January 31, 2013

review and giveaway: sportline solo 965 heart rate monitor

Before the holidays, I was contacted by Sportline to see if I would like to do a review of a few of their latest fitness products. The Solo 965 Heart Rate Monitor caught my eye since I was interested in doing more heart-rate training. I currently have a Garmin 310XT that supports it, but it is really only good for outdoor workouts. I wouldn’t want to use it for fitness classes since it’s such a large watch.

Well … the review sample I got was a men’s version, so it’s still a bit clunky for me. They do make a women’s version which would likely be a better fit. I have really small wrists, so it probably wouldn’t be so bad on most women :)

From Sportline:

Solo 965 Heart Rate Monitor is the first fitness device with FitTrac and MoveTrac technologies and a built-in Calorie Genius (24 hour calorie burn tracking), is designed to track your resting heart rate over time and also record the intensity of movement 24 hours-a-day to show users how they are improving fitness condition and burning calories. Take your workouts to the next level.

Sounds good … but this watch wasn’t really what I was looking for when it comes to heart-rate training. It doesn’t use a chest strap. It relies on contact of the watch with your wrist along with placing your index finger on the front of the watch to take a reading. There is no real-time heart rate display without touching the face of the watch. When training, it won’t be easy to check heart rate while running. (In general, I had a hard time getting a heart rate reading, but I think it may have been due to the fit of the watch. When I did get readings, though, it was accurate.)

If you’re interested in monitoring resting heart rate, it would be good for that. “Fit Trac” mode tracks resting heart rate, and gives you a Fit Score noting the difference from day to day. You tap the screen to enter Fit Trac mode to record your resting heart rate each day.

That’s not really something I’m interested in right now … and actually, I found Fit Trac mode was a bit too sensitive. It didn’t only turn on with a tap to the screen. I’d find it would get triggered often as I was putting on the watch, or after I simply lift my arm to check the time. And once Fit Trac mode starts, it’s on for about 15 seconds while it waits to take your resting heart rate. Not convenient when checking the time!

In regular heart rate mode (just taking a reading), you can cancel out of it by hitting any of the buttons, but Fit Trac won’t cancel. You can also set a lock to keep the heart rate monitor from taking a reading accidentally … but again, this only works for regular readings. You can’t stop Fit Trac from turning on accidentally. It was a bit frustrating.

It wasn’t all bad. I really like the pedometer feature. Despite only entering my height, it was pretty accurate in most of my testing. I had to walk someplace that I knew was a mile and a half away, and it was exactly right. Running was pretty close too — I had it with me for my Ragnar Relay legs, though since I hadn’t tested running with it before, I just looped it to my hand-held water bottle and wore my Garmin. Despite not being on my wrist, two of the three runs recorded distance within a quarter mile, which I think is acceptable. One run it was about a mile short, though, but again I was carrying rather than wearing the watch.

The pedometer feature starts tracking once you’ve made 25 steps, so it won’t register unintentional movement. It counts calories burned based on your movements, and tracks the amount of time you’ve been active. Since I like to track per activity, like time  and distance running, this wasn’t quite as useful for me since I’d have to reset the rest of the day’s activity to isolate my run. If you’re looking to track movement and calorie burn for the entire day, it would be great.

So, this watch wasn’t quite right for me. But I can see how it would be useful. Think it might work for you?

Well, you can find out for yourself since I’m giving one away!

You’ll get one entry each for:

  • Leaving a comment telling me why you’d like to win.
  • Tweeting about this giveway. Something like “I want to win a @SportlineInc watch from @mostlyirun!  Read more: http://tinyurl.com/mostlyirunsportline”  (leave a comment here to let me know)

US residents only. (Sorry international friends!)

I’m going to keep this contest open until February 9, with a winner drawn February 10. Good luck!

Find out more about Sportline by following them on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclaimer:  I received this watch for free in exchange for my review.  I was not compensated any other way. Opinions are my own.

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