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LifeSpan TR800-DT3 Treadmill Desk Review

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LifeSpan TR800-DT3 Treadmill Desk Review

Overview
Reviewed By

The Editors

Review Summary

The smallest of the LifeSpan bases, the TR800 does make some concessions to its bigger brothers, and should be considered as a strictly one or two-"lightweight" user option. On the other hand, it's vastly more reliable and feature-rich than all the competitors at its sub-$800 price range, and its svelte frame should make for an easier fit into cramped workspaces.

Shipping

If purchased direct from LifeSpan it'll ship by freight in 5-10 business days. We recommend buying this unit through Amazon for faster shipping and better buyer protection.

Warranty

Lifetime warranty on the frame. Three years on the motor. One year on parts and labor.

Controller

Membrane keypad type with just the basics: speed, time, distance, step count and calorie burn.

Weight Capacity

300 Lbs., although with the narrow belt we haven't met too many 300 pound individuals who would find this unit comfortable to walk on. More like 200.

Walking Belt Size

18" x 52"

Top Speed

4.0 mph

Horsepower/RPM

2 HP

Noise Level

50 dB

Connectivity Features

A Bluetooth sync function that's supposed to work with a laptop running LifeSpan Fitness Club software, but it rarely works.

Where to Buy
Positives

The smallest and least costly of the LifeSpan treadmill options. TR800s exemplify the phrase "good things come in small packages" - they bring LifeSpan's quality engineering to the table, and leave competing sub-$800 products in the dust in terms of both price and quality.

Negatives

This is a light duty unit built in China (as opposed to LifeSpan's TR1200 and TR5000 that are made in Taiwan), designed for limited home use. The narrow 18" walking belt may leave some users, especially men, feeling a bit cramped - and its much noisier than the other two models.

Experts' Rating
Stability
Safety
Reliability
Customer Experience
Quality and Aesthetics
Innovation
Value
Bottom Line

The LifeSpan TR800-DT3 is a solid treadmill base if you're on the slender end of the spectrum and don't plan to put too many daily hours down on the tread - or if you just don't have the space for a larger unit.

However, there are plenty of good reasons to splurge an extra $200 to get the TR1200, including:
-You'd prefer the wider belt on the TR1200.
-Multiple people will be sharing the unit in a departmental setting.
-You work in a noise sensitive environment.
-You're planning to really put the hours in on the machine, and warranty length therefore matters a little more to you.
-You hate maintenance and would rather spend a little more upfront to not have to replace the walking belt any sooner than necessary.

Still, there's no doubt that the TR-800 takes home the belt in the budget treadmill class. It is a far better value for the money compared to the TreadDesk, Rebel or Exerpeutic, and will outlast them all. LifeSpan is the most established and reputable manufacturer or the four, as well. They make the best treadmill bases, bar none, though their desk combos leave something to be desired. For the best treadmill desk experience, pair a LifeSpan treadmill with a dedicated adjustable-height desk like the ThermoDesk Elite. See our Comparison Review of Adjustable Height Desks to find a match for the TR800, TR1200 or TR5000.

Experts' Rating
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Review Details

LifeSpan Fitness, an offshoot brand of gym equipment manufacturer Strengthmaster (Taiwan), is one of the leading makers of office treadmills. In the US market, LifeSpan's exclusive distributor, PCE Fitness, is probably responsible for creating more consumer awareness of treadmill desking - through TV show product placements and a strong PR program - than any other company. They've helped raise the tide for the many newcomers to the industry, including such new notable entrants as RebelDesk, iMovR, ProForm, NordicTrack and InMovement (LifeFitness), who are all gunning for position against the de facto incumbents LifeSpan and Steelcase.

LifeSpan offers three different models, the TR-800, TR-1200 and TR-5000. (The "DT3" designation merely refers to the standalone treadmill base, as the DT5 and DT7 designations are used for the same treadmills bundled with LifeSpan's manual and electric desk options.) In this review we'll go into greater detail on the TR800 model - the smallest and least expensive of the LifeSpan treadmill base units. For a comparison between the three LifeSpan models click on the "Compare Specs" tab. You can also read how these models compare to all the others in the market with our Comparison Review of Standalone Treadmill Bases.

Not for everyone

The worst thing you can say about the TR800 is that it isn't the TR1200. The TR1200 - LifeSpan's most popular unit by far - has cast a long shadow over its little sibling. On one hand, the TR800 holds a clear advantage over all other sub-$800 "budget" treadmills we've seen pass through the labs; on the other, a relatively small price increment of $200 will net you a considerable upgrade in terms of walking space, durability and noise signature.

Within its price category the TR800 runs circles around its competition, namely the TreadDesk ($895), the Rebel 1000 ($649), and the Exerpeutic Workfit 2000 ($700) - all three of which received very poor review ratings from our experts. The Rebel and TreadDesk treadmills have been lab tested at the WorkWhileWalking labs, while Exerpeutic has declined to have their products tested and so our forensic review relies heavily on owners' reports, spec sheets and other publicly available information. Learn more about How We Test Products.

Rigidly speaking

Let's start by looking at the frame of the unit. Rigidity is paramount in a treadmill. Excess flex in the frame can lead to early degradation of the walking deck, further leading to an increase in friction, noise and power consumption. If allowed to go on for long enough, total motor and/or controller failure can ensue.

The TR800's lightweight 120 lb. frame is as robustly built as the TR1200's 131 lb. frame, only 5" shorter and 2-1/4" narrower. Factoring in the smaller motor and these dimensional reductions explains where the 11 lbs. of metal were shed. In comparison, both the TreadDesk's lightweight 101 lb. frame and Rebel's featherweight 88 lb. frame are more cheaply made.  Frame flex and creaking are both problems we noticed about the Rebel, and TreadDesk has had similar problems reported.

Not horsing around

Manufacturers love to tout their horsepower ratings, but these are relatively meaningless, as we explain in our article on treadmill powertrains. Everything from the flywheel diameter and weight, roller diameter, motor mount, controller electronics, and numerous other components all play a role in determining whether a treadmill's design is truly robust enough for its advertised weight rating. Cheaper components lead to earlier equipment failure, plain and simple.

The TR800 features a 2.0 HP motor, similar to the TreadDesk's 2.0 HP motor, and more powerful than the wimpy 1.5 HP motor in the Rebel. Again, we haven't had the opportunity to open up a TreadDesk in the WorkWhileWalking labs but if you read our review of the Rebel 1000 where we did do a component-by-component comparison with the TR800 there was simply no contest in component quality.

power consumption of LifeSpan Treadmill desks and Rebel 1000

The TR800 and TR1200 are nearly identical in current draw. The Rebel's downgraded motor, flywheel and rollers attain the same torque by running at higher RPMs, resulting in a power draw equivalent to the LifeSpan TR800 and T1200 bases, but at a significant cost to component reliability.

In power consumption we're talking the equivalent of only one or two light bulbs, depending on walking speed and the weight of the user (see chart above), for these very efficient devices.

Less belt tightening required compared to Rebel, Exerpeutic treadmill desk

Roller diameter (rollers are the two cylinders around which the belt travels) may not sound like a treadmill designer's highest priority, as smaller rollers can be accommodated by speeding up the motor accordingly. However, there are three problems with this budget approach taken by the Rebel 1000 and other lower-quality treadmills. First, the walking belt will wear out faster from making tighter turns around a smaller roller. Second, because the motor needs to spin faster it will wear out its commutator brushes and ball bearings faster as well.

Lastly, a smaller roller has less gripping surface area on the walking belt, and the only way to combat belt slip is to tighten down the tension between the rollers, further increasing friction, noise, power consumption, as well as wear and tear on the walking belt and ball bearings.

The TR800 does not skimp on roller diameter, despite being in the same price category as lesser treadmills. In fact, the same rollers used in the larger TR1200 and the tankish TR5000 are used in the TR800.

Not for duck-footed walkers

One of the biggest differences between the compact TR800 and its LifeSpan brethren is that its belt width is only 18" compared to the spacious 20" on the bigger units. It's not a deal-breaker for slender individuals, but for many - especially those who tend to walk with their feet pointing out a bit - the 18" width will result in the occasional run-in with the landing strips. Even svelte users will likely appreciate the more natural gait a wider belt provides - something that we consider well-worth the upgrade to the TR1200.

In this price range an 18" wide walking belt is the norm. The exception being the Exerpeutic with its 20" wide belt that is shockingly (not in a good way) only 40" long. The deck length on all the other units in this price range, including the TR800, is more than adequate.

Not to get too heavy, but...

Here's a rule of thumb we can state with some conviction: most treadmill manufacturers lie about their weight ratings. There are no industry standards to speak of, so weight ratings are what the manufacturers' marketing departments conjure up.

TreadDesk advertises a 320 lb. rating yet users half that weight report creaking and squeaking from their treadmills. Rebel Desk advertised 300 lbs. until we put a 300 lb. user on one of their new units in our second day of testing, causing the unit to fail catastrophically after only 20 minutes of normal use; Rebel Desk has since lowered their rating to 250 lbs., but not based on any testing. The ergonomically nightmarish Exerpeutic Workfit 2000 claims it has been "tested with users up to 400 lbs."  Well, not in this test lab it wasn't, and we'd be very surprised if it could withstand such a punishment for any extended period of time.

LifeSpan differentiates its three models by weight rating and recommended number of hours of daily use. The TR800 is rated for 300 lbs. and 3 hours of daily use; the TR1200 for 350 lbs. and 6 hours of daily use, and the TR5000 for 400 lbs. and 10 hours of daily use. We have no issue with the TR1200's and TR5000's weight ratings. That said, the TR800 does indeed seem to be at its practical limit with a 300 lb. user. Given the narrower 18" belt, we don't imagine any 300 lbs users using the TR800 comfortably. And, in our opinion, the TR800 wouldn't be comfortable for anyone over 200 lbs., regardless of the machine's weight rating, because of the narrow deck.

The "hours of daily use" rating has little bearing on reality. In the real world one must account BOTH for the weight of the user(s) and the frequency of preventive maintenance. If a 175 lb. user bought a TR800 and never lubricated the deck it would eventually fail. On the other hand, a 300 lb. user who routinely sprays a little silicone oil between the deck and belt to keep his machine well-lubed is going to have something that will last for many years. Better to treat the daily hour limit as a guideline rather than as a rule, though obvious differences in construction suggest the TR1200 for longer-duration usage than its little brother.

Is that a treadmill I hear?

A good walking treadmill base will be so quiet that the people around you will only hear your footsteps, not the motor or the belt scraping along the deck.

One of the biggest differences we've experienced between LifeSpan's treadmill bases, one that they don't disclose in their specifications, is the distinct noise signatures of the three models. The TR5000 is significantly louder than the two smaller units due to its built-in continuous cooling fan. Both the TR1200 and TR5000 feature extra-thick, long-lived, 2-ply belts. The TR800's belt is very thin in comparison, and is the same grade as the one used in the Rebel Desk 1000. It's only a couple of decibels louder than its brethren but remember that's a logarithmic scale. At the SitLess Treadmill Desk Trialing Center, consumers comparing the three units will definitely notice the difference. The surface of the belt is also grittier, and more susceptible to footprints being left behind, compared to the smoother rubber belt surface on the two nicer models.

Besides being thinner and noisier than the TR1200's and TR5000's belts, the TR800's lacks one important feature that surprised us. LifeSpan paints their logo on the bigger units' belts, which is a great safety feature considering its really hard to tell when these black belts are in motion otherwise, given how quiet the treadmills are. It may seem a trivial deficiency but in daily use we think it is sorely missing from the TR800.

Adequate desktop console

Lifespan Treadmill Desk ConsoleAll three LifeSpan models share the same rudimentary desktop console device. They're attractive, well-weighted, and perform all the functions you'd expect from a basic office treadmill. You've got your basic distance, time, speed, calories burned, and steps taken readouts, plus a Bluetooth Sync button for uploading your stats into the LifeSpan Fitness Club Software. And they even have a convenient USB charging port for your cell phone. In comparing to other sub-$1000 treadmills the LifeSpan controllers are more aesthetically-pleasing, although they definitely look like yesteryear gym equipment consoles when compared to something more modern like the touch-screen LCD desktop console of the iMovR ThermoTread GT.

Free software included

All LifeSpan units come with a free lifetime membership to their LifeSpan Fitness Club where you can upload and review all your stats. Loaded with features, this software has value all on its own, and is something the competitors in this price range don't offer at all. See our review of the LifeSpan Fitness Club Software for full details. The big caveat on this one is that the Bluetooth sync button has long had problems working with the associated laptop running the Fitness Club software, and every user we know has given up on it after a few weeks of frustration with lost data. So while the free software sounds great, the fact that LifeSpan has never addressed the flakiness of the data link leaves it pretty much of no value at all.

In Conclusion

For under $800 you can't do better than the TR800, but it's not for most people. Per the qualifying conditions noted above, we believe most people would benefit greatly from upgrading to the TR1200 model for not much more. From what we've learned of LifeSpan's own sales patterns, this is the way the market has gone in any event, with the TR800 representing only a sliver of the sales between their three models.

One footnote for government agencies: you won't find the TR800 on the GSA listing due to it being made in China. Look for Taiwanese-made units such as the LifeSpan TR5000 or the iMovR ThermoTread GT.

LifeSpan Fitness - Standalone Treadmill Bases Price
TR800-DT3 Treadmill Base $799.99
TR1200-DT3 Treadmill Base $999.99
TR5000-DT3 Treadmill Base $1,499.99
LifeSpan Treadmill Specs Lifespan Fitness TR800-DT3 Treadmill Base Lifespan Fitness TR1200-DT3 Treadmill Base Lifespan Fitness TR5000-DT3 Treadmill Base
Price $799.99 $999.99 $1,499.99
Prescribed Usage Up to 3 Hours Daily Up to 6 Hours Daily Up to 10 Hours Daily
Warranty Limit Up to 3 Hours Daily Up to 6 Hours Daily Up to 10 Hours Daily
Side Rails Scuff-Prone Plastic Scuff-Prone Plastic Polished Aluminum
Motor Rating 2.0 HP Continuous Duty 2.25 HP Continuous Duty 3.0 HP Continuous Duty
Belt Walking Area 18" x 52" 20" x 56" 20" x 56"
Belt Thickness 2-ply 2-ply 2.5mm Upgraded
Console Dimensions 12.5" x 3" x 2" 12.5" x 3" x 2" 12.5" x 3" x 2"
Treadmill Dimensions 66.5" x 29" x 9.25" 70.5" x 29" x 9.5" 70.25" x 29" x 9.5"
Deck .75" Phenolic .75" Phenolic 1" Phenolic with Reversible Brace
Max User Weight 300 lbs. 350 lbs. 400 lbs.
Treadmill Weight 120 lbs. 131 lbs. 145 lbs.
Warranty Term Frame: Lifetime
Motor: 3 Years
Parts: 1 Year
Labor: 1 Year
Frame: Lifetime
Motor: 3 Years
Parts: 2 Years
Labor: 1 Year
Frame: Lifetime
Motor: 3 Years
Parts: 2 Years
Labor: 1 Year

 

It's worth mentioning iMovR's EcoLast TreadTop Standing Mat as a great add-on for the TR5000, or any office treadmill, for that matter. When you want to take a pause from walking the last thing you want to do is stand on the cushion-less hard deck of a treadmill for very long, lest your feet start to suffer. These TreadTop mats are premium-quality, 100% polyurethane standing mats that are cut to size to specifically fit popular office treadmill models. They can be used atop the desk or astride the treadmill if you have a sit-stand-walk workstation, or both. Be sure to check out our 5-star review of the TreadTop Anti-Fatigue Mat. For LifeSpan units you'll want the 18" x 30" version that'll fit comfortably between the side rails.

When it comes to treadmill lubricant the two most popular choices are LifeSpan's Treadmill Lubricant and iMovR's EasySpray Treadmill Lubricant. Both are 100% silicone oil but the multi-viscosity blend and improved nozzle design makes the EasySpray lubricant our experts' top pick.

Another very popular accessory for any treadmill desk setup is an under-treadmill mat - also known as an equipment mat, or anti-static mat. There are several good ones available, which we review in our Treadmill Mat Comparison Review. Our top pick for the TR5000 is the iMovR RightSize Under-Treadmill Mat, which is ideally sized and also much thicker than the others.

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