6 Personal Performance Monitors

December 17, 2015

  • by
  • Peter Reese

For athletes aiming for speed, endurance and sport-specific power, there’s a big world of personal technology to explore.  Active Junky jumps in with several noteworthy additions to the category.

Mio Velo:  Next in the cycle

Mio velo3 Mio Velo

Active Junky’s tested the non-velo version extensively (several generations, actually) with extremely positive results.  The MIO line is characterized by 1) simple function selection, 2) in-motion, zone-based monitoring and 3) meaningful data capture.  Add in the streamlined design and the Velo version provides baseline EKG stats as it links seamlessly to ANT+ peripherals; speed and cadence included.   Bluetooth SMART makes it work with future upgrades. 

Tester Quote: “No chest strap for cyclists is a big deal – if they’re ready to trust MIO as we do.  Love the zone system that keeps my eyes on the road instead of reading a complex display.  Battery life is solid and charging hardware is reliable.”

Best For: Aspiring racers and multi-sport athletes cross-training on the bike

TickrX:  Another Wahoo wonder

Don’t lump this one into the fitness monitor category despite its capable handling of heart rate and activity.  Onboard memory freed testers from carrying a second device to, once again, center on the miles and reps ahead.  Wahoo’s reliability and intuitive app(s) complement simplified training with BURN and BURST programs.  At Active Junky, testers don’t mind creating their own programs; TickrX excels for self-starters.  Motion Analytics adds some play value into the equation. 

Tester Quote: “Wahoo works.  Fiddle around as much as you want but this one sets the pace for quick starting performance monitoring.  As a cyclist, I need to recommend the Blue SC Speed and Cadence Sensor as a serious, waterproof tool with low drag.”

Best For: Multi-sport training, self-starters and data lovers

Check out The TickrX >

Jabra Sport Pulse:  On your mark

Jabra pulse 1 Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless Earbuds

Runners, listen up.  Wireless, lightweight inner ear heart monitoring is a beautiful thing.  Active Junky testers, once they’d adjusted the rubber form and the looped cord, got free on road and trail.  Set your zones – and listen to the voice now inside your head.  Mix in music if that’s your thing with high-quality, full-range sound from Jabra (in partnership with Dolby Labs).  Battery life is passable, programming is straightforward and comfort is nearly delicious.   The only drawback here is the tendency of the left-to-right cord to catch in dense brush or woods (you might be wondering what we were doing way back there).  

Tester Quote: “The app is solid and the phones fit well.  I tried cycling with them but the nature of biking movements doesn’t keep the earpiece stable.  For running, Jabra’s a solid, 16g performance product that pairs consistently.”

Best For: Serious runners

Vert Jump Device:  Ready for takeoff, again.

Get a handle on your airborne antics, training- and game-wise, with this dedicated device.  While basketball and volleyball are the main markets, Active Junky likes this one for measuring plyometric performance as part of a Cross-Fit or other program.  Watch real-time with the wearable, clippable device while your smart device stores it all for later.  Vert pushes hard on the sharing element of Jump but testers didn’t play that game. Preparing for ski and ride season was the focus.

Tester Quote: “Getting both a clip and belt was good.  The device pretty much stays out of the way and is best without carrying a smart device around during my sessions.  USA-made is nice bonus.”

Best For: Working on power and endurance for snowsports, rock and ice climbers pushing harder routes

Check out The Vert Jump Device >

Pear Training Intelligence:  The fruit of your labors

Bad wordplay aside, some outdoor athletes will like this platform.  Pear branches into 100s of “curated” workouts supported by in-ear coaching.  Evaluators liked the under-$100 pricing, lightweight heart monitor and unique earphones attributed to collaboration with Special Forces; seven contact points give Pear a fairly customized fit.  Audio quality is reasonable, workout routines worthwhile and the monitor fairly accurate.

Tester Quote: “TRX workouts are one reason to use Pear.  I like the one-year warranty on a product that gets heavy use across seasons and activities.  Maintaining the workout’s intensity was easier than with some, more basic products.”

Best For: Connecting workouts with specific activities (up to the user to link them)

Check out The Pear Mobile Training Intelligence System >

Misfit Shine:  By land and sea

This one got the nod from Active Junky as a road or trail triathlete’s wingman.  Waterproof down to 50m, Shine is a bright spot whether in swimming lanes or open water.  As with others, the app well suits the mission by generating graphic representations of training sessions as well as daily activity.  Here’s the biggest news; Shine’s powered by a replaceable coin cell battery to set the wearer free for up to six months (plan on closer to four) while storing data for days if there’s no time to sync it up.  Black sport band, clip and clasp stay secure during the ups and downs of any workout.

Tester Quote: “Tracking sleep was a minor but useful adjunct function of Shine.  The twelve-LED, 4mm thick watch gives it a polished look if you’re short on something to wear on your wrist at work or at a restaurant.”

Best For: Shooting the gap between making your own rules and getting in someone else’s race

Check out Misfit Shine >

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