Pros: Accurate readings, Automatic adjustable inflation, Stores measurements
Cons: -Has a hard time with larger arms, but Samsung offers "extension" for free
Blood pressure monitors have come a long way. I remember years ago manually checking my grandmother's blood pressure with a stethoscope and that contraption with the inflatable pump, not really sure I was doing it right despite my mom's guidance as a nurse. The automatic blood pressure monitors out on the market today offer people the benefit of quick and easy, private readings.
We bought the Samsung at Target for $50. It requires 4 AA batteries which haven't had to be replaced in close to 3 months of nearly daily usage. Operation of the Samsung is quite simple, you first need to select which of three levels should the monitor inflate to (160, 200, or 240 mmHg). Basically, you'll want to be sure that the Samsung automatically inflates to a level past your typical readings, the manual recommends at least 50 mmHg past your typical blood pressure, so if you tend to be 120 mmHg for systolic (the first and larger number read) set the monitor to inflate to 200 mmHg.
You then place the arm cuff on you just above the elbow. It attaches to itself securely with velcro ends. You can do this easily with the opposite hand. You'll need to make sure that the air tube is not kinked to reduce air flow and prevent an accurate reading.
Besides the switch between the three levels, there's an on/off switch, a start switch, and a memory switch. Turn on the unit, press start and the Samsung does all the work for you. It inflates to the level you specify then figures out the systolic and diastolic levels as well as your pulse. When finished it commits the reading to memory. The memory button allows you to recall the previous eight measurements.
This particular unit we own was checked for accuracy and precision at a doctor's office and was consistently found to be off by 2 mmHg from their readings. A good endorsement for a unit I was surprised to see not tested in a recent Consumer Reports, given that it's available at Target. I'd suggest if you purchase this or any other brand to be sure it's checked at a doctor's office; it probably could occur that accurate results can vary within the same brand.
The only negative isn't so much a true negative. The Samsung, out of the package, will fail to read and show an error message when someone with a larger sized arm (about 13" round or larger) tries to get a reading. The unit apparently is unable to fill the cuff to the proper level with larger sized arms. Samsung offers a free arm cuff extension by mail which should solve this problem although we haven't opted to obtain this.
All in all, this unit provides quick, accurate, and private results, which in itself provides piece of mind for something as important as your health.