Activity tracker helped goals become reality.
I had the pleasure of reviewing a new MIO Slice Activity Tracker over the past couple of weeks, and I’m impressed with its simplicity, style, and function. You will find in the box a well designed, comfortable, and surprisingly thin fitness watch (thickest part is slightly less that 1/2 inch), as well as a simple well-designed magnetically attaching charger that connects to any free USB port or USB wall charger. The watch features a non-replaceable rubber-like band that isn’t too hot to wear and is quite comfortable and easy to adjust. The only instructions you will find are a link to a website which will get you going quickly. I highly recommend following the instructions and charging the watch for 2-3 hours before attempting the setup with your smartphone. I was in a hurry and the battery died during the initial setup and update, but I can report that after attaching it to power it picked right up where it left off.
I’m using the Android version of their app, and I found it to be simply and elegant. It doesn’t offer a lot of detailed information or superfluous functions, but I find that a plus. I want to do detailed tracking of my runs or bike rides with other apps I like. I just want my fitness watch to track my heart rate and give me details on how my week’s activity level is progressing. The watch maps your activity level by tracking your heart rate and then translating that into a simple number that indicates how much activity you’ve had in the last 7 days. It gives you the goal of collecting at least 100 of these points per week, calling them “PAI,” Personal Activity Intelligence. During initial setup, you give it some baselines like your age, sex, weight, and resting heart rate which you will need to observe yourself beforehand. As your week progresses, you can see on a pie-shaped diagram how each day compares, how much PAI you received for each day and last 7 days, and you can drill down into a heart rate graph for that day. You can also start a workout mode on the watch directly which will allow you to track time spent and help you coordinate that activity to the heart rate graph.
Interfacing with the watch is simple. There is only a single button. You quick press to toggle the various screens the app displays. There’s the time, total PAI score for the last 7 days, today’s PAI score and how close you are to the next point, current heart rate, steps taken today, calories burned today, miles walked or run, and hours slept. You long hold to start or stop an activity session which starts a timer and initiates a sync to the smartphone when you are done. You simply tilt your wrist to display the time, which worked flawlessly for me. I have to complain about its sunlight visibility though. I found myself having to shade the screen with my hand and remove my sunglasses to read the watch in bright sun. Indoors I never had an issue.
I’m pleased that the watch can be taken on runs without the phone. It will still track and record your session and sync it back to the phone when you come back to it. I found the step counter and distance traveled to be fairly accurate with my Google Fit tracking I do on the phone directly. On a recent 3 mile run, it agreed to within a third of a mile. Based on my observations and experiments I’m assuming the distance traveled screen is calculated based on its internal pedometer and not with GPS from the phone.
The watch is 30-meter water-resistant allowing you to swim, shower or run in the rain with the watch. Battery life was around 2 days in my case. Charging took a couple of hours. Notifications for calls and texts were basic. You get the name of the caller when a new message or call arrives, but it will not display the content of text messages. You also get no notifications for messaging apps, social media, or appointments which are minimum requirements to me for a smartwatch, but this watch is focusing on being an activity tracker and it succeeds with this goal.
This activity tracker is simple, it doesn’t attempt to be a full-featured smartwatch, nor does it attempt to be a personal training system with meal tracking, workouts, and guidance. It does, however, turn your fitness into a simple and achievable goal of collecting PAI points over the week and seeking to improve on that every week. In my experiments, it takes me about 8 mi of jogging right now per week to reach the goal of 100 PAI. It was a fun and rewarding experience to collect the PAI points, and it lets me see right where I’m at for the week. It really helped nudge me into doing workouts even when before I would have skipped. This makes the watch worth the price for me as the workouts you do are the only ones that count, and this helped me do more of them and kept me out longer.
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