The Core Dump

The Core Dump is the personal blog of Nic Lindh, a Swedish-American pixel-pusher living in Phoenix, Arizona.

[By Nic Lindh on Tuesday, 17 January 2012]

Review: Blue HR heart rate monitor strap

If you have an iPhone 4S, the Blue HR is a solid device.
Blue HR next to an iPhone 4S
Blue HR next to an iPhone 4S.

Heart rate straps are interesting in that there are a lot of options out there, but they feel like technology stopped in 1995. It’s all about digital watches with black and white squinty screens and if you’re lucky there might be an option for you to fork over a lot of extra money for a connector to upload your data to a proprietary website. That’s not a future I want to live in.

My own needs are very simple: I want to be able to check my heart rate progress after my walks to make sure I’m staying in the fat burning zone. And of course to drool over pretty graphs.

So I’d been looking around for a while, but paying a lot of money for a watch that looks like I’ll have to break out the manual to be able to change the freaking date just isn’t a path I want to walk. (Perhaps it’s not that bad but nobody on the Internet that I could find said anything about any of the Polars being easy to set up and use. It could be that they’re so wonderfully easy to use that nobody even thought to bring it up. In theory.)

Plus it’s another device to carry and I already own a magical iPhone and use Walkmeter to log my, well, walks, so it would be nice to have a heart rate monitor that works with the gear I already have.

And now with the Blue HR heart rate strap our long national nightmare of steampunk heart rate monitors is over, at least for iPhone 4S owners.

The Blue HR takes us to the future at a cost of $79.99 plus shipping. It pairs with the iPhone 4S—and only the 4S, as that’s the only iPhone so far to support the Bluetooth Smart protocol. No more having to add a dingus like the ANT+ to the iPhone to talk to the heart rate strap. They just connect.

It’s important to notice that the Blue HR doesn’t pair with the phone, per se, but with individual apps. So whatever exercise app you use has to be updated in order to commune with the device.

Once you pair the Blue HR with your chosen app, it Just Works™. Tell the app to connect to a heart rate monitor, wait a couple of beats, and boom. It’s that easy. Every time after that you put the strap on, you launch the app and it tells you your heartbeat. Just like that. The strap wakes up when it senses a pulse, so when you launch your chosen app it has your heart rate. It’s that easy.

(Yes, we now have a device that wakes up when it senses your heartbeat. So, you know, that’s good news for Skynet.)

The Blue HR so far hasn’t displayed any crazy runaway heart rate monitor issues, where you all of a sudden have a heart rate of 300 BPM—it’s been all sane results.

If you have an iPhone 4S and you’re looking for a heart rate strap, I recommend you check out the Blue HR.

[Disclosure: I purchased the Blue HR with my own money and receive no compensation for this post.]

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