While a heart rate monitor is a very useful device for sport enthusiasts, the chest strap is rather a nuisance. Enter the Mio Alpha Heart Rate Monitor, which functions as a watch and also monitors your heart-rate. The Alpha had it’s start as a crowd funded project and is now in production and available for $199.
The question is if the Alpha can accurately read your heart rate without a strap. There is a small light on the backside of the watch that measures your rate even while you’re running. It’s fairly comfortable on the wrist with a silicone band that fits both men and women. The slim dimensions are nice but the display is somewhat limited as far as how much information you get read. Though the large, easy to read digits make up for that to a degree.
Basically you just need to stand still until it gets an accurate reading of your pulse, where a subsequent tone then signals. You can also set it so that an alert sounds if you exceed your pre-determined heart rate threshold. Red and blue signify your rate being exceedingly high or low respectively. You can connect wirelessly via Bluetooth to your smart phone and combine the reading with a GPS app.
Unfortunately you can only define a single zone for your heart rate, so if your rate is fluctuating in between routines, you’ll notice it doesn’t pick up on this. All you’ll get back is what your current rate is relative to your set rate. While you can silence the alert, the data is still recorded on the smart phone app. Also the device isn’t configured to smooth out the readings, meaning you will see constant peaks and valleys. While the information can be combined with a GPS app, it doesn’t perform the task itself, which is a bit disappointing. You also can’t connect it to a PC or Mac, which is bit limiting. It also comes with a USB charging station for the rechargable lithium polymer battery, which attaches magnetically to the back of the watch.
The Mio Alpha Heart Rate Monitor is a pretty cool device for those looking for a heart rate monitor without the chest strap. There is ample room for improvement. It’s a little stripped down in the functionality department but it gets the basics right. The watch might not quite be that which competitive athletes are looking for, but that’s not the target their aiming for here at any rate. For the price, it seem like a good buy as long as you don’t expect too much.
Check out CNET’s video….