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Mio Fuse Review – Optical HRM and Activity Tracker

Mio is not just one of the pioneers of optical heart rate sensors, they are also a sports technology in their own right, and produce, my opinion, THE BEST STRAPS on any wrist mounted device out there. In hearing Mio was releasing an activity tracker AND optical HRM device, well, I couldn’t wait for a review unit!

Mio Fuse Review – Optical HRM and Activity Tracker

My opening statement about Mio’s straps might not initially appear very unbiased. The easiest way of explaining this is that I’ve found when reviewing the Mio Alpha 2 and Mio Velo  their straps are just supremely comfortable. When you get through a lot of different gadgets, you come across devices that are great, but could fit a little better – The Polar V800 comes to mind – so when you find something as supremely comfortable as Mio’s offerings you notice…BUT this time, something is a little different on the Mio Fuse strap, which we’ll come to later…

The Device

The Mio Fuse is presented in typical Mio fashion with a study box, giving an immediate impression of quality. I feel that companies have learnt a lot over the years from Apple about how the experience of the product unboxing affects your perception of the device

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The box contains the device and its USB charger

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The sensor on the Mio Fuse is now a structural part of the device, and can’t be removed, unlike the Mio Velo or Link .

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The reasoning here is very simple, in that the optical HR sensor is now attached to the display visible through the front of the device.

You can see the bluetooth and ANT+ marks by the sensor, indicating that the bands HR data is going to be accessible by the vast majority of sports devices.

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I’m quite a fan of “invisible” displays for activity trackers, the Garmin Vivosmart carried this off very well, butas a result of its size, the Garmin does without the Mio Fuse’s optical HR.

You interact with the device through three buttons on it’s surface. Two small touch sensitive buttons, denoted by three raised dots, either side of the display area, which are used to scroll through the screens

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The third is a central button paced above the display area which is used to active the optical HR sensor via a long pressing

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When switched on, the sensor bathes the skin in green light, allowing the device to “see” the blood flow in the skin capillaries, and thus calculate the HR. As a result of this measuring method, you can only get beats per minute data. You need classical chest HRM in order to be able to get data like R-R intervals. TitaniumGeek IMG 7301 1024x768 Mio Fuse Review   Optical HRM and Activity Tracker Gear Reviews Heart Rate Monitors Running  step counter optical HRM Mio Fuse Mio HRM activity tracker   Image of IMG 7301 1024x768

When the Fuse is reading you HR, you get the numerical data on the display, but also a coloured light flashes to show which zone you are in

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The unit is charged through the two golden dots on the back, meaning a THIRD charger from Mio. The Velo, Alpha and Fuse all have different chargers. Sure they all plug into USB, but the device ends are different.

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The Fuse is the latest device from Mio, and there have been some changes between the Velo/Link in order to improve the broadcast circuity within the Fuse, strengthening the ANT+/Bluetooth signal. This may be the reason for the different charger. But I still think think it would be great if we could have a STANDARD contact charging interface. Even within one company would be a start

The Fuse is a hair thicker than its Velo stable mate, but interestingly the strap on the Fuse is actually tapered, narrowing towards the end.

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For an activity tracker, the Fuse is almost the same size as a watch. The size of the Fuse is perhaps one of its biggest weaknesses. But given there is an optical sensor within, might be a reasonable trade

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Firmware updates

Like many companies, Mio continues to tweak the Fuse even after its release in relation to consumer feedback.

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The latest update is V1.18, and had quite an effect on how you interact with the Fuse, as a result this review has been adjusted to use V1.18 as the feature baseline

Why was screen lock added? Mio also increased the sensitivity of the touch sensitive buttons. This does also make it a little easier to move between screens, esp if running. Hence the screen lock – start an activity, 30 secs with no changes to the display, and that data screen is locked – then carry on your run – nice!

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Some people might find that annoying in terms of wanting to change the screen to see other data. But I think you have to consider the design brief for the Mio Fuse. It is an activity tracker, NOT a sports watch. Its primary role is monitoring what you are doing. The screen and immediately available info is something I consider as an extra. Especially as there is no GPS in the unit, meaning for accurate speed and distance info you need to be taking your phone with you.

Activity Tracking

Activity tracking is now relatively standard fair. As such, the Fuse can determine the number of steps in a day, and also estimate the distance you’ve walked.

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Your efforts are displayed as the actual number of steps taken, or the percentage towards your goal

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This data can be seen on the device itself, or on the associated Mio App

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You can also choose which of those metrics are displayed on the device itself. Note we’ve got both total calories burnt in a day, as a separate number from calories used going about your business, which is a really useful metric to see.

Workout Mode

The Mio Fuse also includes a rudimentary work out mode. You can customise it within the app, such as today Zwift ride

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The speed/distance data here is taken from your phone GPS, so given I was on a Wahoo KICRK, it doesnt look like I’ve gone anywhere.

It does however monitor you HR VERY nicely, and has the corresponding colours for your HR zones (The last 20mins were a 250-300watt race on the last lap of Richmond) and the data tracked well with my Wahoo TICKR

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Workout mode is activated on the Fuse by long holding the button above the display on the unit

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The centre button is the main controller when dealing with Workouts. Long press to activate HR. Then Tap to start the workout. Tap to pause the workout.

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Finally long press to stop the work out.

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There is the option to have the unit vibrate when you move through different HR zones. Very good if you are using specific zones to train, but if not, I found it better just to leave it switched off.

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You can set your personal work out zones from within the Mio App

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What is the Fuse?

Something hasn’t sat quite right whilst I’ve been writing the Mio Fuse Review. I think thats because the “What is it?” is almost less important than “Who is it for?”

If you wanted a straight forward activity monitor, I’d probably direct you to the Garmin VivoSmart, which also has smart notifications, something surprisingly absent from the Mio Fuse. It has a vibration motor, a screen, bluetooth communication, adding in even the icon to say there has been text would be useful.

I THINK the Fuse is, as daft as it might be to say it, an activity tracker for a already active person. Not someone who is looking to get fitter, and aiming for 10,000 steps a day

The Fuse is NOT a device that is more than the sum of its parts. The Fuse is EXACTLY the sum of its parts. An activity tracker, that ALSO doubles as a HRM.

As I’ve been using the Fuse, its nice to know what my activity has been, but also the my HRM is with me constantly. There is no last minute scrabble to find my HRM before a run. Its already on my wrist, and it broadcasts straight to my Fenix 3 over ANT+. If I’m visiting and offered to go out for a run, I’ve got an HRM with me, and pairs with my phone over bluetooth.

The Fuse is GOOD for someone who already owns an HRM, is looking to buy one, or replace and old one. Its not a “casual” optical HRM activity tracker in the way a FitBit is.

If it was about a third narrower, and had smart notifications it would be KILLER device. As it is, the Mio Fuse is merely a good device.

Mio Fuse Strap…

I think its fair to say, I’ve been quite forthcoming about being a fan of Mio’s straps. But the Fuse… just wasn’t quite a good straight out of the box

Maybe its the result of making the strap taper? I dont know? One thing I do know is it took me quite a few days to find the best strap holes where the device was comfortable, but also didnt have the prongs sticking up! In the first few weeks, I found that I was catching my clothes, as the strap would stretch(?) thus leaving the strap lugs exposed as metal pongs – not cool!

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Over the course of the Mio Fuse Review, this issue seems to have worked itself out. Maybe the strap needed to “give” a little? It has resolved now, which I’ve very grateful for, as it nearly stopped me wearing the device. As it is, I can continue using it as my always there HRM

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James Gill

Author of TitaniumGeek, which started after smashing off my RIGHT elbow. Feel free to drop me a line about sports tech, medicine, or frankly anything that you want to chat about!!