Sometimes timing a workout just isn’t enough. Of course, you can buy bigger, complicated, sometimes chunkier watches and monitors with foot or arm pods or GPS attachments that will give you exacting measurements of your speed and distance. But not everybody wants to fool with that kind of technology, carry extra gear or strap devices on their arms, feet or wrists to take of that kind of measurement. Plus, many of these more sophisticated devices have price tags that correspond to the advanced level.
The Oregon Scientific monitor could split the difference for many fitness enthusiasts who don’t thirst for exacting measurements, don’t want to empty their wallet to get them, and definitely don’t want to fool with additional technology or pods.
This heart rate monitor is a simple, watch-sized wrist-top device that's not as beefy as ones by other companies that look like Star Trac beaming devices. It's relatively simple to operate and has the typical bells and whistles, including audible alarms, limits, targets, calories burned, chronograph, etc. After you set up your user profile, you’ll get more exact data on calories as well as other calculations.
Then, using accelerometer technology, it also adds speed and distance, allowing you to use its pre-set calibration or set your own for either walking or running. We tried it doing both and found the menus to be easy to work through, designed intuitively in terms of layering and button-pushing. Of course, there is quite a bit going on in this small watch (speed alerts, timers for target times, pace calculators, etc.), so you may have to look up a few abbreviations or find out what a particular screen means. But the operation has a lot of choices and at a price that you would be comfortable using even if only some parts eventually didn’t float your boat. You can even set up the monitor to help you train with warm-up and recovery programs and timers.
We liked the fact that the device was not intimidating, which would be most suitable for entry-level or intermediate exercise enthusiasts. One drawback is that the acceleration sensor (to track speed and distance) is on your wrist, unlike some monitors where the sensor lies in separate pods on a shoe or upper arm. As a result, its accuracy can vary based on your arm motion, and you arm motion will change while you negotiate various types of terrain. We tried it using its pre-set calibration on a relatively flat stretch of road and found its distance came up short. We then calibrated it three times using different calibration distances and found the distance still came up pretty short.
But, if a user really doesn’t care for big, complicated, expensive devices and only desires rough data, this is adequate for providing a distance estimate. Plus, they'll get an accurate heart-rate monitor and timing device that provides numerous workout programs all wrapped into a modest package that blends in well.
SNEWS® Rating: 3.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $130
For more information:www.oregonscientific.com