Portable pulse oximeters are handy devices that can monitor oxygenation in a quick and no-invasive manner. However, it’s not always straightforward when it comes to finding a device that fits your needs. That’s why we’ve put together a handy checklist in what you should look for in your prospective pulse oximeter.

Is It Actually Portable?

Some units may carry the name, but they’re not really properly portable devices. They’re flimsy and are simply too big to carry around without discomfort. Cheaper units are usually badly built as well, getting damaged very easily.

Is It FDA Approved?

Officially called 510k certification, FDA approval guarantees that your device is built to a certain standard. It means it’s safe to operate and use and will not have any harmful side effects.

The thing to keep in mind is that FDA approval is not a stamp of accuracy. It doesn’t instantly mean that you’re buying an effective product; all it means is that it’s safe. Nevertheless, it’s an important baseline for any product.

Is It Accurate?

Don’t just rely on the sales copy on the box, but see whether you can test the unit against manual readings. Some stores will let you do this onsite, whereas others have money-back guarantees in case your unit doesn’t give you accurate readings. Be sure to test before relying on the results!

Does It Have Alarms?

Some users, such as medical professionals, will require audible alarms that clearly highlight low oxygen saturation levels. Not all units have this feature, so please check this before purchase.

In addition, in some settings it’s particularly important that a warning light is given when there is interference from external factors, leading to an inaccurate reading. Some devices make this very easy to see, while others may not be quite as transparent.

Do You Need Bells and Whistles?

Portable Pulse Oximeters have come a long way since they were first introduced to the market. Some models are now fully compatible with cloud-based synching, using Bluetooth technology to link up to computers, smartphones and tablets.

If you want to download your results or upload them to other devices, then you’re going to have to spend a little bit extra to get your hands on the more advanced models. Some professional-grade models even allow continuous use measurements to be used in lab settings.

Before making your decision, think carefully about which features you actually need. The price between cheaper models that take accurate readings and those that give you the full kitchen sink can vary quite a lot.

Will You Use Them With Children?

If you are planning to use your portable pulse oximeter with your kids, we suggest buying a model that has a small opening.

Do You Need a Durable Product?

Some professions require the use of a portable pulse oximeter in rougher environments, with units constantly changing hands and traveling fair distances in supply bags.

If you think you will be subjecting your portable unit to more than just your average use cases, then we suggest opting for devices that have been built with additional durability in mind. The price difference isn’t huge, so it’s worth the investment.