Love the idea of using a heart rate monitor but don't want the hassle of a chest strap? Then here is the watch for you. The Mio Alpha 2 is designed to give you all the benefits of heart rate training at your wrist allowing you to train smarter. Commit, connect, monitor and improve your training intensity with this heart rate sports watch.
In the Box
The watch comes in a small white box like all the rest of the Mio family, equipped with the watch itself, your quickstart guide and foldable USB charger. First things first, you need to charge the device, which is simple and easy to do by unfolding the handy charging clip and attaching it to your watches magnetic strip which sits behind the watch face, after a few hours of charging your watch is ready and raring to go. The battery can last up to 24 hours in training mode, or Mio claim the battery can provide up to three months of life in regular mode, but who buys a fitness watch and doesn’t use the heart rate for three months? You’d be missing out on this watches best feature.
Mio Alpha 2 Boxed
The Alpha 2 look is quite clearly a sports watch, with its digital face and silicone strap. Its chunky design dominated my small wrists, but the strap features breathing holes which double up as fasteners, which meant that I was still able to fit the watch snugly around my wrist, this is vital for accurate heart rate readings, but try not to tighten it to the point you cut off your circulation. These holes are very useful for adjusting the watch precisely, as well as allowing your skin to breathe. The large LED screen is clear and easy to read at a glance during activity, even without my glasses, however, I do feel the watch is quite masculine and I can’t help but wonder if people think I’m wearing a man’s watch.
Once it’s charged, you press and hold any button to activate your MIO ALPHA 2. Whilst this may seem simple enough, I feel it is important to mention that the buttons are so well integrated into the side of the watches design, that initially I found them hard to find. I also had difficulty with the screen and buttons sensitivity. The buttons are quite hard to select, for example, the screen says it takes just two firm taps to activate its backlight, but it seemed to take multiple of my perhaps wimpier attempts, whilst this doesn’t depreciate from the watches performance, it can be frustrating when you just want to quickly start tracking or view your statistics and it took a little getting used to. The user then enters basic details such as age, weight and gender in order for the watch to calculate your training zones. Once I got used to the watched sensitivity, the integration of the buttons actually became one of the watches strengths as there was no opportunity for me to accidentally start workouts or hit buttons whilst I’m working, which I have experienced with other trackers.
Strapless Heart Rate Monitoring
To enter into heart rate mode with the Alpha 2, Mio recommend you wear the watch slightly higher up your wrist than you usually would for regular wear, in order to get the most accurate heart rate readings. When you are ready to work out, you simply press and hold the timer button until the watch beeps and flashes ‘find’ and the watch then begins its heart rate hunt. In my experience this hunt can last anywhere from 20 seconds to a few minutes, so it's worth starting the find a few minutes before your warm up to ensure your watch is ready to track whatever training you’re doing. Once you begin training the watch automatically picks up your heart rate and shows you which training zone you are working in throughout your session. The watch actually comes with two heart rate zone settings 5 zones and single zone, though it automatically begins monitoring in 5 zones mode. BPM is displayed throughout the workout in this setting and a small LED light flashes colour coded responses as you enter each of your different training zones, these mimic the colours users will become familiar with from data feedback provided on the Mio app’s graphs. During training, users can read their heart rate with a simple glance, or select the mode button to scroll through their time, calories, pace, distance, heart rate and timer.
Alpha 2 Set-Up Screens
I was impressed by the accuracy of the heart rate for a wrist-based watch. The heart rate seemed to keep up with me and match my level of exertion throughout training. The second way the Alpha 2 can be used for heart rate recognition is in single zone mode. Here the user sets up their desired heart rate target zone using the app and then begins training. If their heart rate drops above or below the desired zone, the watch gives a vibration alert, so the user can move back on target, like having a miniature personal trainer buzzing at your wrist.
Mio 2 Heart Rate Zones
Lap Timer, Pace and Distance
Despite it’s lack of a GPS tracker the Mio Alpha 2 does have a distance tracking feature, for which it uses 3 - axis accelerometer tracking, whilst this may not be as effective as GPS tracking, it’s a useful feature for giving an approximate distance, particularly for runners. The watch also has a lap timer and pace monitor, great for tracking the average speed of your run or challenging yourself to beat the last lap. A single press of the heart rate button during training marks ‘go’ and commences your first lap, pushing it again will start lap 2 and so on. The watch is also waterproof to 30m, so you can take your laps to the pool, or run without a worry in the rain.
Mio Alpha 2 Searching for Heart Rate
Mio Alpha 2 Displaying Heart Rate
With 24 hours workout data stored on the watch itself and your weeks training easily accessible on the app this watch is sure to enhance your training. I would recommend this watch as a first heart rate tracker for runners, or for those who don’t want to sift through lots of data as the watches feedback is simple and precise. Though the watch may not do as much as what other fitness watches, what this watch does do, it does well.
My final thought for the Mio Alpha 2? Quality not quantity.