As promised, here's my review of my shiny new toy: a Polar F6 heart rate monitor. In the box there is the watch, a transmitter band, and an instruction/warranty booklet.
There are two styles of the F6 - men's, and women's. Mine is a women's style though the thing is still really big. Reminds me of those old calculator watches. Despite its size, it's still pretty with a floral design around the watch face. It also comes in pink and black for women and just black for men.
Setup was easy. First, you enter your details into the watch as per the instructions. Next, you strap on the transmitter, making sure you moisten the contact strips. Then you press a button on your watch and bingo! Your heart rate will appear within 15 seconds and will stay that way, giving you real time updates to it.
With a few more button presses, it'll start to record your heart rate, calories burned, and duration of the workout until you stop it. After stopping it, it'll give you a summary of these figures, with an average and a maximum heart rate.
I was worried that the transmitter wouldn't stay put or that it'd be uncomfortable. However, it stayed where it was supposed to and after awhile, I forgot about it.
There's a lot more settings to it than I've tinkered with so far. I know that you can switch it from beats per minute to heart rate percentage (the latter being most useful to us WWers in calculating intensity levels) and that it records up to 12 of your workouts that you can review. If you want it to alert you when you've reached a particular heart rate zone, it can do that as well.
You can also download software to your computer that enables you to change the watch settings (including the logo on the front) or to upload your exercise data to an online tracking program. You will need speakers or a microphone to do it, but it's pretty nifty - it transmits info using bleeps and bloops from your speakers or your watch.
The first thing I did was install a new logo from Polar's logo gallery. That's my new watch face on the left; it's just too darned cool. I've also played around with uploading my exercise file from the watch to the online program. There was some trial and error (on my part), but once I got it working, it worked like a darn. The tracking program looks like it'll be very useful in recording my exercise. I like that I can go in and see info about each of my exercises, including calories, and heart rate percentage.
As to price and where I got it: I ordered it from the Running Room and it was $125 plus tax. The US retail for this watch is $119, so I think it was a pretty good deal. You can also find F6s at any of Polar's dealers, Mountain Equipment Coop (men's only), or Sport Chek.
Highly recommended for anyone who wants to take the guess work out of calculating calories burned during a workout. Thanks to this lil' baby, I now know how many activity points I should be recording...and eating!