New Balance N9 HR monitor with GPS
The New Balance N9 is an inexpensive heart rate monitor, GPS capable, apparently a knock-off or rough copy of some of the more quality monitors. I have had mine for several days, so I thought I'd enshrine here the information about it that I couldn't find on the web. First, the HR function works fine, the various negative reviews notwithstanding. That may just be because I'm skinnier than some of the reviewers, but I have no complaint for that part. Now for the missing information.
GPS: the GPS hardware is spotty at best. Yesterday morning it took half my commute (9.5 miles) to acquire enough satellites for the GPS to function. On the way home, it acquired quickly enough but intermittently lost and had to reacquire. During those periods the watch apparently defaults to recording a speed of 12.4 mph even though it is displaying a "lost GPS" message.
Apparently, GPS is queried once every five seconds. More precisely the query checks GPS twice, the second a fraction of a second after the first, to take an instant measure of speed. So if you have a blip in reception on one of the GPS checks you're looking at 10 seconds of unreliable data. If you need more accurate measurements than 5-10 seconds, the watch won't work for you. Displayed speeds are consequently at a variance with cyclo-computer speeds, both higher and lower.
Software: There is no data export function. There are no data files other than a backup/restore of the application data. You cannot even copy/paste from the table display. The application itself is primitive and slap-dash with a Windows 3.0 kind of interface. You can see a chart displaying 100 seconds of data, and a data table (see attached screen capture). It would show HR also but I didn't have it running this particular ride. You cannot change the chart scales or otherwise tweak the display. What you see here is all there is. You cannot do anything with the data table other than scroll down and select the starting point for the 100 seconds to display. The software allows you to enter age, gender, height, and weight and guesses your max heart rate but you cannot enter max hr explicitly. It thinks I'm riding at 95% when I'm below my aerobic threshold.
Watch display: I can select from many pre-defined displays but cannot set defaults, so it takes a lot of button-pushing (there are six buttons and you need them all) to get started. It's a bit of a kludge and you can't really change the settings while in motion. Once you have the setup you want it's pretty easy to read however. The watch does have a "waypoint" feature which I haven't attempted yet, but it is limited to an alert when you approach a pre-set GPS location.
Hopefully this helps anyone researching these low-end hr monitors. Comments welcomed.