In this article, we’ll review the most popular “connected” treadmills on the market today: The Peloton Tread, and the current offerings from NordicTrack (the T9.5 S) and Nautilus (the T618).
With winter closing in, going out for a jog seems even less inviting than ever. The cold, rainy (or snowy!), and dark mornings and nights are just so off-putting.
Seeing as we’re not able to retreat to the warmth and light of gyms right now, you might be looking for a treadmill that will let you keep your training up at home.
Luckily, there are hundreds and thousands of treadmills available on the market right now.
Unfortunately, there are hundreds and thousands of treadmills available. You see, choosing the right treadmill can be completely overwhelming if you don’t know what exactly you’re after.
There are so many options, features, and added extras that come with treadmills nowadays. Often, the same basic feature will have a different name from company to company making it difficult to compare.
Well, have no fear. We’re here to help you make sense of some of the top smart treadmills on the market. We will examine three different brands to give you a clear idea of what each has to offer.
With our advice, you’ll be up and running in no time at all!
These are all smart treadmills which means that they can integrate with your smartphone and fitness trackers to monitor and maintain your training progress.
Smart treadmills tend to use wireless Bluetooth connections to integrate with your phone. This allows you to play music or other media through the treadmill, add your workout to your fitness apps, and track your heart rate through apps.
If you haven’t got a smartphone, or don’t want to connect your phone to your treadmill, or don’t want to take advantage of the built-in connectivity of these devices, then you don’t need to splash out on a smart treadmill. The interactivity of these treadmills can push the price up quite a bit. So treadmills like the Nautilus T618 really are for people who want to take advantage of the connectivity.
That being said, smart treadmills are incredibly good bits of kit (that’s British for cool workout gear) that can help you stay motivated and meet your targets. They can help you personalize your workouts and keep an eye on the small targets as well as the big goals.
|Nautilus T618||NordicTrack T9.5 S||Peloton Tread|
|Price||$1,399 on Nautilus.com||Check Amazon Now||From $4,295 on Peloton.com|
|Monthly Subscription Price||Free – Explore the World App||iFit: Individual: $15 per month|
Family (up to 5 users): $30 per month
|$39 per month|
|Dimensions (l x w x h)||77 x 37 x 62.7 inches||78.9 x 35.5 x 59.4 inches||72.5 x 32.5 x 72 inches|
|Workout Programs||26||50 built-in plus many more with iFit membership.||10|
|Charging Ports||1 USB||No||1 USB|
|Input Ports||1 USB, 1 Aux jack||1 Aux jack||1 aux jack|
|Speakers||2 built-in speakers||Dual 2” Digitally Amplified Speakers||20 W soundbar with 70Hz to 20KHz frequency response|
|Incline Range||0 – 15%||0-12%||0-15%|
|Speed Range||0-12mph||0.5-12mph||0 – 12.5mph|
|Tread Belt||20″ x 60″||20″ x 60″||20″ x 67″|
|Heart Rate Monitor||Yes – contact plates and telemetry. |
Chest strap included. /td>
|EKG grip pulse.|
Chest strap not included.
|None built-in but compatible with external monitors.|
|Belt Size (w x l)||20 x 60 inches||20 x 60 inches||20 x 73 inches|
|Belt Cushioning||3ply 2.5mm thickness.||2ply commercial tread belt.||Rubber slat belt.|
|Deck Cushioning||1-inch Rebound™ Deck Cushioning||FlexSelect™ cushioning||None|
|Maximum User Weight||350lb||300lb||300lb|
|Where to buy||Nautilus.com||Amazon||Peloton.com|
It’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into the Nautilus T618 design. Not only is it easy to use, but there have been choices made about its portability and storage.
This treadmill can be folded up for easier storage and has transport wheels to allow you to wheel it into place.
If you don’t have the luxury of a dedicated gym room, then you will appreciate these features. Especially when you note that the Nautilus is the largest of the three treadmills.
Another great design feature is the rubberized handrails and buttons. It might not seem super important, but when you’re dripping with sweat during a workout, the last thing you want is to slip off the handrail or speed controls.
The handrails also have incline and speed control buttons built-in. Again, it’s a small thing that makes quite a big difference mid-workout. I always prefer machines with handrail adjustments for speed and incline.
The Nautilus T618 has two backlit LCD screens that display all your key stats. It does not have a screen that allows you to watch media or follow classes. We’ll come to this later.
The rest of the panel is well designed, it has two bottle pockets on either side of the interface and a lower shelf for storing other bits and pieces like a towel and your phone.
The belt is standard sizing but has generous 3 ply cushioning. This is on top of the deck cushioning which reduces the impact of your landing and gives you a boost as you lift your foot.
Of the three treadmills, this is definitely the one to go for if you want to reduce the impact on your joints.
The interface panel is fairly simple. It has a number of preset speed and incline increment buttons along the outer edge. This means you don’t need to spend ages pushing buttons to get to the right speed.
The LCD screens display your heart rate, which is measured by the grip pads or chest strap, your progress towards your goal, your speed and incline, and your fitness score. The fitness score displays every 10 minutes or every mile.
When compared to the flashy, HD monitors of the other treadmills, the Nautilus does fall a bit flat here. The display is easy to read, but it’s not as easy on the eyes as digital displays.
Also, if you were hoping to take a virtual run around the Scottish Highlands or a guided virtual class you are out of luck.
Unlike the other two treadmills, there is no interactive virtual world to explore due to the lack of a screen.
Then again, if you’re sick of screens everywhere and just want to hop on and run this is perfect.
One of the best features of the Nautilus T618 is the steeper incline range than the NordicTrack and a higher weight capacity than both competitors.
If you are looking for a machine that will push you to your limit, you have to choose the Nautilus.
Another great thing about the Nautilus is that it comes with a heart rate monitor chest strap. This is far more reliable and accurate than the grip handles found on the NordicTrack or the complete lack of heart rate monitor on the Peloton.
You can connect to the machine using Bluetooth to track and record your workout. Nautilus has its own fitness tracker app called the Nautilus Trainer 2 which allows you to export your data to other apps such as MyFitnessPal and Apple Health.
Nautilus also has an app called Explore the World which seems to be designed to counteract their lack of a screen. The app connects with the treadmill and lets you view HD tracks and landscapes from around the world as you run. It seems to be a bit glitchy and does require you to balance your phone on the treadmill to see the view. This is probably the biggest con for this treadmill.
However, the Nautilus T618 is the lowest cost treadmill in our comparison, saving you about $600 vs the NordicTrack 9.5S and thousands vs the Peloton. So if you are interested in a great workout machine at the best price, visit Nautilus.com now to check it out!
Like the Nautilus, this treadmill folds up for easier storage. It is ever so slightly longer than the Nautilus which makes it ideal for people with a longer stride. Widthwise and height wise it is a fraction smaller.
The height of the interface panel is where you will notice the largest difference in size. At only 59.4 inches high, you might find yourself bending and craning your neck to use the screen comfortably.
The running surface is 20 x 60 inches and uses a standard 2 ply commercial belt. It’s not super thick and cushiony but it does give you a more realistic road-like feel. This is far more beneficial to those of you who are training to complete road races than a super cushioned treadmill.
The belt cushioning is paired with NordicTrack’s FlexSelect™ which does offer some protection for your joints but is mostly designed to give you a realistic surface. You can adjust the level of support to suit your needs.
If you’re looking for a treadmill to get you through the winter months, the NordicTrack is a good choice. You won’t be spoilt by cushioning, so come spring you can get back outside without needing to readjust to the surface change.
The interface panel on the NordicTrack T9.5 S is simple but efficient. You have quick selection buttons for the incline and speed along the edges of the 14” touch screen. These are the one-touch controls that are more efficient to use during a workout.
On a lower section, you have your start, stop, and pause buttons. You also have a set of incline adjustment buttons and a set of speed adjustment buttons. These are simply arrow buttons that you need to press repeatedly to get to the right speed.
The touchscreen is a great size and has a crystal clear display. It responds well to your input, though wet or sweaty hands can make it a bit less responsive.
We love the overall look of the interface panel. It’s uncluttered and simple, two things that are often lacking in modern fitness equipment.
One of the flashiest features of this treadmill is the interactive drive system. This treadmill can and does respond to personal trainers as they run live classes. The drive system allows your trainer to change the speed and incline of your treadmill as the class progresses.
It’s a fantastic bit of technology that can help you stay motivated and engaged in your training. It’s particularly appreciated in the current situation where many of us are missing our gym classes.
The interactive drive technology does require a membership to NordicTrack’s iFit coach program. Luckily, a year’s free membership is included in the purchase price of your treadmill.
We’ll cover what you get with this membership in the next section, but it is well worth the investment after the first year.
Other key features include an EKG contact plate heart rate monitor built into each handrail. The rails are fairly short and low down so some users find the heart rate monitor difficult to use. It would have been nice if a chest strap monitor was included.
The belt and drive mechanism is powered by a 3.5 continuous horsepower engine. This is much more efficient and reliable for longer workouts.
It’s supported by a self-cooling system installed by the driver and motor. The system uses recycled air to keep moving parts cool, thus making them less prone to damage or malfunction.
By far the best feature of the NordicTrack T9.5 S treadmill is the iFit app.
Unlike other apps designed to work with smart gym equipment, the iFit system doesn’t only record and manage your workouts and progress. The iFit app gives you access to more than 130 personal trainers.
With the year’s free subscription to the service, you can access unlimited workouts and classes from all of the iFit personal trainers.
The live classes allow you to compete against other members of the class. Your progress and score are displayed on a leaderboard and you can push yourself to the top in real-time.
You can also text the trainer through the touchscreen. Trainers get a feed of questions and queries coming through and may choose to answer your question.
Then, of course, there’s the interactive drive system which is linked up to the trainer. They can adjust and set the speed and incline for that particular session.
If you prefer to be outside exploring, there are hundreds of workouts from different trainers at hundreds of beautifully scenic locations across the globe. You can run across Easter Island, or cycle through Patagonia with your trainer as a guide.
Your iFit membership is not restricted to running workouts, you have access to the whole range of trainers and workouts.
If you fancy doing a bit of yoga on the weekend, you can. If you want to change things up and do some resistance training, there’s a class for that.
Obviously, if you’re going to do a workout that doesn’t use the treadmill, you’ll need a smartphone, laptop, or tablet to view the workout video.
Honestly, a year’s free membership is incredible. You’ll get a chance to explore the service and set goals before buying.
The sheer amount of help, workouts, and classes available make it well worth the purchase.
Overall, it’s an awesome connected treadmill at a price much lower than Peloton. Check it out now on Amazon.
Before we go any further, we need to clear up some naming convention confusion. Peloton currently has 2 treadmill models; the Peloton Tread and the Peloton Tread+.
The Tread+ is the older of the two models as the Tread is not due to be released until 2021. While the Peloton classes and software are the same, there are a few design changes. We’ll cover both in this section to give you an idea of what you can expect from both treadmills. The table specifications are for the Tread+.
The major difference between the Tread and the Tread+ is the belt design. The Tread+ uses a slatted rubber belt while the Tread uses a standard commercial belt. The rubber belt is thicker and softer making the Tread+ easier on the joints.
On the other hand, a standard belt is easier to replace and usually more familiar to most users. The slatted belt of the Tread+ certainly gives the machine a premium feel, though we’re not sure whether that’s worth the $2000 difference in cost.
The Tread+ is also slightly larger than the Tread in some places. Most notably the Tread+ running surface is extra long at 67”. This is great news for taller people with a longer stride. The Tread, on the other hand, comes in at 59” making it the smallest running area of any of the treadmills discussed here.
A reduced running area is handy if you’ve got a small space to work out in, especially when you consider the fact that neither of these treadmills folds up.
However, you will find that you need to shorten your stride to use the Tread. For some people, this will be overwhelmingly frustrating.
The screen is another area that shrinks when we look at the Tread. It goes from 32” to 23.8” on the Tread. Either screen can still be considered enormous!
Especially when we look back at the NordicTrack or the Nautilus, the Peloton screens are enormous! They’re bigger than the TV I had in my first home!
The great thing about the Peloton screens is that they are elevated. For most users, the screens will be pretty much at eye level. This gets rid of the need to hunch over or bend your neck to follow the video.
The Tread+ certainly costs more but some things are better on the Tread. The microphone array, Bluetooth connections, and USB connections are updated on the Tread. This is mostly just a reflection of the changes in technology rather than a conscious effort to improve the Tread.
Ultimately, it’s going to come down to what you can afford. The steep price difference between the Tread and the Tread+ is, for most people, going to be the deciding factor.
The Peloton Tread and Tread+ use huge touch screens as the basis for their interfacing. You’ll use the touch screen to select your workout, adjust your speed, incline, and volume.
The touch screen is crystal clear HD and very immersive. Coupled with the high-quality speaker system, it’s easy to forget that you’re not actually in a real class.
Many users prefer to use the two knobs on the handrail to adjust the speed and incline. These knobs are at just the right level to use as you run and more ergonomic than the touch screen.
The issue with the knobs is that they aren’t labeled. This means you need to look at the touch screen to figure out what speed and incline you’re using.
The only physical button on the Peloton Tread and Tread+ is the emergency stop button which is located on the handrail.
The major feature of the Peloton range is access to the Peloton classes and instructors. We will dive a bit deeper into the digital side of Peloton in the next section.
One of the cool things about the Peloton Tread and Tread+ is that it has a free mode. When selected, the motor disengages and lets you power the treadmill with just your running. It’s a great way to get a bit of resistance training in as you run.
Another great thing about the Peloton treadmills is that you have lots of storage spaces for all your bits and pieces. This is probably because the handrails aren’t cluttered up with buttons. You can fit the usual water bottles, snacks, and phones on the rail. However, you can also fit a laptop if you wish.
Being able to fit a laptop on your treadmill might seem a bit pointless, however, it comes in handy if you want to watch TV while you run.
The Peloton range does not allow you to access external apps like Netflix or Youtube on your touch screen. This means you’ll need to use a separate tablet or laptop to watch your favorite shows as you jog.
The major draw of Peloton products is access to the Peloton Digital membership service.
There are two types of membership; Peloton Digital Membership and Peloton All Access Membership.
The Digital Membership is for a single user. While it gives you access to studio classes and outdoor running classes, you don’t get access to the whole range of videos and classes. This membership does not require you to buy a Peloton machine. It is, in essence, an app.
The Peloton All Access Membership is what you are going to need to get the most out of your Tread or Tread+. As well as having access to all of the Peloton classes, instructors, and workouts, you get a greater level of interactivity.
With Peloton All Access Membership, you can place in live leaderboards during classes, have instructor shoutouts and see your real-time metrics. These are great for keeping you motivated and engaged with your training.
The price difference between the Digital Membership and the All Access Membership is rather large. The Digital Membership will cost you around $12 a month while the All Access Membership will set you back about $39 a month on top of the cost of the machine.
Again, the whole Peloton appeal is the brand name. The membership is expensive as are the machines but if you want the status boost that comes with owning a Peloton, then you’ll have to choose the Tread or Tread+ over the other treadmills.
If you’ve willing to pay up for the Peloton brand, use our coupon code to get $100 towards Bike or Tread accessories. Use code QZ5CBH. Click here to visit Peloton.
If you’re after a solid, single recommendation, then you’re in the wrong place. Sorry! What we have got for you are two separate recommendations.
In terms of build and features, we recommend going with the Nautilus. It has an increased incline range, supreme cushioning to reduce the stress on your joints, and better telemetry.
The Nautilus feels and works like a machine that is considerate of its user base. Every part of the treadmill is designed to give you the best run possible. See if it’s on sale here!
In terms of smart features and connectivity, you’re best off choosing the NordicTrack. The year’s free membership to their iFit service is unbeatable.
It offers essentially the same service as the Peloton machines but at a fraction of the price. Check out the current price on Amazon now.