Here are four new or recent activity trackers that offer heart rate tracking, with varying degrees of accuracy.
Moov HR Sweat
The $100 headband features a pocket, into which you slip a sensor that reads your heart rate —
from your temple. During my review, I found the heart rate readings to be mostly spot-on, aside from a few spikes here and there.
Moov HR Sweat is meant for athletes who focus on high intensity interval training (HIIT). If you don’t like the headband concept, Moov also offers Moov HR Burn, a $60 chest strap.
Jabra Elite Sport
Jabra’s pricey, $250 ‘truly wireless’ earbuds and free Jabra Sport app offer a lot of features for athletes, including heart rate readings. And audio quality is good. But compared to Apple’s AirPods, the earbuds are big and not always comfortable to wear. Plus, the heart rate readings, in my tests, were often way off the mark—as much as 70 beats per minute (bpm) too high during intense workouts or 20 bpm too low during moderately intense exercise.
Among wristband activity trackers, Mio Slice ($129) stands apart because of its focus on heart rate. Instead of trying to rack up 10K steps daily, your goal is to earn 100 points or more within seven days. The more you raise your heart rate during exercise, the more points you accrue. While Slice has some shortcomings—check out my review for more details—it offers a welcome new approach to fitness tracking. Heart rate tracking is mostly accurate, though as with many trackers, readings can get a bit too high during intense workouts.
Polar’s H7 chest strap is generally considered to be among the most accurate consumer heart rate monitors for workouts. Consumer Reports, for example, ranked it ‘excellent’ for accuracy (subscription required to read the review). I’ve used the H7 for several years as a way to judge accuracy of other consumer heart rate trackers, and it does seem to provide the most reliable readings.
Polar just released a newer model, H10 ($90), which the company says is even more accurate. Chest straps aren’t particularly comfortable to wear. And you won’t want to wear it all day and night, as you would Fitbit’s new Alta HR wristband. But for accurate, real-time heart rate readings during workouts, H10 — paired with the Polar Beat app — is a great choice.
James A. Martin is a seasoned tech journalist and blogger based in San Francisco and winner of the 2014 ASBPE National Gold award for his CIO.com blog. He writes CIO.com's Living the Tech Life blog and is also a content marketing consultant.