The upscale Hydrow Rower can be set at a resistance...

The upscale Hydrow Rower can be set at a resistance level to mimic rowing on the water. Credit: CBS Interactive

Rowing machines may not be as popular as ellipticals or treadmills, but these low-impact cardio machines deserve a spot in your home gym. Not only is rowing a low-impact exercise that's easy on your joints, it's also a whole-body workout that engages your arms, legs, core and back and can help improve your posture as you build strength.

Here are three of the best rowing machines in three different price ranges.

WHAT Hydrow Rower

THE COST $2,245

AVAILABLE FROM hydrow.com

The Hydrow Rower is a wow starting with its upscale, beautiful design. The strokes were smooth, the adjustable footbeds were comfortable and the seat rail was long enough to allow for full range of motion without any bumping against the stoppers.

Rather than having an exposed flywheel like some of the other models on this list, it works on an electromagnetic resistance drag mechanism that you can adjust from 1 to 300. At default, it's set to 104, which mimics the feel of rowing on the water — and this is suitable for most workouts and most fitness levels.

The Hydrow App experience was just as enjoyable. The trainers are set up in boats in the water in different destinations, so you could really immerse yourself in the experience if you wanted to.

The NordicTrack RW900's 22-inch touchscreen is one of the best...

The NordicTrack RW900's 22-inch touchscreen is one of the best on any rowing machine. Credit: CBS Interactive

WHAT NordicTrack RW900

THE COST $1,599

AVAILABLE FROM nordictrack.com

If you're looking for a truly immersive experience rather than just a simple workout, this machine is for you. It has a superb 22-inch touch screen and live resistance control that gives iFit trainers the power to change your experience during a workout. This rowing machine combines air and magnetic resistance that really upped the ante on workout intensity.

This is also an extremely comfortable machine. In addition to having an ultrasmooth glide, it allows for full range of motion and has pivoting pedals and a soft-touch handle that was easy to grip and hold on to as we went through the motions.

Of course, like all NordicTrack and ProForm machines, it comes with the option to connect an iFit membership, and your first year is free with purchase. That's where the real magic happens. iFit gives you access to hundreds of trainers that take you through workouts for every fitness level.

The ProForm 750R rowing machine can fold up for easy...

The ProForm 750R rowing machine can fold up for easy storage. Credit: CBS Interactive

WHAT ProForm 750R Rower

THE COST $999

AVAILABLE FROM proform.com

With the literal pull of a handle, the ProForm 750R Rower folds up and its footprint goes from 7 feet to about 3 — probably one of the easiest stow-away processes for any cardio machine.

Using it is just as straightforward. The pull wasn't as smooth as some of the other options on this list, but you can still achieve full range of motion, and the inertia-enhanced flywheel allowed for a smooth rotation without any wobbling or jerkiness, even at higher speeds.

This reasonably priced machine lets you view your calories, time and distance. If you want to immerse yourself into an interactive rowing experience you'll have to hook up your tablet in the included holder.

The following CNET staff contributed to this story: CNET contributor Lindsay Boyers, senior associate editor Kim Wong-Shing and copy editor Jim Hoffman. For more reviews of personal technology products, visit cnet.com.

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