kolmapäev, 29. jaanuar 2014

Less is more - the Mio ALPHA

Since the introduction of smartphones, tablets and other little gadgets into our lives, training has never been that engaging, social and easy to monitor like before. My work as an iOS developer at Sportlyzer gets me in touch with a lot of new sports-gadgets, which are made to make training easier, more fun, social, exciting, adventurous, bla bla bla... Mobile apps that count your squats, wristbands that count your push-ups, watches that analyse your swimming technique, glasses that show you the best route to the next McDonalds - I've seen them all! I believe agegroupers have never had such a huge tech-support while going for their 8k Sunday run.

Polar F6
Let me show you what used to be my favourite sports-watch. I made the background myself - pretty neat! It has been my favourite watch for over 7 years, although I sometimes had to take it apart and put it on the radiator because it was soaking wet. Never the less it worked perfectly and still does. It measures heart rate and even has a alarm clock to wake me up in the morning (or drive my girlfriend nuts, because I've had the alarm for 7:15a.m. each day since 2009).

By the way, I also own a couple of other sport watches, like the Timex Ironman Global trainer and a Garmin and about 5 or 6 HR-chest straps from different companies. But I still love to keep it simple and I prefer the F6.

Let's compare my all-time favourite with today's most popular sport watches... you will spot some differences:

  • Watches seem to be able to track nearly everything I do (GPS, accelerometer, power-meter etc.)
  • Countless new features (customisable training zones, virtual trainer, workout templates, multipart workouts..)  
  • More options, more menus - limitless fun and adventures while studying a new watch
  • Bigger watches, bigger displays, more buttons, more sensors
  • Most watches come along with their own online training platform (garminconnect, polar personal trainer...)
  • Compatibility with smartphones, other sensors, mobile apps, facebook etc.
  • ... the chest strap? Well... nothing fancy there.
I guess the last point is something you have never really thought about. And yet, the chest strap is one of the key elements when using a sports-watch because otherwise how do you get to monitor your heart rate, right? We do have super-accurate GPS-watches, watches using gyroscope and accelerometer data to recognise our movements, even different swim styles. These super-watches all connect to your smartphones, communicate with a ton of mobile apps and upload our workouts even before we can get under the shower. Everybody can see your routes on Strava, Endomondo etc. Yet you still have to wear that silly and wet band around your chest... why? 

Because you are used to it! It is already programmed into your brain, that when you go for a run you start by looking for your chest strap. Otherwise there is no use of your sports-watch. I was also used to it to it until I got the order to make the Sportlyzer Sportstracker app compatible with a new gadget called Mio ALPHA. Mio ALPHA is the first continuous heart rate sport watch that measures your heart rate directly from your wrist. After implementing the code and testing the watch during training, I knew, that this was going to be "the next big thing" on the market, that I even put away my Polar F6.

Now I am really happy to be a proud owner of a Mio ALPHA watch and a Mio Brand Champion.

I'm not going to write a long review about how it works compared to my other sport watches - other bloggers have done that and there is a list of them at the end of this post. I've had the watch for a couple of weeks now and here is why I love it.

Here is why I love the Mio ALPHA:

  • It works - no matter what I do, no matter where I am
  • It is so simple to use
  • I don't have to worry any more about a thing
  • It helps me to focus on the important things
  • It is really comfortable and looks great (even my girlfriend likes it)
Mio Global is not the only company working on measuring heart rates directly from your wrist. There are a couple of other startups working on basically the same thing, but Mio ALPHA is the first one with a reliable watch designed for athletes. Unlike its competitors, who are working on all-day monitoring systems, Mio focuses on doing one thing really well and this is measuring your heart rate during training. Even at really high intensities (HR > 190bpm) the Mio ALPHA keeps its accuracy and that's something even some of my heart rate straps have problems with! Of corse you can argue, that it has no GPS, accelerometer or gyroscope, but how often do you need that stuff anyway? I choose my pace looking at my heart rate and not the latest Strava updates of my friends.
Sometimes less is more!

Here are some articles and reviews about the Mio ALPHA:

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