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Mio Alpha Strapless Heart Rate Monitor

Review: Mio Alpha Strapless Heart Rate Monitor

Elaine Bothe's picture

We Liked

If you've used a heart rate monitor, you'll agree that the chest strap is not the most comfortable thing you wear. They rarely fit me, especially the older styles with a wide plastic piece. They don't have a very good connection to my chest, so I don't get a reliable readout. Even my Garmin chest strap, which is much smaller and relatively more comfortable, still makes me itch, pinches and binds up on the edge of my sports bra. Plus, they're cold when you first put them on. Fun times.

The best part of the MIO Alpha Heart Rate Monitor is that there is no chest strap! Whoo hoo! When I saw a prototype at Interbike last year, I was thrilled about the technology and testing it out. Will it be the end-all, be-all to my discomfort? The answer is... yes, mostly. I think I've mentioned in previous reviews that I am a total Princess and the Pea, where tags and seams on clothing often bother me. I don't normally wear a watch or even much jewelry, so testing the MIO Alpha would be interesting.

I love there's no chest strap. I also like how easy the MIO Alpha is to use, especially during running and off-bike exercise. You just put it on and start working out. You can start pressing buttons and get where you want without even referring to the manual. Recharging it is simple, and the Bluetooth option connects to your smartphone to help you keep track of your efforts.

I also was impressed that I didn't have to wear the MIO Alpha super tight for it to register my heart rate, nor did I have to wait until I started sweating. The readout was practically instantaneos. The MIO Alpha is a great option for checking your heart rate first thing in the morning, when normal chest straps don't work well unless you get them wet first... so lovely first thing in the morning. Heart rate spike, anyone?

We Didn't Like

The MIO Alpha is a more comfortable heart rate monitor and watch, not a recording device. You have to have another piece of Bluetooth equipment to record, such as a smartphone with an appropriate app like Strava or Wahoo Fitness. I did not get it to read out on my Garmin. It would be nice to have an ANT+ option.

I also didn't like how if you need to wear a jacket and gloves, the MIO Alpha is unreadable since it needs to be next to your skin. I also found it difficult to constantly be having to roll my arm around to view the screen while riding. If you simply review your heart rates later, once you're finished this isn't a problem but generally, when I need my heart rate information the most is during interval workouts or out on my bike, often in cold weather.

The Final Say

Don't throw away your chest strap. For runners and hikers, indoor activities and warm weather during exercise when you don't need to always be looking at your heart rate, the MIO Alpha Strapless Heart Rate Monitor would be a useful and refreshing alternative to a clunky chest strap. If you have $199 to spend, it would be a good tool to have in addition to a traditional chest strap device but it won't replace anything yet.

Mostly, I'm very excited about the technology and am looking forward to the day when we don't need chest straps or even bulky watches. The MIO Alpha is a well-executed fabulous idea for what it is, and a giant technological leap. But for now, for a serious all-weather cyclist it's still in the "fun toy" category rather than an "indispensable tool."

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