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Guide to Buying the Best Heart Rate Monitor

Omron HR-100C heart rate monitorHeart rate monitors have entered the mainstream for fitness training, with a flood of new models and a vast amount of information resources. Previously in this space I presented links to some of these resources, only to find them quickly become out-dated. So my advice is that you do your own online searches.

Which is the best model? All depends on personal preference, such is the range of features now available.

But here is a summary of what Consumer Reports journal said in February 2009, in a major report on exercise equipment:

Heart-rate monitor. The top-rated chest-strap type is Timex Personal Trainer 5G971, $55; a close second: Acumen EON Basix Plus, $50. The top-rated wrist monitor with pedometer: Sportline Solo 960, $100.

At, the Timex recommended by Consumer Reports regularly vies with the Omron HR-100C (picture) for top place in its heart rate monitor best seller list. If you are looking for a fairly basic model from a quality manufacturer at a reasonable price, then any of the above would certainly do the job.

Along with Timex, Acumen, Sportline and Omron, other reputable companies that make fairly basic models include Polar, Garmin, Suunto, CardioSport, Oregon Scientific and MIO. In addition, Nike sells several monitors aimed at the fashion-conscious.

Moving further up the high-tech scale, such companies as Polar, Garmin, Timex and Suunto make devices that can cost hundreds of dollars and which offer all kinds of sophisticated functions.

Examples are Garmin's runaway best selling Forerunner 305 GPS Receiver With Heart Rate Monitor, or the Polar S725 Heart Rate Monitor, which provides a huge amount of data - such as speed, distance covered and altitude - to users.

Check out my report, Heart Rate Watches - Helping You Choose, for guidance on which are the key features to look for.

Company websites are also a useful resource. They are of course actively promoting their products, but nowadays they often also provide much useful general guidance. Polar in particular offers a Training with Polar page, with links to many useful resources.

Online searches will lead you to reviews of some of the more popular monitors. But with so many models on offer, it is difficult to find comprehensive reviews that objectively compare many of them.

Otherwise, I strongly recommend that you check out all the customer reviews at Some of these may seem a little dubious - written either by someone trying to promote the particular product, or by someone trying bitterly to bring it down - but most appear genuine, and can provide extremely useful guidance of actual user experiences.

For example, the Garmin Forerunner 305 has attracted more than 1,000 customer reviews, an amazing number, with 90% of them four-star or five-star reviews. The Omron HR-100C has more than 550 reviews. Another highly popular model, the Polar F6, has more than 260 reviews. has initiated a series of "stores" for its most popular brands, and these are highly recommended, as they provide the most up-to-date information on promotions and special offers, along with reviews and details of new products.

* Polar store
* Suunto store
* Timex store
* Oregon Scientific store

I have written a series of reports on the most popular models, summarizing what reviewers say about them:

Acumen Heart Rate Monitor
CardioSport Heart Rate Monitor
Garmin Heart Rate Monitor

Mio Heart Rate Monitor
Mio Shape Heart Rate Monitor

Nike Heart Rate Monitor
NuMetrex Heart Rate Monitor Sports Bra
Omron Heart Rate Monitor
Omron HR-100C Heart Rate Monitor
Oregon Scientific Heart Rate Monitor
Polar F4 Heart Rate Monitor Watch
Polar F6 Heart Rate Monitor Watch
Polar F7 Heart Rate Monitor Watch
Polar F11 Heart Rate Monitor Watch
Polar F55 Heart Rate Monitor Watch
Polar FS1 Heart Rate Monitor Watch
Polar FS2 Heart Rate Monitor Watch
Polar FS3 Heart Rate Monitor Watch
Polar FT40 Heart Rate Monitor Watch
Polar FT60 Heart Rate Monitor Watch
Polar FT80 Heart Rate Monitor Watch
Polar RS100 Heart Rate Monitor Watch
Polar RS200 Heart Rate Monitor Watch
Polar RS200SD Heart Rate Monitor Watch
Polar RS400 Heart Rate Monitor Watch
Polar S625X Heart Rate Monitor Watch
Polar S725 Heart Rate Monitor Watch
Polar Heart Rate Monitors
Sportline Heart Rate Monitor
Suunto Heart Rate Monitor
Timex Heart Rate Monitor
Timex Ironman Heart Rate Monitor

December 1st, 2009



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