The Wahoo Blue HR ($79) heart rate strap performs a neat trick: by pairing with your iPhone (4S or 5 only) via Bluetooth, it allows you to transform your favorite iOS device into any of the amazing heart rate monitors available on the App Store today. Even better, it works with all the best cycling and running apps too, so now you can monitor your heart and calories on your rides or runs.
I found the Blue HR easy to put on, and though it took some finagling, once I got it into a comfortable position, it did a good job at staying there.
The Blue HR is also really easy to use, though a little tricky to set up (more on that later). Once it’s on, you just boot up your favorite cycling or running app, then add the Blue HR as your heart rate monitor. Boom—it’s tracking.
And what a plethora of great exercise apps to choose from. Blue HR is compatible with all the most popular ones, like the Strava cycling app, or the MapMyRun running app. And another worthy mention, you can download Wahoo’s excellent WahooFitness app, for the low, low price of 100% free.
And let me for a moment wax poetic about WahooFitness, for it is one useful bit of source code. It allows you to track the distances and details of walks, runs, bike rides, even regular weight-lifting sessions. And with the Blue HR attached to your chest, you can do all these actives while monitoring your average heart rate, your current rate, even your total calories burned. This is incredibly useful if you’re trying to lose weight, because, if you didn’t know, working out too hard doesn’t burn nearly as many fat calories as a lighter workout does. In tandem with the Wahoo Fitness app, the Blue HR helps you keep your heart rate exactly where you need it to maximize weight loss or aerobic fitness.
While testing the Blue HR with various apps, I noticed some connectivity issues that, while not major, were at least annoying. During every use of the Blue HR, it would disconnect from my iPhone for a few moments, then reconnect on its own. This momentary disconnection occurred regularly during use, and every time it happened, would pause heart rate or calorie burning tracking in whatever app I was using. This is something I’ve never experienced with normal monitors, and though not a huge deal, it definitely had me raising an eyebrow.
Second, I find it puzzling that Wahoo neglects to include any kind of setup or use instructions with their Blue HR. As I mentioned before, it isn’t super intuitive to set up, and the only way I was able to figure out how to get it paired with my iPhone was to search the internet, which ultimately led me to a Youtube video explaining the setup process on Wahoo’s own website. Why no illustrated pamphlet Wahoo?
So, for the record, you don’t pair the Blue HR in your iPhone settings like a Bluetooth headset; you must first put the Blue HR on, then pair it with the specific app you’re going to use. But keep in mind, if you don’t have the Blue HR on your chest, the app won’t “see” it, and you’ll be left thinking your monitor is broken.
Once you figure out how to get it set up, the Wahoo Blue HR performs well, and will be the brains of all the wonderfully designed fitness apps the App Store has to offer. I had to knock a star and a half off for the connectivity issue and glaring lack of user instructions, but the free WahooFitness app is such a nice inclusion, I think the Blue HR is worthy of four full stars.