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Heart Rate Monitor

A fan of biofeedback, I’m currently in the market for a heart rate monitor, and Polar seems to be the leading brand, at least in this part of the world.

But I am frustrated by the process of picking a model.

They sell no less than 41 different models, with very few differences between them, and the product comparison feature on their site is broken.

Also, these devices seem quite overpriced. After all, they’re just fairly trivial computers, with simple I/O devices, so I don’t get why they make quite so many different models. The main difference between many models seems to be in the software, not the hardware. And since the software is a fixed cost, the reason for having this many models can only be to maximize profits through segmentation. Which fits the pattern of very clear steps on the price ladder, and my sense that these things are quite overpriced.

After several hours, I’ve narrowed the selection to three models, the M61, the S210, and the new RS100, I forget why exactly. I’m leaning towards M61, but then I’m turned off by the fact that the model is more than two years old, and it’s really just a computer, and I wouldn’t want to buy a two year old computer at full price.

Something seems wrong about this market.

Any recommendations for what to get? Are they worth the time and money?

4 comments

Mads Pedersen

Remember to check the software for mac compatibility if that is an issue for you. Last time I checked none of the Polar monitors checked out.
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Yeah, I didn't expect that, either. I was aiming for one without PC integration. Is there another brand that does do mac?
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Jayson Pifer

I bought a simple one, no PC connection...just wanted to track my heart rate and time races. I'm pretty sure it is the A-5. It still does far more than I need. The bonus that I discovered using a Polar was that the machines at my gym autodetect the Polar brand and I don't have to wear the watch...just the heart strap when I run on the treadmill.
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Paul Sharples

A good resource for comparing heartrate monitors is at: http://www.heartratemonitor.co.uk/compare.htm As a Mac user, you're pretty much out of luck with software support from Polar (though there's always VirtualPC). However, a UK company has stepped up to the plate with a training log which can import data directly from some Polar models - unfortunately, the list of supported models is quite short and consists of high-end units. Anyway, check it out at http://www.ismarttrain.com/
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