Friday, September 12, 2003

Product Review: DBase dB500 Heart Rate Monitor

I cashed in my Team Performance points and got this little toy last night. I was looking for about a $50 HRM so it was between a bare-bones Polar (A1) and this unit which has some cool functions like "calories burned", max HR and avg HR as well as usefull things like time of day and stopwatch which the Polar A1 didn't. Turned out someone at Performance had put the sale price for the dB300 on this box by mistake so the guy told me that was the price. Retail for the dB500 is $90, it was on sale for $70 and I got it for $30... SCORE!

So the pickup seems fine - no problems with the connection or the transmission. The chest belt is reasonably comfortable. There are 5 buttons to push so it's still a little clunky to use until I figure it out better. The belt batteries are user-replaceable but the watch battery has to be replaced by a jeweller. The extra function that I really like though is the "LAP" button which remembers your time and HR every time you push it so I can use it as a "SPLIT" timer on Diablo. I usually try to remember my split times at the 2-mile and 1-mile points but I sometimes forget them: now I'll be able to record even more split times - and be able to post even more boring data here on my blog for you all to read!

I had one of the very early Polar HRMs about 12 years ago and it helped me learn to pace myself while climbing (which I was REALLY no good at back then). It had only current pulse and no other functions and I think it was $110 - the watch face was about 2 inches square, looked kind of funky but it was fun.

The data in my Owner's Manual said that my maximum HR is probably about 160 - I distinctly remember getting it up to 192 on the old unit... this will be interesting.

UPDATE February 2006: The chest transmitter portion of the HRM wore out about six months ago and a new battery wouldn't bring it back to life. The dBase website said a new one would be $35 but I found a cheapie Polar HRM at Performance and the whole thing was $35 so I bought that and the chest strap works fine with the dBase watch part plus now I have an extra wrist unit (HR only, no other functions). Anyway if you found my blog by searching on the dBase 500 (one of the more popular search requests) then now you'll know that the Polar and dBase chest transmitters are interchangeable. One thing that still bugs me about the dBase display is that the LCDs are a dark gray and the background is a dark green so sometimes it's pretty hard to read. Also the position of the buttons around the circumference of the face makes you put your thumb on one button while you're trying to push another button with your index finger and sometimes you push the wrong one. I give the dBase 500 Heart Rate Monitor a DSPRS of 8 out of 10.