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Topic # 113445 17-Jan-2013 10:33 Send private message

Can anybody recommend any heart rate monitors for running\walking\cycling\etc? It's for a present, and I've come across the Polar Wearlink+ but am interested in any alternatives or recent first hand experience people may have.

I'm also interested in how people generally use them these days - does everyone usually pair them with a smartphone and collect data that way? I've seen the Nike Sportswatch, but it seems expensive for what it is. Any other options here.

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  Reply # 746284 17-Jan-2013 12:01 Send private message

I use a Polar HRM which is part of my cycling computer.  I also use the HRM function on the Sports Tracker app on my phone.  Both work very well.  They use different sensors, Polar uses the Polar wireless system whereas the Sports Tracker app uses Bluetooth.  

If the person has a phone that will run Sports Tracker I'd give serious thought to buying the Sports Tracker HRM sensor and chest strap.  This set up can be used for most types of exercise, the only exception I can think of being swimming as most phones aren't water proof.

Take a look here.

Sports Tracker is available for Android, Symbian, Meego, Windows Phone and iOS, The HRM strap looks like it is available for all except Windows Phone, and if this is the case it will be a Windows Phone limitation as the strap is the same for all phones as far as I know.  I can't see Windows Phone not being supported in the near future if it's not already.

Otherwise Polar is probably your best bet.  They have a good range of products to suit various activities.

So far as data collection is concerned, the data from the Polar devices can be uploaded to your Polar account, some Polar devices have a limit on how many events can be stored on the device. Sports tracker likewise you can upload to your account and you can share with other friends at Sports Tracker and Facebook. With Sports Tracker there is no limit (well within the memory limits of your phone) on how many events you can store and you can also review  an event on the device to a better extent than is possible on some Polar devices.

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  Reply # 746312 17-Jan-2013 12:44 Send private message

Also have a polar watch and heart rate monitor but havent used it since I started using the runkeeper app on my iPhone. It doesnt actually have heart rate settings in runkeeper (that I use at least) but all of the other features I find much more useful. If only I didnt have to wear the plonker looking arm band to carry my iPhone in but for tracking times etc Im willing to handle it :)

Polar watch was very good when I was using it though and I never had any problems with it. Did what it said on the tin.

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  Reply # 746318 17-Jan-2013 12:53 Send private message

Thanks very helpful!

The Polar I'm looking at is a Bluetooth version:

Apparently the above may be used with various android apps (e.g. Endomodo) so would that bypass the need for using the Polar online account?

The Sports Tracker HRM looks good, but any idea of availabilty in NZ? I can't wait for shipping from overseas unfortunately.

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  Reply # 746329 17-Jan-2013 13:12 Send private message

sidefx: Thanks very helpful!

The Polar I'm looking at is a Bluetooth version:

Apparently the above may be used with various android apps (e.g. Endomodo) so would that bypass the need for using the Polar online account?

The Sports Tracker HRM looks good, but any idea of availabilty in NZ? I can't wait for shipping from overseas unfortunately.

The Polar one isn't any good for any of the Polar devices, at least from the information in that link so there is no need or way to upload to a Polar account.

The Polar bluetooth sensor should in theory work with any bluetooth enabled device running a tracking app as I would also expect for the Sports Tracker one. The early Sports Tracker ones were Polar bluetooth sensors and looked exactly like the one on the picture in your link.  The only real difference is the current Sports Tracker sensor has a rechargeable battery and comes with a USB charging device whereas the Polar ones (and original Sports Tracker ones) use button batteries (CR2025 from memory).

I note that the Polar unit is listed as not working with iOS, so far as I know this was an iOS issue with the bluetooth protocols Apple used.  I see that Sports Tracker now show iOS as being compatible with their HRM strap so I would guess the same applies with the Polar one though I can't verify that, though you may need to be using the Sports tracker app.

As for availability so far as I know you can only order the Sports Tracker one directly from Sports Tracker, delivery is prompt.  The Polar one should be available here in New Zealand.

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  Reply # 746337 17-Jan-2013 13:37 Send private message

There are a lot of incompatible formats for linking sensors (e.g. HR transmitter, GPS) with the actual sports computer (watch or smartphone).

Polar use:
T31 (low frequency about 5kHz)
T31 coded (coding needed to distinguish the individual sensor when training/competing in a group)
W.I.N.D. (Polar 2.4GHz transmission)
Bluetooth (2.4GHz Bluetooth transmission aimed at smartphones)
Bluetooth SMART (a.k.a. Bluetooth Low Energy and compatible with latest smartphones e.g. iPhone5)

Garmin and others (e.g. Timex, Suunto) use:
ANT+ (2.4GHz Transmission).

The future is most likely Bluetooth SMART, but I expect ANT+ to hang on due to the influence of Garmin and huge installed base of HRM, cadence sensors, cycling power meters, etc.

If you want the HRM to record when you are swimming, get one with a T31 coded transmitter - some Polar models like the RCX5 support both W.I.N.D. plus the T31 coded HR sensor. The 2.4GHz sensors won't transmit through the water.

I'm using the RCX3 (using W.I.N.D sensors) which I quite like, but the data transfer to requires a USB dongle that only works on Windows or Mac, so I have to use my work pc for that. The other thing I've found is a few GPS dropouts on long training runs and races - I probably should get an armband for the GPS sensor instead of putting in my pocket.

The other consideration is that the T31 (and coded) transmissions are compatible with a lot of gym training equipment, so you can get continuous heart rate readings when using the treadmill.

To find out where to buy in NZ:

I got my RCX3 from the Shoe Clinic in Auckland (Newmarket branch), but I'm not sure if they have the Bluetooth sensors.

One good site for reviews (U.S. centric but otherwise good):

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Master Geek
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  Reply # 746355 17-Jan-2013 14:22 Send private message

I have the Polar you have linked to for several years and confirm it works well with both Sportstracker and Endomondo. I've used it successfully for running, mountain biking and walking (on one occasion 6+ hours around Stockholm). But the biggest limitation (?) with it would be that you will need to run either an Android or Symbian phone. Windows Phone 8 (and apparently Apple) currently does not work with this due to bluetooth incompatibilities.

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  Reply # 746384 17-Jan-2013 15:08 Send private message

There is also the Zephyr HxM. I've used one of these for several years with Windows Mobile (as in NOT Windows Phone, their current mobile OS platform) and Android handsets (apps Run.GPS and Endomondo).

iOS users also have the Wahoo Blue HR available, which uses BT 4.0 low energy profile.

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  Reply # 746449 17-Jan-2013 16:27 Send private message

Interesting to see that both the Polar H7 and the Wahoo Blue HR transmitter can be paired with the Polar Beat app (on a iPhone 4S or iPhone 5 at least).

Polar H7 has some advantages such as it also gives T31 transmissions, so compatible with gym equipment and many polar HR monitors.

The big question is should you get Polar Wearlink+ with Bluetooth, which supports a lot of older phones (android and symbian) or the new Polar H7 using Bluetooth SMART/BLE. I'm sure that Bluetooth SMART is going to be the better option in the long term, but right now it's supported by only a few smartphones.

There's a lot of work going on with Bluetooth SMART/BLE, but it might be a little while before there is wide support and probably never on the phone(s) you have now.

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