Top critical review
113 people found this helpful
Great when they work, quality control issues though
on March 25, 2011
After much research I decided that using a heart monitor could really add a lot to your workout.
Researching the available options I basically found 3 categories / units worth pursuing. The first is Omron's heart rate monitor, which people seem to love as an inexpensive monitor but the rate transmission is not encoded so two of them can't be used in close quarters. My wife and I are doing P90 so that ruled those out. There's also a category of very nice units with GPS features and other goodies that were way beyond our needs so I wasn't keen on paying that premium. The third is any of the Timex. There are a lot of listings for Timex HRM's and the differences are mostly asthetic (with the exception of whether it has lap capability or it can show where your current rate falls in the desired range graphically).
My wife picked this watch / HRM and I picked one with a men's look. Their use is exactly the same though, and the straps are identical. Per other reviewer's advice I ordered a tube of Spectra electrode gel at the same time.
At first all was well for both of us. Just goop up the strap, it fits comfortably across the chest, hit 1 button on the watch and it started giving a rate. Setting a target range on the watch was pretty easy. You hold down the "Heart Rate" button to turn the rate alarm off and on quickly and easily which is really nice to activate it once you're warmed up so it's not beeping at you constantly while you're starting your workout. If you use the chrono feature the watch keeps track of averages, calories burned, etc on its own. It is even easy to get averages for each lap, so in my case I could hit the lap button between phases of the workout to get insight into each individually in addition to the overall info.
After a couple weeks my wife's continued to work well but my monitor started giving me weird readings and not wanting to sync up to start. I tried using more goop, less goop, played with exact placement, using water, but all to no avail. Then I figured the battery must have been half dead already so I replaced that. Still no joy. In an effort to isolate the problem my wife and I swapped chest straps for 1 workout. With her identical Timex chest strap I got readings *immediately* and it gave very accurate readings, but with my chest strap she couldn't get accurate readings. I don't know what the chances are the "new" battery could have been dead so I tried swapping out the batteries. Same thing.
Keep in mind we have two chest straps we are using at the house in identical conditions, used the same way, cleaned the same way, etc. I'd always heard that if electronics lasted 10 hours they'd last 1,000 hours but there's something else going on with these chest straps.
I do like the HRM system so I'm going to give it 3 stars but given the prevalence of other reviewers who report difficulties I don't think my experience represents a tiny rate of failure that can't be avoided but instead a design flaw that makes the Timex chest straps unreliable even when used carefully and cleaned after every use.
If you're not looking to spend $150+ on an HRM and need something nicer than the Omron I would say to order this anyway, from Amazon anyway, but save the box because it's likely you'll need it to exchange for a new one. Thankfully Amazon is all aces about returns / exchanges. If you're considering buying from a source that might be less accommodating about returns then I would say stay away because you will probably not get your money's worth.