Highgear Pulseware Max

The Pulseware Max heart rate monitor follows Highgear's tradition of offering high-quality electronics for casual participants or for those folks who prefer simpler devices that are easy to use.

The Pulseware Max heart rate monitor follows Highgear's tradition of offering high-quality electronics for casual participants or for those folks who prefer simpler devices that are easy to use.

We tested the Pulseware Max watch while hiking, running, riding an exercise bike, weight training and even while walking steep hills to prepare for a climb. It proved to be a handy, fun tool that's user-friendly, though its limited features prevent it from being as performance-oriented as other heart rate monitors we've tested.

Perhaps the greatest appeal of the device is that it doesn't use a chest strap -- it will appeal to people who want to monitor their heart rate but may think the straps are cumbersome, uncomfortable, awkward, embarrassing, or just too bothersome to put on. Though the Pulseware Max doesn't use a strap, we found its heart-rate reading to be quite accurate. It has a sensor on the back of the watch that connects to your wrist and picks up a pulse, while you touch sensor buttons on the front to get a reading -- thereby completing the loop through your body to your heart.

We also liked the sleek, low-profile design of the watch. Though it's a little thicker than your everyday casual watch, you won't feel like you're balancing a laptop on your wrist. The buttons don't protrude much either, so it not only looks clean, but it doesn't poke and prod your wrist.

If we had any beef with the basic design, we'd put the heart rate sensors at the top of the display screen rather than on one side. This would make it much easier to reach the sensor buttons and depress them. With the current placement of the sensors, users have to cock their arms out, which proved awkward to our tester and was actually pretty difficult while running. Another beef with this type of sensor button watch (this actually applies to any of this style no matter what brand) is that it's not easy to hold the sensors properly without looking down at the face of the watch for several seconds -- up to 10 or 20 seconds if a person has some trouble connecting. This just ain't a mighty good idea if you are running on rough terrain such as trails or near traffic. And it just isn't advisable at all for outdoor bike riding -- unless you're the derring-do type who likes to pedal along with no hands. For this reason, this watch works best while using a treadmill, a piece of stationary exercise equipment or perhaps fitness walking or jogging at slower paces.

One other disadvantage for those who live in colder climes or have chilly hands and wear gloves often: Users have to remove the gloves to get a reading, and if it's cold they won't be so inclined to do that.

This technology (again, as it appears in any brand) does not gives users continuous heart rate monitoring, but only offers how they are performing in that moment in time when they touch the sensors for a reading. In this case, the Pulseware Max is said to monitor the entire workout (after users enter their personal information), providing data, for example, on calories burned. But since the device is not automatically updating and capturing data at regular intervals, its assessment of a person's workout will not be totally accurate. (Although it's not stated in the product manual, Highgear recommends that users record their heart rate every three minutes. And believe us, it's hard to remember to do this if you're cranking during a hard workout.)

Nevertheless, a newcomer to heart rate monitoring will appreciate the features, lack of chest strap and looks of the Pulseware Max. It's also easier to use than many, too, since it has only six major modes of operation (time/date, chronograph, countdown timer, calorie display, alarm and heart rate display) -- great for those who want a streamlined and relatively easy-to-navigate product and don't want to wade through a bunch of settings they'll never use.

As a whole, this is a solid piece, albeit entry level or for the user who chooses simplicity over technological wizardry and who detests the idea of a chest strap.

SNEWS® Rating: 3.5 hands clapping

Suggested Retail: $85

For more information: www.highgear.com or 888-295-4949



Highgear Axio Mini Altimeter

The women on our team have drooled at the wrist-top computers the men use. Altimeters, chronographs, alarms, barometers…. Man, features we want too! But until Highgear came out with the Axio Mini and introduced it in stores in early 2009, it was only a dream. You see, most ...read more


New Balance N5 Max heart rate monitor

SNEWS® gear testers have used a lot of heart-rate monitors over the years, dating back to prehistoric time. Well, OK, maybe not quite that far but before they were as common and certainly before most knew what a maximum or target heart rate was. So having been through a ...read more


Pedometers: HighGear, Accusplit

With the increasing promotion and public awareness of walking during the day for health and fitness gains, the awareness and popularity of pedometers has also risen as a way to monitor that activity. There are a lot of step-type monitors on the market, from cheap units for a ...read more

Health & Fitness Business '06: Heart rate monitors still dominate personal electronics

Evolutions in the consoles on the likes of treadmills and indoor cycles aside, there was unfortunately little to be seen in personal electronics at the Health & Fitness Business Show in Denver in August. Per usual, there was a rash of low-tech training accessories like balance ...read more


Suunto t3 heart-rate monitor

Suunto, known for years more for wrist-top computers than fitness-oriented monitors, launched a line of heart-rate and fitness monitors in mid-2006, likely to help it tap into a growing market for personal training monitors. The fitness-oriented "t line" of watches (so far the ...read more

New Balance Announces License Agreement with Highgear

CONTACT:Kristen Sullivan, New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc.617.746.2421, Kristen.sullivan@newbalance.comCoral Darby, Highgear USA828.681.0335, cdarby@highgear.comNew Balance Announces License Agreement For Sports Monitors With HIGHGEAR® Boston, MA – November 10, 2006 – New ...read more

Highgear® Joins Implus’ Family of Brands

(Research Triangle Park, NC) – Implus Footcare LLC is proud to announce the company’s acquisition of Highgear®, a leading provider of performance watches, navigation tools and accessories. The acquisition comes as Implus continues its commitment to expanding its current outdoor ...read more

Highgear® Supports Everest Rocks

HIGHGEAR® Supports Everest Rocks in the Fight against Cancer As reported recently in Billboard Magazine, the Love Hope Strength Foundation (LHS) is planning an October acoustic concert with an all-star line-up at Everest base camp and has teamed up with Highgear. The concert, ...read more

Outdoor Retailer Summer Market '08: Electronics are trimming down and getting style

Small and sleek. Two words that pretty much sum up the overall direction of outdoor electronics these days. Watches, pedometers, heart rate monitors and even new GPS units have been trimmed down to appear much more stylish than their predecessors. And thanks to modern technology, ...read more