Sunday, March 31, 2013

Review: 4iiii Viiiiva Heart Rate Monitor

Full Disclosure: I pre-ordered my Viiiiva (received a great thank you note from the company) and purchased it with my own cycling slush fund. Also, with all of the time I spent researching how to replicate the functionality of a Garmin Edge, I probably could have picked up an extra gig and bought one outright, but c'est la vie.

Viiiiva Heart Rate Monitor

Garmin Function Without Garmin Cost


I have been really excited to test out 4iiii Innovations' Viiiiva heart rate monitor since it first debuted at CES. Not having a Garmin device myself, I was immediately drawn to the device's Liiiink Connectivity Module (better explanation here from Engadget) that will hypothetically transmit HR data to both my ANT+ compatible computer and my Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) ready iPhone 5, allowing me to capture all relevant data for upload to either Wahoo Fitness or Strava. A quick chat with @4iiiicom on Twitter confirmed my hypothesis, well almost, it would still require some experimentation.

Trying Too Hard With Wahoo


My initial setup included pairing my speed, cadence and HR with Wahoo Fitness via the Liiiink bridge, with an upload from Wahoo to Strava. After my first ride though, I think I was trying to do a bit too much, and my ride data showed it. I worked hard, but definitely did not average 26,848 BPM. I'm not sure where the breakdown occurred and plan to retry running Wahoo with only the HR sensor paired.


Simplification with Strava


Thinking things through a bit more after the first test, I don't believe I needed to pair speed/cadence since they are tracked by GPS anyway. This weekend I was able to get out for two rides to test out a simpler setup with an upload directly to Strava:

  • Speed/Cadence/HR displayed on my Bontrager Node 1 via ANT+
  • HR synced with Strava via BLE
  • Speed and GPS calculated by Strava

After my ride, while still standing in my driveway as is my custom, I clicked "finish" on my Strava app and waited. My data uploaded perfectly. Success. Though I wish it would have spotted me a bit faster average speed, oh well. For $79.99 retail and the price of a Strava pro subscription, I have everything I need. The only shortcoming I can see right now is battery drain on 4+ hour rides, but for right now those are few and far between.


The Good


On the surface, the Viiiiva resembles any other chest strap heart rate monitor. The differentiating factor for me however is the Liiiink Connectivity Module that bridges ANT+ and BLE. This replaces the need for expensive ANT+ keys or new Bluetooth capable speed/cadence sensors (if you have existing ANT+ sensors and a computer). The price ($79.99) is on par with competing Bluetooth only straps.

Once paired with Strava and a ANT+ computer, you are set to go. No additional configuration needed per ride.

The Bad


The great unknown. To my knowledge, the Viiiiva is the only product of it's kind, so it is to be determined where the company will take the technology. I have heard that a firmware update is coming, so more on that when additional information is available. My only other gripe, while petty, is the product's name. People tend to give me a strange look when I say "Viiiiva...you know...with four 'i's," as if the concept is not hard enough to relay (when I understand it myself).

The Verdict


Go for it. I still have some field testing to do to confirm accuracy, but I am all in so far. The connection is clean and all I have to do is tap the silver and red button to start.

strava button


Update 6/17/13 - New Hardware, Remote Upgradeability 


In an unexpected but much appreciated move, 4iiii issued new Viiiiva units to early adopters including myself. Read my full account of the updated features and the smooth exchange process here.

Review: 4iiii Viiiiva Heart Rate Monitor
4iiii Viiiiva Heart Rate Monitor
Date published: 03/31/2013
4 / 5 stars


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