I know I am going to go against what everybody else will probably say, but it's what I have found to be true in my case.
I started off with a Sportline and it was awesome. I think I purchased it for about $60 - it had the chest strap and offered calories burned and all kinds of other stuff. I ended up getting a Garmin which also had a HRM (although I didn't know at the time that it didn't actually calculate calories burned based on HR like other HRM's), so I gave my Sportline to my sister.
Okay, so a little down the road, I realized that I really needed a regular HRM again, so this time I went with a Polar - FT4. It was probably about $70. I actually wish I had just purchased another Sportline or a Timex! I find the strap, which is soft, actually more uncomfortable than my Garmin or Sportline which were both plastic. I lose my heart rate all the time...meaning it will start and I'll be going along and all of a sudden into a workout I look down and it displays 00. So for however long I wasn't paying attention, it wasn't recording anything. Other times, it will say my heart rate is 299 and I'll get a ridiculous calorie burn.
So in other words, I have found the Polar to be very unreliable - even though 90% of people highly recommend them. I think you can get the same features and better reliability from Sportline or Timex for a little less money.
What I will caution is just that you are extremely careful when you research because not all HRM's have the same functions, such as calorie counts based on actual heart rate and not an industry average estimate.
I'm looking into getting a Heart Rate Monitor some time next week. What are some good brands to look at? Again I'm on a tight budget so I'm looking for one with a ton of bells and whistles, but one that has the chest strap.
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