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When you start running with a heart-rate monitor, the health benefits hit you as quickly as a refreshing splash of cool water. Instead of judging how hard your run was based on unscientific means—how sore your legs feel, how bad your lungs hurt, or how much you’d rather be playing Infinity Blade—a heart-rate monitor keeps you accountable to the cold, hard science of how fast your heart is beating. And that info encourages you to pick up the pace (or slow down) to maximize your beats per minute and meet your health and fitness goals.
Unfortunately, nine times out of ten, you’ll realize you’re not as weak as you’re pretending to be and need to push harder to reach peak fitness levels. That’s the bad news. The good news is that 60beat’s monitor, which plugs into your iPhone’s headphone jack, couldn’t be easier to operate. All you need to do is slide the button on the right. The clear heart becomes a red heart, and it automatically syncs with the open companion app on your iPhone. While you wear the included chest strap, the device tracks how long you stay in each heart-rate zone, giving you a concrete picture of how effective your workout is.
The hardware is great. Hopefully the software will eventually be able to keep up.
Feeling this new groove, you’ll probably get into it and start running harder. You’ll hit your stride—and then you’ll inevitably receive a text message, bringing everything to a screeching halt. When you look down, you’ll see the app has quit and stopped tracking your hard run. (We tested version 1.0 of the 60beat app.)
If anyone calls or texts, if you try to change songs, or just about anything happens on your phone while you’re running, the app will call it quits and you’ll need to start over. All the 60beat app needs to succeed is multitasking, but without it the entire system is kind of broken.
The bottom line. A heart-rate monitor is an amazing tool for those looking to improve their fitness. Without an app that can weather the occasional intrusion, though, it’s a frustrating experience of one step forward, two steps back.
Heart Rate RX and Chest Belt
iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, or iPod touch
Easy to use. Automatically syncs to some treadmills. Keeps you motivated.
App (version 1.0) doesn’t support multitasking and quits when you get a call or text message.