How we test heart rate monitors


You want a heart rate monitor to be accurate – so how do we find that out?

woman running at sunrise

Hard to beat


Our expectations of heart rate monitors are few: be accurate and flexible. But how do you know which models really are? You ask us, of course. Here's how we find out.

Ready to buy? We've tested 10 popular wrist and chest strap devices in the CHOICE labs. See our heart rate monitor reviews to find out which ones performed best.

Our expert testers

CHOICE maintains a highly professional NATA-accredited laboratory, and the vast majority of our product testing is done in-house. Our testers are qualified and well-experienced in testing a wide range of products, and many sit on Standards committees and belong to other professional and expert bodies.

For some products there are Australian or international standards, which usually form the basis of our testing for those products. In other cases, such as with heart rate monitors, our testers and content producers work together to devise our own test methods based on the key aspects that matter to consumers.

How we choose what we review

With so many to choose from, what makes us choose one heart rate monitor to test over another? Like with most of our product testing, our aim is to test the popular brands and models on the market and what you are most likely to see in the retailers.

We survey manufacturers to find out about their range of models, we check market sales information and we also check for any member requests to test specific models. From this information we put together a final list that goes to our buyers, who then head out to the retailers and purchase each product, just as a normal consumer would. We do this so we can be sure they are the same as any consumer would find them and not tweaked in any way.

How we test

Performance

We assess each heart rate monitor against a GE Dinamap vital signs monitor to check resting heart rate against each monitor's response. We don't include this in the scoring, because they all score 100%, so are not a point of differentiation. If they vary beyond +/- 1 heartbeat between the hospital grade monitor, we'll start including that scoring.

Ease of use

The tester assesses each monitor's:

  • instructions
  • set-up
  • screen quality
  • battery replacement
  • controls

Test criteria explained

The overall score is made up of:

  • instructions (5%)
  • set-up (30%)
  • screen quality (30%)
  • battery replacement (5%)
  • controls (30%)

Our test lab

We maintain a climate-controlled lab that is up to date with the latest reference machines and calibrated measurement tools for our testers to bring you the right results. For tests of outdoor equipment such as heart rate monitors, most of the actual testing is done "in the field".

Ready to buy?

Check out our latest heart rate monitor reviews, and see our buying guide for information on the different types and features to look for.


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