Crivit pedometer and heart rate monitor review

My new pedometer/HRM

So, here it is! Last week I got a new gizmo in Lidl, a “spur of the moment” buy – well, in my defence I had seen it in the catalogue before, but since I was considering getting a bluetooth heart rate monitor to interface with my Android phone I didn’t give it that much thought. Anyway, when I went last week to Lidl for my groceries I had a long look at it and in the end the relatively low price (£14.99) convinced me 😀 .

It is quite full-featured (the user manual is quite sizeable, too!), having “regular” watch mode (eg comprising time & date, chronometer, alarm and even dual time zone support!), pedometer mode and HRM mode. The good news is that these functions are not independent, ie you can go for a run whilst tracking your heart rate and seeing all the relevant information on the screen, which albeit tiny is more than enough in terms of legibility (and it even has a blueish back-lighting to help when going for runs in the dark).

Aesthetics and ergonomics

OK, in terms of aesthetics is not the prettiest watch you’d find; it is quite bulky too, which is why I won’t retire my Casio – I’ll just take this one out of the drawer whenever I want to go for a run, as it is too big for everyday “normal” use. It is not as waterproof as my Casio, too – the manual states a tolerance of up to 3 bar, which according to them is just rain- and splash-resistance. Shame, I won’t be able to use it on the boat!… (anyway, for that I plan to get a cheap, waterproof Android phone and a Bluetooth HRM, as soon as my savings allow for that!…)

But it is functional, and the aforementioned display is good enough to accommodate the speed or HR as you’re going along in quite big digits, along with an accompanying graphic which, in pedometer mode will tell you if you are trending towards an increase or decrease in speed, and in HRM mode it will graphically tell you where your current HR is in terms of the typical minimum and maximum brackets for your age range (very handy!). There is also a bottom row with additional information which can be customised, eg you can select to have the distance run displayed alongside the speed, or your current heart rate, or your average speed… the choice is yours :).

The actual heart rate sensor is mounted on a chest strap (as all HRMs are), and I had absolutely no issue with it, and it seemed relatively comfortable in the 7.5k test run I had on Thursday. Probably in longer runs it might prove worse, I have to test that properly but unfortunately I don’t have proper long, uninterrupted running trails around here like I do in Porto, so that will have to wait for the Summer holidays! 😛

Functionality and user interface

As I mentioned before, the screen is quite good in terms of the amount of information it can display. The user interface is also quite simple to navigate, and I only had trouble finding some advanced settings because I didn’t read the user manual properly (more on that later). The rest is just a matter of navigating with one key and confirming with the other, and long-pressing to reset the counters. Nothing more simple!

The communication with the HR sensor is also quite simple (and apparently it is coded, so I won’t have problems with running with people also wearing HRMs!), the only issue is that you need to moisten the sensor in order for it to make proper contact with the skin, but that seems to be the case in most sensors out there…

One thing that I really liked is the fact that the timing will automatically stop when you are stationary (since it is detecting both my footsteps and the lack of them!…). Running in an urban setting here in England requires continuous stopping, as zebra crossings are rarer than the actual zebras around here, and the general rule to crossing a road is to cross anywhere, provided that there are no cars coming, which may work if you are walking but it is really annoying if you’re running. I would have to manually stop and start my stopwatch whenever that happened, which was not ideal, especially since I couldn’t hear if the action was actually carried out (I use earphones), and in the end I’d be continuously checking my watch to see if the timing was still on (and try doing that at night, even with a backlit screen!).

It also has some very neat stuff, such as memory of the highest/lowest/average heart rate,  and fitness mode, which consists in measuring the heart rate drop along a specific period of time, which will assess your recovery after a strenuous exercise (of course you can always do this with a stopwatch and taking heart beat counts during 15 seconds, but it is much simpler this way!! 🙂 )

The only real issue I had with it, which was really all my fault, was related to the calibration of my step. Following the typical male technocrat attitude, I only skimmed across the (quite sizeable) user manual and skipped the section on pedometer calibration in its entirety. And the result was quite evident: the 7.5k test run I had on Thursday was counted as only 5k, and I could see during my workout that the “instantaneous” speed would never go over 10 kph, which is quite low for me, as my average pace is slightly below 5:00/km, which in kph should be exactly 12! (I have been ill and only returned to proper running recently, but still!…)

After that, I went to the troubleshoot section of the watch and there it was, written exactly for fools like myself, that if the speed readings were not presented correctly you’d have to calibrate the device. And actually the algorithm is quite sophisticated, as it takes into account a lower and an upper limit, which are configurable, and then asks you to run and walk a predefined distance to assess the size of your step. After calibrating it with a 400 m track I went on a test run again (I had the motivation of testing this watch, otherwise I wouldn’t have gone out as the weather was horribly windy and damp!) and I had a much lower error of about 300 m in a 4.5k run (and this time the error was by excess, it overestimated the distance ran). I will still do some additional calibrations, as I feel that I’ve set the higher limit too high (13 kph, when I normally run at 12!) and I’ve also used a quite short calibration track – next time I’ll do 1k, which is exactly two laps around my cul-de-sac.

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In conclusion: for a fraction of the cost of a Garmin specialist runner watch (they retail for well over £100-£200!) you get something that will most definitely help you assess your running workouts (and they also thrown in a bicycle holder to use the watch as an HRM during a bike ride!). Obviously it doesn’t have exactly the same level of functionality (you didn’t expect GPS and data export from a £15 device, did you?), but if used while aware of its limitations it can serve you quite well. A must buy, definitely! 🙂

8 thoughts on “Crivit pedometer and heart rate monitor review

  1. Manuel

    Yes, I totally agree with your description, Manuel.

    However, there is a nasty feature which it seems not to be possible to avoid. When you go over your beat HR -which is automatically set by the devise when you enter your age, height and weight an uninterrupted “Beep-Beep… Beep-Beep” starts to sound. The instructions on page 14 reads- I quote: “Press and hold SEL to activate the heart rate alarm. When the heart rate alarm is activated the alarm symbol *)) will appear on and the alarm will sound when the measured heart rate is not within the set zone “BEEP-BEEP…BEEP-BEEP…BEEP-BEEP”.

    From what it says, it would appear to be only obvious that if one doesn’t want the alarm to “beep” when the heart rate goes outside the set zone then one does not set it so, that is, one deletes the *)) and that’s it. Well, the fact of the matter is that this is not the case. I set it without the *)) and yet this noisy alarm starts to sound whenever my heart rate reaches 99% or more, anyway! One way of avoiding that to happen, I thought, would be to simply cheat and set the maximum heart rate above one’s maximum. But, as I stated it above, this is impossible as the device sets the zones automatically with each person’s weight, height and age.

    Any comments?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. manuel Post author

      Hello!

      Well, that is a very good question, as my HRM still hasn’t got to the absolute maximum for my age (I never heard the alarm) – my max during workouts is around 180-190 bpm, and I think that translates into 90% for my age/weight/etc.

      I will have a more thorough look at it, the truth is that now I am really only using it to gauge my current HR and measure the total time of a run (even after calibration I have errors of ~ 100-500 m in the overall distance, so I’m getting the correct distance from Google Maps).

      I will keep you posted!

      Reply
    1. manuel Post author

      I think you’ll need to restore it to factory settings, then it will ask you for the time, height, weight etc all over again. I have to double-check that, though (tonight I’ll have a look at the instruction manual…).

      Reply
  2. John

    I have this HRM and the beeping when it goes over the MAX heart rate drives me mad. I would love to know of a way to turn it off. Makes me not want to use the thing as every time I climb a steep hill on my bike the climb is accompanied by an incessant beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep….. etc etc. Infuriating!

    Reply
    1. manuel Post author

      Can’t you set a different zone when in HRM mode? Interestingly enough, in my case it never gets to that point, even though I have the impression the sensor is biasing the reading quite heavily – I often run with a 160-170 bpm average (with 190 bpm max) and don’t feel like I am pushing that hard!

      I think I will replace this one for a “proper” running watch (ie, Garmin/TomTom/Polar) in the not-so-distant future… Right now I’m not even trusting the pedometer readings, even after calibrating it countless times it has a significant error (~ 1 km in a 10k run!) – only use it for the HRM read-outs (which I’m not trusting that much as well) and to time the run (I like the fact that it stops the stopwatch when you’re not running, comes handy when you have to make a sudden stop in the middle of your run).

      Reply
  3. jim

    can this heart rate monitor transmit wirelessly to an android phone with an equivalent program like endomodo ?

    Reply
    1. manuel Post author

      Unfortunately no, not that I’m aware of! The industry standard is ANT+ and Bluetooth and this HRM uses neither, AFAIK.
      It is coded though, so that it won’t clash with other identical HRMs (one of my rowing buddies had that happening to him in a race we did last year, was picking up the HR of another fella!)

      Reply

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