The Mio Link uses optical sensor to monitor heart rate, costs $99, coming April 2014 (hands-on)

/ Updated: March 4, 2014 1:49 PM PST
The Mio Link loses the display from the Mio Alpha as well as about $100 off its price tag. Eric Franklin/CNET

BARCELONA, Spain -- Take the Mio Alpha heart rate watch, jettison everything that makes it a watch and you have the Mio Link. The $99 heart rate monitor is half the price of the Alpha and will be available in April 2014.

Instead of monitoring your pulse like traditional heart rate monitors, the Link -- and Alpha before it -- uses an optical sensor to track blood movement in your body.

According to Mio, its tracking is extremely accurate as well and uses a built-in accelerometer to determine your heart rate even while you're moving.

The optical sensor isn't all that impressive-looking without its cool green glowing lights. Eric Franklin/CNET

Now the Alpha obviously had a screen, so the Link is immediately more limited and although you can't see your actual heart rate until you've synced with a mobile device, there's a pulsating LED light to signify when you're in your zone. "Your zone" is determined by the user during set up.

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After putting the Link on and syncing with the demo iPhone running the Mio Go app, it was able to determine my heart rate within a few short seconds. However Mio's representative unfortunately wouldn't allow me to run around the block a few times to get a more accurate impression. I didn't feel like getting all sweaty anyway.

The sensor can easily be removed from the band. Eric Franklin/CNET

The sensor fits into a kind of rubber pouch that and can easily be removed. Also, with the number of notches in the band, the Link will probably fit even the most beefy of wrists.

The Mio Link could be a cool alternative for those looking for a cheap, fast, accurate heart rate monitor with mobile device syncing abilities. Look for it in late April for $99.

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