those who prefer the natural sound of water rowing
- Rowers who need something quiet
- Those who are willing to pay for the subscription content – it’s kind of the point.
- Desire something simple and lightweight that is easy to move and store
- Larger rowers up to 500lb
- Those who are naturally competitive and prefer games over instructor-led videos
Ergatta Pros and Cons:
In-Depth Comparison Review: Ergatta vs Hydrow
Height: 47” (top of touchscreen)
Monorail height: 14”
Seat height: 16”
Length of monorail: 54”
Weight: 145 pounds
Weight capacity: 375 pounds
Track height: 6”
Seat height: 12”
Track length: 40” inseam
Dry Weight: 76 pounds
Weight with water: 105 pounds
Weight capacity: 500 pounds
Frame, Foot Pedals & Seat
Both the Hydrow and Ergatta are sturdy, well-built rowers. However, there is a significant weight difference between the two. The Hydrow weighs 145 pounds and the Ergatta is only 76 pounds when empty and 105 pounds with water. The Hydrow can be stored vertically, but since it is a bit heavy, lifting it is more of a challenge. Additionally, you will need a separate anchor kit if you plan to store it vertically.
The Ergatta is easier to lift and move, but there are a few features I don’t love. The pedals are a bit close together and the seat is slightly shallower than the Hydrow. Also, the way the strap is a single piece of fabric that loops under both foot pedals is not my favorite design. I also found the catch to be a bit congested, so when I slide in for the recovery, my knees, hands, and feet all feel crunched. If the pedals were spaced wider it would eliminate this issue.
Handle & Strap
The handles are relatively similar. Handles on both machines are fairly comfortable. The Hydrow handle is 18″ long and 4″ in diameter, it is slightly more spongy, and it felt more comfortable in my hands. The Ergatta handle is about 15.5″ long and roughly 5″ in diameter. The ergonomic shape of the Ergatta handle isn’t my favorite – but our other reviewers didn’t have an issue with it.
Both rowers user a nylon strap that connects the handle to the internal rowing mechanism. The Ergatta strap is slightly thinner and narrower than the Hyrow and is already fraying along the sides. You cannot single-arm row on the Ergatta because if you move the strap to the side it comes off the roller that feeds into the tank which is probably what has caused it to already fray.
Magnetic vs. Water Resistance
Resistance is where these two machines differ significantly. The Ergatta is a water rower while the Hydrow uses electromagnetic resistance. Let’s outline some of the pro’s and con’s of these types of resistance:
Water Resistance Pro’s
- Water rowing is the quietest form of indoor rowing we’ve tested thus far. Using a decibel meter, we measured the noise output from the Ergatta at roughly 72dB which is just above that expected in an office setting. As you pull the strap, the paddle within the tank rotates the water. The noise created sounds very much like a washing machine, with the subtle swooshing of the water being the only sound. Not only is it not very loud, the sound is actually quite soothing and is one reason people prefer water rowers.
- Because the weight of the water is constant (unless you add more), the resistance is consistent on a water rower, so there’s no lag during recovery. The water continuously moves through the tank to create consistent resistance that should prove challenging enough for most users. And, if you want to make it harder, just add more water.
Water Resistance Con’s
- Cannot adjust resistance or drag
- There’s no way to adjust resistance or drag while rowing. The only way to do this is to either add or remove water from the tank – which is a bit of a hassle.
- Water tank could be an issue
- While the Ergatta is built to last and shouldn’t leak or have other issues, the truth is, this is still a large tank of water. If there were to be an issue, it would release a significant amount of water in your home.
Hydrow Electromagnetic Resistance Pro’s:
- Magnetic resistance is much quieter. Magnets, rather than air, create resistance inside the rower. This creates a slight whirring sound, but it is much less significant than the noise of an air rower.
- Specifically calibrated
- With magnetic resistance, specific levels can be digitally set. This helps each user know exactly how much resistance they will pull against with each stroke. The Hydrow has 300 resistance levels that constantly readjust to match the level and power of the person rowing.
- No friction points; minimal contact points
- Magnetic resistance doesn’t create heat or friction. All resistance is generated by magnetic polarity which eliminates friction between moving parts.
- Minimal maintenance
- The nylon strap requires minimal maintenance and the other elements of magnetic rowing do not need to be serviced or maintained.
- Allows for targeted resistance training
- Magnetic resistance is perfect for users who want to follow a preset program that outlines what level of resistance to use. Rather than have to guess based on how hard they are pulling — magnetic resistance allows for more targeted training in rowing classes and routes.
Hydrow Electromagnetic Resistance Con’s:
- Expensive to produce
- Magnetic resistance requires more expensive materials and more engineering. Most fitness machines that utilize magnetic resistance are on the higher price scale.
- Resistance is limited to a maximum level
- There is in fact, limited resistance. Granted, it would be hard to “out-row” the Hydrow, but in theory a person could find the maximum resistance to be too easy for them.
Hydrow Rowing App vs. Ergatta Gaming App
The Hydrow has a 22” full color touchscreen and the Ergatta features a 17.3” full color HD 1080 display for games and challenges.
Ergatta App Interface
The user interface on the Ergatta is probably my favorite of any rowing system. Ergatta has incorporated digital games, challenges, and competitions. This is brilliant for several reasons. Admittedly, I get bored on a rower. Even with the most immersive rowing video, I tend to zone out and lose motivation as time goes on. The Ergatta programs don’t allow you to zone out – you have to pay attention and stay engaged in order to complete the game. I also love the varied time options. If you want to row for 5 minutes (which is roughly my attention span) – great! You can find several short games that will kick that heart rate up and have you sweating in 5 minutes. Most other rowing apps have a 20-30 minute minimum video length. The production of these games has to be significantly easier and less expensive than filming a professional rowing instructor outdoors – which means the content is constantly changing, updating, and adapting to user feedback. Ergatta has incorporated the time-tested method of progressive overload into their content. This means, when used correctly, the Push Programs will actually help you get stronger and better at rowing. Progressive overload is a proven method of gradually increasing time and load to reduce plateaus and stagnant training.
My only complaint about the screen and content is the speakers are pretty lousy and are placed on the back of the tablet. I recommend finding your own playlist and using headphones while rowing since none of the games have sounds or feedback you need to hear.
- Push Programs
- Interval Training
- Open Row
Hydrow App Interface
The Hydrow app is designed to provide training, guidance and instructor-led rowing sessions all over the world. The Hydrow subscription app offers Live classes, preloaded classes, rowing competitions and challenges, a Leaderboard, interactive options between rowing participants, and data collection. It is more of a Peloton-type experience on a rower. While the PM5 only offers a handful of training programs, the Hydrow app has over 15,000 workouts that are constantly updated.
The Hydrow offers valuable instruction on proper form, which is very helpful for those who may be unfamiliar with rowing. Hydrow outdoor sessions are filmed with multiple camera angles so you don’t just look back at the person rowing or down at their feet the whole time. A boat follows both in front and behind the instructor to film different angles; there is also a camera mounted on the front of the rowing scull for added footage. The combination of outdoor routes, impressive videography, professional rowing instruction, guided challenges and interactive options make the Hydrow an excellent training option for both new and experienced rowers.
Rowing resistance adjusts while you row to match that experienced by the instructor on the water. All of this works together to create a very real rowing experience. The default for the Hydrow is to select a rowing program. It has limited “Just Row” options since the programming is the main emphasis here.