Looking for an inexpensive, easy to use heart rate monitor? You can’t go wrong with the DankoSpark Heart Rate Monitor. We take the little device for a test drive to see how that claim holds up!
We live in an era of information overload. You can find info, data and statistics on just about anything these days and it is no more evident than within the health and fitness industry. Long gone are the days of just lacing up your running shoes and heading out the door. Even the most casual exercise routine becomes a full blown expedition these days – with specialised shoes (soles, self tying laces, built in GPS chips), running gear (such as rocket socks, sweat wicking materials) and of course the multitudes of tech like smartwatches and training apps.
It can become very confusing and worse – expensive! That’s where today’s little device fits in nicely. I have been an on and off road runner for the past 6 years or so and working within an analytical field, I love me some stats! My app of choice has been Strava for the last couple of years and it fulfils my every stat need except for getting my heart rate information. The DankoSpark Heart Rate monitor (HRM) has completed my workout routine. The HRM is a breeze to use – you strap it on, connect through your running app via Bluetooth and off you go!
Build and Design
The monitor itself has a small, sleek pebble like design that doesn’t get in the way when you wear it underneath your exercise clothes. The device has an IPX4 water and dust resistant rating – so whilst you won’t be able to go swimming with it, it does do a great job of handling sweat and the occasional water splash (for those trail runners!). The monitor unit connects to a fully adjustable elastic belt (which supports all body types) via two pins and secures the unit nicely. The elastic belt sat comfortably around my chest and after a few minutes of exercise I hardly noticed it any more.
The HRM is powered by a CR2032 battery and according to the manufacturers’ website it should work for between 6 and 12 months. What is interesting is that the HRM has no buttons at all, its always enabled and you just connect and go. The device is designed to use minimal amounts of energy enabling the user to stretch the battery usage.
The device makes use of Bluetooth 4.0 technology to connect to most well known exercise apps on you smartphone. Make sure you give the instruction leaflet a read before you set up the HRM. The instructions advise you to thoroughly wet the chest strap (which contains the sensors) in order to get accurate readings. You must also remember to attach the monitor unit with the “Sparked” logo facing up (on the back there are handy “left” and “right” indicators).
To connect the Sparked HRM to your smartphone you have to do it through the exercise application you are using (not the traditional “settings” method). On Strava (you can use Endomondo, Sports Tracker, Adidas MiCoach etc.) for example you would hit the “Record” button to start a session, go to devices (the little triangle just above the start button) and pair your HRM from there. Once I figured out how to do it. it was pretty easy and my iPhone had no hassles picking up the device. From a performance perspective the HRM is pretty accurate. The device operates within a 30-240 bpm range at 2.4GKz frequency (at temperatures between -10 and 40 degrees Celsius). I compared my heart rate readings captured on Strava via the HRM with the information recorded on my Apple Watch and the two lined up usually within 2-5 bpm on average (I actually trust the HRM more that my Apple Watch :))
The DankoSpark Heart Rate monitor is a much cheaper alternative to any wrist based monitor out there. You can buy the device on TakeAlot for R650 ZAR and it will more than satisfy your needs to do heart rate based training. I am a Discovery Vitality user and my Apple Watch enables me to rack up 300 points when exercising for more than 30 minutes at 80% of my age heart rate. Discovery updated their terms and conditions – forcing users to use more verifiable devices like the Apple Watch, Polar or Garmin. So you can’t get the 300 points through apps like Strava or Nike Running any more. Keep that in mind should you want to buy the DankoSpark HRM to gain Vitality points (if anyone knows of a work-around, please comment below!)
Never the less the DankoSpark HRM is a no nonsense get-the-job done device, delivering accurate heart rate data packaged within an easy to use design. If you are a serious fitness fanatic, you won’t get any better value for money. Visit the DankoSpark website at www.dankospark.co.za or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rating: 7/10 (will bump it up to an 8 if there is a Discovery Vitality work-around!)