BlueStar HonorCare offers something a little different from the other medical alert companies in our review. While the company has the standard, three-tier package of in-home and mobile medical-alert systems, it also offers other senior-related products and services, such as health monitoring and blood pressure monitoring systems. The service even offers health management software.
In other words, BlueStar HonorCare is more than a medical alert service, aiming at solutions that help seniors live with peace of mind and as much independence as possible.
For our review, we tested both the Sentry Plus in-home medical alert system and the Admiral Protect mobile GPS package. We were disappointed with the Sentry Plus' two-way pendant, which didn't work, but we liked the Admiral Protect mobile alert system's fall detection.
Cost Comparison: C+
Practically every company in our review claims to offer the lowest prices, and BlueStar HonorCare is no exception. However, in our cost comparison, it received only a C+ grade, because the packages didn't provide significant savings over the market average. For example, the Sentry in-home landline unit was $29.95 per month, a little cheaper than the market average. If you need a cellular adapter, this price increased by $10 per month, shifting the cost to $4 over the market average for an in-home cellular system. The Admiral Protect, which uses the Numera Libris mobile alert device, was $44.95 a month, about $2 over the market average.
You can lower the monthly cost with bigger up-front payments, but these lower the cost by an average of only $2.97 per month. On average, other services provide a savings of $3.90 with bulk payments.
The Results of Our Hands-On Testing
We ordered the Sentry Plus, which is exactly like the Sentry, because we liked the concept of a two-way pendant for an in-home system, especially because these devices are rare in the market. The two-way pendant allows you to talk to the operator from wherever you are, like a mobile alert device. At $31.95 per month, it's a much better value than the regular Sentry, at least on paper, because the two-way pendant provides better communication with operators. If you fall in your backyard, for example, you can easily talk to the operator through the pendant — again, similar to what you can do with a mobile device. Unfortunately, the two-way pendant that we received didn't work. We couldn't even get it to turn on.
BlueStar HonorCare describes the Sentry as the Home and Yard PERS (personal emergency response system), and for good reason: This system had one of the longest ranges of any of the pendants we tested. Using the regular wireless pendant (and not the two-way pendant), we roamed an average of 117 feet from the base unit. On average, other pendants reached only about 88 feet.
The speakerphone of the Sentry is not great. While it was loud, the clarity was a significant issue. Talking to emergency operators felt a little too close to communicating via a fast-food drive-through, with a garbled mess of words that required many instances of, "What? Can you repeat that?" You need to be able to clearly communicate with emergency operators and this speakerphone doesn't make it easy to do so. However, the Admiral Protect (which is the Numera Libris mobile device) has an excellent speaker for a mobile device.
The Sentry Plus didn't come with fall detection, but the Numera Libris mobile alert device does. In our tests, the Numera Libris was among the best systems at detecting actual falls without being overly sensitive. It's the most common mobile alert device on the market, but it's also the biggest one. We liked most aspects of this mobile alert device, except the belt clip, which has an awkward and ineffective clipping mechanism that's prone to falling off.
This service's call response time was good, coming in 8th fastest in our test of 20 services, at an average of 54.6 seconds. For comparison, the average overall call response time in our tests was 69.58 seconds. However, this service is still more than twice as slow as the fastest service in our tests (GreatCall). In addition, the call quality was nothing special, receiving a C+ grade in our evaluation.
We like that BlueStar HonorCare offers more than just medical alert systems, providing a range of health monitoring products for seniors, which is worthy of mention. However, we weren't impressed with the Sentry in-home medical alert system. And while we liked the Admiral Protect, it's not a better mobile device than the GreatCall Lively Mobile, and it costs more than twice as much a month.