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In the last year or two, the universe of percussive massagers has been expanding at a breakneck speed. We went from one or two brands carving out a niche for themselves to a host of quality brands (and not-so-quality brands) who are nicely competing against each other for a slice of the percussive pie. In case you’re not up to speed “the percussive pie” consists of handheld devices that operate at varying speeds (frequency or “percussions per minute”) and varying depths (measured in millimeters, usually). The idea is that the impact of the head stimulates blood flow to tired muscles, helping with recovery and lessening Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). There are also people who swear by percussive massagers for warming up, but there is less hard evidence to that end. The good news for triathletes is that a crowded market means competition, and competition means innovation (and lowering prices). The two pint-sized massagers we’re about to put into a small box and vibe it out to death are perfect examples of big, expensive percussive “tech” that is finally getting smaller, quieter, cheaper, and in the end more useful to more triathletes on the go.
- Unboxed Addaday Biozoom Jr.
- Reviewed: Addaday Biozoom Jr.
- Unboxed: Theragun Mini Percussive Massager
- Reviewed: Therabody’s Theragun Mini
Addaday Biozoom Jr.
- Price: $150
- Speeds: 20Hz-53Hz (1200-3180 “percussions per minute”)
- Amplitude: 6mm
- Battery: 90 minutes +
- Weight: 14.1oz
- Max Volume: 65 dB
- Included Tips: high-density blue geodesic foam sphere, thumb-shaped low-density foam tip, and a smooth low-density sphere
If you were to look simply at the specs of the new Biozoom Jr.—the miniature model of Addaday’s already-inexpensive Biozoom massager—this little guy would be a clear winner. The price alone with three included tips makes this a huge value over pretty much everything else on the market, but it’s also quiet, lightweight, and we found the battery to last much longer than even the advertised 90 minutes. Of course, nothing is free, and you start to see that when you dig into the more detailed specs like speed and amplitude.
With roughly half the amplitude of the Theragun Mini (and a low speed mode that is mostly ineffective, as it bogs down pretty easily), this is not a massager that goes very deep into the muscle. While you could argue that not everyone likes a deep massage—think back to how much pressure you ask for when you’ve gotten a massage from another human being…thought it’s probably been a while, sadly—and that a lighter massage could be something that works better for you, most triathletes probably err on the side of a deeper amount of pressure. For that, you’ll have to work a little harder to drive the Biozoom Jr. into your muscles.
Construction-wise, the Biozoom Jr. is built very solid, and seems like it would hold up to being tossed around without falling apart. It doesn’t get as hot as the Theragun Mini, though it does automatically shut off every 10 minutes, which is actually a little annoying. However, the Biozoom Jr.’s biggest feature is likely its accessibility—it’s inexpensive, it’s versatile, it’s small, and it would be an easy investment for someone looking to try out percussive massage for the first time. It’s also going to be a lot of work if you need some serious massaging, but that might not be its calling anyway.
- Price: $200
- Speeds: 29Hz-40Hz (1750-2400 “percussions per minute”)
- Amplitude: 12mm
- Battery: 150 minutes
- Weight: 1.43 pounds
- Max Volume: 67 dB
- Included Tips: mid-density foam ball
Overlooking battery life and amplitude (which we’ll get back to), the Thergaun Mini does not win the spec battle: It’s measurably heavier, it costs $50 more with only one included tips (extra tips start at $20 each), it’s slightly louder, and it has a much narrower speed band. But that’s why we test these things because there’s more than meets the eye.
Though the Mini’s footprint is just about the same when it comes to packing in a bag, it takes up a little more space, in terms of volume than the Biozoom Jr.—making it slightly tougher to stow in various spots in a backpack. It also does weigh quite a bit more, though you could also argue that the weight, shape, and texture of the Mini lends itself better to massaging, especially deep massage from odd angles. The Mini does get quite hot after five to 10 minutes of deep work, but not so hot that it burns or shuts off. That said, we did really love the ergonomics of the Mini. The only other little downside to this device is that it uses an old school AC adapter with one of those round “power tool” plugs in the device. This means you need that specific adapter to charge the Mini, and if you lose it (or get it mixed up with the other hundred adapters you have, like we did), it’s an annoying fix. The Biozoom, on the other hand, has USB-C, which is fantastic.
Meanwhile, the actual user experience of the Mini was still very positive. We didn’t miss the extra speeds that the Biozoom had—in fact we found the Biozoom’s lowest speed to bog down to a stop with even a moderate amount of pressure—and the amplitude of the Mini is nearly in line with the amplitude of full-sized massagers. The Biozoom was simply outgunned here. While some say that increased amplitude could mean a “rougher” massage, we never found that to be the case—simply use less pressure if you prefer a lighter touch. And though they cost extra, we did like the variety of tips that work with all new Theragun massagers.
Aesthetically, the Theragun looks a little less “odd” and futuristic—more like a tool than a raygun—which we like. And though there was nothing fragile about the Biozoom Jr., the Mini looks like it could take a heavy, heavy beating with no damage. That said, the weight and volume (both sound-wise and size-wise) are a little higher, so the portability of the Mini is a little more limited. Plus the fact that you’d need a dedicated charger for travel, not a more common USB-C cable and universal USB plug.
The long and short of it is the Mini is a more advanced, tougher device that goes deeper for those who know they want more pressure and aren’t afraid of spending the money. The Biozoom Jr. might be more accessible (a better gift for someone new to the percussive game, perhaps), but some might find it limiting, especially if they have experience with a full-sized handheld.
Winner: Theragun Mini
This was a really tough one because some triathletes might prefer to save money and have more flexibility when it comes to a small handheld massager. If you’re in that category—maybe you’ll be more likely to use the device if you have more tips, an easier chance of charging it, it’s smaller, etc.—then your winner is the Biozoom Jr. For me, someone who’s used full-sized handhelds, would probably spend a little more based on durability and strength, and who prefers very heavy pressure on my massage, the Mini was tough to put down. While I applaud Addaday’s efforts in making a more affordable, more complete mini handheld with the Jr.—here’s hoping other brands follow suit—I just find myself reaching for the Mini more often when both are sitting side by side.