The Mio Fuse is a combined optical heart rate sensor and wrist worn activity Tracker. I say combined as you can either simply use it to replace your traditional heart rate strap or use it as an activity tracker (or both). In releasing this nifty little gadget Mio have catered for all athletes who have already invested in a sports watch by making it compatible with Bluetooth smart and ANT+ and even those who don’t. With the already tried and tested optical sensor this makes the Fuse a pretty attractive prospect for anybody looking at solutions for alternative heart rate capture.
I put the Mio Fuse on test as both an activity tracker and a heart rate sensor paired with as many other devices as I could manage over the period use. I’ve also worn it 24/7 for a number of weeks to test the comfort credentials and water resistance.
Mio Fuse Review – Opening the Box
It’s a smart looking package displaying the contents of the box right from the start with the statement ‘No Chest Strap Required’. For many people this will be why they have invested.
Inside it’s pretty straightforward. You get a band, charger and instructions. I’ve put together a little YouTube video to walk you through what’s in the box.
The charger is pretty neat in the way two prongs are secured magnetically to the underside of the optical sensor. Charging is by way of standard USB.
Behind the strap is the all-important Mio Sensor which obtains it information from (green) light emitted from the device to detect your pulse from under the capillaries in your skin. It looks pretty funky too.
Although not activated in this picture, the front of the strap has an LED display sandwiched between two touch buttons (see the three raised dots) plus a further ‘centre’ button mounted in the middle to the side of the main display. These three buttons control the entire functions of the Mio Fuse.
Size & Comfort
The red and black version I have here denotes the larger of two sizes to accommodate a wrist circumference of 156-208 MM (6.1-8.2″). A smaller size is available to accommodate 149-179mm (5.9 – 7″) which will come in a light green (Aqua) shade. Although there is some crossover in the sizes, it’s best to take measurement before ordering.
With the Mio sensor incorporated in the rubberised strap it’s probably fair to say that to the top part of the Fuse is slightly bulkier than some other activity trackers. Having said that, however, it is certainly not thicker than a watch and remains perfectly comfortable due to the one piece rubberised strap.
To keep things secured there’s a two pin clasp backed up by a double pronged clip to secure the far end to the corresponding holes.
When worn as a heart rate monitor it’s important the entire strap is tight so that the sensor makes good contact with the skin. I found this to be fine during exercise but I generally loosen it off again slightly when worn as an all-day activity Tracker.
The setup is as simple as downloading the app to either your iOS or Android smartphone. Here’s a few screen shots of what you might expect to see when downloading and walking through the setup screens on an Apple iPhone.
With the Mio Fuse there’s also been the introduction of the an all ‘Mio GO’ app. I’ll return to the functionality of the app a little later.
Optical Heart Rate
I’ve been wanting to test a Mio unit in its own right ever since I got my hands on the Tom Tom Multisport Cardio. I was already aware of the accuracy Mio have achieved in optical heart rate technology and wanted to see how well the sensor could be integrated with other third-party devices.
Heart rate is detected from the small blood vessels under the skin directly beneath the sensor. You can see the unit here and also the green light emitting from what looks like two eyes. The green light will remain on whenever heart rate is being detected.
You have the option of using the Mio Fuse simply as a sensor (to be paired with a third-party device which can be either a sports watch or a smartphone app) or to use it as workout device in its own right. Most of my activities have been whilst paired with another sports watch but I have given the ‘Workout’ function a try in the section below.
Mio have tackled the issue of ANT+ versus Bluetooth by enabling the Fuse to transmit its heart rate data externally in both formats. In fact, the Fuse is so un-apologetic in this department that it will even transmit in both frequencies simultaneously. This is a great feature as the Mio Fuse can now apply to almost anyone who wishes to capture heart rate from their wrist, be it as a replacement to a chest strap or to pair with a smartphone. For me, it was also a bonus as it opened up the opportunity to test with both the Garmin FR920XT (using ANT+) and the Polar V800 (using Bluetooth).
To begin capturing heart rate you will press and hold the centre button to activate the green lights and begin searching for your pulse. It usually takes less than 30 seconds during which you will see the ‘Find’ displayed. Once your pulse is found it will be displayed in beats per minute (BPM). At this point it will also begin transmitting the data to any device(s) you have paired. Now that I’ve got it linked up with my devices all I need is to see the BPM displayed on the Fuse and I’ll know it’s transmitting to my device from the there on. I can then perform the start procedure on the watch.
You can also run through the same procedure with your smartphone in any app that supports heart rate capture (e.g. Strava).
Mio don’t stipulate an exact range of transmitted signal but I’ve had no difficulties in placing it on the opposite wrist to my watch. It’s also worked flawlessly between arm and handlebar (for cycling computers) and to iPhone within a neoprene arm band.
Here are some of the results I’ve seen when compared during exactly the same training session with a traditional heart rate strap.
The first graph shows the heart rate captured using the Mio Fuse paired via Bluetooth with the Polar V800 during a gentle run lasting over an hour.
The exact same run is captured on the 2nd graph in Garmin Connect where I used the Garmin FR920XT paired with the Garmin HRM chest strap.
Allowing for the slight delay whist one device is started before the other both charts display near identical results throughout the full 1hr 6 mins. Where there are some high points these seem to appear at a greater BMP on the Fuse but the average over the same workout is within 3 beats per minute.
The next two charts show even closer correlation over a 45 minute turbo training session. This first graph in Garmin (Mio Fuse paired with Garmin Edge 810) shows the performance during a set with three higher intensity sections in the middle.
Below is the same workout on the Polar V800 with the H7 chest strap. The results are near identical save for a spike on the Polar after 7 mins.
No matter which device I’ve paired with the Mio Fuse the comparisons have always been impressive. This is no surprise given the accuracy I had seen previously when reviewing the Tom Tom Multisport Cardio.
Mio Fuse Workouts
The above capabilities were generally available in the predecessor unit to the Fuse, the Mio Link (which is still available). The difference with the Fuse is that Mio have added the ability to track an entire workout and save it on the device, without having to pair to a third-party sports watch or application. The other new function is activity tracking (see below).
The idea of workouts is that the Mio Fuse will track your heart rate throughout the entire activity as well as monitoring the duration and distance (if you are on foot).
To enter the workout mode you go one stage further than simply activating the heart rate by pressing the centre button for a second time once your heart rate is acquired. Pressing the centre button at that point will display the word “GO” in the centre of the device.
During the course of the workout you can use the side buttons to toggle between the display functions to see metrics such as duration and distance covered. You can pause the workout by pressing the centre button once.
I decided to give the workout function ago on the treadmill where I performed just a short speed up and slow down over a distance of 2km.
What I really like about the workout mode is the method by which you can customise and monitor your heart rate zones. You can customise target zones back in the app to either a 1-Zone or 5-Zone configuration. Here’s how my defaults looked for both settings based upon my maximum heart rate.
During the treadmill workout I used the 1-Zone setting which is designed to keep you within a target range. To help you maintain the target there’s a very handy vibration alert to notify if you fall out of your target zone. This is also accompanied by a coloured LED light.
Here you can see the blue light showing when I’m below the target. The light changes to green (below) when I’m maintaining the heart rate within the zone.
With the 5-zone setting you will see a coloured dot assigned to each of the 5 zones to correspond with the colours assigned in the app. You also have the ability to customise each zone to your own settings.
Holding down the down centre button will complete the work out and enable a sync with Mio Go.
At the point that I completed the treadmill workout the distance seemed to be showing 1.11km as opposed to exactly 2km captured on the Garmin FR920XT. When I got back into the Mio Go app, however, the workout summary showed 1.79km bringing the accuracy closer to 10% of the Garmin. There are many factors that could have influenced this, not least that the Mio arm was operating the buttons on the treadmill which would have some affect on the steps counted (and therefore distance).
Pace is also captured. Unfortunately it’s not a true reflection in this screenshot as I did leave the workout running at the end to capture the images for the purposes of this review. That aside, the pace I saw in real time was certainly comparable with the read out on the treadmill and on the Garmin FR920XT.
Another great thing about the workout mode is you can switch it on and still have the Mio Fuse transmitting to other paired devices.
The heart rate functions within the new Workouts have been extremely well thought out meaning the Mio Fuse can be used to great effect as a stand alone heart rate training device.
The Fuse is Mio’s first combined device and, therefore, their first foray into the activity tracking sector. As with many other activity trackers the Fuse will keep track of steps, calories and distance on a daily basis. As is the norm, steps are also measured against a daily target which can be set in the Mio Go app.
Although the display is not on constantly, the Fuse will be tracking activity 24/7 so long as it remains on the wrist. The buttons each side of the main display will allow you to scroll through the various metrics whereby you will see the totals for the particular day.
You can use the activity functions to help you towards your daily goal.
There’s also a graphic to give you a quick indication of how far you are measuring up against the day’s target.
With these images taken early in the day you can see that the target was some way off with only 1051 steps completed so far. You can also scroll though the display to view the calories expanded and distance travelled. Once you have found the metric you want stop scrolling and the word ‘Cals’ will be replaced with the an amount.
Once synced, the Mio Go app will also give you some further information about how far you have progressed.
Progress is displayed on a 360 degree dial with numerical information in the centre and below. The full green dial indicates that I completed the target.
Of the other activity trackers I’ve used and tested the purposes of TriedOnline I’d say the Mio Fuse is most comparable to the Polar Loop in terms of functions and use. Having said that the Fuse does not currently track sleep.
Conclusion – Mio Fuse Review
Whether you are interested in the Mio Fuse in its own right or to replace a your heart rate monitor you can’t fail to be impressed with the ease of use and accuracy of the optical sensor. Quite simply, it will pair with almost any other sports device or app give you the ability to invest in both an activity tracker and an alternative to the chest strap all in one neat device.
The new version of Mio Go app released to coincide with the Fuse is a solid app to compliment the new workout and daily activity functions. I’ve been particularly impressed with the custom heart rate zones which give options to my training whether I pair with another device or or not. In this mode I can leave the Mio Fuse to its HR duties and notifications knowing that its also transmitting it valuable data via both Bluetooth and ANT+. I really like it.
As I’ve said with many other activity trackers… when all functions are boiled down, it’s the visibility of daily totals that become most important. The the Fuse’s display is impressive and the fully customisable targets for steps, calories and distance are a welcome feature back in the app. Not having a sleep tracking function leaves the Mio Fuse a little behind on some other trackers, however, the ability to replace the traditional heart rate strap puts it in a league of its own.
The Fuse does it’s job with an impressive level of simplicity both on the wrist and in the app.
I want my reviews to be as independent as possible. On that basis, I thought a link to Amazon would provide the most impartial method of you looking at other user comments should you be considering a purchase. You can also head over to the Mio Website where the Fuse is currently available for £129.96