Adances in wearable technology, mobile devices and apps mean that consumer health care monitors are set to become ever more integrated with our day-to-day lives. In the first of a new series of features rounding up available consumer health technology, we take a look at a selection of the best home blood pressure monitors currently available to buy.
Omron is one of the most established brands on the home blood pressure (BP) monitor market. And judging by some of the online user reviews of their products, Omron is one of the first names doctors recommend to patients who are considering purchasing their own BP monitor, which would seem to justify their “#1 Doctor Recommended Brand” strapline.
Those looking for bells and whistles may be disappointed, but the Omron is a reliable, simple “does what it says on the tin” device.
The company boasts an almost bewildering range of 21 BP monitors for sale – the majority of which are for use on the upper arm, although they also offer a small range of wrist-mounted monitors.
Omron kindly sent us their BP786 monitor for review, which is the latest device in their popular “10 series.” Currently retailing for less than $80, the BP786 seems to have been slightly less popular so far than its older 10 series siblings.
Although – like most modern home BP monitors – the BP786 can hook up to a computer or mobile device, a common complaint in user reviews is that the device appeared to have been “rushed to market,” with the apps that allow the monitor to interact with devices not released to customers until some time after the physical product had launched.
Particular problems have been reported with the Android app, although the Omron is fairly unique in offering any Android support at all, with most mobile-friendly monitors integrating only with Apple’s iOS platforms (for iPhone, iPad and iPod).
For some customers, though – possibly older customers in particular – one of the strengths of this device may be that you can use the BP786 completely independently of any computerized gadget. It also offers a superbly simple interface – most users are only required to press one big, blue button helpfully labeled “START/STOP.”
This no-nonsense approach may sound unappealing to the tech-literate gadget fiends among us but, for medical monitoring devices in particular, usability is the cornerstone of good design.
To take a reading, all the user need do is attach the cuff to their upper arm and hit the big, blue button. As well as displaying your blood pressure, the machine will display stats on your pulse and even identify whether you have an irregular heartbeat.
That there is such a shallow learning curve associated with the BP786 is a credit to Omron. Although, I have to confess, it took me a few goes to figure out how to get the machine to take three consecutive readings and provide an average of the results. A design feature I really liked, however, was how easy it is to attach the cuff, which can be done without the assistance of another person.
However, if you do like to take your blood pressure readings with a friend, then Omron have included a neat “two-player” feature, where you can flick between two different sets of readings with one switch, allowing you to compare your readings with one other person. The device can store up to 100 readings per person.
Those looking for bells and whistles may be disappointed – and with a bulky, clunky-looking design, the BP786 cannot compete aesthetically with the sleek, smaller, wearable BP monitors – but overall, the Omron is a reliable, simple “does what it says on the tin” device.
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