Which Pulse Oximeter is Best For Me


The best finger pulse oximeter with the best specifications and most features will cost you thousands of dollars; however this is probably much more than what you need or willing to pay. In this article, we will make some "best oximeter" recommendations based on several criteria. We have tested all the pulse oximeters prior to listing them on our website; however the best finger pulse oximeter for you is still based on your needs and budget. In general, one pays more for features and quality.

We summarize our recommendations in the following table. When there are multiple recommendations within each category, they are ordered in ascending quality based on our testing.

Buying ConditionsRecommendations
Budget solution CMS50DL, MD300C11, MD300C13, MD300C15D
Best value MD300C1, MD300C21, MD300C23
Oximeter with pleth-graph MD300C21, MD300C54 (children), MD300C316, MD300C23
Oximeter with pleth graph and alarm MD300C316, CMS50EW
Oximeter with continuous recording and memory(sleep study, exercise) MD300C316, CMS50EW, CMS50FW
Pulse oximeter with Bluetooth support CMS50EW, CMS50FW
Patient with very low blood perfusion Nonin Onyx 9500

Over the last four years, the prices for oximeters have been coming down steadily. Today oximeters are available for less than $30. The lowest priced ones are not as well-built and take longer to get a steady measurement. At times, the readings may appear jumpy, however they do give accurate readings.

The best value category gives you well-built units with basic functions (pulse rate and blood oxygen saturation level). Any one from this category will serve you well unless you want more features or have special needs.

Two most common features for oximeters are pleth graph and alarm. The pleth graph gives an indication of the change in volume of blood flow as the heart beats. The alarm gives an audio or visual signal when either the oxygen or pulse rate exceeds the normal range.

Pleth graph is very useful to older patients and is also the less understood features. I have talked to many customers and very few of them understood the value of a pleth graph; however after I explained the feature, most wanted it. The plethysmograph can tell something about the condition of the patient's heart, such as missing or irregular heartbeats, low blood flow... If the patient has some heart related issue, he should consider getting a personal ECG monitor which can capture and save the ECG reading immediately, which can be shown to a doctor later.

The Nonin Onyx 9500 is an excellent choice if the patient has very poor blood circulation. Also Onyx 9500 is more tolerant of motion.