This could be a candidate for the shortest review ever. Here are the essentials: the Wahoo Fitness Blue HR is a heart rate monitor. It’s accurate and reliable, and the software is excellent. It’s reasonably priced. There’s no reason not to buy it. That’s all that needs to be said.
Still, if you’d like to know a little more, I’d be happy to oblige. The Blue HR works with Bluetooth Smart Ready devices, which is a quick way of saying that it’s compatible with third-generation iPads and iPhones 4S and 5. The packaging is either elegant or underwhelming, depending on your point of view: all you get is a chest-strap, a sensor and a QR code to point you towards the software. The unit is as sleek and well-made as these things get, and the low-profile sensor and soft strap are comfortable on even the sweatiest of workouts. Physically, at least, the Blue HR couldn’t be any more straightforward.
The software is where the bulk of the work gets done, and Wahoo’s Fitness app is as clean and uncluttered as the device itself. Despite that, it’s fully-featured and allows a significant amount of customisation. After entering details like your height, gender, weight and age, you’re ready to go. User-definable workouts allow you display performance information in the minutest detail, with additional screens providing a map of your route and a simple music player. There are a host of optional alerts to let you know when milestones have been reached and, if you have them, the app will also work with cadence sensors and external displays. Once the workout’s done, results can be uploaded to most common activity-logging apps in as much detail as you could possibly need.
If all of this sounds a little serious, fear not. The Blue HR also lends a helping hand to beginners through an integrated fitness-testing app. At its simplest, this merely involves a pleasant lie-down: the sensor will calculate your resting pulse rate and infer various heart-rate performance zones from that. Greater accuracy can be obtained from a stretching 12-minute test. Once you have the results, Wahoo direct you to an eight-week programme to help you achieve either Burn (weight-loss) or Burst (performance) targets. The plans are fairly simple, but they’re motivational and tailored for users of varying fitness levels.
The Blue HR’s performance is stable and fuss-free. In a month of testing, the sensor worked seamlessly with the phone on all but one occasion, and a quick rearrangement of the sensor position soon fixed that. GPS data was interpreted sensibly with only a minor amount of positional wobble, and the reported heart rate was within a whisker of my manual readings over a number of trials. If anything, I got a sense that the Blue HR is slightly conservative: sensors on Technogym equipment tended to report readings 1-3 beats higher than those from the device. However, such variations are small enough to be put down to user error or calibration differences.
There are two, very minor, issues. The first is that, on the rare occasions when the sensor isn’t transmitting correctly, the pulse-rate shows the last recorded reading. This is no big deal, but it’s a little confusing when you’re working up a head of steam but your heart-rate (apparently) isn’t. The second concerns the level of detail displayed for historic workouts; the in-app viewer only shows basic summary information. If you want to re-live previous triumphs in depth, you’ll need to export data to one of the supported analysis packages.
So, this could have been the shortest review ever. The Wahoo Blue HR is a heart rate monitor. It’s accurate and reliable, and the software is excellent. It’s reasonably priced. There’s no reason not to buy it. In the end, that’s all that needed to be said.
– Rob P.