The Mio Alpha 2 consists of the central watch unit that is seamlessly attached to a wide, soft silicone strap. It weighs in at under two ounces and comes in two sizes—or basically in male and female if the color coding is any indication. The yellow and black model is for wrists that are 5.3 to 7.5 inches in circumference, and the “punch pink” model is for smaller wrists from 5.2 to 6.5 inches.
The device has an optical heart rate sensor and a 3-axis accelerometer. It also includes Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity to communicate with the accompanying app on either an iOS or Android mobile device. It is water resistant to 30 meters, and Mio claims that the battery is good for up to 3 months when worn as a simple watch, or for approximately 20 to 24 hours of heart monitoring.
To begin with, you need to configure the Mio Alpha 2 with the current date and time, your height, weight, birth year, gender, max heart rate, and preferred measurement system—imperial or metric. The Mio Alpha 2 can be configured with up a resting heart rate range in addition to five zones for monitoring heart rate during workouts. There are zones for very light, light, moderate, hard, and maximum. Each of the heart rate zones is assigned a unique color and there is a light below the display on the device that flashes in the color representing your current heart rate, which makes it easier to keep track of your heart rate while exercising.
When you’re ready to work out—whether running, cycling, swimming, or however you else you exercise—you press the right button to start the timer. You can press the right button again if you want to track lap times. You can pause the timer by pressing and holding the right button. While the Mio Alpha 2 is tracking your workout, it logs EKG-accurate heart rate data, calories burned, distance, and pace.
When you’re done you can review the data from the workout. The Mio Alpha 2 can store up to 25 hours of data and will sync the data with the Mio Go app on your iOS or Android device. The Mio Go app is also a much simpler way to configure many of the device settings.
The Mio Alpha 2 is not the best looking device I’ve tested. It’s a bit garish and not very aesthetically pleasing. Of course, it’s intended for hardcore fitness use and heart rate monitoring, not as a fashion statement.
Looks aside, the Mio Alpha 2 is exceptionally comfortable. The wide strap is very soft and has seemingly limitless adjustability so you can find fit the device firmly on your wrist. It doesn’t weigh much and the width of the strap distributes what weight there is so you almost forget you’re wearing it.
One of the things I dislike about the Mio Alpha 2—and all wrist borne heart rate monitoring gadgets—is that you’re expected to wear it an inch above the wrist bone for the most accurate heart rate readings. That may be true for getting an accurate heart rate, but that isn’t where I wear a device on my wrist so it’s unnatural and uncomfortable. I also found the buttons hard to work with. There are only two—one on each side—but they’re somewhat difficult to depress fully.
The Mio Alpha 2 has a proprietary charging base. It’s about the size of a remote key fob for a car, and has a very short USB cable permanently attached and tucked away in the back. The problem is that the USB cable is only about two inches long. I had to connect it to a USB extension so I could have the Mio Alpha 2 charge on my desk. I’m not sure where Mio expects you to connect the charger that such a short USB cable would work.
At $200, it’s a tad expensive, in my opinion, for what you get. That said, if you’re more of a hardcore fitness lover and want a comfortable device that can accurately monitor your heart rate, this is probably one of the best you’ll find. The heart rate monitoring is the best I’ve tested, and the wide, soft silicone strap makes the Mio Alpha 2 one of the most comfortable wearables I’ve had the pleasure to work with.
The Mio Alpha 2 is exceptional at the few things it does, but it doesn’t do much compared with many other fitness tracking and smartwatch devices out there. There is a sleep monitoring feature coming soon that will expand the capabilities of the Mio Alpha 2, but it will still have a relatively limited set of features. A GPS sensor would be a nice addition, as would the option to use it passively as a pedometer without having to be actively engaged in workout mode.