Horizon Fitness 7.8AT Treadmill Review 2021

Kristen NelsonKristen Nelson

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Last Updated: August 23, 2021

The Horizon Fitness 7.8 AT is Horizon’s highest grade treadmill in their Studio Series lineup. Its sibling machines, the 7.0 AT and 7.4 AT provide a nice combination of performance and technology, but the 7.8 AT takes the cake with its newly redesigned console and Sprint 8 training integration. The 7.8 AT is designed for interval training with blue thumb rollers on the upright handles so you can quickly roll the dial to increase incline and resistance. These are unusual on a treadmill but are slightly more responsive than a quick touch button. Incline jumps by .5 and speed increases by .1 each time you roll the dial. This allows for very tailored speed and incline settings you can access quickly while running.

Horizon 7.8AT Treadmill Review 2021

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Treadmill Awards: 2021 Best Treadmill for HIIT Training

Horizon 7.8 AT Treadmill - Best Treadmill For HIIT BadgeThe Horizon Fitness 7.8 AT is an impressive machine. With its easy to use features, performance, and technology we awarded it the Best Treadmill for HIIT training for 2021.


Who It’s For: Runners who want impressive HIIT features but don’t want to be locked in to a monthly subscription

The Horizon 7.8 AT is an excellent choice for users who:

  • Are serious about training and want a responsive machine
  • Want usable features that make navigation and speed control intuitive
  • Are more interested in a range of apps on their personal tablet than one singular app on a built in touchscreen
  • Expect a powerful motor and full size running platform
  • Desire a treadmill that folds up
  • Expect a full lifetime warranty that reflects the product quality and design

Our Video Review


Pros
  • 4.0HP motor is powerful and 33% faster for speed and incline adjustments with Rapid Sync system.
  • This is an excellent machine for HIIT training
  • Sprint 8 training program built in
  • QuickDial controllers for speed and incline are effective. Easier to use than buttons.
  • Exceptional Lifetime warranty on motor and frame
  • Folding deck hinges to lock vertically against the console when you are finished.
Cons
  • While you can sync with external apps, the 7.8 AT relies on a tablet holder to provide touchscreen content, videos or online classes. It does not have a touchscreen or built in video workouts. Any 3rd party apps require their own subscription.
  • Treadmill weighs 330lbs and will support 375lbs. This is on the heavier side for overall treadmill weight and may be a factor to consider if you plan to use it on a second (or higher) floor.
  • LED Screen is not on par with other treadmills in this price range.
  • Bluetooth may not sync with every app — some apps allow for easier integration than others

Best Treadmill For HIIT Training 2021 - Horizon 7.8 AT


Treadmill FeaturesSpecifications
  • 375lbs max user weight
    • This is an impressive weight capacity for a folding treadmill which makes it a great option for nearly all users.
  • 15% Incline
    • Get more out of your HIIT intervals with incline added to speed sessions for a higher calorie burn and more intense conditioning
  • 12 mph Max Speed
    • The 4.0 HP motor is 33% faster than comparable motors so you can jump quickly from one speed to another with no lag in between. There are abundant speed training options with a 12mph max.
  • Feather Light Folding
    • The Feather Light folding system makes it easy to fold your treadmill deck vertically when you are finished to reduce dedicated floor space in your home. The deck locks into place when folded for safety and security.
  • 3-Zone Variable Response cushioning
    • The 7.8 AT provides a cushioned mid-strike zone with a solid toe off for the ultimate running treadmill. Control and improve your running form with the variable response cushioning.
  • Sprint 8 HIIT program integrated
    • The Sprint 8 HIIT programs are very popular and shown to be effective (and time efficient!) for weight loss. The Sprint 8 program comes preloaded on the 7.8 AT and the responsive motor supports the quick speed intervals in this program. You can also subscribe and use your tablet to access more Sprint 8 workouts.
  • 33% faster response motor
    • The 4.0HP motor is designed to not only be powerful but also extremely responsive so you can move between speeds quicker than on comparable treadmills. Go ahead and push that button — you’ll notice the jump to your desired speed is almost instantaneous!
  • Bluetooth enabled to sync with 3rd party apps
    • Don’t get locked into one particular app. Horizon has designed the 7.8 AT to sync with any number of external 3rd party apps so you can train and use the platform of your choice that will sync with the Bluetooth console.
  • Roller Speed and Incline Controls
    • An unusual but intuitive design, the QuickDial controls make it simple to jump from one speed (or incline) to another. Using just your thumb, you can roll the control dial quickly and easily. The speed dial is on the right handle and incline is on the left.
  • 16 Digit Alphanumeric LED 9.3” and High Contrast Color TFT screen
    • While not the most technologically advanced console, the added tablet holder and Bluetooth function makes it so you can also use your personal tablet for added training options.

Construction:

  • 22” W x 60” L belt
  • 4.0 HP Continuous DC motor
  • 1.6mm Silicone belt
  • .8” Deck thickness
  • 60mm – 46mm Tapered Rollers
  • 4 Wheels under frame to roll when folded
  • Open Footprint: 76” L x 37” W x 64” H
  • 375lbs max user weight
  • 330lbs treadmill weight

Functionality:

  • 15% Incline
  • 12 mph Max Speed
  • Feather Light Folding
  • 3-Zone Variable Response cushioning
  • Sprint 8 HIIT program integrated
  • 33% faster response motor
  • Bluetooth enabled to sync with 3rd party apps
  • QuickDial Speed and Incline Controls
  • Heart Rate chest strap included

Console:

  • 16 Digit Alphanumeric LED 9.3”
  • High Contrast Color TFT Screen
  • Free Phone/Tablet app that interfaces with machine
  • Accessory Tray
  • Audio In/Out Jack
  • Bluetooth Speakers
  • Energy Saver Mode
  • QuickDial controls for speed and incline
  • Fan
  • Multiposition Tablet Holders
  • HR Sensors on handlebars
  • Heart Rate chest strap included

Warranty:

  • Frame Lifetime
  • Motor Lifetime
  • Parts 5 Years
  • Labor 2 Years

In-depth Review of Horizon 7.8 AT Treadmill


Construction

Frame

Horizon 7.8AT Frame
The Horizon Fitness 7.8 AT treadmill is sturdy weighing in at 330lbs. The deck will fold and lock into a vertical, upright position against the console for security when not in use. There are also four wheels under the frame so you can gently roll the 7.8 AT when it’s folded. It is a heavy machine though, so be careful when moving it. The elongated 22” wide by 60” long deck provides plenty of running space — even for taller users. The treadmill feels stable and supportive when running. Even when inclined there is minimal wobble. The console is a bit dated and we would like to see some upgraded tech in the form of a color touchscreen, but in all, the 7.8 AT provides a comfortable running feel with Variable Response cushioning and a gently textured belt.

Handlebars

There are two sets of handlebars on the 7.8 AT. The side handrails extend forward from the console and float over the aluminum step rails to provide a strong hand-hold when getting on or off the machine and/or when walking along the belt. These have a firm plastic cover that is both moisture and sweat resistant and can be easily wiped off to sanitize. There are also curved handlebars that extend forward from the console and then bend vertically for an upright hand position. These have both heart rate sensors and the speed (right) and incline (left) roller dials on the ends. The curved bars angle gently inward which allows users to keep their hands on the handles and dials while also keeping the shoulders and elbows in alignment for comfort and ergonomics. The dial controls on the end of the handlebars are an unusual — but valuable — feature. These are only present on the 7.8 AT treadmill in the Studio Series lineup.

Deck

  • Cushioning
    Horizon 7.8AT Variable Response cushioning

    • The Horizon 7.8 AT features their 3-Zone Variable Response cushioning which is advertised as having different levels of cushioning in 3 different zones on the deck. This allows runners to find a comfortable mid strike foot position but then enjoy a solid toe off with a full kick back stride extension. The cushioning is not as soft as other treadmills we’ve tested, but it is certainly an upgrade from running on outdoor surfaces. Also, the added support for a strong toe off may feel slightly less cushioned underfoot initially but helps runners find and maintain a healthy running stroke for better joint support and spinal alignment. Good running form reduces impact injuries and the risk of postural deviations from overly tight muscles.
  • Length/Width
    • The 60” long and 22” wide deck is a full size which provides plenty of lateral and fore/aft length. We recommend a minimum of 60” for tall runners, those with a long stride, or anyone looking for a bit of extra length. The 22” wide gives you just a touch more room to wander on the deck before you step onto the aluminum side rails.
  • Side Rails
    • The side rails have ridges so your foot doesn’t slide off, but we could use a bit more width to them. They were barely wide enough for my foot. Be careful not to slip off the rails if the belt is still moving.
  • Belt and Rollers
    • The belt and rollers on the 7.8 AT are adequate — not quite as large or thick as we see on other machines, but the feel is still supportive and gently textured underfoot. Rollers move the belt along the deck, so a larger size increases surface area which reduces belt tension to reduce friction.

Motor

A hearty 4.0HP motor supports smooth speed and incline adjustments and should provide enough power for users at all conditioning levels. The 7.8 AT is great for gently walking since it has simple preloaded programs that work well for those who just want to get on and go. It is also a good option for runners and joggers who plan to train or run regularly. But the 7.8 AT excels at HIIT training features. The preloaded Sprint 8 programs are 20 minutes of intervals for intense HIIT training that packs a wallop and will kick up your heart rate and calorie burn. This machine was designed specifically for those who want to use HIIT intervals regularly, so if you like the Sprint 8 or similar programs, this is a great option.

Horizon claims the 7.8 AT motor responds up to 33% faster than comparable treadmills. To be honest, I didn’t notice that the response time was really any faster than other treadmills (Nordictrack 1750, ProForm 5000 or Sole F80). The dials move quickly to jump the displayed speed up (or down) but I didn’t find the response time to be noticeably different. However, the belt can only speed up so fast when running or it becomes a safety concern. I felt the 7.8 AT was about as responsive as I needed it to be, I just didn’t feel it was 33% faster.

Horizon 7.8 AT deck
One issue we frequently have to assess with folding treadmills is the height of the motor hood that sits at the top of the deck. Since folding treadmills typically house the motor up here in order to allow the deck to fold, it can be in the way if you stand too close to the console or the front of the deck. While the 7.8 AT does have an elevated motor hood, I didn’t find it was overly intrusive in your running space. If you stand too close there is a chance you will graze your shoe on the top of the motor hood, but repositioning your body back just a few inches solves this problem.

Console/Controls

Screen

Horizon 7.8AT Screen
The Horizon 7.8 AT has two display panels. A 9.3” TFT screen sits at the top of the console. It is a color screen, but it won’t show workout videos or other video content. Basically, just the graph and time dial in the center are color. All program graphics are digital. The TFT screen provides workout feedback such as calories, distance, heart rate, incline, pace, speed and time. The preloaded programs are divided into a 5K, calorie burn, custom program, custom HR program, distance run, fat burn, heart rate, hill climb, manual and of course, Sprint 8. The lower panel is digital numbers that reflect your time/distance, speed/incline, etc. To be honest, I’m not sure why there are two display panels. The upper color screen displays all the same metrics as the lower digital panel. I found myself really only paying attention to the TFT screen because it’s brighter and easier to see. The only real reason to have the lower digital display is if you place a tablet on the shelf in front of the TFT screen it will block all those metrics, at which point you’ll only be able to see the lower digital readouts. However, the 7.8 AT also includes a tablet shelf at the top of the console which will hold a tablet just fine and it won’t block the TFT screen from this position. I feel the console could be streamlined a bit to either eliminate one of the two tablet shelves and the lower digital readout.
Horizon 7.8AT Console
One thing I really like about the 7.8 AT is the Sprint 8 program. This is a built-in HIIT training program where the machine will challenge you with sprints followed by short recovery intervals. There are 20 different levels of difficulty in the Sprint 8 program, which is essentially 20 different programs, so you’re getting a lot of variabilities here. There is a graph display on the bottom of the TFT screen that shows where you are in the program so you know when to expect a sprint or recovery. The speed adjustments are automatic, so you can just focus on your pace and heart rate while running. HIIT training is more challenging than steady-state cardio and allows for higher calorie and fat burn in a shorter time. The built-in Sprint 8 program makes the 7.8 AT a great option for those who enjoy HIIT training but don’t want to pay for a subscription. You can subscribe to more Sprint 8 programs on your tablet if you want, but since you have 20 different difficulty levels built in, a subscription isn’t required.

QuickDial Controls

Horizon 7.8AT Speed dials
Another feature I liked on the 7.8 AT are the rolling blue dials on top of the upright handles. These are placed just under your thumb, so you can quickly roll the dial to increase or decrease speed or incline. This was easier for me than reaching up to tap a button. My only issue is you kind of have to guess how much to turn it and then watch to see where you land. The dial on the right increases speed by .1 so even if you really give it a good spin, it’s not going to jump you from 6mph to 10mph in one turn; which is a good safety feature. The left dial increases incline by .5 with each turn.

The 7.8 AT has preset buttons for speed on the right and incline on the left of the console. These are black with white numbers. A master control panel just below the screens allows users to toggle through various programs and select metric displays. There is also a green start and red stop button here. The safety key also sits at the bottom of the console and can be attached to your clothing.

Tablet Holder

There are two places to set a phone or tablet: a center shelf just in front of the TFT screen will hold a device or you can place your tablet on the shelf on the top of the console above the TFT screen. If you use the lower shelf, it’s more centered but your device will block the screen. If you use the upper shelf, it’s a little higher and doesn’t offer as much support, but it won’t block the screen.

Storage

There are two pockets on either side of the console that will hold a small water bottle, phone, keys, etc. There is also a large storage tray that spans the width of the deck just below the console. This tray adds useful extra storage because even when running on a treadmill at home, it is nice to have personal items (TV remote, book, etc) close by for convenience.

Bluetooth

The 7.8 AT has advanced Bluetooth technology that will stream media through the integrated speakers, track your heart rate and sync with various apps. There is also a rapid-charge USB port behind the tablet holder so you can charge your device while using it.

Fan

There is a fan; it’s not really powerful enough to be of much use. It’s also placed rather low so the air hits about sternum height, but doesn’t cool your face or neck. We’d like to see increased air flow and adjustable vents that allow you to turn the breeze upwards toward your face.

Layout

The console isn’t my favorite, but it works. Once I found all the buttons I was looking for it was fine, but there’s a lot going on in this console. With two different display panels, two separate tablet holders and lots of buttons, it can be a bit much. The 7.8 AT has all the features you want on a treadmill, but there’s a bit of visual clutter on the console.

Functionality

Performance

The 7.8 AT performs well under testing and feels comfortable underfoot. The deck itself is sturdy and our larger reviewers felt they had good support when running. Initially it doesn’t feel like it has as much cushioning as other machines, but after running for a while I found it to be supportive and not too firm. The 3-zone cushioning really seems to help provide a proper foot strike and solid toe off while retaining just enough shock absorption to keep you comfortable.

Incline / Decline range

Horizon 7.8AT Incline walking

The Horizon 7.8 AT inclines to 15%. There are several benefits to working on an incline. A steeper incline more directly engages your posterior muscle chain which consequently burns more calories than running on a flat road. It also adds different challenges when you combine various speeds with various inclines. It’s hard to get bored on a machine with this many training options. The incline feature makes it so you can really kick up that heart rate but stay low-impact for a challenging workout that burns more calories and recruits more of the powerhouse lower-body muscles.

Preloaded Programs

Horizon states there are 10 preloaded programs on the 7.8 AT — but there’s actually a lot more than this because each program has different distances, interval sessions, etc.

Programs include:

  • Distance (multiple distance options: 1mile, 2 miles, 5k, 10k, 10 miles, marathon, etc)
  • My First 5k
  • Fat Burn
  • Heart Rate
  • Hill Climb
  • Manual
  • Sprint 8 (with 20 different levels of difficulty)

The arrow buttons on the console toggle through and select your program of choice. Also, the 7.8 AT will sync via Bluetooth with external fitness apps for additional training content. For all external apps, you must use your personal tablet which is not included. The console is not video enabled, but the 7.8 AT will keep track of your metrics while you use your phone or personal tablet.

The only issue I had with the programs were if you are in one and exit out, for some reason it stays on the “workout paused” screen and won’t let you quickly load another program. I had to wait for the console to time-out which took about 10 minutes before I was able to load another program.

Subscription Options

Horizon offers the Pro app, which is a free, no-subscription app that lets you control your workout from your device’s touchscreen. The Pro app automatically pushes workout stats to your favorite fitness apps like Fitbit and Under Armour, so you can keep track of all your data in one place. There are several apps that will sync with the treadmill, some of which come with a discount to Horizon users. All apps require their own subscription and are not included with purchase of the 7.8 AT. Horizon advertises the 7.8 AT will sync with the following apps:

  • Fitbit (Fitness app with personalized metrics)
  • Under Armour (Workout app)
  • Horizon Pro app (Free; syncs workout data)
  • Studio App (HIIT workouts on and off the treadmill)
  • Peloton App (Running videos)
  • AFG App (Sprint 8)
  • Many others not specifically listed

Noise Level

Horizon 7.8AT Variable Response deck

The 7.8 AT is quieter than comparable treadmills. When set to a 3.0mph pace with no one walking on it our decibel meter (on an iphone) read 63 decibels. When someone walks on it at 3mph the decibels go up to about 68. When running at a 6mph pace it produces 78 decibels of noise.

Comparatively, the Nordictrack 2450 has a base decibel level of 68 (3mph, no one walking on it) and it jumps to 72 decibels when someone walks at 3mph. Running at 6mph on the 2450 produces 82 decibels of noise.

As you can see, the 7.8 AT is quieter, especially at lower speeds. When you run at faster speeds and especially with heavier users, it will create more noise, but this is true of any treadmill.

Storage / Folding

Horizon 7.8AT Folding

The 7.8 AT folds in half when you are finished. Simply lift the deck so it pivots to lock vertically against the console. The deck doesn’t fold quite as vertically as the Nordictrack or Profrom machines, so you still have a bit of a V-shape when it’s folded. But it folds up easily and stays locked in position to clear floor space. The folded footprint is: 42″ L x 37″ W x 71″ H.


Best Treadmill For HIIT Training 2021 - Horizon 7.8 AT

Bottom Line:

The Horizon 7.8 AT is a well-equipped treadmill that offers impressive training features. It has a full 22” wide and 60” long deck which is compatible with other high-end folding treadmills. This provides plenty of space for walking, jogging or running and should offer enough kickback for even tall runners. Also, the impressive 350lb max weight capacity opens this up as a viable option for larger runners as well. The console has been updated with a 9.3” TFT display screen which is a big step up from older versions. The QuickDial controls make it easy to jump between speeds and inclines. The console is Bluetooth enabled which improves its functionality in several ways. First, the included heart rate chest strap syncs easily to provide real-time HR metrics right on the screen. Second, the Bluetooth feature allows your personal device to sync with external apps and the 7.8 AT to provide added training and content via your tablet. It’s only flaw is a dated console. Comparable models in this price range offer much more tech with full-color touchscreens, videos, classes, and regularly updated content. One benefit of a tablet system is you are not locked into a single platform on your treadmill, you can train using your personal favorite apps. But some functionality is lost when the app doesn’t sync internally with the console display. There are also 10 built-in programs, including the very popular Sprint 8 HIIT training system. Horizon also offers discounted rates and synchronization with various external apps for 7.8 AT buyers. Check out Horizon’s website for up to date information about which apps sync and which are offered at a discount. In general, we find the 7.8 AT to be a quality machine. If you are looking for a treadmill that is designed specifically for HIIT training, the 7.8 AT is the perfect place to start.