I’ve been waiting to get my hands on the much talked about and anticipated Mio Alpha strapless heart rate monitor for sometime now. It’s break-thru ‘continuous technology’ that frees us from having to wear a chest strap. To coin Mio’s catch cry “Heart Rate, Reinvented”. Here’s my first impressions…
Out of the box – onto my wrist – headed to the door for a run!
My first test for most products is ‘Can I operate it straight out the box without instructions’ – and Mio Alpha passed this test with flying colours!
I literally took it out of the box, removed the watch face sticker, set the time and popped it onto my wrist after first synching the Mio Alpha to my fitness app. In just 5 minutes, I was out the door on my mid morning run. Admittedly, I hadn’t yet set the high or low alerts that will come later.
Great news for iPhone App users, Bluetooth connectivity was a breeze
I grabbed my iPhone 4S, opened my favourite fitness app which is ‘Digifit’ (I love this app, it tracks all my exercise such as Spin, outdoor cycling, running and walking), went to Digifit settings – ‘Sensors’ and it picked up the Mio Alpha straight away (obviously I had the Bluetooth turned on first in the phones settings), I then tried it on my iPhone 5 – no issues there either. Thats great news for iOS users that sync to tracking apps via Smart Bluetooth 4.0
Not to leave those using Android mobile apps out of my testing I borrowed a HTC One X mobile from my colleague, he uses the Endomondo fitness App. Sadly we didn’t have success. The Endomondo app found the Alpha but it just wouldn’t pair. (disappointing for those Android users out there). Importantly, upon further investigation, its not the Mio Alpha that was the problem – it seems to be driver within the phone and /or possibly the app’s API, I am not a computer geek so not sure which. No doubt it will be rectified soon by the phone company or the app developers whatever the issue.
Okay, back to Mio Alpha in Action
YAY! No chest strap and a continuous heart rate – bring it on!!
Not wearing a chest strap was an absolute delight and liberating! As a women, who has grown use to wearing a chest strap for many years, I had forgotten just how lovely it was to feel ‘free’ – nothing but me and my sports bra. I am sure guys will find it just as liberating, in fact most probably more so as men aren’t used to wearing anything around their chest at all!
Accuracy of Heart rate
Can’t fault it’s heart rate accuracy at all during my testing. I had high expectations and I was not disappointed.
A big plus for the Mio Alpa is the large and easy to read LCD display, I had no trouble reading my heart rate in full sunlight. Mind you, there is no backlight for those dark morning or evening runs, so you will struggle to see the digits then!
I did have a small glitch that was my fault… I didn’t notice a drop in my heart rate reading whilst on my run but, when I got back and examined the heart rate data through my app it did drop off a couple of times. Let me explain, say my heart rate was around 135 BPM it suddenly dropped to 87 BPM then back up again. This is generally caused when the HRM loses connection briefly. Upon further examination I found out why. I had the Mio Alpha watch positioned slightly over my wrist bone, MIO clearly states that the watch shouldn’t be positioned here (Oops! that’s what happens when you don’t read the instructions first).
Mio Alpha scores top marks for look and feel.
Very funky looking – sporty but trendy. I have a small wrist and it looks fine. Full credit to the MIO team they have done an exceptional job of the design, it doesn’t look masculine and it doesn’t look feminine – it is definitely unisex. I would quite happily wear mine all day at work or at home.
As for being comfy – truthfully I was worried about this because Mio did mention that it needs to be worn slightly tighter than most watches to get an accurate HR – I generally wear my watches quite loosely. As it turns out, It’s incredibly comfortable during exercise and wearing it all day.
Feature ‘rich’ or ‘featureless’?
There’s been a number of reviews on the Alpha that I feel have misunderstood the product by calling the Alpha ‘featureless’. This might be because they’re professional gadget / tech reviewers who don’t use this type of product on a daily basis or feel that sports watches, heart rate monitors, wrist activity monitors all fit into one category!
Let me briefly explain…
A majority of athletes and fitness enthusiast like myself use fitness tracking apps as the norm (especially since the introduction of Ant and Bluetooth), gone are the days when I would manually compare lap times, calories burned etc by pressing buttons on my watch. Today I wirelessly upload this data to my favourite smartphone fitness/weight loss app while I’m running. With a swipe of my finger I instantly have detailed analysis of my workout.
The Mio team understand this trend towards fitness tracking apps. All the data that you find typically in a heart rate watch are still available it’s just fed and handled better by a tracking app on your smart phone. Leaving the Mio Alpha to do what is really important – providing a highly accurate heart rate reading during your workout.
In order not to make this article any longer then it already is, stay tuned for my in depth look at the Mio Alpha’s ground breaking technology and the run down of its features and capabilities …
Cash for comment? Nope!
Some skeptics out there might say – ‘you’re singing it’s praises because you are selling the Mio Alpha’ - fair comment, but wrong call!
I too research and read reviews before personally making purchasing decisions, I’m sure you’re no different. Reviews are important, that’s why I /my team test all our products in the ‘real world’ – not from behind a desk. You can be assured we’ll give credit where credit is a due, highlight drawbacks in design or functionality. “A warts and all’ approach ensures our product reviews offer you a first hand account of the Mio Alpha.
Our Pedometers Australia team is not only passionate about health & fitness products but also our main focus is ensuring you buy the right product for your fitness and weight loss goals. We don’t just ‘sell’ the products we use them too.
If you have questions, need some advice, want to have ‘your say’ on the Mio Alpha, please leave a comment below, give us a call or drop us an email and we’ll be happy to chat to you about the Mio Alpha strapless continuous heart rate monitor.