Heart-Rate Monitor Buyer's Guide
I (the author) have been using Heart Rate Monitors for over ten years. Initially Polar Heart Rate Monitors, but in the last couple of years I have also been using a Suunto M5 heart-rate monitor.
There are heaps of features to most monitors, but at the end of the day the biggest feature is being able to monitor your heart-rate in real time as you exercise. So to me, the most important feature is screen visibility.
With this in mind;
- Definitely get a watch with a light - even in low-light this is really useful
- Ensure the digits on the screen are big so you can make out the numbers as you're shaking about
- Avoid white-on-black screens - they look really cool, but are harder to read
You also want to seek out a soft-belt chest strap. Polar calls this a "wear-link", and all the Suunto monitors come with it. They are so much easier to wash and more comfortable to wear.
And you know, a really neat feature that I love is called "recovery time". As soon as I have finished my exercise, the watch tells me (for a person of my age, gender, size, etc., and considering how hard I just worked out) how long it will take for my body to recover.
And finally, make sure it's got a standard watch and alarm. I cant tell you how many times I have forgotten to change back to my normal watch after use, so the monitor ends up becoming my watch for the rest of the day!
Yes, I know there are lots of other features, and you will have to determine if you really want that V02 fitness test or GPS feature, but those are things specific to your goals.
For now, stick to my ideas above, and you will have all the basics covered!