Can anyone recommend a good wrist heart rate monitor?

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I've only had my Garmin Vivosmart HR for a few months and it's just worn about the house, overnight and to assess what effect certain chores have on me. I have worn it in the bath and shower but I haven't been swimming :)() for years.

So far, so good.

@Snowdrop mentioned battery life - I guess it would depend on which one you have vivosmart vs vivosmart HR vs vivosmart HR with GPS. If you manually sync it to your smartphone a lot to get up to date data it will use more battery (on your phone too)

With the HR it can monitor constantly but will only alert you about crossing thresholds (that you can configure) when it's in an activity mode. The more alerts the more battery you use.

I think @TiredSam 's device is the bigger brother to the Vivosmart.... so also Garmin but I don't know how long he has had it though or how rough he is with it.

The other thing to consider is what level of protection you might have paying for it via credit card. That way if it fails (within a given time limit) and Garmin are wriggling out of their responsibilities you can get your credit card company to take 'em on.

Failing that check if someone with good customer care like John Lewis stock 'em. They often offer extended warranties as standard on household items & might(?) extend this to wearable tech.

Also worth checking amazon's small print. Sometimes they will allow returns in situations where the manufacturer won't help.

It's a mine field. It took me at least three months and some helpful input from forum members before I decided to take the plunge.
 

Wonko

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It seems to be ;)

I had noticed that John Lewis seem to offer a standard 2 year warranty, with themselves, instead of the more normally stated, and of dubious legality, 1 year manufacturers guarantee after a 30-35 day return period, in "unused" condition, offered by an individual vendor.

I've also noticed an across the board 10-25% failure rate, based upon reviews, within 1-3 months, on the mass market versions of these devices, even when it's claimed they have been well cared for, the main concerning one's for me is screens cracking when worn overnight etc. (which as one of the reasons for getting one is to do this..), and not actually being even water resistant when it's sold as waterproof (I frequently get exhausted, to the point of not being able to get out, when getting a bath so I was curious as to what was up with that).

In previous years when I used to go out and walk more I would have a lot of falls, or near falls, not such a big problem these days, as I don't go out much, and use crutches when I do, but I still have a tendency to, unsuccessfully, try and walk through things that others might consider solid objects, either due to poor coordination or simply coz I was unaware they were there, I have a tendency to look in one direction while walking in another - I've got a lotta, lotta issues outside lol

So...fragility is not my friend when it comes to expensive electronics. Even if the rest of the world seems to think of them as disposable, that it's fine if a ridiculous percentage break if used as suggested by the manufacturer within a few months, it's all hassle, even if they are eventually repaired/replaced.

You'd think something marketed as a fitness tracker/sports watch/whatever would be designed to be robust enough to deal with the inevitable falls, drops etc. that will happen in such pursuits and that my fairly inactive life, not running, swimming, biking, mountaineering, etc. wouldn't pose any issues for them, but it seems that is not the case. It seems they are made as cheaply as possible and any that are not are seriously expensive given I have no use for 95% of the features on one.

Last time I looked at them the idea got dropped on cost grounds, and TBH I wasn't active/well enough that knowing when I crossed the anaerobic threshold would make a difference, in order to function at all I had to.

Now, even though my outside range has decreased, I am significantly better, at least temporarily, and I am looking for something, other than an easily overlooked/forgotten sudden temporary drop in strength the day before a crash to tell me I'm going to get clobbered if I continue.

TMG helped, both in recovery and in prevention of PEM, a bit, but my cat probably wouldn't survive the mood alterations caused so I can't take it as I would other suppliments.

Hence revisiting this.

I'm going to think about it, again, for another week or so I think :(
 

TiredSam

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I think @TiredSam 's device is the bigger brother to the Vivosmart.... so also Garmin but I don't know how long he has had it though or how rough he is with it.
I'm not rough with it at all!

I never sync it with a smartphone.

It's true the HR alarms only work in activity mode - I have configured the "Walk Indoor" Activity mode so that the screen only shows HR and time of day and the alarm goes off if my HR exceeds 102. The walk indoor mode doesn't use GPS so that doesn't take up battery life.

I find that the activity mode gives a more current HR reading than the main screen, which seems to give a delayed reading, so I always have it in activity mode for the most real-time HR reading and the alarm.

That's all I do with it. If the time on the watch starts being a few seconds out after a few weeks I just put it on "Walk Outdoors" the next time I leave the house and the GPS corrects the time.

If I wore it constantly in Walk Indoors mode as I have it set up I would have to recharge it every 3-4 days, but I wear it much less frequently than that (usually just when I leave the house) so I don't have to recharge it that often. Recharging means just connecting it via USB to my laptop, the software is updated in the background at the same time.
 

leela

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I bought a Mio FUSE last year and if I wear it more than a couple hours I get a really unpleasant burning in my flesh where the sensor is.
I never got this with the chest strap monitor, and I have stopped using the Mio, bc the sensation has gotten worse over time.
The wrist monitor has a bright greenish light shining into the skin when on, the chest one does not.
Something to consider, though I may be an outlier with all my skin and other sensitivities.
 
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@Invisible Woman or @TiredSam , can the radio be turned off on the Garmin Vivosmart HR?
I looked through the owners manual, but it didn't say. This would mean the GPS, ANT+, and Bluetooth would be always on (would not be an option for me - EHS).

An "Airplane Mode" was the deciding factor for me. The Garmin device looks FAR easier and more flexible to use.
 

TiredSam

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Radio? I didn't even know I had one! I turn GPS off by using the Walk Indoors activity, which turns GPS off for me. I don't know if it's otherwise on by default, or if it only turns on when you start an activity (Golf etc) with the GPS function.
 

Wonko

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It seems I have both a Garmin Fenix 5S, (ordered at 5.30am, attempted to cancel at 8am, CS answer phone says they don't open until 10am, at 9.50 someone picked up and told me it couldn't be cancelled, it had gone too far in the process), and a Garmin Vivoactive HR (ordered shortly after 10am on the I now realise somewhat flimsy basis that I couldn't justify the cost of the fenix no matter how good it was, given what I need it to do) arriving tomorrow morning.

Last night I re-read lots, and lots, of reviews on the Vivoactive HR and it seems as if practically all of the ones sold in the last few months have been bad, I know net reviews are biased towards bad ones but it's ridiculous - so I eventually thought it's just not worth it, buying one that's not my prefered one, that looks as if it's been having some serious QC issues over the last few months - so the fenix got put in a JL basket and I more or less accidentally clicked buy it, and then went to bed, couldn't sleep (it's a lot of money for something that could end up in a draw after a few months if it doesn't produce useful erm...."results"), so got up and found they have no way of canceling an order that doesn't involve ringing them up (which also doesn't work even if you get through before they are officially open).

But I still wanted to try one, so the vivoactive got ordered, on the assumption that I would just refuse delivery of the fenix and accept that and I'd have one to play with, if it wasn't useful it could go back, or if broke I've got a 2 year John Lewis warranty on it.

But, even though there is no way I can justify the cost of the fenix, however I dress it up, I still want to try it........is that bad?

It's not the money per say, ATM the money doesn't hurt, it might do in a few months but now, nope, it's just I could have the vivosmart and the extra £300 could buy other stuff I could do with, if you see what I mean - it's reckless, and I try not to be reckless.

At times I hate aspergers, it makes it difficult to settle for "good enough" when I know there is something better.
 
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@MastBCrazy when I was looking in April there were three Vivosmart. The basic one didn't do constant HR monitoring. 2nd up was the vivosmart HR which does the heart rate monitoring but doesn't have GPS so that connectivity isn't an issue there. The 3rd option has both HR and GPS.

I have the middle option- the Vivosmart HR.

It does have Bluetooth though and this has to be enabled to sync to your Smartphone and display your data. As far as I can tell if you switch off Bluetooth or your phone and the vivosmart HR are too far apart for too long you have to re - pair them. In this case the data from the Garmin from the time the Bluetooth connection failed won't necessarily be uploaded to the phone.

If you are happy to just re - pair the two and re enable when you need to it's an easy and quick process. This will mean using the HR monitor for quite specific things and switching off again.

Switching Bluetooth off on the Vivosmart HR just 2 presses of the only button and a couple of screen taps.

The Vivosmart HR can save activities when put in activity mode. It will overwrite when it runs out of space. It is likely possible to retrieve that data later via USB but to be honest these devices are really designed with Smartphones in mind.

If you don't want Bluetooth enabled then it will summarize the last four hours worth giving your AVG low BPM and AVG high. This doesn't necessarily tell you a lot though. Do you BPM might have been high but was it the stairs that triggered it or bending over to empty a dishwasher or both?

You can also easily switch off heart rate monitoring and switch it back on when you want. This shuts off the little green lights at the back of the unit.
 
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Thanks @Invisible Woman. Sounds like it may turn off the transmitter radio. The doubt would make me want to check it with a meter.

My Polar A360 sounds similar, but doesn't have alarms for heartrate, and catches most data in activity mode, but continuous HR can also be monitored. After syncing, I can see my heartrate varied through the day. I get odd peaks hourly when sleeping, and yet to figure out that one...

@TiredSam in my experience, Bluetooth is often 'always on' , and tends to not automatically turn off, even if unpaired (many wireless protocols transmit, and listen for, 'handshake' signals when not connected) unless the radio turned off. I suspect ANT+ may be similar. It is conceivable that GPS trasmitter/receiver (radio) might turn off in software when the device is indoors as a battery-saving technique. Unfortunately, I have learned that it is rare to design to reduce radio frequency exposure. Electrohypersensitivity add another restriction on daily living (very high oxidate stress load for me with cardio symptoms). So many constraints, so few options. Another day in the life....

If in future I can manage shopping in a store, it would be worth an in-person trial for me using my pocket meter to check, as setting heartrate alarms would help - but out-of-house activities are far too ambitious at present.
 

Wonko

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@MastBCrazy

The manual says bluetooth can be turned off on that device (Garmin Vivosmart HR)

http://static.garmin.com/pumac/vivosmart_HR_OM_EN.pdf

Page 6, left hand side, 1/3rd of the way down, just above the history section heading.

(I can't copy it for some reason, but it's basically press settings key to enter menu, select bluetooth > off )

The HR doesn't have GPS so it can't be turned off, with the HR+ I suspect GPS will only be turned on for an outside activity mode, I'm not seeing an obvious way to turn it off globally, but I may have missed it - been through a lot of manuals in the last 24 hours)
 

Wonko

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@MastBCrazy

It looks like ANT+ is off by default, it looks like it can be turned on, and off, using instructions at the bottom left of page 3 under broadcasting heart rate data to garmin devices. I think.

It doesn't appear to have wifi so after checking that's disabled that should be all transmitters off.
 
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The manual says bluetooth can be turned off on that device (Garmin Vivosmart HR)
It's certainly easily turned off on my older model: button press (only has one button), swipe screen to bluetooth, screen tap to select, screen tap to turn off, screen tap to exit option, button press twice to go back to usual screen.

Same again to switch it on.

Of course then you might also want to switch off bluetooth on your phone as well.
 

Wonko

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Both a Garmin fenix 5 s and a garmin vivoactive hr turned up this morning. I've had a brief play. Both displays are incredibly dim, even when turned up to maximum brightness - to such an extent that I'm not sure I can use them.

The fenix looks okay, not £500 okay, maybe £200 okay and seems incredibly complex, fairly sure I haven't yet managed to get it to give me a hr reading yet, but it's difficult to be sure as I can't see the damn display clearly enough. None of the online pics showed it being anything other than fairly bright, at least when in active mode (i.e. when not in standby mode). It's also smaller, on my wrist, than I expected, I deliberately chose it over the fenix 3 (which for my purposes does exactly the same things but is significantly cheaper as it's a couple of year old tech) as people said the main problem with the fenix 3 is the size (which is only 5mm more than the fenix 5 s)

So it looks fairly certain it's going back, and would be even if it was a couple of hundred quid cheaper.

The vivoactive isn't quite as bad on display clarity, it seems to be giving a fairly accurate HR display, I did manage to set up a HR alarm but no idea how I did it, the alarm doesn't stay on until HR drops but instead goes off every 5-10 seconds until it drops. I'm not familiar enough with the menu's yet to quickly disable this for situations where it would be unnecessary because going out of range is unavoidable (like, apparently, getting up and walking a few steps which currently sends my HR up from 94bpm to 134bpm - but it's hot today ;) )

Despite it's all plastic construction it doesn't give a feeling of being terrifically vulnerable, although I suspect one or 2 collisions with a door frame, bus stop or similar ( not uncommon events) and it would be toast, so inside of wrist mounting is probably the best choice. It did make my wrist itch, with no rash or anything, after only wearing it for an hour - so I have no idea how tolerable it will be for it's initial data gathering run e.g. how many steps do I actually do in a typical day, a more active day, what sort of HR occurs when I have a bath, do I actually get more than the 47 seconds of sleep a night it feels like etc.

I've got a computer to take the data off of, wipe, reinstall and swap a few bits around on this week, it will cause me issues so it'll be interesting to see what the vivosmart says while, and after, I'm doing it.

After that it would be used for specific monitoring and not worn most of the time so itchiness not so much of an issue.

Still not sure.....if even the vivoactive is worth the money tho, but it's the one I'll be doing the assessment with, the fenix is packed up in it's box to go back.
 

TiredSam

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The vivoactive isn't quite as bad on display clarity, it seems to be giving a fairly accurate HR display, I did manage to set up a HR alarm but no idea how I did it, the alarm doesn't stay on until HR drops but instead goes off every 5-10 seconds until it drops. I'm not familiar enough with the menu's yet to quickly disable this for situations where it would be unnecessary because going out of range is unavoidable (like, apparently, getting up and walking a few steps which currently sends my HR up from 94bpm to 134bpm - but it's hot today ;) )
You can set it to "do not disturb", so it still shows your HR and a warning but your alarm is silent. I do this if it goes off during a lesson, and usually make a silly comment such as "I think I'm receiving a fax", which leaves people baffled. I then just carry on teaching as if nothing happened, rembering to sit down and stop standing up if that's what set it off in the first place.
 

Wonko

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Okayy.......

Yesterday I sent the fenix 5 s back, despite having a manual and over 35 years of dealing with tech including designing and building embedded systems, programing, hacking high security smart cards, writing video decryption software for low power smart cards etc. the fenix totally defeated me - I guess even with my current improvement in cognitive ability I'm still dumber than a rock.

In the process of taking it back I had to move, undertake some exercise, in the form of walking to the bus stop, walking to the post office etc.

The vivoactive hr gave the following stats for yesterday (as a 24 hour period).
Total steps - 3305 (this includes routine walking around my home, the trip out, and probably some keyboard taps as it's wrist based - I caught it adding 40 steps yesterday when I hadn't moved off the sofa and had simply been typing)
Total distance - 3.32 km
Total calories burnt - 6467 - broken down to 2286 resting calories and 4181 active calories (i.e more than 1 calorie per step - google suggests that it should be about 1 calorie per 20 steps)
Apparently I died between 3.36am and 4.09am as I had no heart rate.
I climbed 2 floors but only went down one - I live in a 2nd floor flat but as far as I can tell I didn't start off in my downstairs neighbours yesterday.
Even when asleep my HR doesn't drop below 74bpm, and at times hits 120bpm - when asleep.

I wasn't planning to use it for calories burned counting etc. but the fact it's so inaccurate does lead me to question whether anything it says is even broadly correct/valid. Step counting is a little more useful, if it's accurate, as a broad idea how much activity I am actually doing on a per day basis would be nice, but if it's going to count me typing this as steps, that pretty much rules that out as a useful feature. So it's a fail on what would be 2 of the main things people, not just me, would buy it for.

From what I've read with problems people have with it's sleep monitoring it's not really monitoring sleep quality, it's monitoring activity while asleep, which whilst semi useful (tho I normally have a pretty good idea how active I've been at night as I get clues like where the cat is, how much the duvet has been rotated, what i remember etc.), what i really wanted, and expected from its marketing, is a measurement of sleep quality, which it doesn't actually do. So another fail.

So...what does it do that's broadly accurate (within 20% ish) at? Probably HR monitoring, but the HR zone alarm seems erratic at best, so not really useful, sleep quality, nope, steps, nope, calorie counting, it's probably in the ballpark with resting calories (I'm 230lb with a high resting HR) but active calories aren't even on the same planet.

But at least it's answered a few questions, like the whole bath thing (it looks like I may actually have the low blood volume thing - HR rate instantly went from 98 to 143bpm when I stood up in the bath, apparently rises of around 10bpm is a "normal" reaction to the body trying to cool down, BP and HR rise, but if blood volume is low there can be significant rises and still not cope, so not enough blood to the brain, or anywhere else, hence weakness and feeling like .....)

Not a totally failed experiment, but at least as far as my needs are concerned the tech/software isn't there yet :(

I suspect that it's going back as soon as I have the energy for another trip out :(

edit....it was waterproof, it was also moderately itchy (mainly the area under the sensor) if worn for much longer than an hour, wearing full time definitely added another, not particularly significant, distraction, and apparently I find repairing/reconfiguring computers (at desk height) therapeutic, some of my lowest HR values occurred while doing so.

It's now packed up ready for return :)
 
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Thanks for the update @Wonko and I feel for the cognitive issues - I made my living off my brain, now I can't successfully make a grocery list.:aghhh::bang-head:

I've found similar with my Polar A360. It is WAY high on estimating my calories. I always attributed it to our whacked physiology (so statistically distant and distinct from 'average' or typical physiological responses to exercise).

For me, with the monitor attached to the wrist misleads the device, as my legs having become permanently reluctant to comply with my requests to move, so I throw my arms out in the direction of desired travel, this unlevels me, starting the fall forwards, and the threat MAKES me reposition my legs (yes, I plan a 'bail-out' path before starting). So the fast arm flailing is interpreted as if I'm leaving a set of starting blocks, vastly misreading my 'speed'. Apparently my left hook is above the speed I used to walk.:cry:

Mine also regularly says I'm running (based on heartrate) even if I'm sitting. Mine seems to group by heartrate zone (it probably works better for normal person without ME/CFS, as who hits 120bpm from sitting for too long?? sitting shouldn't normally be an aerobic activity:sluggish:).

Oh well, the benefit of mine has been to TRY and bath myself (over 5 peice-wise episodes) without my heartrate going over 102 (my threshold). I now track washing a couple dishes, sitting on a stool, as an exertion 'activity', needing to pause repeatedly. I miss the days of 'just jump in the shower, shave in the shower, out feeling refreshed'. Now I can't shower even with a chair - only room temp, minimal arm usage, one zone at a time.

And for me, I look at the day's tracking while I'm asleep, to see HR peaks, and how often I seem to be moving. PEM will make for a very 'active' night even if I'm asleep. But, agreed, it is a pretty rough surrogate of my sleep quality.
 
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polar A370 has been running about the same as my polar h10 chest strap. polar chest strap has a better app on the phone though, and experts say it's more reliable than the wrist device. polar h10 chest strap was less expensive than the wrist device too.