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The monitor and strap

Last Sunday, I decided to replace my missing heart rate monitor, a Sportline Duo 1060 Heart Rate Monitor with Built in Pedometer. It had been missing for about two weeks, and my training felt like it was suffering with no monitor to run with. My Duo 1060 was a great product, and I wish I could have found it. I think I may have dropped it in my gym, but I just don’t know.

I would really like to get a Garmin, or a Motorola Motoactv, but priorities being priorities and Mrs. MuddyJ being the realistic person she is, I have to keep my running costs WAY down.

I use my cell phone as an mp3 player, and a GPS tracker (via Endomondo) for my runs, so all I really needed was a heart monitor, and a no frills model would do, though I do firmly believe that “you get what you pay for”. After shopping around a few stores, I wound up browsing the monitors on display at Academy Sports near the Forum (Next to Costco).

Knowing what I wanted in a monitor really helped facilitate this purchase:

  1. I wanted it to NOT look like a big clunky heart rate monitor, I wanted it to look more like a sports watch
  2. I did not need a pedometer built in, nor do I need it to track my lap times/ splits
  3. Ease of operation
  4. continuous monitoring and display was essential
  5. Less than $75.00
  6. Comfortable feeling

After looking for a few moments and comparing what was available in my price range,  I happened upon a this particular model on clearance. It came with a chest strap, looked comfy, had a minimum of useless bells and whistles, looked easy to work, HAD NO BUTTONS and was on clearance.

I completed my purchase and headed home with my new toy tool.

Unboxing:

The packaging was easy to get open, as it wasn’t the usual sadistic “blister pack”style packaging most electronics seem to come in nowadays, you know…. the stuff that’s impossible to open without a razor blade and you ALWAYS end up cutting something you’re not supposed to, usually a finger. May the fleas of one thousand and three camels nest in the genitals of the sadist(s) who invented that packing! (rant complete) Removing the contents was simple and straightforward, and could be done without the use of other tools. Kudos for this, because if I was sitting in my car about to go on a run, I could feasibly open this puppy up and GO!

First Impression:

Showing the strap…

 

Self locking when not actively used for exercise…

 

The strap is a thin and lightweight silicone, so it wears VERY comfortably, as the packaging advertises. The face of the monitor is large enough to see from an arm’s length, but not HUGE, like many other monitors out there. The chest strap that came with it has a button on it that is used to switch it (the strap) between analog and digital mode, which will (hopefully) eliminate cross-talking with other runner’s straps (a nice and needed feature when running in a pack, analog will talk to other devices, like treadmills and ellipticals) The battery door on the chest strap IS REMOVED BY USING THE BATTERY YOU ARE ABOUT TO PUT IN. If you can’t tell I was VERY excited when I noticed the over-sized slot. In the past I have found myself frustrated on a few occasions when replacing the batteries in my other chest strap as the battery door slot was TOO DAMNED THIN to use anything thicker than a dime, which is never within arm’s reach when needed.

Chest strap battery door…. kudos on the size of the door’s slot GENIUS!!!

Setup of the device itself is pretty simple and straight-forward, and is easily accomplished by using the “quick start” manual that is hidden in the bottom of the package. (I found mine after I had used the “BIG” manual to set mine up. My fault, not theirs.)

First Use:

I made brief mention that my first use of this on my LSD run (that was cut short) last week, and it did what it was supposed to do, with one hitch. When you first set it up, there is a  “toggle” mode that is ENABLED by default. When “toggle” is enabled, the display automatically cycles through the timer, your current bpm,  kcals burned, and fat burned (in grams)…while the bulk of that information is useful after a run, I really only want it to tell me how hard my ticker is working.It seemed that every time I looked down to check my HR, I was greeted with the kcal counter, which shows up AFTER your heart rate is displayed, so I would have to wait another ten seconds or so for it to cycle through again, or start tapping buttons. I read the manual some more after I completed my run with it, and DISABLED the toggle mode, thereby ending my issue with the rotating workout display.

After a week:

I have used my Gaiam Touch Trainer Heart Rate Monitor for every run and (non-pool) workout this week so far. I am generally impressed with it now that I have gotten used to it. It is comfortable enough to wear all the time, so I do, unless I’m practicing parkour or wearing my wrist supports. The display is large and attractive, and the controls are easy to navigate (read below) and the device is simple to use, after a short learning curve.

It syncs very quickly with the chest strap, and seems to be very accurate, so no complaints in the functions department.(I ran some simple tests with the built-in ekg monitors on the gym’s treadmills/bikes/ellipticals)

The memory function is very simple to use to look at your past workouts and analyze how effective your workout was.

The backlight is very bright and easy to access, though a tactile area on the screen would be useful while running in the dark.

My only real complaints about the unit are:

1)the lack of LABELS on the touch areas. Since it is a touch-sensitive device, there are four areas, one at each corner that you tap to navigate through the devices various functions. These areas are marked only with a DOT, and otherwise unlabeled. The lack of labeling had me referring to the manual for the first few days until the areas functions were retained by my spaghetti strainer-like brain. LABELS WOULD HAVE BEEN USEFUL!

2)The screen locks itself after a few minutes of inactivity while being worn, but not while it’s tracking exercise. Being that it is a touch device, I would like to be able to lock it myself on demand while running and/or working out. I have nudged my ribs while running, or touched the screen while wiping my brow and managed to activate a function of the watch I had not intended to.

Summary:

All in all I am VERY HAPPY with this device, and I would recommend it to others. It gave me just the right amount of device for my $$$, and is a nice watch as well.

  • Pros:
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to use
  • Small and Lightweight
  • Attractive (it looks like a normal watch)
  • Accurate
  • Comes with Chest strap
  • Touch-screens are neat
  • Cons
  • No labels on touch areas
  • Can’t self lock screen
  • Maker’s Marks ARE HUGE on the watch face

Shown with my Road ID for size comparison

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