Mio Alpha Review: A Strapless Continuous Heart Rate Monitor for Your Wrist
By all accounts the Mio Alpha is a watch. But it’s so much more than that.
With the rise and growth of the InterWeb we as a society have been subjected to a bevy of imaginative language that stretches the credulity of grammar. After all, Google wasn’t a word let alone a verb synonymous with search a decade ago. Shakespeare himself didn’t create as much language that has been instantly absorbed into the zeitgeist than that of Al Gore’s most famous creation. So in having spent over two weeks with Mio’s latest creation, the Alpha strapless continuous heart rate monitor, I was introduced to a new Internet buzzword; APP-cessory.
By all accounts the device on my wrist is a watch. It rests on my wrist just like a watch. Its digital display shows four numbers representing the current time just like a watch. It’s got an adjustable band that keeps it firmly snug just like a watch. These simple facts notwithstanding I would be remiss if I said the device was merely a watch, as it is simultaneously so much more and less than that.
This new Mio App-cessory is a tool, that when placed on the wrist and secured above the wrist bone towards the elbow will give an accurate heart rate reading no matter the speed you are biking and up to 14 mph while running. It does so by utilizing green light technology that is projected into your wrist. When said light enters your bloodstream only a portion is reflected and returned to the sensor thus giving you your readout. And now, as the user, it’s on you to utilize this data in whatever way you see fit.
The purpose of this product was not merely a heart monitor as anyone can make those. It was to create a simple, straight-forward tool that when combined with an app on your phone or tablet makes monitoring and keeping track of your workout data a seamless and user-friendly process. The paint brush is only as good as the artist that wields it and in this case the monitor and data are only as useful as the athlete scrutinizing them. To their credit Mio has designed a simple, clean device with straight lines and a smart ergonomic design that compliments the simplicity of its functionality. It literally has two buttons, one on each side. The left sets the time and the right checks heart rate. There is a small light in the middle that shines blue, green or red depending on your heartrate. And that’s it. If you’re looking for a chronometer or a backlight or any other bells & whistles you’l be forced to look elsewhere. This product is designed to get your heart rate into your phone so you can better monitor and adjust your training regimen, not check Greenwich Mean Time, and while they will be coming out with an app of their own the Mio is designed to allow the user to utilize whichever app they like or have become accustomed to using. Battery life is solid, stating a definite 8-10 hours but thats a minimum and contingent upon use and charging is a breeze.
The only real drawback is the device is designed specifically for running or biking as a straight wrist is necessary for a reliable reading. Any workout regimen with wrist twisting or flexing makes the device give spotty readings so yoga, CrossFit and weightlifting are out. So who is this App-cessory good for?
Anyone familiar with heart monitors knows that traditionally they have been attached to a chest strap that goes over your heart, or at times can be placed on the upper back. These can be invasive, shift around while exercising and god forbid you do anything where you fall and impale yourself on it. For anyone looking for a less invasive monitor, this is a good solution. The athlete looking to take their training to the next level may also want easy to obtain data for themselves to use their limited training time as efficiently as possible. For the layman/luddite who’s doctor or family insists on a regimen that gets them out ahead of their genetically predisposed heart issues the Mio offers an option for those that aren’t tech savvy while still being sleek and efficient tool for the first adopters out there. Truly an exercise in juxtaposition, the Mio is simple looking and effective device designed for simplicity and results, the likes of which you can do with as you see fit.