Activity Trackers: Mio Alpha 2 – Mio’s second-gen heart rate tracker

One of the first watches to bring optical heart rate monitoring to the wrist, the Mio Alpha was pretty ground breaking when it arrived on the sports tracking scene.

Now Mio is back with the $199 Alpha 2. It’s up against far tougher competition with lots of fitness trackers choosing to give us BPM updates minus the chest strap.

So has Mio’s latest fitness watch got what it takes to keep our hearts racing?

Mio Alpha 2: Design and display

Looks-wise there’s no doubt that the Mio Alpha 2 is a wearable built for sport. And an attractive one at that. With a nice ergonomic curved screen that’s integrated almost seamlessly into a familiar soft silicone strap, it’s one of the better looking fitness watches we’ve seen.

There is a caveat. Despite the fact it comes in three different sizes, the strap and face are still pretty wide so if you’ve got small wrists then the Mio is going to come up pretty big.

The watch face features two buttons neatly integrated to the left and right of the old school LCD digital display. These are so well integrated, in fact, it’s actually hard to find them the first time. But you’ll forgive that for what the Alpha 2 gives back in sleek looks.

Once you’ve found the buttons, working out what they do is also a bit of a struggle. These days we’re so used to Apple-esque simplicity that the notion of going into the manual feels like a fail.

Sadly, the Alpha 2 had us flummoxed, forcing us to flip pages to work out the controls. There actually aren’t that many as the Alpha 2 is pretty restricted in terms of its feature set. But somehow they’ve still managed to make the limited functions hard to fathom.

Following the paired-back theme, the Alpha 2’s display itself gives you fairly limited info with icons for battery life, current mode, heart rate indicator and heart rate BPM during a workout.

There’s also a little coloured LED light just below the screen that flashes a different colour to give you a nice visual reminder of which heart rate zone you’re working in. Meanwhile, vibrating alerts give you a gentle jolt when you drop out of the zones which also makes it easier to ensure you’re working to get the right training effect.

Mio ALPHA 2 Heart Rate Monitor Sports Watch

$158.33

Mio ALPHA 2 Sport Watch Heart Rate Monitor. The Mio ALPHA 2 Sport Watch Heart Rate Monitor provides EKG-accurate, continuous heart rate monitoring at performance levelsGCoall without a chest strap. A ...

Made by: Mio, Available: In stock

Mio Alpha 2: Features

During a workout, use the left button to scroll through a series of stats including a simple timer, calorie count, pace, distance and of course current heart rate.

There’s actually two types of heart rate training modes to choose from: one that tracks you and alerts you when you’re moving outside of a single zone and a second mode that keeps tabs on your BPM across all five training zones.

Although the Mio Alpha can count your steps during a workout, for some strange reason they’ve decided not to use that functionality to track your everyday movement. It feels like a missed trick in a watch that desperately needs more features.

Another glaring omission is the lack of built-in GPS with pace and distance stats calculated using an accelerometer. While runners and cyclists will find that a little hard to swallow, swimmers will be pleased to hear the Alpha 2 is at least water resistant up to 30 meters (3 ATM).

Mio Alpha 2: Compatibility

One of the Alpha 2’s strengths is the ability to buddy up the watch with apps like MapMyRun, Strava, Wahoo and Endomondo.

If you’re frustrated with the lack of features, the Alpha 2 could be paired with your smartphone, adding heart rate monitoring to the functionality that these brilliant apps already offer.

 

Mio Apha 2: Heart rate tracking

The Alpha 2 was fast to detect heart rate, picking up our BPM within ten seconds every time we used it in testing. Up against the Polar M400 with a chest strap the stats were nicely consistent. While not entirely a scientific test there’s at least anecdotally an equal level of accuracy in the Mio and its chest-worn competitor to keep us satisfied.

 

One thing we’d love to have seen included is a feature that fires the optical heart rate automatically every hour or so during the day to help build a more complete picture of how heart rate, including your resting rate, varies. With smart garments on the horizon that are likely to offer this, fitness tracking watches will need to compete and this would have have been a welcome additional feature.

Mio Alpha 2: Mio GO app

While the Mio Alpha 2 has enough on-board storage for up to 24 hours of workout stats, your data can also be automatically synced with the partnering Mio GO smartphone app for iOS and Android using Bluetooth Smart.

We’re sorry to say that Mio GO lacks any kind of finesse. The automatic syncing only worked intermittently and even when we had managed to get our data across, what the app gives you is nothing to write home about.

The basics are all there, like pace, speed, average and maximum heart rate along with calories, distance and the heart rate zone you spend most time in during your session. But that’s it. And as far as we could see, you have to tell the app in retrospect what you were actually doing, whether running, cycling or swimming etc.

One major omission is that the app lacks any monthly totals overview. There’s no way of seeing how you’ve been progressing over time or any way to compare workouts. Add to this the lack of community, social sharing or rewards and it all feels a bit flat. If simple, fuss-free is your thing then this might strike a chord with you but all in all we’ve come to expect more.

Mio Alpha 2: Battery life

Mio claims its lithium-polymer battery will run for up to three months in simple watch mode while we found you’d get somewhere around 20 hours of tracking in heart rate mode from a single charge.

The Mio Alpha 2 comes with its own unique charging dock and while it’s certainly far from the only device that takes this approach rather than straight forward Micro USB charging, it’s no less frustrating. Particularly as the Mio’s dock is attached to roughly 2cm of cable. Useless if your plugs are more than 5cm from the floor.

Hit
  • Waterproof
  • Comfortable
  • Accurate heart rate tracking
Miss
  • Not enough features
  • Lacklustre app
  • Expensive

If you like things paired back, all you care about is heart rate tracking and you’ve got money lying around, this might just be your perfect heart rate monitor. But for everyone else the Mio Alpha 2 probably just doesn’t have enough. It carries a fairly premium price tag for a fitness tracker without packing the breadth of features to back it up. So while it looks good, is comfortable to wear and delivers accurate heart rate training data, with so many capable fitness trackers, smartwatches and smartphone apps on the market, the Alpha 2 just feels like it’s been left a bit behind.

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Mio ALPHA 2 Heart Rate Monitor Sports Watch

Mio ALPHA 2 Sport Watch Heart Rate Monitor. The Mio ALPHA 2 Sport Watch Heart Rate Monitor provides EKG-accurate, continuous heart rate monitoring at performance levelsGCoall without a chest strap. A ...

Available: In stock

$ 158.33

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amazon Activity Trackers: Mio Alpha 2   Mio’s second gen heart rate tracker amazon.com
I purchased this product as an alternative to replacing the Garmin FR70 Fitness Watch with Heart-Rate Monitor (Blue) and so far it has worked nicely. Don't get me wrong, I still like the Garmin heart rate monitor since it gives pretty accurate readings. However, the idea of using a strapless heart rate monitor was, in fact, what attracted me to this product in the first place. I've been using it daily since I purchased it, and the battery life has been pretty decent. In fact, I've only charged it twice and only for a few hours in the last week. The readings are for the most part comparable to what I usually get with the Garmin. Although sometimes it could be off by 5+/- calories, give or take. ----I've worn both at the same time while doing different activities in order to compare them.--- I've also been using the watch with the MIO GO app and so far I have no complaints. The only thing that is sometimes a little uncomfortable, which is not much of an issue once you get used to it, is that you must wear the watch above your wrist bone on the lower forearm. So for the first couple of workouts it feels a little weird, but after a while, you don't even notice it. Overall, I recommend this product, as it is practical, sleek, and quite modern.
January 14, 2015
My husband and I are both fairly active and enjoy seeing the results from our workouts. For my husband, who has used tons of different heart rate monitors, he has always had problems with the chest straps- whether they move during a workout, dig in, or are uncomfortable. One of the best features about the Mio Alpha 2 that sets it apart from the competition is that there is no chest strap necessary. When we received the Alpha 2, I was pleased that it already had some battery charge and I was able to use it immediately, versus waiting to charge it. I enjoy that there are customizable heart rate zones that you can set for your different workouts. During a workout, the watch will beep (optional) and light up when you switch between heart rate zones, which is great to help you stay on top of where your heart rate is and in the proper zone. At the end of a workout, the Alpha 2 gives you your workout stats immediately, and you can also download them to a variety of different fitness apps. For myself, the Mio Alpha 2 is a great way to be able to easily view my heart rate and how my workouts are progressing. For my husband, who plays professional hockey, the best aspect is not using a chest strap and having customizable heart rate zones. It is easy to adjust the settings on the watch for different people as well. Overall, we have really enjoyed using the Alpha 2 and will be recommending it to others.
January 23, 2015
I have been using this device for about 3 weeks paired with an iPhone 6 and multiple apps. I have used it for cycling, running and metabolic training. I bought this device because I wanted no chest strap and I wanted something mostly for HR and calorie counting during metabolic workouts. I did not want a Fitbit-style all day activity/lifestyle monitor. I did consider the Fitbit Surge as an alternativeThe Pros:1) NO CHEST STRAP!2) works reasonably well for running, walking and cycling activities3) charging and battery life are good4) Mio Go app enables setting parameters for the watch and goal HR zonesThe cons:1) DOES NOT WORK when my arm gets sweaty during metabolic workouts (HR readings as low as 34 when manual pulse is easily 150)2) The apps generally stink3) Bulky and awkward wearing location on forearmThere are 2 apps for use with the device: The MIO Go app and the Fit trip app. Both sync with the device but neither are particularly good apps. Fit trip may be OK for premium.I have previously used Map my run which doesn't work with this device. It may have in the past before Underarmor bought the app suite. Wahoo app works with it although the functionality of this app is basic. Endomondo worked well with it but I am not sure it will continue to since Underarmor bought this app suite as well. Also a premium app fee is necessary for the HR monitor capability. All apps are geared to run and cycling. None are really geared for gym-based workouts.Overall, I would not buy this again. Running and cycling are not my main activities and this just doesn't work when your arm sweats.
February 11, 2015
Activity Trackers: Mio Alpha 2 – Mio’s second-gen heart rate tracker
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