With technology becoming more precise and people becoming more obsessed with using data to fine tune their workouts, the popularity of wearables continues to grow. While it appears that some degree of convergence is taking place, the perfect all-in-one device for the right price point continues to be elusive. Even for a mountain trail runner and self-proclaimed data geek that is loyal to my Garmin Fenix watch, I still find it to be overkill with some things and lacking in others, such as cross training activities like weight lifting and circuit training. For one, I HATE wearing heart rate straps. Second, my watch is really geared toward running-related activities, not those with less forward movement. It is for these reasons that I ultimately discovered the Mio Fuse. Initially, I was looking for something that was easy to use that would allow me to keep track of my heart rate without using a strap. After using it though, I found that I could get much more out of it. Let’s take a look…
In The Box
The Mio Fuse comes in a very small, eco-friendly package. It is usable within a couple minutes of taking it out the box after some quick configuration (through the Mio Go smart phone app). It also comes in two different sizes, based on your wrist size.
Price: $149, includes:
- USB Charger
I found the price of the watch to be comparable to other wearables on the market with similar functionality.
Look and Feel
The Mio Fuse is primarily black with an accent color (currently blue for the smaller version and red for the larger). It has a somewhat wider look to it, being about 1 1/4″ at its widest point. The band is rubberized, making it comfortable during active and everyday wear. I have worn it for several days without taking it off with no comfort issues. I did find that if I wear it too tight, the holes on the band do start to bother me wrist, but that is quickly resolved by adjusting the fit.
The Mio Fuse offers a number of benefits, both from an activity tracker and heart rate monitor perspective.
- The key feature of Mio products are their ability to accurately track your heart rate through your wrist using a sensor on the underside of the device. YAY, NO STRAPS! In fact, Mio is a leading patent owner in this technology (many other brands actually use Mio technology). What’s more, I found the accuracy to be perfect. When wearing my heart rate strap at the same time, the numbers to be nearly identical, with the strap being more flaky at times than the Fuse.
- Activity tracker and workout modes allow you to track your key stats. This allows you to use the device all day. The HR sensor only functions in workout mode, which allows you to Maximize battery life. Stats, such as distance and pace are calculated using an internal accelerometer, all based on your movement throughout the day.
- Touch activated buttons on the Fuse allow you to quickly cycle through your data. Key information includes:
- Steps (in activity mode)
- Heart Rate (in workout mode)
- The battery life is pretty solid, with about seven days during activity mode and over six hours in activity mode. This on par or longer with many of the other devices on the market. The USB charger has a small footprint and snaps magnetically to the back of the watch, charging through contacts on the back.
Smart Phone Integration
The Mio Fuse easily integrates to iOS and Android smart phones through the Mio Go app. I read some unfavorable early reviews of the iPhone app, but I have to say that my experience was quite the opposite. This tells me that Mio listened to the feedback and made the necessary improvements to the app. It provides a clean, easy to use interface for configuring the Fuse and provides all of the key data, including steps, distance, calorie burn, average speed, average heart rate, and pace.
Key Uses for the Endurance Runner
As I mentioned, I am an avid fan of my Garmin watch for my running activities, so I wasn’t sure how the Mio Fuse would fit in to what I do. I did find a few instances were the Fuse is beneficial from this perspective.
- I have officiallt started to use the Fuse in place of my HR strap on all of my runs. It easily syncs with my Garmin, allowing me to ditch my HR strap.
- The Fuse is much better during cross training, where my HR strap would often get in the way and cause discomfort.
- Many of the higher end watches, my Garmin Fenix 3 included, have a large wrist footprint. As a guy with somewhat smaller wrists, I have found that I prefer to wear the Mio Fuse for everyday wear.
My Final Thoughts
- Extremely accurate heart rate tracking through the wrist. Mio nailed it with their HR technology. I found it to be as accurate as my heart rate strap and more reliable.
- Works with my Garmin via ANT+. This allows me to use it as my HR monitor when I am running in place of the strap.
- Comfortable for everyday wear.
- I have found that the steps and distance underestimate by about 15% compared to other devices. I understand that this is on purpose as Mio believes other brands often overestimate, but you definitely need to take it into account. On the bright side, if it gets you to walk even more steps in actuality to meet your goal, that isn’t a bad thing right?
- No sleep mode. A lot of people like to track their sleep patterns and heart rate. I think this a key missing features versus some of their competition.
I also love the innovative mindset of the company and I have really enjoyed my Mio Fuse overall. As an endurance runner, such as myself, using it in cooperation with my Garmin is fantastic. I love that I can get rid of my heart rate monitor strap. I think this is also a strong option for users looking for a solid activity tracker that they can also use to track their heart rate workouts, but don’t necessarily want to break the bank. The current version of the Mio Go app and its simplicity definitely rounds out the great user experience of the product. Overall, I would say that given the solid features and functions of the Mio Fuse and the trailblazing approach of the folks at Mio, this product is definitely worth a look.
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