Best Pool Water Test Kit

Best Pool Water Test Kit

A Review on Pool Testing Kits

Pool Water Test Kit Reviews

The best pool water test kit is the Taylor K-2006. I’ll make it that simple. You can buy it here: Taylor K-2006.  If you’re not convinced, please feel free to read this review which is based on my own experience of several pool testing kits. The best pool water test kit will become obvious to you not from this review, but from your own experience.

Testing Your Swimming Pool is Fun

Well, okay maybe not fun for everyone, but it is interesting.

pool water test kit
What is the best way to test your Pool Chemistry?

Having nearly completed my first year of experience caring for my own pool, I’ve learned a lot about what to look for in a pool water test kit. In just one season, I have used the entire gamut, from the old fashioned liquid tests kits, to the handier and easier test strips, and in 4 different brands. So, which is better? The answer is that both types have their purpose, but as I will explain later, some pool water test kits do offer a greater degree of accuracy and number of tests.

What are the Different Types of Pool Water Test Kits?

My own swimming pool this summer provided me with some unexpected challenges and problems which go beyond the scope of this review. However, in meeting these challenges, I spent well more than my share of money on pool testing products. This is partly due to my inexperience but also the desire to learn how to do the best job possible in insuring sparkling clear water. My goal in this review is give a brief explanation of the different types of test kits, explain what each of them does and how they work, as well as to give you my own advice on which particular product brand works best and easiest for me. This review assumes that, like me, you have a chemically chlorinated pool. There are different products out there for different types of pool such as those that use salt and chlorine generators to manufacture their own chlorine. I will not cover these products, and stick to those which address the needs of the traditional, chlorinated pools. I will discuss and compare 4 different products that I’ve used this year: Aquachek Select and Aquachem 6-way Test Strips. The HTH 6-Way from Walmart, and Taylor Liquid Test Kits. While using these products, I’ve come to expect 5 criteria from a pool testing kit: Convenience and speed, ease of use, accuracy, price and tests.

How are Pool Test Kits on Convenience and Speed?

Convenience and speed go together when it comes to pool testing. Test strips are by far the fastest, most convenient way to test your pool water. They work by simply dipping a strip in your pool water, waiting 15 seconds, then visually comparing the colors with a chart. The matching color shades on the chart will tell you in Parts Per Million (PPM), the chemical amounts in your pool. Both the Aquacheck and Aquachem test kits reviewed, here, offer 6 tests: Total Hardness, Total Chlorine, Free Chlorine, pH, Total Alkanility, Cyanuric Acid (Stabilizer). There are other less expensive test kits which only do 4 tests (leaving out Total Hardness and Total Chlorine), but I recommend sticking with the products that do 6 tests because they are only a couple of dollars more, you will learn to want those additional tests as you take an interest in water testing. Both the Aquachem and Aquachek products are convenient and fast. In 15 seconds, you will be comparing your results with the included color chart and be able to record your answers in less than a minute. The liquid tests kits are not nearly so convenient, and definitely not as fast. They basically work by adding pool water to a sample test tube, adding a few drops of a color indicator and in some cases, adding another chemical called a titrant, which makes the sample change colors after several drops. I will explain the details on this later, but suffice it to say that the liquid test kits are not nearly as convenient since you are dealing with a number of different testing agents, titrants and test tubes, rather than dipping one single strip into a sample of water. Furthermore, you will need fresh water supply nearby to rinse your testing tubes or comparators after each test, so you can start with clean pool water on your next tests. That means a minimum of 6 tests for the product. The Taylor K-2006 offers an even greater number of tests, but for the sake of comparison, it will take a good 15 minutes with either of the liquid test kits to do the same number of tests that you did in less than a minute on either of the test strip products. The Taylor kit has it’s testing instructions very conveniently printed on the inside of the box lid, whereas the product forces you to use a little folded instruction manual which is likely to get wet and/or lost. For convenience between the two test strip products, I give the Aquachek product the edge over Aquachem due to it’s handy, transparent plastic-sealed color chart which attaches to the bottle, and prevents any fading from water as your holding the strips up to the chart for testing. The Taylor K-2006 is faster and more convenient than the HTH due to its handy box with printed instructions. But for overall speed and convenience, nothing matches either of the 15-second test strips. Something that is convenient is also easier to use, right? Not so fast. The answer to that is not as cut and dry as you might first believe.

Which Pool Test Kits are Easiest to Use?

What is fast and easy seems convenient. That is, until you worry about determining the actual test results. I’ve found it to be very difficult to match the colors of the strips results with the actual color charts and numbers. Making it doubly difficult, is the fact that the longer you wait, the more the colors fade and change colors in the sun as you look at them. Between the two, test strip products, I give the Aquachek product a slight edge over the Aquachem, due to its plastic encased color-comparator chart. With the aquachek test strips, it is a little bit easier for me to determine the color shades, but I must admit that could be due simply to user preference. Determining an accurate result is guess work at best with either product. .To prove this, I’ve used additional family members to compare results, proving that our answers can vary as much as 1 to 2PPM. While the liquid test kits still require some subjective comparing of colors and shades, I’ve found it to be much easier to determine an accurate measurement looking at a liquid and comparing it to the corresponding colors. Furthermore, unlike the test strips, the liquids do not change shades or fade overtime. You can take your time looking at the color of the liquid and matching it with the corresponding number. The flip side of this, is that the liquid test kits do require you to accurately measure your water sample and count numbers of drops in order to perform the tests. The Taylor K-2006, due to it’s handy, inside of the box instructions is slightly easier to use than the HTH Liquid 6-Way Kit.
When it comes to ease of use between the 4 products, the test strip kits have an edge because it requires fewer steps, however some of the advantage is negated by the difficulty in determining the color and corresponding number measurements. The Aquachek and Taylor K-2006 products are slightly better in this category. Both have better instructions, and the Taylor K-2006 even includes a waterproof Pool Spa Water Chemistry Guide. What could be more handy than that?

Which Pool Test Kit is the Most Accurate?

Neither of the two test strip products are as accurate as the HTH or Taylor K2006 Liquid Test kits due to the difficulty in determining the colors as described above. By far, the leader in accuracy is the Taylor K-2006. The K-2006 has the edge in accuracy for a couple of reasons: The FAS-DPD Chlorine test included in the K-2006 is unique in that it allows you to determine free and combined chlorine levels in increments of .2PPM all the way up to 20PPM. The results of this test are flawlessly accurate. Unlike other tests that force you to match colors with a comparative color chart, the FAS Chlorine test uses an entirely different method which is extremely accurate and explained in more detail below. The Test Strips and the liquid kit are limited to levels of .5, 1, 3, 5 and 10.
I believe the liquid kits offer more accurate results. In using family members to compare results, we were in much closer agreement than we were with the test strips; within 1PPM, usually less. I should also mention that the Taylor does come with a very complete guide for determining what your results mean and helping you to reach the most accurate conclusion on what all of these chemistry numbers mean for your pool water.
The Taylor is the most accurate test kit that I’ve tried.

Is The Best Pool Testing Kit the Most Expensive?

The HTH Liquid test kit can be had at discount retailers such as Walmart for around $15.00. You get about 3 months worth of tests assuming you test your pool once a week. The exception is with your CYA or (stabilizer) test which will give you only three tests maximum. The Aquachek and Aquachem will cost you about $13 – $15 for a 50-test bottle of strips. Unlike the HTH product, you will get exactly 50 tests for every available test there is. The K-2006 will set you back $49 – $69 based on various online retailers and pool stores. The kit comes with enough tests to last you three months, provided you only test once or twice a week. This is a professional product for getting the most accurate and complete results for maintaining your pool. There is a reason for the extra cost, as you will soon discover in the next part of the review.

What Tests Are Available In Each of the Pool Testing Kits?

Both the Aquacheck and Aquachem test-strip products have 6 tests: Total Hardness, Total Chlorine, Free Chlorine, pH, Total Alkanility and CYA (Stabilizer) Different shades of colors are used for each test, along with indicators letting you know how your water rates in terms of LOW, OK, IDEAL Both test strip products include instructions for what chemicals and amounts to be used to bring your water to its desired levels. Unlike the liquid test kits, one dip results in all 6 tests. Since pool chemistry goes beyond the intentions of my review, I will try to relate the importance of what these tests do without getting into too much unnecessary details.

Liquid Test Kids

The Liquid test kits require that you perform a separate procedure for each test. The HTH Liquid Test kit includes 6 tests: Total Chlorine, Bromine, pH, Total Alkanility, Total Hardness and CYA (Stabilizer). This kit is missing a free chlorine test, which in my opinion is the most important of them all for chlorine pool users. If there is a problem with your pool such as algae or ammonia, you will need to know what your free chlorine levels are, as usually the solution involves adding very large quantities of chlorine or ‘shocking’ your pool to kill the contaminants. Total Chlorine is the sum of Free Chlorine and combined chlorine. The Combined Chlorine is basically used up chlorine, so the total chlorine test in the HTH 6-way kit is insufficient for indicating the health of your Pool’s useable chlorine levels. You will want to know what your free chlorine levels are and adjust them regularly or as needed. For Total Chlorine, HTH uses what is known as an OTO test. First, add your water sample to the color comparator test gauge, then add 5 drops of the OTO agent to your water sample and compare the color range of yellow and match the corresponding number from .2 to 5. The bromine test is completely worthless for a chlorine pool. When it comes to tests, nothing comes close to the Taylor K-2006

Nothing Beats the FAS-DPD Chlorine Test

The chlorine test is what sets the K-2006 apart from all others as the best pool water test kit. This is in large part due to the FAS-DPD Chlorine test which makes it virtually a cinch to determine both Free Chlorine and Combined Chlorine. Also, the K-2006 measures Chlorine all the way up to 20PPM. The FAS-DPD Chlorine test works like this: You put in a couple of scoops of the included R-0870 powder which turns your water sample pink if there is any free chlorine present. Next simply add from the R-0871 bottle while counting drop by drop, and swirling after each one until your water sample turns completely clear. Multiply your result by .2 to get your Free Chlorine results in Parts Per Million (PPM). For example, if your Water Sample turned clear after you added your 20th drop, your free chlorine equals 4 PPM (20 * .2) Furthermore, the FAS-DPD Chlorine test gives you the flexibility for choosing a smaller water sample at less accurate measurements of .5 PPM. This is handy when you know your have very high chemical levels and want to conserve on testing agents. In order to determine your Combined Chlorine, you use your same water sample, using another agent to turn the color pink again, then going back and repeat your steps, drop by drop, counting them as you go, until the water turns clear once again.. Just as is the case with the HTH 6-Way Liquid kit, testing your pH with the K-2006, requires you to add 5 drops of an agent into your pool water sample colorator tube which turns your color a shade between yellow, orangish-pink and red. You will then compare the color to the chart on the comparator which ranges from 7 to 8 on the K-2006. The HTH has a slightly larger range on it’s colorameter of 6.8 to 7.2. Score one slight advantage for the HTH.

Testing Total Alkalinity

Total Alkalinity is one of the more difficult tests for me with either of the liquid test products. You begin with a sample of water, and then add 5 drops of one agent which makes the color red. Next, you will use the included bottle of titrant and add drop by drop until the color turns from Red to Blue. In my case, this required over 20 drops because my TA is so high! My difficulty was that my sample was turning more of a purplish color than blue, making it hard to distinguish from the original pink hue and not knowing when to stop adding drops. I had this same problem using the Calcium Hardness test, but thanks to the very informative manual included with the Taylor K-2006, I learned this is because I have metals in my water. By adding a few of the titrant drops to the sample, beforehand this problem is resolved. So, once again, even for TA, I believe the K2006 is the best pool water test kit.

Testing Water Balance

The K2006 takes things one step further for getting a reading on the balance of your pool water. Included with the K-2006 pool water test kit is what’s known as the Taylor Watergram Calculator. This is basically a circular dial, allowing you to line up measurements of pH, Hardness, Water Temp and Total Alkalinity, and indicating a number known as a Saturation Index. The Saturation indicates whether or not your pool water is in balance (usually a number between -.5 and +.5.) Water that is not in balance can be corrosive to your pool and/or components, or cause scaling and cloudy water. Additionally, you can do an acid-base-demand test, following your pH results. This is achieved by adding the included acid-base-demand reagent until the pH color matches the colorameter of your desired results. You then refer to the watergram for instructions on how much of what chemical to add to achieve your desired pH Balance.

Testing CYA or Stabilizer

The CYA or Stabilizer test is pretty much identical between the HTH and Taylor. This is known as a turbidity test, and basically works by adding drops to a test tube, making the sample cloudy until you can no longer view a black dot at the bottom of the test tube. You then, simply match the corresponding number on the test tube which represents your CYA level. That basically, concludes the extent of testing on the various kits. The K2006 has some additions and variations which the other kit do not have, but it is the FAS-DPD chlorine test that really sets it apart.

Best Pool Testing Kit Conclusions

The Taylor K2006 is the best pool water test kit hands-down. However, the test strips definitely have their place in everyday pool testing, due to their convenience, speed and cost. I have changed my mind since this article was first written nearly 10 years ago. I used to like having the strips, but after several more years of experience using them, I just don’t see any advantage to them anymore. With the K2006, you will be able to know beyond the shadow of a doubt what your precise levels are, but do you really want to sit down and take 15 minutes every day to do it, and pay for costly agents and titrants three or four times a summer? After some comparative practice with the two, you will be able to use the test strips on a daily basis for getting a pretty accurate estimation of the 6 included tests. I am actually able to consistently come within .5 to 1PPM difference with the test strips, which is close enough for getting a daily estimation of FC. The K2006 can be used on a weekly basis, when serious pool problems occur, or when you have the time to be more thorough about your testing. The HTH 6-Way test is okay as a cheap solution, or for Bromine pools, but once I compared it to the K2006 by Taylor, I would have been glad to pay the difference to have the better product in the first place. Just to be fair, HTH makes a variety of other variations of their liquid test kits. The one used in this review is commonly found in Walmart and other discount stores for about $15.00. There are also other a couple of other branded versions of the Taylor K2006: The TF-100 and Leslie. I believe both of these are rebadged products of the K2006, but with different volumes, and possibly some other changes or additions. Feel free to compare them online. At any rate, I would not be without one of the three. If you want to be serious about testing your pool, the FAS-DPD chlorine test is an absolute must.

Salt Water Pool Test Kit

For a complete review on the best pool water test kit for Salt Water or Saline Pools read my review on the K-1766 Salt Water Test Kit.

Pool Test Kit Ratings

 

Convenience and Speed

  • 6-Way Select by Aquacheck 95
  • 6-Way Test by Aquachem 95
  • 6-Way Liquid Test by HTH 70
  • Taylor K-2006 78

Price

  • 6-Way Select by Aquacheck 85
  • 6-Way Test by Aquachem 85
  • 6-Way Liquid Test by HTH 90
  • Taylor K-2006 75

Ease of Use

  • 6-Way Select by Aquacheck 78
  • 6-Way Test by Aquachem 75
  • 6-Way Liquid Test by HTH 70
  • Taylor K-2006 85

Accuracy

  • 6-Way Select by Aquacheck 78
  • 6-Way Test by Aquachem 75
  • 6-Way Liquid Test by HTH 70
  • Taylor K-2006 95

Testing

  • 6-Way Select by Aquacheck 75
  • 6-Way Test by Aquachem 75
  • 6-Way Liquid Test by HTH 70
  • Taylor K-2006 95

Best Pool Testing Kit Ratings

    • 6-Way Select by Aquacheck 82
    • 6-Way Test by Aquachem 81
    • 6-Way Liquid Test by HTH 74
    • Taylor K-2006 86

How do you rate the Taylor K-2006?

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Analog To Digital TV Converter

Analog to Digital TV Converter
Zenith DDT900 Analog – Digital Converter

Analog to Digital TV Converter

Were you actually looking for a Digital to Analog TV Converter Box or a DTV box or Digital Converter Box? If you still have one or more analog televisions in your home and you wish to use them after February 17th, 2009, you will need to buy a Digital to Analog Television Converter Box. Some tend to reverse the terminology by calling these Analog to Digital Converters rather than the other way around, or you may refer to them simply as a DTV Box, or digital converter box.  Whichever way you name them, their purpose is to allow you to continue watching the new digital television transmissions on your old analog television. So, analog to digital, digital to analog … how much do these babies cost, and which DTV Box or digital converter box should I buy?

DTV.GOV has useful information and links to coupons for how to acquire these DTV boxes. Typically, they cost around $50.00 – $60.00. The good news is that every U.S household can receive two $40.00 coupons from the U.S government at the website below: DTV.GOV
Analog to Digital Website So, basically, you can expect to pay no more than $10.00 or $20.00 for each television, as long as you use them to purchase one of the listed models on their site. You can also call them at: 1-888-DTV-2009. The other way is to request one from your Cable or Satellite TV provider.

There are other, more expensive DTV Boxes with a better television menu system and other advanced features. However, after doing a little research, I’ve discovered that there are really no substantial benefits or reasons to pay more than $50.00 for a box which will be used on an older, analog television. One of the more popular ones seems to be the Zenith DTT900. It is actually a nice looking box and quite a bit better looking than the old analog one given to me by my cable provider, Comcast.

Analog televisions normally use a 4:3 viewing ratio. The DTT900 will support a wide screen views if you do happen to have a digital TV, but this box is mostly intended to make use of a 4×3 analogy TV. There are four viewing Formats that you can set:
Set By Program, Letterbox, Cropped and Squeeze.

The menu system seemed adequate and easy to use, though I would prefer larger buttons for the numbers on the remote, which is a little too small for my personal tastes. The DTT900 includes 2 RF-style F connectors. One for input and one for output. It also includes one set of standard RCA outputs.

DDT900 Remote
DDT900 Remote

Due to digital processing, there is a noticeable improvement in picture quality, even on an analog television. The important thing, however, is that the DTT900 provides an inexpensive way to continue using your favorite analog television, allowing you to wait for digital television prices to continue dropping through the floor. For the official FCC website regarding DTV Converters: DTV.GOV

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Hard Drive Backup Software

How to Back Up Data

Have you procrastinated backing up your hard disk data because there are Carbonite Online PCBackuptoo many choices? Windows XP Backup Software has never been an easy or adequate solution.  The good news is there are really only two choices: Online Backup or a Backup Drive. This review covers just two of the many products that fall under these choices. Forget about looking for the perfect Windows XP Backup Utility. You won’t find it in Vista or Windows 7 either.  Not even Windows 2003 Server Backup is as convenient and easy to use as what you’ll get with a good Online PC Backup program like Carbonite.

Online Backup

The choice is yours: $1500 hard drive recovery OR $54.95/year for unlimited backup.
For only $55 per year (that’s a little more than $4 per month),
you will have a secure way of keeping your PC, Notebook or Server data backed up at all times. Carbonite works by installing a very small software program on your computer which quietly works in the background looking for changes in your computer, and backing them up as you continue to use your computer as normal. This is the best Hard Drive Backup Software I have ever tried. There is no need to learn how to use the program, it works for you. Furthermore, Carbonite does not expose you to security risks. Your files are encrypted as they are backed-up, making it completely impossible for your data to get in the wrong hands. Carbonite claims this is the very same encryption that banks use. Why not have those same securities for your home or office computer? Carbonite sleeps while you are using your computer, so there is never any noticeable slowing of your system. Recovering any deleted or lost data is simply a matter of a few clicks of your mouse. It really is that simple. The best part of all is that Carbonite will allow you to try the program for free for 15 days, and no credit card is required. You have nothing to lose for trying, and data to risk if you don’t:

Backup Drive

Your other choice is to take advantage of the many low-cost, external backup drives on the market. If you like to be in control of your own computer and data, this is the way to go. Backup drives range from $75.00 to $300, or more, depending on capacity. The larger the better. If your Hard Drive size is say, 160GB, I’d consider a backup unit that is triple the size. For example, Seagate makes a 750GB that can be had for around $170.00:
This slick little unit, merely plugs into a USB port on your computer. You can treat it like a regular drive, and drag and drop your files to it, or you can use the backup software it comes with. The 750GB capacity will allow you to make daily backups, and rotate them. This is a good way to insure that you can always go back and retrieve data from one, two, or more than a few days back.

If you’re question is, How to Back Up Data, either an external Hard Disk or Carbonite Online, will do a great job. You might also consider using both.
It depends on what you prefer. If you would like to have someone else do it and forget about it, choose a solution like the Carbonite Online Backup. If you’re a more advanced type of computer user, and would like greater control of what you are backing up, go for one of the many available, External Hard Drives.  For over 15 years, I have experimented with different programs, but have never been happy with any of the Hard Drive Backup Software on the market.  Carbonite Online has allowed me to completely forget about any of the worries I used to have wondering if my valuable data was protected and backed-up on a minute-by-minute basis.

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What is the best Recumbent Exercise Bike for under $500? Recumbent Bike Review

It happens once in a great while that I buy a product which exceeds my expectations by so much that it feels like I stole it. This is one of those rare finds that proves what you pay for isn’t necessarily what you get. With the Stamina R360s, you get far more than you expected – and then some.

What is a Recumbent Exercise Bike?

Unlike traditional exercise bikes, recumbent bikes have a comfortable, adjustable reclining, full seat. My wife and I decided it would be useful to have an exercise bike for those days when the weather is too hot or too cold. Also, bikes are a great way to get aerobic exercise without putting stress on the knees, backs, hips, shins and other parts of the body that tend to give us problems as we get into our 30’s, 40’s and beyond. I’ve been a regular member of an exercise gym for the last several years, and have learned to know what I like in exercise equipment. I expected to pay $300 or more to get a low-end recumbent that would provide reasonable quality and features. From past experience, I prefer the comfortable seats of the recumbent bike over the traditional, upright bikes. For $300, I hoped the bike would come with some of the basic features that I use: Heart Rate monitoring, magnetic resistance and gauge for measuring speed, time and distance. I found exactly what I want, with one exception: The Stamina R360s does not cost $300 or more. It doesn’t cost $200 or more. It costs $108.67 at Walmart! You might ask, “Why would you pay $108.67 for a bike when your budget was for $300” The simple answer is that after reading numbers upon numbers of user reviews, all of them have a fair amount of negative feedback – even recumbent bikes costing $500 or more. So, recognizing that no bike under $500 is going to be perfect, why not save some money and buy the one that is the least expensive? The Stamina R360s had a large number of online opinions, and most of them were very favorable. Also, the Stamina R360s includes the most essential features required in a recumbent bike.

Stamina R360S Features

So, what exactly do you get for $108.67? A darn good recumbent exercise bike, built on a solid, thick, metal frame with comfortable, gray-colored seat and back support. There are lower handles at the back, with pulse sensors and touch controls for increasing or decreasing the resistance. In the front of the bike is an LCD screen with large, easy-to-read black numbers which indicate, time, speed, distance, calories burned, and pulse rate. Exercise data will scan and revolve from one to the next, as you continue your work out. Or you can lock-into one particular set of data by pressing the mode button while that feature is displayed. For example, if I want to view my pulse for a fixed amount of time, I press the Mode button while my pulse is displayed, and it becomes permanent until I press the mode button a second time. The pulse is measured by the sensors which are comfortably located on the handle-bars in the rear. If that isn’t convenient enough, these rear handle bars also have thumb-push buttons on the ends of them for controlling the resistance of your workout. The Stamina R360s uses magnetic resistance which is a technology you’d expect to find only on more expensive bikes. The left thumb-button makes the bike easier to peddle and the right thumb-button makes it more difficult. The manual was clear and well done, and assembly was a breeze. I am by no means a mechanical person and it required no more than an hour to have it fully assembled.

Stamina R360S Operation and Performance

While you’re thinking this bike seems very well equipped for the price, you are probably wondering if the actual operation and performance live up to the hype. Yes, they do – at least in the short-run. For starters, the operation of the R360s is extremely quiet – quieter than many of the bikes I’ve used at the gym. Though it is no where near as heavy as a commercial-grade exercise bike, it feels solid and doesn’t move when I am riding it, even at a high speed. At 170lbs, I feel very confident and stable using it, and have no doubt that it would handle at least another 50lbs. The bike will accommodate a large range of different sized children and adults through an adjustable knob on the base. One very minor annoyance is that there is no provision for adjusting the seating distance while you are riding. In fact, making adjustments, even when you’re off of the bike, proved to be a slightly difficult task. This is not much of a problem for me, because my wife and I are both comfortable using the same seating adjustment. I could see how this might be a bit of a drawback for several different-sized family members who want to share the bike. The touch buttons for operating the magnetic resistance are very easy to use and work quite well. I am also completely satisfied with the range of resistance, which makes it very easy to peddle at the very lightest setting and more than difficult enough to really tax your legs at it’s very highest. The pulse reading is extremely accurate. To verify this, I worked out using my Timex, TG971 Heart Rate monitor to compare. The two readings were identical. Also, the LCD screen is very easy to operate and includes very large numbers which are viewable from anywhere the bike seating is adjusted. Also, the LCD display has a small pocket for holding your MP3 player. The cushions on the seat and back support are adequate, but a little bit thin. Not a problem, because you can always buffer it with a pillow or extra cushion of your own. When I say quiet, I mean whisper quiet. You really can watch television while working out, without even adjusting your volume beyond your normal listening level.

Stamina R360S Conclusion

The only possible drawback I can see with this a bike at this price is the fear of the unknown. That is, wondering whether or not it will hold up and last over time and extended use. I was paying $39.95 a month for my health gym membership. The R360s includes a 90 day parts warranty and 1 year for the frame. That should at least cover 3 months of gym membership fees. Personally, I cannot see much going wrong with the frame. My concern would be with the moving parts, the electronics and magnetic resistance. Meanwhile, I hope to be getting many good aerobic workouts with this machine. I will report back in three to six months on how good the $108.67 investment is holding up in value.Stamina bike models have changed since this review.


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Timex Heart Watch Review

Best Heart Rate Monitor Under $50

Pros: Accurate pulse readings. Crisp display. Comfortable chest strap.
Attractive style in the size of a regular watch. Easy to setup and use
Affordable price.  Includes the essentials of a more expensive Exercise Heart Rate Monitor

Cons: Lacks functionality for uploading, downloading and storing exercise data

Introduction to the Timex T5G971

The T5G971 is a Timex Heart Rate Monitor. The T5G971 looks like a regular sports watch, yet in addition to keeping time, serves as a full-featured Exercise Heart Rate Monitor. The T5G971, with the use of the included Chest-Strap, will accurately display a digital reading of your pulse while you workout, jog, run, walk, or simply type on your computer, as I am doing now. Unlike other heart rate monitor watches in the entry level price range, the T5G971 includes a chest strap with built-in sensors, meaning that you do not have to place your finger on a heart-rate sensor to get a reading of your pulse. Judging by the price, the T5G971 is obviously not the best heart rate monitor you can buy. One of the more popular ones is the Polar F4 Heart Rate Monitor which costs about $20 more, but has a few more bells and whistles. As a previous owner of one of the Timex finger-sensor models, I can tell you that the chest-strap is the only way to go. My previous watch was never of much use to me, as I had a difficult time getting it to recognize my pulse through the finger sensor. What’s worse, the movement during an actual workout made it impossible to use during an exercise session without stopping first to steady my finger on the sensor. Unless it has a chest strap, I have concluded it cannot be a worthwhile exercise heart rate monitor. While I was skeptical of trying another Timex Heart Rate Monitor watch, I received this from my daughter as a Father’s Day gift, and the chest-strap has made all the difference in the world. It really works, and works quite well!

Features

The T5G971 Timex Heart Watch feels sturdy and well-built. The wrist strap comes with several adjustment notches for fitting any-size wrist. The Chest Strap is a flexible rubber band with sensors underneath which fits comfortable underneath your sternum and fits into an adjustable-sized snap in front. There are five buttons for operating the watch: On the left hand side is a setup button for programming the watch, and a Recall button for displaying workout information. Along the right hand side, is an Indigo Light and Heart Rate Recovery button. The fifth button, on the bottom of the top bezel is for turning the pulse display On/Off, as well as toggling an audible timer.

Operation

In addition to keeping your current pulse and time, the Timex T5G971 keeps track of and records your average heart rate, maximum heart rate, calories burned, and Target Heart Rate zones. Supplemental exercise instructions are included for helping you determine your heart rate zones. Your maximum and minimum heart rate zones are easily programmed into the watch, along with your weight for determining the number of calories you burned during a workout. By far, my favorite feature is the 1-Minute Heart Rate Recovery function, which through the press of a single button, will measure how many beats your heart rate slows down when you’ve stopped exercising. This is a great way to determine the level of your cardio fitness, without having to look at a watch or clock to determine when a minute has passed by since you stopped exercising. The built-in timer does it for you and records the number of beats per minute that your heart recovers after you’ve ceased exercising. Target heart rate zones are programmed by holding onto the Set Button, while the watch is tracking your pulse, and then choosing your minimum and maximum heart-rate zones, as well as your maximum pulse. You will also be able to enter your weight for tracking calories. The watch will begin recording information about your work-out, upon the moment it first begins to track your pulse. When you have finished your work out, you can press the recall button and continue tapping on it to scroll through your fitness data; Workout-Time, AVG Heart-Beat, Recovery Rate, Time in Rate Zone, Peak Heart Rate, and calories burned. It’s really that simple.

Conclusion

While more expensive watches such as the Polar F11 (selling for about $90 more) have the ability to record and upload data to and from a PC, the Timex T5G971 does a great job at doing what it’s intended to do – that is, keeping accurate track of your pulse and providing you with the most vital cardio workout data. I found the watch fairly tricky to setup for the first time, but this is pretty much true of all watches which use a limited number of buttons for programming them. Also, I’ve had some trouble from time to time, getting a pulse reading when the Chest Strap is first installed. Once the pulse is detected, it never fails to continue working even under very vigorous exercise and movement. I’ve tested the watches accuracy by timing my pulse with a 2nd-hand and comparing. The results are identical, so I am confident that the Timex is always giving me data which is 100% accurate. For it’s low-price, accuracy and essential features, I highly recommend this watch to anyone who doesn’t need or care about interaction with their computer.

Other Heart Rate Watch Monitors

Check back soon for more reviews as new products become available.

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