Activity Trackers: Mio Fuse review – Heart rate monitoring meets activity tracking

Mio, the heart rate monitoring specialist, announced the Mio Fuse activity band over in Vegas at CES 2015.

The Mio Fuse is designed for BPM based training and taps into the company’s heritage with optical heart rate monitoring; as well as already launching its own devices such as the Link and the Alpha, you’ll also find Mio’s sensors on board GPS running watches such as the TomTom Runner Cardio and the Adidas miCoach Smart Run.

Mio Fuse: Design and display

It’s big. That’s the first thing you think when opening up the Fuse box. At 30mm wide it’s a fair bit chunkier than the likes of the Fitbit Charge HR or the Garmin Vivosmart, although it does still weigh less than 40g and is plenty comfortable on the wrist.

We say on the wrist – for more accurate heart rate readings during workouts (more on that later) you should actually wear the Fuse slightly higher up your arm than you would a regular wristwatch. This takes some getting used to and the natural contour of your lower arm makes maintaining this position a little tricky.

The Fuse actually comes in two sizes – the aqua version is for little lady wrists and the red one is for manly men. That’s a massive generalisation of course. For reference, we had the aqua one slapped on our wrist for testing and it fitted just fine.

The strap itself is made of soft silicone and there’s plenty of holes drilled in, which not only helps to keep your wrist cool, it also gives you plenty of sizing options when it comes to clasping up.

The LED based display is bright, clear and responsive and you’ll have no issues browsing through the various info and goal screens on offer. A quick tap on the raised spots either side of the display will bring up the time and further tapping reveals the other metrics available to you.

There are no smartwatch notifications, even basic ones like incoming calls or text alerts, although there have been some whispers coming out of Mio Towers that these functions could arrive with a firmware upgrade in the near future.

 

Mio Fuse: Fitness tracking

The Mio Fuse is essentially a bpm monitor with a few fitness tracker features thrown in; including step counting, distance measuring and calorie burn guestimating (both resting and active).

You’ll notice we didn’t mention sleep tracking. Although a future software update is set to add it to the mix, it’s missing from the Fuse at present. There’s no altimeter either, so no stair counting from the Fuse.

What you will get is fairly consistent step tracking – we found the amounts counted daily to be more on a par with the ‘stingy’ Withings Activité Pop than the more generous Fitbit brigade.

The distance recording is also pretty good for a device not packing GPS. Our 11km run recorded as 10.77km, which is a pretty impressive algorithm-powered measurement.

Mio FUSE Heart Rate Training + Activity Tracker.

$143.95

Mio Fuse: Heart rate monitoring workouts

Unlike the Basis Peak, Charge HR or Microsoft Band, the heart rate monitoring isn’t of the 24/7 variety – it’s simply designed to be used during workouts. Starting a workout from the band is simple enough – it’s a long press to fire up the optical sensor and then a quick tap to start the timer once your heart rate has been detected. You tap again to pause or finish and you can then edit the workout type in the app.

We know what you’re thinking – why not just leave the device in workout mode all the time for continuous bpm recording? Battery life is the answer. We tried this method and the Fuse conked out after about 8 hours.

One brilliant aspect of the heart rate recording, apart from its accuracy, is by using the magic of ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart connectivity, you can transmit your live bpm reading to either another device, such as a GPS running watch or a bike computer, or a third-party running app. The Mio Fuse plays nicely with a wide range of devices and apps – we had no problems syncing it up with a couple of Garmin running watches, as well as with Runtastic and RunKeeper.

When you’re in a workout a flashing coloured light will tell you what zone you are in (you can opt for either a three or five zone training setup) and you’ll also get a vibration buzz as you change between these. It’s a very effective method of bpm training and we even found it worked quite well in the pool – it’s waterproof up to 30m.

Mio Fuse: The app

The app the Fuse syncs up with, Mio Go, isn’t the most comprehensive companion we’ve used; with a title display showing total workout time, distance and calories and daily breakdowns of stats and workout data.

Digging deeper into the workouts that have been recorded and you’re presented with an overview, a detailed heart rate graph and various averages and maximums – speed, pace, bpm, zone and so on. It’s interesting and easy to use, if somewhat limited.

We also found the pairing aspect of the app to be a little temperamental. Sometimes it had our Fuse listed three times – ‘nearby’, ‘disconnected’, and ‘waiting’ and the only way we could get it to sync was to remove the ‘waiting’ one and repair the one listed as ‘nearby’. A bit annoying and this happened a few times (we were using an iPhone 6 Plus, by the way).

Within the app you can alter the order that metrics are displayed, choose the daily goal target, mix up the LED alert frequencies and tell the Fuse what wrist you’re going to be wearing it on.

Mio Fuse: Battery life

Battery life is very impressive on the Mio Fuse – we got over a week’s worth of life from ours on one occasion, despite us wearing it along to a couple of 1 hour runs.

We did, as mention, hammer the battery by leaving a workout mode on continuously, but for ‘normal’ use you can easily expect to get the 6-7 days the Fuse creators promise from it.

However, when it comes to charging – it’s pretty awkward. The cable and magnetic clasp is nicely portable, and even tucks in on itself. The trouble is though, it’s so small that you can only really charge from a laptop USB port on a flat surface. From the mains, you can’t get the band to attach firmly enough as it doesn’t reach the floor.

The Mio Fuse is a decent wearable, with accurate heart rate monitoring, an easy to use app and a comfortable, if somewhat slightly oversized, design. If you look at it as simply a bpm based device with some activity extras thrown in, it does the job, although the omission of basic sleep monitoring, notifications and silent alarms are a bit baffling. At £130 / $149 it’s going head-to-head with the more feature packed, and complete, Fitbit Charge HR though – so it’s quite hard to fully recommend it.


Hit
  • Accurate heart rate monitoring
  • Okay to use in the pool
  • Decent battery life
  • Plenty of third party support
Miss
  • No sleep monitoring
  • Bulky design
  • No smartphone notifications
  • Pairing is a bit buggy
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  • Last comments
I have been looking for a comparative review of these two products. Since I couldn’t find one, I decided to do it myself. I put each through a meticulous week of training and will display my findings as simply as possible. I have a lot of information that I am condensing so if you have any further questions, please ask.For my test, I did a range of different exercises including HIIT, SMIT, medium intensity steady state cardio, jogging, and weight training. Though neither device can truly give a comprehensive measurement for weight training, my lifting style fluctuates my heart rate enough to quantify a decent calorie burn, so I included it.Also, please note that I tried various adjustments including alternate arms, wrist spacing and tightness. I literally ran the gambit, and in some cases, it made a major difference. I have pretty large wrists/forearms, so regardless of position, both devices had little trouble finding a baseline pulse. I used the Samsung Galaxy S5 as my control since it was rated as top notch against EKG machines.So, let’s begin with the meat of these new devices: heart rate tracking.Fitbit Charge HR does not do well with spikes, on either arm. In fact, the display would often display “- -“ and not find a suitable rate for at least 30 seconds. When doing HIIT/SMIIT, 30 seconds can be an eternity in documenting measurements. When it did come through, it was still 10-15 beats slower than the Mio and the S5. I had little issue with the Mio Fuse. It wasn’t perfect, but I usually had a solid reading within 3-5 seconds, and I would say 90% of the time, it was in line with the S5.Read more ›
January 25, 2015
First, I never write reviews but had to in light of two things:1) the silly things people wrote about this product because they don't read directions or look at the FAQ's on website to trouble shoot their problems2) this great productI'm an avid exercise guy. I train 6 days a week and 7 when I can. It's my outlet being a father of 2 young boys and trying to keep up with them! I wanted something that would track my daily caloric burn and collaborate with myfitnesspal app so I could stay motivated by keeping my stats. (Full integration with the said app is coming but for now I just manually transfer my stats.)Pros:- comfortable- you have to wear any HRM two inches above your wrist. If you don't, you won't get a good reading. This is universal because of the ergonomics of your wrist. It has nothing to do with this device. (Ignorant comment by other users on this)- accurate HEart Rate- it is highly accurate if you wear it right- screen design and controls- controls are very simple, as opposed to some people who said it's complicated. Pressing one button and holding until you see it say "find" while calculating your HR is something I taught my 5 year old to do.- ALL DAY HR Monitor- it will track your HR all day if you want without going into "workout mode"; this just will run your battery down in 11-13 hrs as the FAQ's say on their website; simply hold the top button until it says "find" and it will begin tracking your heart rate. It will not enter "workout mode" until you tap the same button again and "go" appears. Then you will have a workout started with timer and stats being saved to the band.- Step Counter- this is also accurate from everything I can tell. Not sure why others are saying its 1000 steps off.Read more ›
January 1, 2015
Update 03/04/15: Item returned.Got frustrated with the lame and boring looking app which wasn't giving me the information I wanted. There have been promises about updates of different capacities that are just taking too long for me to enjoy this item. (sleep tracking - not urgent for me, but has been mentioned, still not here yet) - (logging meals - they're waiting on MFP or sometign of the sort...- ), I don't go running/cycling very often, so syncing with runkeeper/strata, etc does nothing for me. I do mostly weight lifting and HIIT workouts - non of which are there for me to add as the type of workout I did/do. I'd like to compare my progress from the last time a certain activity was done, there's no way to do that since i cant even list the activity I actually do. The app shows your activity as just one list of daily events - that's it. Thanks for the one update as to being able to tell the battery level, but it's just not enough information for me to actually use in this app. I threw in the towel when the app started being erratic with saving/showing my daily activity. It either erases the previous days activity or doesn't show my culminated activity at the end of the day. Thankfully the company did offer to replace it, but when I considered how much the app just wasn't the thing for me, I was happy that amazon was accepting the return, and so I wouldn't have to worry about the dated UI of the app once and for all. I know I probably sound like a spoiled brat - sorry - thanks to Jawbone UP app for spoiling me. The device does everything it advertises, but the app - ugh,I just cant anymore with it. I'll go activity-tracker-less for a while and see what else comes out during the course of this year.Read more ›
December 10, 2014
Activity Trackers: Mio Fuse review – Heart rate monitoring meets activity tracking
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