You may be wondering why exactly I’d be reviewing a single heart rate (HR) strap – after all, they are fairly common, and all largely do the same thing: Read your heart rate. But, while the just announced Wahoo Fitness Blue HR may look virtually indistinguishable from every other HR strap out there – it’s an entirely different beast under the hood. And that difference is key in understanding what may be the tip of the iceberg for a shift in health and fitness technology for years to come.
See, Blue HR is the very first consumer Bluetooth Low Energy sensor device. Bluetooth Low Energy has been called a number of things over the years, from BLE/BTLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) to now more recently, Bluetooth Smart. I previously noted the ever confusing naming scheme that the Bluetooth SIG has come up with, so we’ll just focus on the low energy aspect for now.
You’ve probably used Bluetooth devices in the past, such as wireless headphones. However, BLE devices are very different from standard Bluetooth accessories in one key area: battery consumption. Unlike your wireless headset that requires near-daily charging, BLE devices are meant to be low-energy, and typically run instead on simple replaceable coin cell batteries that can last a year or more. In that respect, it’s from a consumer standpoint virtually identically to ANT+ compatible sensors (such as what is used in your Garmin accessories), which offer roughly the same battery life.
So why is there excitement over BLE instead of ANT+, if they do the same thing? One, and only one reason: Cell phones.
As dedicated health and fitness devices have rapidly been swallowed by cell phones for many users, the future is sensor devices that work seamlessly with your cell phone and compatible apps. While ANT+ today has a number of Sony Ericcson and HTC phones that have ANT+ chips in them to support ANT+ accessories, the number of devices that support Bluetooth 4.0 (which is what is required for BTLE/BLE/Bluetooth Smart) will rapidly rise, quickly eclipsing ANT+ enabled cell phones. Today, the two major phones on the market that support Bluetooth 4.0 is the iPhone 4s, and the Motorola Razr.
Now let’s not get ahead of ourselves, and instead – get to the unpacking…
Though before we start, note that Wahoo Fitness provided me a Blue HR unit ahead of public release to be able to test it out. At the end of which, I can either return it to them…or give it away to you. I think you’ll see a giant ‘house cleaning’ giveaway coming up soon…
You know what’s great about HR straps? There’s not a lot to unbox.
After removing the outer wrapper, the HR strap is within a plastic compartment:
Inside you’ll simply find the fabric strap, the transmitter pod, and the instruction booklet:
The transmitter pod attaches to the strap via the two snaps:
And the instruction booklet is useful in that it’ll allow you to scan the QR Code and then have your iPhone automatically download the Wahoo Fitness app. This app in turn has built-in support for the Blue HR strap.
If you’ve already got the Wahoo Fitness app on your iPhone 4S, then you’ll want to ensure you’ve updated your apps recently so that you have the most current version with the Blue HR support. If you’re using one of the compatible apps other than Wahoo’s own app (such as RunKeeper), then see the later bits.
Connectivity and Stability (Read: no bad data points!):
There’s a few things you’ll notice that are different about Bluetooth Smart devices compared to your standard Bluetooth devices. Starting off is that on the iPhone it won’t show up in the Bluetooth control panel. Nope, Apple decided to take a different (more logical) stance that instead of pairing the BT device in both the control panel, and again within the app – you’d just do it in one place (the app). That way you reduce the number of places you have to pair it, making it simpler for us. Thus explaining why if you go into the Bluetooth control panel, you’ll notice nothing is there for the Wahoo Blue HR:
Instead, you’ll open up the app that you’re using, in my case the standard Wahoo Fitness app, and go into the sensor menu to pair the sensor:
Once it’s found, it’ll display the ID of the sensor (just like it does with ANT+ sensors), as well as the current value that the sensor is transmitting. You can also name the sensor something useful – such as “Ray’s HR Strap”. Though, since I only have one of them…I didn’t really need to.
Once that’s complete, you’re basically ready to rumble. Note that with the Wahoo Fitness app – as well as all other apps that support the exiting Wahoo Fitness ANT+ dongle/key, you can combine Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ accessories together (via the Wahoo Fitness dongle/key). So you can mix and match as your requirements change.
I’ve been using the Blue HR strap on virtually all my runs for the last 3 weeks now. This means that I’ve been running with both an iPhone 4S as well as the running device du jour. And also running with two HR straps, an ANT+ strap, and the Blue HR strap.
Over the past three weeks the climates I’ve been in has ranged from 20*F and bone-dry, to 90*F and tropically humid. The most fascinating part has been the lack of dropouts or HR spikes in the Blue HR, compared to my typical Garmin ANT+ strap. Especially at the cooler/dryer temperatures.
Now, the latest Garmin HR strap does alleviate about 85-90% of these issues, but sometimes the first minute or two are troubling. Whereas I’ve yet to see a bad/incorrect HR value on the BlueHR strap – not even for a second.
This is for a few reasons. See, most of the companies (read: basically everyone) that re-brand the ANT+ straps do so using the firmware that came on them from the Asian company that mass produces them. The only thing changed is the logo on the front. Most of the time the firmware works just fine, but sometimes, in certain conditions – it has ‘issues’.
Fast forward to the Blue HR strap and the starting point firmware from China (where the straps were made) was a non-starter. So the Wahoo Fitness team actually re-wrote the entire HR strap firmware from scratch, using a bunch of Georgia Tech athletes as guinea pigs in trying to create the perfect athletes strap. The resultant of which is a strap that just simply works without issue. And based on my testing – all that development work has paid off.
Below is a handful of HR graphs from a few different runs. The key thing you’re looking for (but don’t see) is abnormal spikes or dropouts, where the HR plunges to unrealistic lows or highs for a few seconds, before resuming normalcy:
You may be wondering about now how I made these look like Garmin Connect. See, the Wahoo Fitness app allows you to upload to a slew of online providers, or you can even just send the raw .CSV files to yourself.
Here’s some other ones with TrainingPeaks instead (note that the missing segments are merely stoplights where the unit it stopped):
Both of these workouts were in the cold of WashDC, where my Garmin unit showed a number of incorrect winter HR data points (I know, I could just follow my own advice on HR gel, but I didn’t…).
Below, is the exact same run – showing the Garmin data with the ANT+ strap. Note the highlighted yellow portion at the beginning (when I was running easy) – showing the 190’s HR values, then the sudden and instant correction back to normalcy:
Very cool stuff.
Speaking of ‘just working’, I’ve been happily impressed with how well the Wahoo Fitness app handles distance using GPS – where most of my runs it was going mile for mile talking the mile split at nearly the exact same second that my Garmin unit would auto-lap. Very impressive. Here was one run showing the two ended up identically.
Waterproofing and Readings Underwater
The Blue HR strap is fully waterproofed, and can be submerged in water up to 5ft without issue. This is primarily ideal for triathletes that want to wear their strap under their wetsuit/tri top during the swim leg of the race, and then have it pickup automatically once on the bike or run.
(Display on iPhone slightly brightened in Lightroom to make it easier to see the “N/A” for ability to connect to display. Just too darn bright out here!)
However, the Blue HR will not successfully transmit through water. To test this, I put on the strap, validated it was communicating successfully, and then jumped into the water. Once in the water, the strap stopped communicating new heart rate readings (continued to display last known reading). Attempts to re-initialize the strap while in the water failed. But, instantly after coming out of the water, the strap picked right back up with correct numbers.
Note that I was just floating in the water, with the phone at times sitting right above the water on the dock, sometimes I was further away.
3rd Party App Support:
The cool part about Wahoo Fitness coming out with the Blue HR strap, as opposed to some other fitness company, is that over 100 apps already support the Wahoo Fitness iPhone ANT+ dongle/key. But why does the ANT+ key matter here? Well, for those companies (i.e. RunKeeper/MapMyRun) that support the Wahoo ANT+ key, there’s only a minor change to support the latest API version (2.0/2.1) – which in turn supports Blue HR. In other words, there isn’t a massive code change to support Blue HR – which is good for all of us, and good for those companies trying to balance precious development resources. Here’s a screenshot of both Runmeter and Runkeeper paired to the Blue HR:
As of today, January 4th 2012, the following apps have built-in support for Blue HR:
I tried out a few of them, including RunMeter on a run tonight – and found no issues either (no judging pace, it was a small set of hill repeats with rest included…at midnight.):
Expect to see a slew of new apps support Blue HR over the coming weeks and months, as the door literally only opened up today to them.
3rd Party Device Support:
At present the only non-cellular device that support Bluetooth Smart (BLE/BTLE) devices is the Motorola Motoactv. And in theory, it would support the Wahoo Fitness Blue HR, but in reality – it doesn’t quite work yet.
There are some interesting discoveries here though. Let’s start with the pairing process. On the Motoactv, you’ll go into the sensor pairing menu, the same settings place you’d normally pair ANT+ sensors. From there you’ll choose to add a new BLE sensor:
Within about 1 second, it’ll find your Wahoo Blue HR – so quick that getting a picture is nearly impossible. After which, it’ll show the newly found sensor, as well as the sensor ID:
You can highlight that sensor to validate that you’re in BLE mode. This is important, because the Motoactv is only able to connect to either ANT+ sensors or Bluetooth Low Energy sensors at the same time. Meaning, you can’t use the Blue HR at the same time as an ANT+ power meter. But you can however use standard Bluetooth devices at the same time (such as headphones).
Finally, come time to start a workout – the strap will automatically pair to the device (assuming you’ve switched to BLE sensors instead of ANT+ sensors). Once paired it’ll show that as confirmed.
After pressing start, you’d expect the device to display HR…but alas, it doesn’t. It just reads nothing, null.
And that’s where some of the nuances of a brand new protocol break down. Despite there being an established device profile for Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Straps, the two devices aren’t quite working together…yet.
I know that both Motorola and Wahoo Fitness are eager to make this happen – so I don’t expect this to be a long term item, but it will likely be the reality of device integration moving forward with other companies.
The Road Ahead:
There’s little question in the sports technology world that medium to long term, Bluetooth Smart devices will become incredibly popular. But what remains a bigger question is the next 18 months. At present there are only two ‘device profiles’ that the industry has agreed upon – for the HR strap and for the proximity sensor (allows app actions to occur based on proximity of a device, such as your car keys). Outside of that, it’s a bit of the Wild Wild West. And while that’s good for innovation of new devices, it’s ultimately bad for consumer interoperability. Standards are why things work well, everyone doing their own thing works great if there’s only one company in the market.
The strength of ANT+ is that you can virtually guarantee that if you have an ANT+ Speed/Cadence sensor – it’s going to work with all of the different companies that support that specific device type. Today, aside from the HR strap and proximity sensor, no such platform exists in sport for Bluetooth Smart. And even in the case of the HR strap – there appears to be issues in implementation across vendors.
Now, lest we forgot – ANT+ wasn’t always as rosy either. It wasn’t too long ago that certain power meter companies failed to correctly implement the ANT+ protocol in their devices, resulting in compatibility issues. And just like ANT+, just because a device supports Bluetooth Smart, doesn’t mean it’ll support your type of accessories (i.e. Speed/Cadence sensor).
In the case of Bluetooth Smart, I suspect we’ll see consistency in large market standards – such as things related to audio and automotive. But I suspect we have a long and painful road ahead of us with respect to being able to just buy a Bluetooth Smart device and simply know it’ll work with any other device we want. Ultimately, some of the control will need to be reigned in by the Bluetooth SIG in order for it to be successful in the consumers eyes.
If you have a iPhone 4S or Motorola Razr, and want heart rate data from a heart rate strap that you don’t have to recharge every few runs – the Blue HR is where it’s at. There’s simply nothing else on the market and available today, mostly because there’s virtually no other Bluetooth Low Energy devices out there (the Polar semi-unannounced H7 Bluetooth Smart strap isn’t yet available). I do expect we’ll see that change – both with respect to new players, and existing ones. – and we’ll probably see that change start being announced next week at CES in Las Vegas. Note that the MacBook Air and Mac Mini do support Bluetooth 4.0, but I’m not aware of any apps that would in turn support Blue HR.
The work that the Wahoo Fitness folks have done around stabilization of heart rate data is incredible – and to be honest, that in and of itself is enough of a reason to buy this strap if you have a phone that supports it. It certainly beats HR strap dropouts and spikes. It’s also notable because I suspect you’ll see a flood of re-branded straps Bluetooth Smart straps from China into the market, but without the specialized firmware that Wahoo has done – ones that quite frankly will have pretty rough data points from what I’m being told. So it’s a bit of buyer beware until things settle out.
Finally, a few pros and cons:
– Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (Bluetooth Smart)
– Battery will last about a year, simple coin cell changeable battery ($2 at drug store)
– Incredible work on HR data cleanup, to ensure data is both accurate and stable
– No dongle/key required like ANT+ for iPhone
– Works with a number of major apps already
– Doesn’t yet work with Motoactv, or many/any other devices besides cell phone
– Standards are still in flux, which may result in a inconsistent user experience
Also, one last item – it should be pointed out that Wahoo Fitness is definitely not abandoning ANT+ accessories, and in fact, there’s still development work going on there for new stuff (and it’s sweet!). This is merely another market for them, in the same way that other fitness companies branch out into other markets. And in the case of Bluetooth Smart, they’ve told me to expect to see other popular Bluetooth Smart accessories coming soon.
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I like this news. My 310xt’s HR strap has a lot of problem. If I didn’t wrong to read I can use it. Is it correct?
Great review!!! 🙂
No, unfortunately not. It will ONLY work with Bluetooth 4.0 devices, none of which are Garmin devices (highly unlikely in the near future). The next set of devices I expect to see are Polar devices.
Is it possible to see if the the strap can send a signal underwater like the Polar HR straps? Seems like if it can that’s a bit of game changer for swimming.
Ray, do you know if wahoo will apply the firmware improvements in their ant+ hr straps?
Is not being able to use the strap with the Motoactv (which I got for Christmas) a matter of programming on the Motoactv end? Additionally, is not being able to pair both ANT+ and BLE at the same time something that can be solved with programming (i.e., an update)?
Aaron – I’ll try it out in teh morning. At the moment, a shark is circling our little overwater hut (vacation) in the dark, and thus, I’m not going into the water. True, it’s only a little blacktip reef shark…but, I’ve gotta draw the line somewhere! When it’s light out, I’ll try again.
Pratoni- Unlikely. That firmware is from Dynastream (ANT+) and is pretty much the same across the board. Though, I’ll ask/let the Wahoo folks chime in for certain.
Diana- On the Motoactv piece, my undestanding is that it’s primarily a case of Motorola simply not having the strap to test with, I suspect that’ll be resolvd shortly – and thus I suspect we’ll see it fixed in the next firmware update (which, Motorola has been great about doing some impressive updates).
On the inability to have both ANT+ and BLE working at the same time, I believe that’s actually a chip limitation, and not a firmware limiation. I’ll double-check with the Motorola folks, but my understanding was that isn’t something that can be solved via firmware.
My understanding is BLE and ANT+ have very similar needs from the hardware which is how TI’s wilink chipset does both. That has the side effect that it can only run one protocol or the other, not both at the same time.
It also apears like broadcom is the maker of a large majority of cell phone radio chipsets and they are a major bluetooth backer so don’t want to support ANT so getting ANT support into phones will be hard
I noticed your first picture is near the water. I’m going to guess the answer is no due to power consumption issues but ask anyway. Does this strap transmit underwater? I’m guessing no since it’s the same frequency as ANT+ but, I’ve read bluetooth LE can transmit up to 50 meters. This would be nice since waterproofing the receiving device wouldn’t be necessary if you’re just at a pool and could leave it on a bench or in your bag.
Any idea if Wahoo (or other manufactures) will be creating a Bluetooth Smart dongle for older iOS devices? I’m in the market for a HR strap now and would rather get something that will be supported in future iPhone models than the ANT+ with dongle (currently have iPhone 4).
Is the Wahoo HRM that operates on ANT+ (the soft strap one, most likely) better than the official Garmin one?
I have a 610 and an iPhone 4S, but I’ve just graduated from using RunKeeper on my iPhone to using the 610 with the foot pod. I haven’t used the Garmin HRM yet but I’m going to soon.
The Wahoo HRM is $59.99 and if it doesn’t produce those spikes it seems like a good deal.
Will this work with iphone 4? or only 4S?
I previously owned Garmin Soft strap and got unreliable readings – spikes (up to 220 BPM) – with it.
Then I bought an WahooFitness strap in August 2011 and just started (yesterday) getting unreliable readings – dropouts – yesterday.
i love the idea of more accurate data, but i have zero interest in running/biking/etc with my phone. is BTLE ever going to be available on/in a watch platform? the weight, accessibility, location, et. al of a phone vs. a watch really just makes this option a non-starter as currently defined.
I have a quick question. Have you ever done a comparison between the accuracy of an iPhone and any of the garmin fitness products. I was just curious as to whether the garmin products are much more accurate from a GPS/Distance perspective.
I ordered one of the Wahoo Keys and one of the heart rate staps you reviewed, for my iPhone 4s, even though I have a both the Garmin 610 and the Garmin 800.
No problem, just added a whole section on water. Super easy, didn’t require me to go far! In short, no, it won’t transmit while underwater.
I haven’t heard of Wahoo will, but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see something at CES next week, either.
RE: Wahoo ANT+ Strap
I believe they OEM from the same company in Asia (name is escaping me at the moment), so effectively the same strap.
RE: iPhone 4 or 4S?
It will ONLY work with the iPhone 4S, as it has the new Bluetooth 4.0 support.
Hi Senior Homer-
Yes, it’s available in the Motoactv today (see post). 😉 But, I suspect we’ll see it in a slew of new watches going forward.
RE: Comparison with cell/standalone devices for distance.
Yup, within the distance tests, I included cell phones during this past years test in June, but iPhone and Android:
link to dcrainmaker.com
I have ordered one these but was wondering if you had any idea if one can use bluetooth headphones like these link to jaybirdstore.com simultaneously with the Wahoo Blue HR? Alternatively, if you know of any other wireless headphones that work simultaneously I will be set!
You’re awesome for posting and keeping up with answering questions, but you’re on vacation! Take a break! 🙂
Thanks for risking life and limb in shark infested waters to get that underwater part. That hut looks amazing as well
thanks for reviewing this one! please stay on the very cutting edge of these products
– Standards are still in flux, which may result in a inconsistent user experience
im hoping theres not a huge war here and they open up the formats and platforms
maybe someone from the moto dev team will take note and open up the system
the existing vendors that release firmware updates for their products are slightly more likely to cater for this cross device gap that is more than likely to make choosing the setup a nightmare
but im really glad you are here to test this stuff without the hassles
Molly here from Wahoo Fitness! Thanks for your interest and great questions!
Rahul: Your Jaybird BT headphone should have no problem working simultaneously with our Wahoo Blue HR. Bluetooth Smart technology is so low-energy that you should never have an issue there.
Re: Transmitting through water- Ray thanks for testing! Sorry I didn’t see this in time to save you the trouble. Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ wireless protocols both run on 2.4 GHz wireless radio waves and water is the perfect insulator at this frequency= meaning the radio waves can’t cut through water. If you’re looking to swim with a HR monitor, you’ll need to find one that operates on a wireless technology with a different frequency.
Let me know if you have any other question and thanks again for your interest! We’re pumped to finally have this released so you all can check it out.
I just received this strap in the mail today and it works great. I use the RunKeeper application on the iPhone 4S and the Wahoo Blue HR strap connected paired easily and worked flawlessly.
i managed to order my Wahoo BlueHR from http://www.hrmdiscount.com !! cant wait for it to arrive, then even offered free worldwide shipping.
has anyone tried it out wit the new android phones such as the Samsung Galaxy? not sure if wahoo fitness has an android app
Hopefully it will come smart watches with Bluetooth smart, that can receive information from example runkeeper. Then we got ourself a much nicer setup then polar can give us. Anyone know if someone got a watch like this in the works?
I contacted Wahoo Fitness about replacement straps for the Blue HR. They informed me that they do not offer replacement straps, so if it elastic band wears out you must purchase an entire Blue HR unit. Buyer beware.
@Anon (#25) – I suspect the Timex Soft Strap will work with the BlueHR. The main difference is the transmitter; Ant+ for the Timex and Bluetooth for the Wahoo BlueHR. The Garmin Soft Strap is of a different design…
Great post and best of health & happiness to you and the Mrs.
I noticed that you had to wear two straps/HRMs….
I usually do the same (Bluetooth for my Phone and ANT+ for my watch). There must be a market out there for two transmitters working off just one strap.
We saw one company get close – Suunto – with dual-band straps. They did a legacy Analog and ANT strap. The problem was that it wasn’t ANT+, thus, was basically useless unless you had Suunto stuff (since everyone else uses ANT+, whereas Suunto uses ANT).
Nonetheless, I suspect we’ll see some players here soon offering dual-straps.
@Rainmaker whats the difference between ANT+ and ANT? Is ANT+ backward compatible with ANT?
ANT is what companies use when they want to run a ‘closed network’ of devices across the protocal. So basically they use the wireless side of it, but devices can’t interoperate with other ANT devices.
ANT+ is open, and devices can freely talk amongst other devices from other companies.
In the case of Suunto, they went with a proprietary version of ANT, that only works with their own stuff (devices) – and is incompatible with other devices.
In general, you want to avoid any companies that have done special sauce ANT stuff, which, at the moment is just Suunto (well, Adidas has done some as well in certain products like the soccer cleats – but that’s a different ball of wax).
Hope this helps!
Thanks, Ray – I am waiting in line for the dual strap!
How come you won’t tell us the most important information
Do we have to keep looking at it every few seconds when we are running. Or can we set the high limit and the low limit and we will get us sound we had a high limit and a salad when we get the low limit can you please answer that question
That’s actually not a function of the HR strap, which is why I didn’t specifically note it. Rather, that’s a function of the application and/or device using it.
That said, in the case of the Wahoo Fitness iPhone app, it does support the concept of audible alerts for HR zone entry/leaving and zone change.
Thanks for the review. Very helpful and thorough. I was curious about this device. So, my one question has to do with whether you came across any concern of radiation. I don’t know much about Bluetooth technology, let alone low energy Bluetooth. Just curious if this was anything you looked into?
I purchased one of these and definitely love it. Most of my workouts are gym based, e.g. multiple disciplines included (various cardios combined with weights), anyone have suggestions on the iOS best apps to use with this?
Got my Blue HR a week or two ago and love it.
This is my first HRM so I have no basis for comparison, but was just wondering how battery usage of the iPhone itself is when using the Blue HR compared to using an ANT+ HRM with a Wahoo ANT+ key on the iPhone?
I am relatively new to fitness monitors and am looking for some help. Based on your reviews I am very interested in the Blue HR with my iPhone 4s, but also interested in a Garmin 410 or 610. I will be using indoors and out, running, cycling, hiking, and (get this) endurance motorcycle and snowmobile racing.
I would like to be able to import into Training peaks (because I have used it for the last year manually) or a similar online tracking software. I want to be able to track speed (mph), elevation change, heart rate, setup workouts and train against a virtual partner.
I know the 410/610 will do all of these things, and work with a footpod for indoors, but in considering cost and the fact that I always train with my iPhone for music, I really like the idea of the Blue HR.
I would really appreciate you opinion on the best solution. What can one solution do that the other doesn’t? What am I giving up with the Blue HR? what are the limitations of the Wahoo, or other compatible software, that you know of?
Thanks in advance!
Have you tried the Wahoo ANT+ heart rate strap? Just wondering if it would be as accurate?
Following up on John’s comment above…
Does Wahoo also write their own firmware for the ANT+ only strap as well?
I haven’t ordered any HRM strap yet and it’d be great if I didn’t have to use gel.
Hi John and Seemash-
The Wahoo ANT+ strap is just OEM’d from the same company as everyone else. There is not any additional firmware logic in it today like there is in the Blue HR strap.
Hi John and Seemash-
The Wahoo ANT+ strap is just OEM’d from the same company as everyone else. There is not any additional firmware logic in it today like there is in the Blue HR strap.
Hey Anonymous (25)-
Wahoo Molly here. Sorry for the confusion- we’ll happily replace your strap if you have an issue with it. Or sell you a fresh one if you want an extra. We don’t often get requests for extra straps (because they don’t wear out!) so we don’t carry a lot of extra stock on them. But no need to worry. If you want an extra strap just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll take care of you.
Wahoo Molly again!
@Steve- Not to toot our own horn, but the Wahoo Fitness App is great for tracking “non-traditional” workouts (cardio, strength, crossfit, etc). Just set it to “run” mode and you can tracking heart rate and calories burned. At the end of your workout you can upload to TrainingPeaks, Nike+, or whatever website you use to track your workouts. Plus, it’s free so no harm in trying, right? 🙂
@Jeff- We’ve found in testing that iPhone battery consumption by the ANT+ Key/HR combo and Blue HR is about the same.
Hope that helps! Thanks!
Great review! Thanks. I lost my digifit ant+ plus my garmin heart rate monitor. So I was looking to see if there had been any advances before buying a new one. I have an Iphone 4S and so the Wahoo Blue HR is perfect for me. Have you ever tried the digifit vs. the wahoo?
And appreciate the heads up on the search criteria on Amazon!
Do you know of any iOS apps that are compatible with the Wahoo Blue HR strap that take advantage of the Firstbeat algorithm?
I’m fed up with spikes and HR connection being out all of time and will buy the Wahoo BLUE HR strap.. but wonder how I will get the speed and candens to work with that at the same time?
Hi Dc Rainmaker:
Do you know of any retailers that sell this (brick and mortar)? I looked on Amazon and the only thing i could find was 1. ANT+ and 2. out of stock!
link to amazon.com is this the correct thing?
No, that one’s different. The Apple store is another option – here is a link:
link to store.apple.com?
I do not know offhand if it’s also available in physical Apple Stores. But, they do have free shipping!
Do you plan to review the Polar H7 Bluetooth Smart heart rate sensor connected to iPhone 4S ?
I’m finding information everywhere on the Dayton Bluetooth low energy heart-rate belt, BUT NOWHERE CAN I BUY ONE!!! Please can anyone tell me where I could purchase a HRM belt with the Bluetooth v4.0 which will work with my STRAVA.COM app on my Droid Razr?
I do plan to review the Polar BT strap once it’s available.
I’d be leary of the Dayton strap, since it’s basically the OEM behind the scenes without the Wahoo firmware update that makes their strap so appealing. The Wahoo strap is available directly from Wahoo or at the Apple store.
Wahoo Fitness refuses to give out a phone number — you can not call them. They respond to email when they feel like it, and then don’t answer your questions. The phone number they have they don’t answer, yet they ask you for your phone when you order and correspond. Quite simply — if you have a problem, you are out of luck.
I must say i have witten to Wahoo about runkeeper problem and they answerd same day to All my mails.
I have been in contact with Wahoo 2 times and every time they have ansvered the same day, so for me they have been fast and given good support.
Thinking about getting the Motoactv but want to use my Bluetooth Wahoo HR strap. Have any firmware updates made this possible to your knowledge?
I believe it has, I think it as the Feb Motoactv update that did it. I just haven’t had a chance to double-check it personally.
The Wahoo Fitness Blue Hr worked all of three times for me. Now it will not pair to my iPhone 4s. So, I’ll call Wahoo…NOT They have no published phone number I can find anywhere. Big fail on customer service.
Gary, try checking/replacing the battery. Mine conked out today and changing the battery solved the problem.
Wahoo claims battery life of a year, so I’m a little disappointed that I had to replace the battery after 3.5 months. But maybe the battery it shipped with wasn’t new.
Anyone else with Blue HR battery life experience?
It looks like my issue was actually caused by my iPhone 4S’s Bluetooth locking up. Powering the iPhone off and back on again got it pairing and connecting again, even with the original battery.
Does the Wahoo Blue HR support recording of RR intervals through the wahoo fitness app?
The Wahoo strap doesn’t support the RR interval part of the standard going by all the searching I’ve done:(
rr intervals are optional with ble straps: link to developer.bluetooth.org
Whats the max range on the bluetooth 4.0? Iam getting easily over 20 feet with my ant+ thanks
So, now that the Polar H7 is out… It makes it kind of a tough call on decided which HRM to choose. Would you recommend one over the other?
I do indeed have the Polar strap, though, I haven’t had a chance yet to run it through it’s paces. Will do once I return from Paris Monday night.
In general, the biggest/key item will be compatibility. If Polar is indeed using the exact same ‘device profile’ as Wahoo, then we’re good. But if they go and create they’re own, then it’s back to square one.
Hi DC RainMaker,
I am huge fan of your reviews and really enjoy reading your blogs. I was eagerly looking forward to read your product review blog about Polar H7 strap as I am torn between Wahoo Blue HR and Polar H7 straps. Can you please let me know which one do you think is better to use with iPhone 4S and when are you planning to post your review for Polar H7.
Trying again to get your attention on Polar H7 review :(.
I too am eagerly awaiting your comparison of this device vs. the Polar H7. Looking forward to seeing your review – and would happily use a link from your website to buy whichever one comes up on top!
I too awaiting your comparison of this device vs. the Polar H7!! :o)
Anyone know if this will work with an Android Moto Razor Maxx phone? I see no mention of support for Android phones on the website.
Do you know if the blue hr works with the Samsung S3 in combination with the runtastic app.?
I just had an issue with my Blue HR I bought a few months ago. I thought it worked when I got it for development but when I got around to trying to build the API code it didn’t pick it up. Neither did the Wahoo Utility app or Wahoo fitness. On the off chance put a new battery in and it worked. I figured either the batteries it ships with are old, the device itself doesn’t go to sleep effectively or, it doesn’t support the claimed battery life. It’s August 8th – I’ll post again if it dies before the year is out!
Great post there. Hope you can retest all the bt-devices when the Garmin Fenix? Would be interesting to see if garmin will be working on third party devices.
Yeah, at present I’m not getting the feeling that Garmin plans to support BTLE sensors out of the gate – the plan seemes to be aimed more towards cell phone connectivity.
I suspect in due time that’ll change, but just looking at things right now – not seeing any references towards BTLE Sensors.
Thanks for the info Rain 🙂
Shame really, I got a feeling that those BTLE sensors a bit smarter and new-fashion that the good old ANT+ ones.
Yeah, today it’s a bit of a wash as far as data goes. They can both deliver about the same amount of data. There are pro’s and con’s to each. For example, an ANT+ sensor can connect to multiple head units, but a BTLE sensor can’t. Meanwhile, a BTLE sensor can connect to most new cell phones, whereas ANT+ can’t.
But I agree, I certainly wish Fenix would support BTLE HR straps as a starting point.
According to Bluetooth’s official website, Garmin Fenix is supposed to support BTLE. link to bluetooth.com
That doesn’t mean it will pair with BTLE HR straps?
Unforutnately, the inclusion of BTLE doesn’t mean it’ll support all BTLE sensor types. Today, they’re only using that for transfering of data. You’ll see how they word that on the Bluetooth site as well.
Eventually I suspect they’ll support other BTLE sensors. But today, it’s limited to just phone data exchanges.
I’m looking for a product that I can monitor an athlete’s speed and HR remotely in real time(say from 200 meters). The HR strap and speedometer (GPS?)needs to be waterproof but don’t have to transmit submerged, just have to handle occasional submerssion. Was hoping the WahooBlue would take care of at least part of that equation.
Know of any product(s) that accomplish this?
This is more of an iPhone question. I’m interested in buying the Wahoo, but do you know if it works with BT headphones, e.g. Jabra Sport Bluetooth(3.0) Stereo Headset? So it has 2 Bluetooth devices connected.
Thank you for this great review.
Just like Peter I would also like to know if it is possible to use this HR Strap on the iPhone at the same time as I use my bluetooth headphones ?
Claus Sikora – Denmark
DC, you rock !!!!
You are the single greatest contributor to the knowledge base in this field (certainly that I have come across) and I salute your dedication and unselfish contribution to the education of all of us faithful followers of your many postings.
Thanks man, greatly appreciated; please keep it up,
No problem with two devices at the same time – good to go there.
And thanks Jamrock!
Will this work with a Droid Razr Maxx and Runkeeper?
Jabra’s homepage is saying Jabra Sport works with two bluetooth devices at the same time. They are mentioning Laptop and iPhone.
I’m also interested if it works with wahoo.
Thanks for this in depth analysis, very interesting (as usual…!)
Have you had the chance to test the reliability of the measured HR of the Polar bluetooth device? I had one with my galaxy note 2 (both said to be Bluetooth smart) and had some trouble with high HR, the device keep saying I am easy whereas clearly not!
Thanks again! Keep it on! 🙂
Seb (from France!)
I’ve been using the H7 with the Wahoo app quite a bit (as well as the Polar App), and no problems at all on mine. If you’re seeing high HR spiking, it’s likely a strap connection issue – check out my troubleshooting post on it, might help. Here’s a few:
Troubleshooting your HR strap issues Part I:
link to dcrainmaker.com
Troubleshooting your HR strap issues Part II:
link to dcrainmaker.com
Ignore the Garmin aspects of it, it’s just as relevant on Polar stuff.
I bought a Garmin 610 just before Christmas. I also just upgraded my iPhone to the iPhone 5. As my new iPhone has BTLE, I could have gone with the Wahoo HRM for less than I paid for the 610. Given the review you wrote above for the Wahoo HRM, why do you use your watches? Which would you recommend?
I prefer a watch device for intense training sessions or races, as I want the ease of control and data on my wrist. I often find the iPhone clunky on my armband. Further, there’s more functionality as far as workouts go on the FR610 than the Wahoo App (there are of course other apps out there).
Can you wear this all day for a total burn count for the day?
You could, you would just need to find the right app to do calorie based HR burn. Offhand, I’m not sure which apps do that unfortunately.
Have you ever discussed with Wahoo why they do not develop an own firmware for the ANT+ HRM?
In my opinion, this would be a notable competitive advantage.
In general, I think you’re seeing then focus more on BLE items at this point.
Hey, great review.
Just wondering what the range the strap has to the phone?
Unfortunetaly I am not satisfied with this HR belt (in combination with the Iphone 4s) at all. I have been using heart belts for 8 yrs (Garmin, Polar, Suunto etc) and used over 20 devices and know how to use a belt (best devices I used were the Polar sx725 and Garmin Edge 705). However these are the problems with the Wahoo HR belt:
– to check if the belt is connected I use the Wahoo app, but it often says I that am connected while in fact I am not
– and when connected, the HR is often 10 beats above my current HR, and/ or does not change at all during my work out
– other problem I found is that some apps find do the heartbelt and do show the correct HR, but does not show the HR info in the history after a workout (even after upgrading when necessary).
I tested the Wahoo with Strava, mapmyfitness, MotionX, and a dozen more but none of the apps work correctly with the Wahoo product OR is there something else I overlooked? The only application that pairs quickly with Wahoo is Endomondo but is useless if the HR is not accurate.
Thanks for a nice review. Do you know if the new Samsung galaxy s4 will support the wahoo blue? I know that the previous model ( s3 ) had problems with BT 4.0.
No Android phones will work with any Bluetooth Smart fitness products that use standardized profiles at the moment (S3 and S4 included). The hope is that Samsung or Google will include support for such devices in May, but I wouldn’t that chicken until it hatches (I’ve been told ‘next month’ since January).
I’m interested in the improved dropout/spike performance of Wahoo. It looks like only Wahoo Blue has it, Wahoo ANT (aka Wahoo Soft Heart Rate Strap) doesn’t. But Wahoo Blue is designed for iPhones. If I have a Bluetooth LE (Bluetooth 4.0) plugged into my PC, can I use Wahoo Blue with it?
No, there’s no apps on Windows today that can take the BLE data in unfortunately. On a Mac however, you can.
Wahoo Heart Rate Monitor. My monitor quit right after the year was up it stopped working.. I tried to contact Wahoo but there is only a website to enter a comment or question but I have not received a response and there is no phone number to contact them.. so from what I see you are taking a chance purchasing one.
Hi, I’ve been reading your blog with much interest. Based on your advice I bought the full wahoo set (blue sc + blue hr) to pair with my iPhone. Today I did a first test. Seems to work smooth, export to other apps like trainingpeaks , mapmyfitness, strava, .. is very nice.
However, I have one major concern:
For my test trip, the blue sc gave a distance of 16.11 km, while the gps says it’s 16.32 km.
To verify, I created the same route I actually biked in some other apps, which also gives a distance of 16.3 km.
You can say… this is a difference of only 1.3%, but still…. this is pretty annoying. (speeds and average speeds are linked).
The question is… is this normal? As far as I can see, there’s no settings at all in order to fine-tune. I spent these 120 euro to have 100% correct data, or am I wrong?
All the best,
Did you specify the wheel size?
That was indeed all that was left to do!
What did you use to get the HR graphs? I’m considering the MVP – but the only reason is for the HR graphing need which would be integrated instead of having another app open.
The first graphs were Garmin Connect (Free), and the second graphs were Training Peaks (Free/Non-Free Options).
Ray your reviews have been a god send for me. I’m a huge fan of the work you put in here. Thanks so much! I’ve linked to your site a few times as recent as today’s blog post: link to arijaycomet.com
Thought you may enjoy knowing your site is cross-referenced even on other blogs. I’m not quite the athlete you are but never the less find your data quite useful. Keep up the great work!
I just got mine and the HR is stuck at 180 from the second that I put it on. Any thoughts?
Same problem, heart rate is stuck at 180. Any solution?
Hmm, sticking at 180 tends to mean some sort of connectivity issue. Have you tried some of the steps in this post? link to dcrainmaker.com
I am confused about the ability to use the Wahoo Blue HR on Windows. Wahoo told me it won’t work (iOS only) but TrainerRoad has it listed as something they have tested, albeit requiring a (cheap) Bluetooth dongle. Same kind of answers for the RPM Cadence sensor – apparently no support from Wahoo outside of iOS but TrainerRoad claiming it’s worked for them. And from you (albeit last August) – “No, there’s no apps on Windows today that can take the BLE data in unfortunately”. Is this old info? Any sense of the true current state of affairs on Windows?
Yeah, it’s a continually changing story. On 8.1 things in theory work out of the box for BLE device profiles, as it was added there. On 8.0 the individual apps have to code it, but base BLE support is there with an adapter.
I need to circle back a little bit and see where things stand. At that point, it’s not so much a Wahoo thing as it is a TR thing. For them, once they’ve got one BLE device working, all work work (sub-system wise).
Thanks Ray. The interesting part of this is that Wahoo have been explicitly telling me that the RPM Cadence sensor and the HR won’t work – while TrainerRoad have said they have tested these just fine (see link to support.trainerroad.com). I have been disappointed with Wahoo’s over-emphasis on iOS and I wonder if they are just basically putting their head in the sand about non-iOS stuff (and playing it safe from a support perspective). By the way, TrainerRoad make a big deal about requiring a Bluetooth dongle, even with Windows 8. I am assuming that also applies to 8.1 (and have the dongle since it was just $20) but it will be interesting to see if things work with 8.1 tomorrow when I get my Kickr. Thanks again.
Android user demographics do not support putting much effort into developing for Android. That is why so many things are iOS only or iOS centric. Having a bunch of android devices out there means little when most are low end with fragmented hardware and software and users who tend to not spend money on hardware accessories or even apps.
Quick follow up. I have my Kickr, RPM Cadence Sensor and Wahoo Blue Heart Rate Monitor. All are successfully working with my Windows 8.1 ultrabook, so no need for ANT+. I’m a bit frustrated that Wahoo told me I couldn’t use the Kickr with Bluetooth on Windows (wasted $40 or so on an ANT+ dongle). TrainerRoad are much more progressive / open-minded with anything-that-isn’t-iOS than Wahoo – and, in this case, they were quite accurare (TrainerRoad’s site says all this stuff works just fine with TrainerRoad on Windows).
Anyway, the good news is that the combination is amazing!!! I did the 8 minute and 20 minute tests (each an hour long) and, while I probably pushed myself a bit much having just got the Kickr (they both hurt a lot!), it’s clear that the Kickr/TrainerRoad combination provides me with a level of workout interest, motivation and structure that will work wonders 🙂 Thanks for all the info, Ray. If Wahoo could just open their mind a bit more to Windows I know my own company has many cyclists that would find their product very interesting 🙂
Would anybody known whether the BlueHR is compatible / works with any other watch than the Motorola ?
It works with the TomTom Runner/Mulitsport, as well as the upcoming Polar V800.
Additionally, it also works indirectly with the Magellan Echo.
Will the heart rate strap work on any other pho e? I have the new samsung galaxy s duos 2. And will it work on strava and runkeeper on android?
Yes, any Bluetooth Smart capable phone. Which is any phone with Android 4.3 or newer (or iOS with the iPhone 4s or newer).
Will it pair with polar loop?
If you could buy this Wahoo strap or the Polar H7 BT strap, which would you choose? I am assuming both will work on any Bluetooth tablet
It depends. If you plan to also use the strap to connect to machines in a gym, then I’d go with the H7, since it connects to those sorts of devices as well as Bluetooth Smart enabled apps.
If not however, I’d actually go with the recently released TICKR, since it’s a bit cheaper ($59) and connects to both ANT+ and BLE devices. Thus allowing you connectivity to any ANT+ device and any Bluetooth Smart app.
Hi there DC! You rule, man!
Does it work (without problems) with the MotoACTV?
Also, which strap would you suggest for the MotoACTV?
Yes, it does.
You do great work. Thank you.
I assume you update info somewhere This must be a couple years old. I’m wondering if the polar 7 now works with my motoactv
hi DC..will it work with garmin 310xt??
No, the BlueHR is Bluetooth Smart only whereas the 310XT is ANT+ only. The Wahoo TICKR is both.
I’m looking for an iPhone app that will show me my Heart Rate zone realtime. The Wahoo app only shows the actual HR number real time from what I can see. It does have audio announcements when you move between zones but that doesnt really help me when I’m sitting on a spin bike – I simply want to look at my phone and see “Zone 4” not 156 BPM!
I’ve looked at some of the other apps (60Beats etc) but havent seen anything.
Any ideas anyone?
I think Digifit does that. It is pretty configurable. You can also have it show your heart rate a graph with each zone color coded. I used Digifit exclusively for all of my exercise until I got a 910XT. I still use it for P90X because I can set it up above the TV to watch my heart rate very easily.
Is there any way at all to “hack” or fool the bluetooth system and pair a bluetooth smart HRM to an iphone app and some polar receiver AT THE SAME TIME?
No, unfortunately it’s a chipset limitation right now in that version of Bluetooth.
I have used my wahoo hrm for 2 years, and am finding the batteries are lasting 2-3 months? I wear it for no more than 3 hours a week? Can any body help, as I understand the battery life should be 12-18months? I buy good quality batteries.
I want to buy the wahoo blue HR and vadence sensors for my tomtom multisport. I tried clicking the link for clever training above and went to their website, but it doesn’t look like they have Wahoo products anymore…?
Sorry, unfortunately Clever Training no longer sells Wahoo Fitness products. Good catch though, I’ll snag that link out of there.
No worries. Now that it’s been a couple years since you reviewed this product, are there any other Bluetooth 4.0 HR sensors you would recommend? Or is this still the best one?
It’s still one of the best. Just grab the v2 version instead, that contains dual ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart. Enjoy!
Do you know if this BlueHR will work with today’s Zwift on iPad/iOS?
Yup, should no problem!
Has anyone successfully paired a BlueHR with a Garmin Fenix 3 HR?
Unforuntately the original Wahoo BlueHR is Bluetooth Smart only, and the Fenix 3/3HR can’t connect to Bluetooth Smart sensors (only to Bluetooth Smart phones). If you had a Wahoo TICKR, that is dual ANT+/BLE, and would work with the Fenix 3HR.
Fwiw – usually around next week you see pretty good deals on the TICKR straps for Black Friday. It’s always common.