A few months back I was contacted by a marketing representative for Sportline about reviewing one of their heart rate monitor watches. Normally I would have declined a review like this since I have two heart rate monitors that I’m quite happy with (the Timex Road Trainer was my everyday watch, and I use a Garmin Forerunner 305 when I want to monitor heart rate on runs), but the Sportline Duo 1060 had a feature that intrigued me, so I figured I’d give it a whirl (disclosure: this product was a free media sample provided by Sportline). Turns out the Duo 1060 is one of those watches that allows you to get a readout of your current heart rate simply by touching on the metal face of the watch with the finger of your opposite hand. I was always a bit skeptical of how well these watches work, so I wanted to try one for myself.
First things first, my only past experience with Sportline as a company was the fact that they used to sell their products at Target (not sure if they still do). This made me a bit skeptical regarding build quality (though I must admit to forking over a large fraction of my monthly income to Target), so I decided to put the watch through several months of non-stop wear before rendering a review. I’m happy to report that short of a few scratches on the faceplate, the watch is still working as good as new, and it has seen some pretty horrific conditions this winter.
With the durability issue out of the way, I’ll say that on the whole I really like this watch. It has a nice, large screen, and with the metallic border looks a bit classier than my old Timex. It is loaded with features typical of most other heart rate enabled stopwatches, including a timer, chrono, alarm, etc. and also throws in a few unusual perks like a pedometer. I haven’t really used the latter since I almost always have my Garmin on wrist when I run, but this could be useful for someone looking to get a very rough estimate of steps covered over the course of a given exercise period. If you want to really get a handle on distance covered, I’d recommend going with a GPS enabled device, especially since the Garmin Forerunner 305 has come down significantly in price over the past few years.
As for the heart rate monitor, again I prefer to use my Garmin 305 since it records heart rate data for download and inspection along with distance, pace, etc., but on the few occasions that I used the Duo 1060 the included heart rate strap worked just fine. You can program zones on the watch and get readouts of heart rate in real time, so pretty similar to most other heart rate monitors. Programming settings into this watch can be a bit finicky, and it’s not the most intuitive of devices (some time with the manual might be need to really work through it all) – I find my old Timex Road Trainer to be better in terms of ease of use.
Coming back to the reason why I decided to try this watch out in the first place – the instant heart rate reading obtained by touching the metal around the face – I have to say this feature is pretty darned cool. I haven’t gone to the length of measuring simultaneously with another HRM to check accuracy, but my sense is that the values reported via the instant touch method are pretty good. For example, my heart rate just after waking up yesterday morning was 49bpm, whereas it was 137bpm as I was walking during my cooldown from my run later in the day. One day during my Exercise Physiology class I was mentioning how one can use heart rate as an indicator of effort, and reported my “lecturing heart rate” on the spot to be in the high 60’s. The class either though I was crazy or thought it was kind of cool – not sure which. The touch feature does go a bit haywire when it gets wet, so it’s not much use when you are sweating heavily or are under water (tried it in the pool today), but if I were exercising I’d go with the chest strap anyway, so not a big deal. I’d say that for the cool factor of this feature alone, the Sportline Duo 1060 has supplanted my old Timex as the new everyday watch to remain on my wrist.
All in all, this is a decent little heart rate monitor, and a reasonable choice if a basic heart rate monitor is all that you need. If I was going to spend the money however and my plan was to use this mainly for running, I’d opt for a Garmin Forerunner 305 – it’s only about $40 more, and it’s hard to beat the wealth of accurate data it provides. It also uploads to a computer, which the Sportline (nor the Timex) does not. My Garmin is probably my most essential piece of running gear (I’m a tech and data geek) – I can run without shoes if need be, but not sure I could run without my Garmin!