Friday, August 31, 2012

The Garmin “Premium” Heart Rate Monitor and Super-False Heart Rate Readings.

                                                   The Edge 500 Bundle.  Images courtesy Garmin

Editors Note:  This is not a review of the Garmin Edge 500, just some bitching about the super-erroneous heart rate function.  If anyone has a fix, please email or leave a comment.

I have using the Garmin Edge 500 since November 2011, and I have been very happy with the unit and its associated sensors – For the most part.  The unit has a lot of positives, and a few quirks that one has to be prepared to live with (It is, in short, a lot like owning an Italian motorcycle in these respects – Ask me, I know).  Three initial quirks I had discovered were inaccurate speed, altitude and temperature readings.

However, quirks aside, the unit worked fine until about two months ago when I noticed Hear Rate (HR) numbers way above and below my targets.  See, I have my “Hill Screen,” whereby I have HR, cadence, grade and elevation featured, and I have come to train by the HR and cadence numbers.  Well, I began to see HR lows of 60 Beats Per Minute (BPM), to highs of 260, no matter the terrain or physical exertion level.  With these kinds of numbers I immediately called my doctor so see if I should be dead.

So, I turned to the net, and from on-line searches, it appears I am not the only user with HR monitor issues.  There were a lot of people with the same problem, a lot of suggestions, a lot of guesses, and a lot of unhappiness with something we all paid good money for.  Here is what I have tried.
                                                 The strap and HR sensor

The Sensor - Four micro-screws on back access the battery compartment.  It takes a CR2032 battery.

To date, I have replaced the battery in the chest strap, tried water, saliva, and soon, I will be trying some kind of conductivity gel on the contacts.  I am not very happy with this, and from the on-line forums, Garmin knows they have an issue.  If you pay for something, you should receive it.  If none of the ‘Fixes” work, I will be contacting the manufacturer.

Look at it another way – You buy a fully loaded car, and the air conditioning is horribly unreliable.  Should we just have to deal with it?

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