Although the world of heart rate tracking has migrated from chest strap mounted HRM (Heart Rate Monitors) to constant heart rate monitoring integrated into fitness trackers like the Fitbit Charge HR, new developments continue to be implemented into some chest strap mounted HRMs. In this case it is the Sports Tracker Smart Sensor HRM with the introduction of internal memory and updatable firmware within the HRM unit, which is Sports Tracker branded derivative of the Suunto Smart Sensor.
Having tested the Sports Tracker Smart Sensor for a few weeks we are ready to provide our verdict and it is a good one. When compared with the Polar H7 BT Smart HRM, the Sports Tracker Smart Sensor competes well providing the same quality of data but with the added extra of reduced size (35.6mm diameter x 8 mm thick) and weight (40g) and not needing to have a secondary device permanently on hand to save the recorded data. The addition of internal memory provides advantages in some scenarios, although in many circumstances users will be after further data alongside the heart rate data like steps and or GPS tracking.
The main scenarios that the integrated memory is focused on is swimming, as the Sports Tracker Smart Sensor is 30m water resistant and the pool is the one place you can’t keep your phone close at hand. To achieve the same thing with a Polar H7 BT Smart HRM would require a Polar wrist watch to be purchased and worn in the pool.
Using the memory function on the Sports Tracker Smart Sensor could not be easier as it starts recording as soon as it senses a heartbeat with the memory able to store up to 3.5 hours of data. Although this is easily long enough to record a swimming session, the memory may run out before you finish other longer events like Wolf Runs or marathons. During swim testing we also found that a rash vest needs to be worn over the Sports Tracker Smart Sensor, as without this the water pressure from moving through the water at pace pushes the strap down the body and out of position causing it to lose your heartbeat and power down.
You should note that Sports Tracker Smart Sensor memory clears when it powers down, which it does when it does not sense a heartbeat for a short period of time, as it assumes it has been removed. To ensure you do not lose the recorded data all you need to do is grab you phone with the Sports Tracker app (iOS, Android and Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile) installed, go to ‘diary’ and tap the ‘+’ symbol to add a new workout and the app tries to connect via Bluetooth to the Sports Tracker Smart Sensor and checks the internal memory. If any data is found it is automatically transferred to the Sports Tracker app (iOS, Android and Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile) recording start and end time and the heart rate data recorded during that time. Sadly, the Window Phone/Windows 10 Mobile app does not yet support this functionality, but we hope it will in the future.
During our testing we identified two areas for improvement, the first of which is that the Sports Tracker Smart Sensor records from the moment it senses a pulse to the moment it is synced. The second is that it records the data as a single workout, so if you want to record a number of back to back workouts you need to connect it to the Sports Tracker app (iOS, Android and Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile) and sync recorded data before and after each workout.
It would be nice to have the ability to split the data into multiple workout periods once transferred to the Sports Tracker app (iOS, Android and Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile). This would enable users to dismiss the recorded data before and after workouts and focus on the data recorded during the workouts.
Finally, as we mentioned earlier the internal firmware of the Sports Tracker Smart Sensor can be updated via the Sports Tracker leaving us with the hope that more functionality may be opened up by future updates. Along with functionality improvements we are hoping that other technology could already built into the Sports Tracker Smart Sensor which will be enabled via a future update.
The Sports Tracker Smart Sensor is a premium product well priced at £60.00 on the Suunto website when compared with the competition, based on the Polar H7 BT Smart HRM price tag of £64.50. What is even more impressive is that the Suunto Smart Sensor, on which the Sports Tracker Smart Sensor is based, is priced at 65.00 on the Suunto website when the Sports Tracker Smart Sensor adds Sports Tracker app (iOS, Android and Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile) integration and a voucher code for 1-years free premium membership of the Sports Tracker service worth an additional 24.99 EURO.
- Internal memory
- Upgradable firmware
- Very small & lightweight
- Compatible with Suunto Ambit3 watch
- Records from sensing pulse to sync with app
- Memory cleared when the sensor powers down
- Memory too short for some events
Scores **** (4/5)
Build Quality **** (4/5)
The look and feel of the Sports Tracker Smart Sensor are those of a premium product, with
Functionality *** (3/5)
The Sports Tracker Smart Sensor performs exactly as advertised providing reliable data, although the recorded data needs to be able to be trimmed when transferred to the Sports Tracker app (iOS, Android and Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile).
Affordability **** (4/5)
When compared with competing HRM belts, the Sports Tracker Smart Sensor fairs well, costing the same, whilst adding the internal memory provided by Suunto and a 1 year premium membership of the Sports Tracker service.
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