Last Monday I wrote about my amazing find in a lower priced heart rate monitor. I purchased it on clearance and for the price I paid, it served its purpose as an introductory HRM before I was ready for more expensive purchase. I purchased the New Balance N4 HRM for a little over $21 (plus tax) and when I got home I had to try it out.
I used it last week measuring my calorie expenditure doing workouts in the house, outside of the house and at the gym. My initial thoughts were that for the price (again I would have been a little hesitant about paying full price for this product) I was getting a decent HRM.
It is made to compliment women (meaning it's not going to look bulky on your arm) and it functions like many of the more expensive HRMs. These are all things I liked. Now for the one major things I didn't like. You have to wet the sensors with your own saliva, you cannot use water. They recommend you putting your finger in your mouth and then wetting the sensors, placing the strap to your body, giving it a few seconds to register and then you are all set. Although you were wetting the sensors with your own saliva (a personal choice because they do have gel available for you to put on the sensors, you just have to find it) it was still unhygienic but again, I can't complain because I opted not to purchase the gel.
Using it outside showed that I burned 21 calories, simply from walking from my back porch to feeding my dog; using it for Zumba indicated a nice calorie burn although I had to stop because the sensor wasn't reading properly and using it at the gym showed me that for the first 8 minutes or so the HRM and the machine were showing the same amount of calories burned then from the 9 minute mark to the 15 minute mark the N4 was showing about 30 - 40 calories higher. All of these numbers may have been accurate because I was using the strap with it, but I always had my doubts about it accuracy.
After using the N4 for a week, I give it a 3 out of 5 for my final rating (average rating for me 3.75 out of 5) simply because no matter how much saliva you put on the sensors, you may still not get a reading (essentially having to do it again, which is really bad if you are in the middle of a great workout and have to restart the device), I am still not sure how accurate this device actually is and unfortunately if you are not around other noise, you are going to have to listen to this slight ticking noise coming from the sensor.
Overall, if you just need an introductory device and you can find it cheap, I say go for it, but if you know you need something more, avoid it.