The Akonza Magnetic rowing machine is a lo-cost model which is fine is your expectations match the price. The Akonza brand is better known for their exercise bikes and have recently moved into the rower sector. And I guess you could say they're playing it safe going for a compact, no-nonsense machine like this one. It's a generic machine which you'll find under a number of different brands such as Gymax.
As with all our reviews we'll start with the assembly. Much of the work has been done for you as many parts are pre-assembled and therefore it's easy and quick to complete.
The rowing position is good although if you're 6' or taller you may find the beam on the short side meaning you won't get a full stroke. The footrests are wide and the Velcro straps will hold your feet securely in place. This may sound trivial, but there's nothing more annoying than straps that come loose so your feet aren't held in place - yeah, we know, first world problems and all that :0)
The handle is angled, wide diameter and cushioned which makes it easy to hold and keep gripped when rowing. The seat is well-padded and shaped making it comfortable to sit on for long sessions. But while the resistance mechanism is quiet, the plastic rollers under the seat aren't the best we've seen and squeak as you go up and down the beam. The seat is also quite low so may be a struggle to get on and off if your knees aren't what they used to be and your back goes out more than you do :0)
The Akonza is a light model weighing in at 59 lbs so it does move around a little at higher stroke rates. And note, if you live in an apartment and don't want to annoy your neighbors it's probably best if you use a rubber mat beneath to absorb the vibration and noise.
Now onto what could be the deal-breaker for many - the resistance mechanism. First up, it has 10 levels of resistance but even at the highest level it's not too tough. You can still get a good cardio workout as it's not necessary to have a lot of resistance to raise your heart rate. But if you're looking for a real challenge, this isn't for you.
Another issue is the strap that provides the resistance. It's elastic and doesn't look it will survive for too many months with regular, prolonged use. We'd also question whether you can actually call this a full magnetic model, as the elasticated strap seems to provide the resistance and not magnets on a flywheel.
A nice touch is built-in wheels on the front supporting bar, so when you've finished you can fold up the beam, tip it forward, and wheel out of the way - see photo bottom right.
The console has a SmartPhone/ Tablet holder situated under the screen. It's fine if you want to watch a movie or TV catch-up, but then it means you can't see your performance.
For under $200 the Akonza is a reasonable rowing machine. It won't take up too much space and folds up to store away when done. It's pretty quiet, although as mentioned above, the bearings on the seat rollers can be noisy. You can't expect much for this price, and you don't get much. It has no thrills or frills, but it could help you to get fit if you're currently unfit. But if you're already active and play sport, this won't really challenge you. You have to be prepared to pay at least another $150 to find a suitable piece of equipment to deliver a vigorous workout.