Heart-Rate Monitors: Expert and User Reviews

In this report

Heart Rate Monitors: Ratings of Sources

1. ConsumerReports.org Heart-Rate Monitors, ConsumerReports.org
Credibility:
The editors at ConsumerReports.org evaluate about a dozen chest strap-style and watch-style heart-rate monitors. Scores are based on accuracy, ease of use and versatility. Units are rated and ranked; however, results are available only to subscribers.
2. TomsGuide.com Who Has the Most Accurate Heart Rate Monitor?, TomsGuide.com, June 1, 2016
Credibility:
Prospero compares several heart-rate monitors and fitness trackers for accuracy against an electrocardiograph while sitting still, walking at a brisk pace, and running. The Polar H7 wireless heart-rate monitor came out on top, but there was more variance in results with wrist-based monitors. 
3. Amazon.com Heart Rate Monitors, Amazon.com, As of July 2016
Credibility:
Amazon.com lets users post reviews of heart-rate monitors they own. Some units attract hundreds or even thousands of comments, while others get only a handful. Many monitors score similarly, so it's easy to spot both the few that are standouts as well as the few that are more likely to disappoint.
4. Wareable.com Best Heart Rate Monitors and HRM Watches, Wareable.com, March 9, 2016
Credibility:
This roundup details four of Wareable's picks for the best chest strap heart-rate monitors, four wrist-based heart-rate monitors and three fitness trackers with heart-rate monitoring. Blurbs are informative, but uniformly positive. Links to more in-depth, balanced reviews are included when available.
5. CNET Do Wristband Heart Trackers Actually Work? A Checkup, CNET, May 22, 2014
Credibility:
Sharon Profis tests five wrist-based heart-rate monitors against an electrocardiograph, finding a percentage of error up to roughly 10 percent at rest and nearly 60 percent during high-intensity exercise. However, technology has advanced in the past two years. More useful are CNET's in-depth looks at recent heart-rate monitors, found under the site's extensive "reviews" section.
6. DCRainmaker.com Product Reviews, DCRainmaker.com, As of July 2016
Credibility:
This is the personal site of triathlete Ray Maker. There are lots of reviews here for gear for runners, bikers and swimmers, including a handful of heart-rate monitors. Products are not rated or ranked, but the write-ups are incredibly detailed.
7. PCMag.com Wearables, PCMag.com
Credibility:
PCMag.com features in-depth reviews of a few heart-rate monitors, listing pros and cons as well as considering other similar products. Other reviews at PCMag focus mostly on wrist-based fitness trackers aimed at more casual exercisers instead of heart-rate monitors, as well as smartwatches that have some fitness-tracking features.
8. OutdoorGearLab.com The Best GPS Watch for Running and Training, OutdoorGearLab.com, Aug. 29, 2015
Credibility:
While this roundup is includes a lot of crossover in fitness tracking, heart rate monitoring and GPS tracking, wrist-style heart rate monitors are well-represented. The products each get a thorough review, and are rated and ranked against each other.
9. LiveScience.com The Best GPS Watches, LiveScience.com, April 24, 2015
Credibility:
As with the roundup at OutdoorGearLab.com, there is some crossover here into the smart watch/GPS watch category, but it's also a good resource for those who want wireless heart rate tracking. Each product gets a thorough review that includes features, comfort, ease of use and other qualifiers.
10. REI.com Heart Rate Monitors, REI.com, As of July 2016
Credibility:
REI customers rate heart-rate monitors on a five-star scale, noting whether they would recommend the product for a friend. Reviews vary in helpfulness but tend to be a bit briefer than those at Amazon.com. Garmin, Suunto and Polar are the dominant brands here.
11. TopTenReviews.com Heart Rate Monitor Watches Reviews, TopTenReviews.com
Credibility:
This site ranks several popular wrist-based monitors, but rankings are not based on first-hand testing by experts or real-world use by owners -- just features. Still, the site offers a handy way to compare features that are important to would-be owners.
12. BestBuy.com Fitness and Exercise, BestBuy.com, As of July 2016
Credibility:
At BestBuy.com, customers can post their opinions on products they've purchased. Heart-rate monitors are covered in different categories here, so a site wide search for heart-rate monitors might be needed to find various models. Some heart-rate monitors only get a few comments, others more than 100 reviews.