When running, a common measure to gauge effort is to use a Heart Rate Monitor or HRM abbreviated. The issue I’ve always had with HRMs is that I found them inaccurate. They traditionally go around your chest and I found that mid-run they often slide down. Also, fundamentally, I didn’t like the feeling of a strap around my chest.
So one day in 2012 via DC’s blog, I noticed an optical HRM available for backing on kickstarter. It’s essentially a watch, that has green lights at the back, that reads your Heart Rate whilst strapped on to your wrist. So no chest strap required.
I backed this project and fast forward to October 2013 and my mio alpha is ready to ship.
Firstly, let’s be clear on what this product does. It essentially just replaces your HRM strap. It doesn’t replace your GPS watch or iPhone Runkeeper/Strava app. That is, you still need something to collect and store the data if you want to upload it somewhere afterwards. Think of it as just a replacement for your strap. It sends the data via Bluetooth to your device.
Next point, is that I absolutely LOVE this watch. It’s so easy to use and it does it’s job “ALMOST” perfectly. One of my other gripes with the chest HRMs, is that you don’t get feedback on whether you’ve strapped it on properly or if it is transmitting properly, unless you go to your watch or phone. With the Mio, you can press a button and see if has read your HR or not. Simple as that.
So why do I say ALMOST perfect. Well here are a few minor negative points about the Mio. Sometimes it doesn’t find my HR. I’ve got pretty thin boney wrists and I’ve been told that if it is positioned over the bones, it won’t detect your HR. The other negative is that I find I need to strap it quite tightly. For others, it may not be tight, but for me, it’s tighter than what I would normally strap a watch. I also have had some issues with getting the charger to connect reliably to the Mio. It’s not as bad as a Forerunner 610 and its charger, but it’s a bit too fiddly for my liking at times.
Also, it’s battery life is awesome. I run on average 4-5 hours a week, and it lasts for at least a month. It’s never fully depleted before I charge it again.
This type of technology has really taken off. Mio have released another version of this called a MioLink which is essentially the same device just without the watch element. It has a more wrist band form factor. Mio have also licensed this product in a number of other watches like the adidas smart run and the tom tom cardio runner.
In summary, if you’re sick and tired of a chest based HRM, you should definitely check out the Mio Alpha. If you want a more detailed review, please read DC’s here. He’s the king of fitness gadgets.