You can't take you eyes off the rowing machine product list for five minutes without Stamina launching another model! I think this must be the eleventh model of this brand we've tested. And hats off to them for plugging away at the budget to mid-price range end of the market to bring some much-needed choice.
So what's new? Well, parts of the Stamina X Air Rower bolted onto the same frame as their 35-1405 ATS. But if this sounds disrespectful, we don't mean to be. The ATS is a reasonably good low-cost model, but we feel the few changes made in the guise of the X Air Rower have made a big difference. These are the addition of a better display/ monitor (see below), and an improvement on the footrests. Add a lick or red paint to the trim and you've got a pretty good rower for under $400.
Let's start with what could be the biggest problem for potential buyers - putting the thing together. Be warned, it can take an hour and there are many parts! So if you're not too clever when it comes to manual tasks, get some who is to help. Also, check the positioning of the chain when assembling - we've had two people comment (plus a reviewer on Amazon) say it's possible to fix the chain but miss the sprocket!
But once you're over this hurdle it has quite a good rowing position for a budget model. The seat is comfortable and sits at a reasonable height on the sturdy rail. And the foot rests are better than it's predecessor being wider, and having more fixings to get a secure footing. So first impressions once ready to row are good.
But remember, this uses air for the resistance mechanism which means it's noisy (quite noisy in fact), much more so than a magnetic or air/ magnetic combo. If you'll be using it in a garage, home gym, or you don't have neighbors to worry about then this isn't a problem. But if you want to watch TV and listen to the radio it could be.
Some actually like the noise as they feel it adds to the feel of a good workout. The whirl of the air fins as you pull back hard on the handle confirm you're working those muscles!
Once you start pulling on the handle, you can feel this is a machine that can take some punishment. While it's not going to compete with the commercial models costing five times as much, it does feel solid underneath, even at a high stroke rate. It does appear to be a hard-wearing machine with a chain instead of a strap (see comment re assembly above), a thick steel, angled rail for a tough workout, and those secure footrests as discussed,
Technically, this is classed as a folding model but please note that it doesn't store vertically - see photo on the right below - so this will have a larger footprint than many other folding machines when you store it away after use.
The display automatically shuts off after four minutes of inactivity to save the batteries.
For around $400 the Stamina X offers a sturdy rower that looks like it can take some punishment. Many budget rowers, especially hydraulic models, are liable to breakage with heavy use, but the durable material used here means it can potential take a lot more. Our only beef is the short ninety-day warranty on the parts.
Put your money where your mouth is Stamina, and give us a longer warranty on the parts, and we'll take notice. The three years on the steel frame is fine btw :0)