The previous model from Sunny we tried back in 2014 was a very basic and low-low priced machine which not surprisingly had its limits. So when we opened the box for this magnetic rower from the same brand, our expectations were not particularly high.
But we have to say after giving it the once over and putting it through its paces for a week, it's sort of okay. For a start, it's a magnetic machine which is a big benefit over the usual hydraulic models we see in this price bracket. If you're unfamiliar with the resistance types available, and the pros and cons of each category, please read about them here.
Regular visitors to this site will know our beef with the names different brands use for their machines - see What's in a name? But if you can get passed the meaningless catalogue name of SF-RW5515 (see if you can remember that in 5 minutes) this offers a pretty good experience for something costing around $250.
The rowing position is pretty good. We've definitely sat on better seats, but it's good enough for a budget rower, plus a thin foam cushion will make it bearable if you really struggle with it. The footrests are up to the job of holding your feet firmly in place while rowing - although we'd recommend de-fuzzing the velcro on a regular basis as nothing ruins a good session more than your feet coming loose.
As mentioned earlier, this is a magnetic rower which means it uses magnets placed over a flywheel to resist the pull on the handles. One of the advantages of a magnetic model is that it's quieter than an air machine, and smoother than a hydraulic. But while the mechanism is pretty quiet, the seat does squeak a little on the beam as the rollers do stick a little. This shouldn't be a reason not to buy in itself and can easily be masked with music - especially if you use an ipod.
It has eight different levels of difficulty which can be selected using the knob beneath the display. More expensive rowing machines can do this automatically with pre-set programs for based on your work rate using your pulse, but with a budget model you have to stop and change the setting yourself.
The difference between the highest and lowest settings are big enough to provide a good range of workouts - but please note, it's a myth that the highest levels get the best results. Often the mid-level resistance gives the best cardio-vascular benefits as you can row at a higher stroke rate and keep your pulse in the optimum heart rate zone.
It does have a scan mode so it switches the display mode every 6 seconds.
If you're looking for a no-nonsense machine for around $300 then this fits the bill. It will win no prizes for its looks and features but then it's less than a third of the price of machines that do. We don't think it could handle multiple users with regular and long training sessions, but you get what you pay for and for the average user it should be up to the job.
Nice try Sunny - let's see some more in this price range!