I apologize for some of the pics in this review, its a really bright day and several of the screens have blinking fields, so trying to time the shot is tough! :)
Recently I have been going through a change in life. I just want things to be simple and to work reliably. I am an avid cyclist that rides quite a bit. My rides usually last from an hour to four hours. My mileage varies from 25 mile training rides to 100 mile events. I am no Lance Armstrong, but I would consider myself a pretty “hard core” cyclist. When the T3 was first released I jumped on it to use as a cycling computer and heart rate monitor (HRM). I have always collected my cycling data and I do find it useful. Mainly, I use my HRM and cycling data as comparative data used to help gauge general training effectiveness. Normally I use my T3 to gather the data and after a ride I manually put the numbers into a spreadsheet.
At this point I should mention that I realize there are gizmos that will do all this for me. I get it. But again, I'm kind of in this KISS (keep it simple stupid) mode. I don’t want or need GPS on my bike. I don’t really need epoc information I just want systems that work and are reliable…. On to the T3. Its worked great for years. But I think its starting to show its age (like me). I am starting to see data discrepancies and the HR lately has just stopped working. So its time for a change… Enter the Vector HR!
I have always been a fan of the Vector series. It’s the ABC that started it all for me. There was a time in my life I never thought I would be able to afford one and to me in the mid 90’s they were THE ABC watch. To this day, I will often choose one of my Vectors for hiking or backpacking even over one of my Cores. I just love the classic look, rugged build and dependability (like me) LOL. So, when they added an HR function to the Vector my Suunto-sense started tingling right away. Hmm, my favorite watch with new neat stuff that’s useful to me as an “athlete”. But alas, I didn’t NEED another Suunto… and surely not another Vector. But… my T3 was having problems…. So….
Yep, I found a well priced slightly used Vector on the WUS forums and there was no fighting it. Oddly enough I met a local WUS member after a long ride to pick it up in person. Sure enough my T3 was not functioning at all for my ride. It just confirmed my decision that I was going to go simple, reliable and only gather the data I need. This decision was not light hearted. I would be losing some features of the T3. I would lose my caloric burn estimator and I would lose my Training Effect (TE number). I had all the discussions with members here and fellow cyclists. What I NEED is an Ambit (or garmin), what I NEED is a super high end cycling/HR watch. What I NEED is a phone ap for GPS cycling. But what really kept gnawing on me was what do I really need? Again, I'm no Lance Armstrong. So I looked at things like a business process. What data is actionable and relevant. If it doesn’t fuel a decision or a metric, its not worth gathering. Suddenly the Vector HR and its simplicity was calling me. The notion was to combine the Vector HR with a simple cycling computer. The cycling computer gives me distance, avg speed, and other key data. The watch gives me HR info.
(Note for cyclists... I ended up getting the least expensive Ascent wireless cycling computer. On sale at Performance Bicycle for 25.00. works like a champ.. no interference with the HRM).
I wont spend too much time detailing the build or the ABC functions of the Vector HR. The alti, baro, and compass functions are the same. The only main difference is that the timer and stopwatch are now no longer on the “main sub menu” but they are associated with the HR mode. The only cosmetic difference with the HR version is the lettering is slightly different at 6:00 on the case and the watch now has a small HR indicator at roughly the 6:00 position.
The HR function is accessed as the 4th menu option after the compass. The watch came with the “soft strap”. A note on the strap. Its outstanding. WAY more comfie than the hard strap I used before with my T3.
Once in the HR mode if you are wearing your belt the indicator under HR will begin to blink to let you know there is a signal. Pressing the 10:00 select button in this mode will allow access to the stopwatch, and the Timer. If the HR belt is not connected, these functions are still available and the time will be displayed in the main field. Starting the timer or stopwatch erases the old memory log and starts a new one.
The third sub directory is for the memory. The Vector HR only holds one event in memory. This could be a deal breaker for some. For me its great. I only need the log to last till I can get my computer and my curmudgeonly old spread sheet.
The HR log centers around the user-set HR zones. You can choose your upper and lower limits. It’s very easy to do and once set the log will let you know how long you are spending in and out of the target zone. I set my zone for roughly 70%-90% of my Max HR. For me these are my optimal training zones.
In the log or “memory” mode the watch will display MEMORY at 7:00. The first screen shows me the date and time the event was started. My + and – buttons (7:00 and 4:00 positions) allow me to see the various data screens. The first screen shows the duration of the event. The second screen shows me my Max HR, Avg HR and min HR. I'm not sure how valuable the Min HR is. It would be useful for hiking but not so much for cycling. It’s usually my HR as I slip into traffic and hit START. The third data screen shows the amount of time spent above my target Zone. The fourth data screen tells me how long I was in the target zone and the last data screen tells me how long I was below my target zone.
This event took place on 4/6/12 and started at 6:06
This ride's duration was 1:16:31 (1 hour 16 minutes 31 seconds)
Max Hr was 176. Avg Hr was 156 and the Low HR was 120.
Time spent ABOve my target zone was 6 minutes and 57 seconds.
I spent 1 hour, 7 minutes and 32 seconds in my target HR zone.
And I spent 2 minutes and 3 seconds BELow my target zone.
I am still learning where I need to set my zone. But I do realize that once I dial It in to become relevant to me, I will want to leave it there for the season so I can get good comparative data.
So the PROS for the Vector HR: Light weight, Proven and reliable ABC functionality, excellent HR strap and strong reception between the transmitter and the watch, Great looks J.
The CONS for the HR model is that the HR data is limited, the log only stores one event, it’s a classic look (nothing new to see here).
If you want a basic HR device that allows user programmable HR zones and works as it should, the Vector HR may be for you. This watch would be ideal for those who want to step into using an HR model. And don’t forget you get the great reliability ABC functions of a classic and proven model. I wonder if a CORE HR is next?