Mio Fuse review

Heart rate monitoring meets activity tracking but does the Fuse impress?

Mio, the heart rate monitoring specialist, announced the Mio Fuse activity band over in Vegas at CES 2015.

The Mio Fuse is designed for BPM based training and taps into the company's heritage with optical heart rate monitoring; as well as already launching its own devices such as the Link and the Alpha, you'll also find Mio's sensors on board GPS running watches such as the TomTom Runner Cardio and the Adidas miCoach Smart Run.

Read on for our full Mio Fuse verdict…

Mio Fuse: Design and display

It's big. That's the first thing you think when opening up the Fuse box. At 30mm wide it's a fair bit chunkier than the likes of the Fitbit Charge HR or the Garmin Vivosmart, although it does still weigh less than 40g and is plenty comfortable on the wrist.

We say on the wrist – for more accurate heart rate readings during workouts (more on that later) you should actually wear the Fuse slightly higher up your arm than you would a regular wristwatch. This takes some getting used to and the natural contour of your lower arm makes maintaining this position a little tricky.

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The Fuse actually comes in two sizes – the aqua version is for little lady wrists and the red one is for manly men. That's a massive generalisation of course. For reference, we had the aqua one slapped on our wrist for testing and it fitted just fine.

The strap itself is made of soft silicone and there's plenty of holes drilled in, which not only helps to keep your wrist cool, it also gives you plenty of sizing options when it comes to clasping up.

The LED based display is bright, clear and responsive and you'll have no issues browsing through the various info and goal screens on offer. A quick tap on the raised spots either side of the display will bring up the time and further tapping reveals the other metrics available to you.

There are no smartwatch notifications, even basic ones like incoming calls or text alerts, although there have been some whispers coming out of Mio Towers that these functions could arrive with a firmware upgrade in the near future.

Mio Fuse: Fitness tracking

Mio Fuse review

The Mio Fuse is essentially a bpm monitor with a few fitness tracker features thrown in; including step counting, distance measuring and calorie burn guestimating (both resting and active).

You'll notice we didn't mention sleep tracking. Although a future software update is set to add it to the mix, it's missing from the Fuse at present. There's no altimeter either, so no stair counting from the Fuse.

What you will get is fairly consistent step tracking – we found the amounts counted daily to be more on a par with the 'stingy' Withings Activité Pop than the more generous Fitbit brigade.

The distance recording is also pretty good for a device not packing GPS. Our 11km run recorded as 10.77km, which is a pretty impressive algorithm-powered measurement.

Mio Fuse: Heart rate monitoring workouts

Mio Fuse review

Unlike the Basis Peak, Charge HR or Microsoft Band, the heart rate monitoring isn't of the 24/7 variety – it's simply designed to be used during workouts. Starting a workout from the band is simple enough – it's a long press to fire up the optical sensor and then a quick tap to start the timer once your heart rate has been detected. You tap again to pause or finish and you can then edit the workout type in the app.

We know what you're thinking – why not just leave the device in workout mode all the time for continuous bpm recording? Battery life is the answer. We tried this method and the Fuse conked out after about 8 hours.

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One brilliant aspect of the heart rate recording, apart from its accuracy, is by using the magic of ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart connectivity, you can transmit your live bpm reading to either another device, such as a GPS running watch or a bike computer, or a third-party running app. The Mio Fuse plays nicely with a wide range of devices and apps – we had no problems syncing it up with a couple of Garmin running watches, as well as with Runtastic and RunKeeper.

When you're in a workout a flashing coloured light will tell you what zone you are in (you can opt for either a three or five zone training setup) and you'll also get a vibration buzz as you change between these. It's a very effective method of bpm training and we even found it worked quite well in the pool – it's waterproof up to 30m.

Mio Fuse: The app

Mio Fuse review

The app the Fuse syncs up with, Mio Go, isn't the most comprehensive companion we've used; with a title display showing total workout time, distance and calories and daily breakdowns of stats and workout data.

Digging deeper into the workouts that have been recorded and you're presented with an overview, a detailed heart rate graph and various averages and maximums – speed, pace, bpm, zone and so on. It's interesting and easy to use, if somewhat limited.

We also found the pairing aspect of the app to be a little temperamental. Sometimes it had our Fuse listed three times – 'nearby', 'disconnected', and 'waiting' and the only way we could get it to sync was to remove the 'waiting' one and repair the one listed as 'nearby'. A bit annoying and this happened a few times (we were using an iPhone 6 Plus, by the way).

Within the app you can alter the order that metrics are displayed, choose the daily goal target, mix up the LED alert frequencies and tell the Fuse what wrist you're going to be wearing it on.

Mio Fuse: Battery life

Battery life is very impressive on the Mio Fuse – we got over a week's worth of life from ours on one occasion, despite us wearing it along to a couple of 1 hour runs.

We did, as mention, hammer the battery by leaving a workout mode on continuously, but for 'normal' use you can easily expect to get the 6-7 days the Fuse creators promise from it.

However, when it comes to charging – it's pretty awkward. The cable and magnetic clasp is nicely portable, and even tucks in on itself. The trouble is though, it's so small that you can only really charge from a laptop USB port on a flat surface. From the mains, you can't get the band to attach firmly enough as it doesn't reach the floor.


Mio Fuse
By Mio
The Mio Fuse is a decent wearable, with accurate heart rate monitoring, an easy to use app and a comfortable, if somewhat slightly oversized, design. If you look at it as simply a bpm based device with some activity extras thrown in, it does the job, although the omission of basic sleep monitoring, notifications and silent alarms are a bit baffling. At £130 / $149 it’s going head-to-head with the more feature packed, and complete, Fitbit Charge HR though – so it’s quite hard to fully recommend it.

Hit
  • Accurate heart rate monitoring
  • Okay to use in the pool
  • Decent battery life
  • Plenty of third party support
Miss
  • No sleep monitoring
  • Bulky design
  • No smartphone notifications
  • Pairing is a bit buggy


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