What sort of heart rate monitor should I buy?
June 22, 2008 3:19 PM   Subscribe

Could someone please give me advice on buying a heart rate monitor?

I’m thinking of buying a heart rate monitor. I used one on an exercise bike once, where there was a clip which attached to the ear and the bike then displayed the heart rate. Is there a standalone version of that sort of technology?

If so, how does that type of hear rate monitor compare to ordinary heart rate monitors with a chest strap? I’ve read somewhere that there are strapless hear rate monitors which don't attach to the ear. Are they as accurate as those heart rate monitors that do have a chest strap?

Thanks for any advice you can give me on the above.
posted by Jack Alucard to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total)
I've only used the chest strap monitors, and they work well and easily. They consist of a strap around the chest and a watch with the readout. They seem very reliable in the absence of the occasional outside signal which can mess them up for short periods.

As with all these types of things, don't be seduced by a bunch of features you don't need. I will suggest that if you use a stopwatch or an interval timer when you workout, make sure your monitor has that capability, as it can be a bit awkward to wear two watches.
posted by OmieWise at 3:27 PM on June 22, 2008

I have a Polar heart rate monitor-chest strap type. It's a basic model and I am very happy with it.
posted by konolia at 4:13 PM on June 22, 2008

I agree on the "no bells and whistles". I have the least expensive Polar monitor. Here is the main thing to ask "can I change the battery in my telemetry strap (the strap that goes around your chest)". I thought I asked this question. Apparently not though because I cannot change it. No one can. Kind of like the early I-Pod. I can, however, buy another telemetry strap for $53 (just about half of my initial purchase price). Not such a great deal in the end. I would have upgraded just to be able to change the batteries myself.
posted by zerobyproxy at 4:55 PM on June 22, 2008

The only non-strap types I'm familiar with require you to hold a finger on a sensor for some period of time. This means you don't get a continuous readout and getting a reading can be a bit of a hassle. To me the strap-type is far preferable.

I bought a cheap strap type from Nashbar.com about 10 years ago. No frills; just a time and pulse rate readout. It still works great. The watch part is kinda crap but it works, and more importantly, the strap has user-replaceable batteries. AFAICT, all strap-type units are Polar compatible, regardless of make, which means you can wear 'em at the gym and get a readout from the machines. If you want quality construction, spring for one of the brand names but despite my unit's general crappiness it gives a good accurate readout which is all I care about.

Nashbar usually has a deal going on something for about 30 bucks so check them out.
posted by Opposite George at 9:29 PM on June 22, 2008

Heart rate monitors with a chest strap are generally considered to be more accurate than strapless monitors (your heart is in your chest after all). If you shop around, you can buy a basic Polar model for less than $50.
posted by ssg at 9:30 PM on June 22, 2008

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